Another day, another troll-y list by Rolling Stone. I mean, I don’t think there’s really any doubt at this point that the music journalism mavens have latched onto a winning formula:
(a) Create uninspired, middle-of-the-road list.
(b) Throw out some obvious choices, add some ridiculous ones and swap number 3 for number 7.
(c) Watch the world burn.
At the end of last month, the publication got their jollies enraging the drumming community with their 100 Greatest Drummers Of All Time list – a world in which The Rolling Stone’s Charlie Watts is a superior drummer to both Tool’s Danny Carey and Buddy Rich (even using their yardstick of “nuance and musicality over chops and flash,” that’s a pretty ballsy call, fellas). Welp, hold on to your hats kids, because because RS has clearly decided to incite their first riot with another list for the ages: The 40 Greatest Punk Albums of All Time.
We’ll say this – a list of best albums is highly subjective, arguably more so than one ranking best players of an instrument. I have zero problem with the inclusion of Blink 182’s Enema of the State – it’s a beast of an album, old-school purists be damned.
But as many observers have pointed out, if you’re going to include Enema of the State, where in God’s name do you get off not including landmark albums like The Clash’s London Calling, Iggy and the Stooges’ Raw Power or contemporary classics like Refused’s The Shape of Punk To Come and NOFX’s Punk in Drublic?
As the astute my also notice, apparently no punk band has made more than one album that deserves a place in the Top 40. “Yeah… we wanted to put London Calling and Raw Power in there but we’ve already got The Clash at Number 2 and Funhouse at Number 4 so our hands are tied – you know how it is.” And I’ll get totally subjective here myself – I love Deep Fantasy by Vancouver’s White Lung, but claiming it surpasses any of those albums is a bit of an eyebrow-raiser.
And before you argue: “Well, to be fair, London Calling is more post-punk and it’s got a heck of a lot of different influences in there,” you should know that Nirvana, Joy Division, Devo, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs are on the list. All the albums featured are genius and firmly rooted in punk music, but again, if you’re including those GTFO with any punk-purist sentiments, bruh. As for the inclusion of compilations like Bikini Kill’s The Singles and Minor Threat’s Complete Discography, I’m pretty on the fence but I know there’s people breaking shit right now yelling “You can’t DO that, Goddammit!”
So how did Rolling Stone do overall? Well, pretty great – because here we are talking about it/pulling out our hair/sharing the list on social media with a tsunami of WTFs just as they planned. Pretty soon, though, they’re going to have a hard time topping themselves. I look forward to the day when they include Courtney Love as one of rock’s top 20 vocalists and signal the commencement of the end of days.
40. Dead Kennedys – Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables
39. Devo – Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!
38. White Lung – Deep Fantasy
37. Blink-182 – Enema of the State
36. Crass – Penis Envy
35. Fugazi – 13 Songs
34. Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures
33. The Slits – Cut
32. The Misfits – Walk Among Us
31. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever to Tell
30. Sonic Youth – Evol
29. The Replacements – Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash
28. The Germs – (GI)
27. Minor Threat – Complete Discography
26. Flipper – Generic
25. Mission of Burma – Vs.
24. The Jam – All Mod Cons
23. Pere Ubu – Terminal Tower
22. Bikini Kill – The Singles
21. Richard Hell and the Voidoids – Blank Generation
20. X-Ray Spex – Germfree Adolescents
19. Bad Brains – Bad Brains
18. Green Day – Dookie
17. Television – Marquee Moon
16. Descendents – Milo Goes to College
15. New York Dolls – New York Dolls
14. Sleater-Kinney – Dig Me Out
13. Hüsker Dü – Zen Arcade
12. Patti Smith – Horses
11. The Buzzcocks – Singles Going Steady
10. Nirvana – Nevermind
09. X – Los Angeles
08. Black Flag – Damaged
07. Minutemen – Double Nickels on the Dime
06. Wire – Pink Flag
05. Gang of Four – Entertainment!
04. The Stooges – Funhouse
03. Sex Pistols – Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s the Sex Pistols
02. The Clash – The Clash
01. Ramones – Ramones