10 Classic Punk Records That Actually Kind of Suck

Categories: Lists, Punk

The_Dead_Milkmen_2013_Warhol_Museum_Pittsburgh_PA.jpg
Courtesy of 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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344 comments
jjazznola
jjazznola

Blank Generation? Easily one of the best and most important punk albums and musically the most interesting of the CBGB bands. #2 and Green Day are not punk.

Mark Weld
Mark Weld

ALL "punk" sucked...it was a group of guys who WANTED to be rock stars but didn't have ANY ability to play an instrument...period

Jen Fox
Jen Fox

most of these are not even bands considered punk or classic...greenday??? really? stop writing stupid shit like this it just makes you look ignorant

Mark Gilley
Mark Gilley

"Further the genre"? Since when has punk been about that? Douche'

death8jimmy
death8jimmy

this post is bullshit! walk among us is a fucking great album and this writer can fucking eat shit and live. i can agree with number 6 though

Ty Stearns
Ty Stearns

How many times are you going regurgitate the same shit?

Erickh Norman
Erickh Norman

Talking shit about pretty much everything for no particularly good reason? This article's pretty punk rock.

Roy Valencia
Roy Valencia

You guys recycling articles now? Didn't you post this back in June or July?

Shawn McDonald
Shawn McDonald

I was going to say bullshit - I would call two of those bands, tops. punk but you slightly redeemed yourself with the factual statement about Social Distortion. Should'a dropped the "almost" though.

SJP2012
SJP2012

I'm glad to find someone's opinions who doesn't match my pre-conscieved ideas about what to look for in punk rock.  I would love to see a list of your top 100 punk albums or so.  Thank you.

Nickferatu
Nickferatu

I agree with most of these. The post script in the end won my favor. Cheers to you, sir.

DEACON_ISHMAEL
DEACON_ISHMAEL

ONE MANS OPINION ......I KIND OF AGREE.....but I do play the last social D....a lot.....punk or not.....don/t fucking care.....and  TOM REARDON  what are your picks...on what is a milestone is music is...whats on your play list?


gabo65
gabo65

No, some of these are definitely not classics and not even punk rock. As for the Ramones, Rocket is a great record but their best ever was the following release, Road to Ruin. This article is a tad, shall we say, lame.

lucamoraes
lucamoraes

1 jornalist that actually kind of suck: YOU

brianbotkiller
brianbotkiller

You're the stupidest fucking "reviewer" of all time. 


surfpunk66
surfpunk66

Just my two cents:


Tom Reardon I think you should give up writing all together. There is officially no person other than yourself who wants to read what you write.

kevinblack1999
kevinblack1999

Oh! His band mate punched out Danzig. So cool. And Danzig makes $$ from having J. Cash and Metallica sing his songs. He, on the other hand, writes this for a publication that is best used by bums as a mat on the streets of Phoenix. Impressive...

andwilkes
andwilkes

You could say the same thing about the Beatles/Stones/et cetera.  Context is very important to music and it's unfair to judge music by what came after it.  But I fell for the click-bait like the rest of the fellow commentors.


What is true about Punk is it stopped being the rebellious music of record in the early 1990s (and before punk it was folk singer songs, and before that jazz, and before that blues) when grunge became mainstream and left the actual rebellion to the NWAs/Public Enemies of the world which has since been co-opted as youth culture for profit.  Now everything exists comfortably in their niches so you can pick whatever you want to be rebellious but the days of protest songs are over.

fart
fart

I have two things to say. Firstly, the response that this has provoked is pretty funny to me. It's just some random guy's opinions. Who cares?


Secondly, thanks for including that reference to Spike in Vain - Disease is Relative. I had never encountered that record before and I must say, it is fucking AWESOME. I can see myself listening to this album for years to come.

jude_iscariot
jude_iscariot

Just gonna throw this out there, but I've been to tons of shows and The Dead Milkmen consistently put on one of the best shows. If you felt uninspired, eh, dunno what is wrong with you. I've never had more fun at a show. And they also consistently sell out all ages shows. The last one I was at had a section in the balcony for the underage kids, and it was completely filled. On the other hand, I've been to three Violent Femmes shows as well, and while they are okay, the two I've been to that were FREE were the only ones that were filled to capacity, and even then there weren't that many young people there.

DeadSidvicious
DeadSidvicious

Hello to you all angry people ! Wouaaahhh so many of you !!!

Too cute, when you frown and speack out and loud all this rubbish at Tom.

Gets you nowhere indeed. Sid is cold stoned again.

I can imagine all of you waving up like sheepshaggers and throwing your little punches at your laptop. I still got Loooot of fun from reading U all thks.

To the others (the grownup people) : : Thanks a lot @Tom for writing what U think, BECAUSE :

1. you know because of you I kinda feel like I could listen up now and again to my forgotten playlist from way long 80's but still feeling fine with it : just music ok !

2.To US punk : Blackflag ands Dead Kennedys where my favourite from the beginning, but I still love the lyrics and smile up at the music, neurotics you !

3. AND : I'll call up to get some news from my formers pals still alive in the UKsubs.

The guys all live now uppersubs... but me.

The question is : why all these angry people can't do so ? 

Just because they know NO PUNK alive. 

Continue to wave up at yourlaptops shimps.

Or grab some cords and airplay back outjacked.

BOUGGGGAAA

matnewell
matnewell

 Personally Tom, aside from a couple of albums/ statements made, I think you're pretty spot on. 

Can you listen to Rocket to Russia and understand the entire Ramones catalog? 

Absolutely. 

But dismissing the rest of it would be a tragic oversight. My summer doesn't begin without my first trip out to the Rockaways and listening to their cover of California Sun when the train goes above ground. 

Just because they found their sound and stuck to it relentlessly does not mean it wasn't great. There are few live bands that can come close to having as much energy as they did on record. 


I agree also that Blank Generation was an extremely important album so far as influencing a genre of music, but to say that there are only a few good tracks is pretty dismissive.

What tracks don't you like- Betrayal takes two? Down at the rock and roll club? This is not only an important album influentially, it's also a really good listen. I may be forced to say I'd prefer The Heartbreakers or Dead Boys, but neither existed without Hell. 


I also understand your dismissive idea of the Misfits, you perhaps aren't that into The Damned either, but that album kicks a lot of ass for me. Not a huge fan of Danzig personal stuff, but Walk Among Us was huge.


 And then I'm done. 

Saw the Dead Milkmen two years ago in Philly... I'm not fifteen anymore, sadly there music still is. I went for a beer after a few songs. You can't recapture an age in one's life. 


Green Day you could have lumped in with your jumble of bands at number 2, they were never punk, but capitalized on it with poppy stupidity in the same way Screeching Weasel did (and the latter is still a much better band). 


Op Ivy is given this pass like they put "Cali punk" on the map, but X, Circle Jerks, 7 Seconds were doing it longer and better than Op Ivy ever did. 

Out Come the Wolves was punk boy band? Absolutely. 


Bad Religion not as important as Subhumans (or DK, Crass, Conflict, Flux of Pink Indians...)? If you argue this you've never spent any time listening to these.


Damaged again I may have argument with you on. Loud, aggressive, snotty, sardonic, it really is what punk was about in America in the Reagan era. I do not bow at the temple of Rollins, but it's a pretty damn good album. 


Regardless, I enjoyed your opinion. Thanks.

Sadly I find little reason to speak with people from Az. in today's society. It seems our political agenda (not yours and mine, mine and Arizona's) is far differing, but I enjoyed the article.


santoralucas57
santoralucas57

God I hate pretentious punks. This is why I don't identify as punk.

ichavero
ichavero

This is just one of those "i want attention" articles, don't pay attention to this fucking troll just enjoy music!


Troll Leve: Phoenix Heat

ichavero
ichavero

This is just one of those "i want attention" articles don't event bother answering...

 Troll level: Phoenix Heat

ichavero
ichavero

This is just one of those "i want attention" articles, don't pay attention to this fucking troll just enjoy music!


Troll Leve: Phoenix Heat

joemarxen
joemarxen

I'm reading an ego-driven, completely subjective, arrogant criticism of some undeniably influential punk rock while being bombarded by Michelob Ultra ads, WTF? This publication is pathetic.

TheInevitable
TheInevitable

"Damaged" is maybe a little overrated. Black Flag is not. 


But the best Black Flag albums ARE with Henry Rollins. "My War" and "Slip it in." "Family Man," In My Head," and "Loose Nut" are close behind. Way more interesting and better than any of the Morris, Cadena etc. fronted stuff. 

TomReardon
TomReardon

Apologies to Henry Rollins. He is not the last singer of Black Flag. I should know better as I spent hours working on an interview with current Black Flag singer and all around decent dude, Mike Vallely. Also, for clarification, I lumped a lot of bands together in spot #2 because I saw them all listed in "best of" lists for the first decade of 21st century. I really wouldn't consider them punk either, but I think I covered that. Sorry you are all so bummed...just my opinions. If I have tarnished your memories or given you cancer, I am humbled at the sheer power of my words. For the record, I disliked the Misfits well before I ever joined North Side Kings and being even a small part of "the punch" is no where near my proudest moment in playing music, but say what you will about me or my bands. That's the beauty of an opinion.

For everyone who has wished me harm, I wonder what you would have offered to do if you agreed with everything I wrote? My guess is nothing. I love punk rock and don't consider myself a hipster, by any means. I'm just a guy who likes to write (with questionable talent, obviously) and the New Times gives me room to do my thing which I appreciate greatly. I will probably write other things you disagree with and I hope you dislike them just as much. If I write things you like, please tell me you love me and offer to shake my hand or do nothing. Either way, it will all end the same. Thank you all for sharing.


Tom


ps...all of these records are better than anything you've done, as well, so if you really want to do something about it, start a band and make a record you are proud of because making records is fun.

Kwoodz
Kwoodz

For some reason, I want to punch you in the throat. 

defendme.net
defendme.net

Maybe the Misfits and Social Distortion should have a tag team match against Green Day and Rancid. It will be like Abraham Lincoln vs. Barack Obama in a rail splitting contest.

phnart
phnart

I can personally guarantee that Tom Reardon is not Chet Manly.

xrayspex69
xrayspex69

Obviously the music is subject to one's opinion.

However, I recall having a handful of "punks" in Phoenix tell me how great Rancid, Green Day, etc. were. When those bands were rehashing better bands from the seventies and the eighties.

Op Ivy, Rancid, Green Day, Misfits, all retreads.

Black Flag's Damaged, Richard Hell, yup.

Even the seventies bands were heavily influenced by the Stooges and MC5 so you might take the argument even further up the pipeline. And the sixties bands were rehashing black musicians from the thirties and forties.

hardcorepride
hardcorepride

Are you looking for the article "1 uninformed dirtbag's opinion that really does suck"? Please scroll up to find your content.


Hey Tom/Chet! How many small animals did you hurt in the process of authoring this? 


BTW, the unfortunate hamster stuck in your ass can't escape until you first pull your head out...

callofbooty
callofbooty

What's worse: Writing a piece called "10 Classic Punk Records That Actually Kind of Suck" which no one agrees with OR being author Tom Reardon and defending it but doing so anonymously as chet_manly


WOW!

Matt Dickson
Matt Dickson

The article is a "dig" it's designed to be incinderiary and cause adverse reactions from the reader. The main goal is for the reader to click a link and comment.

David Gallant
David Gallant

Jim Carroll reading over the fadeout of "Junkyman", alone, makes Rancid's album too interesting and innovative for the reviewer to grasp it seems. I agree with the assessments of Social D. and Misfits, but not Ramones or Richard Hell. He does not "read" these albums in a carefully historicized way.

W.M.
W.M.

Damn Matt, you're right! And I totally fell for it… Fuck, I'm such a sucker for shitty asinine articles! Good one @TomReardon, you got me buddy! 


Hey Tom, next you should write one about 10 Classic Movies That Actually Kind Of Suck According To Tom Reardon!! Because you know, your opinion on these matters are so relevant and all… I promise I'll click the link, only partially read the article after finding out how incredibly asinine it is, and then I'll totally leave a hater comment like this one!


Yeah buddy, what do you say? 


W.M.


P.S. I really do hate the shit out of you. 

DeadSidvicious
DeadSidvicious

@W.M. @TomReardon 

wow make mine a  "10 classic tunes you would not listen to even trapped in a lifter crashing by Tom Some". Sound fascinating


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