Featuring the Ramones, Patti Smith, The Modern Lovers and some undiscovered treats


SLASH, 1979

The short life and largely unnoticed death of Darby Crash (he committed suicide two days before John Lennon’s murder) gave LA punk its own doomed hero. Heroin-addicted and chaotic, however, isn’t the full story of the Germs. After the nagging simplicity of their debut single “Forming”, the leap into focused aggression made by the Joan Jett-produced (GI) (“Germs Incognito”) is huge. A band that matched its intensity with rugged lyricism (“What We Do Is Secret”), tracks like the deadly “Shut Down (Annihilation Man)” find the band staggering towards the sick blues later cultivated by The Gun Club and Nick Cave. JR


ZE, 1979

The sound of James Brown torturing a seagull, Buy epitomises the No Wave sound that dominated high-end post-punk discourse. Short and violent, it was the musical embodiment of the Contortions’ Cuban-heeled founder James Chance, a Milwaukee sax maniac who received his first music lessons from nuns and happened upon CBGB’s after coming to New York in an attempt to make it as a jazzman. Tired of the dead-eyed responses the Contortions received from SoHo loft smugsters, Chance gained a reputation for physical confrontation. “I just started slapping some of them,” he recalled. For a more sustained aural beating, try “Design To Kill” or “Contort Yourself”. JW


Dawn Of The Dickies
A&M, 1979

The LA cover version kings’ bad-taste orgy peaked with their second LP, featuring Sammy Davis Jr tribute “Where Did His Eye Go?” and a reading of The Moody Blues’ “Nights In White Satin”, issued as a single in a superbly crass Ku Klux Klan sleeve. Sharp-witted for all of their dimbo reputation, things went dark for the Dickies; keyboard player Chuck Wagon shot himself in 1981, and singer Leonard Graves Phillips recalled: “I was strung out on drugs – all of us were – and we just sat in front of a TV for about seven years.” JW

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