Flashback Friday: 'More Punk Than You'll Ever Be' Playlist!

The Adverts - Gary Gilmore's Eyes

We Americans live in a world where most folks know three old school punk bands (Clash, Pistols, Ramones), but in the UK, bands like The Adverts were having Top 40 hits with songs like "Gary Gilmore's Eyes".  Gilmore, of course, was a Texas native who committed two murders in Utah and became the first person to be put to death in the U.S. in ten years.  His last dying wish was for his eyes to be committed to science, becoming the subject of The Adverts' debut single for Anchor Records.

Squeeze - Cat On A Wall 

Back before Squeeze were known as UK pop traditionalists, they were a brash punk band famous for vomiting onstage.  Ok, that's actually not true, but they did put out a single on Miles Copeland's Deptford Fun City Records label in 1977 that had all the immediacy of the best punk records of the time.  A-side "Cat On A Wall" was one of the few highlights of the band's shortlived association with John Cale, who forced the band to do away the material they had prepared for their sessions with the Velvet Underground alumnus and come up with something more immediate.

Boomtown Rats - Lookin' After No. 1

Back in '77, the Boomtown Rats were just another six-piece punk band with a keyboardist and dreams of infiltrating the mainstream.  With a relatively unknown producer by the name of Robert John "Mutt" Lange, who would go on to produce blockbuster albums for the likes of AC/DC, Foreigner, The Cars and Def Leppard, the Rats cut their first album, which, for the most part, sticks to the "faster and louder" punk aesthetic of the time.

Chelsea - I'm On Fire

After having his original band (including Billy Idol and Tony James) abandon him to form Generation X, Gene October quickly reassembled the Chelsea line-up that recorded this classic single.  Of curse, guitarist James Stevenson would later quit the band to, you guessed it, join Generation X, but for one shining moment, Chelsea were one of the tightest, most propulsive punk bands on the scene.

Stiff Little Fingers - Alternative Ulster

For all the anti-establishment punk rock mayhem taking place in Britain in the late '70s, one couldn't help notice that bands like the Sex Pistols and The Clash were signed to humongous corporate entities like EMI and CBS, but Stiff Little Fingers were the first UK punk band to break the Top 20 while signed to an indie label, Rough Trade, who issued the band's debut album Inflammable Material, which sold over 100,000 copies.

Sham 69 - If The Kids Are United

Led by singer Jimmy Pursey, Sham 69  became Top 10 hitmakers in the UK with this undeniably potent punk anthem that would become the first of three Top 10 smashes (the other two being "Hurry Up Harry" and "Hersham Boys") after inking to Polydor Records.  The song was produced by Peter Wilson, who would go on to work with Paul Weller's band The Jam and Style Council.

The Damned - I Feel Alright

First-wave punks The Damned released their exhiliratingly potent debut effort, produced by Nick Lowe, on Feb 18, '77 (guitarist Brian James' 22nd birthday).  The album is a virtual greatest hits of early punk, including Damned staples "Neat Neat Neat", "Fan Club", and "New Rose".  The real crown jewel appears at the end of the album in the form of their retitled cover of Iggy & The Stooges "1970", which they renamed "I Feel Alright".

X-Ray Spex - Art-I-Ficial

Nothing further illustrates the dichotomy between the UK's embrace of punk in the late '70s and the US music industry's inability to capitalize than the fact that the brilliant debut album by X-Ray Spex was re-issued in the UK in 2009 as a Deluxe Edition while here in the US, the album has never even been released.  While the band achieved their greatest success with the song "Oh Bondage, Up Yours", songs like "Art-I-Ficial" would influence bands like Siouxsie & The Banshees and the Go-Go's.

The Slits - So Tough

While UK punk band The Flowers Of Romance are famed for including Sid Vicious, Marco Pirroni (Adam And The Ants), Keith Levene (Public Image, Ltd.), and Viv Albertine (The Slits) they never performed live or released any material.  "So Tough", a son Albertine wrote while in the band, was later included on The Slits' debut album, Cut.  The song is groundbreaking for its reggae overtones, a stylistic aspect made famous by The Clash and The Police, among others.

The Professionals - 1 - 2 - 3

Yeah, yeah, The Professionals are deemed a crock because they came after the Sex Pistols broke up, but the truth of the matter is that Steve Jones and Paul Cook were the musical backbone of the Pistols.  Without 'em, the Pistols wouldn't have happened at all.  Penned by Jones, "1-2-3" packs the same guitar-heavy punch as his best work in the Pistols and was set to establish this new act as UK hit makers.  Unfortunately, after itjust missed the UK Top 40, the band got into a prolonged royalty dispute with bassist Andy Allen that led them to scrap their entire first album, which would go unreleased until 1990.

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