What a year 1987 was! Ronald Reagan was all all up in the Iran-Contra affair, but his Teflon psyche made sure none of the backlash stuck to him. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher brought uptight conservative rule to the U.K. for a third term. Ted Kaczynski (aka the Unabomber) came to notoriety as a domestic terrorist figure. But who were the punks up in arms over? Why, the specter of the rick-roll, of course. Not like any of these things had any real influence on the tracks that would make up the best punk albums of 1987.
The best punk albums of 1987 usually fell in one of two camps. The first was a greater emphasis on melody. If the guitarists had distortion pedals the size of toasters, you could still call the music “pop punk.” (Keep in mind how radically different that term was in ’87 versus how it was perceived in say, 2007.) The other camp was all about noise and how much torture you could inflict on your favorite guitar. Even better if you were able to write songs around the maelstroms.
Some of our favorite punk albums of 1987 come from far-flung parts of the planet. Australia ranks high with three crucial entries. (Two of which are still operating today, while the other’s tracks should be on all your playlists.) There’s a Swedish outfit so vastly underrated, you’ll be demanding a reunion tour in the hopes to witness their fury. There’s a great degree of rawness to all of them, which doesn’t prohibit the hooks from reaching your head. The releases by two American bands who brandished guitars as merciless sound weapons are here. And they still pack a wallop somewhere between a cinderblock crashing through your windshield or a prizefighter who doesn’t like you looking at their honey.
By then, hardcore felt fully played-out. But the twin ascendance of pop fury and noise rock continued to be the dominant punk story that year. These are the best punk albums of 1987. Your minimum daily requirements may vary. But we promise you that no settling has occurred in these white-hot recordings.