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"Punk was a cultural earthquake that changed the way everything was to be done in the music world," says Susanna Hoffs, singer and guitarist for The Bangles. "Things became too big and too established in the mid-'70s, and punk was this wonderful art explosion that blew away all of the pretentiousness."
According to Hoffs, great punk albums don't have to be extreme sonically - it's emotion that matters. "Don't get me wrong, I love loud guitars and angry vocals," she says. "But to me, the most important ingredient for truly great punk rock is a feeling of rebellion. Whether you're singing against the government or how lame Top 40 radio is, it all has a place in punk rock."
As a student at the University of California in Berkeley, Hoffs says that punk hit her like a shot. "I grew up on pop, and I'll always love pop, but to have this new form of expression bust down the doors - there was no way, if you were truly open and aware, to ignore it. It was so refreshing, but it was also dangerous. The danger was part of the attraction."
On The Bangles' wondrous new album, Sweetheart Of The Sun, the band sings about affairs of the heart, but in Hoffs' view, it's heart that matters most, especially when it concerns punk. "Whether it's the Ramones or Elvis Costello or Patti Smith, these are artists who followed their feelings. Their music was extremely personal, yet we could all relate to it. So much of what is intensely dramatic can be called ‘punk.’ That's something I really discovered when I chose my list of the greatest punk albums of all time.”