10 Forgotten 1970s Punk Albums You Need To Hear

From proto hardcore to stark minimalist ‘no wave’, hidden gems lurk in the punk rock vaults.

Ultravox Ha! Ha! Ha!

When punk exploded onto the stagnating music scene of 1976 it opened the floodgates to a wave of creativity that saw thousands of young people suddenly empowered to make music of their own. It also attracted a few older hands who had been making music already but were inspired to work within this new, simpler, more immediate style.

The results varied wildly of course, and while some were undoubtedly little more than a waste of good vinyl, the typical measures of ‘success’ such as expensive production values, complex arrangements, and astronomical sales figures suddenly became less important. Punk produced many classic albums but the ones that get talked about tend to be the same few dozen despite many minor classics and odd curios remaining largely forgotten in the dustier corners of music history.

The following list does not necessarily highlight the most obscure, and indeed some bands listed here (or members of them) even became household names after later changes to their style. Some were little more than fakers trying their hand at the ‘new music’, but who still managed to capture something of punk's spirit. Others created astounding examples of the genre but through a combination of bad luck or bad management, just never made the impact they should, and so their impressive output was never very widely heard. All deserve at least a first listen, while some might even require serious revaluation.

10. Teenage Jesus & The Jerks – Pink (1979)

This was the archetypal album of the ‘no wave’ movement and is all about the destruction of music. There is little in the way of logical song structure, and no concession whatsoever attempting to provide an enjoyable experience for the listener, at least not in the typical sense; you certainly can’t hum along or dance to it.

As far as artistic merit is concerned, it is the sonic equivalent of realising that an ancient Greek statue would present a different aesthetic if bludgeoned with a hammer, or a classical oil painting might be seen in a new way with a knife slashed through its centre. Whether or not such an approach is a form of creation in its own right as opposed to merely being the destruction of what has already come to pass, is an artistic and even philosophical question in itself. But on the popular understanding that one of punk’s great creative strengths was its destruction of existing rules and parameters in order to stimulate fertile rebirth, which it inarguably did, Teenage Jesus & the Jerks made that point as well as anyone.

As a result, it does not come recommended in the typical sense, but it is certainly among the most challenging and testing music ever committed to vinyl by that point in time. Listen at your peril.

In this post: 
punk Ultravox
First Posted On: 

Ed was born in Peterborough, UK, and despite travels far and wide, still lives the in area. He is an exceptional nerd in regard to history, gaming, film, and music. He writes about all these subjects, and his first solo book on the topic of mental hospitals/asylums was published in 2022.