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Top 10 British Punk Bands


Script written by Richard Bush All those anti-establishment, slip on your Doc Martens and say Oy! Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 British Punk Bands. For this list we are focussing on those groups integral to the punk rock movement, be it thanks to their unique, revolutionary style or simply for just raising hell whenever given the chance. So, move over Ramones, it’s the Brits turn! Special thanks to our user Freemantle_uk for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 British Punk Bands


All those anti-establishment, slip on your Doc Martens and say Oy!

Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 British Punk Bands. For this list we are focussing on those groups integral to the punk rock movement, be it thanks to their unique, revolutionary style or simply for just raising hell whenever given the chance. So, move over Ramones, it’s the Brits turn!

#10: The Adicts


Originally hailing as “Afterbirth & the Pinz”, this Ipswich-based, bowler hat-wearing group of rockers found success as The Adicts in the 80s, with a relatively tame style, lyrically anyway, with songs like “Chinese Takeaway” and “Songs of Praise”. An iconic dress sense inspired by the brutal droogs from “A Clockwork Orange” - and lead singer Keith “Monkey” Warren usually caked in clown make-up - “The Adicts” undoubtedly made a splash and produced some classic fist in the air punk anthems, with the likes of “Viva La Revolution” and “Bad Boy”. You’ve got to respect their theatrical commitment.

#9: Stiff Little Fingers


This band was the result and answer to the bitter Northern Ireland Conflict of the 70s. Bursting from Belfast to the tune of Jake Burns’ unmistakable angst-filled vocals, “Stiff Little Fingers” has one of the most rock-solid back catalogues in punk. But it’s the band’s first album “Inflammable Material” that is largely regarded as their finest work and is a 13-track middle finger that plays effortlessly from start to finish and opens with one of punk's greatest hits, “Suspect Device”. Along with other foot-tapping tunes like “Straw Dogs” and the controversial “Beirut Moon”, they’ve endured a long career that stays strong to this day, thanks to Jake Burns sticking with the band through thick and thin.

#8: The Jam


One of the most commercially-successful bands in this list, “The Jam” have resonated on multiple different platforms over the years, including general pop culture and film, thanks in part to timeless tunes like “A Town Called Malice” and the huge solo success of frontman Paul Weller aka The Modfather. They are probably one of the most polished punk bands ever, with their surprisingly debonair appearance on stage and wide net of influences, including prog rock, which many punk fans would turn their nose up at. Their style did become less synonymous with punk as the years went on, but there’s no doubt that they hold a significant place in the annals of the genre’s history.

#7: X-Ray Spex


Now this is a band that truly did claw out its own niche in the highly-populated punk zone. Whether it’s the sassy female vocals of Poly Styrene or the ear-blisteringly sweet sax riffs which hook you, Spex are sure to get you moving, be it with “The Day the World Turned Day-Glo” or “Art-I-Ficial”. Their debut album “Germfree Adolescents” is widely regarded as one of the most explosive punk albums ever - and it didn’t even feature the band's most popular single “Oh Bondage Up Yours!”. It’s baffling to think that even with a gut-wrenching debut tour de force like Germfree, the band took almost 20 years to release another album.

#6: The Adverts


Characterized by witty lyrics, prolific live performances and energetic frontman Tim Smith, or T.V. Smith as he was popularly known, “The Adverts” certainly made a mark. And there’s something about this band that’s hard to put your finger on, in a good way. They’re not quite as visceral as some bands, but they’re not as fluffy as others. Just listen to classics like “Gary Gilmore’s Eyes”, “One Chord Wonders” or pretty much anything off their first and only album “Crossing the Red Sea with the Adverts” and you’ll see what we mean. Unfortunately for the world of music, “The Adverts” were only on the scene from 1976 to 1979, but in their short stretch they did it all, from the John Peel sessions to supporting Iggy Pop.

#5: Crass


These guys aren't just a band, they’re an anarcho-punk brand. They personify everything to do with anti-conformism, from their uncouth ways of promoting their music - via graffiti and hoaxes like Thatchergate, look it up - to their instantly recognisable, iconic logo. And we haven't even talked about their music yet. 30 seconds of pretty much any of their tracks will have you bouncing off the walls ready for a mosh pit, especially “Have a Nice Day” and “Bloody Revolutions”. And with the band’s numerous different band members, each of their songs felt like it could take an erratic turn in a totally new direction at any time. Many will say that if you don’t recognise “The Crass” logo, then you don't know punk.

#4: Buzzcocks


It’s true, The “Buzzcocks” were quite ‘poppy’. And they knew it, and they owned it. Arguably the first pop-punk band ever, they managed to bridge the gap between overly commercialised, finger-clicking pop and anarchy-laced punk, with snappy chord riffing and hooks that came out of nowhere - and at the time, that was completely unparalleled. Songs like “Orgasm Addict” and “Ever Fallen in Love” proved that the “Buzzcocks” knew how to smash out an instant-classic. And in fact, their singles compilation album “Singles Going Steady” is largely regarded as one of the greatest punk albums of all time - and it’s a compilation album! They are the perfect example of how you can borrow tools from other genres and masterfully create something totally unique.

#3: The Damned


To many, “The Damned” are like the godfathers of punk, claiming the accolade of first ever punk single released, with “New Rose”, and album with “Damned, Damned, Damned”. But they were more than simply the first, with their unique gothic tone that would amp up to maximum punk rock overdrive at times and then plummet to somber, gloomy lows at others - all spearheaded by the bespoke vocals of Dave Vanian. Although their first album was as impactful as anything, it’s usually their third album “Machine Gun Etiquette” that sticks in the heads of fans for pure versatility. Even though they technically helped start the punk rock era, they were already very much ahead of it from the beginning.

#2: Sex Pistols


From the first time Johnny Rotten screamed “God Save the Queen”, they were halfway to becoming one of the most iconic bands not just in punk, but in musical history. The Sex Pistols spat in the face of conformists and have become a survival guide for anyone wanting to immerse themselves in punk, be it with their brilliantly on-topic and volatile tracks like “Anarchy in the UK” and “Bodies” or safety-pin garnished dress sense. From rebellious lip-raising bass player Sid Vicious to their distaste for the aforementioned “The Damned”, the “Sex Pistols” were a band you wouldn't mess with and have got more backroom stories than anyone. Ask the “Sex Pistols” who were the first punk band and see what happens. Go on, I dare you.

Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few honourable mentions.

Subhumans

The Ruts

Sham 69

#1: The Clash


To say “The Clash” had a shape-shifting musical journey is a bit of an understatement. Although early singles like “White Riot” and “Janie Jones” oozed the quintessential characteristics of punk rock, their later guitar riff-led tunes helped shape the direction of the growing genre - and it all hinged on their third album “London Calling”. This record opened up new doors that nobody even knew existed. Sure, similar to “The Jam” their music contorted and burst out of the constraints of pure punk rock, but they still stayed very much cemented in their anarchic roots and yet managed to incorporate elements of reggae, rockabilly and funk as time went on. They were integral to structuring the DNA in the evolution of punk, it’s as simple as that.
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