Album Reviews » Top 5: Old School Punk Rock Albums
5. Black Flag – Damaged
The debut album heard around the world, “Damaged” is a cohesive statement of paranoia from Los Angeles, a city with a reputation for laid back, California style dinosaur rock like The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac. Classified as a gang by the LAPD, Black Flag’s gigs were legendary displays of pure aggression, until they were all but outlawed.
Best Tracks: “Damaged I”, “Six Pack” and “TV Party” have all had a massive impact on anyone who ever heard them.
4. X-Ray Spex – Germ Free Adolescents
A mulatto teenage girl with braces is not what people think of when they think of the ideal leader of a punk-rock band, but Poly Styrene showed the whole world that punk rock truly meant freedom. News of her recent passing has led an entire new generation to discover this wild, completely unique album.
Best Tracks: “I Live Off You”, “Oh, Bondage Up Yours!” and “Germfree Adolescents” are truly groundbreaking, paving the way for groups as far flung as The Raincoats, Hole and Tori Amos.
3. The Clash – The Clash
Often referred to as “The only band that matters,” CBS Records didn’t even bother to release the record in America until late 1979, with an almost entirely different track list. For British ears, though, the record was as powerful as “Sgt. Peppers”, “Pet Sounds” and “The Village Green Preservation Society” all rolled into one.
Best Tracks: “Janie Jones”, “Garageland” and “White Riot” laid the template for everything that followed, from Rancid to Green Day to Avril Lavigne.
2. Sex Pistols – Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols
Despite having upwards of a hundred releases to their name, “Bollocks” is the only Sex Pistols studio album ever recorded. The fact that everything they’ve ever done has been so endlessly repackaged speaks to the lasting power of the music. Incidentally, this is the record that taught Americans that bollocks was a swear word in England. Who knew?
Best Tracks: “Holidays in the Sun”, “Anarchy in the UK”, “Bodies” and “God Save The Queen” changed forever what was acceptable subject matter in rock music.
1. The Ramones – The Ramones
The record that started it all. Legend has it that Sid Vicious, the destructive bassist of the Sex Pistols, learned to play his instrument by taking a whole bunch of speed and playing along to this record for a few days. Deviously simple, The Ramones laid the groundwork for everything to come. Often imitated, never ever duplicated.