Hello again, Wizbang readers. I’ve returned for another Friday night post, complete with potty mouth and punk rawk.
This week at my site Faster Than The World, my co-writer/better-half (aka The Turtle) and myself had a blast letting our readers vote on the 100 Best Punk Songs. We had been compiling the list for weeks, with the help of our readers, and gave each of the 100 songs on the list a mini-review (as well as including an mp3 of each song).
Please remember this list is really arbitrary. Aside from the reader contributions, this list consists of our idea of the best punk songs. You can see where our tastes lie….early DC stuff, mid 80’s California stuff….it’s what we like. Someone’s always going to disagree, someone’s always gonna blow a gasket that [insert seminal, important, punk band here] didn’t make the list and someone’s always going to wonder how [insert band you never heard of] can make such a list.
These lists were made for arguing. It’s the best part of doing something like this. And I am fully prepared to take the continued beatings over the fact that we failed to put a single Meatmen song on the list, but take heart in the fact that next week we are doing Most Offensive Punk Songs and Meatmen fans will not be disappointed there.
Now I know the readership of this site and I know I’m gonna hear it from the “Early New York Punk Is The Only Punk That Matters” crowd (*cough*babyboomers*cough*). Here’s what I have to say about that:
The idea that punked peaked before 1983 is a misconception shared by a lot of people. Including one Dean Esmay. Mostly, those people define punk as being the early NY and UK scenes.
In reality, punk reached its pinnacle in the 80’s, with the best of the bands coming from California (Circle Jerks, Black Flag, Minutemen) and DC (Bad Brains, Minor Threat). Those who cut their teeth on the Ramones and The Clash tend to be insular about their ideas of punk; they have no idea that whole movements and sub genres of punk existed outside of the more well known bands.
Bands like GBH, Adolescents, Angry Samoans, TSOL, Descendents, Agent Orange, Fang, Youth Brigade (I could go on here, but I won’t) all contributed to keeping the punk scene alive and moving.
Yea, punk was about attitude as well as about the music; but there were as many different “attitudes” to go around as there were styles of punk. I just don’t think punk music can be clearly defined as “that music the Clash played.” Nor do I think (and yea, just my opinion) that the late 70’s were the heyday of punk.
Anyhow, here’s the Top 15 songs as voted on by our readers. Who may or may not have stuffed the ballot box. These are the reviews originally posted in the list. mp3 linked in song title, number of votes in parentheses, and reviewer listed at end. Again, thanks for making this a whole shitload of fun. – M/T
1. Minor Threat – Salad Days (93)
Almost everyone who has added to this list has a favorite Minor Threat song. So I’m gonna get mine up here first. Because I can. The slow start, the build up, the anticipation because you know the song is gonna kick any second and then MacKaye starts in half singing, half talking in that frenzied way – and that’s one of the things I aways dug most about Minor Threat, is the way his vocals make it seem like you’re sitting in a bar with him and he’s just going off about something (and this is also true of why I love Fugazi and, on a different but same tanget, 7 Seconds). And listening to Salad Days you know it’s the last thing they did, so you sing along with the lyrics in a wistful kind of way but you think, what a hell of a way to go out. -M
2. Misfits – Some Kind of Hate (88)
I’m trying to narrow my Misfits songs down and damn, it’s hard. But I think out of all of them, this one best exemplifies Danzig’s penchant for masturbating with his own voice. You won’t get this kind of “I’m a real singer, damn it, listen to me croooooooon” again until much later on (when he was solo) with “You and Me (Less Than Zero).” And I’m not saying that like it’s a bad thing. Danzig was at his best when he was making sweet love to himself. Plus, you gotta dig the whole Phil Spector type music, as if the Ronnettes were gonna suddenly bust out with maggots in the eye of love won’t copulate. -M
3. Social Distortion – Mommy’s Little Monster (56)
Ok. I know Social Distortion is on here a lot. It just was gonna happen. There are people who found them at the beginning and thought they were too punk, and people who found them in the end who thought they were too mellow and sold out. All I remember is seeing them at shows looking like they wanted this to end. This was way back. When you could feel this song. Feel the song and anger and frustration and futileness of being a punk rocker. We were built for this, but it didn’t mean we were gonna win. We were all just fucked up kids trying to get through another day while trying to get laid and get high. Hey, something fun to do in your spare time! If you really want to have fun…..try singing the lyrics! Mike Ness has a voice that you can’t get to. I just sounded lame singing this song on the phone yesterday to Michele. That’s his voice. Gutter and hard. Great song about being beat down before you grew up. -T
4. Bad Brains – House of suffering (47)
Man this band kicked everybody’s ass. When I heard this song eminating from a stereo i knew it was going to be a good party. I mean anyone can sit through the intro and “I Against I,” but when they let it play through to House of Suffering you pretty much knew they were going to play the whole album. – Kali
5. Dead Kennedys – Holiday in Cambodia (39)
One of the first punk songs I ever heard that proved to me that some punk guitarists actually knew how to play. Politics aside, DK has always had a powerful sound and Jello had a vicious wit to match. “Holiday in Cambodia” catures everything good about this band without getting terribly cheesy. – Cullen
6. Husker Du – New Day Rising (34)
This song is like fifty hits of speed shoved into your veins with a needle that’s been dipped in pure adrenaline. It’s fucking primal scream therapy. It’s stomping on the ground and shaking your head and kicking the wall and maybe taking a chunk of plaster out of the spot behind your bedroom door and you really don’t fucking care, you are just ripping shit off your walls and throwing books and empty beer cans around and screaming along with the song – and I mean throat tearing, from the bottom of your stomach sreaming – which you play 43 times in a row until a neighbor bangs on the window and asks if you are ok and you are like. Fuck yea, I’m ok. I’m better than ok. Cathartic. – M
7. Sleater Kinney – Dig Me Out(30)
Who are these guys? What the hell is this? Is this punk? Three ladies from Portland or Seattle or some rainy fucking state. I don’t know. But something was different with this song. Something that made us all look at the CD and wonder what was with it. Oh fuck. There’s only three of them. Well thats ok. What’s different. What’s going on? Fuck. Wait. That’s not a fucking bass. Is that a bass? No. That isn’t. That’s a toned down fucking guitar. That’s weird. But also. That’s really fucking cool. Really cool. This is a great song that opened this band to the entire world. Started an album that didn’t stop. A song about just being bothered by someone. Dig me out dig me in. Love and frustration. And getting ready for a show. I think. Fuck. Idunno. It could be about chili dogs for all I care. All I know is this song rocked. – T
8. Subhumans – Susan (22)
This might not be your favorite Subhumans song. You might not even call it punk rock. But to this day I still know the lyrics. This song always came up in my head when I saw someone who just wanted out. Trust me. A lot of people in my life wanted out and were just forced to keep going. But, they just wanted out. This tells you off a story of one girl who wanted out years before but couldn’t go. A weird, dark song about her just wanting to die but staying alive just for others to smile, but in the end giving up. A really sad song about a girl who was forgotten in the end. -T
9. Sex Pistols – God Save the Queen (21)
The Pistols created quite a stir when they performed this song on a cruise ship on the Thames during the Jubilee Celebration. While the British press was all wrapped up in the fanfare of the Queen’s Jubilee and celebration the nation’s glorious past, the punks, led by the Sex Pistols, were turning their backs to the pomp and declaring independence from the celebrated past. The Sex Pistols commentary was expressed in a phrase that became the rallying cry of punks in ’77: “no future.” –Andrew
10. The Stooges – Search and Destroy (20)
I don’t think there’s much debate that The Stooges are the first real punk band. The created the sound that launched the New York Dolls who in turn launched The Sex Pistols and inspired The Ramones. Search and Destroy shows us the angry, anti-hippy angst that was bleeding out of the Motor City. –Cullen
11.Suicidal Tendencies – Institutionalized (19)
The first time i heard the “what’re you tryin’ to say, i’m crazy?” speech, i knew i was punk rock. iI had found my voice through Mike Muir. And I rode the angst train all the way to the station. – Kali
12. Ramones – Beat on the Brat (18)
“Blitzkrieg Bop” kicked off the revolution with a “Hey! Ho! Let’s Go!”, but this one is more typical of what appeals to me with the Ramones. It works on so many levels at once, and it’s the blueprint for most of their future songs. You can use it when you’re angry. You can laugh at it (they don’t really mean it…right?). You can take it as autobiographical (kinda like “sittin’ here in Queens, eatin’ refried beans, gulping down thorazines…”) Plus, it rocks the hell out. –Solonor
13. The Clash – London’s Burning (15)
As unfashionable as it seems to be (maybe it’s just me), the Clash are my second favorite punk band. The opening of this song is classic. Joe Strummer screams, the guitar and drums pound out a fanfare, and we’re off. The lyrics aren’t much for much, compared to other songs, but I just change “London’s burning with boredom now!” to “Bangor’s burning with boredom now!” and go on with my little teenage angsty life. –Solonor
14. MC5 – Kick Out the Jams ( 13)
So I’m in the car with my 13 year old son, listening to the punk rock station on XM radio and this song comes on. Kick out the jams, motherfucker! Kid says, hey this song sounds old. I said yea, 1969, dude. This is like the original punk rock song. The original punk rock band. He says “they said motherfucker in 1969??” That made me laugh. But hey, he rocked out to the song and immediately hit his Fender when we got home to try and work it out. Over 30 years later and some 13 year old kid is laying down your notes on his guitar and thinking it’s one of the coolest things he ever heard? Rock on. -M
15. Angry Samoans – Lights Out (12)
Hey dude. Theres not much to say on this song except to quote them. “We weren’t the best but we rocked the hardest.” Jesus, dude. What the fuck was with these guys? A band from LA in the LA scene who fucking didn’t care about anything but breaking things. While others were singing about love on a couch they were singing about poking your eyes out with a fork. I’m telling you, this song rocks. *Disclaimer* This site has no responsiblity if you poke your eyes out with a fork. -T
Other songs getting votes:
Clash – White Man in Hammersmith Palais (11); Richard Hell and the Voidoids – Blank Generation (10); The Clash – Complete Control (10); Black Flag – Depression (10); Social Distortion – “Ball and Chain” (10); Dead Milkmen – Bitchin’ Camaro (10); Operation Ivy – Sound System (10); The Damned – “New Rose” (10); Bad Brains – Banned in DC (10); Jonathan Richman – “Roadrunner” (8); The Jam – Down in the Tube Station at Midnight (6); Minutemen – Corona (6); Husker Du – Divide and Conquer (6); nomeansno – The River (6); Jim Carroll Band – People Who Died (5); D.I. – “Richard Hung Himself” (5); Germs – Lexicon Devil (5); Misfits – Bullet (5); Fugazi – Promises (4); GBH – Knife Edge (4); Circle Jerks – “Back Against the Wall” (4); SOD – March of the SOD (4); MDC – I Remember (4); Minor Threat – It Follows (4);’ Black Flag – Rats Eyes (3); Social Distortion – Reach for the Sky (3); Buzzcocks – Fast Cars (3); The Business – Harry May (3); Vandals – Change the World With My Hockey Stick (3); Circle Jerks – Live Fast, Die Young (3); The Damned – “Love Song” (3); Spermbirds – My god rides a skateboard (2); TSOL – Code Blue (2); Fear – Gimmie Some Action (2); Dicks – Dicks Hate the Police (2); SNFU – She’s Not On The Menu (1); Hellacopters – Fire Fire Fire (1); Exploited – Sex and Violence (1); Dr. Know -Watch it Burn (1); Radio Birdman – New Race (1); DI – Youth In Asia (1); 7 Seconds – Remains to Be Seen (1); Negative Approach – Evacuate (1); Fang – An Invitation [to a Suicide] (1); Flipper: Life (1); Butt Trumpett – I’m Ugly And I Don’t Know Why (1); Refused – New Noise (1); Rancid – Sidekick (1); Turbonegro – Don’t Say Motherfucker, Motherfucker (1); Steel Pole Bathtub – “Train to Miami” (1); Dwarves – “Let’s Fuck” (1); CIV – “Set Your Goals” (1); Fang – “Money Will Roll Right In” (1); Generation X – Your Generation (1); MDC – My Family’s A Little Weird (1)
Again, remember this is for fun. We kinda put a lot of work into this, so if you want to complain about anything, do so with the caveat that we’re probably not listening. This is about having fun. FUN, damn it! In the immortal words of Murphy’s Law: ’cause you gotta have fun. Fun! Christ, you gotta have fun. Fun! In the sun! Cause you gotta have fun.Fun!
Please feel free to head over to FTTW and check out the whole list of 100 (all of them are linked in the sidebar, as well as the tunes). Turtle and I put a lot of work into compiling those reviews and checking them out might give you some insight into why we think those songs deserved inclusion. Or, you might hate them. But that’s cool. Different strokes, etc.
It’s a fun list. I would also have put Minor Threat at #1. Salad Days is great. Personally I love “Out of Step” for sheer fury and “Minor Threat” as anthem for an age.
I also love to see “Fuck You” by DOA and something by Naked Raygun, maybe “Home of the Brave” or “I Don’t Know.” Also, though I know it’s the oh-so-obvious choice, “Terminal Preppie” deserves a place on the list . It rocks, has attitude, and is the only great great rock song featuring the clarinet (so far as I know).
Circle jerks? isn’t that MAK44s responsibility?
Can we vote for none of the above?
As a freshman in college in early 1983, my first time away from home, I bought the Angry Samoans album at Tower Records in West Covina – on a dare – simply because they had a song on the album called “They Saved Hitler’s Cock”. The album was bought using money that was not spent on books (as prescribed by my scholarship). I knew nothing about them.
We went back to the dorm room, cracked a few “Lucky Lagers”, put the album on the turntable, and listened, mouths agape, from start to finish, stunned at what we were hearing.
Stunned not at the enormous social impact the Samoans might have, not at the deeper meaning of the “Ballad of Jerry Curlan” (whoever that poor bastard was) “Tuna Taco” and “My Old Man’s a Fatso”, but at the sheer shock that somebody gave these guys a record contract.
The album got played many times over the years, many times just before our intramural football games and other times where the energy level had to be heightend, or if we wanted to poke somebody’s eyes out.
MojoMark, we at FTTW love the Angry Samoans!
Poke, poke, poke your eyes out!
Thanks for the riveting commentary, SmartGuy.
Heh, you posted about punk rock at Wizbang. That’s funny.
I’m shocked and appalled that Blink 182 didn’t make the Top 15. (I’m joking, don’t kill me!)
Just so you all know, Kevin asked me to post this. Blame him if you don’t like it.
It is all part of Kevin’s expand-the-universe-of-topics in order to conquer the entire blogging world strategy. I tell ya tho, this one is tough on the senses. In the political world, you can never forget your base.
“In the political world, you can never forget your base.”
Exactly why I stopped political blogging. God forbid you step outside the narrowly defined box of your politics once in while, it really messes with the order of some people’s universe.
I’ll be happy to wait until you get to the “100 Best Bluegrass Albums,” when I can reminisce about the good ol’ days…
Wait a sec. Is “Lets Fuck” really a song? Maybe I should give this punk rock thing a try.
Come on over to fttw and download it, McCain. You’ll either fall in love with the Dwarves or go to confession.
I’ll be happy to wait until you get to the “100 Best Bluegrass Albums,” when I can reminisce about the good ol’ days…
that’s coming soon.
we are just waiting for this snowball fight in hell to end
Then we will do it.
dude — no black flag (gimmie gimmie gimmie) … no flipper (way of the world) … no descendents (loser) in the top 15. minor threat & bad brains are spot on, but social distortion, sleater kinney, the ramones? come on. is that a pop list or a punk list ya got there?
that said, hats off for the effort — it’s always fun to look back (minor threat is still in my ipod playlist … my 13-year-old son’s as well). and props for the reach back to the samoans.
Liberal sex is so discriminating! so self destructive, so illumunating! No wonder Clinton enjoyed the “oval” office so much!
Al, I wish Black Flag made it in, though my vote would have been for Depression. Check the full list, there’s Black Flag and Flipper and Descendents.
It’s great to see more Samoan fans out there!
Wow, your life seems to be one continuous flashback. I can see how you’d find this music soothing to your soul.
Things I would’ve liked to see added (more on the hardcore side, but whatever):
7 seconds – “Young Til I Die”
Cro-Mags – “Don’t Tread on Me” (best two-stepping/chanting end EVER)
Dystopia – “Backstabber” (they’re a hit-or-miss band for most people)
Misfits – “Some Kind of Hate” is a good choice, but I’d also like to see either Angelfuck or Astrozombies.
Project X – “Straight Edge Revenge” (the start of the militant edge lyrics; of course, it was all a joke at the time)
Slapshot – “Punk’s Dead (You’re Next)” (for anyone who hates the 13 year old “fuck you mom, but I’ll take your allowance” assholes)
Toxic Narcotic – “Only the Wrong Survive”
Also, time for shameless self-promotion
There is a 7 Seconds on the 100 list (Remains to Be Seen). And I came so close to using Angelfuck instead of Some Kind of Hate but switched at the last minute. Also, Slapshot’s I’ve Had Enough was thisclose to being my last pick. Just missed out.
I would have loved to see Black Flag’s Rise Above make the final list, just not enough to have voted for it enough to make it.
Again, Michele and Turtle, I think you guys did a wonderful job and I had a lot of fun along the way.
Can’t wait to throw some offense out there.
I would like to post a question to you guys though, none of us threw out any Bad Religion for the list, too mainstream? I still love rocking to 21st Century Digital Boy.
Pose a question, rather.
Cullen, neither turtle nor I are huge BR fans. There are about four songs I like, but – and I know this is bad – I can’t get past my dislike for Gaffin enough to really enjoy the music.
“Pose a question, rather.”
You poser… 🙂
I can understand … I have issues with a lot of his subject matter, but they are such a good band. Oh well, I’ve been going through a Motorhead phase the past couple of days.
I for one and glad to see such a posting such at Wizbang.
I fear that Kevin has fallen into the textbook marketing pitfall called “Dilution of Brand”.
But this brought me back….
And as a non-republican who has voted republican for 10 years, I am disappointed that there was no mention here of JFA or Decry.
Michelle, you claim that you have given up the politics, but I detect an anti-skatepunk bias in your list…
(OK, not really, but just trying to make a point)
Hey, check out the full list. JFA’s Mad Garden is in there!!
you want skate punk, look for Rich Kids on LSD on the list
They made it.
JFA and RKL both made it
hey mike/jim dude, you do know that i can tell you are the same person, right?
No X or Dead Kennedys? Where’s the love for the LA punk scene?
If you guys had a sense of humor, you’d put “Sleater-Kinney Sucks” by the Punk Group at #8.
No X or Dead Kennedys? Where’s the love for the LA punk scene?
dead kennedys aren’t LA. They are San Francisco. But they are in there.
X was a huge oversight. But really the only two I would have put in there would have been “We’re Desparete” or “Back to the Base”
We are not perfect