Punk rock music is said to have more than one origin. Of course, we think of cities like New York, Los Angeles, Seattle and San Francisco. But, the UK is also known to have been a hotbed for punk music and culture when the genre was still forming. Many younger people in the late '70s/early '80s living in blue collar towns in England, Scotland and Ireland became disenfranchised from society. It is these sentiments of alienation, anger and frustration with organized religion, and a corrupt political form of government, plus the dead ends of the working class and youthful rebellion that forged the birth of punk in the UK. In our eyes, there's a group of bands who embody the true ferocity and spirit of the country's punk roots. We now present out our list of The 10 Best UK punk bands.
Conflict are an English anarchist, anti-police brutality, anti-capitalist, animal rights, anti-government, punk band, with a heavy sound that was fast, and very aggressive, anthemic and perfect for angry kids to get drunk, slam dance and sing along to. Conflict always have taken pride in being the people's punk band and were a huge inspiration for crust, grind and d-beat and power violence bands all over the world in the years to follow. Through the underground tape trading, word of mouth and bootleg recordings, and now with the generation of the Internet and music online, the band's spirit and urgency also lives on into this Century and continues to inspire pissed off kids everywhere to form rock bands.
Cock Sparrer was a band formed on the ethics of the working class people in England. Sounding somewhat like a punk rock version of AC/DC, the band formed in the mid 1970s, and were among the first bands who paved the way for hardccore, street punk and Oi movements that would follow. In 2012, the band celebrated its 40th anniversary, and still perform concerts to this day. Although they never achieved commercial success on a massive level, they are regarded by musicians and critics alike as one of the most influential punk rock bands.
These long time British anarcho punk pacifists have been cited as an influence by bands like Anthrax, Metallica, Death Angel and many more. The band was born in 1977, and leaves a living musical legacy that has inspired so many doom, grind, crust and even death metal bands. Discharge are regarded by many as band that helped form the template for heavy metal, in both the musical sound and lyrical themes, focusing on the death, destruction and horror of war. The classic album, Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing (1982) is a staple among fans of punk and heavy music.
Formed in Birmingham, England, this was a band of street punk innovators. In addition to their fast, aggressive sound, liberty spikes, mohawks, and leather jackets, they exuded a threatening street attitude with the musical chops to to back it up. The band's debut album City Baby Attacked By Rats (1982) is a classic of old school Gritty UK punk and served as a predecessor to street punk, new school punk bands like NOFX, Pennywise and The Offspring, and even thrash metal bands to follow with a sped up, raw, and beefed up sound. Over the last three decades, and counting, GBH has amassed a legion of fans all over the world, including Japan, and all throughout Europe and the U.S.
Formed by vocalist Wattie Bucahn in 1979, this Scottish political punk band is still going strong, despite many line up changes over the decades, with Buchan remaining in the mix. With a sound and style that is often cited as inspirational to heavy metal/hardcore bands like Sepultura, SOD, Destruction, Agnostic Front many more. The band's very aggressive stance against corrupt systems of religion, government, and wars for profit around the world remained constant over the years, and have made them respected by punks, thrashers and metal heads alike. With eight albums spanning the past three decades, the band's classic works includes Punks Not Dead (1981) and Troops of Tomorrow (1982) and the more crossover/thrash metal sounding Death Before Dishnour (1987). In 2014, Buhcan was on tour with the Exploited, along with Hatebreed and Napalm Death when he had a heart attack on stage. But, despite these health problems, he had a surgery, recovered and is now working on new music with the Exploited.
This English band might not have been the first political anarchist punk band to form, but they were a band that brought it the music to new levels of fury, non-conformity, rebellion against oppression, and political awareness. Formed in 1980 with a sound that was fast as Hell, the band's hardcore punk sound was solidified by vocalist Dick Lucas. His lyrics often lamented against corrupt governments, religious hypocrisy and endless wars. The band's pivotal dystopian album, The Day The Country Died (1982) is based on Orwell's 1984 and is an aggressive musical statement against Big Brother's hold on contemporary society. Still supplying slam dancers world wide with a reason to move, the band rages on to this day, preserving a legacy of anti establishment punk alive.
Known by many as a band that fused rapid power chord energy of punk and the melody of pop, the music of the Buzzcocks was well ahead of its time. With a melodic sense of urgency, dripping with frustration and sexuality, the band was formed by guitarist-songwriter Pete Shelley and singer Howard Devoto, in 1976. With the timeless hit punk rock singles, "Orgasm Addict," and "What Do I Get?," the band's sense of musicianship, and songwriting craftsmanship shone through on their early albums from the late '70s. But the band has never really faded into oblivion, constantly creating new music over the past few decades and keeping their sound alive to fans of both older and younger generations with their blend of mild love songs and punk music, that was a huge influence on so many pop punk, alternative and indie rock bands to come.
If there's one band whose logo remained ingrained in punk culture long after their breakup, it's Crass. It's a striking black and white mish-mash of ancient and modern symbols–a Christian cross, the Union Jack, the Swastika and two snakes devouring each others' tails and whatever else people might see in it if they look close enough. The band were a punk and art collective formed in 1977 by Steve Ignorant and Penny Rimbaud. The lineup of eight core members also included artist Gee Vaucher, vocalists Eve Libertine and Joy De Vivre, guitarists N.A. Palmer and Phil Free as well as bassist Pete Wright. By the'80s, Crass was using street art, film, music, poetry and pranks to promote their serious message wrapped in subversive humor with one mantra: The government and the system are no good for you and me, which drew plenty of fire from Margaret Thatcher and Parliament who saw the band as an absolute nuisance. The controversial band put out 6 LPs before splitting up in 1984 which they'd previously intended. Today the band and their logo are synonymous with anarchro-pacifist ideologies.
As pioneering force in the goth/punk movement, the band formed in London, in 1976. Often cited as s highly influential to both punk and goth bands, The Damned are sometimes overlooked when compared to Sex Pistols or The Clash. Comprised of original members, guitarist Captain Sensible and vocalist Dave Vanian, The Damned were the first UK punk band to release a single, release an album, and tour the US in the late '70s. The band was also the first band to break up, then eventually reunite. The Damned mixes musical gloom, catchy hooks, an up beat sound, with wild on stage antics and romanticism to cement a sound based on both the slightly macabre and a poppy sense of punk angst. With a fluid but ever changing line up, the band has survived the musical landscape of the late '70s, early '80s, through the '90s and into the 21st century, with Sensible and Vanian remaining, as original members. The band has toured with everyone from the Sex Pistols and UK Subs, to Motorhead.
The Adicts got their start 35 years ago in Ipswich, England. As one of the longest running punk bands with an all original line up, the band have withstood the test of time still touring to this day. They often heavily saturate the Southern California tour circuit each year. The Adicts is made of vocalist 'Monkey,' Pete Dee and Scruff on guitar, Kid Dee on drums, and Little Dave on bass. They're known for a style derived from the classic novel/movie A Clockwork Orange with clown make up, beachballs, glitter, bubbles, colorful retro clothes and loud, fast, but melodic punk rock youthfulness, which has ensured the band isn't going to slowing down anytime soon. The passion included in all Adicts live sets is immense. Most concerts by the band include the use of confetti, dancing, and tons of hot girls on stage. These guys know how to party, and supply fans with stellar performances.