Bruce Lawson's personal site

Top ten punk albums

  1. "Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols"

    Indisputably number one. The lurid, ransom note logo and album cover by Jamie Ried (cf my own at the top of this page). The sheer fucking excitement of the opening of "God Save The Queen" or "Pretty Vacant" makes this a fantastic album. The opening of "Bodies" still sends a shiver up my spine.

  2. "London Calling" – The Clash

    I’ll never forget buying this double album in 1979 for £3.50 (the same price as a single album) and the first time I played it. It was the first time I’d heard political music. It was my first exposure to reggae; I know it was from white boys, but until then I’d only heard sanitised pop reggae. The Clash just melted down loads of influences into something amazing. The cover is great – and the Elvis reference is genius.

  3. "Inflammable Material" – Stiff Little Fingers

    As I’ve said in my S.L.F. gig review, you can’t doubt SLF’s sincerity.This album is almost live, it’s so raw; "Suspect Device" as a single backed with "Wasted Life" is a double-A side that is Punk’s equivalent of "Penny Lane" b/w "Strawberry Fields Forever". Other favourites are "Barbed Wire Love" and a shapeless Bob Marley cover/ reworking: "Johnny Was". My only quibbles are "Closed Groove" which is pretty wank, and the production of "Alternative Ulster": what’s going on with the vocals? Quintuple tracking through a comprehensibility-removing device?

  4. "The Undertones" – The Undertones

    I’ve got the original, but the reissue is better, as that contains the first two singles, "Teenage Kicks" and "Get Over You". The reissue occurred when the song "Jimmy Jimmy" hit the charts unexpectedly, and gave the record company a jolt. My Grandad Jim had given me £5, and I decided to buy an album: I was wavering between Abba’s "Voulez-vous" and this album. Thank god I made the right choice. "Jump Boys", "Male Model" and "Family Entertainment" kick ass.

  5. "Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables" – Dead Kennedys

    Conclusive evidence, when I was 15 or so, that America wasn’t only Ronald Reagan and mad Christians. Dead Kennedys: humour; intelligence, and an appreciation of world events ("Holiday in Cambodia") that isn’t generally associated with Uncle Sam. And "Kill The Poor" is a great song, even when Tim accidentally twisted his his cassette into reverse and played us "Lik lik lik the roop".

  6. "Parallel Lines" – Blondie
  7. "Going Steady" – The Buzzcocks (cheating, cos it’s a compilation; also, "Boredom" and "Breakdown" are great and not on that album.)
  8. "Best before 1984" – Crass

    Another cheating compilation. Crass were angry and often unlistenable, but when punk was degenerating and loads of Nazi skins showed up, it was great to have a left-wing band who were hard bastards. Their album covers were great, too.

  9. "Best of .. " – The Jam

    Pick your random best of, cos they were always a singles band. I loved "A Bomb In Wardour Street", "Strange Town", "Going Underground", even "Beat Surrender" – and (of course) "In the City".

    Talking of which, they must’ve been livid when they heard the Sex Pistols’ "Holidays In The Sun".

  10. Aggghh .. where to start? Motorhead? Ian Dury’s "Hit me with your rhythm stick"? Some Joy Division? The Psychedelic Furs? The B52s debut album? The Ramones? MC5? I choose them all. (It’s my list and I’ll cheat if I want to).

On the other hand, Pippa’s just written to me berating me for forgetting The Stranglers, even though I’ve seen them live! So number 10 is Rattus Norvegicus, ‘cos I love "Hanging Around" and "Go Buddy Go".

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38 Responses to “ Top ten punk albums ”

Comment by Marty

the Jam were just a singles band?….what about ‘All Mod Cons’?

Interesting site btw. I just found it by accident.
I like the songs you wrote.

Comment by Paul Brandes

go buddy go isnt on Rattus mate plus plastic surgery disasters is much better than fresh fruit. No gang of four either Amateur ?

Comment by DJ Gee

The Jam started life as a punk band and progressed with the times and the way music changed in those times. While they released a lot of singles all of the albums were brilliantly made up compilations of those singles and new songs. They had angst, attitude and political agendas. Not Punk?? maybe not in the end when they found their own direction, and in the end part of the reason they split was because, at the time they didn’t like the pop culture that was growing around them. Best Album? too many good ones to name a single album!!

Comment by Paul O'Driscoll

I got that album too by the Undertones. I thought of getting the older one but it was just too short. I can’t believe how good some of their songs were. Then, they added a few songs and I went in and bought it. Family Entertainment was my favorite from that album. Voulez Vous wasn’t bad either – wouldn’t have admitted it at the time though. I think that was as close to punk as Blondie ever were! I saw the Undertones in Cork in 1980 and I saw the Stranglers in Cork in 1977 and 1979. I became a Christian in 1980 and gave away all the records – I suppose that was a pretty punky thing to do in its own way but it was a good era to have lived through. It had fizzled out by that stage anyway I suppose. I heard my son singing London Calling the other day. He heard it in a James Bond film.

Comment by Bruce

I’ve got to ask, Paul: why would becoming a Christian mean giving away your punk records? I can see why Anarchy In the UK or anything by Crass would be a no-no, but The Undertones?

Comment by Paul O'Driscoll

I lumped them all together. I suppose I saw punk as a bad influence for me. When you’re young (at least with me) you tend to see people as heroes and want to model yourself on them. Even the groups themselves often see it as an unhealthy thing.

At that time as well, a lot of Christians would have found the whole thing quite appalling – the devil’s music and all that. Around that time they say that U2 almost quit music for the same reasons.

It’s funny now – Johnny Lydon comes across as a very responsible and moral guy. He even refused to go along with the celebrities on I’m a celebrity get me out of here when they suggested breaking the rules and stealing food or whatever.

I did hold on to a few of them though (maybe nobody would take them and I hadn’t the heart to smash them) – including “Here Comes the Summer” by the Undertones with a postcard of Killarney on the cover.
I think I got rid of the ones that meant most to me – even a signed copy of Black and White and a postcard from Jean Jacques Burnel. Actually, I read a biography of the Stranglers recently and they all seemed so wimpy and bitchy about everything – fighting with Hugh Cornwell etc. Very different to how I saw them at the time!

Nowadays you get Christian punks and Christian goths but I hate all that. I like proper old hymns and proper old punk.

Comment by Scott

As a 14 year old i don’t claim to have the best knowledge of punk out there but i do know more than most my age as music at the moment is shit. I have to say that The Stranglers are my favourite band of all time, although i don’t see them as a punk band. They were shunted from punk after JJ had a fight with Paul Simmonen and were outcasted. The Clash are my favourite outright “punk” band though. Quick punky music blened with a fantastic writing style from Jones and Strummer. I never really got into the Pistols but i do love the Jam and agree that they aren’t a punk band either.

So from me Clash top of teh punk polls, Stranlgers top of the music poll and the Jam, well they’re easy to listen to easily likeable band.

Stranglers no.1

Comment by Jim

The best Californian punk album, I reckon, was “milo goes to college” by The Descendents. 12 songs in 25 minutes. Ace stuff.

Comment by Dylan

I diddnt see any of my favorite on here. Like X, Minutemen, Husker Du. I also think The sub humans were better than crass. just my personal opinion though.

Comment by Mark

The Stranglers were the godfathers of Punk make no mistake they influenced the movement on many levels (Spitting, Doc Martins, Riots, FCUK t-shirt, punk rap, antagonism).

Comment by don_mark

I’m a little surprised that no one’s mentioned anything about Social Distortion. A band from the old school that has not only kept it real, but also real good. As far as punk album is concerned you gotta have Mommy’s Little Monster somewhere on the list. Considered by many to be a punk calssic and the definitive so-cal punk album of all time. My personal favorite Social D album is with out a doubt White Light, White Heat, White Trash. An incredible album from start to finish.

Comment by Adam

well, poor old bruce first made the mistake of only doing 10 albums? second your talking around 30yrs of punk, times change, musicians get better, song’s have more hidden meanings. big changes from 70’s to 80’s to 90’s to 2000 and on. we’ve even different sub-cultures with in punk these days. But my two cents is that all those bands/albums are pre the 80’s, and yes, some great albums there, but man, music does progress, and punk has progress very well. I think Bruce you need to redo a top 25 or 50 list. cheers man hope to here from u.

Comment by bruce

The Rejects? Well, they were a laugh: “Oi Oi Oi” is alright, but there wasn’t really much else, was there?

Comment by chris

when you hear the best of the cockney rejects youl find a few punk album of all time

Comment by stevo

nofx…..what bout them? They’ve been around since ’84. They haven’t sold out and went mainstream. Yet they are still goin strong after more than 20 yrs! They put out albums DIY, don’t get played on the radio, don’t make music videos that go on lame as the name MTV. Hell, they are not even signed with the music regulation peeps, allowing them to put whatever the fuck they want on an album without gettin a parental advisory sticker slapped on it. However, they still have managed to be known and heard!

Comment by baby

Some excellent albums on here! I agree with placing “Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s the Sex Pistols” as number one, but personally, I would have put the Ramones in the top five and The Undertones a little lower on this list, but that’s just me. Other than that, I agree with many of the titles here. I haven’t heard of the Dead Kennedys, though. Are they a new group, or have I just somehow missed them? Either way, I will have to remedy that situation very soon. It sounds like they have some great music. I’m always a fan of music that features both a great beat and humorous, intelligent lyrics that mention world events and current news. It sounds like the Dead Kennedys have both, so I’ll be sure to give them a listen. Thanks for the great list!

Comment by chris

the reason you havent heard of dead kennedys is because well….they werent really that good.

im sort of thinking they are the token american band here (apart from ramones)

which also brings me to another topic.american punk(apart from the ramones) was never going to touch the status of english punk.they were just in different leagues.(english being the best by miles)

Comment by ian

ummmm, that’s all great and all, but where the fuck are the ramones? i mean c’mon. and, if you think about it, the beatles were the start of punk. they came out and did something different and like what, 20 years later people followed the beatles and called it punk.

Comment by Paul

How about Fugazi. I’m not really a big fan but from what i hear they’re true blue (lame saying i know). Also Black Flag. Are they not a seminal punk band?

Comment by cyril Rictus

These comments are so lame… It’s like posting on a M&M fansites that the red are the best ones… Everyone’s got their own tastes, and that’s what makes it fun… if everyone liked the same band it would be a dumb and lame planet wouldn’t it? That’s a great list… and yous would probably be as good… just keep on rocking and listen to wathever makes you feel good… and keep going to shows and supporting your scene… that’s it I’m outta here

Comment by Rob

Hanx by Stiff Little Fingers is a truly great live album. It’s energy, great riffs and poltical awareness just edges out The Bollocks for me.

Comment by Richard

I think #10 would be replaced with Get Adicted by The Adicts…Argggh compilation has a lot of post-punk bands.

Comment by Connor

What about “The Shape of Punk to Come” by Refused? That is the greatest punk album of all time.

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