I have been so very excited about this list, that it has been difficult for me to contain myself. You see, in the history of rock music, there have been a handful of magical years that seem to capture the imagination of people who lived through it. Ask anyone who lived through 1957 and 1967, especially those who came of age during those years. 1957 had landmark music being released by the true Mt. Rushmore of Rock and Roll, with all the first year inductees into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame dropping this music: Elvis, Buddy, Little Richard, Ray Charles, James Brown, The Killer Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, the Everly Brothers, Fats Domino and Sam Cooke. Then, 1967 came along with the Summer of Love, which began with The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper, and continued with classic music being released by Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Cream, Pink Floyd, The Who, The Byrds, Bob Dylan, Jefferson Airplane, the Stones, The Kinks, The Velvet Underground, among so many others, made that year arguably the second important year in the rock era. And, with that in mind, along came 1977. Unfortunately, if you were like me, and grew up in the Midwest of the United States, then you had to dig hard on your own to discover the greatness of this year, since unlike the aforementioned two years which were blasted over radios throughout the country.
See, I transitioned from an eighth grade hotshot to a high school freshman low man on the totem pole. So, as I became more and more bored with the latest music by Neil Diamond or Foreigner being played on the radio, I began to take album reviews in magazines more seriously by adding some of those recommendations to my budding album collection. By the start of my high school years in the Fall of 1977, I was a highly regarded distance running prospect, and my album collection numbered in the 50s. What I remember the most about 1977 was the summer was dominated by Fleetwood Mac’s run of singles from their Rumours album, along with a novelty song by Alan O’Day, “Undercover Angel,” being played seemingly on the hour all summer long. And, in the fall, they gave way to a song by Debbie Boone, “You Light Up My Life,” which never sounded good to me, but for some reason convinced females all over the country to love this song. And, then by the winter, we got yet another album, a great album nonetheless, that captured society’s imagination like the soundtrack to the movie Saturday Night Fever did.
Yet, while the commercial charts were showing this stuff being popular, disco and punk were rich pools of musical standards. Look, these artists DEBUTED in 1977: Elvis Costello, Sex Pistols, The Jam, The Damned, The Clash, Cheap Trick, Blondie, Talking Heads, Meat Loaf, Television, a solo Peter Gabriel, and Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson. Talk about a murderer’s row of rock artists! All in one year! So, when I say that 1977 was a rich year for music, I am actually underselling it. And, honestly, I could have gone 75 or 80 albums deep and still not have lost any artistry in the albums. So, yes, I probably have left off your favorite album my list. Sorry! It more than likely deserved to be listed. Bottom line: 1977 was a great year for great music, despite what were hits on American Top 40.
So, let’s see what’s on my list! Let it roll!
- Elvis Costello – My Aim Is True
- Ramones – Rocket to Russia
- Cheap Trick – In Color
- Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
- The Clash – The Clash
- Sex Pistols – Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols
- Talking Heads – 77
- The Jam – In the City
- David Bowie – “Heroes”
- Various Artists – Saturday Night Fever OST
- Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell
- Lynyrd Skynyrd – Street Survivors
- Steely Dan – Aja
- Billy Joel – The Stranger
- Jackson Browne – Running on Empty
- Richard Hell & the Voidoids – Blank Generation
- Chic – Chic
- Iggy Pop – Lust for Life
- David Bowie – Low
- Kiss – Love Gun
- Iggy Pop – The Idiot
- Parliament – Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome
- The Rubinoos – The Rubinoos
- Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers – L.A.M.F.
- Pink Floyd – Animals
- Bob Marley & the Wailers – Exodus
- Electric Light Orchestra – Out of the Blue
- Styx – The Grand Illusion
- Queen – News of the World
- The Damned – Damned, Damned, Damned
- Television – Marquee Moon
- Cheap Trick – Cheap Trick
- Randy Newman – Little Criminals
- Dennis Wilson – Pacific Ocean Blue
- Kraftwerk – Trans Europe Express
- AC/DC – Let There Be Rock
- Blondie – Plastic Letters
- Rush – A Farewell to Kings
- Ramones – Leave Home
- Peter Gabriel – Peter Gabriel (aka I)
Oh no! I left off Heart, The Vibrators, The Saints, Earth Wind & Fire, ABBA and so many other great albums by great artists. But, can you really believe this happened in one year? I just feel so lucky to have experienced it while it was going on.
I am not a musician. But, this post has made me interested if classical music or jazz ever experienced years such as 1977 where it seemed as if everything released that year was classic? Or, is this a symptom of buy-buy-buy economy?