The 10 Most Influential Punk Records of Arizona
This obsession with lists is overwhelming at times. Full disclosure, not a fan, unless it rankles someone somewhere or serves some sort of purpose I can get behind. I enjoy irritating people almost as much as I enjoy making people feel good and I can live with the dichotomy. Perhaps someone should make a list of my peccadillos, but I digress. This particular list is way more important, at least to me.
The goal here, at least at first, was to come up with a list of the best punk rock records to come out of Arizona. With so many awesome bands over the years, and so many good recordings to choose from, how could you come up with just 10? Or 20? The first challenge that faced me is the reality about our weird music scene and its amalgamation of genres, sounds, and styles. I had to come to grips with the fact many of the bands I love and have been part of this scene are not purely punk. In reality, they are so much more.
Case in point, Seven Storey Mountain. I loved them. Visceral, powerful, and beautifully raw, but not punk. Someday I will write about them, and others like them, but not now.
Phoenix's late, great Blanche Davidian
For me, punk started with two records. Sex Pistols' Never Mind the Bollocks and the amazing compilation of songs from the film, Decline of Western Civilization, which featured X, the Germs, Fear, and many others.
Two friends of mine, Kevin and Mark Banderet, introduced me to these late in the summer of 1982 as I was about to enter eighth grade. What I didn't know at the time was that punk had existed here in town for several years prior to my discovery of it and, from what I've learned, was in the process of dying its first round of deaths. I had no idea about bands like the Liars, the Consumers, the Exterminators, and the Feederz. I was aware of JFA, of course, as all relatively hip junior high kids were, but I had not heard them yet. The saddest thing was that I had no idea there were shows you could go to and see these bands in person on a somewhat regular basis.
But this is no pity party.
The conclusion I came to, dear reader, the conclusion to which I cling is there is not a "10 Best Arizona Punk Records" list to write, but there are 10 (maybe 11) records that are the most influential. Cop out? Probably, and again, in the spirit of full disclosures (of which there may be many), a lot of the folks I'm going to write about are now my friends and peers, but they are also the people, at least locally, who inspired me and countless others to grab a microphone, then later a bass, and join in the fray. They deserve to be written about because they rock, or rocked, in some cases, since some of these musicians no longer play music and some of them no longer breathe.
Initially, I went to the people (power to the people, as always) to find out what they thought were the 10 best Arizona punk rock records. There is a little website called Facebook which attracts the best and brightest, so back in April or May, I put out a question to folks I thought would have an opinion on the matter. There were several albums almost everyone mentioned and some only a few people brought up, and even a few I played on -- but I can't write about myself, now can I? A couple of recent things that are really, really good came up, like Gay Kiss' monument to noise and hardcore, Fault, and Blanche Davidian's Attack of the Killer, but as I mulled it over and over, the most influential and probably the best albums to come out of Arizona were all done in the late '70s and early '80s.
I have given each album a ranking from one to 10, so there will be much to gripe about. The rankings are mine and mine only, based on the musicianship, the pure punkness they possess, and how much they absolutely rock. The beauty of records like these, and the lessons they primarily taught me, is how they encourage independent thought and to "bow to no man."
Over the next several weeks, we will reveal the order of these 10 most influential Arizona punk records, counting down from 10 to the one, and present an in-depth look at each album, including interviews with band members and/or those involved with the production. For now, here's a look at the albums that will populate the list. Feel free to give your own ranking in the comments.
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