Music | 10 Best Punk Albums

Ramones, ‘Ramones’ (1976)
You can argue that punk rock started in the late ’60s and early ’70s with bands like MC5 and the Stooges. You can even go back earlier to the Velvet Underground and the garage-rock scene of the mid-’60s. But punk rock as we know it today started right here with the Ramones’ first album, which set the basic template: two minutes, three chords and a sense that the future is bleak as hell.


The Clash, ‘The Clash’ (1977)
The Clash made better albums (see 1979’s ‘London Calling’) and more ambitious ones (1980’s ‘Sandinista!’) but they never made a more pure punk record than their self-titled debut. The U.S. got a different version two years later. It’s great, but stick to the U.K. original.

The Clash

Ian Dury, ‘New Boots and Panties!!’ (1977)
Like many artists from punk’s earliest days, Ian Dury wasn’t solely tied to the genre. His debut album also includes disco, New Wave and, most of all, pub rock. But Dury’s attitude was pure punk, and ‘New Boots and Panties!!’ was one of the first on the burgeoning scene.

Richard Hell & the Voidoids, ‘Blank Generation’ (1977)
Richard Hell was a member of Television and the Heartbreakers (Johnny Thunders’ band, not Tom Petty’s) before forming the Voidoids. They made only two albums; their first is the keeper, all punk indifference sung by one of the genre’s snottiest voices.

Ramones, ‘Rocket to Russia’ (1977)
The Ramones’ first few albums pretty much all sound the same. ‘Rocket to Russia,’ their third, stands out a bit because they had some time to absorb the fallout from their debut (it basically influenced every single U.K. punk who heard it). The band rarely pushed itself outside of its comfort zone (even their later work with Phil Spector wasn’t totally unexpected); they just do what they do best here, and with attitude to spare.

Sex Pistols, ‘Never Mind the Bollocks – Here’s the Sex Pistols’ (1977)
The Ramones got there first, but if it wasn’t for the Sex Pistols’ debut (and only) album, punk may never have grown and thrived over the decades. ‘Never Mind the Bollocks … ‘ is angry, hateful and brimming with middle-finger-flashing spite. Everything that followed has been influenced by it one way or another. Decades after its debut, it still sounds relevant.

Suicide, ‘Suicide’ (1977)
Suicide were more than pioneering punks — they’re also instrumental in electronic, industrial and synth-rock (even Bruce Springsteen covered them). The duo paired minimalist electronic music (including early drum machines) to Alan Vega’s echo-heavy voice, which usually recited strung-together words that didn’t often fall together cohesively. Their recording career was scattered; their 1977 self-titled debut remains their most essential work.

Television, ‘Marquee Moon’ (1977)
Television never got as much attention as some of the other bands from the New York City scene that spawned them, but they made its best album. They didn’t have much in common with their contemporaries either; ‘Marquee Moon’ piles on guitar solos like Neil Young and Crazy Horse jams, and the album’s title track clocks in at 10 minutes. This is punk rock that didn’t need to tear down the past to build the future.

Talking Heads, ‘Talking Heads: 77’ (1977)
Talking Heads were a whole bunch of things — New Wave, artsy, funky — but during their first few years they were definitely a punk band. They approached the music, and the lyrics, a different way than most of their peers, but they shared a fundamental aesthetic with most of the New York City bands they came of age with.

Wire, ‘Pink Flag’ (1977)
On the surface, Wire’s debut album can seem like a reaction to prog-rock excess with its scaled-back minimalism and songs that barely reached two minutes. But much of ‘Pink Flag’ is also rooted in the same art-rock that’s tied to prog, Krautrock and other outre genres. Still, the record had a massive impact on punk, hardcore and alternative bands over the next four decades.

Source: Ultimate Rock

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