Ten essential albums from the CBGB scene

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Adam Di Carlo

It's easy to look at what's become of rock music over the last three and a half decades and find countless traces of the CBGB micro-culture and the fast-and-loud aesthetic it cultivated. During their now-legendary years at CBGB, bands like the Ramones, Talking Heads, Blondie and Patti Smith were disrespected weirdos that found a home in a filthy, drug-infested club in New York's Bowery district. They found the freedom to develop a look and sound that could finally distance itself from the peace and love generation and become it's own small but infectious underground movement.

Any band today that plays fast-tempo music with discordant, feedback drenched guitars, or heavily saturated noise-pop with synthesizers and drum machines most likely owes a debt to something that happened in this dive bar several decades ago. So we're taking a look back at the CBGB albums that made things happen, the ones that may have only shipped a few units in their time, but have gone on to unarguably shape the sights and sounds of music today.

See also:
- Ten essential albums of the 1960s
- Ten essential jazz albums if you know squat about jazz
- Ten essential gangsta rap albums

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10. Suicide - Suicide
While much of the punk movement were still relying on the guitar chords of Chuck Berry, Suicide was the ultimate embodiment of pop-eccentricity. Having only a handful of fans in their time, the synth-pop/industrial sounds of duo Alan Vega and Martin Rev would go on to be as influential as any music recorded in 1977. One of the progenitors of the word "punk," Suicide combined a groundbreaking, fluxus-style noise with performance art, able to induce romantic tranquility with a song like "Cheree," then easily make a U-turn into existential horror with the psychopathic "Frankie Teardrop." Their self-titled debut would go on to shape the music of the Jesus & Mary Chain, Beck and M.I.A., who sampled their track, "Ghost Rider," for her lo-fi punk anthem, "Born Free."


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1 comments
Sindo Lamas
Sindo Lamas

Lots of great choices there but of the ones included I would have to pick The Dead Boys as overall fave. However, having grown up in and around that CBGB's scene it would have been great to see at least a couple of selections from their second wave (the hardcore scene), too

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