top 10 obscure punk songs
top 10 obscure punk songs
top 10 obscure punk songs
top 10 obscure punk songs

1. ATV ‘Action Time Vision’

Ok it’s not a total punk obscurity but it’s one of those great songs that somehow slipped through the cracks. For me it should have been up there with the Pistols and the Clash as one of the great anthems of the period. If you had to describe punk to someone and wanted to do it quickly this is the single to do it with. It has the sound, the attitude and the lyrical smarts to tell you everything you need to know.

2. The Fits ‘Tears Of A Nation’

I grew up with the Fits in Blackpool and when this came out we were all totally gob smacked, before they had been a good punk band but this was another level. A classic song that sums up all the frustration of growing up in a small town with a slow burning fuse of a riff and brilliant impassioned vocals.

3. Dr Mix and the Remix ‘No Fun’

Rising from the ashes of the key French punk band Metal Urbain, Dr Mix And The Remix took the highly influential Metal Urbain approach to music that influenced everyone from Steve Albini to Jesus And The Mary Chain and ran with it, it pissed a lot of people off and there were talk of riots at gigs but their recorded legacy stands the test of time.

4. Grrr

Dutch punks whose mainman was the brother of Terrie from the Ex, their sole release this ten inch single was always a big favourite round my house, clanking grinding punk rock noise with a great atmosphere and twisted imagination.

5. Crime ‘Hotwire My Heart’

Arguably the best of the pre hardcore American punk bands (not counting Dead Kennedys and Da Ramones) Crime were San Francisco punks who dressed sharp and made great stripped down punk. They told Seymour Stein that the Ramones were peace-loving hippies who should cut their hair. They used images of Hitler on show flyers and were banned from innumerable venues as a result. They refused to play a show unless they were headlining (because according to them all other bands were worthless). Crime were too good to last and inevitably, they fell apart. Sonic Youth once covered this song.

6. Flipper ‘Generic’ album

Ugly noise skree and nihilistic dirges- Flipper understood that part of punk was to piss everyone off, their neo psychedelic punk skree still sounds genius. Pretty mental stuff.

7. Crisis ‘UK 78’

In the wake of punk everyone had a go and there was a glut of amazing singles. Crisis were darkly political and made great snotty punk. They eventually morphed into Death In June.

8. Void ‘Who Are You’

Void are the great lost band of American hardcore. Their music sounds as filthily energetic and angry as when it was released on Dischord all those years ago.

9 Badgewearer ‘N’laien head’

They came a decade after punk but the fire was definitely not dimmed. Part of the non-aligned Death To Trad rock scene of bands Badgewearer made brilliant discordant noise.

10. Metal Urbain ‘Paris Maquis’

They were influenced by the Sex Pistols and took it to another level with added levels of noise and weirdness and created their own style of punk which has had a lasting influence on the noise underground.

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. Got ATV, Flipper, Crisis, Metal Urbain, Dr Mix and Crisis – all great. Pity Crisis morphed from a socialist band to Death in June who were fascist

  2. Glad to see Crisis in this list, John! Great band! I have all their 7″ singles, and even hunted down a copies of Hymns of Faith (mini-LP) and a (fanclub CD copy of) We Are All Jews and Germans.

    Maybe they are slighlty less obscure, but I might also add The Outcasts ‘Justa Nother Teenage Rebel’, and Anti Pasti – Four Sore Points EP. Oh, and Today’s Kidz / There’s Something Wrong by Last Words.

    Good stuff, thanks, Toby

  3. Nothing beats the transcendent miasma of the Electric Eels’ “Agitated” b/w “Cyclotron,” dredged from the swamp of Humankind’s collective unconscious like Marion Crane’s car in “Psycho.” No.1 on God’s Top Ten!

    Also, the Model Citizens EP on SPY Records, produced by John Cale. Their only recorded legacy and worthy of rediscovery.

  4. Swedish band The Rude Kids had a fantastic single called “Absolute Ruler” You can find it on YouTube & I recommend you have a listen cos it’s a killer!

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  12. I had a Beggars Banquet compilation LP called “Streets”,many years ago. Artwork by Savage Pencil(a bit of an obscurity himself!?) Cant remember the exact line up but it was the likes of The Lurkers,Slaughter+ The Dogs,JCC etc…Maybe not obscure in the sense of your article,but can I fuck find a copy anywhere today!!

    • Theres a copy on ebay atm


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