Not necessarily the best songs or my favorite songs but songs that made a lasting impression on me when I was in my early punk discovery days.


[editor's note: let's see how the Spotify playlist thing works for this.]


The Jam - Modern World

Yes, The Jam. If The Jam aren't punk rock enough for you, I don't know what to tell you except:

"Don't have to explain myself to you
I don't give two fucks about your review!"

The sweet call and response between the hammer of the guitar and Paul Weller's "This is the Mo'm World" at the very beginning - that kind of angry definitely grabbed my attention.

The Clash - Clash City Rockers
This was the opening track on the US release of the first Clash record, so these were the first sounds to greet my ears on first listen - the 8 guitar chord pulses, then the drum kick, then Joe Strummer's staccato vocals:

"And I wanna move the town to the clash city rockers,
You need a little jump of electrical shockers."

You knew you were hearing something special.

I had been a big fan of Combat Rock when that was all I knew of The Clash, but this intro to the earlier-era Clash was a kick in the head. I must've listened to this song and really the whole damn record hundreds of time within the first month I heard it. "Yeah, Yeah!" I wore out this tape in no time.

Dead Kennedy's - Advice from Christmas Past/Government Flu

There are more memorable songs by the Dead Kennedy's but I'm pretty sure this opening salvo from Plastic Surgery Disasters is what I heard first.

The whole experience made you wonder, "what is this thing that I'm listening to here?" - the opening insipid female spoken word jarring you with "Why are you such a stupid asshole?" and then jumping right into a heavy but short-lived little intro that gives way to an odd rapid-fire siren of a guitar riff and then...

"We got a drug
We're gonna try it out on you
Won't make you die
It'll getcha just a little bit sick"

The song never lets up from the frantic pace and sound.

To be honest, the blend of impressions I got from a bunch of DK songs probably are mixed into my overall takeaway impression from this opening track, it was just such a different sound, all elbows and herky-jerkiness laced with radical messages. And that voice - Jello's fluid voice that turns from pigeon croon to carny bark to sarcastic snarl within the same song.

Minor Threat - Filler

Ho-ly fuck!!! That's what you think when you hear the abrasive sustained guitar, followed by the muddy bass-line, then the drum rolling into "WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUUUU ...".

The ferocity of this song still pummels me to this day, the grey hairs on the back of my neck are standing up as I'm typing this. So very, very raw. Listen to this right now.

Sex Pistols - Holidays in the Sun

The marching feet usher in the first moments of Never Mind the Bollocks... and thenceforth there was no getting the genie back in the bottle for me.

With lines that stick in your head like "claustrophobia, there's too much paranoia" and "cheap dialogue, cheap essential scenery", I can't claim that I entirely get what Johnny Rotten's grating about - clearly something having to do with the Berlin Wall.

But it doesn't matter, when you hear it for the first time you know you're not in Kansas anymore...

"I don't understand this thing at all
Please don't be waiting for me"