The we heart this guide to classic British punk rock.
After reading and thinking about Soo Catwoman and her descriptions of life in London during the heydays of the 70’s, both Stef and I have been listening to our old favorites from that time as well. We didn’t discover the wonder of British punk rock until the early 80’s. And living in suburban Pennsylvania was about as far removed from the London scene as you can get. Yet, somehow, the music spoke to us. It felt and sounded different – more pure and honest than the classic rock that surrounded us. Bands like the Clash, the Sex Pistols and Generation X captivated our impressionable minds. We wanted to dress and act and talk like our new British heroes. Listening to it, we would imagine a day when we would have our own “flat” (how cool to talk in British slang!) in London, dress in tights, ripped wool sweaters and trench coats and stomp through the rain in a great pair of boots to see the best bands playing secret shows…
Today, living in the yearlong California sunshine, we didn’t get so close to those dreams of overcast days and rainy nights. But we’ll always have our favorite bands and their music to take us back to when we discovered there was rock music beyond Zeppelin and the Stones, (not a knock, we love them too – please don’t email us).
So after a few debates and the threat of a dance off, we heart this is proud to bring you our Top Ten Best British Punk Singles Ever. Please note, this list is highly biased and has absolutely no scientific merits. If you think we missed a vital single, sod off. Or let us know in the comments!
Ready, Steady, Go – Generation X
We hold this band near and dear to our heart! A great sing-along late at night song. As well as one of the best songs ever for starting off a mixed cd.
New Rose – The Damned
According to Stef’s notes, “this has to be on the list” and I agree. The Damned hit it out of the park on their first try with this debut single.
Holidays in the Sun – The Sex Pistols
This one almost started a dance off. While I’m partial to Pretty Vacant, Stef got to go with her pick of this with this nihilistic classic. Try to stay seated while it plays, we dare you.
Everybody’s Happy Nowadays – Buzzcocks
A happy and fun punk anthem? It’s right here with our favorite Buzzcocks song (and I hear whispers of Supergrass in the chorus – an early influence perhaps?)
Hong Kong Garden – Siouxsie & the Banshees
The queen of punk/goth/emo, whatever label you pick. This fabulous female rocker had us singing, dancing and practicing eyeliner application though out our youth.
In The City – The Jam
Lucky Soo for seeing this band back in the day. One of my all time favorite songs to add some life into a party that’s slowing down.
Hateful – The Clash
Imo, the be all, end all of British punk; how can we pick just one? This might not be the first song you think of when you think of the Clash. But it’s one of Stef’s favorite songs ever and it rules (she has good taste).
Typical Girls – The Slits
We have to give up to these ladies that forged a path for themselves in the early world of punk. Hard, yet pretty at the same time and sprinkled with the reggae sound so influential in Brit punk.
Alternative Ulster – Stiff Little Fingers
Somewhat overlooked pioneers (at least in America) of the punk scene. Their high-energy style and political leanings always made me think of them as a precursor of American hardcore/skate rock like the Dead Kennedys.
Teenage Kicks – The Undertones – performed by The Vibrators
Oh, I’m so sad iTunes doesn’t offer this classic Saturday night out anthem. Here’s the next best thing (and a shout out to a band that missed this list); we found a version of Teenage Kicks performed by The Vibrators.