Have you heard so much punk rock music that you’re looking for something new? Have you discovered your very own style of music and would you like to get to know the most famous albums?
Whether you’re already a fan of weird music or just looking for new musical sensations, welcome to Skull World! In this article, we are going to list the 40 hottest albums in all of punk history . After going through this list, you will simply be ignorant as far as this subject is concerned. 🎸
Before we begin, let’s take a quick look together at where punk came from and how this monumental style came about:
Punk rock began in a bar in New York in 1976 when four guys invented a style of rock all their own. The revolution they sparked split rock & roll history in half. And though punk rock began as a form of negation (a call to brutal, utter simplicity), its musical diversity and emotional power were immediate and remain stunning to this day.
Anniversary of the Ramones ‘ debut who were a huge influence on punk music, we’ve compiled a list of the 40 greatest punk albums of all time. In it we included essential ancestors like the Stooges, the New York Dolls, Pere Ubu and Patti Smith and many others. We also weren’t too picky about all the debates like « But is this really punk? » or « This band doesn’t have a punk style of clothing », because everyone has their own definition of punk. 😉
Since this is a list of albums and not a list of the best punk bands , some great bands have not been included. The Circle Jerks, Adolescents, Fear, the Big Boys, the Dickies, the Dicks and even the mighty Damned just didn’t catch our attention because of the talk only about the quality of the albums. Ultimately, Kurt Cobain’s very famous phrase « punk rock should stand for freedom » alone reflects this Top 40 Most Beautiful Punk Music Albums .
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Album #40 : Dead Kennedys, « Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables » (1980)
The Dead Kennedys’ debut album is the ultimate hardcore comedy compilation. With singer Jello Biafra playing the role of Johnny Rotten as the bumbling satirist on songs like « California Über Alles » and « Holiday in Cambodia ». Fueled by the band’s technical guitarist , « East Bay » Ray Pepperell, Fresh Fruit also has more musical fire than that of hardcore rock bands like Fear or The Adolescents. ✌️
Album #39 : Devo, « Q, Are We Not Men » (1978)
Both as a performance collective and as a punk band, Devo has carved a path out of Akron (their hometown). The project has a brilliantly shifted new wave vision. Her first album explored obsessions like robotics, Ronald McDonald and cannibalistic monkeys. In doing so, they made devolution feel like the future.
Album #38 : White Lung, « Deep Fantasy » (2014)
This Vancouver band performs with the daughter of Patti Smith and Stevie Nicks. Each song unfolds like a longing bomb. Tracks like « Drown With the Monster » and « Face Down » are surprisingly fresh anthems, which is impressive for a band that’s been in the punk business for four decades. 😵
Album #37 : Blink-182, « Enema of the State » (1999)
Blink-182 ‘s third album and a musical marvel. The pop-punk hit stayed on the charts for 70 weeks. Thought to be a bad joke by fans at the time, Blink proved oddly resilient, eventually rising to become the ideal of a generation of fans. Echoes of The Descendents and The Misfits can be heard in some songs. Great!
Album #36 : Crass, « Penis Envy » (1981)
The furiously political British anarchist collective Crass has lived its success with admirable consistency. Based in a house that still exists today, they made everything themselves. Including managing their own Crass Records and designing their own multimedia presentations. The anti-sexist Penis Envy are characterized by radical lyrics that support their political ideas. 🤘
Album #35 : Fugazi, « 13 Songs » (1989)
Former Minister Ian MacKaye’s album was an artistic revelation. He and his Fugazi bandmates invented a post-hardcore sound that gets people moving. With « Waiting Room » he wrote the best karaoke show in American punk. As a social force, Fugazi were big enough to capitalize on what singer Guy Picciotto called « the power of no, » playing shows for everyone with ticket prices as low as $5 and refusing to sell merchandise (although fans T- smuggled shirts that said « This Is Not a Fugazi T-Shirt »). 😎
Album #34 : Joy Division, « Unknow Pleasure » (1979)
No punk band has ever portrayed their alienation as vividly as Joy Division. Ian Curtis’ foghorn and the wonder of the music on the ice floe inspired a whole goth-punk nation. Still, there was beauty in his voice and in the sounds of the band’s instruments. Curtis hanged himself less than a year after the release of that album.
Album #33 : The Slits, « Cut » (1979)
The Slits, pioneers in this field, fused reggae rhythms and punk guitars into cheerfully anarchic songs like « Shoplifting » with the ingenious hook line « We pay fuck-all! » ». The Slits followed Patti Smith in implicitly and explicitly defining punk as feminist. And like their British comrades Raincoats, The Yeahs were the pinnacle of the early 2000s post-punk revival that spawned Rapture and the Liars, among others. Her debut album is the work of three young, bright New York artists, featuring a (beautiful) girl in an often pink dress named Karen O. She sings like a horny cheetah until she hits a surprise in « Maps, » which might be the biggest Punk rock’s song is heart ripping. 🕶
Album #32 : The Misfits, « Walk Among Us » (1982)
Glenn Danzig and his New Jersey mutant group brought some much-needed irony to the hardcore scene with anthems like « I Turned Into a Martian. » When they abandoned hardcore politics and instead roared at B-movies like zombies and seductive vampires, the Misfits’ first macabre feature film, Walk Among Us, was the pinnacle of punk horror. 🧟
Album #31 : Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, « Fever to Tell » (2003)
« The Yeahs » were the best artists of the « post-punk revival » of the early 2000s, which spawned « Rapture and the Liars » among others. Her debut album is the work of three young, bright New York artists, featuring a (beautiful) girl in an often pink dress named Karen O. She sings like a horny cheetah until she hits a surprise in « Maps, » which might be the biggest Punk rock’s song is heart ripping. 🕶
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Album #30 : Sonic Youth, « Evol » (1986)
With their third album, the New Yorkers are on their way to becoming the most important band of the last three decades. Incredible songs like « Starpower » and « Expressway to Yr Skull » explore what bassist Kim Gordon once described as « the darkness that glows under the covers of American pop culture. » 🇺🇸
Album #29 : The Replacements, « Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash » (1981)
The definitive proof that Midwestern drunks can be just as fast, loud and sloppy as any junkie in New York, with poet Paul Westerberg discussing booze and desperation in relation to the band’s « power trash. » What really set her apart was the humor that can be found in lyrics like « I hate music! » There are too many notes! » An album that you should definitely listen to. 🎧
Album #28 : The Germs, ‘(GI)’ (1979)
The Germs released just one album before Waste Case singer Darby Crash committed suicide in December 1980. But Joan Jett (GI’s) production set a standard for the Los Angeles band, hiding surprisingly nuanced lyrics in a hilarious blur. A wonder!
Album #27 : Minor Threat, « Complet Discography » (1989)
Minor Threat have defined a new hardcore codex with their anthem « Straight Edge » . Down with the drugs, down with the alcohol and emphasizing the fight against power. The leaders of the Washington scene didn’t last long, but remain highly influential thanks to the intensity of Ian MacKaye. A true believer who spread the gospel of openness and revolutionary values in daily life. ✝️
Album #26 : Flipper, « Generic » (1982)
Formed after rescuing a dolphin their singer found on a California beach, San Francisco-based band Flipper featured two bassists and played lengthy improvisations of overwhelming slowness, like the eight-minute « Sex Bomb » that crowns Generic . Her freedom inspired Kurt Cobain, who often wore a homemade pinball t-shirt.
Album #25 : Mission of Burma, « Vs » (1982)
« I think we’re just an act of rock propaganda that happened during punk, » Mission of Burma’s Clint Conley once said. But the Boston avant-garde band were the first to take an artistic approach to punk with their first standalone single, 1980’s « Academy Fight Song . » Vs. is a complex headphone recording, but also a raging bang thanks to the anti-Reagan cry of « That’s How I Escaped My Certain Fate » and the haunting tremolo trance of « Trem Two. » 😍
Album #24 : The Jam, « All Mod Cons » (1978)
The Jam’s Paul Weller, who calls himself the « Cappuccino Kid, » has channeled the zeal of punk into a style all his own, inspired by the Kinks and The Who. Their third album echoes London life, from A’ Bomb in Wardour Street to Down in the Tube Station at Midnight, a slap in the face for right-wing punks.
Album #23 : Pere Ubu, « Terminal Tower » (1985)
As punk warmed up in New York and London, it also took off in Cleveland, where in 1975 Pere Ubu created an « industrial folk » that sounded post-punk. This archival series culminates in the black of « Final Solution, » an anthem in which singer David Thomas meows to Peter Laughner’s guitar. At the age of 24, Laughner, already living well, drank until his death, but the band he co-founded remains active to this day. 🤠
Album #22 : Bikini Kill, « The Singles » (1998)
Bikini Kill claimed « Revolution Girl Style Now » for their 1991 debut on cassette only. And did so as a leader of the anti-riot movement of the ’90s. The highlight of this collection of singles is « Rebel Girl » with Joan Jett, the elder of the rebels, on guitar and vocals. When the singer Kathleen Hanna exclaims « In his kiss I taste the revolution », thousands of rebellious girls are ready to storm the barricades of the patriarchate…
Album #21 : Richard Hell and the Voidoids, « Blank Generation » (1977)
Television co-founder Richard Hell practically invented what he called the « patchy raggedness » of punk fashion and haircare. Going solo with Blank Generation, he brought in Robert Quine, a Velvet Underground fanatic whose jagged guitar style was ideal for the anti-love songs « Betrayal Takes Two » and « Love Comes in Spurts. » And with the reference song « Hell » he gave us what could be the ultimate anthem of punk! 🎸
Album #20 : X-Ray Spex, « Germfree Adolescents » (1978)
A multiracial London teenager, Poly Styrene, wore braces and roared hymns like ‘Oh Bondage Up Yours! » off the saxophone and claimed: « I’m a woman and I don’t care! I like it when people notice » X-Ray Spex ‘s explosive beginnings didn’t start in the US. But they became a cult classic through word of mouth, influencing Sleater-Kinney, the Beastie Boys, and many others. 🙌
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Album #19 : Bad Brains, « Bad Brains » (1982)
Bad Brains’ African-American Rastas have their roots in jazz and reggae, but with their self-proclaimed « PMA, » they helped found the hardcore scene in Washington. Named after a Ramones song, they were already local legends when they released their first album in 1982, with their terribly up-tempo trash style like on Pay to Cum.
Album #18 : Green Day, « Dookie » (1994)
Les debuts de Green Day exploded across teenage America after the death of Kurt Cobain, like sweet, heartfelt relief. Dookie was an irresistible paradox: 14 songs about despair exploding with who-ish fervor and classified radio pop art. Singer and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong called it her « diary of what it’s like to live like a street kid »! 🖤
Album #17 : Television, « Marquee Moon » (1977)
Television spent years trying to impose their style to arrive at a sound as exciting in its ambition as the Ramones are in their simplicity. Inspired by surrealist poetry and jazz , Marquee Moon blended ’60s psychedelic with a more aggressive form of the style. The result was punk rock’s greatest guitar reference and made the streets of New York look like a danceable playground. 💃
Album #16 : Descendents, « Milo goes to College » (1982)
The Descendents also hail from Los Angeles. They thought that their first record would remain the only one because singer Milo Aukerman was slated for a major study. Even though he got his degree in biology, the Descendents still managed to become a pop-punk institution . They expressed their anger with lyrics like « I’m Not a Punk » and « Suburban Home, » paving the way for Green Day and all subsequent bands of their style.
Album #15 : New York Dolls, « New York Dolls » (1973)
« What the Dolls have done to make an impact on punk is show that anyone can do it, » said singer David Johansen. Aggressive, unkempt and loud, they went through the glamor of « Trash » and « Personality Crisis » like the Rolling Stones . Produced by Todd Rundgren, the Dolls’ first album breathed filth and conflict, which partly explains why punk Malcolm McLaren spearheaded them before assembling the Sex Pistols. 🎶
Album #14 : Sleater-Kinney, « Dig Me Out » (1997)
When Sleater-Kinney’s Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein announced « I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone » on Call the Doctor in 1996, they were challenging themselves and the ‘ 90s rock scene . The band’s next album, Dig Me Out, lived up to that promise. Featuring powerful drummer Janet Weiss, the feminist punk trio hit Washington’s Olympia in 1997. Thanks in large part to the exaltation of Words and Guitar and the romantic torment of One More Hour.
Album #13 : Hüsker Dü, « Zen Arcade » (1984)
The Minnesota shock trio broke all the rules of hardcore with this double vinyl concept work. The story of a young man who breaks out of a derelict house and makes his way through the city. Bob Mold and Grant Hart traded their voices for wildly emotional hardcore slivers . But the music has expanded to a more spiritual side, acoustic folk fury and the closing 14-minute instrumental « Reoccurring Dreams ». Great! 🔊
Album #12 : Patti Smith, « Horses » (1975)
Even before punk existed, it already had its queen. A poet who fused ’60s rock style and Rimbaud to create her own view of the world. She worked closely with guitarist Lenny Kaye, pianist Richard Sohl and drummer Jay Dee Daugherty (as well as a friend from CBGB, Tom Verlaine, who co-wrote the Jim Morrison tribute « Break It Up ») and brought the first major gig the band onto the New York stage. Her record company hated the classic cover photo by Robert Mapplethorpe, an image as harrowing and beautiful as the music to it.
Album #11 : The Buzzcocks, « Singles Going Steady » (1979)
These guys broke the pop punk barriers with incredibly catchy and totally insane sounds. From « Orgasm Addict » to the remarkably mature breakup song « Oh Shit! (« Admit you’re a piece of shit, you’re a piece of shit »). John Maher, the ultimate punk drummer, bursts into Ever Fallen In Love like he’s conducting a seminar on human sexuality that went wrong… 🔞
Album #10 : Nirvana, « Nevermind » (1991)
« Punk rock should stand for freedom, » Kurt Cobain said in an interview just as he was becoming rock music’s self-proclaimed messiah. Despite being bothered by his slick style, Nevermind went like a rocket into the American mainstream. It turned college proms into real carnage, with music that embodied Cobain’s dream of a punk rock style that even the metal kids could love in rural Washington, where he grew up.
Album #9 : X, « Los Angeles » (1980)
X was way too artistic to fit into the Los Angeles hardcore scene. Husband and wife duo John Doe and Exene Cervenka sang « Los Angeles » as a surreal nightmare full of psychopaths and grilled Hollywood directors to the rockabilly guitar of Billy Zoom. Their producer was none other than The Doors’ Ray Manzarek. They paid tribute to him with a version of « Soul Kitchen » that would have driven Jim Morrison out of town.
Album #8 : Black Flag, « Damaged » (1981)
« We are fed up with your abuse, try to stop us. It’s us! Marching as these members said, Black Flag perfected the heaviest form of punk rock music . Featuring the insane guitar of Greg Ginn and the poisonous fury of Henry Rollins and his dream body. « Damaged » put them at odds with a major label, which refused to release the record, denouncing it as an « anti-system record ». whatever it is Not to mention « anti-police », « anti-television », « anti-beer » and many others… ❌
Album #7 : Minutemen, « Double Nickels on the Dime » (1984)
Throughout this tentacle-like, 45-song, double-album classic, guitarist D. Boon and bassist Mike Watt hark back to a lifelong friendship rooted in the values of punk. As Boon points out in « History Lesson, Pt. 2 » says: « Our band could be your life ». They also indulge in jazz and funk, as well as covers of Creedence Clearwater Revival, Steely Dan and Van Halen. This brilliant album would have an impact on bands from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Pavement. But just as they were beginning to garner national attention, Boon tragically died in a car accident in 1985, shortly after the band’s final album, 3-Way Tie (For Last), was released. 😞
Album #6 : Wire, « Pink Flag » (1977)
No album is easier to listen to than this 35-minute, 21-song debut album. The infinite possibilities of punk’s radical simplicity. REM, Spoon and Minor Threat are just some of the bands that have covered songs by Pink Flag. They range from Rubik’s Cube hardcore « 1 2 XU » to the 28-second tabloid nightmare « Field Day for the Sundays » to « Fragile », punk’s first pretty love song . « A perfect album, » commented Black Flag’s Henry Rollins. 💪
Album #5 : Gang of Four, « Entertainment ! » (1979)
Fusing James Brown and the beginnings of hip-hop with the minimalism of the Ramones, the Gang of Four was a truly revolutionary force in its quest for working-class justice. The Leeds quartet tied their Marxist critiques in tight knots of angry funk and vengeful disco syncopation, cut through by guitarist Andy Gill’s blues-free swordplay.
Album #4 : The Stooges, « Funhouse » (1970)
« The Stooges were the perfect embodiment of what music should be, » said Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth. On the Detroit band’s second album, that meant primitive chaos in the scene. And that almost ten years before it was ahead of its time. Guitarist Ron Asheton pounded as few chords as possible while Iggy Pop channeled the bad trip psychedelic and metallic R&B that had inspired generations of maniacs of this style of music. 🎵
Album #3 : The Sex Pistols, « Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s the Sex Pistols » (1977)
« If the sessions had gone the way I wanted, most people wouldn’t have been able to hear them, » said Sex Pistols frontman Johnny Rotten. That was also the case for millions of people. But when the Sex Pistols’ only official album made a head-on assault on the UK pop charts, Rotten’s snarling lyrics about abortion and anarchy terrorized an entire nation. The result remains the perfect foundation for punk rock, and its echo can be heard everywhere.
Album #2 : The Clash, « The Clash » (1977)
On April 3, 1976, a London band, the 101ers, played a show with the Sex Pistols. The future was « right in front of me, » recalled 101ers vocalist and guitarist Joe Strummer. A year later, Strummer was the voice of The Clash and charted the UK Top 20 with his new band’s debut. A volley of politicized fury and vocal hooks that turned British punk into a riot of thrashing teenagers with songs like « White Riot, » « London’s Burning, » and « I’m So Bored With the USA. » 🤨
Album #1 : Ramones, « Ramones » (1976)
When the Ramones recorded their first $6,400 album in February 1976, the program was simple: « cut out the superfluous and focus on the substance, » as Tommy put it in 1999. But it’s hard to define the style of punk’s most influential and enduring record!
Joey, the lead singer of Stork-like, was a pop kid who sang « Hey ho, let’s go! » at the beginning of Blitzkrieg Bop. » sang. Bassist and main songwriter Dee Dee wrote about what he knew best. Namely: drugs, desperation and scams, with a pretty insane first grade spirit. And drummer Tommy, a former engineer on the Jimi Hendrix sessions, co-produced Ramones while maintaining its purity. « We thought we could be the biggest band in the worldhis,” recalls Johnny. In a way they were!
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