So here is my list. It was hard. I could have done a top 500 but it probably would’ve taken me 5 years to write.
NOFX – Punk In Drublic
Before punk, I was a huge metal head. Like, a massive one. It was all about Slayer, Fear Factory, Metallica and Machine Head. Angry white dudes screaming about nonsense while playing fast aggressive music. One day I was at school rehearsing with my metal band “Border Line” ( I know, right? Just screams metal from the suburbs doesn’t it?) and a friend gave me a CD to listen to. He was like “This is funny shit. Listen to it.” The CD itself was NOFX’s first live album “I Heard They Suck Live”. After listening to it I realised that it was fast. It was aggressive. But it was also funny and melodic – something that was severely lacking from the stuff that I was listening to at the time. After that, I was determined to hear more. I found a copy of their most recent record “Punk In Drublic” at a discount record store for $5 and bought it. I took it home and instantly fell in love with it. From the first guitar riff to the last it was perfect. I pretty much stopped listening to metal and became obsessed with everything to do with punk. I cut my hair short and never looked back.
No Use For A Name – Leche Con Carne
After my enlightening to punk rock, I sought out more and more of it. It wasn’t as easy to get records back then as it is now. You really had to search for them. There was a record store where I lived called “Sight and Sound”. It was a normal record store with all the top 40 crap in the world but in the back corner they had a punk section. It wasn’t massive but it was something. I’d heard that Fat Mike from NOFX had a record label called Fat Records, so I just started buying every record with a Fat or Epitaph logo on it. Smash by The Offspring, …And Out Come the Wolves by Rancid were some of the classics that I had come across but none matched Leche Con Carne. I remember going in there one day with $20 and seeing the cover and not thinking twice about it. It was probably the first time I heard a punk rock band talk about serious shit. They sung about domestic abuse, war and they even had a song about David Koresh and the Waco Siege. It was almost a spiritual experience hearing it for the first time. I followed No Use For A Name for almost their entire career and it really hit me hard when the news broke that Tony Sly had passed away. I didn’t care about Princess Diana, George Harrison or Michael Jackson. Tony Sly was more important to me than any of them. I still listen to his music on a daily basis and, if I could, I’d thank him for that.
Lagwagon – Double Plaidinum
I’ve heard people say that this is the weakest Lagwagon album. I guess it all comes down to what you hear first and what sticks with you. Back then, all Fat Records CDs came with a small booklet of their entire catalogue so this was the first CD I ordered from Fat Records. I’d bought Screw 32’s Under the Influence of Bad People – not the best record, but the song “Misunderstood” is a killer track. I read through the booklet and ordered “Double Plaidinum” over “Hoss” because for some reason I liked the cover better. So, this was my first introduction to a band that I have loved ever since. I love the way Joey Cape writes his songs. There is certain selfishness about them that a lot of musicians don’t have. I have conversations with people that have said they don’t listen to him because they can’t understand what he is writing about, but it never bothered me. Music is for you. It’s up to others to try and figure it out and it’s never a reason to not listen.
Crettins Puddle – Self Titled
After I had pretty much bought every Fat Records and Epitaph release, I wanted to check out some Aussie punk stuff. I wanted to play in a punk band. I loved the American stuff but, other than Frenzal Rhomb and The Living End, I hadn’t really discovered any Australian punk. A friend of mine lent me this record and I instantly fell in love with it. It’s pure pop punk that used phases and flangers on their guitars giving it a cool spacey vibe. It was also the first release that had songs that went for over 4 minutes, which I thought was awesome. Punks have never been the calmest or had the best attention spans, but Crettins Puddle were able to keep them happy with their songs. My friends and I used to go to underage shows all the time, one of those times was seeing Crettins Puddle at the Tote in Melbourne. They blew my mind. It was the fastest I’d seen a drummer play back then and to top it off they had also introduced a TB 303 into the sound. It was so incredibly weird and wonderful. TB 303s are usually used by acid heads making techno… These guys were acid head punks that had somehow blended the two together. Of course, they broke up and only released one and half EPs. One day I was searching Russian torrent sites for music and came across this record. I was fucking stoked!
Nirvana – Nevermind
I know I know. Predictable. I’m 100% sure this was the first ever punk record I ever heard. People call it grunge because MTV needed a new name to market punk rock. There are grunge bands. But I truly believe that Nirvana weren’t one of them. It’s a fucking punk rock masterpiece. It’s perfect. One of my favourite things to do is ask people what their favourite Nirvana record is. A lot of people try and be cool by saying Bleach or In Utero. Then the fun begins. No matter how good those records are, there is no fucking way that people would be interested in them without Never Mind. The only reason they prefer those albums is that they probably played their copy of Never Mind so much that it embedded in their brains. Just you wait until people my age start having memory loss or alzheimer's. They won’t be able to remember their names but I guarantee that they’ll still remember the words to Territorial Pissings.
Strung Out – Element Of Sonic Defiance
It’s the perfect EP. What I loved most about this record is that it completely changed their sound. The contrast between this and “Twisted By Design” is so massive. It’s worth noting that it’s the first record they wrote after Jim Cherry had passed away and their first with current bass player Chris Aiken so maybe that has something to do with it. But all I know is that it’s the perfect EP.
Frank Turner – Love, Ire and Song
Coming across Frank Turner pretty much saved music for me. At the time I was in the middle of an extreme writer’s block. Nothing I wrote down was worth anything. When a musician can’t write they get down, depressed and generally sad. I was drinking a lot and on more than one occasion found myself blind drunk with no way to get home. I used to walk home from everywhere because the ride I’d been offered didn’t want to wait around until I’d drunk the bar dry or I’d just simply drunk all my money away not caring how I got home. My sister Amelia, ten years my junior and an incredible singer in her own right, told me to listen to this English guy. A folk singer by the name of Frank Turner. She had always said his lyrics were some of the most honest writing she’d ever heard and she thought I could benefit from that. I remember getting wasted at some bar and chucking my headphones on and giving him a shot. I’d never really cared about acoustic music before that but it spoke to me. His lyrics were hopeful, sad and uncomfortably honest and I loved everything about it. I got home and just started writing honesty on a page. Since then I’ve never held back. Frank Turner taught me how to do that.
Wu Tang Clan – Enter The Wu Tang (36 Chambers)
OK OK… So, not punk. But I’ve always thought that people who write lyrics should listen to heaps of styles of music. Listening to hip hop and rap, and this album especially, helped me with vocal melodies and rhythms. They don’t follow the chords like most punk melodies do. They follow the beat and feed off one another’s verses. So yeah… That and it’s fucking sick.
Frenzal Rhomb – Not So Tough Now
I remember seeing these guys at a festival called “Pushover” in 1996 or something. It was fucking hot, like 37 degrees in a shed near the Port Melbourne pier. They were like the third band up and I remember seeing this crusty hippie with dreads walk out on stage. I was like “what the fuck is this shit?”. I kid you not, I went straight to the merch tent and bought their CD as soon as their set had finished. I listened to it soooo much. The song Disappointment is awesome. They have more popular albums out but this is easily their best and anyone who disagrees is just a moron.
Bad Religion – Empire Strikes First
Want to know my most shameful secret? Up until I was 25, I couldn’t stand Bad Religion. Our local record store JB HI FI were having a sale on punk records and I worked there for a small amount of time during that time so I was able to use my staff discount to get them even cheaper than they were. I think the sale was 3 albums for $15 or something but my discount brought it down to $8.75 or something like that. I’d basically bought every CD in the shop. The only ones I didn’t touch were Hawthorne Heights, Story Of The Year and all that emo/metalcore garbage and Bad Religion. So I caved and bought their latest. For some reason I put it on when I got home and it just clicked. I became a fucking walking BR advertisement. I bought every album, every bit of merch I could find. It’s not their best record by far (Suffer or No Control, I’ll never figure it out) but it’s the one that sticks with me.
Look, let’s be honest, I could have written a top 500 but it would have taken me 5 years to get around to it. Here’s the list that almost made it. Now I think of it, it’s a far better list… Maybe next time:
Descendents – Everything Sucks
Propagandhi – Today’s Empires Tomorrow’s Ashes
Rancid – …And Out Come The Wolves
Green Day – Dookie
The Offspring – Smash
Adolescents – Adolescents
The Flatliners – Cavalcade
NOFX – So Long And Thanks For All The Shoes
The Beastie Boys – Ill Communication
Black Flag - Damaged
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