Treble’s Top 100 Punk Albums

fucked up top 100 albums of the decade so far60. Fucked UpDavid Comes to Life
(2011; Matador)

Toronto-based hardcore act Fucked Up stretched the limits of punk rock with their 77-minute epic, David Comes to Life, a hardcore musical in which Damien Abraham spins the kernel of a real-life experience into a fantastical tale of love, death, deception and trust. Through it all, the sounds are richly layered and emotionally driven, with Father Damien portraying the narrator and other characters, maintaining his impassioned delivery over sonically diverse arrangements. – Chad Gorn


It takes a nation of millions59. Public EnemyIt Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
(1988; Def Jam)

Public Enemy might not be the first name cited if asked to name a rap group that had the most characteristics of punk rock. (For me it’d be NWA’s Straight Outta Compton or the Geto Boys’ self-titled.) But the impact Public Enemy brought to American music with their second album—the follow-up to the well-received but not well-heard Yo! Bum Rush The Show—can’t be underrated. They were light years from rap’s status quo.

Chuck D became one of hip-hop’s singular voices, as both an MC and as his genre’s social consciousness, immediately upon the release of It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. Hank Shocklee’s funk-rock/horrorshow pastiche production still sounds jarring (albeit with fairly dated drums). And while Chuck’s takes on issues tangential to the plight of black Americans haven’t all aged well—-e.g., the chauvinism of “She Watch Channel Zero?”—songs such as “Bring the Noise,” “Night of the Living Baseheads” and especially “Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos” sound forceful as ever. – Liam Green


top 100 punk albums Specials58. The SpecialsSpecials
(1979; Chrysalis/2-Tone)

The era of 2-Tone ska represented the unlikely camaraderie between punk and reggae musicians in London in the late ‘70s, and the debut of the pride of Coventry captured both styles in gleeful abandon. Lead singer Terry Hall and toaster Neville Staple displayed a reckless, astounding symmetry, and the strident social commentary from main songwriter Jerry Dammers gave them plenty of chances to tee off. The Specials veered from slack reggae rhythms (“It’s Up to You,” “Stupid Marriage”) to near-rock force (“Nite Klub,” “Gangsters,” “Too Much Too Young”) without too much labor, and articulated the confused mores of young urban adults as much as they’d let you. – Paul Pearson


Mission of Burma Signals, Calls and Marches57. Mission of BurmaSignals, Calls and Marches
(1981; Ace of Hearts)

Boston quartet Mission of Burma’s debut EP Signals, Calls and Marches unknowingly set a precedent for alternative music like few of their contemporaries. While they would increasingly experiment with tape loops thanks to sound engineer and honorary member Martin Swope, the band possessed a penchant for melody that, retrospectively, stands as a direct predecessor to much of the pop-punk and indie-rock music that would rise from the ’90s and 2000s. Look no further than opener “Academy Fight Song” and “That’s When I Reach For My Revolver” for wide-eyed, singalong rallying cries. – Andy Barton


birthday_party junkyard56. The Birthday PartyJunkyard
(1982; 4AD)

Arguably more post-punk than punk, and likewise an early glimpse of noise rock, Junkyard is a mutant primal scream of a record. Disillusioned with the London scene, Australia’s The Birthday Party looked through a cracked lens of Americana for their third album, a twisted hybrid of blues, noise and punk. True to its name, it’s a wasteland of scrap metal and jagged edges, the sort of pile nobody would dare rummage without a sturdy pair of gloves on. Yet it’s in that danger that Junkyard ends up being so fun, so twisted, so incendiary it couldn’t be replicated. – Jeff Terich


Thermals - The Body, the blood the machine55. The ThermalsThe Body, The Blood, The Machine
(2006; Sub Pop)

Portland trio The Thermals’ third album The Body, The Blood, The Machine compacted sprawling religious and political themes into a succinct 35 minutes. From the supercharged opening salvo of “Here’s Your Future” to the pop-punk entreaty of “Returning to the Fold,” singer/guitarist Hutch Harris’s crystal clear delivery conjured vivid images of a dystopian Christian state, no doubt inspired by the Evangelical-emboldened Bush era. Look no further than the “locusts, tornadoes, crosses and Nazi halos” on “I Might Need You To Kill” for disenchantment with an America enamored with God and war. – Andy Barton


The Damned debut album reissue54. The DamnedDamned Damned Damned
(1977; Stiff)

An iconic debut and one of the most fun punk albums ever made, Damned Damned Damned is a dynamic album of gleeful abandon and recklessness held together by bombastic song construction. Leadoff track “Neat Neat Neat” is one of the catchiest tracks ever made, with other tracks like “New Rose” solidifying The Damned as one of punk’s most imitated acts within their genre. Still going strong as a touring act after 40 years, The Damned have solidified their place as one of the greats, and this debut work is mandatory listening for punk aficionados. – Brian Roesler


top 100 punk albums Bad Religion53. Bad ReligionNo Control
(1989; Epitaph)

No Control took the political and emotional hyperliteracy of Greg Graffin and the dual-guitar attack of Brett Gurewitz and ex-Circle Jerk Greg Hetson, and added populist accessibility. A good chunk of this LP was written and first performed on the road following the release of Suffer in 1988. Laying this groundwork with their most hardcore fans resulted in an album loaded with catalog favorites, among them “Sometimes It Feels Like,” “Automatic Man” and “I Want to Conquer the World.” This was when Bad Religion first stepped on the path to ultimately share MTV time and modern-rock airplay with fellow SoCal punks Green Day. – Adam Blyweiss


top 100 punk albums Ramones52. RamonesRocket to Russia
(1977; Sire)

New York’s Ramones, at least in their first five years or so, had a catalog that was incredibly consistent, to the extent that this placement could be swapped for Leave Home or Road to Ruin and it’d still seem like a logical option. What makes Rocket to Russia edge out those classics is ultimately its versatilty, taking the punk-perfect template of their debut and broadening their horizons to include a wider repertoire of songs, from bubblegum punk tracks like “Cretin Hop” to their cover of “Surfin’ Bird,” as well as an improved production aesthetic. Ultimately, this is some of punk’s finest pop songwriting. – Jeff Terich


jam-allmodcons51. The JamAll Mod Cons
(1979; Polydor)

Recorded after a tour with Blue Oyster Cult that went legendarily poorly, All Mod Cons wasn’t an album that came easily for The Jam, but nonetheless went down in history as their greatest moment. Celebrating The UK’s beat bands of the ’60s, including a cover of The Kinks’ “David Watts,” while featuring Paul Weller’s commentary on class, privilege and political violence (e.g. the scene of violence perpetrated by a far-right gang in “Down in the Tube Station at Midnight”), The Jam moved beyond their comfort zone while staying true to the punk ideal of being a reflection of society’s ills. It’s both a collection of the band’s best songwriting as well as their most poignant. – Jeff Terich

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View Comments (12)
  • This is not the top 100 punk bands this is a joke you guys don’t know punk rock if it slapped you in the face some of the band’s are punk rock but most are not I have love that life for over 38 years And all my life I have ran into people like you on the streets get your facts straight green day is not punk iggy pop is not punk and over half of you bands are not punk so you should of called it too 100 rock bands so fuck off with this shit

  • Not much punk on this list. Treble is pretty close minded. Won’t touch the big boy punk bands. Didn’t even touch the punk band Big Boys. HAHA OH MAN.

  • Just when i thought metalheads were the close-minded…It turns out that title is already taken by the punk rednecks. Congrats, Pig Pen 😉

  • Ramones first album should be first. Most of punk was made off that album. Ramones are the founding fathers of punk

  • Disappointed to not see 7 Seconds somewhere on the list. The Crew and Walk Together, Rock Together were on pretty heavy rotation with many of the records.listed here.

    Was also hoping to see The Dead Milkmen, as it was the goofball entry point to punk for myself and many friends in the mid to late 80’s. Not the musically, or intellectually,
    challenging stuff but still had a noteworthy place in punk history

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