dimanche 23 mars 2014

THE 10 MOST INFLUENTIAL PUNK ALBUMS (AT LEAST IN MY OPINION)

Disclaimer : Please be kind, English is not my mothertongue...

  It's been while now I write stuff about punk music, and in order to do so, I've listened to dozens and dozens of albums classified as punk, some really good and... the other ones. This is rather basically how slowly came the idea to write the current article, product of several years of latent reflexion. I wouldn't be able to make something that pretentious for a long time, so enjoy...

  I tried to be honest, and to give you poor english-reading people a more realistic state of things. Since Internet has gone mainstream, it seems that American punk rock is the only historically relevant kind of punk music, and as a pissed European I couldn't stand any longer to read that the ten most influential punk albums were nearly all recorded by American citizens. To be plainly fair, I'd like to add that I'm not one of those anti-american morons who populates Europe, without the US bands I would never had any interest in that weird thing called music, but to me and my mates, back in the days, as we were teenagers living in a our post-industrial borough nearby the Rhine ( a place filled with whiggers and their islamic counterparts) punk seemed to belong to another era and we only had a blurred picture of the original punks who used to walk in our streets. Nonetheless one thing was clear those extinct punk fuckers mimicked the Brits, not the Yanks. My youth had always made me think it's just completely wrong to minor the UK punk forefathers' contribution on the creation and the evolution of the music that made us grown-ups. So here's my lonely voice, comin' from the depths of the current european nightmare, isolated in a sea of US-based blogs only talking about american pop culture...

  The records described down below aren't the better ones, but those who made punk music evolve into new directions through decades, be it great or not.


10. London Calling - The Clash (1979)


  If you're like me and read from time to time musical "tops", you'll find everywhere that The Clash is one of the two, if not THE definitive punk reference. Bullshit, folks ! The Clash is just one the most enduring examples of cheap tunes for hipsters losers. Their first records are really good, I have to admit, but with 'London Calling' they reached the point of no-return. Soft, too full of old rock'n'roll influences, if not a forerunner of the disgusting "higher classes" world music, the Clash showed then their true faces. Those guys have been influential for sure, but it ain't for the best. Do you want real poseurs, real sold-outs ? Take The Clash, they nearly invented those concepts ! One simple fact about the band who wrote 'White Riot' shouldn't be forggoten : Joe Strummer and his co-workers played during years  some crappy pub rock and hung out with filthy hippies before they saw the Light into punk. And somehow they always kept it deep inside of them. Just gross. This record leaks those non punk influences out all way long, and the social comments it contains are far from those many other bands at that time expressed, in a more "underground" yet sincere way. The Clash are punk music for the european socialist youth organizations or for suburbian kids playin' punks on their mom basement during their late teens. Enough said I wanna puke...




9. Dookie - Green Day (1994)


  If you talk to a "normal" teen, and if he barely knows what punk could be, he might say : "Oh yeah, you mean like Green Day". I fully understand  such statements make the olders or the purists in the mood to smash that unlucky teen's face,  but we should admit once for for all, that Green Day has a huge influence on younger generations, even if we stay true to the roots of the original punk rock. It's 'Dookie' that really started the whole 90s pop punk thing in the charts and made punk scenes in the US (and hence in the entire world) once again creative and attractive. Of course prior to 1994 some bands like Bad Religion or Rancid played that kind of lighter, sometimes happier, immature punk rock but they were still affected by the 80s, if not the 70s, and the radicalism that marked those years. After 'Dookie', followed all this skate punk wave, with The Offspring, Pennywise and so on, the very same older punks rejected, as a new form of "corporated punk", particulary in Europe where we love morbid and DIY stuff. But in the end  'Dookie' definitely cleared the way for the late 90s successful pop punk acts and gave punk a new interest, and a new meaning for a younger generation. Musically this record contains everything this soft and marketed punk many of us loved had to offer during the few next years.



Note : For the angrier of you, feel yourself satisfied with this in a few years you'll read everywhere that 'American idiot' is the third most influential punk album all time.

8. Ramones -  The Ramones (1976)


  The Ramones "brothers", are such an uneasy case. Generally presented as the first punk band to came into existence, I've never agreed with this etiquette, even though I fully recognized them as one of the major influences on what we will described as 'punk rock'. There's only one little step to say  their basic and pretty simple rock, which became a trademark, is one of the inspirating acts for the birth of punk, but to me the Ramones are definitely more of a traditional rock band than anything else. Most of the time efficient and kinda boring at the same time. This record may be one of their best, and I added it in this list only because in local malls (major cultural references isn't it ?) they're with all the other ones down below, and also because they stay to this day one of the most popular bands for sunday punkeros as I. And finally because even the fat guys covered with crappy tattoos and playing crappy hardcore punk in every city are fond of their first hard rock band, the one who got them all into punk and then hardcore.



7. The Feeding of the 5000 - Crass (1978)


  If you read until here, and overcame by the way my crappy english writing skills, you already know what I think about the Clash. But I'm not the first to say that those guys are pathetic, the now cult British collective Crass named theirselves to point out that Strummer's band were just total sold out assholes from the very beginning. It's all true Crass' music completely sucks, because it's messy, full of political masochist speeches, and mostly with a very low recording quality, but those enraged Brits had some guts with their lyrics consisting mainly of frontal attacks against the (British) State, (christian) religion, and the consumerist society that emerged shortly after WW2. What's enough to make them an international reference. If the Pistols were the first ones to sing something about anarchy, Crass is the starting point of all that anarcho-punk movement, a genre owing everything to those not so cracked Englishmen. Hated by the nationalists, inspiring so many great bands like Conflict, Rudimentary Peni, or the local one playing in the closest squatt from your safe home, the collective can't let anyone indifferent, because they were in those tormented times -you know the end of the 70s, brrr- the ones who got the further, and because they tried to apply what they believed in, a pathetic failure, but that's another story.



6. The scream - Siouxsie and the banshees (1978)


  I really hesitated to include this record into this list. But as long as I thought about it, I finally overcame this existential problem, and I told myself that the masterpiece who gave birth to the post-punk thing, at a time when the original punk was still for some months alive, had the full right to stand here along with the others. The quite captivating voice of Siouxsie Sioux is here put on a rock music still impriganted by the London punk touch, something that will in no time change as the band started to experiment new sounds and moved toward new musical spheres. The 'Scream' is iconic because it synthetizes two major trends, the original british punk and the coming post-punk, making this record  at the very same time punk and something else. But unlike most Killing Joke or P.I.L. tunes, it still retains some parts of what the 1977 energy brought into the rock landscape, not losing too much space to gothic/experimental/whatever else stuff. And if you needed one more reason, I'd tell you, it's simply an excellent record, dark but not too much, still appreciated into goth, "depro-punk" or somehow weird music nerds circles for more than three decades. And that's enough.




5. Punk's not dead - The Exploited (1981)


  During the 80s, I wasn't very old as you might have guessed, but in my child mind got stuck for ever the picture of those stupid mohawks punks. And the very one who launched this trend was Wattie Bucchan. Regularly forgotten in the various tops you could find everywhere on the Web, yet everybody seems to know who the Exploited are. More or less. Back in 1981 the original punk burst of anger had gone softer, the musical riot was inexorably going to die. But like a pissed-off rapper from a third world country, sickened that the whole rap game is turning into some autotune contest mixed with cheap eurodance, the Exploited stood up for the music they had loved and gave it a second birth, melted with even more hate and anger, and way less reflexion. They were basically a caricature, constantly retelling the entire world the same exhausted ethos, but don't be fooled, they were the kick in the ass the entire punk rock thing desperatly needed. If I were the kind of guy worshipping bands, I would definitely worship the Exploited, because with their simplistic sound they showed kids that you don't need a huge amount of musical skill to share your point of view, and because if 'Punk's not dead' hadn't been recorded punk would have soften ad nauseam and become something  yuppies, conservatives, and corporations could use without any limits. All those reasons made me think this classic record should endly be in a top 5.



4. Damaged - Black Flag (1981)


 American Hardcore is not my kind of shit, you know. To be right, I hate american hardcore as much as I hate hip-hop (needless to say it means a lot). But I can't deny many people enjoy this kind of moronic derivative of punk music. If the current bands are just sad living jokes, some of the first "hard" records the hardcorish losers revere  are quite interesting, be they from New York, California
or from the Midwest depths. Among those bands you'll always find three names : Dead Kennedys, Minor Threat and Black Flag. The latter is for me the band that contributed the most to the "new" hardcore sound  rising with something nastier, louder, more shouted, and going far from critics about the british/european society to focus more on (US) politics, drugs or the glorious suburbian way of life we're now in Europe partially living  too. The evil seeds of the american hardcore shit are all in 'Damaged'.




3. Hear nothing, see nothing, say nothing - Discharge (1982)


The "nasty and stupid" punk rose in the 80s first half, shortly after the Exploited started to give gigs, but it was becoming even dumber and more brutal than what the angry Scots played.  Oh yeah and without any mohawk . Very close to the proto-thrash this record is for every drummer a manifesto, introducing the now well-known fast and agressive D-beat. Along with their Charged G.b.h. pals, Discharge were among the first ones in Europe to play in a darker, heavier yet still with speed direction, thus flirting with the then rejected metal scenes, but without giving up the defiance and criticism associated with punk.
More than G.b.h., Discharge is responsible for having inspired the best D-beat or "krangpunk" bands  mostly from the UK and Scandinavia, those who will later inspire remoted acts like grindcore bands, the original Gotenburg death metal founders or even bands from the first wave of black metal (Bathory's founder used to dig some G.b.h and Discharge). The influence of this record goes well beyond the sole punk movement and set things for most of the extreme derivatives of rock'n'roll. This is the reason I always find it quite ridiculous when a death metal nerd or a black metal misanthrop explains me how much punk in his opinion sucks. Roots, bloody roots, morons...


 

2. Damned, damned, damned ! - The Damned (1977)


  Until now we've only seen angry and pissed-off or, maybe a little bit better, quite depressive records. But punk music has a way lighter side, and the Damned are the first stepping stone in the fun punk ways. Moreover this release is one of the first, if not the first, album officially recognized as punk. I always found it pretty sad this record is a this point ignored by "music" critics conforming to the american pop culture diktat. With their particular sound influenced by the good old 60s pop, and the even older rock'n'roll,  and just like the Pistols, The Damned did created something new and filled with an irresistible amount of energy. Despite a lower quality result than most of the stuff airing at that time, they succeeded and topped in the UK charts thanks to their personal and often humorous lyrics, a trademark used again decades later with the same success by the Offspring or in Germany the whole "fun-punk" wave with great acts like Wizo or Terrorgruppe. And everyone a little bit into punk history  shall keep in mind that this album contains 'New Rose' THE track who helped the punk fashion to become popular in the UK, a  trend which allowed us to listen all those classics on Youtube today.



1.Nevermind the bollocks (Here's the Sex Pistols) - The Sex Pistols (1977)


I don't like revisionists. Let me put things straight again : the Americans went on the Moon, the nazis killed millions of Jews, the Arabs never gave Westerners maths, and more important Michael Jackson is fucking dead. And then, one last thing : punk rock fucking comes from the fucking kingdom of  the fucking queen Elizabeth (enough fucking for today, I guess) !
As the Brits couldn't play music ex nihilo they used the american rock matrix, that's sure, but no one before the Pistols had matched to this point an agressive but light sound, a defying and provocative attitude along with a "I don't give a shit" creed.  Achieving something greater than just degenerated 50s rock,  McLaren's boys band allowed to an incalculable  number of kids to discover that great music existed between Mozart, the Beatles and all the others gross hippie/Motown/ethnic pieces of shit we still have to hear every day everywhere. You got the picture, this record came to define what punk was and somehow still is, and its legacy gets far beyond this scene. This rock monument set things right for a long time, and made countless bands in every country go into new directions. So thank you Sex Pistols, and farewell...



 Special mention : Slime - Slime (1981)


I couldn't miss Slime since I'm talking way too much about german punk (mostly in French, sorry) on this shitty blog. Let me be fair and give to Caesar what's Caesar's, punk comes from the english-speaking world and hit Germany like the waves hit the reef. But the Germans, like in every other rock styles, and like many other peoples, have some kind of ambivalence, having both UK or US-inspired mainstream references as well as national influential acts. This situation (exacerbated in Europe) led to the creation of a common european culture, based on the american popular culture, coexisting with some more national references. In the post-war West-Germany few cultural movements affected to its very core the pathetic bourgeois society than punk. Only those fucking post-'68 gross leftist and xenophile hippies did something greater bringing veganism, ecology, pacifism, and all those things who would have brought them in a KZ two decades earlier.
  The generally accepted starting point of all this crazy deutschpunk nebula is Slime, defining what a classic german punk band should sound like. Nothing too excentric here, musically speaking, even if the musicians are playing in a somewhat typical german/continental way imo. No, the music is quite good but it's not what really makes Slime that important to me.  If you want to understand what's so great about Slime, you'll have to dig their lyrics and know some history. They were among the firsts to make an agressive rock with german lyrics, bringing an uncompromising anarchist attitude straight into the heart of the post-nazi western State. Slime showed young Germans you could sing in german without being a total sold out, or even worst, a patriot and still make something you could be proud of. To this day some of their most controversial songs, like 'Germany has to die' or ' Police, SA, SS' are still banned by the federal government, an honour usually only for Third Reich nostalgia classic moronic stuff or islamist paedophiles. Yeah they shook the Krauts, definitely.

I could also have told you a word about Schleim Keim, Slime's GDR equivalent, also banned by their State authorities, but their sound is way too cheap and lo-fi to be really influent.



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