Alternative Music Lesson #4: Punk Rock

8.10 punk rock

Oh, I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the summer of 1976, and I was headlong deep into the band KISS. At that time, the band was making the transition from being an underground New York City phenomenon into conquering international heroes. The band had just released their masterpiece Destroyer, so I went with my mom to the grocery store in order to purchase some rock magazines with the band in them. Fortunately for me, I found copies of Circus and Creem with features on the band.

8.10 Television-band
Television

After making my purchases, I rode home with mom, helped her unload the car with all of the food that would be used to get me energy for all of my sports at the time: summer All-Star baseball, playing basketball with the high school kids in my area, and all the running I was doing at the time. I then went to my room, put Destroyer on my turntable and began thumbing through my magazines. Inside of one of them, I discovered two articles. The first article was about the New York City punk scene at the CBGBs, with the other about this punk scene in London. At that moment, I become intrigued by a new genre of music that was supposed to be returning rock music to the basics.

8.10 Richard Hell and the Voidoids
Richard Hell & the Voidoids

Punk rock came about as a reaction to the bloated nature of rock music’s penchant for prog rock at the time. Seemingly overnight, the punks of NYC were throwing away all the excesses of rock at the time and getting back to the pre-Beatles sounds, coupled with a love for the proto-punk music and bubblegum pop. In Britain, the punk scene started with the sounds of the Ramones and New York Dolls, then throwing in some lyrics about the economic state-of-affairs, in a very angry manner. Lumped together with the developing Los Angeles happening, the locations’ music quickly overtook the U.K., while in the States, the music was simmering throughout the country waiting to explode in the Nineties. Still, I realized I had found a music genre that I could call my own. Thus, I picked up a Devo album here, borrowed a Sex Pistols album there. The more I read and heard, the more I fell in love with the music. I loved the simplicity and apparent amateurish playing of the instruments. I loved the aggressive nature of the music. And, being a wordsmith at heart, I loved the sarcasm and surrealism of the American punks and I loved the anger of the British punks. When I heard this music, it felt like home, no matter if I was listening to The Damned or Fear, Talking Heads or The Anti-Nowhere League. Finally, I was listening to rock & roll, not just rock music, as brought to me by Led Zeppelin or Eagles. Sure, they are terrific artists, but give me those three-minute songs of high energy any day of the week.

8.10 the damned
The Damned

So, in an effort to set things up for New Wave and College Rock in the immediate future of this musical timeline, I bring to you my Top 100 Favorite Punk Songs of the Late-70s and Early 80s. Let the debate begin!

  1. Sex Pistols – “Anarchy in the U.K.” (1977)
  2. Richard Hell & the Voidoids – “Blank Generation” (1977)
  3. Ramones – “I Wanna Be Sedated” (1978)
  4. Sex Pistols – “God Save the Queen” (1977)
  5. The Jam – “Going Underground” (1980)
  6. Talking Heads – “Psycho Killer” (1977)
  7. Sid Vicious – “My Way” (1978)
  8. The Clash – “London Calling” (1979)
  9. The Jam – “In the City” (1977)
  10. The Damned – “Neat Neat Neat” (1977)
  11. Buzzcocks – “Ever Fallen in Love” (1978)
  12. The Clash – “This Is Radio Clash” (1981)
  13. Blondie – “One Way or Another” (1978)
  14. Dead Kennedys – “Holiday in Cambodia” (1980)
  15. Elvis Costello & the Attractions – “Radio, Radio” (1978)
  16. The Clash – “I Fought the Law” (1977)
  17. Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers – “Chinese Rocks” (1977)
  18. Patti Smith Group – “Gloria” (1976)
  19. Iggy Pop – “Lust for Life” (1977)
  20. The Undertones – “Teenage Kicks” (1978)
  21. DEVO – “Jocko Homo” (1978)
  22. The Adverts – “Gary Gilmore’s Eyes” (1978)
  23. Television – “See No Evil” (1977)
  24. Eddie & the Hot Rods – “Do Anything You Wanna Do” (1977)
  25. Jim Carroll Band – “People Who Died” (1980)
  26. Dead Boys – “Sonic Reducer” (1977)
  27. Generation X – “Dancing with Myself” (1980)
  28. The Damned – “New Rose” (1976)
  29. The Saints – “(I’m) Stranded” (1977)
  30. Joy Division – “Transmission” (1979)
  31. Pretenders – “Tattooed Love Boys” (1979)
  32. Blondie – “Hanging on the Telephone” (1978)
  33. Tubeway Army – “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” (1979)
  34. Ramones – “Beat on the Brat” (1976)
  35. The Anti-Nowhere League – “I Hate…People” (1982)
  36. X – “Johnny Hit and Run Paulene” (1980)
  37. Sham 69 – “If the Kids Are United” (1978)
  38. The Ruts – “Babylon’s Burning” (1979)
  39. Ramones – “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker” (1977)
  40. Dead Kennedys – “California Über Alles” (1980)
  41. Misfits – “Last Caress” (1980)
  42. The Clash – “(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais” (1977)
  43. X-Ray Spex – “Oh Bondage Up Yours” (1978)
  44. Wire – “12 X U” (1977)
  45. Blondie – “Rip Her to Shreds” (1977)
  46. Sex Pistols – “Holiday in the Sun” (1977)
  47. The Stranglers – “No More Heroes” (1977)
  48. Ian Dury & the Blockheads – “Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll” (1977)
  49. The Jam – “The Modern World” (1977)
  50. Ramones – “Rock and Roll High School” (1979)
  51. The Adverts – “One Chord Wonders” (1978)
  52. Killing Joke – “Wardance” (1980)
  53. The Damned – “Smash It Up” (1979)
  54. Richard Hell & the Voidoids – “Love Comes in Spurts” (1977)
  55. Buzzcocks – “Orgasm Addict” (1977)
  56. The Gun Club – “Sex Beat” (1981)
  57. Bad Brains – “Pay to Cum” (1980)
  58. Television – “Marquee Moon” (1977)
  59. XTC – “This Is Pop?” (1978)
  60. Dead Kennedys – “Kill the Poor” (1980)
  61. Generation X – “Your Generation” (1978)
  62. Hüsker Dü – “Pink Turns to Blue” (1984)
  63. Stiff Little Fingers – “Alternative Ulster” (1979)
  64. Blondie – “Heart of Glass” (1978)
  65. The Clash – “I’m So Bored with the U.S.A.” (1977)
  66. Magazine – “Shot by Both Sides” (1978)
  67. Public Image Ltd. – “Death Disco” (1979)
  68. The Only Ones – “Another Girl Another Planet” (1978)
  69. Ramones – “Rockaway Beach” (1977)
  70. Siouxsie & the Banshees – “Hong Kong Garden” (1978)
  71. Black Flag – “Rise Above” (1981)
  72. The Cramps – “Human Fly” (1978)
  73. Gang of Four – “Damaged Goods” (1979)
  74. Suicide – “Cheree” (1978)
  75. Crass – “Big A, Little A” (1981)
  76. The Clash – “White Riot” (1977)
  77. DEVO – “Mongoloid” (1978)
  78. The Slits – “Typical Girls” (1979)
  79. The Gun Club – “She’s Like Heroin to Me” (1981)
  80. Mink DeVille – “Let Me Dream If I Want To (Amphetamine Blues)” (1976)
  81. The Rezillos – “Top of the Pops” (1978)
  82. Circle Jerks – “Live Fast Die Young” (1980)
  83. Sex Pistols – “Pretty Vacant” (1977)
  84. The Raincoats – “Fairytale in the Supermarket” (1979)
  85. X – “Adult Books” (1978)
  86. Misfits – “Halloween” (1981)
  87. Buzzcocks – “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays” (1979)
  88. The Stranglers – “(Get A) Grip” (1977)
  89. Generation X – “Ready Steady Go” (1978)
  90. Ramones – “Suzi Is a Headbanger” (1977)
  91. The Clash – “Complete Control” (1977)
  92. Wire – “Map Ref. 41ºN 93ºW” (1979)
  93. Dead Kennedys – “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” (1981)
  94. The Birthday Party – “Happy Birthday” (1980)
  95. Killing Joke – “Requiem” (1980)
  96. Germs – “Forming” (1981)
  97. Television – “Heart of the City” (1977)
  98. Magazine – “Rhythm of Cruelty” (1979)
  99. The Cramps – “The Way I Walk” (1983)
  100. Cabaret Voltaire – “Nag Nag Nag” (1979)
8.10 sid-vicious-246010-1-raw
Sex Pistols’ Sid Vicious

There you go! The fourth genre that influenced new wave, college rock and all of alternative music beyond. Tomorrow, I will cover my absolutely favorite genre on the timeline, power pop music. So, until tomorrow, keep on rockin’ in the free world!

Author: ifmyalbumscouldtalk

I am just a long-time music fan who used to be a high school science teacher and a varsity coach of several high school athletic teams. Before that, I worked as a medical technologist at three hospitals in their labs, mainly as a microbiologist. I am retired/disabled (Failed Back Surgery Syndrome), and this is my attempt to remain a human. Additionally, I am a serious vinyl aficionado, with a CD addiction and a love of reading about rock history. Finally, I am a fan of Prince, Cheap Trick, Tom Petty, R.E.M., Hall & Oates, Springsteen, Paul Weller & his bands and Power Pop music.

One thought on “Alternative Music Lesson #4: Punk Rock”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s