The year Punk exploded

Thursday 9th March 2017

The Damned live at the Hope & Anchor, 01/01/77. Photograph by John Ingham

1977, a year that will forever be associated with punk. It invaded the charts, the television, the newspapers and even the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.

Throughout 2017 many acts celebrate their Ruby anniversary with tours, new music and special edition re-releases of classic albums.

Many albums released in 1977 helped change the landscape of rock n roll, and are now often cited as some of the greatest albums of all time. We revisit the year punk exploded, and reflect on some of its most important releases – most of which continue to have a lasting impact on music to this day.

Buzzcocks, 1976. Photograph by Phil Mason

Spiral Scratch EP

This self-released bootleg is the only release to feature founding member and original lead vocalist Howard Devoto, who days after its release left the band to form the post-punk outfit Magazine.

This was one of the first self-released records of its time. The band were responsible for everything, from sleeve design to distribution.

Buzzcocks Mk1 Box is released by Domino on 10th March 2017, containing Vinyl, CD and download codes for the 'Spiral Scratch EP' and 'Time's Up!' a live session recorded in October 1976. Also included is reprinted ephemera of the time (flyers, photos, posters, badges, zines etc). Pre-order it here.

No More Heroes / Rattus Norvegicus

In April '77 The Stranglers released their debut album 'Rattus Norvegicus', followed up a mere 5-months later with second album 'No More Heroes'.

Both albums performed well in the charts with ‘Rattus’ eventually going platinum. The singles ‘Peaches’, 'No More Heroes' and 'Something Better Change' all went top 10 in the UK, and continue to be enduring punk staples.

The Stranglers are currently on tour celebrating the Ruby anniversary of both these albums. Tour and ticket details can be found at www.thestranglers.net.

The Clash

The eponymous debut from The Clash is an album that embodies the spirit of punk. Frantic and intense, whilst also dealing with a wide range of social and political issues - class, race, sex, (un)employment and Americanisation.

Later releases saw the band experiment with elements of different genres such as rockabilly, soul, reggae and ska, but ‘The Clash’ arguably remains their most punk record.

The Damned, Rat Scabies' drumkit 01/01/1977. Photograph by John Ingham 1977

Damned Damned Damned

Following the release 'New Rose' in 1976 – considered by many to be the first British punk single - The Damned released their debut album 'Damned Damned Damned' in February of 1977. Widely thought of as the first British punk album, we recently looked at the iconic LP in more depth here.

Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The...

A genuinely iconic album that documents the sound of British youth in 1977 - angry, disaffected and disenfranchised. Managed by Malcolm Mclaren and styled by Vivienne Westwood, the band made punk a nationwide movement by fusing their music with the intimidating street-fashion of the genre.

Wire in 1977, photograph by Anette Green

Pink Flag

Whilst not as well-known as some releases on this list, 'Pink Flag' is an influential debut album from the London quartet, noticeably influencing hardcore punk acts.

Wire's subsequent albums moved away from the more classic punk stylings of 'Pink Flag' and they became key figures in the development of the art-punk and post-punk genres.

Continuing to make music today, Wire’s 15th studio album 'Silver/Lead' is released 31st March 2017. Find out ticket and tour information at www.pinkflag.com

By 1977, the American punk scene had been developing for quite some time. Proto-punk artists such as the Stooges, MC5, Patti Smith and the New York Dolls were releasing music, whilst CBGB opened in New York’s East Village. This legendary venue gave NYC’s native punk scene a platform to flourish.

Blank Generation

Richard Hell was heavily involved in the punk scene in and around New York in the ‘70s. His most notable contribution is one of the scene’s undisputed anthems - ‘Blank Generation’.

A rework of the ‘50s song ‘The Beat Generation’ (written by Rod McKuen, performed by Bob McFadden & Dor), ‘Blank Generation’ had been written during Hell’s time in Television and was performed since. It became best known as the title track to the 1977 album by Richard Hell & The Voidoids.


Another of Richard Hell’s bands, Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers formed after Hell left Television. The band consisted of Hell alongside Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan - formally of the New York Dolls. Hell’s tenure in the Heartbreakers was brief, he left to form the Voidoids in 1976.

‘L.A.M.F’ (Like A Mother F***er) is an album famed for its mastering difficulty, over 250 mixes exist of the songs, which has led to an almost perpetual remixing, remastering re-release of the album.

Leave Home / Rocket To Russia

The Ramones are yet another band to release two albums in 1977, 'Leave Home' in January, and 'Rocket to Russia' in November.

Pioneers of the genre, their image and style personified punk. Musically the raw, fast, aggressive rock n roll they played literally set the pace for other punk acts to follow.

With the explosion of punk-rock peaking in 1977, bands were already developing the sound, pushing the genre by experimenting with various techniques. At the time this developing sound was referred to as 'New Musick', but has since become known as post-punk.

An umbrella term, post-punk covers all the ensuing subgenres and forms of punk that followed. This includes new wave, art-punk, indie, noise rock, neo-psychedelia to name but a few.

In The City / This Is The Modern World

The Jam shared many attributes with their punk contemporaries - youthful discontent, political dissatisfaction and enough anger to shout about it. The band were however stylistically more associated with new wave. They embraced many elements from 1960s music and culture - most notably the fashion, which would later have them spearheading the mod revival. Alongside several of their contemporaries, The Jam also released two albums in 1977. 

The Idiot / Lust For life

The first two critically acclaimed solo albums released by Iggy Pop following the breakup of The Stooges were written and recorded in collaboration with David Bowie during his iconic Berlin trilogy era.

Did punk Start with The Stooges?

Marquee Moon

Involved in the New York music scene around CBGB's during the ‘70s, Television were able to make more experimental music following the departure of Richard Hell. The band took a more avant-garde approach to punk, taking in inspirations such as free jazz and 1960s art rock.

Their debut album 'Marquee Moon' is often cited as one of the most important releases of 1977. Its originality had a clear impact on the new wave and indie scenes that would follow.

Talking Heads: 77

The acclaimed debut from the Talking Heads was way ahead of its time.

A record which embraces 1960s pop hooks and structure, whilst still retaining enough sparseness, experimentation and impulsive musical elements to be considered as inspired by punk. Now thought of as one of the first new wave albums.

My Aim Is True

Angry at the establishment, but without embracing anarchy. Elvis Costello was punk in essence, with a healthy dose of self-deprecation coupled with a penchant for ‘50s rock n roll style.

After 7 years on the circuit, Stiff Records put out this debut which became a firm entry in the beginnings of new wave.

1977: The year Punk exploded

Our recommended further listening from the year:

Ian Dury - New Boots & Panties
The Runaways - Queens Of Noise
Dead Boys - Young, Loud & Snotty
The Boys - The Boys
Suicide - Suicide
The Vibrators - Pure Mania


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