The Ramones are often considered America's first punk band, but Patti Smith's release Horses in 1975 predates Ramones. My own Smith collection was deficient, a couple of vinyls LPs that I only drag out occasionally, but today at Oz I picked up 9 of her 10 studio albums from the used CD bin. I consider it a coup because she deserves a lot more listening than I give her. As I write this I'm in the midst of a chronological listen, and even the earliest material is so fresh and innovative. If you listen with an ear of the time when it was released it is downright miraculous, so cutting edge and so truly a new direction for rock music. I was 15 or so when she emerged and engrossed in Yes and other progressive bands, and even later during the rise and acceptance of The Clash I failed to appreciate the innovations of the very first wave of punk. Actually, Smith is so innovative and intellectual she transcended the punk genre even as she pushed it forward. A series of semi-retirements and returns netted mixed reviews from the critics, but she always held her own. All while being very much her own.
A nice biographical sketch: allmusic ((( Patti Smith > Biography )))
The Legacy Edition of her very first release got a 9.4/10 at Pitchfork. Pitchfork: Album Reviews: Patti Smith: Horses [30th Anniversary Legacy Edition]
Below are her first three albums, essentials.