No More Heroes (1977) by The Stranglers

Categories: 1977 and Music.

I used to think there was only one true British New Wave band: The Police. (Well, and Elvis Costello. But Costello is labeled New Wave primarily due to laziness; too punk to be Pub Rock and too classicist to be Punk, people didn’t know what else to call him.) The Police were the only band I was aware of that managed to combine the energy and attitude of punk with music that was definitely not punk. Well, I know this is labeled punk, but it’s hard for me to accept that it is punk. The Stranglers are too damn weird Read More

Exodus (1977) by Bob Marley and the Wailers

Categories: 1977 and Music.

Though this is something like the Wailers’ ninth record, it is apparently actually more like Marley’s first proper solo record, as the other songwriters and singers in the band had left, leaving him as the primary creative voice. This is my first Marley/Wailers album, so I have no idea if that means any kind of change in musical direction, or any increase or decrease in quality. Read More

I Robot (1977) by The Alan Parsons Project

Categories: 1977 and Music.

When I was young and obsessed with prog rock, people used to make fun of me. They would learn I loved prog and they would be bemused or even a little shocked/outraged. And I was confused because I really liked the stuff. Eventually, I realized that those who made fun of my tastes were often talking about different prog. One day my friend just started ripping on Supertramp and then apologized to me and I finally realized that what my friends thought was prog and what I was listening to were two different types of prog. Based on this record, Read More

Trans Europa Express (1977) by Kraftwerk

Categories: 1977 and Music.

Electronic pop music already existed (thanks to Kraftwerk) by the time this record came out, but this album still feels like the beginning of something, to my ears. Though a number of the tracks are quite long, (most of) the music feels like it could have made it onto the radio in the 80s at the height of the synthpop epidemic. Read More

The Idiot (1977) by Iggy Pop

Categories: 1977 and Music.

Recorded before Low but released afterwards, The Idiot feels in many ways like the missing link between “The Berlin Trilogy” and Station to Station. Though it’s Iggy’s solo debut, it is the least Iggy Pop album he recorded, as far as I know. I do think the criticism that Bowie hijacked Iggy for his own ends is fair. Read More

Peter Gabriel [Car] (1977)

Categories: 1977 and Music.

With hindsight, it feels like Gabriel had yet to really figure out who he wanted to be on his debut album. There are songs that sound a little sub-Genesis and then there are songs that sound like he is positioning himself as a sort of sub-David Bowie. Then there are tracks that sound sort of like the late 70s early 80s Peter Gabriel in utero. It’s a bit of a hodgepodge. Read More

(I’m) Stranded (1977) by The Saints

Categories: 1977 and Music.

This is a really early punk record – so early it beat The Clash and The Pistols to the punch in terms of their debut LPs – that likely gets ignored because it’s Australian. It louder and grimier than almost all the UK bands and most of the American bands, pointing the way for future punk bands in terms of the level of distortion. The only thing that keeps me from giving it top top marks is that it is pretty one note, basically loud Ramones with slightly better lyrics. 9/10 Read More

Damned Damned Damned (1977)

Categories: 1977 and Music.

Though not the first British punk band, The Damned’s debut is, to my knowledge, the first British punk LP. That, in and of itself, is a really big deal, as punk was much more of a contemporary force in the UK than in the US. Sure, there were punk singles before this, and The Clash and The Pistols would have put out their records anyway. But The Damned were first (far as I know). Read More

Káťa Kabanová; Cappriccio; Concertino (1977, 2006) by Leos Janacek, performed by Wiener Philharmoniker conducted by Charles Mackerras featuring Elisabeth Söderström, Peter Dvorský, Naděžda Kniplová

Categories: 1921, 1925, 1926, 1977, 2006, and Music.

This set pairs a Janacek opera with two of his chamber music pieces. It’s an odd pairing, but in the era of the CD it was a regular thing when an opera failed to fill out two discs. Káťa Kabanová is considered Janacek’s first “mature” opera but I think I like it less than Jenufa. It’s still pretty appealing and very clearly of a different ilk than so many of the 19th century operas that proceeded it. It’s not as radical (and, therefore, to me, not as interesting) as the kinds of things people like Debussy and Berg were doing Read More

This is the Modern World (1977) by The Jam

Categories: 1977 and Music.

I don’t think you need to know the background story to know this album is a significant step backwards from the debut: the songs are weaker, the attitude is reigned in on a number of songs, the reverence for the past is growing. If this is still punk music (and it is, at least I think it is), it’s punk music that feels almost regressive, rather than generative. There are still some decent songs and it’s still mostly recognizable as first wave punk, but it’s unlikely to convert anyone to this band, that’s for sure. 6/10 Read More

In the City (1977) by The Jam

Categories: 1977 and Music.

The Jam’s debut is somewhere between the punk bands that it’s usually lumped in and Elvis Costello – I feel like they’re punkier than Costello but as reverent to rock and roll tradition as he is. I mean, the reverence for the mid ’60s Who is off the charts at times (such as the breakdown in “I’ve Changed My Address” which sounds like something a very young Townshend might have conceived). And there’s the covers… This doesn’t really do it for me – I prefer Costello as a lyricist to Weller, though I see the appeal in these lyrics – Read More

Talking Heads ’77 (1977)

Categories: 1977 and Music.

This is a much rawer version of the band, understandably. They lack a lot of the musical and lyrical polish they had later (even the next year) and they seem to lack as clear an identity. Don’t get me wrong, this is still really, really New Wave compared to, say, Classic Rock of the same year, or even British New Wave at the time. But beyond “Psycho Killer” there are no obvious classics, it’s easy to see why a lot of this got dropped from their shows later. I sound like I don’t like this, and I don’t mean that. Read More

Listen to this, Eddie (1977 Bootleg) by Led Zeppelin

Categories: 1977 and Music.

Now this is a show. I would highly recommend this to anyone who thinks The Song Remains the Same is Zeppelin at their best. Here they are ragged, loose, powerful and full of a ridiculous amount of stamina. This is one of those nights, I guess, when a great band just didn’t want to stop playing. Everything about Zeppelin is here: the loud, pummeling and frenetic rock music, the super indulgent solos from Jones, Page and Bonham, and the general dance-ability of most of it. There’s also an acoustic set, which I believe is rare for this period of their Read More

Pumping Iron (1977, George Butler, Robert Fiore)

Categories: 1977 and Movies.

This is a fascinating documentary about body building in general and Arnold Schwarzenegger in particular. I don’t have any particular interest in either but the filmmakers make you care about the competition and Arnold is actually a surprisingly charismatic – albeit kind of disturbing – interview. It’s easier for me to see his appeal as a politician now, having seen this – it didn’t make sense to me as a distant observer but I can see it a little better now – but he is still a weird guy. The major failing of this movie – which is otherwise essential Read More

In Patagonia (1977) by Bruce Chatwin

Categories: 1977, Books, and Non-Fiction.

Part travelog, part oral history, part amateur archaeological text, part memoir. Totally unique and a far cry from Theroux’s more traditional travel writing. Theroux takes the train, Chatwin hitchhikes – and perhaps that is why their experiences are so different. Chatwin is also much more concerned with local memory / mythology as history rather than his own personal observations of cultures and peoples. It’s a completely different approach but it is just as interesting. 8/10 Read More

Quark (1977)

Categories: 1977 and TV.

I certainly wish I had enjoyed this more than I did. I like the premise and I really appreciate the Star Trek fun-poking, even if that could have been a little more consistent. The problem for me, I think, is that I loved Get Smart as a child / tween but I doubt I could sit through it now. Same goes for this: Buck Henry’s sense of humour is from another time and those of us who have grown up with Python, SCTV, KITH etc have different – and I would say higher – standards. Frankly it’s just not funny Read More

Works Volume 2 (1977) by Emerson, Lake and Palmer

Categories: 1977 and Music.

Years ago, when I was still young enough to maintain that ELP was a truly great band, I gave this a listen or three and rated 6/10. I think I wanted to believe the common idea that this is better than Volume 1 because at least here the bands sometimes sounds like ELP. Well, there’re a bunch of problems with that. The idea that this album is related to Volume One is, in itself, a bit of a foolish idea. Volume One was, after all, a way for all three band members to record on their own while still putting Read More

My Aim is True by Elvis Costello (Columbia 1977)

Categories: 1977 and Music.

It’s unfortunate I guess that early Costello is constantly connected with punk, if only because of his lyrics (which are rather more biting than most ’70s pop rock lyrics). The music is decidedly not punk: it’s pure pub rock; one of the most overrated underground movements in rock music history I say. But that’s not really to slight Costello; he was probably the best thing to happen to pub rock. He moved on and so I guess the world forgets. I don’t know. Anyway, I generally like his songs but the aesthetic is not great: it’s a little herky jerky Read More

Cross of Iron (1977, Sam Peckinpah)

Categories: 1977 and Movies.

It’s because of movies like Cross of Iron that, when I find a director I think is interesting, I try to watch all his movies, even those that don’t have good reputations. In the CD player: Wheels of Fire by Cream…listening to the live part. The first two tracks are great, the second two suck. What to say about this movie? I don’t know…”Wow.” The opening credit sequence is the best he’s ever done. The acting, I think, is uniformly good to great. But the movie’s a mess. And somehow it works. Sure, there’s the cliche dialogue…a fair amount of it. There Read More

The American Friend (1977, Wim Wenders)

Categories: 1977 and Movies.

Just watched The American Friend. I didn’t realize this, but Ripley’s Game that movie with John Malkovich that didn’t do swell, and the former movie are based on the same book. It’s quite interesting. Wenders doesn’t explain a lot of the backstory and there’s a real sense of randomness, which I think is something not always emphasized in film noirs (it’s often quite the opposite). Dennis Hopper is Ripley and he’s quite different than the one version of Tom Ripley I had in my mind before (Matt Damon). The star is actually German, Bruno Ganz. I’ve seen him in other Read More