Now, overall, while high school was not a great experience for me, 1978 was a fun year. Most of what happened in 1978 that made it so special was my experience in sports (I ran cross country and track while also playing basketball and baseball). A few of the special things that happened athletically that year includes three of my running friends and me winning the state AAU Junior Olympics championship in the mile relay (a major upset when that happened), making the Babe Ruth all-star team in baseball, developing a life-long friendship with my Junior Varsity basketball team (God rest his kind soul), becoming at the time the youngest sports editor on my high school newspaper, earning a couple more varsity letters in cross country and track and, capping it all off, going to Colorado State University for the National Explorer Olympics where I met many college coaches from various sports, played lots of basketball with future college players AND most importantly met the great Jesse Owens. Oh, yeah, I also met a girl from Colorado Springs with whom I kept in touch for a year. All in all, it was a great year.
Yet, it was the music that made the biggest impression. Punk was waning, yet there was this post-punk thing and all of its permutations, a more poppier version of punk that was called new wave and disco was resuscitated by Saturday Night Fever and started to be incorporated into the music of artists from all walks of life such as the Stones, Grateful Dead, Cher and the like. Some rock got bigger and more bloated, while some got leaner and more streamlined. Funk and a dance/rock amalgamation were everywhere. To say the least, 1978 was an exciting musical year in which to be a 15-year-old boy which led to a great soundtrack to one’s life.
Things were grooving so well for a guy without any responsibilities that I made one of my greatest single day album purchases ever without spending over $15! Oh, and these albums were all brand new too! The three albums I purchased on that warm sunny June day were Foreigner’s Double Vision, Some Girls by The Rolling Stones and an album by a little known artist at the time called Meat Loaf and his debut album called Bat Out of Hell. Of the three, the only known commodity to me was Foreigner, while The Stones’ album was a new release so I had little exposure to “Miss You” yet, and bought Meat Loaf only because it was on fire on the English Album Chart according to Billboard that week. To keep that hot streak going, I bought The Cars’ debut album a month later before I left for Colorado. Not a bad summer musically speaking.
Think about all the artist who debuted in 1978. The short list includes the aforementioned Cars and includes Van Halen, Devo, The Police, Dire Straits, Steve Perry as the lead singer of Journey, Chaka Khan as a solo artist, and the list could go on. Upon closer look, that sampling shows the depth of the new artists of 1978, as most of them are enshrined in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, while Devo and Chaka being nominated often. And while 1978 was a great year for music, which followed a legendary year in 1977, 1979 was absolutely amazing. But, that’s a topic for another blog entry.
Another thing for which 1978 is known is the number of quality movie soundtracks released during that calendar year. All of a sudden, film producers and the music industry noticed the lasting success of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack throughout 1978. All of a sudden, the music purchasing public was bombarded with soundtracks that were compilations of music by various artists. Take a look at this listing of the great soundtracks released in 1978: Grease, FM, Thank God It’s Friday (Yes, the movie sucked, but the music was terrific!), Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Was this one really great Scott? You’re correct, it was not. But, it has a certain campy fun to it that I like. What can I say?), Midnight Express (an influence on synthpop), The Last Waltz, Up in Smoke, Animal House, and arguably the greatest parody film and soundtrack of all-time The Rutles. All of this soundtracks set the stage for every compilation soundtrack that was released in the years since. Personally, this is a subtle yet significant development in music whose ball got rolling during 1978, whether we like it or not.
At the time, 1978 seemed like just another lame year for music. Yet, in retrospect, it stands on its own as a pretty solid year that set the stage for many of the things for which the Eighties ended up being known. Simply put, 1978’s greatness is since in the more subtle aspects of the whole music business.
Now, it’s time for the countdown.
50. Raydio – Raydio
49. Gerry Rafferty – City to City
48. Foreigner – City to City
47. Boston – Don’t Look Back
46. Public Image Ltd. – Public Image First Edition
45. Bootsy’s Rubber Band – Bootsy? Player of the Year
44. The Who – Who Are You
43. Cheryl Lynn – Cheryl Lynn
42. Billy Joel – 52nd Street
41. The Clash – Give ‘Em Enough Rope
40. Donna Summer – Live and More
39. Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band – Stranger in Town
38. Parliament – Motor Booty Affair
37. Thin Lizzy – Live and Dangerous
36. X-Ray Spex – Germfree Adolescents
35. The Blues Brothers – A Briefcase Full of Blues
34. Burning Spear – Marcus’ Children
33. Joe Walsh – But Seriously Folks
32. Kraftwerk – The Man Machine
31. Styx – Pieces of Eight
30. Neil Young – Comes a Time
29. Chaka Khan – Chaka
28. Heatwave – Central Heating
27. Journey – Infinity
26. Big Star – Third/Sister Lovers
25. Commodores – Natural High
24. The Jacksons – Destiny
23. Dire Straits – Dire Straits
22. Warren Zevon – Excitable Boy
21. Patti Smith Group – Easter
20. Little Feat – Waiting for Columbus
19. Queen – Jazz
18. AC/DC – If You Want Blood You’ve Got It
17. Talking Heads – More Songs About Buildings and Food
16. A Taste of Honey – A Taste of Honey
15. Roadmaster – Sweet Music
14. The Police – Outlandos d’Amour
13. Cheap Trick – Heaven Tonight
12. The Jam – All Mod Cons
11. Devo – Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo
10. Funkadelic – One Nation Under a Groove
9. Ramones – Road to Ruin
8. Blondie – Parallel Lines
7. Chic – C’est Chic
6. Elvis Costello & the Attractions – This Year’s Model
5. Van Halen – Van Halen
4. The Rolling Stones – Some Girls
3. Bruce Springsteen – Darkness on the Edge of Town
2. Cheap Trick – At Budokan
1. The Cars – The Cars