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10 Greatest Classic Punk Albums of All Time

Punk rock’s roots can be traced back as early as 1969 when MC5 screamed “Kick Out The Jams Mother Fucker’. Their anti-establishment lyrics and aggressive style of stripped-to-the-bone rock inspired bands such as the Stooges and The New York Dolls – bands who were punk in spirit before the genre even had a name.  

Most commentators however would cite the Ramones as ‘ground zero’ for the true punk movement and current bands like Green Day and Blink 182 who were originally part of the late-’80s/early-’90s punk scene, are credited as re introducing a ‘poppier’ punk to a new generation.

We know that many of you will be screaming in disgust that certain seminal punk albums are not included on this list, but this is only a Top Ten and focuses on the earlier years of the punk movement – so yes, many amazing albums sadly didn’t make the cut. However, if you’re looking for a good grounding in punk history here are just a few of the defining punk albums that shaped the genre as we know it…

10: The Ruts, ‘The Crack’ (1979)

The Ruts debut album The Crack, filled with its angry riffs, anthemic choruses and reggae dub grooves set The Ruts apart from their punk contemporaries. A truly underrated band they should have been as important and influential as The Clash, however outside the punk movement the band remain little known. One of their biggest fans, musician, Henry Rollins said, “The Ruts were a great punk rock band from England whose songs were as excellent as their time together was short. They were able to release a few singles and an album called The Crack, one of the best records I have ever heard.”

Track Listing
TitleWriter(s)Length
1. “Babylon’s Burning” The Ruts2:35
2.“Dope for Guns” The Ruts2:11
3.“S.U.S.”The Ruts, Richard Mannah3:49
4.“Something That I Said” The Ruts3:53
5.“You’re Just A…” The Ruts2:55
6.“It Was Cold” The Ruts6:48
7.“Savage Circle” The Ruts3:05
8.“Jah War” The Ruts6:55
9.“Criminal Mind” The Ruts1:34
10.“Backbiter” The Ruts3:02
11.“Out of Order” The Ruts1:50
12.“Human Punk” (live at The Marquee, London, 19 July 1979) The Ruts4:34

9: The Slits, ‘Cut’ (1979)


The Slits – Cut 1979

Cut was originally released on 7 September 1979 on the Island Records label in the UK and reached number 30 on the UK album charts.The Slits combined reggae rhythm and thrashing punk guitars and helped define punk as a genre just as much for women as for guys. For a debut album, Cut is a startlingly hybrid of punk, reggae and pop that forty one years on sounds as exciting and contemporary as ever. Kurt Cobain listed the song Typical Girls in his top 50 favourite recordings of all time.

Track Listing
TitleWriter(s)Length
1. “Instant Hit”Albertine, Pollitt, Forster, Romero.2:43
2.“So Tough”Albertine, Pollitt, Forster, Romero.2:41
3.“”Spend, Spend, Spend”Albertine, Pollitt, Forster, Romero.3:18
4.“Shoplifting”  Albertine, Pollitt, Forster, Romero.1:39
5.“FM”  Albertine, Pollitt, Forster, Romero.3:31
6.“Newtown”Albertine, Pollitt, Forster, Romero.3:48
7.“Ping Pong Affair”Albertine, Pollitt, Forster, Romero.4:16
8.“Love und Romance”  Albertine, Pollitt, Forster, Romero.2:27
9.“Typical Girls”Albertine, Pollitt, Forster, Romero.3:57
10.Adventures Close to Home” Albertine, Pollitt, Forster, Romero.3:28
11.“I Heard It Through The Grapevine”Strong, Whitfield
12.“Liebe and Romanze” (Bonus track)Liebe and Romanze 

8: The Damned, ‘Damned Damned Damned’ (1977)

Damned Damned Damned. – Damned 1977

Damned Damned Damned is the debut studio album by the Damned. It was released on 18 February 1977 by Stiff Records and produced by Nick Lowe. The Damned and the album has a whole pile of ‘firsts’ to its name including: The first full-length album released by a UK punk band, the first UK punk single (“New Rose”) and the first punk band to land a major tour (supporting Marc Bolan) Damned Damned Damned is and remains punk at its best. This vinyl needs to be in everyone’s record collection.

Track Listing
TitleWriter(s)Length
1.“Neat Neat Neat”Brian James2:46
2.“Fan Club”Brian James3:00
3.“I Fall”Brian James2:08
4.“Born to Kill”Brian James2:37
5.“Stab Yor Back”Scabies1:03
6.“Feel the Pain”Brian James3:37
7.“New Rose”Brian James2:44
8.“Fish”Brian James1:38
9.“See Her Tonite”Brian James 2:29
10.“1 of the 2”Brian James3:10
11.“So Messed Up”Brian James1:55
12.“I Feel Alright” (cover of “1970” by The Stooges)Alexander, R. Asheton, A. Asheton, Pop 4:26

7: The Saints, ‘(I’m) Stranded’ (1977)

(I’m) Stranded is the debut album by Brisbane punk band The Saints. It was released by EMI Records on 21 February 1977 and the debut single of the same name, was issued earlier in September 1976 – a single  Sounds magazine’s, Jonh Ingham, said was “single of this and every week”. Author, Andrew Stafford wrote in 2016 ‘Australia didn’t even have its own national anthem in 1976. (I’m) Stranded was more like an anti-anthem, with its central theme of alienation. The singer, Chris Bailey, with the gritty sneer of a young Van Morrison, is marooned “far from home”.

Track Listing
TitleWriter(s)Length
1.(I’m) StrandedBailey & Kuepper 3:33
2.“One Way Street”Bailey & Kuepper 2:56
3.“Wild About You”Andy James2:36
4.“Messin’ with the Kid”Bailey & Kuepper5:55
5.“Erotic Neurotic”Bailey & Kuepper 4:07
6.“No Time”Bailey & Kuepper 2:48
7.“Kissin’ Cousins”Wise, Starr2:00
8.“Story of Love”Kuepper3:12
9.“Demolition Girl”Kuepper1:42
10.“Nights in Venice”Kuepper5:41

6: Buzzcocks, ‘Singles Going Steady’ (1979)

Buzzcocks – Singles Going Steady (1979)

Singles Going Steady is a compilation album and was the first Buzzcocks album to be released in the U.S. and was intended as an introduction to the band for the American public, coinciding with a tour of the US.  Buzzcocks hail from Manchester, England and are widely credited with being the first punk band to break through punk ‘rock’ barriers with their brilliant catchy ‘pop-punk’ ditties. Pete Shelley’s basic songwriting formula was to merge the speed and urgency of punk with the catchy melodies of classic pop/rock. When Shelly applied this formula to that classic of pop themes – unrequited love – he created one of the most classic songs in Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve).

Track Listing
TitleWriter(s)Length
1.“Orgasm Addict”Devoto, Shelley2:00
2.“What Do I Get?”Shelley2:52
3.“I Don’t Mind”Shelley2:16
4.“Love You More”Shelley1:47
5.“Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Should’t’ve”Shelley2:39
6.“Promises”Diggle, Shelley2:34
7.“Everybody’s Happy Nowadays”Shelley3:09
8.“Harmony in My Head”Diggle3:06
9.“What Ever Happened To?”Dial, Shelley2:12
10.“Oh Shit!”Shelley1:34
11.“Autonomy”Diggle3:41
12.“Noise Annoys”Shelley2:49
13.“Just Lust”Dial, Shelley2:58
14.“Lipstick”Diggle, Shelley2:36
15.“Why Can’t I Touch It?”Diggle, Garvey, Maher, Shelley6:32
16.“Something’s Gone Wrong Again”Shelley4:29
Side 1

5: X, ‘Los Angeles’ (1980)

Los Angeles is the debut studio album by U.S. punk band X. It was released on April 26, 1980 by Slash Records and produced by the legendary ex-Doors keyboard player Ray Manzarek and includes a cover of the 1967 Doors song Soul Kitchen. X were seen as too arty to fit in with the L.A. hardcore punk scene but several songs off Los Angeles were featured in The Decline of Western Civilisation (Penelope Spheeris’ 1981 documentary of the L.A. punk scene) placing X in the epicentre of the L.A. scene along with Germs, Black Flag, and the Circle Jerks.  Los Angeles is considered by many to be one of punk’s all-time greatest albums, and with good reason! Check it out!

Track Listing
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1.“Your Phone’s Off the Hook, But You’re Not”Doe, Cervenka2:25
2.“Johny Hit and Run Paulene” Doe, Cervenka2:50
3.“Soul Kitchen”The Doors2:25
4.“Nausea” Doe, Cervenka3:40
5.“Sugarlight” Doe, Cervenka2:28
6.“Los Angeles”Doe, Cervenka2:25
7.“Sex and Dying in High Society”Doe, Cervenka2:15
8.“The Unheard Music”Doe, Cervenka4:49
9.“The World’s a Mess; It’s in My Kiss”Doe, Cervenka4:43

4: The Stranglers – Rattus Norvegicus (1977)

Bridging the gap between pub-rock and new wave, The Stranglers’ debut album was nothing more than a violent assault on the lug ‘oles. The songs took on all-comers and refusing to adhere to the membership rules of the punk fraternity. Many critics cite that the Stranglers are ‘far too accomplished musicians, to really be defined as ‘punk’. Dave Greenfield’s keys, Burnel’s thumping bass and Hugh Cornwell sneering vocals only added to the band’s ‘fuck you all’ attitude. If you don’t have this album in your collection you better (Get A) Grip (On Yourself), stop Hanging Around and go out an buy a copy!

Track Listing
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1.“Sometimes”Cornwell4:56
2.” Goodbye Toulouse” Burnel3:12
3.“London Lady”Burnel2:25
4.“Princess of the Streets” (Penned ‘pre-Stranglers’)Burnel4:34
5.“Hanging Around”Cornwell4:25
6.“Peaches”Burnel/Cornwell4:03
7.“(Get a) Grip (On Yourself)”Cornwell3:55
8.“Ugly”Burnel4:03
9.“Down in the Sewer”Cornwell7:30

3: The Sex Pistols, ‘Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s the Sex Pistols’ (1977)

“If the sessions had gone the way I wanted, the album would have been unlistenable for most people,” Johnny Rotten once said. For millions, it was unlistenable and shocking. When the Sex Pistols‘ only official album was released on an unexpecting U.K. public it was akin to letting off a thermo nuclear device – this album wiped out every that came before it. By the time of its release, the Sex Pistols were already controversial, having sworn on live TV, been fired from two record labels and been banned from playing live at many venues across the country! Rotten’s lyrics about abortion and anarchy scared the nation half to death and as a result changed the course of music forever.

Track Listing
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1.“Holidays in the Sun”Cook, Jones, Rotten, Vicious3:22
2.“Liar” Cook, Jones, Matlock, Rotten2:41
3.“No Feelings”  Cook, Jones, Matlock, Rotten2:53
4.“God Save the Queen” Cook, Jones, Matlock, Rotten 3:20
5.“Problems”  Cook, Jones, Matlock, Rotten4:11
6.“Seventeen” Cook, Jones, Matlock, Rotten2:02
7.“Anarchy in the U.K.” Cook, Jones, Matlock, Rotten3:32
8.“Bodies”Cook, Jones, Rotten, Vicious3:03
9.“Pretty Vacant” Cook, Jones, Matlock, Rotten3:18
10.“New York” Cook, Jones, Matlock, Rotten3:07
11.“E.M.I. Cook, Jones, Matlock, Rotten3:10

2: The Clash, ‘The Clash’ (1977)

On April 3rd, 1976, a London pub-rock combo, the 101ers, played a show with the new kids on the block, the Sex Pistols. the band’s singer/guitarist Joe Strummer cited that seeing the Pistols that night, changed his life, “I saw the future right in front of me.” Strummer left the 101ers and formed the Clash. The band’s debut album, brimming full of politicised rage and hook riffs and with songs like ‘White Riot,’ ‘London’s Burning’ and ‘I’m So Bored With the U.S.A.’ signalled that fact that punk was growing up from being an attention seeking adolescent into being a dynamic social platform for change.

Track Listing
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1.“Janies Jones”Strummer, Jones 2:03
2.“Remote Control” Strummer, Jones 3:00
3.“I’m So Bored With the U.S.A.” Strummer, Jones 2:25
4.“White Riot” Strummer, Jones 1:56
5.“Hate and War” Strummer, Jones 2:05
6.“What’s My Name”Strummer, Jones, Levene1:40
7.“Deny” Strummer, Jones 3:03
8.“London’s Burning” Strummer, Jones 2:12
9.Career OpportunitiesStrummer, Jones 1:52
10.“Cheat”Strummer, Jones 2:06
11.“Protex Blue”Strummer, Jones 1:42
12.“Police & Thieves”Murvin, Pery6:01
13.“48 Hours”Strummer, Jones 1:34
14.“Garageland”Strummer, Jones 3:12

1: Ramones, ‘Ramones’ (1976)

When the Ramones recorded their debut album in February of 1976, their agenda, according to Tommy Ramone, was simple: “Eliminate the unnecessary and focus on the substance,” But despite the brilliance of this album, with it’s blistering, breakneck, two-and-a-half minute songs – that covers topics such as violence, drug use, relationship issues and Nazism – the album wasn’t a huge commercial success and only got to 111 in the Billboard U.S. charts. However, many commentators later deemed this as a highly influential punk album, that had a significant impact on other genres of music including grunge and metal. “We thought we could be the biggest band in the world,” Johnny Ramone once said. In a way, they were and this album is what started them on the path to become punk royalty.

Track Track
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1.“Blitzkrieg Bop” Tommy Ramone, Dee Dee Ramone2:12
2.“Beat The BratJoey Ramone2:30
3.“Judy is a Punk”Joey Ramone1:30
4.“I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend”Tommy Ramone2:24
5.“Chain Saw”Joey Ramone1:55
6.“Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue”Dee Dee Ramone1:34
7.“I Don’t Wanna Go Down to the Basement”Dee Dee Ramone, Johnny Ramone2:35
8.“Loudmouth”Dee Dee Ramone, Johnny Ramone2:14
9.“Havana Affair”Dee Dee Ramone, Johnny Ramone2:00
10.“Listen to my Heart”Dee Dee Ramone1:56
11.“53rd & 3rd”Dee Dee Ramone2:19
12.Let’s DanceJim Lee1:51
13.“I Don’t Wanna Walk Around With You”Dee Dee Ramone1:43
14.“Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World”Dee Dee Ramone2:09

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3 Comments

  • Connors707

    Very good. Hard to argue with a top 3 like that. So glad someone has recognised The Saints’ significance. \M/

  • Connors707

    There’s actually a few here I don’t know that well, so I am going to go through the list and have a listen. Cheers.

  • Dewantara
    Dewantara

    Where is punk in drublic

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