A long long time ago during this good ol' XXst century, I was just a regular teenage loser too dumb to be a nerd and too smart to leave school for smoking pots all day long. Deep inside of me I always wanted to be a good boy, to live a happy life with a nice blond girlfriend, a decent job, a normal house with a small garden in Surburbia-upon-Europe, a family dog, BBQ with friends on summer and this kind of things. But...
I met punk rock. At the age of 13 this world already disgusted me to the very core, I found everything hypocrit, socialism had already disappointed me and I couldn't understand how someone could be into metal with all that stupid satanic fantasy-influenced merchandising, hip-hop with all those afro-centric/arabo-centric latent anti-white racism/ poor societal critics/crime glorifications, french untasty pop songs for old farts or techno (seriously, eurodance stank to death). So at that time I mainly listened to "old" british and american classic rock bands my relatives used to listen back in their youths. Yes, Queen, U2, Foreigner, you got the picture. Today I still like the soundtrack of my early life but as time passed I wanted something more agressive, but not as heavy as metal and not as stupid as the Spice Girls.
In a way I followed the greater rock history. The very first shock was AC/DC, I listened to their old stuff over and over. But as time went by I wanted something else, less bluesy and with even more energy. One evening, I had a very bad day at school, some tried to beat me as usual (local white trash heroes, southern mediterranean scumbags I don't really know anymore... bein' in a fictional gang was the major trend back then). I was quite sad, nobody seemed to understand this was serious and not just some kiddo playing, and I decided to hear music in order to change my hateful thoughts. So I took an "old" sampler from 1992 called '"The Best of the 70s". It couldn't be bad, I thought. Then came the boring songs everyone knows, Elton John, Joe Cocker, alright. Bob Marley, ABBA, Blondie, alright, alright.
01. New rose - The Damned (1976), London, UK
What was that ? Short, frantic, amateurish but so cool ! The first punk single released in the UK, became the very first punk track I ever listened to. Some have the Ramones or the Dead Kennedys as their stepping band, but for me it was this strange british quartet. Maybe is this the reason why I'm not very fond of all this american punk myth and stay true to the so-called movement british roots, I don't know.
02. God save the queen - The Sex Pistols (1977), London, UK
The Damned may have been my very first band they couldn't match the filth and the fury. Angry and catchy as fuck, showing little respect to the State and the politicians, just like me, I listened to this song ad nauseam. The 'No future' part shook me, because even if it was still the 90s, it became quite soon clear people like me have litterally no future in France's dreaming, even if major radios broadcast every day pathetic Coldplay or french r'n'b songs to keep the sheeps sleepy. Like many on this planet Johnny Rotten more than anyone changed my views on the world. Nothing more, nothing less. And since then I'm waiting for the real anarchy in Frankreich and the new Pistols album alike.
03. Whie riot - The Clash (1978), London, UK
As a kid one of my favourite song was 'Should I stay or should I go ?' because Levis, if my memories are right, used it in a commercial. But it makes a long time now I have no respect anymore for the Clash, who represent the ugly gentrification of punk and its worst betrayal : working with the european socialists. As said before I had some trouble at school, and contrary to what they told you every day on TV (you know the "only white people are racist devils/the others can't be racist pigs" bullshit and other similar fairytales)- victims were always white whereas agressors half of the time weren't. It became very tempting to draw swatikas on the school doors, just to show some they weren't masters of the place and that kafirs or "white meat" won't bow to them that easily. The idea of a white riot became charming as well as illusional during those days : let's face it, we whites are kind idiots, we're too lazy, coward and fat to say what's really right and what's not. And yeah I nearly forgot, we keep voting for institutions beyond corruption. What this song says is so fucking true, and this time the Clash did a great job, with one of their few truly punk songs. I put down here the very video I saw, shot during the 1978 Wembley concert, one of those you can't forget.
04. In the city - The Jam (1978), Surrey, UK
As a teenager I was all day-long in the streets, right in the city. Not with 15 "pals" in a social buildings area, like French rap told us this was the only way to be a man. Nope. What I met in the streets was real life, not gangsta-rap clichés. In Europe street life meant back then mostly ordinary hate, fear of your neighbours, low-level crimes, mainstream stupidity, drug dealing signs, and boredom. Expecting something reflecting what I saw in the outside, the title of this song made me curious and since the first time I heard it, I immediately enjoyed this one, way nicer than the three previous ones. This little song from a virtually unknown band really gave me earworms. Everything here seems so british from the singer accent to the way the guitar is played, and that was what I enjoyed the most. The eternal british working-class pictures seemed to appear right at home, every time this song played. I'm pretty sure the fact I was a britpop amateur, and a hardcore Oasis fan helped me paradoxally to get into british punk. It could be considered musically-speaking as just a classic rock song, but nah the attitude is pure british punk from the early days.
05. What do I get ? - The Buzzcocks (1978), Greater Manchester, UK
Many are forgetting that at the very beginning punk music was just pop rock gone bad, nasty, angry and stupid. In England life was awful for the youth, so the new pop music made by young people for young people carried awful lyrics. The Buzzcocks were no exceptions and kept since then playing pop-in disguise songs for most of their career. A sad love song without any love story and a milestone in punk history.
06. Your generation - Generation X (1978), London, UK
In 2014 Billy Idol scares me, but during his days as Generation X singer, man, he was such a great performer, of course way before he lost his soul in America. From their first album, one of these great punk classics every litlle sunday punker should have heard at least once in his life before claiming to know anything about punk rock, this single had a huge impact on my appreciation of music. Still pop in some ways, and not as fast and angry as what punk music will later become, this song is nevertheless damn catchy, with such an unforgettable chorus. The bitter lyrics about the former generation, just like the fact they're mocking the Who, one of the best classic rock bands ever, nowadays seem a little bit dumb but they contribute to the atmosphere of defiance this song carries. Today the whole generation X looks like shit, but when you see what's associated with the so-called generation Y, it makes me happy to really be part of neither.
07. Born to lose - Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers (1977), New York City, USA
'Born to lose', just like 'No future' is one of those pessimistic and negative slogans people still remember to this day. And although the New York bands had a significative impact on the development of punk music, this track is one the few exceptions I made to the british scenes. I can't help I was never a Ramones guy. To me Johnny Thunders is one of those americans who went away from the typical US music industry traps and wrote great songs dealing with real life issues and feelings with a more personal music, like we europeans love to play, and not some kind of Hollywood bullshit. Despite its happy tones and rather simple lyrics, 'Born to lose' contains some dark and desillusionized ideas, reflecting what people those from above designate as "worthless losers" are living. R.I.P Johnny.
08. Blackball - The Offspring (1991), Orange County, USA
The old 1977 punk was pretty, funny and energic, except of course the Sex Pistols, but those bands seemed dead and gone for ever. Their music was quite atrracting but also horribly hard to find in those years without Internet, and so I gave up, and got back into more classic rock tunes. Punk was just a curiosity, funnier and lighter than satanic or neo-nazi black metal but nothing more. Until I heard this track from one of the most commercial and hated punk band this planet ever carried. Like everyone I heard 'The kids aren't alright' on radio because even french pop rock radios couldn't avoid to play it, but this sounded too brainwashed, too american. I never liked that much this track. Several of my friends were Offspring fans (like we all do here, unless you're a hip-hop bastard naturally) and recommended me the band, which was clearly an unusual statement. We never talked about music. Football, video games, yeah but music ?! I found their first album and listened this song first because of its weird title. Although the production quality was low, and the guitar was acid and tortured, I enjoyed the dark tones and lyrics this song has. This is how I became a faithful soldier in the Offspring fan army, and decided to give the skate punk thing a chance after all.
09. Don't call me white - NOFX (1994), Los Angeles, USA
Even according to french standards NOFX was hugely popular and their records were that easy to find. Even the great mall gave you a chance to hear NOFX. Generally labelled as skater music, some of their songs were broadcasted from time to time by the moron-held french TV. But this is not how I started with them. A very good friend of mine came back, and at his father's basement lied all what you needed to play music. His dad was like the perfect former 80s thrasher and tried to teach us some music history. Inevitably he showed us Metallica, Scorpions, RATM and the classic french hard rock heroes Trust. But this was too hard to play, and again too heavy. So he decided to let us make our own selection. My friend asked me if I wanted to hear something really stupid and I naturally answered yes. He put 'Punk in drublic' and started to sing 'Don't call me white' with an horrible high-pitched voice. This was so funny, we decided to learn that song and to record it with our dumb teenager voices, achieving my first recording ever on a cheap tape. But those days are gone for ever. My friend's away now, his dad too. He lives now a harsh life without much fun, and his old one became alcoholic and something close to a hobo. Fuck life, seriously...
10. American Jesus - Bad Religion (1993), Los Angeles, USA
There is a raging debate on Bad Religion. Are they really still punk after all those years ? Well, yes and no at the same time. To me they were more a soft rock band back then I missed my rendez-vous with them as a teenager, even if I discovered how some of their albums are great later. The only track I listened to death from them was this one, because it has a meaning but even more important an unique atmosphere. Dark and slow, not really angry and with an unforgettable singing both neutral and tragic (yeah). The video stresses this. You can see the void of our concrete cities and the iconic christian cross in a weird duet. I had been as a kid already 5 times in the US, and in a way I share the same fascination Americans have for Jesus, the crucifixion and the biblical teachings and so this song got really stuck in my mind. "One nation and a God" fellahs...
11. Angry, young and poor - Anti-Flag (2001), Pittsburgh, USA
As I grew older, life generally speaking persisted to become shittier every day. A dumb and coward family, money issues, street violences, useless cops, left-wing wanker teachers I couldn't anymore stand, everything was shit. Gansta wannabe motherfuckers, could insult you for free, threaten you, beat you, 6 against one of course, no problem, and the fucking school officials kept to tell you "to be tolerant" while they were every night warm in their rich suburbs and while you slept out. Everything was shit. Better days friends slowly becoming junkies and drunkards, because of unemployment. Everything was shit. Every word on this fucking song is true and comes from the heart (that's what I expect from punk tunes) on a very enjoyable music piece with an awesome drumming part. When in front of the French Republic flag the social workers talked to me the first time I just quoted Justin Sane, and those fuckheads never said anything again to me because they knew it was right all way long.
12. Complete disorder - Disorder (1980), Bristol, UK
I was maybe 16 when I accidentally discovered anarcho-punk in all its glory. One boring day like every other ones I was searching for some sunny californian punk songs, because it was in the air, it still seemed to be the closest kind of music form to something who could be considered as cool. In this world where the Offspring were at their top, and Green Day hadn't written 'American Idiot' yet, SoCa punk wannabes were the ultimate shit for a lone teenager, sure. But they were nothing compared to what was labelled as "acid punk", a mysterious and obscure subgenre no one seemed to have ever heard about in the neighbourhood. I only found again this track while writting this article and all came back in my mind with this tune I hadn't heard in ages. This short piece of real british hardcore punk made me fell into anarcho-punk, definitely yeah. This sick minute was absolutely awesome and made you feel you were living in a squatt swarming with half-dead rats while you were on heroin, bad just like the other junkies living with you in poor condition. More or less. Definitely a fucking killer sound, I searched again in later years, and only found again in the german punk band Ea80, before anarcho-punk.net became my favourite source of music in my late late teenage years (two years of pure isolation and hate of this world which sometimes makes me feel that real anarchism might be worse for your mental sanity than neo-nazism or wahhabism, finally). Check out Disorder's stuff if you like scandinavian hardcore or later british hardcore bands prefiguring grindcore and even death metal, satisfaction guaranteed.
13. United chaos and anarchy - The Exploited (1988), Edinburgh, UK (for the moment...)
I've already told the story on this blog. I was searching for music on the evil eMule at a friend basement, and I discovered a song with a name so stupid I couldn't resist. United chaos and anarchy, come on, what's this lame title, some underground comics super villains crossover ? The music was equally stupid and poor, so repetitive and weak, this song became of my favourite musical jokes. But in the end this morbid fascination for some old scottish half-dead punk dudes (the Exploited were out of the map during those days, Wattie had retired and worked as a roadie...) persisted.
Too late, during the very last days of high school, they resurrected and published 'Fuck the system', my 2003 uber favourite, expressing everything I felt at this time. With all the hate against everyone and all the despair of living in a world of assholes it means.
I couldn't put the right track up there, but for an unknown reason I could put the track just before on the EP (...). The quality is still terrible but from this one you'd be able to jump to 'United chaos and anarchy'.
Bonus : Ca plane pour moi - Plastic Bertrand (1978), Brussels, Belgium
So moronic, so fake, so cheap, brilliant. The only true punk song sung in french. Belgian national treasure !