On a similar note, i just had a conversation with a friend of mine about a list of top five punk bands the other day. We could agree on (in no specific order) The Misfits, The Ramones, The Clash, and Social Distortion. He insists on The Sex Pistols as belonging on the list, which I think they contributed more to a popular image of punk than anything else. I would prefer to give the remaining spot to Operation Ivy for their influence on punk and ska that continues to this day and for the influence of what would later on come from the formation of Rancid from two of the members and the influence that Tim Armstrong has had through the formation of Hellcat Records.
What's the criteria for judging this?
I would say all of the examples you and your friend agreed upon fall pretty squarely within the pop/ punk formula (early Social D.-prior to Mommy's Little Monster
- and the later, thrashier Misfits stuff notwithstanding) so I think this is narrowing the field a bit. Punk was diverse enough to include bands falling outside of this form. So I would concede that early Ramones were important for this form and The Clash were pretty important too, as one of the first (way before Op. Ivy!) to showcase country, dub and ska influence in punk. The others, though popular, I think were less influential as innovators. If we are speaking in terms of influence and innovation, I would say unquestionably The Stooges, particularly Raw Power
- era, for their influence on what would become the early N.Y. and U.K. punk movements a few years hence. It's awfully hard to narrow down to five but I suppose my list might go something like this:
1. (Iggy & The) Stooges (Raw Power
, 1973, in particular, as mentioned above)
2. Pere Ubu (first two singles from 1975... for their influence on later, artier punk and post-punk bands mostly. Joy Division were hugely influenced, as were Wire and Johnny Rotten- esp. pertaining to his work in P.I.L., and Mission of Burma- see below- to mention but a few.)
3. Black Flag (Pre- Henry era right up to Damaged
, 1981, for their influence on the first wave of hardcore punk, and for basically giving birth to the form as we know it- Middle Class' first single, Weirdos 'Solitary Confinement', and Crime 'Hot Wire My Heart' notwithstanding.)
4. Discharge (early singles (1980) and Why?
, 1981, for the huge influence on what would become known as the Crust, Grindcore, and Thrash genres... Amebix, Siege, Napalm Death, Septic Death, etc... heck, even Metallica, all list them as a key influence.)
5. Mission of Burma (Signals, Calls & Marches
EP: 1981, VS.
LP: 1982, for melding art-punk/post-punk, hardcore and early new wave ala
Television. Their influence on artists as diverse as Husker Du, Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth, Fugazi, Unwound, early R.E.M. they helped spawn the 'indie rock' genre and what came to be known as 'emo-core', though not what passes as 'emo' now, which is a-historical, polished, dilletantish rubbish)
Like I say, hard to narrow down. But, FWIW, my subjective enumeration of a tentative top five. Velvet Underground- first album and White Light/White Heat
- and first Ramones record should probably be here too, which would bring it to seven.