Having previously posted on the greatest punk LPs of 1981 and 1982, I now turn my attention to the year 1983. This was thirty years ago - vintage Reagan era. American hardcore had become the dominant force in punk music. It was a great time to be young, pissed-off, and highly discontent with the status quo. And while "respectable" types may have questioned the staying power of punk music at the time, a glance at the list below will remind you just how enduring these bands ultimately were. If you bought any of these records when they came out, you're now in your forties or fifties and probably still loving them. Meanwhile, several generations of newcomers to punk have discovered these records for themselves and found them every bit as inspiring. A year ago, I remarked that my 1983 list would be harder to compile than my 1982 list. I was right - but in a different way than I had expected. My challenge wasn't finding too few titles to list, but rather finding too many. I just couldn't limit it to a top ten. So here, then, are my top twelve punk albums of '83!
12. Toy Dolls - Dig That Groove Baby
The arrival of "'82 punk" didn't leave a lot of room for humor or melody in British punk music. Thankfully these guys didn't get the memo.
11. Circle Jerks - Golden Shower of Hits
In my opinion, their second greatest LP.
10. Dicks - Kill From The Heart
The final album released by the original Texas-based lineup before the Dicks relocated to San Francisco, this is a masterpiece of angry political hardcore! As relevant today as ever.
9. Suicidal Tendencies - self titled
I can't say I'm a big fan of what this band eventually turned into, but ST ruled when they were still a punk band. All I wanted was a Pepsi!
8. Jerry's Kids - Is This My World?
A stone cold classic of hardcore punk. That seems to be a recurring theme of this list.
7. Husker Du- Everything Falls Apart
Was this an LP or an EP? Was it released in late '82 or early '83? Who cares?! On the heels of the lackluster thrash-fest Land Speed Record, this album got Husker Du onto the path to greatness. And while it's predominantly a straight-up hardcore record, songs like "Gravity" and the title track hint at what the band would soon become. "Target" has always been one of my favorite HD songs.
6. Bad Brains - Rock for Light
This, to me, is the definitive Bad Brains album - with none other than Ric Ocasek stepping in to correct the production deficiencies of the band's 1982 debut. I Against I may have been the band's magnum opus, but I prefer the visceral rush of Rock for Light.
5. Dickies - Stukas Over Disneyland
"Rosemary" is my #1 favorite Dickies song.
4. Newtown Neurotics - Beggars Can Be Choosers
Mixing Clash and Ramones worship with a social conscience and a touch of mod/soul, The Newtown Neurotics were one of the all-time underrated English punk bands. In contrast to the pure rage of many hardcore bands of the day, these guys tackled political subject matter with heart and intelligence. Their singles collection is no doubt a must-have, and this full-length debut is essential as well.
3. Social Distortion - Mommy's Little Monster
I'm not saying it's their best album. But if I'm in the mood for some Social D., this is the title I reach for. Classic So-Cal punk rock!
2. Minor Threat - Out of Step
Arguably the greatest hardcore album ever made. Thirty years later, it's still being copied by numerous bands.
1. Cock Sparrer - Shock Troops
Any time I discuss the topic of the greatest punk album of all-time, this one is always in the conversation. While almost every other English punk band from back in the day had either broken up or moved on to "musical experimentation", Cock Sparrer was just happy for the chance to finally release an LP. The result: a classic Brit-punk album in the '77 style. Nearly every track is an anthem. If you don't love Shock Troops, surely you hate music.
Pagans' pink album, UK Subs- Flood of Lies, Peter and the Test Tube Babies - Mating Sounds of South American Frogs, JFA - Valley of the Yakes, Agression - Don't Be Mistaken
So there you have it. Talk about a stellar lineup! 1983: it was the worst of times, it was the best of times. As I always like to do when it comes to projects like this, I now count on you to fill in the gaps. What albums did I forget or overlook? I had intended to include Beneath the Shadows by TSOL, but it seems it was actually released in '82. What else is missing? Let me know!