Thursday, August 15, 2013

My 20 Favorite Punk LPs of All-Time

Those of you who follow social media are probably aware of a recent list by LA Weekly ranking the 20 greatest punk albums of all-time. While some of the choices were questionable and a lot of people complained, to me that's part of the fun of doing that kind of list. Why just go with safe choices? Most would agree, however, that LA Weekly did much better when they gave Henry Rollins the opportunity to list his very own top 20. One major difference was that Rollins just listed his favorite punk albums instead of attempting to identify the 20 "greatest". As I was looking over his list, I realized that I would have made a lot of the same choices. So it got me to thinking. What are my 20 favorite punk albums of all-time? How about if I made my very own "Rollins list"? So here we are.

This list probably says a lot about me. I do enjoy the classics. 13 of my 20 picks are pre-1980. But this is an "all-time" list. So I did make an effort to include a few albums from the '90s and beyond. This was actually one of the easiest lists I've ever done because all I had to do was think of the albums I've listened to and enjoyed the most over the years. I'm not arguing that these are the 20 greatest punk albums. They're just my personal favorites. If my house were on fire and I could only save 20 punk rock LPs from burning to a crisp, these would be the ones that I'd grab.

In somewhat chronological order....

Ramones- self titled
I told you I like the classics.

The Clash - self titled
If I ranked these in order of my preference, this would be my #1.

Sex Pistols- Never Mind the Bollocks
This would be my #2. 

Ramones- Leave Home
Favorite track: "Commando". 

The Saints- (I'm) Stranded
One of those records that defines good taste in my mind. If you like The Saints, you know good music!

The Damned- Damned Damned Damned
Honestly the only Damned album I ever listen to. 

Dead Boys- Young, Loud & Snotty
Disclaimer: I highly prefer the rough mix that was later issued under the title of Younger, Louder and Snottier. But the "official" release is no slouch either.

X-Ray Spex - Germ Free Adolescents
This is in my top five, no question about it. 

Generation X- self titled
Probably my third favorite English punk band next to the Clash and Pistols. A la the first Clash album, I think the U.S. version of this LP is considerably better than the original U.K. issue (although I still think "Wild Dub" is shit).

Adverts- Crossing the Red Sea With the Adverts
An overlooked masterpiece. In my list of the most underrated punk bands of the classic era, The Adverts were #2. 

Stiff Little Fingers- Inflammable Material
Another lock for my top five. I often go hoarse attempting to sing along.

Undertones- self titled
A true piece of pop/punk perfection.

Dickies- Dawn of the Dickies
This was the last album I picked for this list. It came down to this one and the first Boys album. But there are no songs on the first Boys album inquiring about the whereabouts of Sammy Davis Jr.'s missing eye. 

Adolescents- self titled
When I think "classic" So Cal punk rock, this is the album that always comes to mind. Definitely my favorite "pre-hardcore" record.

Descendents- Milo Goes To College
You could argue that as a pure pop-punk band, Descendents didn't hit their stride until a few years later. But I like this era of the band, when they sounded more like Black Flag's bike-riding, girl-crazed little brothers.

Cock Sparrer- Shock Troops
Any short list I've ever done of the greatest punk albums of all-time has included Shock Troops somewhere near the top. Nearly every track is a classic.

Prostitutes- Can't Teach Kids Responsibility
Hands down, the best punk band of the '90s.

Dimestore Haloes- Thrill City Crime Control
1997 was my 1977. My wife recently found this LP in our walk-in closet. "Why is there a record in the closet? Is it a special record?" Indeed!

Dictators- D.F.F.D.
Definitely my favorite Dictators album. And, in my opinion, their best. "I saw The Stooges/Covered with bruises/Who will save rock n' roll?"

Exploding Hearts- Guitar Romantic
This disc has been a fixture in my car since I first bought the car. I never go more than a few weeks without popping Guitar Romantic into the disc player. "Sleeping Aides and Razorblades" never gets old. Hard to believe it's now been ten years since this band's tragic end.

So there you have it. I only counted studio LPs, so compilations like the Buzzcocks' Singles Going Steady and The Avengers' pink album did not qualify. Otherwise, they would have been high-ranking selections.


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