Punk rock has many definitions depending on the person you talk to. But we'll agree that it's now a global phenomenon and that it has, quite oddly, a bright future. Punk rock exists for 40 years and began as the back-to-basics kick in the butt the whole rock music needed before becoming a true subculture of its own. Punk rock might not be as wide as Metal, but there's nonetheless many kinds of punk music, from the 70s bands, the anarchist stuff, the popular branded pop-punk hits of the mid-90s/early 00s or the hardcore productions. IMO all of them are pretty legit and I like them all, depending on my mood, but they all have something in common, the same roots and the same defying attitude towards "authority" and "the norm". Whatever it means.
Nothing had really changed since the movement, or let's call it the fashion, began in the late 70s UK. The Brits always had in the part of world I lived in much more influence on popular music, and naturally on punk rock too, than the Americans until the late 90s. Today even in my hometown the american references are omnipresent and tend to define punk for younger generations. It's a pity because I grew up with bands for both continents alike, and I always had the feeling a good part of the global crowd doesn't want to see that there is much more than those good old californian tunes.
Ryan Ritchie will probably never read this article, but I felt like some asshole had to give his butthurt opinion, just like some guy from Indonesia could have done it. So this list contains 10 punk albums deserving to be heard once in a life I had the opportunity to listen to during mine, but like the original one it excludes EPs or rock albums having strong ties with punk rock definitely belonging to the rock realm. Otherwise NOFX's 'The Decline', or 'La Hermandad : en el principio fue el ruido' from the german gods the Toten Hosen would have been number one. You'll find only european and american records but there's a lot of good stuff in Asia and South America, I just don't have enough knowledge ot those scenes to include one of them in my own list.
10. Apocalypse dudes -Turbonegro (1998)
Punk always had something to do with being stupid and the dirty part of any sexual activity. Norwegian iconoclast band Turbonegro managed to talk about both quite equally on this record, but what makes it so exciting is definitely the music itself who combines the punk basics and what you could expect from a high level glam/hair metal/Guns'n'Roses like band. Incredible, I know, but the miracle happened and the 80s hair metal gimmicks copulated with some post- UK Subs european punk rock, giving birth to very melodic and catchy as hell songs, with this "I don't give a fuck" attitude encoded in the punk DNA. All of this makes unthoughtable to miss them and their best record to date.
09. Nevermind the Bollocks - Sex Pistols (1977)
I'm not really fond of historical records but since the Pistols were the very first band labelled as punk it seems pretty legitimate to pick up this particular record among the zillions Britain produced in the early days. Forget the Ramones, meet the filth and the fury ! Without this one all we would have today would be some Captain Sensible whinnings, Generation X's next flat album or the Buzzcocks playing rock the way the French do. But thanks the good Lord we had Malcolm McLaren's boys band, the very band who shook the whole british nation to its core. Something that never happened again at this scale in the western world after the 70s. Among the first wave classics from the Isles if you have to listen to only one record before you die, listen to this one !
08. Bandera Pirata - Rasta Knast (2001)
Can punk be epic ? For years I thought no, but then came this blowing record right from Lower Saxony, Germany. Following their self-declared swedish idols -Asta Kask- steps those guys also included in their sound strong elements of the more traditional deutschpunk subculture (deuuuuuutschpuuuuuuuuuuuunk, ich liebe es !). That's right, they played the perfect mix between deutschpunk and trallpunk (the light and fast swedish scene). A dream come true ! An unique record at the same time full of bitterness, of sweet sadness, of those good old german daily life stuff and, oddly, some kind of calling of the open sea that'll give you the urgent desire to leave the western cities overflooded by garbage and to go once for all on a drakkar because you're finally ready to face the northern shores. Without betraying your anarchist ideals. No more, no less.
07. No future no hope - Defiance (1996)
If you think the modern world we live in is oppressive and nothing but shit, well, this record won't contradict you much. One of the main goal of the early punk rock was to tell the bitter truth about the real world and to give the final kick in the head to the hippie vision of the universe, who badly deserved it. Punks had to tell the truth at any cost and with such titles like 'Fuck them all', 'I hate this city', 'Self imposed slavery' or of course 'No future no hope' the Portland anarchists went straight to the point. In a brutal and nasty way, mimicking in reverse those goddam capitalist speeches.
06. No gods, no managers - Chokin Victim (1999)
Since the Ramones New York City punk rock always had to do more about drugs than anarchy or any rebellious attitude. NYC's punk records seemed to be made by junkies for junkies. When those punks were not too craked away they happened to play some legendary tunes filled with this terrifying and quite sad any-drug-will-do overdose feeling but also with a surprising sense of catchy melodies inspired by ska, latin music along with more traditional punk influences. Despaired, anarchistoid, stunning record deserving to be in any top 10 about punk rock.
05. Sin egen motståndare - Totalitär (1994)
After their famous EP 'Police Bastard' UK's cult beyond-hardcore band Doom released an album of covers called 'Hail to Sweden', a very nice parody of the Manowar dummies. Those punk crusties hadn't sold their soul to some foreign nationalist ideology, but knelt before those who preceded them in the the path of a "worst than Discharge and the whole UK 82" punk rock, those who achieved something even rawer than the Charged G.B.H. records. Although released in the 90s, 'Sin egen motståndare' contains everything that made the 80s krangpunk so great, with the repetitive and pissed lyrics all in swedish. All of this being put of course on a fucking D-beat without any compromission with the listener's ears. Before you die, please hear the raw power of the early days swedish punk and join the cult that spread from the northern rich territories to places like Jakarta or Rio da Janeiro.
04. Death Church - Rudimentary Peni (1983)
The Misfits are a band for dumb nerds when you compare them to RP. The Brits dealt way better with monsters and insanity for the very understandable reason that they were crazy FOR REAL. Between two trips to the closest asyleum they managed to record some of the most disturbing anarcho-punk tracks you could find. Like their friends from Conflict or CRASS they sing how much society is a burden but they went down the hill on a larger scale. If you thought punk was about acting cool, you were plain wrong, punk is about alienation and suffering in a consumerist politically-correct environment that drives you literally mad. Give a chance to those short, sick and destroyed melodies and their titles like 'Radio schizo', 'Rotten to the core', 'Nothing but a nightmare' or the ultimate classic 'Alice crucifies the paedophiles', unsane just like some later death or black metal releases but in a very different way.
I hesitated a lot for my number three. I thought about some classic Conflict records because of their dark political content, about 'American Idiot' just for trolling you all or about the hardcore hidden gems from former Yugoslavia, Poland, Indonesia, or South America. But then I remembered I could have all of these faces of punk into one old but gold single hungarian album. You'll find a quite unique mix of pop and anarcho-punk on their first realease and since I discovered them through this record 13 fucking years ago it never ceased to amaze me because of all the darkness, the juvenile rage and rubbish attitude it contains. With those tracks you can still feel that old school touch continental european bands kept to this day while the english-speaker totally lost it. And because it will remind to us all that punk knows no boundaries, it's just about the will to make something better of your life than just eat, sleep,work, fuck and pay taxes. What happened to the band after this one ? Well they just became of the most technical punk band in the world.
02. Fuck the System - The Exploited (2003)
Punk ain't really about nice feelings that's for sure. Forget the cheesy rock from your childhood, let's face the real harsh face of this world and let anger be your most faithful companion. 'Fuck the System' has moronic texts, not subtle at all tracks but it's one of a killer record. Primitive expression of any variation of an angry state of mind are on this masterpiece. Once a bomb in the underground networks, the Scots deserved to be in a top 5, definitely. Enough talking, time for some real out-of-your-fucking-surburbian-comfort tracks !
01. Suffer - Bad Religion (1988)
And finally the best record of this list is... an american one ! If the british scenes brought punk to life, it would be a crime to minor the significance of the early 80s californian records. But as good as those CDs were after 1985 stuff got pretty shitty in both continents. Only Bad Religion happened to publish a good regular punk record before the fucking Offspring even recorded what gave punk a second life in the 90s. Short, melodic, truely hardcore tracks on 'Suffer' are the ones the Adolescents should have written in order to definitely penetrate the punk Olympus and they'll all tell you about the suburbian way of life silliness and its mental casualties in a most than unforgettable way. Killer songs, deep lyrics with meaning and some kind of jaded sensibility, now that makes a record deserving to be heard before morbid rigidity.
Well that's all folks, cheers and (A).