Thursday, July 04, 2019

The Ten Greatest American Punk Bands

Seven years ago today, I made a list of the ten greatest American punk bands. I used to do fun stuff like that all of the time back in the early days of this blog when the only people reading were a handful of my friends. I thought it would be fun to re-make that list today and see how my selections have changed. Without peeking at the old list, I worked up the new one and then compared it to what I wrote in 2011. The difference in the two lists in some way reflects how my tastes have evolve (Man, I haven't had the inclination to put on a Bad Religion record in years!). It also reflects me broadening my definition of "punk rock" over time. I did limit my selections to the punk era (1976 to present), so that's why there's no Stooges or New York Dolls. But by all means, I would highly approve of someone else including those two bands on their list! On that note, here we go!

10. The Rip Offs
The Rip Offs only made one album, but what an album it was! Got A Record along with the band's five classic singles helped define a standard for what garage punk ought to be. And while the sound/recording aesthetic is easily imitated, it was the tunes that made The Rip Offs unbeatable. Their influence is still felt to this day.

9. The Humpers
Speaking of influential bands! The Humpers were the best of that entire wave of '90s "punk rock n' roll" bands. They took tried-and-true Heartbreakers/New York Dolls/Dead Boys inspirations, mixed them with the best of early rock and roll, and created something unique and exciting. One of the greatest American rock and roll bands, period. 

8. The Real Kids
Here's a classic case of my evolving definition of "punk rock". The younger me might have argued that The Real Kids were a power pop band or just a rock and roll band. Today I'd say they were/are both of those things - but also a defining band of first wave American punk rock!

7. Dead Boys
Every time I revisit this band's catalog, I'm reminded why I came to love 'em in the first place. I've flipped-flopped 26 times over which album I prefer, but man the music sure holds up! The real deal! 

6. Black Flag
In the past, I would have qualified this selection with "Keith Morris era only". But screw it...I have come to not only appreciate the Rollins era stuff but also sometimes prefer it! The Complete 1982 Demos blow my head off! The greatest hardcore punk band to ever walk the earth.

5. Avengers
I recall my quest as a younger lad in the '90s trying to track down a copy of the pink album. And when I finally did, that record became a permanent staple of my turntable. Now thanks to the wonders of modern technology, this essential part of music history is available to everyone. These songs still give me chills.

4. Zeros
When it comes to '77 era teenage punk with a pop sensibility, this is a band that ought to mentioned with the best of 'em.

3. The Dictators
I mean, come on: what's the name of this blog?! 

2. Pagans
THE definitive Midwestern American punk band. Its influence on what would later become "garage" punk was immeasurable. No punk music collection is complete without a proper Pagans best-of. I highly recommend this one.

1. Ramones 
The greatest punk band from any country!

So there you go. Honorable mentions go out to The Heartbreakers, Devil Dogs, Wipers, Adolescents, and Angry Samoans. There were ultimately six bands in common between this list and my 2011 list. I recently posed a similar question on my Facebook feed the other day (look me up: Josh Rutledge, York, PA) and got a lot of great responses. Maybe I'll do this list again in seven more years!



Anonymous said...

dgeneration ,There isnt a band better than Dgen (punk or not).They played in the same league of led zep,The clash,stones ,Ramones.......

Lord Rutledge said...

Great band! I especially love No Lunch. What an album!

Mark said...

Bad Religion should be here... Superconsistent band and invented a new style of punk rock with the Suffer album. Most of the 90s punk bands are heavy influenced by them.