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The Velvet Underground, and Lou Reed.

The Velvet Underground consisted, in their heyday, of vocalist/guitarist Lou Reed, keyboardist/bassist John Cale, guitarist Sterling Morrison, and Moe Tucker on the drumkit. Doug Yule replaced Cale in 1969, and Teutonic songstress Nico appeared on the group’s debut record.

Often cited as Godfathers of Punk, this hugely influential New York band mixed art rock, minimalism, garage rock, and often quite taboo lyrical subject matter. Brian Eno commented on the group’s initial lack of sales, “Everyone who bought one of those 30,000 albums (referring to the “Banana Album”) ended up starting a band.”

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The Clash.

The Clash formed in 1976, led by charismatic/titanically intense vocalist Joe Strummer. The group cut a swath through the burgeoning punk rock scene, with furiously kinetic performances that whipped all and sundry into a frenzy.

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The Differently-Realmed Ian Curtis, and Joy Division.

Go ahead. Choose a realm, any realm. Ian’s not from there; he’s never taken up residence there, and, for that matter, spends precious little—if any—time there. Yes. It’s been proven.

The composer/vocalist of Joy Division hails from some different locale than do most human beings. Ian’s lodgings come rent-free, and he’s been awarded the keys to The City.

We’re not talking about earth, which he departed many years ago, alas, in 1980. He certainly left his mark here on this planet, but his realm is, and has ever been, elsewhere.

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Ramones.

Kings of the 2-minute and under weight-division, the Ramones pack quite the copious wallop of mordant lyrics into their creations. And Joey Ramone leaves no doubt in these masterful performances as to his total command of the vocal art. Remarkably inventive, powerful, sublime.

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The Buzzcocks, and Pete Shelley.

The Buzzcocks, founded in 1976 by Pete Shelley and Howard Devoto {who departed to pastures new in ’77}, are one of the preeminent punk bands to emerge from the UK. Extremely lyrical as well as hard-edged, they strung together many brilliant tunes, due mainly to the genius of composer and lead vocalist Shelley. Included here are a few from Pete’s solo career, as well as some particularly rewarding live group efforts.