1: Veslefrikk: Stille stille: The mid-70s music scene gradually turned into punk via some bands that were more political in their approach. Veslefrikk were one of the most important left wing bands. Their live album swansong from 1981 is a great document of the style and the era, and their singer Anne Grete Preus was later a much respected singer/songwriter.
2: DePress: bo jo cie kochom: Punk in Norway was a mostly strange combination and continuation of avantgarde, arty jazz, political pop and youthful nihilism. DePress added some ska-guitars to a Polish folk song and made the Norwegian equivalent to Anarchy in the UK while they were at it, with Bo jo cie kochom from the LP ‘Block to block’ in 1981.
3: Kjøtt: Mannen på taket: The best norwegian punk album of the first era was perhaps the Kjøtt EP from 1980. 7 songs of undiluted youthful nihilism, catchy tunes and great semi-intellectual lyrics. a stone classic!
4: Raga Rockers: Maskiner i Nirvana: The drummer and main songwriter in Kjøtt was Michael Krohn. When Kjøtt folded in 1982 he became the singer in the first of what now is called ‘the big 4 of norwegian 80s rock’, Raga Rockers. These bands all sang in norwegian, but in new and inspiring ways. The Raga Rockers were the hard cases, and their ouvre formed a generation of freaks with their antisocial lyrics and Stooges-inspired proto rock. This is the title track from their 2nd album ‘Maskiner i Nirvana’ from 1985.
5: Jokke & Valentinerene: Sola Skinner: Jokke & Valentinerne were the beer swiggling party band of ‘the big 4’. Their brand of ramshakle Kinksy 60s pop – with losercore, druggy/drinky-but-philosophical lyrics – was a winner, and soundtracked many a lost week-end for more than a decade. Jokke himself OD’d in the late 90s.
6: Dumdum Boys: Ti liv: The eternal ‘Stones vs the Beatles’ dichotomy was also present in the era of ‘the Norwegian big 4’. The Stones’y bad boy rockers of the 4 were the Dumdum Boys. They looked the best and their quirky lyrics seemed to hide a secret only the coolest would get… I was never that cool, but I got to produce their 2012 album Ti Liv. This is the title track from that record.
7: deLillos: Hjernen er alene: If the DumDum Boys were the Stones, the deLillos were the Beatles. They were a much nicer gathering of seemingly more wholesome youth that played more traditional pop music and generally sang about more innocent things. This is the title track off their 3rd album, the ‘white album’ of the equation, Hjernen er alene, perhaps the best album any of ‘the big 4’ ever made.
8: Åge Aleksandersen: levva livet!: While the music press and the kids focused on ‘the big 4’, the singer from Prudence worked on a solo career that suddenly went supernova in 1984 with the release of ‘Levva Livet!’. In the first year of release this album sold more than 400 000 copies in a country with 4 million inhabitants! You do the math: it is simply astonishing. And some of it is actually pretty cool too! The title track sounds like Bruce Springsteen on Norwegian moonshine and is still heard coming out of open windows at 3 o’clock in the morning in the summer. All together now: ”ooohoohho – levva livet!”
9: Israelvis: We only live twice: At the other end of the spectrum, the underground hardcore thrived at places like Blitz in Oslo and UFFA in Trondheim, and one of the biggest bands of the era was Israelvis. Their combination of hard core punk and Voivod-ish metal struck a core both in Norway and abroad, and is still pretty damn cool!
10: Life…but how to live it? : Ugly: the biggest and best of all the Norwegian hardcore punk bands that toured europe ceaselessly in the late 80s/early 90s, were Life… but how to live it? Their off-beat brand of hardcore was popular in squats all over europe and the band more or less lived in their van for years around 1990. Other punk bands like So Much hate, Stengte Dører, Svart Framtid, Turboneger, Anal babes, Kafka Process, Bannlyst, Gluecifer, Angor Wat etc were good too, but Life.. were the best. This is the title track off their last album Ugly from 1992.