Because early punks more often than not had to use
cheap gear, punk music is a cavalcade of intriguing
tones and textures. As I write this, I’m listening to a
shuffle that includes the Buzzcocks, Swell Maps, and the
Saints. Each of these bands has a unique sound. And
being different is exactly what punk is all about. Here’s a
list of 10 first-generation punk albums and must-watch
You Tube videos that will flip your wig with cool sounds.
10 First-Generation Punk Albums You Gotta Have
The Ramones, Ramones,
1976. The blueprint for
fast, loud, raw punk.
Marshalls and SVTs dimed
in the studio. Ramones
was so revolutionary at
the time that many DJs
supposedly smashed it in
fear and disgust.
You Tube Search Term: The Ramones-Listen To My Heart -Max’s Kansas City 08-10-1976.
Damned Damned, 1977.
Recognized as the first
British punk album, this
slab by the Damned
was produced by Nick
Lowe and featured punk
anthems played at breakneck speed. Aggressive,
barking guitar tones. Sounds like it was recorded in
a shed—and it was.
You Tube Search Term: The Damned New Rose
Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers, L.A.M.F.,
1977. Wielding his trusty Les Paul Jr., ex-New York
Doll Johnny Thunders leads the Heartbreakers
through a wild set of Stones-inspired punk
You Tube Search Term: Johnny Thunders & The
Heartbreakers - Chinese Rocks
Sex Pistols, Never Mind
the Bollocks Here’s the
Sex Pistols, 1977. A tour
de force of guitar sounds
reside on the Pistols’ one
and only complete collection. Produced by Chris
Thomas or Bill Price (look
it up), Bollocks offers at
least three different guitar tones—from fuzz to overdrive to flanged weirdness—on each track.
You Tube Search Term: Sex Pistols -
Anarchy In The UK (Broadcast Debut)
Moon, 1977. Tom Verlaine
and Richard Lloyd were
serious guitar players who
weren’t afraid to take
chances. Refined Fender-esque tones mixed with
You Tube Search Term: Television -
Marquee Moon (1977)
The Clash, The Clash,
1977. The first album
from “The Only Band
That Matters” has a spare
sound that makes you feel
like you’re in the room
with them. Mick Jones
thrashes away on a P- 90
equipped Les Paul Jr., emitting boxy rhythm and
(dying) woman-tone leads. Joe Strummer is clearly
guilty of Telecastercide.
You Tube Search Term: The Clash -
Clash City Rockers Live
Various Artists, Burning Ambitions: A History of
Punk, 1982. This hard-to-find-but-oh-so-worth-it
compilation of first-generation punks provides a cornucopia of quirky, fascinating guitar tones. Buzzcocks
to Blitz, this comp gives some medium-level bands
deserved exposure. Highly recommended.
You Tube Search Term: Buzzcocks -
Ever Fallen In Love?
Various Artists, No Thanks! The ‘70s Punk Rebellion,
2003. Want it all in one bite? Rhino’s box-set tribute
to punk has every punk band you’d want to hear
except the Sex Pistols—who refused just because.
You Tube Search Term: The Saints -
(I’m) Stranded (1977)
Patti Smith, Horses,
1975. Smith’s musical
cohort, Lenny Kaye, knew
exactly what he was
doing. As the guy who
compiled and documented the epochal garageband collection Nuggets:
Original Artyfacts from
the First Psychedelic Era, Kaye knew punk tone
inside and out. Kaye used both Fender and Gibson
guitars plugged into Marshall and Fender amps.
You Tube Search Term: Patti Smith -
Gloria (1979) Germany
Make a Record, 1977.
Hailing from Minneapolis,
the Suicide Commandos
show that punk did exist
outside the major metro
areas. Guitarist Chris
Osgood wielded a black ’ 52
Les Paul and grinded out
some serious overdriven power. An excellent example
of early, no-label, DIY punk.
You Tube Search Term: Suicide Commandos -
“Burn It Down”
PREMIER GUITAR JUNE 2010 139