TEN FROM 77

1977.

Forty years ago.

Punk sprouted, prog continued, pop morphed; great albums littered the highways of contemporary music…

This is the first post of a possible series, presenting albums worthy of acclaim four decades after release.

I’ve excluded albums previously covered at Vinyl Connection. So to read about the following gold-plated favourites, just click on the link.

Steely Dan — Aja

Genesis — Wind & Wuthering

Radio Birdman — Radios Appear

Steve Winwood — Steve Winwood

Tangerine Dream — Sorcerer

The Vibrators — Pure Mania

Ramones — Rocket To Russia

Plus a whole lotta jazz funk and some John Sangster.

The biggest challenge was limiting this pop/rock list to just ten. Leaving out The Idiot by Iggy Pop was painful, while overlooking faux-Essex poet Ian Dury (New Boots & Panties) was an outrage. But enough equivocating.

Let the countdown begin.

10  Santana — Moonflower

Given its unusual combination of live and studio material, Moonflower is surprisingly satisfying. While perhaps missing the creative drive of the first five albums, Moonflower is thoroughly enjoyable, due in no small part to the outstanding keyboard contributions of Tom Coster. Choosing a song to cover is a fraught business, but Carlos and the lads got it right with The Zombie’s ‘She’s not there’, a Top 10 single. I often drag Moonflower out as the weather gets warmer; it begs for a long cold drink and somewhere to put your feet up. Or dance, if you’re that way inclined.

9  The Saints — (I’m) Stranded

Sometimes called Australia’s Sex Pistols (dumb—they were much more Downunder Ramones), The Saints roared out of Brisbane with uncompromising ur-punk rock dripping sneer and kick-arse guitar. Except they’d been going four years by the time this album arrived. When you listen, it makes sense; plenty of Stooges, Ramones, MC5 here, but powered by a raging desire to cut through suburban malaise. They succeed indelibly.

8  Jethro Tull — Songs from the Wood

In 1977, many progressive bands were easing towards the mainstream (Yes, PFM, ELP). Not Jethro Tull. They headed for the deep countryside, spinning tales of Jacks-in-the-green and rustic folk (‘Hunting girl’). This is folk-rock for lost England, a beguiling fantasy of elegant (yet robust) playing and tight harmonies (‘Ring out Solstice bells’). Yet they don’t forget to rock out (‘Pibroch (Cap in hand)’) while spinning some terrific melodies. Sprightly and refreshing.

One of my favourite back covers

7  Genesis — Seconds Out

To dismiss Seconds Out as a stop-gap release between the wonderful Wind and Wuthering and the disappointing post-Hackett And Then There Were Three would be critically defensible but manifestly unfair. Sure, they had something to prove—that Genesis sans-Gabriel was a viable operation capable of both creating and touring—but to prove it so decisively was a magnificent effort. Phil Collins is fabulous on vocals, while Chester Thompson on the drum-stool performs with power and finesse (talking of which, Bill Bruford appears as well). I know some are averse to live albums, but this could change the mind of even a Genesis doubter. Fabulous across four sides.

6  Little Feat — Time Loves A Hero

While not the best album in the Little Feat catalogue—key figure Lowell George was drowning in addictions and far from present during recordings—Time Loves is an excellent example of their laid back but insistent groove. Sometimes jazzy (the title track), sometimes super funky (‘Rocket in my pocket’), the playing is fabulous and the arrangements inventive and tight. If you don’t know Little Feat, start with Sailin’ Shoes. But if you haven’t grooved with the Feat for a while, this will remind you that heroes sometimes do transcend time.

5  David Bowie — Low

It’s like Bowie took the train from Station to Station, abandoning the histrionic romanticism of that album’s ballads at the German border. These songs are complex and dense, angry and intense. There is a kinship between Low and Marquee Moon, which speaks to the street-fighting elegance of both artists.

Standouts: The extraordinary triple-play of ‘Sound & vision’ leading into ‘Always crashing the same car’ then dissolving into ‘Be my wife’. The Bowie/Eno co-composed instrumental pair of ‘Warszawa’ and ‘Art Decade’ is captivating.

4  Television — Marquee Moon

For those who thought ‘guitar album’ meant The Allman Brothers or Wishbone Ash, Marquee Moon was a slice of six-string ear-corrugation. Guitarists Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd weave jagged industrial interplay throughout deceptively simple songs, creating an adventurous record that richly rewards repeated listening. The album doesn’t groove or strut, it lopes the mean NY streets with its collar turned up against the wind and a pocket bulge that may or may not be a gun.

Standouts: ‘Venus’ is a crazy garage romance—I stood up, walked out of the arms of Venus de Milo—while the title track is a stuttering ten minute epic whose recurring riffs drill into your psyche.

3  Pink Floyd — Animals

The balance between social observation and self-indulgence is tricky. Unlike the albums that followed, Roger Waters got it right here, producing the last great Pink Floyd album. Bitter, angry and sullen by turns, Animals counterbalances the dreamy romanticism of Wish You Were Here with bleak lyrics and throbbing, rolling instrumental sections. There’s more Gilmour guitar here than you’d think, and it cuts through the gloom like a flashlight. So late 70s, yet paradoxically timeless.

Standouts: Pointless to sub-divide the work. It is what it is and you love-hate it or not.

2  The Clash — The Clash

Holy shit, what a debut. Smashing out angry rock songs full of piss and vinegar, The Clash showed both that they really could play and that they were no one-trick ponies. There is a clutch of memorable street-savvy songs here, adding up to an album spurting energy, sweat and conviction. The US version replaced no less than five songs from the UK original with tracks that are, frankly, stronger.

Standouts: ‘White riot’ howls, ‘London’s burning’ snarls, and ‘Career opportunities’ stamps its feet, while the surprising reggae cover ‘Police & thieves’ presages later work. Add another cover (US version), ‘I fought the law’ and the chest thumping ‘Clash city rockers’ and you have a kick-down-the-door arrival.

1  David Bowie — Heroes

A side of songs and a side of instrumentals. What pop artist has been so daring? Well, Bowie, obviously; he did it at the beginning of the year with Low. Here there is added edge to the sound, due in no small part to the guitar contributions of Robert Fripp, while a moody intensity pervades the non-vocal pieces, completely drawing in the listener with detail and electronic filigree. A perfect black and white snapshot of an era that was future-retro before the term had been coined.

Standouts: almost everything, but particularly strutting, exotic opener ‘Beauty and the beast’, ‘V2 Schneider’ (a nod to Kraftwerk) followed by ‘Sense of doubt’ (equally riveting on Philip Glass’s ‘Heroes’ Symphony) and of course the iconic title cut.

*

Something here sound appealing? Outraged by an omission? Put in your tuppence worth!

64 comments

  1. What a year for music and albums that came from it. No wonder more than few of these are in ye ol’ collection 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Too right. Coulda bin a couple of dozen highlights, easy!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice one, Bruce. Hard to disagree with your rundown and pleasantly surprised to see ‘Time Loves A Hero’ in here. Always one of my favourites but frequently derided by LF ‘fans’. Probably Richie Hayward’s finest hour behind the drums.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s a lot to love about TLAH for sure. Unintended contribution, Red Streamliner introduced background singers Michael McDonald to Patrick Simmons of the Doobies. Not a bad day at the dog races.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Little Feat seem often overlooked these days. Great band.
        Thanks for joining in the conversation.
        Bruce.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Good choice! Can be continued … what impressed me in 1977 was this debile face with the twisted eyes of Johnny Rotten in the late TV-news – no fun, in the future one had to turn the TV ninety degrees to know how about the stand of music.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, the Pistols were a media ‘sensation’, for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Bruce, I’d be outraged if this didn’t become a series!
    Well said about the psyche drilling riffs on MM

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Geoff.

      (BTW, I went to check if you’d done Marquee Moon, but couldn’t find a ‘Search’ widget on the home page.)

      Like

  5. Nice choices. I have the Genesis and the Pink Floyd. I am ashamed I don’t have those Bowie on vinyl, but that will be resolved over the next year as I start adding more of his to my collection.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. These two would be fab places to begin expanding a Bowie holding! I imagine you already know how good they are and will enjoy them immensely again!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh yes. I am redoing the vinyl and he is in my list of albums I want. I have Cracked Actor which is my favorite vinyl right now.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Nice list, and I hope for another series, surprised by Seconds Out, Live albums are difficult this one is marred by I Know What I like which was the beginning of Genesis’s love affair with the medley that went so wrong in the 80’s, however that was all in the future when the guitar departed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. With you on medleys – lazy and almost self-parodying – but I’ll defend Seconds Out as a muscley, sincere collection. The old stuff is presented authentically and the newer stuff energetically.
      Bing! Next round. Seconds out! 😵

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      1. Yes it’s a classic, used to annoy my Dad every Sunday. Before Collins got to vocal with is additions to the lyrics and “oh yeah’s”

        Liked by 2 people

  7. Great list! Songs from the Wood and Seconds Out are both sensational and oft underappreciated. When I think of 77 I always think of My Aim is True and Talking Heads 77…those would be my additions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Excellent suggestions, both. And both were on the long list. Really, the only defence is a certain laziness on the writer’s part – I don’t know those two as well as they deserve and would have needed to have one or two refresher listens.
      Confession complete.

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  8. Have several of these on vinyl and a few on digital. Nice list!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Pretty hard to go too far wrong with a year ‘Best of’ list!

      Like

  9. Well, other than your having to mention the number of years it’s been since 1977, this was a perfect list. Because my introduction to Genesis didn’t come for a few years later (Abacab), for several years I was only familiar with Three Sides Live as their live album. Later I worked my back (all the way back) and I finally heard Seconds Out. As much as I like Three Sides, I prefer Seconds Out more because they hadn’t yet reached that more commercial sound just yet. A pity they eventually gave up playing “Squonk” in their later shows.

    Great post, Bruce. – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers Marty. Absolutely with you – ‘Squonk’ is a fabulous opener and album highlight. Did you get back as far as their first live album eventually? I still enjoy it a lot, though I know there are some nay-sayers.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Apparently I read that post of yours because I see I “liked” it, but I don’t recall reading it. So I enjoyed again just now. It took me far longer to get back to that album — embarrassingly long. I think their last album “We Can’t Dance” had already come out. I’m not sure why I ignored it for so long, but I agree it’s an absolute masterpiece. For those who like to minimize Phil’s abilities, especially behind the kit, that album in particular shows off his stuff quite well. Ditto for Tony, of course. I know there is great pressure on the band to release what are known as “board tapes” from their concerts. Should that ever happen, we might get additional opportunities to hear more of this kind of thing.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You’re certainly right about the plethora of archival material out there. Guess those poor multi-millionaires need to top up their super. but at least we get to revel in some great live material!

          Liked by 1 person

  10. Reblogged this on The Future is Past and commented:
    I’ve been struck down by virus this week so haven’t prepared a post.
    Luckily vinylconnection has produced this eloquent look at 1977 through 10 albums. Yep it wasn’t all punk there was no stopping Genesis or Jethro Tull. Little Feet had hit the end of the road and I thought Low was 1976 but haven’t really got the energy to check that. Thanks Vinyl you’ve saved my bacon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not good that you’re laid ‘Low’ (sorry!) but happy to have helped conserve bacony substances.

      As for the other ‘Low’, it was released in January 1977. What a year for Mr Bowie.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. What a year indeed,two historic albums in nine months, a talented chap clearly!. Many thanks, I’m fine now but busy, a day’s illness rather dented my schedule.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I envy your powers of recovery! Hope the schedule sorts itself out.

          Liked by 1 person

  11. Marquee Moon wasn’t #1? Whaaaat? 😉

    Good choices – nice shout to the Ramones, too! I might throw in the Stones’ Love you Live, but I’m biased…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. A Top #5 placing for MM is pretty good, isn’t it?
      Have heard that live Stones a few times. Meh. (Ducks for cover behind the Berlin Wall).

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      1. Haha it’s all good. I mean, I did mention my bias. And apparently a bias for MM applies as well!

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Some others I like. Rumours. Exodus. Going for the One.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. All contenders, all missed out (on this list). I’d love to read a Aphoristical ’77 list!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Top 5 best to worst would probably be:
        Rumours
        Marquee Moon
        Low
        The Clash
        Going For The One

        Pretty similar to your top five, really.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Actually, forgot a bunch, let’s make it a top ten:
          Rumours – Fleetwood Mac
          Marquee Moon – Television
          Before and After Science – Eno
          Low – David Bowie
          The Clash – The Clash (although technically I have the later version with White Man (in Hammersmith Palais) and Complete Control)
          All ‘n All – Earth, Wind, and Fire
          Going For The One – Yes
          One World – John Martyn
          Aja – Steely Dan (still digesting this one, could move)
          El Mirage – Jimmy Webb

          There’s also a great compilation (Decade) and a great live album (Townes Van Zandt) from that year.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Don’t know a couple of those, but looks suitably diverse. I’m toying with another 10, kind of ‘Alt’ (meaning not so well known!). Eno’s on it.
          I think you and I might have previously agreed that Decade is a way superior compilation too.

          Liked by 2 people

  13. Favorite line of the post: “Holy shit, what a debut.” Indeed! Like Aphoristical, I would add Rumours to the bunch. And maybe The Jam’s In The City. That Jethro Tull back cover is terrific and, as if I needed any reminding, the cover of Low is a mini-refresher course in David Bowie’s beauty.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are right, of course. Even though I don’t use the word in my own head, Bowie was beautiful (after he had the orthodontic work done, at least). I see words such as magnetic, ethereal, mesmerising, which could easily add up to beautiful.

      And I would have had Rumours on the list a couple of decades ago. Perhaps because it is so well known, I rarely think to play it. That’s doesn’t make it any less timeless, of course. Never got into The Jam, other than the singles.

      Like

  14. I know your top 6, but I’m less familiar with the rest, so difficult to disagree. However, no Iggy Pop!? Aw man… both The Idiot and Lust For Life would appear in my ten. Maybe. I’d throw Pacific Ocean Blue, Live At The Old Quarter, Rumours and American Stars N Bars in there, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. All fine choices. Of course, part of the idea of a list is to invite folks to tender their own, so thanks J!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Indeed. The conversation a good list generates is certainly as engaging as a good list.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. hello mate! agreed on “moonflower” and on “seconds out”. i have both (though the origin of the first one remains a mystery. my fav little feat’s is “down on the farm”, which i think is the final goodbye to lowell george.
    as to PFM (you quoted them), the sad about them is that their creativity died after the live albums with DeAndrè and their own live albums the musicians all went their own way running after their own single projects. they didn’t even eased towards the mainstream, they actually died as a band (though now part of it toured last summer).
    i like this series anyway! keep it alive!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. PFM’s ‘Cook’ is one of my favourite live albums. Full of life and excitement. Don’t know the later stuff… I stopped at ‘Jet Lag’. But how nice to have a little conversation about Premiata Forneria Marconi!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “Se / le / brescion”, as “celebration” reads in Italian. it’s the way they funnily put it on the album cover. PFM is history down here, together with Banco del Mutuo Soccorso (twhose frontman, Francesco, died in a car crash months ago) and the New Trolls. Avant-garde really. Lucio “Violin” Fabbri has appeared over and over at the Festival Sanremo, that celebrates Italian pop/melodic/and various genres music, as Maestro to direct the Rai orchestra for some singers. Franz Di Cioccio – I think he has participated to a project for the release of a new collection of hits by his long-gone friend Lucio Battisti. Music is a virus, and there’s no cure, eheh 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  16. One of the most represented years in my collection this, so I’d find it impossible to pick 10 – so good job there. Mine wouldn’t include Jethro Tull (I have inherited a dislike bordering on hatred of Ian Anderson from my mum), or The Clash (never liked that one very much).

    You have to crowbar Rocket to Russia and Let There Be Rock in there somewhere surely?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. PS – just reread it properly and understand the absence of Rocket to Russia. Just replace with Ramones Leave Home then. Easy.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Easy Peasy. Would love to read your Top 10 + N favourites from ’77. More Vibrators than Van Der Graaf I imagine.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Okay, without using a database – here it goes:

          Ramones – Leave Home (massively underrated LP)
          AC/DC – Let There Be Rock (Overdose may be my fave song of theirs)
          Television – Marquee Moon
          Fela Kuti – Zombie
          Jean Michel Jarre – Oxygene
          Peter Tosh- Equal Rights
          Kraftwerk – Trans-Europe Express
          Saints – (I’m) Stranded
          Stranglers – Rattus Norvegicus
          Sex Pistols – Never Mind the Bollocks
          Aerosmith – Draw The Line
          Hawkwind – Quark Strangeness & Charm
          Iggy Pop – Lust For Life
          Pink Floyd – Animals

          14 is pretty disciplined for one of my Top 10’s – there might be a 1976, or a 1978 that’s sneaked past the bouncers in there too.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Indeed, it’s a grand list, and one whose glory transcends the petty limitations of 1/1/77 to 31/12/77. (Oxygene & Zombi are 1976 but if you were doing it from memory, all is forgiven).

          Liked by 1 person

        3. I cannot be held by mere time itself! I am legion! etc etc.

          Liked by 1 person

        4. Bloody Equinoxe then!

          Liked by 1 person

        5. By Crom’s hairy arse!

          Liked by 1 person

  17. Pretty much the same record collection. What kind of clothes were you wearing back then? And yes another couple installments on this vibe would be cool.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ha! Daggy clothes, most likely!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah but you made them look good.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. My list from ’77 would have included: Moroccan Roll (Brand X), Feels Good to Me (Bruford), and Heavy Weather (Weather Report). Live albums from the seventies were usually of disappointingly poor quality and I never did like punk (although I’m grateful for what came after the punk pioneers).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, stay tuned for an (eventual) list that includes at least one of those three!

      Now available here!

      Like

  19. pinklightsabre · · Reply

    Gosh that’s solid. I know about half these records, enjoyed your remarks about all of them. And any time, the use of the word ‘filigree,’ of course. Musical word…I read somewhere that Marquee Moon was the first example of no-blues-in-guitar form. Something I think Fripp did as well, but I’m out of my league to speak on that. Thanks Bruce for this super rundown on 77, should definitely do as a series. Bill

    Like

    1. Cheers Bill. This series is pretty hardcore music based, isn’t it? So a bit of filigree goes a long way.
      Certainly Marquee Moon was critical in the US (and particularly the NY) scene. Non-blues was old news in European rock, of course, in no small part due to the efforts of Mr Fripp.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. […] the VC list of 200+ albums bearing the year 1977 that before even putting fingers to keyboard for Ten from 77, I’d already compiled two further rough lists, one kind of progressive and electronic and the […]

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  21. Great list. Really glad to see Little Feat make it in and I remember listening to Songs from the Wood over and over.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad some good musical memories were evoked, DCW. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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