10 Underrated Punk Albums That Should Be Considered Classics
Yes, you should listen to a Circle Jerks album other than Group Sex
It's odd that people who have never met me want to punch me in the throat. Perhaps it's akin to what people like Sean Hannity and Joe Arpaio experience on a daily basis, although I would never want to be compared to them. Luckily, I feel safe in saying there is no comparison. All I've done is tell the story of how my bandmate once hit Danzig and then give my opinion on why a few albums that some people consider classics are really not that great. Again, key words, my opinion.
Anyhow, some of the people who wanted to punch me also suggested I write more positively about albums rather than put anybody down. A few even said I should write about "underrated" albums, and I thought it was a great idea. I'm sure you still might want to punch me, and that is OK. To be honest, there are people I'd like to punch, so I truly understand your frustration. The following albums are in no particular order, so please don't stalk my dog because I put your favorite of these at number four and you think it should be number one, dear reader. Some of them are by well-known bands, too, but I just don't think the records get the recognition they deserve.
So, without further delay, 10 underrated punk albums you should listen to again.
1. Dead Kennedys, Frankenchrist
How can a great record from a classic band be underrated? It's pretty easy, actually. This album was not like its predecessors, Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables or Plastic Surgery Disasters, whose attack was more sonically straightforward. Frankenchrist has some fairly long songs and a nice array of additional sounds brought in to the mix. Guitarist East Bay Ray even plays an acoustic guitar on "MTV Get Off the Air," which was just sacrilege to any card-totin' punk back in 1985.
For me, though, this is the Dead Kennedys firing on all cylinders. Not that there was any doubt about the musical ability of DH Peligro (drums), East Bay Ray, and Klaus Flouride (bass) prior to this release, but their playing on this record just about smokes every other punk rock band that put out a record that year. The high point, for me, is the last track, "The Stars and Stripes of Corruption," which just takes the piss out of 'Murica. Singer Jello Biafra's (whose current band, Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo Bay School of Medicine is amazing) opinionated rants are not for everybody, but so much of what he states in this killer song holds true today:
"Rednecks and bombs don't make us strong. We loot the world yet we can't even feed ourselves."
When you listen to Frankenchrist again (or for the very first time), I implore you to remember it is almost 30 years old. Sure some of the lyrics to "MTV Get Off the Air" are outdated, but the sentiment still rings true. Tracks like "This Could Be Anywhere (This Could Be Everywhere)" and "Soup Is Good Food" are still raw, haunting, and radical (in the true sense of the word).
2. Subhumans, Worlds Apart
Another blast from 1985. Am I dating myself? Could this be the year I musically came of age? Similar to the Dead Kennedys' Frankenchrist, the Subhumans (U.K.) put out Worlds Apart after releasing two blistering slabs of punk fury in 1983, The Day the Country Died and From the Cradle to the Grave. While I love their first two records, and have always been on the fence about the great Subhumans debate related to which "Subhumans" is better, the Canadian band of the same name or the British band we are currently discussing, Worlds Apart has always been my favorite record by these punks from across the pond.
When I attempt to put my finger on why I like this record so much, it comes down to the bass playing of Phil (who prefers to be referred to as just "Phil") and lead singer Dick Lucas' lyrics. There is a definite dub aspect to Phil's playing (and the whole album, really), but the bass lines on songs like "British Disease" and "Ex-Teenage Rebel" are absolutely stellar. Lyrically, Dick consistently pokes and prods the status quo, British politics, getting old, farming and the state of the nuclear world.
The band goes off into some really great jams on several of the tracks and it clocks in at just under 43 minutes, which is long for a punk record. Worlds Apart has held up over the years, just as the Subhumans have. Originally, the band broke up right around the time this record was released, but over the past decade, they have been going strong again, just has their side project, Citizen Fish. In the words of Dick, "We carry on laughing."
3. Mclusky, Mclusky Do Dallas
In 2001, Andy "Falco" Falkous (guitar/vocals), John Chapple (bass), and Matthew Harding (drums) got together with Steve Albini (Big Black/Rapeman/Shellac) and made a little record called Mclusky Do Dallas. This record was such a great surprise when it came out, and it just kicks you in the face from the get go, with opening tracks "Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues" and "No New Wave No Fun." Like the first two records on this list, this is a great record from a great band, but it has been largely ignored by way too many people. Sure, it's noisy and disrespectful to just about anyone with a shred of pop sensibility, but it also totally rocks.
Mclusky, who hailed from Wales, broke up in January 2005. Two of the members, Falkous and drummer Jack Egglestone (who replaced Matthew Harding in 2003), went on to form Future of the Left, which is also a damn good band. Falkous and his bandmates specialized in short, spastic songs with clever lyrics that deftly intertwined the roots of punk rock with the heavier, noisier elements of '90s Amphetamine Reptile Records sound. Brilliant, if I must say so.
4. His Hero Is Gone, Monuments to Thieves
Clocking in at 25 minutes and boasting 15 of the hardest-rocking songs you will ever hear, His Hero Is Gone's Monuments to Thieves is a record that must be played loud. These boys called Memphis home when this came out in 1997, and though only a handful of crusty punks remember this band, the songs on this record slay. Every time I pull it out and dust it off, it is almost like getting a brand new record.
On most of the tracks, I have no idea what lead singer/guitarist Todd Burdette is talking about, but his voice and the voices of bassist Carl Auge, and guitarist Pat Davis create a great, scaly intertwining snake that weaves its way through the heavy rhythm section, which was anchored by Paul Burdette on drums. Monuments to Thieves, at least for me, is more about the riffs than the message of the vocals anyway. I'm sure the lyrics are probably great, but this record is for rocking out. What a great title, by the way, as we see those monuments every day.
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