Readers' Poll: The 10 Best Punk Albums - Rolling Stone
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Readers’ Poll: The 10 Best Punk Albums

See what managed to top ‘Raw Power,’ ‘Rocket to Russia’ and ‘London Calling’

Sex Pistols; Best Punk Album; Readers; Poll

Portrait of the Sex Pistols – Steve Jones, Paul Cook, Sid Vicious and Johnny Rotten – photographed in late 1970s.

Adrian Boot/Photoshot

Earlier this month, we posted our list of the 40 Greatest Punk Albums of All Time. Needless to say, not everyone agreed with the selections. Some felt that groups like Devo and Joy Division weren't truly punk, while others scoffed at the inclusion of Blink-182,  Yeah Yeah Yeah's, White Lung and other bands that formed long after the original punk era. We figured it was only fair to open the question up to our readers, so here are your picks for the 10 best punk rock albums. 

Best Punk Albums

Iggy and the Stooges, ‘Raw Power’

The Ramones were still unknown teenagers in Forest Hills, Queens, when the Stooges laid the groundwork for punk on their first two albums, 1969's The Stooges and Fun House a year later in 1970. They're two of the greatest albums in rock history, but almost nobody bought them and the band seemed destined for obscurity. David Bowie was one of the few people to truly get them, and as soon as he became famous, he made it his mission to bring the group back from the dead. He brought Iggy Pop and guitarist James Williamson to London, eventually sending for Stooges drummer Scott Asheton and his brother Ron Asheton, who was downgraded from guitar to bass. Over just a matter of weeks, Bowie helped them craft Raw Power. Despite the participation of Bowie near the height of his fame, the album still flopped and the group soon split up. It took many years for Raw Power to be fully appreciated, but today it's hailed as one of the finest albums of the Seventies, of any genre. 

Best Punk Albums

The Clash, ‘The Clash’

The Ramones may have not made much of an impact in America after their first couple of albums, but crowds in England went crazy for them and within weeks of their first British shows, punk bands were popping up all over the country. One of the most promising ones was the Clash, which was assembled by Bernie Rhodes, an early associate of the Sex Pistols. The four members of the Clash didn't really know each other when they came together, but they quickly developed a tight bond, and singer Joe Strummer and guitarist Mick Jones proved to be an amazing songwriting team. They co-wrote nearly every song on the group's 1977 self-titled debut, including classics "White Riot," "I'm so Bored With the USA" and "Career Opportunities." Critics in England went nuts for it, but the American label didn't get it and wouldn't put it in stores for another two years. 

Best Punk Albums

The Ramones, ‘The Ramones’

Nobody involved in the creation of the first Ramones album realized they were making history. The label gave them a budget of just $7,000, and it insisted they cut it in a matter of days. "The engineers couldn't understand what we were doing," Tommy Ramone told Rolling Stone shortly before his death in 2014. "I'm sure the engineer thought he was just recording one song, over and over." They'd actually written 14 extremely distinct songs, like "Blitzkrieg Bop," "Judy Is a Punk" and "Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World." The latter horrified many at the label with lyrics that included: "I'm a Nazi schatze/ Y'know I fight for fatherland," but they released it anyway. It peaked at #111, but Sire knew they had something special and they stuck with the Ramones. Had they dropped them, music history might have been very different. 

Best Punk Albums

The Clash, ‘London Calling’

The Clash had been around just three years when they began work on London Calling, but they were already feeling confined by the strict boundaries of traditional punk. The four members had learned to love rockabilly, reggae, ska and R&B, and they wanted to incorporate all of it into their new work. Working with producer Guy Stevens, they came up with 19 tunes unlike anything else in their small catalog. "It was a point where everybody felt very comfortable being in the studio and recording," bassist Paul Simonon told Rolling Stone in 2013. "Guy Stevens was really important, and he helped create a very positive atmosphere, even though he was a little crazy. But he was like a conductor. He brought out the best in everybody." The group's diverging musical tastes would soon create major problems for the band, but for this brief moment in time, it only lead to genius and timeless songs that only improve with age. 

Best Punk Albums

The Sex Pistols, ‘Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols’

The Sex Pistols' brief career was marked with so many tragedies, scandals, public outrages, media firestorms and even deaths that their actual music is often overlooked. That's a shame since their sole LP, 1977's Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, is absolutely brilliant. Bassist Glen Matlock had been given the boot by the time recording began, and his replacement, Sid Vicious, couldn't play a note, so guitarist Steve Jones did double-duty and handled all the bass parts. (Matlock did co-write many of the songs.) Working alongside drummer Paul Cook, Jones came up with riff after riff and provided Johnny Rotten with great material to flesh out into songs. "God Save the Queen" and "Anarchy in the UK" are the ones played most often these days, but tracks such as "Bodies," "Problems" and "Holidays in the Sun" are equally perfect. Johnny Rotten has been wise to refuse all offers to record new material with the Sex Pistols. Topping this would be impossible. 

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