10 classic punk records that are actually awful

The_Dead_Milkmen_2013_Warhol_Museum_Pittsburgh_PA.jpg
Courtesy of the Dead Milkmen
The Dead Milkmen: Bad? No. But classic? Also no.

I put on the Ramones' classic 1977 record Rocket to Russia recently in an attempt to join all of my Facebook friends in their collective sadness at the recent death of Tommy (Erdyli) Ramone. I used to love this record, but now, even though I wanted to feel some sense of loss, it became more and more apparent that after their eponymous first record, the Ramones just kept trying to make the same record over and over again.

This, of course, isn't really news, though -- and the Ramones will always be considered to be the epitome of punk -- but it made me think. Curiosity, as they say, kills the cat, and even though I should know better, my epiphany about Rocket to Russia has led me down the following path: What other classic punk records have not aged well?

I decided to look at my own collection, as well as Rolling Stones' Top 500 record list, some lists I found on LA Weekly, and a few other websites.

I decided that some of the 10 records I am going to discuss actually sort of suck when I listen to them with my adult ears. And to be honest, some of them I've never even really liked, but according to the pundits, they are classics. Sadly, I have realized that some of these records are really just one or two good songs with a bunch of filler surrounding them.

Let's begin:

10.) The Dead Milkmen - Big Lizard In My Backyard (1985)
I loved this record in the mid-'80s. Truly. It was snotty, brash, and full of spunky tunes that were fun to listen to while skateboarding with friends. In 1989, though, they came to Phoenix and played the Underground, which was a short-lived venue on the west side. Their show was about as inspiring as heating up yet another bowl of ramen (a typical meal for me in those days), so my enthusiasm for the Milkmen began to wane. Over the years, I listened to this album less and less and what I realize now is that the Dead Milkmen were just a snotty punk version of the Violent Femmes. While the Violent Femmes' first record has remained a classic that kids are still probably discovering, I doubt the kids are clamoring for Big Lizard In My Backyard, even if "Takin' Retards to the Zoo" is still worthy of a sing-a-long.

9.) Operation Ivy - Energy (1989)
This is one that I've never gotten into and really don't think is very good at all. I know I have friends who will give me a hard time about this, but this silly punk/ska hybrid is on a lot of the lists out there on the interwebs and again, I just don't get it. Maybe it was the timing of it coming out because in 1989, when this record came out, I was definitely not into the safe, watered-down punk that this album offers. Another sticking point, at least for me, is the fact that most of the live footage I have seen of Op Ivy, as the real fans say it, is pretty great. The production on the album clearly doesn't do the band justice, and in many ways it completely galls me that it helped spawn two other albums on this list.

8.) Richard Hell and the Voidoids - Blank Generation (1977)
Inspiring: check. Old, from New York, and certified founding father status: check, check, and check. Blank Generation is brilliant in its noisy discombobulating sloppiness, and it has spawned tons of stuff I truly enjoy, like Half Japanese and Sonic Youth, but if I'm honest, despite some great parts, there are not a lot of really good songs on this record. Robert Quine's guitar sound has been copied so many times that many of the folks ripping him off now probably don't even know who they are truly ripping off. If you are a fan of early Phoenix punk, you probably recognize a lot of this record in the first and second wave recordings of bands like Killer Pussy, Feederz, and even the Meat Puppets, but just because something is old or influential, doesn't mean it deserves to be listed as often as it does in top ten lists.

Which brings me to a salient point we must address. One of the great arguments for music fans is what artist/band invented whatever particular genre they are discussing. For punk enthusiasts, you can dive extra deep and try to figure out who the main influences were on the holy trinity, The Ramones (the fathers), Sex Pistols (the sons), and The Clash (the holy ghosts). If we can agree that said influences were probably doing their thing from, at very least, the mid-'60s, then punk and its roots are getting closed to 50 years old and there's been a ton of great records in that time. Heck, Fugazi alone has seven or eight releases better than everything on this entire list.



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93 comments
Jacob Albert Laqua
Jacob Albert Laqua

I don't think I've heard to anyone refer to Dookie as a punk record for 15 years.

BONERpatrol
BONERpatrol

Every NOFX album should be on here. What an AWFUL list by a tasteless writer. Op Ivy, Rancid, NFG, and dookie will always be part of my classics. Go listen to some more shitty punk ya bum.

castironphil
castironphil

Bad Religion has made plenty of bland stuff since The Grey Race, but Suffer?! Really? 

*insert NOFX 'he's more punk rock than ME!' here*

natereiter11
natereiter11

I liked this. These and other questions will be answered in the comments section. Bwahahahaha sweet.

Aaron Nelson
Aaron Nelson

I'm confused as to why CP keeps posting this crap when no one ever has anything good to say about this style of article. Ask this arrogant fuck what punk he likes and the answer you will get is "you've probably never heard of them" or "only their first album"

Karissah Christmas
Karissah Christmas

And all of these albums are classics, whether or not they're punk is a non-issue only a very lame and unpunk weiner would find merit in debating.

Karissah Christmas
Karissah Christmas

City Pages has not a single good music writer, as far as I can tell because they hire those who would seek to become music writers and not those who actually know music and how to write well.

Liesl Werner Thomas
Liesl Werner Thomas

Stopped clicking music articles because, as far as I can tell, they are all now puffed up trash talking with nothing constructive to say.

Kris Heding
Kris Heding

...according to one person's (jaded) opinion, of course. And someone who has a hatred for Tim Armstrong, apparently.

Joshua L. Cejka
Joshua L. Cejka

Gee... That's weird. I read the same hipster piece of toilet paper courtesy of an Arizona paper just the other day. How far has this piece of idiocy travelled? Why don't you print original pieces instead of syndicated nonsense?

Thomas Peterson
Thomas Peterson

I've never really met anyone that respects a critic.

Dana Froehlig
Dana Froehlig

Fuck you author go drive a car back from the Bahamas

Patrick Birke
Patrick Birke

I figured, I googled the author and his name came up on the other national syndicates. City Pages should still be ashamed for what they have become on social media.

Jennifer Cress
Jennifer Cress

I am now officially ashamed of my decades-old age. I think I just outgrew City Pages.

Kyle Matteson
Kyle Matteson

It actually wasn't a CP article fwiw, just republished clickbait from their sister publications sadly

Scott VanSpronsen
Scott VanSpronsen

I've never stopped listening to anything from any era in my life. Well except for Bobby Brown & Kenny G. Outside of those two slip ups, when I take the good time to "LISTEN" to an album, it becomes a life-long relationship. This is why I never could get into punk. Couldn't ever see myself listening to any of them through more than once.

John Sable
John Sable

Dead Milkmen - Big Lizard. I simply does not get better than that (there is Naked Raygun)...

Chris Porto
Chris Porto

That does make sense. That makes perfect sense. I was so confused when he started talking about the Phoenix punk scene at one point. Seamed really out of place. That would make sense.

Mick Butler
Mick Butler

Boooo write something about how mediocre of a writer you are

Eric Foss
Eric Foss

listening now for the first time ever. so far, this is super cool.

Steven Hess
Steven Hess

use to like punk. liken it to speed metal, now with country liricks(sp). can get into to the instruments if they would just shut up

t081281
t081281

You are dumb.  Against Me is the only good punk band to come out of the 2000's.  You city page writers are such douchebag hipster wannabe (i knew them before they were cool) losers.  

David Mortensen
David Mortensen

Total classic because they were great whether you cared for them or not. I hate The Beatles but they're both still classics. Duh.

Nolan Murphy
Nolan Murphy

I can set my watch by city pages trolling attempts :)

Helm Matthews
Helm Matthews

Did you get a lot of comments, CP? Does integrity ever enter your thought process when considering publishing this teenage drivel? Shameful. Absolutely shameful.

Zachary Malecha
Zachary Malecha

I saw this post elsewhere first... On the Phoenix times website which is their version of the city pages. Exact same layout and everything. This makes me think that honestly whoever is running the city pages website does not care what people think whatsoever, they care about the clicks which count towards their advertising, if that makes any sense.

Brandwynn Parrott
Brandwynn Parrott

Merlin Jahn thought of you when I saw this. Disagree with the article.

Charles D. Rhoden III
Charles D. Rhoden III

Everyone is entitled to his own opinion. It's just sad that City Pages chose to print the inarticulate drivel from this editorial tool.

Chris Porto
Chris Porto

The moment when he seriously started complaining about hot topic and bands being mainstream (what is this 2003?) you could tell this was nothing more than a tantrum over the fact that he thinks these other people are just not "punk enough." I would suspect he still uses the word poser, and judges people based on the band patches they sowed onto their clothes.

Chris Porto
Chris Porto

Hahah he seriously compared out come the wolves to sid vicious solo. Hmmm Matt freeman vs. sid vicious? Clearly this author doesn't understand music. It's one thing if it was just an opinion I disagree with, but that was just ignorant. But the author does a good job of showing their own ignorance and bias within the article itself.

Chris Porto
Chris Porto

Well they did just put out like 5 articles about the gathering of the juggallos. What so you expect? Comparing rancid to sid vicious? Going to compare Matt freeman to one of the worst bass players to ever play in any band ever?

Jay Hill
Jay Hill

All I get from this is artice is that you are 'more punk' than any of these bands. What a waste of ink and the 5 minutes I will never get back.

joe11111
joe11111

This is such a shitty article. 

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