The Sex Pistols may have cheerfully sang “No future for you” back in 1977. But in the ’80s, an entire generation lived in fear that America and Russia would lob nuclear warheads at each other, making for a really MAD time. It’s only fitting that as American politics got more conservative, the underground would dig in its heels in protest. It’s no surprise that the best punk albums of 1984 would be leaner, meaner and even weirder than ever.
This APTV video runs down some of the essential titles that marked an emotionally charged and musically fertile year. Going to the local independent record store was a weekly excursion for a lot of people. It was noted by more than a few magazines that the best music of a generation was not being played on the radio, barring college stations. (Now that we think about it, that pronouncement was only partially true. We would never, ever dis this genius.)
The passage of time is always a great arbiter of what denotes a “classic.” This list of punk albums from 1984 holds up as a snapshot of the times. Plenty of era-defining bands released massively influential works that year. Those are records that continue to radiate heat decades later. The video also reconsiders the work of rock ‘n’ rollers who inadvertently created a decidedly anti-punk movement. On the collector tip, there’s an international compilation album that effectively proved that punk and hardcore were no fleeting fads. Also of note was the revered soundtrack to what may have been the first punk movie. In some culture-starved areas of America, said soundtrack may have been the first (and only) punk album your hometown record store carried.
Four years ago, practically every long-in-the-tooth punk rocker was saying how a Republican in the White House would resuscitate punk rock to its former glory. There’s a good chance that they own most (if not all) of the punk albums of 1984 on this list. It was the year the mood of the country and the noise of the underground embraced for some cauterizing culture.