40 Best Punk Albums
It can be argued that punk rock started back in the '60s, when a bunch of kids holed up in their parents' garage and bashed out two chords on their guitars and shouted into a taped-together microphone.
But for our chronological list of the 40 Best Punk Albums, we're starting with the one that pretty much kicked off punk rock as we know it today: the Ramones' self-titled debut record from 1976.
It took several months before other bands picked up on this two-chord aggression, but once they started flooding in, the influx of bands never stopped, as you'll see in our list, which includes albums from the '70s through the '00s.
Many of these records come from punk's golden age: Albums by the Sex Pistols and Richard Hell are here. So are Wire and Stiff Little Fingers. And even though punk was a slash-and-burn-out genre, several artists have more than one record on the list -- including the Clash and Talking Heads, who each have three.
And despite what haters will tell you, punk didn't die in the '80s, even though its inevitable commercial moves turned off many old-school fans. It just went underground and, in some cases, got even bigger (yep, Green Day are here) in the '90s and beyond.
The one thing all these albums and bands have in common is their tendency to build so much from so little. Some of these bands could hardly play their instruments, but their determination made up for their lack of musicianship. And while punk was initially a reaction to mainstream rock music's bloated excesses, some of the artists couldn't help but nod to classic rock's influence in their work.
From the start, punk was rock 'n' roll stripped to its fundamentals and played in a way that signaled the future, even while it declared there was no future. That's never changed, even after four decades, as you'll see in our list of the 40 Best Punk Albums.