Lists on punk sites that detail “The 25 Best Punk Albums” or “The Most Essential Punk Bands” are always identical: Ramones, Clash, Sex Pistols, Green Day, a couple of crappy new bands, and marginal stuff, like Patty Smith and The Talking Heads, who don’t belong there. The staff at ReadJunk dug into their personal collections and spoke to music historians and veteran musicians to put together a REAL punk list. We wanted to ensure that these are in fact not only the best unknown punk albums, but the rarest and most influential. These are the albums that time has forgotten.
#10 Fux Capacitor – “1.21 Gigafux”
From the first wave of hardcore, Fux Capacitor were one of the few hardcore bands who didn’t take themselves seriously. Most songs had a sci-fi/B-movie horror theme, with lyrics like “Dr. Who sucks / Knock out his tooth / Beat him down / In his telephone booth.” The band didn’t do well partly because of their name, and partly because they were too ahead of their time – although the lyrics were silly and kitchy, the music had a spazzy, noisy, death-metal quality that wouldn’t become the calling card for hardcore for another 15 years.
#9 The Linus Pauling Experience – “Counter-Culture, Meet Yogurt Culture”
I don’t know what to say, other than if you don’t have this, you suck. This 1987 album basically laid down the framework for math rock, but did so in a very punky, loose, sloppy way. There’s probably no better melding of punk and jazz, and most impressive is the fact that both the drummer and guitarist are double amputees. Just incredible.
strong>#8 The Cutlets – “Shake N Bake”
This early punk band from Houston wrote half the songs on the Clash’s London Calling, but never got the credit. “Shake N Bake” is an old demo and if you can find it, you’ll be blown away by the original renderings of Rudie Can’t Fail and Jimmy Jazz, which are so much heavier and funkier than the pussied-out Clash versions. The Cutlets were also visionary for their use of the theremin in punk rock. Unfortunately, the entire band died in ’76 in a freak safari accident, and family members (and some say the Clash themselves) have effectively suppressed their music for 25 years.
#7 The Cock Smugglers – “S/T”
British street punk doesn’t get much better than this. The Cock Smugglers released their self-titled debut in 1979 to little attention or acclaim (likely because of their name), which is a shame because it’s pure genius. Instead of the usual songs about drinking-fighting-fucking, their street punk was focused almost entirely on horticulture. Songs like “I Wanna Be A Florist” and “Grow Seed Grow” were not only eco-friendly, but incredibly catchy. I mean, you have to love the chanting chorus, “Grab a friend and a tourist / And join me in the forest / We’ll scuffle over truffles / Cuz I wanna be a florist.”
#6 Skeezy – “Cow”
Before the Vandals and NOFX, there was Skeezy. Poppy, funny, lowbrow and irreverent, these Iowan skaters rocked out with songs like “Cockblocked at the Dairy Queen” and “My Dick, Your Grandfather’s Mouth.” Immature, yes, but just about all of early 90s skater punk could be attributed to their influence.
#5 Snatch Bastard – “The Rape Album”
For many years, there was much discussion as to whether or not Snatch Bastard, the trailblazingly vile forerunner to GG Allin, even existed at all. Partly due to being based in Anchorage Alaska, it’s rumored that only 20 or so copies of this album exist. Long before Allin created controversy due to his stage antics, Bastard was one of the most disgusting, shocking, and utterly despicable performers ever to take the stage. Often he would rape his own bandmembers while drinking the blood of polar bears. His only album, released in 1982, consists mostly of him screaming over utterly unlistenable thrash punk, clearly played by non-musicians in the band for the sheer thrill. But with songs like “I Ate My Mother’s Toes For Lunch” and “Periods and Semen on my Burger,” the punk world would never be the same.
#4 Sluts on Acid – “Jocko Jackoff”
While some see it as one of the more provocative punk albums of the 1980s, the Sluts on Acid’s debut album has been hailed as laying the groundwork for the Riot Grrrl movement of the early 1990s. The Sluts, a trio of suburban Portland teenagers, lasted only this album and its follow-up “Changing Faces” (which actually saw them take on a more reserved new wave sound). But it is their first album for which they are most remembered; it features the girls’ sexually evocative lyrics and impressively strong musicianship. The irony was that for all their talk of sexual promiscuity, their drummer Kassi Karson was in fact a Jehovah’s Witness and absolutely against just about everything the group wrote about. In a recent interview, Karson, now a mother of nine, claimed that she could never hear what they were singing about, and just assumed it was about “boys”. In a way, she wasn’t wrong.
#3 The Harold Brothers – “Songs About Life”
What makes this album so unique and important was that the average age of the band when it was released was 12. The four Harold Brothers, all of whom were between 10 and 13, recorded surprisingly mature and astute pop punk songs, and released this masterpiece in 1990 on a small Atlanta record label. One of the group’s most popular songs, ‘You Know It’s True’ was actually developed into the song by Milli Vanilli, but changed just enough for the group to lose royalty rights. Still, the Harold Brothers were one of Atlanta’s hottest travelling state fair acts. Unfortunately, soon after, the oldest brother Marty developed an addiction to cough syrup, and at 15, was sent to rehab. The band was never the same afterward.
#2 Brown Paper Bag – “Will You Be My Eyes?”
Okay, let’s get something straight. I fucking hate emo. I think emo destroyed punk as we know it. But before emo became the Hot Topic/MTV sound of the day, there was just one band doing it, and – God help me – they were good. Damn good. Released in 1993 and now nigh-impossible to find, “Eyes” is a flawless pop-punk album infused with whip-smart lyrics, emotional weightiness, and a universal message of longing and love lost. And yet they weren’t sappy like today’s bands, but mature and relatable. The first time you hear the song “Today and Tomorrow and Never” I guarantee you will sob like a child. The bassist, Terrance Pelham, wrote that song about his sister, who was dying of leukemia. He crafted the perfect, sad pop-punk song, hoping that the song would do well so he could use the proceeds to help his sister. Unfortunately, it did not, and she died. Pelham killed himself a week later and the band broke up, sending their legacy to obscurity.
And our #1 pick:
#1 The Communist Spies – “Attack From The Inside!”
What makes this album so important is that it was so controversial that the American government ordered every known copy to be banned and anything to do with The Communist Spies be completely obliterated. This shit was more under wraps than Area 51. Luckily, we at ReadJunk were able to contact one of the members of the legendary band about their existence, but his name cannot be revealed for the safety of his family. Essentially, the Spies were a New York City punk band circa 1981 who played CBGBs quite a few times – although there are no known records of them ever playing there. Their name raised eyebrows of the FBI, and soon the band members learned they were being followed. THe band weren’t explicitly political until the invasion of privacy against them gave them increasingly greater distaste for Reagan’s America.
Self-released in 1983 and right at the peak of Cold War paranoia, Attack From The Inside! is by no means a classic for its sound. In fact, not even my confidential source can remember how it sounded. All he was able to give me was a draft lyric sheet for their song ‘Attack! Attack!’:
Do you hear it from below you?
Yes, I fucking do!
Do you hear it all around?
Do you hear it from the workers?
Yes I fucking do!
Do you hear it in the towns?
Attack, attack, the voices shout
Follow the money, find it all out
Take up your hammer, smash the fucking state
Anyone with a tie deserves your fucking hate!
Attack the fucking bankers
Bomb the fucking schools
Kidnap Ronald Reagan
Beat him with blunt tools
Will we ever give up?
No we never will!
No, we won’t give up yet!
Will we ever give up?
No we never will!
Until everyone is a Soviet patriot!
Pick up, join the fight
(repeat above 3x, go back to second verse)
Pick up your hammers!
And step into line!
(repeat to fade out, with sound of troops marching)
“The government were so afraid we were actual spies,” said my source, who claimed to be the bassist, “that they took us into custody for two full weeks. They raided our apartments, they destroyed our practice space, and they even ‘accidentally’ destroyed my father’s hot dog stand. It was madness. We were just a bunch of kids with a funny band name. They turned us against America.
“I probably shouldn’t be telling you this, but they lobotomized our drummer. He thought it was some sort of joke and kept laughing. I mean can you blame him? We were some fucking punks from Long Island, not some super-spies. He [the drummer] flunked out of the eleventh grade. He could barely even spell his name before the lobotomy! But it was the Cold War, and they did what they thought was right.”
My source tells me that for a couple of years, he and some bandmates did in fact move to Russia; he and the lead singer reunited the band, this time called the American Spies. Luckily, in the small Russian town in which they played, nobody understood their English name, and quite liked the fast-paced music. They released one subsequent 45 in Russia before calling it quits and settling in Canada.
Do any copies of Attack From The Inside! still exist? Who knows? If so, it’s likely to be one of the most sought-after records in punk rock history, which is why the legendary record by the Communist Spies is our number one punk album you’ve never heard.