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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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!