The Top 15 Punk Albums! Page 5

City Attacked By Rats. Released August, 1982. Reached #2 on the Indie chart, #17 on the U.K. charts.

Originally Charged G.B.H. and later just G.B.H., this crucial band formed in Birmingham, England in 1978.The initials stand for grievous bodily harm, (in English law, a serious physical injury inflicted on a person by the deliberate action of another), not "Great Big Hairdo" or as their singer joked, "Girls, Booze, Hash." Along with Discharge and The Exploited they are generally considered one of the three most important bands of the second wave of UK punk.

Singer Colin Abrahall remembered, " Before punk came along, I didn't have any real interest in music at all. I was at school at the time and all these rumours would filter through the playground, stuff that was from The Sun newspaper, really silly things like ' Punks spit down their girlfriends' throats when they kiss,' and so on. I remember hearing "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker" on the radio and thought 'Wow, this is great' ...then I heard the Sex Pistols and The Clash. I suppose I was the right age at the time 'cos it was all so rebellious and the stuff your parents would hate, and it just felt so right to me."

G.B.H. played their first real show at Digbeth Civic Hall on September 12, 1980—a benefit for prostitutes' rights. They played all ten songs they knew, with Abrahall quite scared. After the show they got a few compliments, and someone said the band was decadent. " So, I went home," Abrahall recalled, "and looked it up in the dictionary."

The band recorded four demo songs in 1980, then Clay Records signed them, and they recorded an excellent and much loved 12" EP, “Leather, Bristles, Studs And Acne”. This well played, hard charging platter surprisingly became a big seller, peaking at #8 on the UK Indie Charts. Songs like "Lycanthropy" and "Necrophilia" were quite unusual fare for a punk record. Two singles followed and then their classic debut album, City Baby Attacked By Rats, recorded in three days, hit the stores.

Some of their earlier songs suffered from less than stellar production but with City Baby… the band was let loose with 24 tracks to work with. The result is wonderful; on a good playback system it sounds superb. The album opens with a loud, ticking clock, "Time Bomb," and it really does explode into the stratosphere after that. Well-crafted melodic punk, excellently played and sung with power and aggression. Songs about a maniac " Your face will turn a ghostly blue as he comes into view/ To slice you up in not enough, he must dismember you." Ramones' type lyrics in "Sick Boy" " I'm strapped into my bed/ I've got electrodes in my head/ My nerves are really bad/ It's the best time I've ever had." "The Passenger On The Menu" deals with cannibalism. The song "Slut" was harshly criticized in some magazines "I wanted you 'cause of your bust/ And now I want a night of lust/ Can't wait around anymore/ So take me home you dirty whore." Offsetting these types of songs are those like "The Prayer Of A Realist", which questions the reality of a God with so much suffering in the world.

A complete success, one of the most perfect punk albums of the 80's. Really a must to hear and own.

"I Am The Hunted":

"City Baby Attacked By Rats”:

Is This My World?. Released 1983

The last of the three hardcore albums on our list, Jerry's Kids got together in Braintree, Massachusetts, USA in 1981, taking their name from how children were referred to on the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy telethon.

Jerry's Kids debuted on the This Is Boston Not L.A, compilation with six quick songs and with a different singer and a different guitarist. Good, but nothing that would prepare you for their incredible first LP. Rick Jones, vocals/ bass, Bob Cenci guitar, Chris Doherty guitar and Brian Betzger drums really dropped one for the ages with Is This My World?.

My God, what a sound they had! IMO these sheets of sound have never been equaled in punk music. Want to feel what it must be like to be flattened by a bulldozer? Yes? Then take a listen. The twin guitar attack is amazing, but wait, there's more. Betzger's drumming is out of this world great. Breakneck speed, but delicate at the same time! My all-time favorite punk drumming on an album. And when they slow it down, as on "Lost," the results are no less spectacular.

Lyrics are hard to discern so...."I Don't Belong" " I got a feeling, it's in my head/ I got a feeling, do you hear what I said/ I've got a feeling, there's something wrong/ I got a feeling that I, that I don't belong here/ And I know it's true, that I don't belong here/ And neither do you/ I got a feeling, it's in my brain/ I got a feeling, I've got nothing to gain." "Cracks In The Wall"/"Tear It Up"..."I opened up my head to you/ Listened to the plan you drew/ Tell me what I should be/ Tell me what I should see/ There is cracks in the wall/ Watch them fall/ Mundane people, they're all around/ They keep our music underground/ But we're gonna brea, break the chains/ And watch their lives go down the drain/ CHORUS/ I look around, there's no place to play/ They tell us to go the fuck away/ Streets of Boston need a change/ And streets of Boston call my name."

"Crucify Me"..." Point your finger, you point it in the dark/ ' Cause I'm just putty, just putty in your hands/ So push me down, and push me to the ground/ Just give me pain, and make me suffer, make me gasp/ Crucify me X6/ Nail me up and sit and watch me bleed/ And take whatever, whatever you need/ I feel oppression, I feel it fall on me/ I feel the pressure and it's cooking inside me."

I saw them play here in NYC with another Boston hardcore band, The F.U.'s When The F.U.'s played they said, " Hi. We're Jerry's Kids." And when Jerry's Kids played they said, " Hi. We're the F.U's." And that was that.

This is an album to treasure. Better than three cups of coffee in the morning. Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap every punk band in a single bound. This is Jerry's Kids.

“I Don't Belong”:

“Cracks In The Wall/Tear It Up”:

“Crucify Me”:

Mush. Released in 1991

Mush, the last LP on our list of the top 15 punk albums of all time, certainly takes a backseat to none. And I'm not alone in my praise of Leatherface. Trouser Press called them "By far England's finest, most exciting punk band of the 90's," and The Guardian chimed in "the greatest British punk band of the modern era."

Leatherface was launched in Sunderland, England in 1988 by singer Frankie Stubbs.and guitarist Dickie Hammond. Stubbs' raspy voice, recalling Motorhead's Lemmy Kilmister, is the first thing remarked upon by most people hearing the band. I love his voice, worldly wise and full of emotion. Hammond is an ace guitarist, Stubbs also plays guitar. Together they weave the richest layered musical tapestries, both in words and music. No punk band wrote and sang lyrics at times so emotional, so poetic, so melancholy, so passionate, so raw, so enigmatic and open to myriad interpretations. Steve Charlton on bass and Andrew Laing on drums are rock solid.

Leatherface's first album, Cherry Knowle, with a picture of the inside of the Cherry Knowle mental hospital on the cover, was released in 1989, followed in 1990 by Fill Your Boots. Both are fine efforts but in 1991 came Mush, and that was perfection. Top notch production, beautifully recorded, fifteen absolutely wonderful songs. The group can play hard charging punk like "How Lonely" and "Winning" then turn around and play multi-layered slow tempo like “Not Superstitious" and kill it every time.

These are not your average simple punk songs. They take some effort on the part of the listener to fully appreciate. Maybe that's why they never achieved the commercial success so many of their fans wished for them. I could never imagine their songs receiving mass airplay. Stubbs was asked about this but seemed content to just create the music for whomever appreciated it.

In total the band released ten studio albums, the last being The Stormy Petrel in 2010. In a testament to their greatness, that album showed no decline whatsoever in creativity in over 20 years. While most of the lawyer/corporate controlled "punk" bands of the last two decades have completely faded from memory, Leatherface has only grown in stature. With each passing day more and more people discover this unique band and that surely warms the cockles of me heart.

"How Lonely”:

"Not Superstitious”:

About the author:

Willie Luncheonette grew up in New York City and has had a lifelong love of both art and music. He once had a Google Plus channel on which he did comprehensive surveys of New York hardcore music from 1980-1985, as well as Bob Marley and The Wailers music from between 1962-73, Jamaican rock steady music of 1966-68 and Oi! Music from 1977-1986. He once guested on an East Village radio station, hosting shows on Irish punk music and one called “1977 the year punk took over.” His favorite musicians are Thelonious Monk, Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix. Luncheonette recently completed directorial feature film debut, the 4 hour long “The Sun Behind The Sun Behind The Sun”.

All rights reserved by Willie Luncheonette Copyright 2021

COMMENTS
malco49's picture

dont' get me wrong i dug sex pistols record and the first two clash records , but not sure they were punk rockers , they both sold out to corporations. D.I.Y. bands like minor threat and bad brains had true punk aesthetics.the undertones record is my favorite punk record. i saw them once , when they opened for the clash. they blew the clash off the stage. five skinny kids from derry blew the "only band that matters" away.

culturcide's picture

I've been hoping for ERC to press Never Mind the Bollocks (it’s never had an audiophile reissue). The most important band of the bunch, with the most far-reaching influence on broader culture: music, art, film, fashion, literature, graphic design, politics, LIFE!

Michael Fremer's picture
The original sounds very good for what it is and the reissue of the last decade I think, also does. Are you serious about ERC reissuing NMTB? Not sure it's a good match!
culturcide's picture

Oh, I am 100% serious (I mean, they've just done White Stripes, which is a very odd fit). Can you imagine that iconic Jamie Reid 3 colour cover letter pressed, or better still silkscreened like the Sam Records Byrd Artisan series? And, like ERC, they are the best of British. God Bless the Sex Pistols.

joe_marsh's picture

They should totally do the Sex pistols. Have (5)ERC releases and would love for attention to the 80's.

Fsonicsmith's picture

So good to see this. So good to see GBH included (instead of "Gabba Gabba Hey" we GBH fans, upon seeing someone else wearing a GBH Tee, would say "Great Big Hands!"). My list would be slightly different but no one appointed me the number one critic of punk. That said, any reference to post punk ought to mention Pavement's "Slanted and Enchanted" and Slint's "Spiderland", again imho.

MalachiLui's picture

great record, but it's more post-rock/math rock/post-hardcore than post-punk. and pavement is lo-fi/slacker rock.

Fsonicsmith's picture

I will grant your comments on "Slanted and Enchanted" but not on "Spiderland". Slint, like Minor Threat, were young suburban self-taught kids who threw out everything that was conventional about rock music and took home-grown garage rock and created something unique and fundamentally rock. If anything it would be "garage/skater" rock. Even the Ramones borrowed heavily from other influences. "Rocket to Russia" has many Beach Boys riffs.

Pretzel Logic's picture

This list encouraged me to dig out the Leather Bristles Studs and Acne EP. What a ferocious debut it was. I even made my own backpatch of the artwork in junior high. ha!

Dubhousing's picture

Yep, I was there in 76 too. A few points. First, most bands you list rejected the label 'punk' - the word is an (American) insult. Try New Wave instead. Second, you've missed some of the stone cold classics from the era. I'm thinking Richard hell and the Void Oid's 'Blank Generation' (they blew the Clash off stage when I saw them), the Pop Group's 'Y', 'Live at the Witch Trials' by The Fall (no-one else embodied the era like Mark E Smith), The Damned's first album. Great to see The Saints in the list though - a magnificent band.

johnnythunder2's picture

Where's THE DAMNED? DAMNED DAMNED DAMNED and MACHINE GUN ETIQUETTE are undisputed punk masterpieces. Where's Johnny Thunder and the Heartbreakers LAMF? Rocket to Russia over the Ramones first LP ? BUZZCOCKS ? SUICIDE ? DEAD BOYS?

Glotz's picture

Pffft. It's one person's list.

Glotz's picture

NT

my new username's picture

As a cynical kid back then I didn't buy into the danger. Black leather jackets and boots? Fonzie had that, and he was a caricature of the 1950s. Travis Bickle in a mohawk however, was a problem precisely because he'd become unhinged.

Just as The Ventures influenced The Ramones, the impact of hardcore is interesting. Most of my friends in the early '80s thought it was comedy. We didn't dislike it; it was the coolest of cool naturally. But that didn't imply we had to listen to much of it to appreciate it on some level.

City babies attacked by rats or stupid vacationers feeding Doritos to the bears? "Honey grab, the Polaroid." (Dead Kennedys' Winnebago Warrior). Many of the others were indeed impressive musicians, but messengers of change ... I'd argue nope. Not when you can't actually hear the words and when/if fast becomes fast just to become fast.

Now in middle age I've come full circle with "modern hardcore" doing a different (and varied) thing with bands like Turnstile.

rich d's picture

But rather than argue, I'll just point out that many of us who were also "there" (wherever that was) would include X - "Los Angeles". It may be my regional bias showing but damn what a great record.

Tom L's picture

The first couple of X albums are certainly 100% "punk", and they have stood the test of time. Of course, they're hampered by the fact that the band members could really play their instruments and by the incredible, unique harmonies of John Doe and Exene. Still a fantastic band.

Jon Iverson's picture
Buzzcocks anyone?
joe_marsh's picture

Singles Going Steady

DigitalIsDead's picture

Not sure how this list could have missed the Rollins led Black Flag, X, Flipper, Suicidal Tendencies, S.O.D. and early Red Hot Chili Peppers...

joe_marsh's picture

Not punk. And I don't even know what RHCP is except for LA poseurs.

DigitalIsDead's picture

Mission of Burma. Gang of Four. Television. Richard Hell and the Voidoids. The Runaways. The Jesus and Mary Chain

Isobarik's picture

This is not a top anything of punk. There might be albums that sound punky but they aren't punk. There's New Wave in there. There's Oi. Punk albums from the 80's? These Johnny come latelys shouldn't be on the list. The Damned? The Banshees? X-Ray Spex? (any females? why not the Slits?) The Buzzcocks? Great as the Ruts are, if they make it then why not Killing Joke or Adam and the Ants?

Isobarik's picture

I almost forgot. Tory Crimes on the Clash album was Terry Chimes. The change of name was because of the poor relationship the band had with that drummer at the time.

joe_marsh's picture

You can't list the John Peel session. That does not qualify as a "real" release. Much better to list The Crack.

joe_marsh's picture

...the most Punk band to have ever existed is.....Crass. Self released everything. Held on to their socialist, collective roots till the end. Told you when they were going to disband and then they did. Done.

kleinbje's picture

Nice to read five knowledgable pages about punk. Especially the good pressings, a rare resource. Appreciated.

Trevor_Bartram's picture

I listened to John Peel's nightly BBC FM radio show during the punk period. I taped whatever I liked and his studio band recordings were often better than the LPs. I believe Peel sifted thru something like 50 singles a day during that period trying to find nuggets, talk about hard work. He played the latest rock, ska and reggae as well. I listened avidly up until 1982, by which time UK music had become generic. RIP John Peel, the savior of British music!

LLCoolBeans's picture

Circle Jerks.

X