As much an attitude as a genre of music, nothing has been so influential or two controversial as punk.
It’s likewise likely absolutely nothing else will quite have the impact of punk. Sorry, metalheads, however a big percentage of metal bands have actually been affected in some way by punk as well as Sabbath. Punks invented that too!
The truth is there’s hardly a category of music that hasn’t been changed by punk. If there’s anything to complain about here it’s that there are just 10 songs in our list, and not 2000!
Not to point out the truth that in 1981, some punk bands had yet to release their best work, hadn’t formed yet, or in some cases hadn’t even been born! There is a whole sub-genre of punk known as UK82 (from the Made use of tune of the same name), and it’s not till 1991 that we reach ‘the year that punk broke’.
But maybe, simply maybe, here are the very best 10 punk anthems of all time which you can grab on CD. Take pleasure in.
- ELIMINATING JOKE– WARDANCE
It’s difficult to overemphasise Killing Joke’s impact on music– especially industrial music– considering that their inception in London’s Notting Hill in 1978, and their influence continues to this day. Whereas many punk bands increasingly relied on speed, Eliminating Joke had– and still have– a darker, more stomping, tribal sound, bleak and apocalyptic, best for a period in which nuclear war was a frighteningly genuine risk. Wardance, the band’s 2nd single and the opening track on their self-titled debut album, is a perfect example of the band at their finest and why, without them, their would be no Godflesh, Ministry or Nine Inch Nails– particularly considering that Killing Joke were unafraid to use synthesised noises to include additional hazard to their insanity.
- RELEASE– TRUTHS OF WAR (1980 )
In these days of black metal, death metal and grindcore, it might be hard for more youthful readers to comprehend simply how incredibly heavy Discharge were for their time. Widely panned by the music press– one review recommending that they sounded like a pneumatic drill– they were quite actually the most ferocious band on earth. You just have to look at the quantity of bands who have actually covered its songs (Metallica, Machine Head, Soulfly, Anthrax, Napalm Death) to know that their launching album Hear Nothing See Nothing State Nothing is among the best and most influential albums of all time. But even prior to that, Discharge were in a class of their own. It’s far more raw than anything from the album, the Realities Of War EP from 1980 is where it all started, later going on to motivate an entire genre of music understood as D-Beat. Having taken an extremely ill-advised detour into heavy metal in the mid- ’80s, Discharge are currently back on kind with a magnificent new album entitled End Of Days.
- THE RUTS– STARING AT THE RUDE BOYS (1980 )
Another punk band heavily influenced by reggae, The Ruts had an extraordinary skill for bringing tension to their music, especially through the rugged guitar noise of the late and fantastic Paul ‘Foxy’ Fox, who sadly passed away from lung cancer in 2007. We might have picked any Ruts timeless for our leading 20– Babylon’s Burning, Jah War, Something That I Said– however sadly we will never know the complete potential of the band as frontman Malcolm Owen died from a heroin overdose in 1980.
- SHAM 69– IF THE KIDS ARE UNITED (1978 )
Sham’s major label launching, Borstal Breakout, is undoubtedly a much better tune, but if we’re talking anthems then it doesn’t get far more anthemic than If The Children Are United, which was a top 10 chart hit in 1978, basically bringing the sound of football terrace chants to punk rock. For Sham, while their message could not have actually been much clearer, their gigs were constantly plagued by violence, particularly from best wing skinheads who took umbrage at the band playing Rock Versus Racism shows. Ultimately Sham 69 were forced to call it a day, their final program– Sham’s last stand, at the Rainbow in London– predictably becoming a bloodbath before they ‘d even gone on stage. These days, Sham are back playing gigs– fortunately without the violence– but bizarrely, there are 2 line-ups using the exact same name, which suggests that the band themselves are not precisely united.
- STIFF LITTLE FINGERS– SUSPECT GADGET (1979 )
Formed in Belfast at the height of The Difficulties, Stiff Little Fingers were– and indeed still are– one of the most radical punk bands. Not least because they purposefully crossed the sectarian divide, unifying kids from both sides, and facing the situation in songs like Barbed Wire Love, Option Ulster, Wasted Life, and this, their launching single, Suspect Gadget. A cassette of the single sent out to a record label was apparently thrown into a container of water because it was thought to be a bomb. Thankfully, however, the single– released on SLF’s own Rigid Digits label– reached Radio One DJ John Peel who played it continuously, and it went on to sell over 30,000 copies. It was likewise the opening track on their amazing debut album, Flammable Product, which was their very first independent record to reach the UK leading 20. It ought to be no surprise that Stiff Little Fingers declined to cancel their Paris show simply four days after the terrorist attack at Le Bataclan.
- THE CLASH– WHITE RIOT (1977 )
Motivated by the riots at Notting Hill Carnival in 1976, in which Joe Strummer and Paul Simonon participated, White Riot was a call to arms for the white youth of Britain to leave their arses and discover something worth fighting for. Far from being racist, as it was often misinterpreted– The Clash were heavily affected by reggae and headlined Rock Against Racism in 1978– it was an effort to get white kids to stop being so apathetic, as evidenced by the opening line, “Black man got ta great deal of issues, however they do not mind tossing a brick/White individuals got to school, where they teach you had to be thick!” Musically, there are better Clash tunes, the chord structure here sounding suspiciously like the Ramones, however as a declaration of intent– this being their debut single– it is second to none, and has actually since been covered by everyone from Anti-Flag, GBH, and Dropkick Murphys to Rage Against The Machine.
- RAMONES– BLITZKRIEG BOP (1979 )
No list of leading punk anthems would be anywhere near complete without something from the ‘brudders’ Ramone, and it actually doesn’t get any much better than this live variation of Blitzkrieg Bop from the traditional It lives album, taped at the Rainbow in London, on New Year’s Eve 1977. Hell, bassist Dee Ramone’s cry of “1-2-3-4” is anthemic in itself, but the ‘Hey Ho! Let’s Go!’ chant from Blitzkrieg Bop (apparently inspired by the Bay City Rollers) is, like all classic Ramones, a work of simplistic genius. No guitar solos, no bullshit, just raw energy! You only need to look at the track-list for the album– 28 songs in less than an hour– to know that the Ramones weren’t fucking around. “What they desire, I don’t know/They’re all accelerated and prepared to go!” Wearing a Ramones shirt and not owning at least one of their records should probably be prohibited.
- THE DAMNED– SMASH IT UP (1979 )
And then they charged the band for the damages! Provided that the song had triggered the ‘redecoration’ of locations nationwide it was an ingenious relocation, and, naturally, went according to strategy, with the photo-pit gathering most of the wreckage. Needless to state, it was ill-advised to play the tune at a house celebration, unless it was the home of someone you didn’t like extremely much.
- SEX PISTOLS– GOD CONSERVE THE QUEEN (1977 )
It might– and undoubtedly will– be argued that Anarchy In The UK need to be the leading option for a Sex Handguns anthem. It was their first single, after all, and regardless of being explained by Damned guitarist Captain Practical as sounding like “some redundant Bad Business out-take with old man Steptoe singing over the top”, it was the first song to move punk rock into the general public awareness. That stated, the ‘Antichrist/Anarchist’ rhyme actually is dreadful, frontman Johnny Rotten later on insisting that he has actually never been an anarchist, and if not for the band’s now infamous appearance on the Today Program the public may have chosen to overlook it and hope that it went away. Released to coincide with the Queen’s silver jubilee, there was no neglecting God Conserve The Queen! Prohibited by the BBC, it reached number 2 in the charts– with accusations that the charts had actually been ‘fixed’ to stop it reaching primary– and a blank area was left where it must have been gone into, the “no future” refrain becoming symbolic of hard rock to this day. Nearly 40 years later on, it’s still a traditional.
- THE STOOGES– I WAN NA BE YOUR PET (1969 )
Green fucking Day? While it’s adorable that London is presently commemorating the 40th anniversary of punk with some particularly cracking shows at the 100 Club, Iggy Pop and the Stooges put out this significant single back in 1969, along with the self-titled album, quite much developing punk rock in the process. Never ever prior to had 3 chords (and one piano note) been played with such nihilistic genius, and it goes without stating that the song has been covered advertisement infinitum.