Kiss Me, Killer guitarist David lists a few of his favourite punk tunes in no particular order.
From the Cradle to the Grave – [SUB][HUM][ANS]
After buying of those bumper punk compilations as a 13 year old for no money I was looking for more. Taunton’s Our Price offered up a cassette, which cost £3 and from the monochromatic cover was either going to be punk or metal so I took a punt.
Firing up the Walkman wondering what I’d bought blind was an experience. This wasn’t the Clash or the Stranglers but something altogether more potent. By the time the 16 minute title track was through I felt a bit shaken up, as in ‘What just happened’?
While a classic of the anarcho-punk genre the album has catchy riffs to burn, tunes, and in places a sort of towering gothic quality that really sets it apart. It really expanded my idea of what punk music could be. Cherry on the cake was finding the Subhumans were from the West Country too.
The Nuns – Wild
The first thing I heard from this San Fran/New York band was the complication 4 Nights in a Hotel Room, which I scored for a few quid in an Edinburgh Fopp. Combining the raw power of the early Californian scene with streetwise New York sass the band comes across like Blondie’s evil twin sister turned up to 11 with the band’s Jennifer Milo’s blonde hair and immaculate punk chic drawing obvious comparisons with Debbie Harry.
The compilation offered up songs referencing political concerns, S&M, and grindhouse-style insights into the sleazy underbelly of American street life, often all at the same time. Kiss Me, Killer covers the band’s Do you want me on my knees?
Alynwick and Tyne – Blyth Power
Blyth Power make fellow 90s folk punkers The Levellers look like Foster and Allen. I happened across the band due to learning of singer/drummer Joseph Porter’s connections to Zounds and The Mob so soon started exploring the back catalogue. Porter’s poetical lyrics were full of historical allusions and they even had a song about Castle Cary, which was just up the road. While much of the Blyth Power albums were a quite poorly recorded, the album Alynwick and Tyne combined stellar songs with a more polished production. Lord of the Isles, Under a Sea Wind, Alnwick and Tyne and Right Hand Man are standout tracks while the album contains that best song ever written about the world’s greatest sport, Better to Bat. Howzat 10cc?
The Blyth Power lineup on the album featured a young Jamie Hince, who went on to form hipster duo The Kills and marry Kate Moss. So there you go, kids, if you want to be urban, sophisticated and marry a supermodel it doesn’t hurt to play a bit of anarcho-punk. They are divorced now, though.
Leatherface – Springtime
Leatherface were one of the few punk bands to emerge during my youth that remain firm favorites. The rough-hewn Tynesiders served up Frankie Stubbs’s gravelly vocals, ferociously played Gordon Smith guitars, and distorted Marshall amps yet the band somehow managed at times to sound strikingly beautiful. While not a massive commercial success, the album Mush, from which Springtime is taken, managed to partially cross over into the mainstream, its fuzzy melodies appealing to fans of 90s alternative rock and a huge influence on much bigger bands and appeared on various Best of… lists in the music press.
Zounds – True Love
The classic Curse of Zounds is rightly considered a landmark of anarcho-punk but it’s actually full of slightly gothic storming pop tunes. One of my favorite of these is the emotional angst of True Love.
Death – Politicians in my eyes
Death is a band that’s come to be seen as a real progenitor of punk rock in recent years. Hailing from Detroit, Michigan in the 70s by brothers Bobby (bass, vocals), David (guitar), and Dannis (drums) Hackney the band moved a psychedelic funk sound towards a stripped down early punk vibe. Think The Meters go punk and you’re about there. 1974 album …For the Whole World is now rightly seen as a classic, Politicians in my Eyes a standout.
Alice Donut – American Lips
When I was a teen I’d listen to pretty much anything put out by Alternative Tentacles and one of these bands was Alice Donut. My favourite track of theirs is American Lips, which is a sort of punky reimagining of something like REM’s End of the World as We Know it or Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start the Fire. It pretty much sums up contemporary America in a nutshell.
The Pagans – What’s This Shit Called Love?
At some point I started to branch off from the Dead Kennedys and began binging on as much early US punk as I could get my ears on. One band I discovered were from Cleveland, Ohio and called the Pagans. This is my favourite song of theirs – features a guitar so scuzzed-up it barely sounds like a guitar anymore. Pure punk.
CRASS – Big A, Little A
Another ‘hairs on the back of your neck’ song when you first hear it in your mispent yoof. Big A Little A is a brutal assault on against government, the royals and then still powerful religion. It’s a song where every lyric hits home perfectly. There’s there’s a real catchiness to it too, something which CRASS sometimes lacked.