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The best punk rock 7" releases of all time

In celebration of the 70th anniversary of the 7".

With 2018 marking the 70th anniversary of the creation of the humble 7” vinyl record, I’d like to look back on the format’s enduring history with punk rock. Often a cheap and fast way to release short singles, the relatively inexpensive production and the ease of distribution all contributed to countless punk bands embracing the format. Sometimes put out as a split release with two or more bands on the same record, or sometimes featuring well over fourteen tracks in as many minutes for particularly fast paced bands, the 7” remains a symbol of punk rock’s sense of economy, resourcefulness and DIY ethics.

Dead Kennedys – Holiday in Cambodia/Police Truck (1980)

Self-released on the band’s own label Alternative Tentacles, this razor sharp double hit of two of punk rock’s most iconic songs remains to this day one of the most flawless punk rock records. Ushering new sounds in American punk rock beyond its three-chord origins, East Bay Ray’s surf influenced buzz saw guitar work combined with Jello Biafra’s sarcasm ridden politically charged lyrics all came together to create the band’s most definitive work.

The B-52s - Rock Lobster/52 Girls (1978)

A precursor to the more pop influenced new wave sound the band later became known for, the band’s first release was a much more stripped back and raw affair. Coming right off the bat with the band’s brand of kitschy lyrics and angular instrumentation, this 7” record features two of the band’s best quality songs.

GOD - My Pal/A Man Without a Woman is Like a Nun Without a Jackhammer (1987)

I think by now literally everything relevant has been said in the music press about this iconic release by short-lived Melbourne band GOD. Still to this day ‘My Pal’ is a symbol of flawless songwriting and energy, but anthemic of the strength and power of the Melbourne music scene.

 

Bikini Kill - New Radio/Rebel Girl (1993)

Featuring a rerecorded version of the band’s definitive song ‘Rebel Girl’plus a collaboration with Joan Jett on ‘New Radio’, this record is the band at the peak of their powers. Bringing a rawness and revolutionary outlook that had been lacking in a lot of punk rock at the time, this single and the rest of Bikini Kill’s catalogue provided a sorely needed spark to the scene.

The Saints - (I’m) Stranded/No Time (1976)

Arguably the first Australian punk single and almost definitely the best, this song remains one of the most popular and endearing punk rock songs of all time. Released as the band’s debut single in 1976, the track left a high water mark that the band never fully recaptured. While the band has continued in various forms, the original line-up of Chris Bailey and Ed Kuepper playing stripped back punk rock ‘n’ roll is the key to the magic.