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Anarchy On The Airwaves - My Favorite Punk Albums

Updated on May 16, 2013

Beat on the Brat

I have covered mostly heavy metal and the bands that led up to it thus far, but I am also a devoted fan of punk rock. Seen by many as the music that saved rock n' roll and gave the masses simple, rebellious, politically controversial music that they could relate to, unlike the previous bands of rebellion of the early 70s that seemed to be relegated to large stadiums. In honor of those great bands, I have compiled here a list of what I feel were the best of the best.



Dead Kennedys - Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables

Hailed by many as the American answer to the Sex Pistols, the Dead Kennedys blazed a trail of politically inflammatory punk rock courtesy of manic loud mouthed front man Jello Biafra's lyrics and unique vibrato voice and East Bay Ray's surf influenced guitar riffs. Though separated now and Jello Biafra's current band (Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine) is just as controversial as ever, this album stands as a true gem of American punk.



The Clash - The Clash

This album has the distinction of being personally recommended to me by Henry Rollins, and it is a decision I have never regretted (I have both the UK and US versions). "Clash City Rockers" and "London's Burning" will forever be among any of the songs I could select from the album as the epitome of everything that makes punk rock amazing.

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Green Day - American Idiot

I know I know, "they can't be punk, that album was successful, people know who Green Day are, blah blah blah". Set aside all the success this album got and how well known Green Day have become and just put this album up against some of the main characteristics of punk rock. Relatively simple and aggressive musicianship: check. At least somewhat controversial among the more uptight of listeners: check. Politically inflammatory lyrics: double check. This was the only album I can remember from that time that took as many shots at the powers that be and got as successful as it did, something which still honestly kind of surprises me. Maybe it's a little catchier than a lot of the other stuff on this list, but being catchy and successful should not overshadow something if it's still good. And if you still disagree with me, too bad. I like it.

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The Cramps - Songs the Lord Taught Us

This is where I will now go to the opposite end of the spectrum and indulge in a touch of "hipster" pride. I always felt a bit of pride in playing this band on my old radio show as front man Lux Interior is from my hometown. But aside from that, they were a truly unique band. Managing a perfect combination of punk and rockabilly with a touch of psychedelic (helping to form a sub-genre called psychobilly, a term they coined) and classic punk topics such as horror and sci-fi movies combined with a good sense of humor, this album always manage to put a smile on my face. The fact that there is no bass guitar on this album is interesting too.

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Dropkick Murphys - The Warriors Code

One of my favorite bands of all time, and while there are quite a few bands that have made the absolutely amazing combination of Celtic music and punk rock, none have done it so perfectly as the Dropkick Murphys, and no where is that more apparent than on the album that finally broke them into the mainstream with the song "Shipping Up To Boston" appearing in Martin Scorsese's "The Departed". This is one of the best road trip albums of all time.



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Black Flag - Slip It In

In my opinion, the greatest American punk band since the Ramones. Those of you who read my articles will notice that I have kind of a thing for albums that catch bands in a transitional period. This is one of those cases once again. In the middle of the transition from the straight forward hardcore punk of their early days to the more complex heavy metal influenced albums of their later years this album is just a straight up rocker.

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The Misfits - Static Age

While not generally considered their most influential album and not completely the initiators of the horror punk sub-genre they would become famous for, this is definitely the most pure example of punk they would come to create. I love everything the Misfits have put out (own almost all of it too), but their music during the Michale Graves era was much more metal influenced as is the current line up, and this is my favorite album of the Danzig era. This is where it all began, and as far as I'm concerned, it is one of the best.

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The Ramones - Rocket to Russia

Not typically the most well known Ramones album today, though it was their most successful at the time of it's release, and while of course there really is no such thing as a bad Ramones album, this is their best in my opinion. The influence of 50s greaser and surf rock is much more prevalent on this record than any of the others and I think it makes the album much catchier without losing any of the edge on their earlier work. It makes it a perfect album to pull out in the summer. Also it has a cover of "Surfing Bird" long before Family Guy made it popular again.

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The Ruts - Something That I Said

I really do hate to use the word underrated. It's a term that comes with such hipster pretension that most of the time I hear it I just roll my eyes in annoyance. With this band however, I feel no shame in using that word. It is criminal to me how few people know of this band, when really everything they have ever recorded is pure punk gold. They have gotten a little more recognition with Henry Rollins talking about them and singing for them at one point as well as other DC bands being influenced by them, but still are not as known as they should be. The album I recommended is a compilation album but I think it really does encapsulate everything you need to know about The Ruts. One of the first bands to meld punk and reggae together, "Staring at the Rude Boys", "Babylon's Burning", and "Jah War" are absolute classics that will get stuck in your head for days.



The Sex Pistols - Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols.

"A punk fan who loves the Sex Pistols? Who woulda thunk it?" If you've heard the album there really is nothing I need to say about it. Pure punk perfection from start to finish, as far as I am concerned this album defines anarchy and the razor sharp political and social commentary that would become the essence of punk. John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten is still my favorite punk lyricist to have ever been put on record and Steve Jones, Paul Cook, and Sid Vicious (on at least one song) crafted some of the most basic yet kick ass music I have ever heard (some of the first songs I ever tried to learn to play as well). I really cannot say enough good things about this album, and that's why after all of the years that have passed since I took a chance on buying it, it is still my favorite punk album of all time.

...With a Baseball Bat

So there you have it, my favorite punk albums of all time. I'll likely do some more articles on punk before I return to doing more of "A Beginner's Guide to Heavy Metal" so I hope you all enjoy "Anarchy on the Airwaves" and find some new listening materials out of it.


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