Sunday, June 23, 2013

Secret History: 1978

Although 1977 is more important for music, 1978 is more important for me (although I had to get 1977 out of my system first), because this was when I began to notice.

It all started with Talking Heads More Songs About Buildings and Food. Not the first punk album ever. Just my first. When I first heard the spare “Take Me to the River” (Stupid me, not knowing much about Al Green, I thought they wrote it) on the radio, it was such a relief from all the overproduced crud clogging up the airwaves at the time. And I thought the name was kind of cool, too.

My first listen consisted of me holding onto four little islands of brilliance - “Thank You For Sending Me An Angel” (one of the all time great album openers), “Good Thing”, “Take Me” and “The Big Country” - amid a sea of weirdness. “Found a Job” was the strangest of all, sitting there at the end of side one as if to say well what did you think of that? and You ain’t seen nothing yet! .  

On each new listen another gem would reveal itself. It took about a week for it all to kick in.. By then, “Found a Job” had gotten into my DNA..

More Songs... was the only one of these records I’d actually get that year.  The rest would have to come later.  I guess I needed a rest.

Remember when Elvis Costello was so angry? This Year's Model captures it perfectly. His shortest, bitterest and maybe best album.

Parallel Lines by Blondie is THE pop album of the era.  

The Vibrators Pure Mania doesn’t hold up as well as some other records, but it’s got a lot of vroom still in it.

The Ramones Road to Ruin is the perfect balance of the Ramones punk style and tuneful accessibility.

The Buzzcocks Singles Going Steady consists of eight singles, the A sides lined up on Side A and B sides on Side B. One difference between 1960s singles and punk singles?  The latter had much better B sides. (Calm down! On average!)

Give Em Enough Rope is no one's favorite Clash album, but that doesn't make it bad, does it?
"Last Gang in Town"

Neil Young - Comes A Time
Hands down the most beautiful Neil Young album (Harvest? Please!), coming out at a point when people weren’t sure he was up to it anymore.  Well, the first time they thought that.

Looking at my list, I don’t see anything very surprising or original. So maybe it’s not much of a secret history, is it?  These are the obvious new wave albums for the time.  What worries me is what I’m forgetting from the non punk side of the road.  

But by then, I’d made a decisive turn and, unlike Neil Young, for me there was no going back.

Well, for a while anyway."

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