Time for Day 3 of 1980: My 1000 Favorite Albums of All-Time

5.17 Top 1000 Albums_LI

Maybe the revolution in music didn’t an immediate impact on the States in 1980, but it sure won the war. Alternative music did a slow burn that waited to explode in the late Eighties and early Nineties. Synthpop made itself felt all over music as musicians latched onto the latest technologies that ranged from more affordable synthesizers, samplers and drum machines. And, perhaps, the most enduring aspect of the music of 1980 was the prominent role the rhythm section of a band began to play. The basses became deeper and the drums louder.

And, all of that droning leads us to the last ten albums of this great year. Let’s do it!

7.24 The Clash - London Calling

The Clash – London Calling (1980). Yes, I know that technically this album was released in 1979. However, in my mind, this album started the Eighties, so that’s why it’s here. Next, we all know by now that this album is my all-time favorite. And, for all the Prince, Tom Petty, Cheap Trick, etc., fandom I possess, London Calling is the right album that came into my life at the right time. Unlike many other landmark albums, this one does NOT have clunker on it, and it’s a double album. I wore out my first copy, bought two more (so each son could have one) AND even had it on CD at one time (I hate cassettes unless I dubbed them with my old stereo). Yeah, I LOVE this album.

7.24 The J. Geils Band - Love Stinks

The J. Geils Band – Love Stinks (1980). The great J. Geils Band started adding new wave sounds to their R&B take on early Sixties rock music on their previous album, Sanctuary. But, they began to perfect this synthesis on this album. The title song, “Just Can’t Wait” and “Come Back” are a trio of great songs found on this album. Oh, and “No Anchovies Please” is a hilarious bit that could have been on a Cheech & Chong record.

7.24 The Jacksons - Triumph

The Jacksons – Triumph (1980). Although the brothers released a few more albums with and without Michael, this is their last really good one together. Yes, we all know by now that Michael was rightfully keeping his best songs for his albums, but he still gave his brothers a couple of great ones so they could maintain their lifestyles. “Can You Feel It” is awesome, while “Lovely One” and “This Place Hotel” are two terrific singles.

7.24 The Jam - Sound Affects

The Jam – Sound Affects (1980). After the great Setting Sons, Paul Weller took the boys back to their basics, as signaled by one of the all-time great stand alone singles “Going Underground.” The result was this terrific album that saw the band emphasizing their Mod influences while maintaining their ferocity as a power trio. This means they will be slowly begin to showcase their R&B side, which will ultimately lead to their demise. Still, this is the sound of a great band at their peak.

7.24 The Police - Zenyatta Mondatta

The Police – Zenyatta Mondatta (1980). Say what you will about the band’s last two albums, this was the sound of this trio of ultra-talented musicians at their most unified, for them. They were hitting on all cylinders throughout this album, as this is the one that broke the band over here in America. Plus, you will find arguably their greatest song “Don’t Stand So Close to Me.”

7.24 The Soft Boys - Underwater Moonlight

The Soft Boys – Underwater Moonlight (1980). Welcome to the world singer/songwriter Robyn Hitchcock! And, if you are not familiar with this classic album, go listen to it now, especially if you love the jangle of The Byrds and The Beatles coupled with surrealistic humor lyrics. Psychedelia pop never really died, it simply influenced younger people who took the ball and ran with it. This album is just a masterpiece and should be heard by anyone who loves music.

7.24 The Vapors - New Clear Days

The Vapors – New Clear Days (1980). Power pop was not simply an American phenomenon, as they was a British version of it practiced by fantastic bands such as The Records, Bram Tchaikovsky, among others. But, The Vapors released the most complete album of new wave-influenced power pop. Of course, nothing on the whole album rises to the level of “Turning Japanese,” but to write off The Vapors as a one-hit wonder is to ignore this album.

7.24 U2 - Boy

U2 – Boy (1980). Were these Irishmen punk, new wave, Celtic mystics, true Christians or rock messiahs? Maybe a little of all, but mostly none of the above. This was a whole new sound by a new generation for THAT generation. You can hear the rudimentary sound of what would become the biggest band in the whole within the decade. This was the true revolution taking place here.

7.24 Utopia - Adventures in Utopia

Utopia – Adventures in Utopia (1980). Todd Rundgren is as subversive as he is influential, and that’s what separates him from the others in rock. He had his solo career, where he was a chameleon as he went from power pop to blue-eyed soul to prog rock to singer/songwriter and back on a whim. Then, in the mid-Seventies, he started what he described as a democratic prog rock band. But, the man was too much of a control freak to totally let go. Hell, he was all ready one of the greatest producers of all-time by this point. So, the band took on a version of prog rock occupied by Styx and Kansas, only Utopia did it with humor and virtuosity. This album was the band’s venture into AOR territory that was unmatched by any band of the genre at the time. “The Very Last Time” and “Set Me Free” were minor hits that should have been huge.

7.24 Various - Times Square OST

Various Artists – Times Square OST (1980). The late-Seventies through the Eighties were a golden era for film soundtrack albums. After Saturday Night Fever, RSO Records CEO Robert Stigwood would dip into movies based upon Fifties music (Grease) and The Beatles (Sgt. Pepper). Both were commercially successful. So, when Stigwood was reported to be making a film based in punk-era NYC, we anticipated what would be on the soundtrack. My goodness! This was a terrific introduction to the underworld of music. Everyone was on this from the Ramones, The Cure and Joe Jackson to XTC, Patti Smith and Talking Heads. The only songs that suck are the original ones written for the film, but the rest is classic stuff.

7.24 X - Los Angeles

X – Los Angeles (1980). X was one of the best bands from the LA-area hardcore scene, along with the Germs and Black Flag. They took the whole rockabilly with a Bo Diddley-beat this and turned it up and played it fast, which was perfect to egg on the disaffected youth of Southern California. “Johnny Hit and Run Pauline” is an anti-violence song that was misinterpreted by the mass idiots of the world as an endorsement of violence against women. X was upending the status quo, and thank goodness!

7.24 Zapp - Zapp

Zapp – Zapp I (1980). This Roger Troutman-led branch of George Clinton’s P-Funk empire, Zapp was the sound of the latter’s band updated for a new decade. “More Bounce to the Ounce” was one of the dance songs of the decade and continues to be sampled to this day. Funk was now ready for the Eighties. Troutman was a barely recognized musical genius.

And, now, we only have nine more years in the greatest decade for music. Peace!

Day 2 of 1980: My 1000 Favorite Albums of All-Time

5.17 Top 1000 Albums_LI

Ready for Day 2 of this fantastic year for music? I have some more classics in the pipeline to trigger memories for the older crowd and maybe give suggestions for some pleasurable listening to the younger crowd. What time is it? Game time, huh!

7.24 Joy Division - Closer

Joy Division – Closer (1980). After the iconic blast for the band’s debut, you have to wonder how this band would grow. Well, this album is like a bomb going off, throwing sound and debris in all directions. Unfortunately, we’ll never know how the band’s sound would further develop since lead singer Ian Curtis decided to take his own life right before the band’s American tour. But, what we are left with is another terrific album with a sound that is equally challenging and melodic. Oh, what could have been, and yet, Joy Division’s demise led to the rise of New Order.

7.24 Judas Priest - British Steel

Judas Priest – British Steel (1980). This hardworking British band, something of a UK-version of a metal REO Speedwagon, finally stumbled upon the right ingredients for superstardom. And, in the process, developed both the sound and look that would influence metal for the next decade. This album is on par with AC/DC’s Back in Black in its across the board appeal. And, everyone loves “Breaking the Law” and “Living After Midnight,” but those are just the hits.

7.24 Motörhead - Ace of Spades

Motörhead – Ace of Spades (1980). 1980 might just be best remembered for the number of power trios who released outstanding albums. When Motörhead arrived with this album, they changed the course of metal and rock in general. Now, there was a sound that was both acceptable to punks and metalheads alike, since the band brought punk’s amphetamine-driven speed to metal, that will give birth to thrash metal gods like Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax and the rest, as well as influencing the punk-metal hybrid popularized by the Misfits.

7.24 Peter Gabriel - Peter Gabriel III

Peter Gabriel – Peter Gabriel (III or “Melting”) (1980). After releasing two terrific and influential studio albums after leaving Genesis, Peter Gabriel released this dark art rock masterpiece that is full of Cold War-era paranoia and personal demons being battled simultaneously. It was an anxious era, and this was the album that bravely addressed them upfront. Former bandmate Phil Collins played drums on the album and stole the drum sound which he exploited for his financial gain for both his solo and Genesis careers throughout the Eighties.

7.24 Prince - Dirty Mind

Prince – Dirty Mind (1980). The Stones only sang in “Shattered” about “sex and sex and sex,” but Prince actually gave us details of his prowess in the bedroom. Nothing was taboo, as Prince described oral sex, threesomes and, gulp, incest. And, the music was a tour de force as he displayed his talent full on by covering all bases, from new wave on “When You Were Mine” to all forms of funk in the Eighties (“Dirty Mind,” “Head,” “Partyup” and “Uptown”) to rock (“Sister”). In hindsight, we should have known that the Eighties would be Prince’s decade.

7.24 Queen - The Game

Queen – The Game (1980). Hey, it’s a new decade, so the greatest band in the world felt it was time to put aside their “no synthesizers used on this album” mantra and integrate the latest sounds into their brand of rock. And, it paid off in a very big way as this album became their biggest seller to date. Unfortunately, it also marks the end of Queen’s American reign, mainly because singer Freddie Mercury was publicly embracing his homosexuality and that was not cool with a majority of middle America’s record-buying public. And, that’s a shame because the band continued to create some innovative sounds up to the moment Freddie died. What we are left with is a terrific album that showed the band could embrace the eclectic nature of music in the Eighties, going from the funk of “Another One Bites the Dust” to rockabilly on “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” to the standard Queen-styled rock with all the modern touches of a new decade.

7.24 Rockpile - Seconds of Pleasure

Rockpile – Sounds of Pleasure (1980). This band was something of enigma as leaders Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds had used the band on their late-Seventies run of solo albums, so the media was ready for this group to release a self-contained album. Unfortunately, this is their only album, but it does show what a great roll the two leaders were on with their brand of punky pub rock. It is the third album, along with Nick Lowe’s two solo albums, that makes a fine trilogy. And when you throw in a couple of Edmunds’ solo LPs, you have a pretty solid catalog of music. Rockpile fits comfortably with the best of Elvis Costello, Graham Parker and Squeeze of the same era.

7.24 Rush - Permanent Waves

Rush – Permanent Waves (1980). As arguably rock’s most talented musicians, the band took the prog rock sound to new innovative heights during the Seventies. But, as Dylan once sang, “The times they are a-changing.” And, Rush knew it from just listening to current music. So, in response, the band tightened up their song’s arrangements, added aspects of new wave and integrated new rhythmic sounds from The Police and Talking Heads, which took prog into a whole new direction without ever sacrificing Rush’s musical integrity. Now, this trio was on the precipice of becoming one of the biggest bands in history. And, they even had a Top 40 hit in the States with their ode to rock radio “The Spirit of Radio.”

7.24 Squeeze - Argybargy

Squeeze – Argybargy (1980). Squeeze had been quietly building a big reputation over in England for the past couple of years with their songwriting talents. But, they quickly grew up on Argybargy, giving rise to critics to begin equating the songwriting talents of Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook with those of Lennon and McCartney. Of course that was hype, but they were definitely equal to that of Costello and Lowe, which is plenty of shoe to fill. And, you have to realize that these guys were only going to get better.

7.24 Stevie Wonder - Hotter Than July

Stevie Wonder – Hotter Than July (1980). You know, this album tends to get overlooked in Stevie’s outstanding catalog, but he did kick off the Eighties with yet another masterpiece. His ode to reggae master Bob Marley “Master Blaster” was the big hit, but Wonder’s Lionel Richie-like countryish “I Ain’t Gonna Stand for It” remains my favorite. Most importantly, the album contains Stevie’s protest song for the establishment of a national holiday for Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday called “Happy Birthday.” Unfortunately, Stevie Wonder will never be this great on an album again, as he will make a slow slide into schlocky pop.

7.24 Talking Heads - Remain in Light

Talking Heads – Remain in Light (1980). This still remains one of the greatest albums ever released. Unfortunately, it was released during a year which had a glut of landmark albums. The Heads were all in on the development of the African-based funk sounds found on the previous album’s “I Zimbra” on this album and knocked it out of the park. Along with Peter Gabriel, the Talking Heads opened the door for the World Music sounds that would be heard throughout the Eighties from the likes of Bow Wow Wow and Adam Ant to Paul Simon’s Graceland. And, finally, “Once in a Lifetime” is considered a classic song. I have found that this song is best listen to when sitting outside at night as it fits the ambiance.

Stay tuned for more albums from 1980 coming soon. Peace.

Yes! It’s Time for Part 1 of 1980: My 1000 Favorite Albums

5.17 Top 1000 Albums_LI

I have to admit that I am something of a completist when it comes to albums, especially with my favorite artists. And, when it comes to lists like this one, I have a difficult time limiting myself because I truly love some albums that have been left off. Since we are dealing with 1980, I am distraught over the fact that I had to let go of Split Enz’ True Colours, Jackson Browne’s Hold Out and Van Halen’s Women and Children First, but someone had to go. Whereas Split Enz will not be on the list, the other two have multiple LPs on here. But, since Split Enz split into various other bands, one of which became popular, albeit briefly, I could console myself knowing that their lineage was safe on this monstrosity I have created.

For someone my age, who is simultaneously labeled as a late Boomer, Generation Jones (look that one up non-sociologists!) or an early Gen X-er, 1980 tends to be a very pivotal year. For better or worse, 1980 represents the changing of a governing philosophy wherein conservative thought was pushing out liberal thought, mainly due to the malaise that had overcome the world, the end of good ideas from the liberal faction and a growing cynicism toward big government. In short, politically, things were a mess, not unlike today, in which we have a reaction toward moving away from runaway conservatism toward a more progressive view of governing. Plus, Americans tend to run a political pendulum from one extreme back toward the middle. We may very well be on the swing back toward the middle.

So, in response, young people made great music in 1980. Sure, many Boomers may like to think music died when The Beatles broke up, but there is a keen interest in Eighties music that cannot be easily described as nostalgia. Shoot! There are Millennials and Gen Y-ers running around that like Eighties music as much as their generation’s. While the music seems to be steeped in various derivations of Sixties pop music, the musicians of the Eighties took those lessons and ran with it. Those lines were beginning to be blurred after the birth of the NYC and London punk scenes. Then, in 1980, we began to actually experience this change beginning to take commercial hold. And, in 1981, MTV signed on the air, and the whole phenomenon exploded.

So, let’s celebrate the changing of the guard with this first installment concerning 1980.

7.24 ACDC - Back in Black

AC/DC – Back in Black (1980). What better way to kick off the Eighties than with this monster album? Remember, lead singer Bon Scott died in February 1980, as the band was recording this album. Instead of imploding, the band found another leather-lunged screamer in Brian Johnson, regrouped and channeled their collective grief into this big-selling hard rock masterpiece. You know how good this album is? Even women were buying it! If it wasn’t for AC/DC, Aerosmith, Kiss and Van Halen’s collective success, there would have not been a hair metal scene.

7.24 Adam & the Ants - Kings of the Wild Frontier

Adam & the Ants – Kings of the Wild Frontier (1980). Okay, I’ll admit it. The band’s image of crossing New Romantic, Native American and pirates was a bit much. But, their innovative use of African drum rhythms in the context of a pop/rock/dance song was a revelation. And, you really couldn’t deny Adam’s charisma. And I will go down swinging with my argument that “Antmusic” is a terrific song.

7.24 Bruce Springsteen - The River

Bruce Springsteen – The River (1980). If you really want to understand the generally malaise of 1980 and its dour environment, this is the album to paint that picture. Man, the lyrics are bleak, yet tinged with a glimmer of hope. Springsteen’s characters are no longer the romantics of their younger days. Instead, they are working class people struggling to make ends meet in a changing economy. This is one excellent double album or several that were popular then.

7.24 Daryl Hall - Sacred Songs

Daryl Hall – Sacred Songs (1980). The late-Seventies were a very strange time as all the rules of music were being thrown out and musicians were starting over. Case in point, Daryl Hall. People may not know this, but guitarist Robert Fripp was wanting to form a new version of art rock kings King Crimson with Hall as the lead singer. As if seeking a trial run, Fripp produced this debut solo album from one-half of the greatest duo in rock history. This is an excellent set that gave Daryl the ability to grow as a songwriter/singer/musician, that actually paid dividends for Hall & Oates in the early-Eighties. This album is a quiet classic.

7.24 Daryl Hall & John Oates - Voices

Daryl Hall & John Oates – Voices (1980). So, after their disastrous attempt to tame their music with über-producer David Foster on their last album, Hall & Oates decided to finally take control of their music. They had gone to the West Coast after their initial success after beginning in Philly. Left to their own devices, they headed to NYC since that’s where the music was happening. Next, the assembled one helluva band, which included guitar wizard G.E. Smith and bassist extraordinaire T-Bone Wolk (the “ampersand” of Hall & Oates) and just cut loose with themselves. The result was this new wave-influenced left field hit album loaded with singles.

7.24 David Bowie - Scary Monsters

David Bowie – Scary Monsters…and Super Creeps (1980). Once again, Bowie instinctively knew how to move with the zeitgeist as he created arguably his greatest album that was one of the finest examples of Eighties alternative music before there was ever that label. He was punk, new wave, post-punk, synthpop, New Romantic and all areas in between on this album. This album does not get the love from classic rock radio that it deserves. Seriously? Why doesn’t radio play “Fashion” and “Ashes to Ashes” to death as they do with earlier Bowie hits?

7.24 Dead Kennedys - Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables

Dead Kennedys – Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables (1980). The California punk scene was a helluva lot more scarier than New York’s artier version and London’s posturing. These youngsters had been living the conservative “dream” for eight years under Governor Ronald Reagan, so they knew what disenchantment was ahead for their brethren, and they were out to let the world know. One of the leading lights of this hardcore scene was the appallingly named Dead Kennedys. To them, there were no sacred cows and rampant capitalism was the culprit of all social ills. At the time, I thought they might just be right. In my thirties, I was pretty sure they were. Then in my forties, I thought they were correct. Now, in my fifties, I KNOW they were absolutely correct!

7.24 Diana Ross - Diana

Diana Ross – Diana (1980). Perhaps the least vocally talented of the original Supremes, Ross absolutely exuded the correct ingredients for a diva. And, the woman was vocally talented enough to be able to adapt to any style. So, it was a brilliant move when she teamed with Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards of the Chic Organization for this HUGE dance club album. I know, “Upside Down” was the big hit, but “I’m Coming Out” is the most memorable song on this excellent album on so many levels.

7.24 Echo & the Bunnymen - Crocodiles

Echo & the Bunnymen – Crocodiles (1980). As I state earlier, we are in a time of reinvention. So, of course, it makes perfect sense that a band would latch onto some touches of psychedelia and even some Jim Morrison-like vocals to create a new, exciting sound. And, in walks Echo & the Bunnymen with just that sound. Outside of the American mainstream, Echo made some of the finest music of the Eighties. Though, they had big hits on college rock radio later, this album is a fine introduction to the band.

7.24 Elvis Costello - Get Happy!!

Elvis Costello & the Attractions – Get Happy!!! (1980). On his first three albums, Elvis had set a new standard for songwriting by combining much of the classic sound of Sixties-era based R&B rock with a punk ferocity, so what did he do next? He stuffed as many songs onto a single album as humanly possible. This album is a quick run-through of 21 songs in just over 30 minutes. And, there is absolutely no filler here, just Elvis at his best.

7.24 Joan Jett - Bad Reputation

Joan Jett – Bad Reputation (1980). What’s a woman gotta do to get a solo contract? First, leave the groundbreaking band The Runaways, then hook up with a Sixties bubblegum songwriter/producer in Kenny Laguna to tighten a punk pop sound that would be exploited by such artists as Green Day, The Offspring, Jimmy Eat World and all the rest. Jett deserves every accolade that comes to her, and this is the beginning of a brave new world for a strong, single-minded female. This independently-released album was a beautiful middle finger to all the major labels who thought they knew what the kids wanted.

That’s it for today! See you next time. Peace.

Time to Finish Up 1979’s Entries on My 1000 Favorite Albums

5.17 Top 1000 Albums_LI

Let’s get this list going!

7.20 Neil Young - Rust Never Sleeps

Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Rust Never Sleeps (1979). This album is sited so often by people in my age group as a touchstone album, I really am at a loss as to what to add. Basically, this is Neil at his most diverse covering acoustic songs on Side One and electric, nearly proto-grunge on Side Two. Much of the album was recorded live on his 1978 tour, giving the material the room to breathe and the musicians a sense of urgency to plow into the music full-on. Pound for pound, this remains my favorite Neil Young disc.

7.20 Pink Floyd - The Wall

Pink Floyd – The Wall (1979). For a band known for making great statements, this represents the Floyd at their grandest, most overblown moment. Across the double album, we are taken on a trip in which our hero is psychologically damaged early and often until he can no longer accept the distance between himself and his audience (and other band members). While teens saw it as a metaphor for growing up, in retrospect, he can see it as Roger Waters’ frustrations of being a member of Pink Floyd. Maybe The Wall isn’t their greatest statement (The Dark Side of the Moon is), but it seems to be the one that resonates with people the most.

7.20 Pretenders - Pretenders

Pretenders – Pretenders (1979). The Chrissie Hynde-led Pretenders burst onto the scene in the UK in 1979 and made their presence felt in the States the following year. With so many changes being made since the Wilson sisters burst onto the scene with Heart, strong women like Patti Smith and Debbie Harry were leading bands that no one was surprised that the Pretenders followed suit. The difference being that this was the sound of original Kinks guitar rock distilled through punk with an E.R.A.-minded woman fronting the band. Ms. Hynde was taking no crap from anyone.

7.20 SIster Sledge - We Are Family

Sister Sledge – We Are Family (1979). Few were prepared for these four sisters to make such a huge splash, but even fewer were ready for the fact that the masterminds behind these talented women were Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, better known as The Chic Organization. The combination was just plain dance floor heaven, with the title song, “He’s the Greatest Dancer” and the mesmerizing “Lost in Music.”

7.20 Supertramp - Breakfast in America

Supertramp – Breakfast in America (1979). Supertramp took many years for them to work out their sound. They almost had it all together on 1977’s Even in the Quietest Moments and their hit song “Give a Little Bit.” But, on this album, the band hit the motherlode with their brand of Beatlesque melodies and art rock flourishes. The album is stuffed full of Classic Rock radio hits, such as “The Logical Song” and “Take the Long Way Home.”

7.20 Talking Heads - Fear of Music

Talking Heads – Fear of Music (1979). For a major portion of this album, Talking Heads have taken a minimalist’s approach to their music. Yet, their are funky, African-based signs of their future sound in a couple of places just to keep things interesting. What this adds up to is this is their most satisfying album to date, yet leaving you with the gnawing feeling that more was to come. The album is known for “Heaven” and “Life During Wartime,” but I keep coming back to the prophetic sounds of “I Zimbra.”

7.20 The B-52's - The B-52'sr

The B-52’s – The B-52’s (1979). Welcome to the party Athens, Georgia! That’s right! The B-52’s opened the door for Pylon and R.E.M. to eventually follow through. The great thing about The B-52’s is that they took their love of pop culture’s trashier side from the Fifties and Sixties, repackaged it and sold it back to us via a rock-dance-new wave fusion that was as thrilling as it was exhilarating. This album was one of the party albums for the next decade, at least until their unexpected 1989 comeback.

7.20 The Boomtown Rats - The Fine Art of Surfacing

The Boomtown Rats – The Fine Art of Surfacing (1979). Years before Bob Geldof became Sir Bob Geldof, mastermind of Band Aid and Live Aid, he was the lead singer of a strong little Irish band called The Boomtown Rats. While the band never really commercially cracked The States, they did give us this one magnificent album of new wave nirvana. The album is known for the UK mega-hit “I Don’t Like Mondays,” but I’ve always been partial to “Someone’s Looking at You.”

7.20 The Commodores - Midnight Magic

The Commodores – Midnight Magic (1979). Let the arguments begin as to which Commodores’ album I should have on this list. Well, I chose this one because it had a monster ballad, of course, in “Still,” a surprisingly country-ish hit in “Sail On” (a sound Lionel Richie would perfect on Kenny Rogers’ hit “Lady”) and some excellent funk, for which the band was originally known.

7.20 The Crusaders - Street Life

The Crusaders – Street Life (1979). Back in the late-Seventies, jazz artists were dipping their toes in both the rock and disco worlds, with Chuck Mangione and Herb Alpert being two artists who found some commercial success in the era. But, a little band called The Crusaders perfected the sound on this album, which went on to influence the sound of jazz in the Eighties (Wynton Marsalis comes to mind). The title track is an eleven-minute exercise of this whole fusion.

7.20 The Cure - Three Imaginary Boys

The Cure – Three Imaginary Boys (1979). The Cure’s debut album is something of an anomaly in their catalog since it is full of punkish nervousness and not the Gothic atmospheric sound the band perfected afterwards. Yet, it remains a landmark album of the post-punk era. Plus, it has the anthem of a generation in “Boys Don’t Cry.”

7.20 The Jam - Setting Sons

The Jam – Setting Sons (1979). This album represents a turning point in Paul Weller’s career. First, his melodies are becoming more memorable and strong. Perhaps more importantly, his lyrical observations are mature and a tad more jaded. This means that Weller is going into adulthood with maturing tools that will make him one of the most compelling voices of my generation. But, the band has yet to peak. Just wait!

7.20 The Kinks - Low Budget

The Kinks – Low Budget (1979). Wait a second! What are the stalwarts of the late-Sixties doing back here with all these punks, new wavers, funkateers and disco stars? Simply put, they are the fathers of the whole UK punk and new wave scene and were welcomed back as the conquering heroes they had become. Plus, no one could put the plight of the late-Seventies into better perspective than Ray Davies.

7.20 The Knack - Get The Knack

The Knack – Get The Knack (1979). That’s right! I still LOVE this album. It was the right sound at the right time. This just might be the first important album for Generation X. And, it deserves all the baggage that comes with it, but that’s more of the label’s fault than the band’s. What the band delivered was a brilliant set of teenage boy’s perspective songs set to a power pop setting and executed with a punk rocker’s fury. This is a classic!

7.20 The Police - Reggatta de Blanc

The Police – Reggatta de Blanc (1979). Another band that gets unfairly maligned grew by leaps and bounds from the debut album the previous year to this one. This album remains my favorite album of their amalgamation of punk, art rock and reggae. “Message in a Bottle” and “Walking on the Moon” are the best remembered song, but “The Bed’s Too Big Without You” is the masterpiece on this album.

7.20 The Specials - The Specials

The Specials – The Specials (1979). In the late-Seventies, all the rules were being thrown out in music. Racially-integrated bands were popping up that were equally a political statement as a musical one. Bands were grabbing musical inspiration from all kinds of sources, most notably a pre-reggae sound called ska. Ska was perfect for the punks of the era to branch into because of its simplicity and energy. And, no band was more essential in this genre than The Specials. More of a phenomenon in the UK, they led the ska-revival movement ahead by light years, leaving fellow ska bands like Madness spending a career attempting to catch up. If you need proof, you YouTube the band’s performances on Saturday Night Live. The band’s debut is their finest, but I cannot emphasize enough how important their other albums are.

7.20 The-Undertones-The-Undertones-2

The Undertones – The Undertones (1979). It’s a shame this band has not been heard by a majority of Americans because they are missing one of the great ones. This album has been praised by so many Brits I have met over the years that it can’t be denied how fantastic it is. If I were to compare it to anyone, and hear me out, it is the aforementioned debut album by The Knack. Both are equally steeped in power pop and punk energy. Both are full of male teenage dreams. And, both have outstanding anthems, in this case the immortal “Teenage Kicks.” Give this album a chance, you will not regret it!

7.20 Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers - Damn the Torpedoes

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Damn the Torpedoes (1979). Tom and the boys had their backs against the wall. Their record company had been absorbed by another, and MCA was attempting to hijack Tom of his writing royalties. During this fight, the band bonded together like a gang and created one of the great classics of American garage rock. In the process, producer Jimmy Iovine goaded drummer Stan Lynch into created a recorded drum sound so big that it became one of the sounds of the Eighties. Plus, if you can’t hear Side One of this album, you better get your hearing checked. The legend of Tom Petty was born on this album.

And, that my friends, is 1979. My apologies to the many great artists whose albums I left off this portion of my list, as I just could not bring myself to list every Prince album no matter my true feelings. Just know that if I leave off a Prince or Tom Petty album, I am doing a little lying in order to pimp some other deserving artists.

Finally! It’s 1979 on My 1000 Favorite Albums List

5.17 Top 1000 Albums_LI

That’s right! 1979! I’m not sure why I put so much emphasis on this year in my mind, except, to me, it represented a definite change of decades which meant there was the possibility of great things ahead. And, I hold onto that naivety, though I believe the Eighties actually led to many of the societal problems that we face today. But, at that moment in 1979, all things seemed possible. Music was making many changes, along with technology thanks in large part to the space program a decade or so earlier.

If you listen carefully to the lyrics of the day, people were really anxious due to the Cold War and an impending nuclear doom. The economy was stagnating, the imperialism policies of the post-World War II was finally facing a backlash both abroad and domestically. And, the cult of personality was in full swing. But, the music tried to keep the whole thing honest.

So, let’s get this first year that is completely in my wheelhouse going!

7.20 ACDC - Highway to Hell

AC/DC – Highway to Hell (1979). For some reason, AC/DC was big at my high school almost immediately. AC/DC’s music is one of three things you can consistently count on in life, along with taxes and death. And, Highway to Hell is the band’s commercial breakthrough, and, unfortunately, the last one to feature original lead singing madman Bon Scott. This album remains one of the greatest hard rock/metal albums of all time.

7.20 Buzzcocks - Singles Going Steady

Buzzcocks –  Singles Going Steady (1979). When it comes to the UK punk scene, the albums that are needed for their Mount Rushmore would be the debut albums by The Clash, Sex Pistols, The Damned and this one. The whole pop punk movement of the Nineties and 2000s have this album to thank. While The Clash cornered the political side, the Pistols the shocking side and The Damned the crazy side of punk, Buzzcocks nailed down the teenage angst within pop constrictions.

7.20 Cheap Trick - At Budokan

Cheap Trick – At Budokan (1979). Originally intended as a special release for Japan in thanks of that country’s population’s massive support, this album quickly became the best-selling import album of the day, prompting Epic Records to release it worldwide. An what you get is Cheap Trick in all its glory in a live setting. Of course, in concert, Cheap Trick’s songs have always been infected with more power, energy and character than ever in the studio. While nerds like me were into Trick long before this album, At Budokan introduced the boys from Rockford, Illinois, to the rest of the world. And, things have never been the same again.

7.20 Cheap Trick - Dream Police

Cheap Trick – Dream Police (1979). This album was in the can and ready to go when the band’s label decided to release At Budokan. Dream Police was released in the fall of 1979 to much anticipation, and the album did not disappoint. If one were to think that the band was following The Beatles’ trajectory, you might be inclined to compare this album to Magical Mystery Tour in its scope and power. The production is dense and layered while this group of songs respond well to this production and actually come alive. While the title song, “Voices” and the studio version of “Gonna Raise Hell” get all the praise, I personally am a fan of “I Know What I Want.”

7.20 Chic - Risque

Chic – Risqué (1979). This is Chic’s most sophisticated album to date. All the playing and vocals are impeccable, while the writing is spot on. Most notably, this album contains THE monster sample of all, “Good Times,” which was used as the backing music for the groundbreaking “Rapper’s Delight” later on in the year. This album will wrap up the band’s commercial period, though its members will go on to big production work throughout the Eighties.

7.20 Donna Summer - Bad Girls

Donna Summer – Bad Girls (1979). Summer was the Queen of Disco for some very good reasons. First, she had some excellent songs. Second, Summer had the best production crew behind her. And, importantly, Summer possessed the perfect voice for disco. On Bad Girls, Summer was able to create a feminist record while setting those songs within a rock-dance sound that became the template of the Eighties. This was dance music for the mind.

7.20 EWF - I Am

Earth, Wind & Fire – I Am (1979). Few bands were as creative and ahead of the game as EWF. This Chicago band was the funk version of Chicago the band, since both acts fused jazz with their respective musics. This just might be EWF’s finest moment, especially their wonderful collaboration with The Emotions on the eternally-blissful “Boogie Wonderland.” For my money, I am a huge sucker for the great ballad “After the Love Has Gone.”

7.20 Elvis Costello - Armed Forces

Elvis Costello & the Attractions – Armed Forces (1979). All the rage and fury that Elvis Costello had alluded to on his first two albums were unleashed on this one, both lyrically and musically. This album is my go-to Costello album because of the passion throughout the album. And, Elvis made Nick Lowe’s “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding” his own. It remains my favorite anthem of moral indignation.

7.20 Fleetwood Mac - Tusk

Fleetwood Mac – Tusk (1979). If you thought that Cheap Trick was met with much anticipation as they released Dream Police, no band at the time, other than Led Zeppelin or the Eagles, were under as much pressure as the Mac. After selling loads of Rumours, the public was ready for part two. Instead, musical visionary Lindsey Buckingham decided the band needed to respond to the music of the day and went into full-on SMiLE-era Brian Wilson mode. What we got became an avant garde version of Mac’s Southern California sound. Today, this album is considered a classic, but few were willing to take a long ride on this one back in the day.

7.20 Gang of Four - Entertainment!

Gang of Four – Entertainment! (1979). Gang of Four is the kind of band that would perfectly fit into today’s music scene. Their post-punk rock sound is mixed with danceable rhythms, while their lyrics are full of the sociopolitical commentary that sits in perfect tandem in this #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter era. Plus, this band became huge influences on Rage Against the Machine and Fugazi, among many others.

7.20 Gary Numan - The Pleasure Principle

Gary Numan – The Pleasure Principle (1979). Gary Numan’s fantastic synthpop had made inroads in the UK and Europe under the banner of the Tubeway Army and their hit “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” But, it was this album that made Numan a global superstar on the strength of his brilliant ode to isolation and paranoia “Cars.” The big surprise is that the rest of the album matches the strength of his most famous song.

7.20 Graham Parker - Squeezing Out Sparks

Graham Parker & the Rumour – Squeezing Out Sparks (1979). 1979 was a banner year for the angry UK singer/songwriters of Costello, Parker and Joe Jackson, as all three began to receive critical and commercial gains here in the States. This album remains Parker’s greatest album displaying his mix of anger, R&B and punk energy. This is primo stuff!

Joe Jackson - Look Sharp!

Joe Jackson – Look Sharp (1979). 1979 was made so much better with Joe Jackson’s debut album and his outstanding hit song “Is She Really Going Out with Him?” Jackson hit all the nails on the head of teenage males’ anxieties. Right with Costello, Jackson has followed a wonderful path of diverse musical excursions.

7.20 Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures

Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures (1979). Sometimes, a band arises from the most seemingly mundane places only to change the musical world. Who would have thought four mop tops from Liverpool would have ever changed the world? Likewise, who would have guessed that four lads from Salford would come define the sound of the post-punk era and into today? That’s exactly what happened as Joy Division took equal parts of punk and Kraftwerk-influenced synth sounds to create a dark icy sound that was both modern and futuristic.

7.20 Michael Jackson - Off the Wall

Michael Jackson – Off the Wall (1979). Remember when we were all taken with Michael’s shyness and Peter Pan qualities? Listening to this album takes me back to those innocent days. When you strip the allegations away from the musician, you have some of the best dance grooves and pop music this side of the Chic Organization. “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” remains a monster dance cut, while “Rock with You” still works as a slow dance number at wedding receptions. This album gave us the solo Michael Jackson template for his next two albums that he created with Quincy Jones and those wonderful session musicians that included members of Toto.

And, there you have it, the first half of 1979 albums on my list. God willing, I’ll follow this blog up soon. Peace!

Wrapping Up 1978 of My 1000 Favorite Albums of All-Time

5.17 Top 1000 Albums_LI

No need to bore you with the trivial, so let’s get to the final third of my list for 1978.

7.16 The Jacksons - Destiny

The Jacksons – Destiny (1978). Let’s be honest about this album. No matter how great this album is, in hindsight, it is clear that this was a dry run for Michael’s solo albums. And, that statement does not diminish the fact that this album is pure Jackson brother magic. The dance songs are terrific, led by the huge hit “Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)” and “Blame It on the Boogie.” But, it is the songs “Bless His Soul” and “Push Me Away” that display the depth of mature Michael’s talent. But, in 1978, this album was a party album that got people dancing.

7.16 The Jam - All Mod Cons

The Jam – All Mod Cons (1978). After a terrific debut then a lackluster sophomore album, The Jam regrouped to create their finest album to date. This one is stuffed full of UK hits that as enduring as anyone else’s hits of the day. This album established the band and specifically Paul Weller’s prowess as a musical visionary. And, the band had not even peaked yet.

7.16 The Rolling Stones - Some Girls

The Rolling Stones – Some Girls (1978). Punk was a necessary reaction to the over-abundance of great playing musicians whose myths made them seem like gods. Then, the Ramones came along with their punishing 30-minute, 15-song sets with nary a guitar solo, that threatened to make all the Sixties “dinosaurs” passe. So, within that environment, The Stones made their final grand musical statement in the face of both disco and punk. This album is punishing, fun and sexy, you know, albums like they used to make. After this album, unfortunately, the band was spent, no matter what their fans say.

7.16 The Saints - Eternally Yours

The Saints – Eternally Yours (1978). What is about Australian bands that can take a modern sound and just turn it on it’s side? Is the isolation? Or, do the toilets really flush in the opposite direction (they don’t)? The Saints took the punk template and mixed in some tempo changes, flashes of R&B, and, God forbid (!) sax solos that actually laid the groundwork for fellow Aussies like INXS to follow into platinum sales. This is an oft-overlooked gem.

7.16 Thin Lizzy - Live and Dangerous

Thin Lizzy – Live and Dangerous (1978). Thin Lizzy was on a great creative roll by the time of this much-heralded live album was released. This is an absolutely exciting environment in which to enjoy the band’s music. Unfortunately, much like Kiss Alive!, the sound was doctored a bit in the studio to increase that excitement and playing. But, who cares?!?! Thin Lizzy was absolutely awesome!

7.16 Todd Rundgren - Hermit of Mink Hollow

Todd Rundgren – Hermit of Mink Hollow (1978). I am a sucker for the singer-songwriter version of Todd. I just am. While I love all of his music, it’s his vulnerable side which speaks to me. And, this album remains his finest since 1972’s Something/Anything. “Can We Still Be Friends?” is still a great song.

7.16 Van Halen - Van Halen

Van Halen – Van Halen (1978). By 1978, metal was directionless and bloated. Then along comes the first band from Sunset Strip to set the world on fire. They brought humor and pop melodies to the genre that was overrun with satanic nods and stories about mythical creatures. Basically, the boys brought some sex back to rock & roll, along with the most influential guitarist of a generation in Eddie Van Halen. Unfortunately, many half-baked bands followed in their wake, which almost negated Van Halen innovations. But, that happens often in the rock world.

7.16 Warren Zevon - Excitable Boy

Warren Zevon – Excitable Boy (1978). Excitable Boy is Zevon’s finest album. His song cycle is impeccable yet troubling in his own acerbic manner. Next to Randy Newman, Zevon is the best at acid-tinged insults to the power structure of society. We could use his voice today.

7.16 Willie Nelson - Stardust

Willie Nelson – Stardust (1978). Remember during the first decade of the 2000s, established rock artists like Rod Stewart began recording traditional standards as if they had stumbled upon some great American songbook. Well, in 1978, after creating the whole outlaw country genre, Willie Nelson did this first, eschewing any originals or country or folk standards, to record an album’s worth of pop standards and produced by soul great Booker T. Jones. And with his own style, he made these standards all his own. This was a truly risky move, but it paid off in spades.

7.16 X-Ray Spex - Germfree Adolescents

X-Ray Spex – Germ Free Adolescents (1978). The truly great thing about punk is that it opened up the music world to new possibilities, especially those with one foot in the art world. Into that space comes X-Ray Spex with their visionary singer/songwriter Poly Styrene. If new wave had not been thought of at this point, it was now! This is the beginning of the voice of Generation X, the sociological generation not the Billy Idol-led band, though a case could be made for that too. Unfortunately, X-Ray Spex never made here in the States, but their musical revolution would be won, however briefly, by artists who followed on a thing called MTV. Plus, you just gotta hear “Oh Bondage Up Yours!” on the CD reissue.

And, that brings 1978 to a close. Now, the door to new wave and power pop has been opened, paving the way for new exciting sounds that will begin popping up in 1979. With this blog, we have now covered 349 albums over approximately 24+ years, with many more classics and surprises left. Will be back during the working week. Peace.

It’s Still 1978 on My 1000 Favorite Albums of All-Time List

Ready for the second day’s list of albums from 1978? I am! So, I’m just going to jump in full force!

7.16 Jackson Browne - Running on Empty

Jackson Browne – Running on Empty (1978). This pick is going to bring a smile to one of my oldest friend’s face since he is the biggest Jackson Browne fan I know. This album is not just another live album, but a set of songs, written and recorded on the road, about the realities of being a touring musician. Sure, the title song is the theme for this concept album, but the reality of the loneliness in touring is explicitly expressed in the ultimate song about being alone, “Rosie.”

7.16 Kraftwerk - The Man-Machine

Kraftwerk – The Man-Machine (1978). Everyone’s favorite android-acting analog digital nuts are back with their take on robots developing human qualities. Their work on this album is so groundbreaking that when the band toured, they actually used lifelike robots to take their places onstage. My question has always been, did the men become machines or converse? Who cares! This is just an awesome album.

7.16 Little Feat - Waiting for Columbus

Little Feat – Waiting for Columbus (1978). Little Feat just does not get enough love these days. I often think people have forgotten about them after the untimely death of visionary Lowell George in 1979. This was a very nimble band with terrific players and great songs whose studio albums tend to get overlooked, even by me. You could never pigeonhole this band into a genre. This live album is an excellent introduction to the band and their fine catalog of music. It’s so good that Phish even covered the album during one of their much-ballyhooed Halloween shows. These guys truly deserve some rediscovery.

7.16 Nick Lowe - Jesus of Cool

Nick Lowe – Jesus of Cool (UK title) or Pure Pop for Now People (USA title) (1978). So, Jesus of Cool was too sacrilegious for the States. Whatever, because this is one terrific power pop album, if one of the ten best ever. Lowe was one of the originators of the new wave movement with his former band Brinsley Schwarz and as a house producer for Stiff Records, especially his work with Elvis Costello. Plus, “So It Goes” sounds a vital today as it did 22 years ago.

7.16 Queen - Jazz

Queen – Jazz (1978). Seriously?!?! Did I really skip the band’s News of the World album? Yes, I did. While, as a major Queen fan, I just felt like the album was lacking something after getting past the anthems “We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions.” But, Jazz, contrary to critic Dave Marsh’s horrible critic (The most fascist album ever? What’s that even mean? Christ, there were actual Nazis running around back them, and you tried to label this great band in that manner? I lost all respect for him after that.), is a terrific Queen album that keeps improving with age. It’s diverse in its musical expression, just like you want a great Queen album to be. “Don’t Stop Me Now” is more popular today than it was back in the day. “Fat Bottomed Girls” gets all the airplay today, but “Bicycle Race” is my favorite.

7.16 Ramones - Road to Ruin

Ramones – Road to Ruin (1978). If an album should have made the Ramones a mainstream success, this was the album. Arguably, this album contains their band’s finest single in “I Wanna Be Sedated.” The covered The Searchers’ classic “Needles and Pins” to great success. Plus the band toned things down a bit for the very melancholy “Questioningly.” This is the work of a maturing band at the height of their powers.

7.16 REO Speedwagon - You Can Tune a Piano But You Can't Tuna Fish

REO Speedwagon – You Can Tune a Piano, But You Can’t Tuna Fish (1978). Ridiculous album title aside, this was the album in which a hardworking band from Champaign, Illinois, figured out how to combine their hard rock nature with the pop sensibilities to create what many consider to be their finest album, Hi Infidelity notwithstanding. “Roll with the Changes” and “Time for Me to Fly” remain Classic Rock radio staples to this day.

7.16 Talking Heads - More Songs About Buildings and Food

Talking Heads – More Songs About Buildings and Food (1978). The Heads take a major step forward from their debut album as the band tightened their sound under the guidance of über-producer Brian Eno. You can actually hear the band developing their funkiness that will soon blossom for them. Plus, their cover of Al Green’s “Take Me to the River” is a revelation.

7.16 The Cars - The Cars

The Cars – The Cars (1978). I have been thinking long and hard about this statement, so here it goes. The Cars just might be the greatest debut album ever. The songs are still all over radio, and it plays like a greatest hits album. The band had the audacity to combine arena rock sounds with new wave tinges to give us a truly American sound. This album was so good that no matter how great their other albums were, they would always pale in comparison.

7.16 The Doobie Brothers - Minute by Minute

The Doobie Brothers – Minute by Minute (1978). In the early Seventies, the Tim Johnston-led version of this band was one of the great boogie rock bands going. Then, Johnston left. So, Michael McDonald stepped up to lead the band into Yacht Rock supremacy. This album is THE best example of the soft rock/blue-eyed soul fusion that is beloved today as Yacht Rock.

That makes 20 albums from 1978, which means there are ten more for later. See you then. Peace!

Day 1 of 1978 on My List of 1000 Favorite Albums of All-Time

5.17 Top 1000 Albums_LI

Ever since I was a young high school student writing for the student newspaper, I have always written either some of the absolute worst headlines, such as the ones for this series, or totally inappropriately sarcastic headlines that would never make it past the editor-in-chief or my long-suffering teacher. So, please bear with me on these lame headlines like the half-ass effort of today’s blog banner.

1978 represents a stellar year in my life, what with running in a national track meet, being part of Indiana’s State Jr. Olympics Championship 4 x 400 meter relay team, meeting Jesse Owens, unbelievably being named Student of the Month at school in January (BTW, January is the shortest month on the school calendar, then throw in another week or so missed due to inclimate weather so I only had to be stellar for a maximum of 10 to 12 days, the Roadmaster concert in our school’s cafeteria, to list a few things that happened that year. But, upon looking back, 1978 was a stellar year for music, what with punk, funk, disco and arena rock all beginning to peak. Plus, we started hearing the beginnings of new wave, synth pop, rap and some guy named Prince. It could not have been a better time to be a teenager when you consider the music of the era.

Let’s just jump into it!

7.16 Blondie - Parallel Lines

Blondie – Parallel Lines (1978). The CBGB crowd got served a huge notice when Blondie, considered the weakest band of the initial bands who played the famous club, became one of the biggest selling groups in the world behind their greatest album. This album has everything that is great about the group: terrific girl-group send-up (“Touched by Your Presence Dear”), power pop (“Hanging on the Telephone”), rockin’ punk fury (“One Way or Another”) AND arguably the greatest disco song ever (“Heart of Glass”). This is one helluva album.

7.16 Bob Marley & the Wailers - Babylon by Bus

Bob Marley & the Wailers – Babylon by Bus (1978). Here we have perhaps the greatest live recording of reggae ever. The album captures reggae’s finest band ripping through a portion of their greatest hits in front of an enthusiastic crowd. How does anyone top this? On this night, Marley and his Wailers WERE the greatest band in the world.

7.16 Bob Seger - Stranger in Town

Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band – Stranger in Town (1978). Seger took his brand of Heartland rock to an even larger chunk of America with this great album. I never had to own this album back in the day, since the Dunwiddie girls down the street had it and would play it every damn day I was down there, which was every damn day. Still, it is a great album of mature rock songs that only Seger could do. However, if I hear “Old Time Rock and Roll” or “We’ve Got Tonight” one more time, I WILL scream!

7.16 Bruce Springsteen - Darkness on the Edge of Town

Bruce Springsteen – Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978). This album is Bruce’s reaction to being thrust into the limelight with simultaneous covers on Time and Newsweek, finally selling a boatload of albums then having one of the greatest management disputes in rock history which kept The Boss from recording for three long years. So, he dropped the romanticism from his lyrics and the grand Wall of Sound production and got raw and dirty on this album. Obviously, Bruce had been listening to more than the Raspberries’ Greatest Hits album, as he often claims. Punk rock is all over this album. Personally, this one just might be my favorite Springsteen album of all. Oh, Bruce! Cheap Trick called and wants their artwork font back!

7.16 Cheap Trick - Heaven Tonight

Cheap Trick – Heaven Tonight (1978). This was the album that made me a Trick fan for life. The first album was punky, the second poppy, but this one found the perfect balance between all sides of the band. “California Man” is a great cover of a song originally recorded by The Move, and “Auf Wiedersehen” is an outstanding song about the dark subject of suicide. But, we all know this album has the band’s greatest anthem of all, “Surrender.”

7.16 Chic - C'est Chic

Chic – C’est Chic (1978). If I had to compare Chic to anyone, it’s got to be Steely Dan. Hear me out! Both bands wear their love of jazz on their sleeves. Both bands’ albums were impeccably played and produced by the bands’ main songwriters. Both bands loved for their lyrics to possess multiple meanings on multiple levels. Easily, Chic was the greatest disco band, but they were much more than that. Duran Duran would have NEVER been as funky if they had not heard Chic. David Bowie would not have sold millions of albums in 1983 if he hadn’t hooked up with Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers. Oh, and this album has “Le Freak,” a disco anthem like no other. This is the finest moment but do not discount the greatness of their others.

7.16 Devo - Q Are We Not Men

Devo – Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo (1978). Across the pond, Devo had a couple of their first singles, “Satisfaction” (a total re-imagination of The Stones’ classic) and “Jocko Homo,” released by the great Stiff Records. They quickly became the darlings of the new wave and caught the ear of Brian Eno who produced this album. Devo may be the greatest political band whom everyone thinks is a novelty act, which is the most subversive thing ever!

7.16 Dire Straits - Dire Straits

Dire Straits – Dire Straits (1978). During a year in which some many exciting new sounds were being thrown at us, along comes an English band who have worshiped at the alter of laidback bluesman J.J. Cale. The guitar sound is coupled with Dylanesque lyrics to give us a shocking throwback sound that was at the same time very modern. Welcome Mark Knopfler, our newest guitar hero.

7.16 Elvis Costello - This Years Model

Elvis Costello & the Attractions – This Year’s Model (1978). So, how did Elvis follow up his debut? Well, he upped the ante higher by employing one of rock’s greatest backing bands to set fire to this group of tunes. If the debut got his foot in the door, his sophomore effort blew the door off its hinges. Oh, and this album contains the infamous “Radio, Radio,” which he was not supposed to play on Saturday Night Live, but he did anyway. To me, Elvis ranks up there with Springsteen, Petty and Prince as the greatest songwriters of my generation.

7.16 Funkadelic - One Nation Under a Groove

Funkadelic – One Nation Under a Groove (1978). This was the year in which, in reality, there was no real distinction between the sounds of Parliament and Funkadelic. I remember first hearing the single “One Nation Under a Groove” at that aforementioned track meet disco in the athlete’s village. The smartass DJ segued “Flashlight” right into “One Nation,” and I immediately went to dancefloor heaven. I can remember that night…

And there you have it! The first ten albums of 1978 on my list. And, I promise, the next 20 are just as strong. Peace!

1977, Day 3: My 1000 Favorite Albums

5.17 Top 1000 Albums_LI

I understand that I am covering 1977, but allow me a little creative digression here. Yesterday, 13 July 1985, was the 35th anniversary of Live Aid, perhaps the single most important concert of my generation. It just so happens that the day was also my older son’s birthday. After a quick delivery early that morning, my new family was moved into the recovery room, Live Aid had been underway for 10 minutes. When all got to the room, I turned on the TV to see The Style Council being announced. Immediately, the band went right into “You’re the Best Thing,” which happened to be our song throughout dating and our first dance at our wedding. It was a magical moment to have that song as the soundtrack to our first moments with Graham. It was as if Paul and his band were giving us a special gift.

Yesterday was a crazy day here, as Graham and his family are moving to a home nearer to us, so everyone was in and out of here under that stress you have when moving. Perhaps the highlight was a little unplanned moment in which both sons, my younger son’s wife, both grandchildren and the two of us were here for a couple hours of sheer joy and craziness. It was another great family moment with a group of people who, despite their vast differences in personalities and all very strong-willed and head-strong, just let things go for a short moment to laugh and carry on.

Once again, this has NOTHING to do with my subject, I simply wanted to share that I had a pretty cool day yesterday. And, like usual, my body is in full revolt from yesterday’s fun. Oh well, what’s pain anyway? It’s just my life.

Time to finish up 1977.

7.13 Sex Pistols - Never Mind the Bollocks Here's the Sex Pistols

Sex Pistols – Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols (1977). So, the Ramones got the ball rolling, but the Pistols, warts and all, brought the notoriety to the punk movement. Believe it or not, this is one album that lived up to the hype. The Sex Pistols only lasted long enough for a single album, and it may have lost the initial battle. Yet, going on 45 years later, they won the war.

7.13 Steely Dan - Aja

Steely Dan – Aja (1977). This is peak Dan here. Everything was perfected, from the songwriting to the playing to the production work to the engineering. This is the moment when jazz ideals and rock music intersected.

7.13 Styx - The Grand Illusion

Styx – The Grand Illusion (1977). Don’t laugh! Long before they did that crap novelty song “Mr. Roboto,” Styx were one of the biggest-selling bands in the world thanks mainly to the rabid base of American teens like me. Their mixture of pop versions of hard progressive rock was the perfect tonic to those of us in high school at the time. Actually, at this moment, they were kind of a lite-Rush and one helluva band in concert. It’s a shame that Dennis DeYoung took the band down a bit of a Broadway path beginning with “Babe.”

7.13 Suicide - Suicide

Suicide – Suicide (1977). Here is Kraftwerk’s first big influence. Suicide was a punk band using nothing but electronic instruments, something of a forerunner to the whole industrial sound of the late-Eighties and Nineties. Their are no wailing guitars, just rock noise made by early drum machines, synths and organs in an analog mayhem accompanying some of the most ghostly vocals ever recorded. This is not new wave for the faint-hearted; this is The Stooges being set to a new soundscape.

7.13 Talking Heads - 77

Talking Heads – Talking Heads: 77 (1977). Talking Heads’ debut is known for their classic song “Psycho Killer,” but that is not the only highlight here. Talking Heads basically picked up the baton dropped by The Modern Lovers by taking that band’s nervous energy, nerdy lyrical obsessions and even that band’s guitarist/keyboardist Jerry Harrison to great arty heights by throwing in some R&B/funk and bubblegum tinges. This is a true musical amalgamation being created by some former art school students.

7.13 Television - Marquee Moon

Television – Marquee Moon (1977). This band has been forgotten with time, and that’s a shame. First off, this is a classic album, but the question remains. Were Television a punk band or a rock band? My thoughts are yes! While their attitude, approach and lyrics were definitely based in the punk ethic, their music and, especially, their two-prong guitar attack were nothing but jam band rock. This band should be shown much more reverence than they currently are.

7.13 The Clash - The Clash

The Clash – The Clash (1977). Without question, this is the best punk rock album from the original era. It has everything with which the genre is associated: attitude, moral outrage and intense playing. While the Ramones and Sex Pistols get all the press, The Clash were becoming “The only band that matters.”

7.13 The Damned - Damned Damned Damned

The Damned – Damned, Damned, Damned (1977). So, The Clash became the greatest, The Jam the most underrated, the Pistols the most notorious of the UK punk scene, it was The Damned who released the first album from that scene. And what an album it is! In the very near future, The Damned will move into a more Gothic rock territory, but at this moment, they were making some very exciting punk rock noise.

7.13 The Heartbreakers - LAMF

The Heartbreakers – L.A.M.F. (1977). This is Johnny Thunders’ version, NOT Tom Petty’s! Remember, Johnny Thunders was the Joe Perry character in the New York Dolls’ NYC-version of Aerosmith. The only thing is that Thunders took the whole heroin addict-thing to a whole new level of pathetic. But, before he scaled down to the lower reaches of hell, he was a punk god, and this album is his band’s masterpiece. The Heartbreakers bridged the gap between the Dolls’ proto-punk sound and the whole CBGBs scene.

7.13 Various - Saturday Night Fever OST

Various Artists – Saturday Night Fever OST (1977). Prior to the massive success of this album, disco was still a subversive underground sound generally preferred by blacks, gays and Latinos. You know, the underground of the underground. Then, artists like the Bee Gees began to write terrific songs with their eyes on the dance floors at these discos. When this soundtrack become a phenomenon, disco went mainstream with the music being deemed acceptable by white people of all ages. The crazy thing is disco never died, it just went back underground. This album happens to be an excellent document of the whole hedonistic movement. The movie? It’s dark, like much of the films in the Seventies. But, the bright music of this soundtrack lives on.

And, that ends our journey through 1977. Until next time, keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars. Stay safe and healthy! Peace!

1977, Part 2: My 1000 Favorite Albums

5.17 Top 1000 Albums_LI

So far, I have covered 300 of my favorite albums through the first of three days concerning 1977. I had to take a week-long break due to taking care of our grandchildren because their parents are using us to delay the rascals returning to daycare. See? I raised some smart kids! Plus, over the past two weeks, the youngest Kellers in the family have celebrated their second and first birthdays respectively. Add to that the fact that my older son and his family are moving this coming week, it has been a little hectic around here. Of course, this is all happening during the whole COVID pandemic that seems not to be taken seriously by a majority of the community in which I have resided most of my life. Like all of you, it’s been a little stressful.

So, let’s get back to something that allows me to decompress from the stress and anxieties of life, and that’s music. Since we are in the middle of 1977 on my list of my 1000 favorite albums of all-time, allow me some time to proffer a few words about the year. My recollection is that critics at the time where praising the year being as important as 1957 (Elvis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, James Brown, etc.) and 1967 (Sgt. Pepper and the whole Summer of Love-thing, et. al.). As far as my list is concerned, all of those years are pretty important. Yet, I would like to point out that I feel like 1969, 1972, 1979, 1983, 1984 and 1987 are all pretty much landmark years. Still, 1977 was stellar with many AOR artists beginning to peak around this year, Southern Rock was a diminishing albeit strong force, disco and funk were flexing their muscles, and punk was just breaking wide open on both sides of the Atlantic.

So, 1977 was a pretty good year, at least much better than 1967 and as important as 1957. Which leads me to my proof, the albums on today’s list. All of my 1977 picks are still found on my turntable to this day.

7.12 Iggy Pop - Lust for Life

Iggy Pop – Lust for Life (1977). The second of two fantastic solo albums by the godfather of punk and former lead singer of The Stooges Iggy Pop, Lust for Life is the rowdier and more aggressive of the two discs. Of course, David Bowie’s fingerprints are found all over both LPs, as he Pop into more commercial areas without sacrificing his grit. Of course, the title song has been used to death in movie soundtracks and for pimping various items and services on TV commercials.

7.12 Iggy Pop - The Idiot

Iggy Pop – The Idiot (1977). By the time his debut solo album was rolled out, Pop had seen his Stooges disintegrate, entered a mental institution upon his own request and was living a life more known for his abuses than his music. Then, David Bowie entered his life and offered him a way out of his funk. The Idiot is a contemplative and confident return to his status in rock music. Timed perfectly with the breakout of punk, Pop rose to the occasion on the album and resurrected his career.

7.12 Kiss - Love Gun

Kiss – Love Gun (1977). Kiss released their sixth studio album in four years, which just might be their most consistent and mature statement ever. Where Destroyer was about a story and artistry, Love Gun is all about rocking out. And, pretty much, that’s what the band did. This is the gold standard for all Kiss albums to be measured against here on out.

7.12 Kraftwerk - Trans-Europe Express

Kraftwerk – Trans-Europe Express (1977). While Autobahn was a left-field hit, Trans-Europe Express remains this German band’s most accessible album. Kraftwerk was just figuring out how to make those synthesizers to rock without undermining the melodies and dance nature of their songs. Arguably, this album just might be their most influential since the whole UK synthpop phenomenon began shortly after this album was digested by a bunch of electronics geeks.

7.12 Lynyrd Skynyrd - Street Survivors

Lynyrd Skynyrd – Street Survivors (1977). Sadly, this album was the final album of the original lineup of the band. After a couple of artistically lackluster albums, Skynyrd was back to doing what is did best: a three-guitar attack, rocking rhythms, jam band-like tendencies and a lyrical struggle just to find where a Southern Man stood in society. Personally, I wish lyricist and lead singer Ronnie Van Zandt had survived the plane crash because, maybe, just maybe, his struggle might have helped ease the tension between the South and their revisionist culture and “Yankee” points-of-view. Fortunately, the Drive-By Truckers have picked up the mantle and run with it a bit here in the 21st century, but it may have been too late to make an immediate difference.

7.12 Meat Loaf - Bat Out of Hell

Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell (1977). People my age are NOT afraid to express their reverence for this album. Loaf, fresh off the movie set of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, teamed with songwriter Jim Steinman and producer Todd Rundgren to produce one of the most overblown, over-dramatic, Broadway- and Springsteen-influenced Walls of Sound ever committed to vinyl. On paper, this whole concept sounds like the ideas of a crazy person, and Rundgren even confirms this thought. Yet, it works perfectly to give voice to the geeky teenage boys whom girls wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole, not unlike this writer. I still love this album!

7.12 Pink Floyd - Animals

Pink Floyd – Animals (1977). This album, which is sandwiched between two legendary albums and arguably one of the greatest double albums in rock history, Pink Floyd dropped this underappreciated album. Animals is similar to Alan Parsons Project’s terrific ode to Edgar Alan Poe’s writing on their Tales of Mystery and Imagination of Edgar Alan Poe with the band taking on George Orwell’s fable Animal Farm. The songs are written from the points-of-view of the various groups of animals in the book. When taken as a concept, this album is brilliant. But, when put into the context of the band’s Seventies output, it doesn’t quite stand up. Still, I think there is an endless supply of musicians who wish they had created an album of this quality.

7.12 Ramones - Leave Home

Ramones – Leave Home (1977). Much like any other band, this sophomore offering by punk’s most original band is not quite up to the standards of their debut album. But that’s not to knock Leave Home. This is a great album with some fantastic songs. I remember some buddies of mine singing “Suzy Is a Headbanger” in the halls of my high school.

7.12 Ramones - Rocket to Russia

Ramones – Rocket to Russia (1977). For my money, this is the Ramones’ best album. On Rocket, the band perfected their punk sound of muscular bubblegum music. Sure, the debut was the blueprint and the second album was the rehash, but this one is the gold standard.

7.12 Richard Hell & the Voidoids - Blank Generation

Richard Hell & the Voidoids – Blank Generation (1977). While Patti Smith filled the poet role in the punk movement, Richard Hell took the Beat poet mantle as the artistic street urchin in a NYC punk band. After a stint in the seminal CBGB punkish band Television, Hell struck out on his own, following his artistic muse into the street hell of Lou Reed. And, this is his magnificent statement that is a direct influence on the whole LA hardcore scene of the late-Seventies and Eighties. And, the title song is THE anthem for my generation of late-Boomers and early-Gen X-ers. Oh, and my wife STILL closes the door on my music room when this album is played. Definitely not performed for the weak-hearted listeners.

I’ll finish up 1977 next time. Until then, keep on rockin’ in the free world!