Your 15 Song Introduction to The New Wave Punk Sound That Ended the 1970s

Editor’s Note: PJ Lifestyle’s Commenter-In-Chief and classic rock guru Allston has been developing an extraordinary series chronicling the best songs by era. Get caught up on his previous installments: “Alternative 1980s: 15 More Songs Millennials Must Hear,” “15 Classic 1970s Songs Millennials Should Know,” “15 More Classic 1970s Songs for the Millennials,” “15 More 1970s Songs Showcasing the Decade’s Wide Range.”


In prior articles, I’d noted that I did not include 1978 and 1979, as these are, in my estimation, very transitional years. In fact, this really all begins in about ’76 or ’77, but I didn’t want to truncate the 1970s list quite so early.

As usual, there is so much music to cover, it is impossible to do so in a single list, so a few more in this series will follow. If I didn’t post something you think is essential, it is very likely it will be featured in a future article. But, as always, suggestions are welcome.

Now there’s an anthem for you. We certainly thought so.

1. Ian Dury – “Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll” (1977)

Who is married to the Jazz pianist/vocalist Diana Krall?

2. Elvis Costello – “Pump It Up” (1977)

The very first actual “punk” song I really liked, in an army barracks room in 1978.

3. The Talking Heads – “Take me to the River”(1978)

Stones done their way, flower pots on craniums and all. They are Devo!

4. Devo – “Satisfaction (I Can’t Get No) “ (1978)

Madonna before there was one.


5. Blondie – “I Know but I Don’t Know” (1978)

Iconic – you still hear this played on the radio today. This is the ’80s generation’s equivalent to “Dirty Water.”

6. Romantics – “That’s What I Like About You” (1979)

From my perspective, while many liked the Clash, they were another band that just didn’t inspire a cult-like following. Good in their own way, yes. I always liked this song better than their more widely played stuff. You can almost hear the sound of Oiks on UB-40s rioting in Brixton here.

7. Clash – “The Guns of Brixton” (1979)

Known as the “Godmother” of Punk Rock.

8. Patti Smith – “Dancing Barefoot” (1979)

9. The Cars – “Best Friend’s Girl” (1979)

10. Soft Cell – “Tainted Love” (1980)

They had their brief run, one of the perky “Girl Bands” of the time.

11. The Go-Gos – “We Got the Beat” (1980)

Romeo Void, however, was not “perky.”


12. Romeo Void –“Never Say Never” (1981)

Now this is a prototypical early 80s song.  Moody, mysterious, a little dark.

13. Berlin – “Sex (I’m A)” – (1982)

“I understand just a little, No comprende, it’s a riddle…”  I have heard this broadcast, ironically, on a major Mexican AM station.

14. Wall of Voodoo – “Mexican Radio” (1982)

The early ’80s heavy synth-sound, of which they are pioneers.

15. New Order – “Blue Monday” (1983)

Thus concludes part I of this series.


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