Sunday, February 17, 2013
My favorite punk bands, post 1980
Anytime I'm asked to name my all-time favorite punk bands, it really just ends up turning into a list of my favorite '70s punk bands. No doubt about it, '77-'79 is my era. Think about my favorite punk rock bands. Clash, Pistols, Ramones, SLF, Gen X, Buzzcocks, Dead Boys, Dickies, Undertones, X Ray Spex, Dictators, Pagans...every single one of those bands debuted in the '70s. Same for The Jam, The Boys, The Kids, Heartbreakers, Saints, Avengers, Eater, and Adverts. Or how about Lurkers, Sham 69, Slaughter and the Dogs, Ruts, Teenage Head, and Chelsea? I could do this all day. Am I that much of a dinosaur? Probably!
So I thought about it a little. What if I only included bands that didn't release their first record until 1980 or later? Could I even make such a list? Of course I could. And here it is! My all-time favorite punk bands, 1980 to present:
(In no particular order)
Granted, they've never topped or even equaled that first LP. But that first LP, in my humble opinion, is one of the ten greatest punk albums ever issued. When I think "classic" Southern California punk rock, this is always the band that comes to mind.
I'm kind of cheating here, since The Descendents did put their first single out prior to 1980. But that was pre-Milo. And without Milo, it's not really The Descendents. Seriously: who doesn't love The Descendents?! Who among us hasn't worn out a cassette copy of Milo Goes To College as a punk rock rite of passage?
'81-'86 would be one of my desert island discs.
Moral Crux was probably the band that first got me started on my '77 punk revival kick. As they say, the rest is history.
I've gone on record proclaiming The Prostitutes to be the greatest punk rock band of the '90s. I'll still stand by that.
I put Guitar Romantic up there with almost any classic punk LP from back in the day.
If Screeching Weasel was the best overall pop-punk band of the '90s, then The Queers' Love Songs for the Retarded was the best overall pop-punk album. I think that given what the pop-punk scene would later become, people sometimes forget how great it was when bands like The Queers were leading the way in the early to mid '90s. Joe King is one of the best songwriters the punk world has ever known. I love the early stuff with Wimpy as well.
This selection will surprise no one.
Some people are tempted to dislike Screeching Weasel purely based on all the terrible imitators they spawned. That's hardly fair. Say what you want about Ben Weasel, but you cannot deny that the guy is a brilliant songwriter. And at a time when punk music had largely lost touch with its roots, he was one of the main individuals responsible for getting it back on track. I don't think any punk band besides The Ramones has ever had a run better than Screeching Weasel circa '89-'94.
Truly one of the greatest pop-punk bands of all-time. Hallie and the gang made two classic albums back in the 2000s, and you can hear both of them over at The Unlovables' Bandcamp. If you see a large bald man on the street singing "I Want A Boy" at the top of his lungs, say hello to me.
Of course I'm a huge fan of all things Tina Lucchesi. But I've especially got a soft spot for The Bobbyteens, who married lo-fi garage trash to power pop and the '60s girl group thing long before it was cool to do so. "Firecracker" is on all my short lists of the greatest rock n' roll songs ever.
I'd say the Zero Boys are my personal favorite of all the early '80s hardcore bands. And not just because they hailed from the Midwest! Unlike most of their contemporaries, their primary inspiration was '70s punk. They took the influence of the Ramones, Dictators, Pistols, etc. and combined it with a raging intensity and the speed of light ethos of hardcore. Given this band's somewhat legendary status, it seems odd to say they should have been bigger. But I think you know what I mean.
Funny how I went with The Kidnappers rather than some of the bands that influenced them (Teengenerate, Supercharger). These German lads were the next generation of the classic garage-punk sound, adding some serious power pop inflections to the mix. Their debut album put Alien Snatch Records on the map, and their second album was one of the last great Rip Off releases. Their most recent album, Will Protect You, was one of the first things I ever reviewed for this blog.
Classic English Oi! always hits the spot for me. It doesn't get more classic - or more English - than The Business!
So there you go. I sometimes do listen to music that's less than 35 years old!