The 40 Greatest Punk Albums of all Time * Part II
(Warning: Explicit Language)
21. Searching for a Former Clarity / Transgender Dysphoria Blues by Against Me! (2005) & (2014)
In 2005 Against Me! rolled out a great punk album. The song that garnered my respect was “From Her Lips to God’s Ears (The Energizer).” When almost no one was singing protest songs about the Iraq War, Against Me! was and making it a sing-a-long to boot. Do you know how hard it is to make the word Condoleeza fit into a refrain?
Then in 2012, lead singer Laura Jane Grace came out as transgender and I thought to myself “well, that band’s done.” I’m glad to report I was dead wrong and in 2014 Against Me! came out with Transgender Dysphoria Blues, equally good, but in a different way. There was an urgency to tell a story, frankly, few punks have ever told.
22. The Fury of the Aquabats! By the Aquabats (1997)
How does McDonald’s make new generations of Fat and Caffeine addicts? Happy Meals, of course. No band does a better job of being a gateway band for the youth than the Aquabats! Punk in spirit, but soft around the edges, they are a dangerous band….for your inner 10 year old. Again, playing word association, no one puts fun and punk together any better.
Besides, other than the Monkees in the 60’s, no band had a better TV show than The Aquabats! Super Show!
23. Hats off to the Insane by Therapy? (1993)
In the fall of 1993, the band Therapy? confused their fans in America and released an punk album called Hats Off to the Insane. Every song better than the last, it only clocked in at 16 minutes. 16 minutes of nihilistic joy.
I’ve seen Therapy? described as Rock, Alternative Metal, Punk, Thrash, Experimental, you name it. Both their albums that sandwiched between HOTTI, Nurse and Troublegum, were a bit bloated and expansive, but for a brief moment in 1993, they had nailed it.
(They would nail it again a few more times in their career. Die Like a Mother Fucker from 2004’s Never Apologise, Never Explain album is another glorious example of Therapy? as a well-oiled machine.)
24. The Dwarves Are Young and Good Looking by the Dwarves (1997)
True punks cross the line, don’t care, and would cut off their noses to spite their faces. There, I just described the Dwarves.
Another band that would probably be more popular if not for themselves, this album was the first after getting dropped from the artist friendly Sub Pop label. Why did they get dropped from Sub Pop? I’m glad you asked….
In 1993 the band (Dwarves) issued a press release stating their guitarist HeWhoCannotBeNamed had been stabbed to death in Philadelphia. Though this later turned out to be a hoax, the band even went as far as to attach a tribute to the "late" guitarist on their 1993 Sub Pop-released album “Sugarfix.” Sub Pop did not respond well to the hoax and summarily dropped the band from its label. - Dying Scene
25. Young Loud and Snotty by the Dead Boys (1977)
Let’s start at the end at work our way back to the beginning. Best part of CBGB Movie (2013) was the story of Hilly Kristal and the Dead Boys. Somehow, the production team that made the CBGB movie took an electric story and made it into a fairly mundane one. Of all the bands that came through CBGB’s, I think it’s interesting to note that it was the Dead Boys that Hillel Krystal eventually bet his money on.
I would be remiss not to mention that despite being from Cleveland, Ohio, that the Dead Boys were not on my radar until after they left Ohio. Once at CBGB’s, they quickly cemented their legacy, and by 1980, blew apart spectacularly.
26. A Passage in Time by Authority Zero (2002)
One of the few representatives of punk music in the 2000’s on the Rolling Stone list was the Yeah, Yeah, Yeah’s Fever to Tell, based primarily on their hit Maps. Ugh. Don’t get me started. Released at about the same time, Arizona punks Authority Zero had 3 songs that were better than Maps (A Passage in Time, One More Minute, and Over Seasons) on A Passage in Time album alone that all seemed to fly under everyone’s radar. No one made more accessible punk, while staying true to the form, at the beginning of the century than Authority Zero.
27. All Killer, No Filler by Sum 41 (2001)
To me, no punk band captures the essence of the MTV generation at the turn of the Aughts better than Sum 41. Plucked from the obscurity of Ajax, Ontario on the strength of their video for Fat Lip, the song was all attitude and exuberance laid in a pop-punk bed. Sum 41 was dangerous, for rural Canada, but was able to capitalize on a more friendly image for the rest of the world. Does This Look Infected? could have also taken this spot as well.
28. Locust Abortion Technician by the Butthole Surfers (1987)
Starting with the mindf-ck that’s Sweetloaf, it’s down the rabbit hole for the rest of the album. Split between brilliance and inaccessibility, the band actually became worse when it became more accessible. (Except for Pepper. That song was so popular because it was so haunting, like a good horror movie.)
29. Greatest Hits Volume 1 by Wesley Willis (1995)
Wesley Willis was a basically a large, homeless schizophrenic who screamed song lyrics into the air. Honestly, what is more punk than that? He made some friends in the punk community who urged him to put his recordings to music and 50 or so albums later Wesley Willis died of Leukemia at age 40.
As with many punks, his output was, let’s just say erratic, but Alternative Tentacles Records was able to cull the bright spots into 1995’s self-titled masterpiece.
30. Midwestern Songs of the Americas by the Dillinger Four (1998)
Even punk kids in Minnesota loved Prince. Maybe not listening to him, but respected him that his studios were in Minneapolis and that they actually saw him around First Avenue. There was a sense of community that stretched across genres. With that being said, I was turned onto this obscure punk band with short songs with long titles by a young punk from Southern Minnesota and was blown away. When I asked (AZ) about how such a great album was flying under the radar, he said “Shhhh, it’s Minnesota’s secret.”
(Apparently you have to come to my house to hear it, it has been yanked off of almost all sites that I can find.)
31. Speak English or Die by Stormtroopers of Death (1985)
What do you get when you get titans of thrash Scott Ian and Charlie Benante, mix in the underrated thrash legend Dan Lilker, and add a pinch of loudmouth Billy Milano? Somehow you come up with one of the greatest hardcore punk releases ever. Purposely over-the-top, never has a band been so happy pissing people off, song after song, for kicks.
32. Pink Flag Wire (1977)
The ever prolific Wire, who might be the most active of the first wave of punk bands, just released their 15th studio album Nocturnal Koreans. With nearly 400 songs available on iTunes alone, it’s hard to pick against Wire’s first earth shattering jolt back in 1977.
33. Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell by Social Distortion (1992)
My disdain for modern country music is quite clear in my writing. Somehow modern country has evolved into this mediocre sounding, light rock pablum, almost interchangeable between themes and bands. But that wasn’t always the case, for true country has the same rebellious spirit as good Rock and Roll. To me, only 2 bands were able to straddle the fine line between the rebellious country spirit and punk rock and that’s Social Distortion and Mojo Nixon. And, no offense to Nixon, only one band was able to do it historically well.
34. The Last Temptation of Reid by Lard (1990)
Listen to Drug Raid at 4 A.M. and don’t tell me you don’t hear all the tenants of punk rock. Biafra basically screaming over the industrial noise of Ministry doesn’t water down industrial, but bolsters the power of Biafra’s brand of punk. Besides, the album gets bonus points for having Forkboy on the Natural Born Killers Soundtrack and having some of the most contemptuous banter you are ever going to hear.
35. The Body, the Blood, the Machine by The Thermals (2006)
The closest thing to existential punks, there is something unnerving and urgent about the Thermals 2006 release. There is an undercurrent of distress streaming below the surface of the recording.
“But The Machine isn't about subtle commentary: It's 36 minutes of loose garage rock with massively catchy melodies sugarcoating the biting sarcasm.” – The AV Club
36. Quantum Fucking by Fatal Flying Guilloteens (2007)
Just when you think punk is dead, an unknown band pops up and knocks it out of the park. In 2007, that band was the Fatal Flying Guilloteens with Quantum Fucking. Straight from the Houston, Texas back alleys, as soon as they were detected on radar, they disappeared. Not unlike a UFO, the legend of the band outweighs any real public knowledge of its existence today.
37. Enema of the State by Blink 182 (1994)
I’ve always liked Blink’s music, until they broke up, that is. Few punks have rubbed me the wrong way more than Tom DeLonge, so I defer to AP. “Okay, so if you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking, ‘Enema of the State is obviously the best Blink-182 album of all time, and all of these other writers are completely wrong. ‘ Good news: I agree with you! Enema of the State isn’t just the best Blink record; it’s the best pop-punk record of all time.” –Alternative Press Magazine (Matt Crane)
38. The Record by Fear (1982)
Fear is primarily known for starting a riot on Saturday Night Live in 1981. With a few singles under their belts, their first album came out the next year. “It makes sense that John Belushi was a big fan of Fear, because The Record sounds like the punk equivalent of the movie Animal House -- puerile, offensive, and often reveling in its own ignorance, but pretty entertaining on a non-think level while it lasts.” – All Music
39. Dookie by Green Day (1994)
There is something disconcerning to me about Green Day. I respect their roots, they seem like good guys, and they wrote a punk opera, for goodness sake. Past the year 1984, Dookie might be one of the most important punk albums of all time. But there’s something about the album, top to bottom, that just doesn’t do it for me despite the obvious bright spots of She, Basket Case, and Longview.
40. Damaged by Black Flag (1981)
Read Get in the Van by Henry Rollins and it explains everything you need to know.
When the band left Rollins in 1986, it was over, despite who might be touring today under different names. Though groundbreaking, I don’t know if the music has stood the test of time as well as the legend.
* According to Me! (More Ranting)… don’t even comment on the Beacon of Speech site if you disagree, comment on the Rolling Stone page and tell them how much I suck and kiss their asses. I’m sorry, I didn’t forget NOFX or the Germs, they are just overrated . Rolling Stone can’t just pick albums they like then call them punk. Rolling Stone calling Nevermind punk disqualifies their qualifications to make a punk list. (If you want to say Bleach is punk, I’ll listen to that.) I went back last week and re- listened to Marquee Moon by Television, twice, and the other bands it reminded me of in hindsight were Talking Heads and the Strokes, they’re not on my list, not because they’re not good, but because they’re not punk. At one point Rudy Martinez (Question Mark) of ? and the Mysterians claimed their single 96 Tears was the first punk song, in 1966!
Rolling Stone’s lack of breadth and depth past about the year 1982 belies the problem of Rock Music as a genre. Once you built that Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, that was a Tomb, not a celebration of the genre. As you enshrine bands like Pearl Jam now, who do you enshrine in 2040? A few rappers? Probably. What great Rock band exists now under the age of 30? In comparison, by 30, most members of Led Zepplin were done saying what they wanted to say and were ready for breakup.
I used to think that Alternative Press was the future of music magazines until they championed Dashboard Confessional. That little stunt forever changed the direction of a great music magazine. The one quote that set me off was the lead singer of Dashboard Confessional lamenting the state of music (which is fair) and saying “the most punk rock thing you can do is pick up an acoustic guitar.” Wrong. The most punk rock thing you can do is smash Chris Carrabba in the shoulder with an acoustic guitar and listen to the bones separate as he falls to the ground.
(Note to reader: Don’t hit Chris Carrabba with a guitar, or any other musical instrument for that matter, it will only cause him to release a sad double album about his physical pain.)
Citing Supreme court ruling Jacobellis vs.Ohio, I know punk music when I hear it, so if you think punk is dead, read Rolling Stone Magazine.
Their Top 40 List Breakdown
1970’s – 17 bands
1980’s – 16 bands
90’s through Today - 7 bands
If you think punk is alive and under the old People’s Radar, My Top 40 List
1970’s – 6
1980’s – 12
1990’s – 13
2000’s – 7
2010’s through Today – 2