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Top 10 Important Albums in Punk Music History

VO: Matt Campbell
Script written by Sean Harris If there is such a thing as perfect punk music, then these albums are it! Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Important Albums in Punk Music History! For this list, we've looked at all punk albums, and included those records without which the genre could not have developed in the way that it has. Special thanks to our user Mattk for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Sean Harris

Top 10 Important Albums in Punk Music History


If there is such a thing as perfect punk music, then these albums are it! Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Important Albums in Punk Music History!

For this list, we’ve looked at all punk albums, and included those records without which the genre could not have developed in the way that it has. These are the watershed moments in punk rock history!

#10: “Bad Brains” (1982)
Bad Brains

There’re fifteen tracks on our opening album, and yet it rattles through its playlist in just over half an hour! The unrivalled pace of punk! This debut record is Bad Brains’ self-titled salute to the hardcore scene! Led by the band's first single, “Pay to Cum”, the album is considered a crucial formative moment for the reggae/punk blend it created- a sound that would only gain ground in the years to come. A prime example of the Bad Brains brand, it’s fast and and it's fuming!

#9: “Dookie” (1994)
Green Day

If you’ve ‘ever had the time to listen to them whine’ then you’ll know just why Green Day are on today’s list! “Dookie” wasn’t their debut, just their first release on a major label, but it’s easily the most important album that the Californian three-piece has ever put together. From the fresh-voiced cheekiness of “Basket Case” to the trebley-bassy grunginess of “Longview” and the gritty sing-along anthem that is “When I Come Around,” “Dookie” ushered in a new age of punkmusic with anarchy and hilarity all rolled into one!

#8: “Milo Goes to College” (1982)
Descendents

Another hybrid-style record that combines the hard and fast punk rock foundations with a more melodic approach, everything about “Milo Goes To College” is awesome. A truly collaborative effort, all four band members boast writing credits on a track-list for which it’s hard to pick a favourite, with “Parents”, “Kabuki Girl” and “I’m Not A Loser” being highlights. It’s just anthem after anthem after anthem! The album is especially notable however for bringingin a bit of pop and melodic sensibilities to the often rough and ragged genre. And in terms of iconography, the eponymous character on the album cover, which is a caricature of the Descendants’ singer, Milo Aukerman, is brilliantly difficult to beat!

#7: “Walk Among Us” (1982)
Misfits

We might’ve featured “Static Age” were it not for “Walk Among Us”, a Misfits effort that altered the punk rock landscape! When it comes to innovation, this record saw the punk rule book, burned it up and danced in its ashes! There’s nothing outwardly anti-establishment here, with the band drawing inspiration from classic horror films and still it’s a legendary album! True to their name, the Misfits were unlike anything else before them, while this record is the template for horror punk and it’s frighteningly good!

#6: “Damaged” (1981)
Black Flag

When you take our next record from the shelves, you really know it means business! Black Flag’s broken mirror image is world famous, and rightly so! Cover Art rarely gets more antagonistic, and neither do album openers. “Rise Above” sets one helluva precedent! It’s a chaotic call to arms, and an anthem for the punk movement in general! Featuring the Black Flag debut of punkprophet Henry Rollins, “Damaged” is regularly cited as one of the best albumsin the genre, despite not making much an impact on release. It’s brutal, frantic, funny at times, and best played really, really loud!

#5: “Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables” (1980)
Dead Kennedys

You only have to take one glance at our next album’s track-list to see just how hardcore the Dead Kennedys’ debut really is. “Kill The Poor” opens side one, “California Über Alles” side two... With antagonistic titles like “Let’s Lynch the Landlord” and “I Kill Children” peppered throughout. This album served as the Dead Kennedys’ blueprint. It’s a supreme example of exactly how angry punkmusic can get. A politically incensed pile-driver of a record, “Fresh Fruit” never looks like going out of date!

#4: “Raw Power” (1973)
The Stooges

The earliest record to feature in our list, “Raw Power” is widely considered to have given birth to punk as we know it. Initial response to the album was moderate, with it landing at #52 on the Billboard Pop albums chart - of all places! - but its reputation has snowballed since. David Bowie - of all people! - had a massive hand in shaping the original cut, twisting and tweaking “Raw Power” into a really quite dynamic form of decadence. “Search and Destroy” served as its lead single, and has been a punk mantra for decades, with many critics claiming that it was with Iggy that it all began!

#3: “Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols” (1977)
Sex Pistols

In many ways the archetypal punks, they set the trend... Others tried to keep up with the chaos! With their unpolished sound and unpolished attitudes, they set the tone for the genre. “Never Mind the Bollocks” has to be considered the Sex Pistols high point and not just because it’s their sole studio album! “Anarchy inthe UK” is still the anthem for British punk music, “God Save the Queen” still goads the establishment like nothing else out there, and “Pretty Vacant” is still pretty bloody brilliant! You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but this time you might as well... It does exactly what it says it will!

#2: “London Calling” (1979)
The Clash

One of the most eclectic and wide-ranging punk efforts in terms of the variety of sound, “London Calling” runs at over an hour long and it’s an undisputed epic! A rock ‘n’ roll, reggae, jazz and ska-style blend, “London Calling” was way more than just a product of its time! With this album, The Clash saw what was happening with the punk scene, rose above the trendy and fashionable and shook it all to pieces again! Coming from times and a nation undergoing great change “London Calling” remained fully socially aware while reinventing what was possible in punk. It was a middle finger to conventional music, and yet it still resonated with the masses.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
- “Kick Out the Jams” (1969)
MC5

- “Complete Discography” (1989)
Minor Threat

- “Smash” (1994)
The Offspring

- “...And Out Come the Wolves” (1995)
Rancid

- “The Shape of Punk to Come: A Chimerical Bombination in 12 Bursts” (1998)
Refused

- “Horses” (1975)
Patti Smith

#1: “Ramones” (1976)
Ramones

In January 1976, our top pick was recorded in just one week... It also cost just $6,400 to make... Not bad for one of, if not THE most important punk album ever produced! Opening tracks don’t get any more iconic than “Blitzkrieg Bop”, and album art is rarely more mimicked than this leather-clad band leant against an NYC brick wall. From “Judy Is a Punk” to “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue”, it epitomised the look, the sound, the spirit and the attitude of everything that followed. It ‘hey-ed’, ‘it ‘ho-ed’, and it got the whole hectic thing ‘going’!

Do you agree with our list? What do you think is the most important punk album? For more anarchic top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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