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Top 10 Punk Rock Songs from 1977 (or thereabouts)

As a follow up to his 40th Anniversary of punk article, Nick Sheppard lists his Top 10 Punk Songs from the year that stated it all. 

1: 1977 – The Clash

Obvious… I prefer this to the A-side, White Riot. As Paul Simenon said a while back, “the lyrics don’t say No Beatles, Elvis or The Kinks…” We (The Cortinas) were really into the whole ‘60s Yardbirds/Kinks/Stones/Pretty Things thing, so this made a lot of sense – the perfect upgrade! machine-gun guitar and a great lyric… mind you, I could have picked anything off the first Clash album.

2: Action Time And Vision – ATV

My favourite punk band. Formed by Mark Perry, who also wrote the first UK punk fanzine, Sniffin’ Glue, and signed The Cortinas to Step Forward. Sharp, clever, brilliantly arranged. I think this came out in ’78. You Bastard. Love Lies Limp. Life After Life. All brilliant!

3: Roadrunner – The Modern Lovers

Everyone did this at rehearsal! A fantastic Velvets-style love song to the Highway. ‘I’m in love with rock’n’roll… and I’m a Roadrunner’. All garage/punk sounds from the ‘60s distilled into an edgy, nervous groove that still sounds modern.

4: Bodies – The Sex Pistols

Talk about still sounding modern – Never Mind The Bollocks is an incredible record, and again, I could have included any track. Bodies is the one though – terrifyingly good! Lydon’s scream, Steve Jones’ guitar (and bass, I expect) and Paul Cook – Paul Cook!

5: Rockaway Beach – The RamonesThe Ramones go to the beach! Surf punk! From Rocket To Russia, the band’s third album, and my favourite. You can hear their sound has been sharpened up, and this song leaps out of the gate. Summertime Blues guitar riff amped up to 11 – this is pure pop; which, of course, is all the band ever aspired to.

6: Chinese Rocks – The Heartbreakers

Co-written by Johnny Thunders and Dee Dee Ramone. The original punk’n’oll group. There’s a thing JT did when he played guitar, a wail of frustration, a glam rock scream that I’ve heard no one else come close to. These guys arrived in London at the tail end of ’76 to play on the ill-fated Pistols package tour. They were amazing live. They also had bad habits…

7: Another Girl Another Planet – The Only Ones

Speaking of bad habits… is this punk? Ex-members of Spooky Tooth? My mates’ guitar teacher from Bristol? A Hendrix steal? A love song to heroin… I don’t know or care; it’s brilliant!

8: Rich Kids – The Rich Kids

Glen Matlock, Midge Ure, Rusty Egan and Steve New – the ones that got away… blinding guitar solo at the end of this track. Just as sharp as you like, this band; Steve New, their guitarist, was introduced to me as ‘The Future’.

9: Babylon’s Burning – The Ruts

My favourite punk/reggae mash up – The Ruts managed to extrapolate the space and atmosphere of dub without co-opting the rhythms. They made great rock music, full of dread, and singer Malcolm Owen had a great voice.

10: The Cortinas – Defiant Pose

Our best work! I really like this song. Its origins are the Mission Impossible theme… I like everything about it, from the magnet scraped across my guitar strings at the beginning, right down to the chant at the end. What really blows me away these days is the guitar solo by Mike Fewings; it’s inventive, soulful, beautifully concise and played by a 17-year-old! I’m still trying to play as well.

So that’s 10 tracks – there are loads more, obviously. I’ve done a playlist on Spotify… and I’ll play a load this on Friday, September 15, at Babushka; you’re welcome to come up and annoy me with requests for your favourites!