Motor City hardcore band Negative Approach flipped the Yankee punk-rock script in the early '80s, as combos like The Romantics put Michigan on the mainstream map with their fancy suits and Beatles-y singsongs. John Brannon (easily one of rock 'n' roll's greatest frontmen) and his band, as well as like-minded souls such as The Meatmen and The Necros, upped the aggression and dragged all the young punks into DIY "venues" and parking lot riots. Nationwide, NA linked with the likes of Minor Threat and The Misfits, and an entire new wave of American punk rock was hatched. NA is out touring again and God bless 'em. With age, Brannon's voice sounds more gnarly and inhuman than ever. We spoke to Brannon about the five albums that shaped him ...
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1. The Stooges—Funhouse: It's probably the greatest rock album of all time. I don't know what needs to be said after that. That's Detroit rock 'n' roll right there, in a nutshell. I used to have this one neighbor and his older brothers had it. I was like, 'What the fuck is this?' Everybody growing up in Detroit had that album.
2. Alice Cooper—Love It to Death: My favorite singer of all time. I had that and School's Out first, but there's something about Love it to Death. It's like the perfect album. The whole Alice thing—I was so into that as a kid. I think I've let everybody know that Alice Cooper's my favorite by now. It's always been The Stooges, Alice Cooper, The MC5—the whole Detroit thing. The three greatest bands in the world that influenced everything as we know it today.
3. The Birthday Party—Junkyard: We had Prayers on Fire when that first came out, but when Junkyard came out it made so much sense. The perfect band. It was everything I liked about rock 'n' roll, on an album. At that point, when it came out, there was nothing like that going on. It was so fucking crazy. That was a big influence on the Laughing Hyenas [another Brannon band—look for the forthcoming Third Man reissue]—we were all listening to the Birthday Party shit. Even Nick Cave to this day. Anything those guys have done has been really good.
4. New York Dolls—New York Dolls: I discovered The New York Dolls trash picking records when I was about 10 or 11. The lady who lived behind us—her son went to college and she threw out all his fucking albums. I went through it and it was a bunch of crap—Jefferson Starship, Steppenwolf—but the two that stuck out that I trash-picked were the first New York Dolls album and The Slider by T-Rex. I looked at those album covers and I was in. To this day, I still listen to the fucking Dolls. One of the greatest bands ever.
5. The Dead Boys—Young, Loud and Snotty: I got that really early on, from reading Creem Magazine and Rock Scene. I went and got the album and thought it was great. It's like a step up from the Stooges and MC5. I got to go see them in high school and they were just fucking great. I was more into the American punk than the Sex Pistols and shit. I bought this and Devo the same day, and played the fuck out of both of them. Just good shit.