Punk. Is it a genre of music? Is it a way life? Is it an attitude? Is it dead? In a sense it is all of the above and none of the above, all at the same time. Regardless of the definition, 'punks' influence on music has been like nothing before it, and has all churned out some of the best music to grace our ears. Here is Smashed Vinyl's ultimate punk playlist, ten of the most important punk tracks ever created.
Green Day - American Idiot
Whether you think Green Day are punk enough or not, it is undeniable that they have been the gateway drug for millions of punks across the Western Hemisphere and beyond. After the explosion of Dookie in 1994, Green Day set a whole new generation onto punk, effectively killing off grunge's dominance in guitar music of the early nighties. Then in 2004, the cycle started again American Idiot challenged popular music and politics in a way that enthused another generation of fans onto their music and punk as a genre. As evidenced at their lives shows, they continue this with every album. The age range at their shows is spread relatively evenly from 10 year olds to 50 year olds and everyone in between.
Sex Pistols - Pretty Vacant
You can't have an original punk playlist without having the Sex Pistols, surely? They're the band that originally smashed through the mainstream and straight into the house of commons. Although Pretty Vacant isn't nessercarly their most notorious track or most political, it still became the template, that's been ripped apart and safety pinned back together, for how write a great punk track.
Bad Religion - Land of Competition
The band who took the fast and aggressive hardcore punk of Southern California and stuck some melody on it. Born out of scene littered with violence and needles Bad Religion produced one of the best and most influential albums ever with Suffer. The album paved the way for bands such as NOFX, Operation Ivy, Green Day and Good Charlotte. Land of Competition encapsulates everything Bad Religion are and that's it's firmly placed in Smashed Vinyls Ulitimate Punk Playlist "Southern California will destroy them."
Anti-Flag - Angry, Young and Poor
Anti Flag's Angry, Young and Poor completely encapsulates the anger, frustration and raw energy of punk. It's relatable, fast and makes you want to dance, everything a punk should be. It is definitely a far less recognisable track then American Idiot or Pretty Vacant but the rawness and the passion that crashed through the speakers courtesy of these Pittsburgh punks earns it a place in our Ultimate Punk Playlist.
Operation Ivy - Sound System
Introducing Ska-Punk, the genre that took punk and told it to dance. It is impossible to listen to Operation Ivy's Sound System without feeling the urger to get up and have a skank. This song born out of the bay area scene in the late 1980s has gone on to influence bands, scenes and people all over the world. In every corner of the globe where you can find a punk bar, you will find someone with that grooving man poorly sewn onto their jacket.
Gnarwolves - History is Bunk
From very much internationally renown punk to the local scene. Every punk scene has and needs a band like Gnarwolves, homegrown heroes that bring the club punk show back to life in 2017. Coming from Smashed Vinyl's hometown of Brighton, these three punks have imprinted themselves forever on the skater-punk scene here in Brighton and the rest of the UK. Their track History is Bunk is one the best you'll ever hear and whenever it gets a live outing the room explodes so for that reason it's in our Ultimate Punk Playlist.
DREAM NAILS - DIY
Punk is truly alive and kicking in 2017 with London's best new Riot Grrrl four-piece, DREAM NAILS on the scene. DREAM NAILS track DIY was released a long side a zine with the same with plenty of DIY tips from bike fixing to masturbation. The song itself is an instruction manual to doing shit yourself and breaking the chains of dependency. "I can start a punk band... I can make myself cum... I can put shelves up." The band are punk witches from hell and are killing it.
Dizzee Rascal - Jus A Rascal
The man changed British hip-hop and grime forever, the defining the sound of a culture. Dizzee Rascal seems a million miles from punk with his computer generated beats, flowing rhymes and there isn't a safety pin in sight. Yet Dizzee is punk, grime is punk. The same people who were offended by punk in the 70s and 80s are the same people who are offended by grime now. Dizzee's debut album Boy In Da Corner, remains one of the best albums of all time. It is just raw and as passionate as the great punk albums that came before but it has a freshness not seen since 1977. Grime is punk, punk is grime.
Bikini Kill - Rebel Girl
"Rebel Girl, you are the queen of my world." Riot Grrl is probably the most empowering off shoot to grace our ears and it has produced some great bands with kick-ass tracks. Bikini Kll are one of the most renowned Riot Grrl bands for good reason and their track Rebel Girl is why. The attitude of the songs breaks down so many of the anti-woman sentiments in our society, from slut shaming to homophobia, Rebel Girl destroys them all.
Billy Bragg - Levi Stubbs Tears
We finish with one man and his guitar, the most stripped back artist on this playlist but his mixture of folk and punk has inspired generations and remains ever relevant to this day. Billy Bragg captured audiences with his poetic lyrics and clashing guitar. The man who is mostly known for his political side and his most famous track A New England, Billy Bragg is also one of his generations best song-writers as Levi Stubbs Tears proves.