1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die...Or Not

1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die…Or Not: 1977 – 1978

Rock music is about to get interesting. I’m excited. Good stuff is about to happen.

Strikethrough indicates what you probably think it does
Green indicates highly recommended listening
Underlined indicates questionable but ultimately acceptable record
Blue bold italic indicates ABSOLUTELY MUST HEAR BEFORE YOU DIE
Note: Suggested alternatives are from the same year as the contested entry unless otherwise indicated. Also, anything in Red generally indicates hazardous material

  1. Billy Joel – The Stranger (1977)

1001_Billy-Joel_StrangerYeah, hang on to the above thought. Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame singer-songwriter Billy Joel is yet another artist best experienced through a greatest hits collection. He has some undeniably good jams, two of which are on The Stranger – “Anthony’s Song (Movin’ Out)” and “Only the Good Die Young” – also considered by many fans and critics to be his best work. Ultimately, you Must Hear something/anything by this dude, just not The Stranger. Ever wondered who Ben Folds wanted to be when he was a kid? Wonder no more.

On the other hand, B.J. has some seriously unforgivable jams, including the two royal soft rock stink bombs on the record, “Just the Way You Are” and “She’s Always a Woman”. This being a zero sum game, we’re back at square one.

1001_andy-griffith-show-season-1-title-screenTrack two “The Stranger” features a whistling bit in place of what probably should have been a David Sanborn sax riff, I dunno, but the rest of the song is B.J. trying to out-faux-funk Steely Dan, and he fails. Whistling was dead and buried in rock music by this point. John Lennon and Lynyrd Skynyrd made short work of it, hadn’t they? And I’m haunted by The Andy Griffith Show theme song. If Billy Joel wanted to impress me, he should have tried Tuvan throat singing, or Gregorian chanting. I dunno. Whistling = jackass.

Meanwhile, “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant” is trite, bloated and mundane. And then, the album ends up with a six-minute reprise of the title cut. Or whatever is happening on the back end of this album, I dunno. I suppose that’s the point. There’s nothing really happening with this guy, other than the fact that, aaayyhhheee, even his piano has a New York accent. And he’s wearing a suit because fuggetabbottit.

  1. Bob Marley & The Wailers – Exodus (1977)

The second half of this album is phenomenal.

  1. Brian Eno – Before And After Science (1977)

1001_Eno_ScienceIf Eno’s solo career was a sinking ship, this is where all the rats like me would be diving overboard. It strikes me as a poor analogy, since Eno’s career has been remarkably buoyant; however, ambient music is helpful in film and theater, but in almost every other context, it’s Muzak for your life. I don’t want life to sound like it’s taking place in a hotel lobby or an elevator.

There’s an imaginary line between popular and avant-garde, not unlike the Tropic of Cancer, which you may cross without even knowing it. It’s safe to assume that Eno knew what he was doing.

  1. Chic – C’est Chic (1977)

This is the one record you would ever need to hear in order to understand disco. Not that you need to understand disco. Nevertheless, this is what people were dancing to in…wait a minute. C’est Chic wasn’t released until August 1978, so I don’t know what the fuck it’s doing here. Their first album, the one with “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)” was released in 1977, and there’s no way you Must Hear that one.

Suggested Alternative:
1001_TheBeeGeesSaturdayNightFeveSaturday Night Fever – The Original Movie Sound Track

File this under: Shit I Can’t Believe I’m About to Write.

At this point in the whole deal, I’m getting picky about albums that were overlooked by Dimery and the 1001 Albums crew. The fact that Saturday Night Fever – The Original Sound Track (1977) is NOT included on the list was a welcome discovery, but puzzling as well. Surely, if the idea is to give people an idea of what was cookin’ in 1977, Chic is a fine example of disco; however, Fever, partially due to its movie tie-in, goes above and beyond a simple representation of a genre. Its cultural impact cannot be understated as the best-selling soundtrack album of all-time until surpassed by Whitney Houston’s soundtrack to The Bodyguard (1993).

While it’s erroneously considered a Bee Gees album – they wrote and produced 8 of 17 tracks – I refuse to absolve them of the blame. All the big hits are Bee Gees’ cuts. To be clear, I despise the movie and the soundtrack as much as possible, and there is one thing on here that’s worse than disco—it’s called “How Deep Is Your Love” performed by the Bee Gees; it may be the softest soft rock song ever, and that’s saying a lot. That means it has to be worse than “Muskrat Love”. And it is. Nevertheless, Fever is one of a handful of albums I think You Must Hear even though I really don’t think You Must Hear.

  1. David Bowie – Heroes (1977)
  2. David Bowie – Low (1977)

HeroesBased on precedent (Exile on Main Street, from 1969-1971), I’m going to make one awesome album out of two occasionally brilliant but ultimately lackluster records. We’ll call it Herlows.

From ‘Heroes’:
  1. ‘Heroes’
  2. Sons of the Silent Age
  3. Sense of Doubt
  4. The Secret Life of Arabia
1001_Bowie_LowFrom Low:
  1. Speed of Light
  2. Sound + Vision
  3. Always Crashing the Same Car
  4. Warszawa

Listen, David Bowie fanatics. Many of you consider these two albums part of the ‘Berlin trilogy’; hence, some of Bowie’s best work. There is absolutely some great stuff happening here. But the rest of it sounds like Disco Dave is taunting someone from the other side of town. The bottom line is the average listener does not need to hear these records. They could and they should, but it isn’t necessary.

  1. Electric Light Orchestra – Out Of The Blue (1977)

1001_ELO-Out_of_the_Blue_LpThis one has it all: pop, rock, psych, soul, and disco, and it sounds great, too. Sadly, production values are all too often window-dressing for mediocre songwriting. Generally speaking, Out of the Blue is laboring, tiresome, and often insufferable music, best heard during a Couple’s Skate at a roller rink. And if you’re old enough to get that reference, you’re old enough to skip this record entirely.

“Turn to Stone” and “Mr. Blue Sky” are the highlights, but Double LP Syndrome claims another victim. In fact, if you were going to sit through any mid-to-late 70s ELO album, A New World Record (1976) is the one to hear. And I’m telling you, it doesn’t take very long before those fucking cellos are cheese-grating in effect, and my brain is a block of Parmesan.

Suggested Alternative:
1001_Queen_News_Of_The_WorldQueen – News of the World (1977)
I wasn’t surprised that the disappointing A Day at the Races (1976) wasn’t included on the unofficial 1001 Albums list, and I didn’t suggest it as an alternative, either. However, the cultural impact of “We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions” was on par with Saturday Night Fever, and the rest of the album is pretty solid, too.
  1. Elvis Costello – My Aim Is True (1977)
  2. Fela Kuti & The Afrika 70 – Zombie (1977)
  3. Fleetwood Mac – Rumours (1977)

She don’t lie, she don’t lie, she don’t lie. Cocaine.

1001_Elvis-Costello_AimBecause the 1001 Albums list is arranged alphabetically by year, not that it would be a fantastic pain in the ass to arrange these albums in chronological order, although don’t think for a second that I didn’t consider it, Elvis Costello appears before the Sex Pistols.

There were two major developments in rock music in 1977: punk rock and new wave.

Elvis Costello represents new wave. I’m not a fan of his work, but every time I hear a track from this or his second (and superior, IMHO) album, This Year’s Model, it’s a positive reaction: skinny ties, amphetamines, Raymond Chandler and pale blue Fender Jaguars. What could go wrong?

1001_Fela_ZombieNow that I’m intimately familiar with Fela Kuti’s main body of work, it’s safe to say that I almost wish I weren’t. There is a time and a place, within a specific context, that Kuti’s music is appropriate listening. I’m not really sure I can tell you exactly when that time is. I don’t know your life. As far as his influence on Western pop music, there are a handful of people in the world music genre who have probably ripped this guy off from here to Lagos, Nigeria. Ahem, Talking Heads? Otherwise, very few people who made records showed any influence whatsoever. Go ahead and point out some examples. I don’t care.

Fleetwood Mac, sigh. You should probably hear Rumours.

  1. Ian Dury – New Boots And Panties! (1977)
  2. Iggy Pop – Lust For Life (1977)
  3. Iggy Pop – The Idiot (1977)

Above all, I suppose I have as much respect for Ian Dury as any other Great One. People loved Ian Dury. Is he a Hall-of-Famer? Probably not. Anyway, he must have been something special over in the U.K., but we didn’t get him in the States. I get him now, but, eh. You don’t need to hear this right now…because you’re going to be making a very important decision right here.

Which Iggy Pop album are you going to listen to? You can only choose one.

Well, which one did you choose?

You’re wrong.

  1. Jean Michel Jarre – Oxygene (1977)

Oh, fuck me. Another frog with a synthesizer.

Suggested Alternative:
1001_Cheap-TrickCheap Trick – Cheap Trick
The first album from the most under-appreciated rock n’ roll band ever, according to me, is also one of the most fun, energetic and rambunctious rock performances not from a punk or new wave group in 1977. Cheap Trick continues to be left out of mature conversations about Best American Rock Band Ever. Sure, they sold some records. They hit the top of the charts. They’re still touring around the world, with three of four original members, and the drummer is the guitar player’s kid. They will be inducted into the Rn’R Hall of Fame, fingers crossed. But if people went all-in for Cheap Trick as hard as they sucked on lesser bands like Foreigner, Journey and Styx, the world may have been a better place.
  1. John Martyn – One World (1977)

No. Just. Stop. Talking about this guy.

  1. Kraftwerk – Trans-Europe Express (1977)

1001_KraftwerkSee, this is why we had synth-pop in the 80s, techno in the 90s, and glitch in the 00s. And Nintendocore today. There’s no fucking way I’m going to say you don’t need to hear this album. Otherwise, at some point in 1995, you’re going to say, “What the fuck is this Depeche Mode shit?” and someone is going to school. Save yourself the hassle and get in early.

  1. Pere Ubu – The Modern Dance (1977)

This record is not only important because it reminds me of Husker Du at half-speed. I couldn’t tell you why it’s important. I’m just guessing that there’s something more to what I’m hearing, which is some sketchy post-art rock thing.

  1. Peter Gabriel – Peter Gabriel I (1977)


At some point in the conversation, the question is going to come up. Exactly when and where do we start with Peter Gabriel’s solo career? Because there’s definitely a stopping point. While this debut album (aka Car) contains a timeless classic track “Solsbury Hill”; and a couple of hot jams (“Moribund the Burgermeister” and “Modern Love”), as a whole, it fails to transcend Gabriel’s work with his former band Genesis, i.e. maybe he shouldn’t have bailed on the band; and isn’t something you need to hear start to finish.

In fact, Car might be one of those records I think you Shouldn’t Hear, because it contains several tracks which make me question my affinity for Gabriel’s work, c.g. the unbelievably overblown, awful, torchy blues track “Waiting for the Big One”; or the bulky, disco-funk Meatloaf choogle fest, “Down the Dolce Vita”.

Furthermore, the record was produced by Bob Ezrin, who also produced Kiss – Destroyer (1976), and several other hard rock superstars (Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, The Babys). A fantastic producer, he didn’t produce another PG solo album, and I think that’s important. The main reason being, Gabriel’s got at least two, if not, three Peter Gabriel albums coming down the pipe that You Must Hear.

Suggested Alternative:
1001_Cheap-Trick_In-ColorCheap Trick – In Color
This has never been my favorite Cheap Trick record, but it has grown on me more than any other. I know I liked In Color when it first came out; my friend Ron Murphy was a huge fan of this record, but I was like, “Nah, man, I’m digging this new Ted Nugent joint.” This one couldn’t really compete; it was old news. You wanna talk about Kiss? I was All About Kiss from 1976 to 1978.
But back to In Color, aside from the light-hearted version of what would later turn out to be their first smash hit “I Want You (To Want Me)”, this album rocks power pop as hard as anything in their catalog.
  1. Sex Pistols – Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols (1977)

1001_Never_Mind_the_Sex_PistolsIf this isn’t the most important album since Sgt. Pepper, then I don’t know shit about rock music. You could argue both points, but not while this record is on the turntable.

  1. Steely Dan – Aja (1977)

Man. Man, man, man, man. I’ve gone back and forth on this one for a couple of days. Aja is clearly geared toward the more adult, sophisticated listener, but still contains the odd catchy melody and toe-tapping tempo. These guys somehow manage to make jazz rock palatable for the wider pop audience, which is no easy task. It’s a formidable recording; however, we’ve already been through two Steely Dan albums.

  1. 1001_Suicide1977Suicide – Suicide (1977)
  2. Talking Heads – Talking Heads ‘77 (1977)
  3. The Clash – The Clash (1977)

If you haven’t heard the Suicide album, you really should. The other two are slam dunks.

  1. The Modern Lovers – The Modern Lovers (1977)

Eh, I’m feeling stingy. Fuck the Modern Lovers. They have one jam, “Road Runner”, and that’s it.

  1. The Penguin Cafe Orchestra – Music From The Penguin Cafe (1977)

1001_Penguin_MusicHave you ever been waiting in line somewhere and somebody is about to cut in line, and you’re thinking, “Motherfucker, don’t you dare try to cut in on me, or I’ll knock you the fuck out right now” and then at the last minute, they change their mind, and you never wind up making eye contact with someone who just three seconds ago you would have ripped the trachea from their throat? That’s how I felt the first time I put this record on, which in fact, was less than 24 hours ago. The PCO is Moondog without the moon or the dog.

  1. The Stranglers – Rattus Norvegicus (1977)

Why not? Because they’re not important, that’s why not. Stingy mode still in effect. Another one of those records I’ve sat through so you don’t have to. No need to thank me. The Stranglers are OK, man. They have a “sound” which reminds me of the Smiths (aesthetically) from time to time, except the Smiths didn’t have that cheesy organ player, thank Jehovah. It’s just… You know who probably loved the Stranglers? Those kids in the Strokes.

Suggested Alternative:
The Damned – Damned Damned Damned
  1. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers (1977)

1001_Tom-PettyGoddamn it! I just got done rapping about the first Tom Petty record and it’s misplaced (see the last entry of 1975-76). This fucking record was released on November 9, 1976. The first single “Breakdown” was also released in ’76; however, it didn’t chart on the Billboard Hot 100 until 1978. Not that it matters. I already said this is a fine album and worthy of a complete spin.

Meanwhile, Tom Petty did release an album in 1978, You’re Gonna Get It, so close to being a Must Hear that it’s going to bother me tonight when I’m trying to sleep, for not giving it the proper respect.

  1. Weather Report – Heavy Weather (1977)

Jazz guys like to show off, even when they aren’t showing off. The big hit here is “Birdland”; a money shot for every half-wit junior high school band director in 1977. And you can’t deny the jam. It’s a real toe-tapper. Unfortunately, the rest of Heavy Weather is remarkably pedestrian, somber, almost morose, in a bad porn sort of way. The John Holmes Quintet on Swedish Erotica Records. I don’t care that it’s Joe Zawinul, Jaco Pastorius, Wayne Shorter, and Co. This is crap no matter who plays on it. Nothing happens. Things threaten to happen, but nothing ever does. There’s only so long you can be impressed by technical prowess until you start needing a melody or something to keep your interest.

1001_MahavishnuSuggested Alternative:
Mahavishnu Orchestra – Inner Mounting Flame (1971)
Gotta throw a wrench into the works every so often to keep you interested. I’d rather hear John McLaughlin practice scales than a fretless bass solo. Birds of Fire (1973) is another superior listening experience.
  1. Wire – Pink Flag (1977)

1001_Wire_PinkIf you haven’t heard this, consider yourself having missed out on something truly worthwhile.

  1. Big Star – Third/Sister Lovers (1978)

Sometimes I’m afraid to hear this album. It’s one scary, unfortunate piece of work. Sometimes I’m not in the right frame of mind to deal with it. Please note, the record was originally recorded in 1974, and this unfinished version wasn’t released until ’78. “Kangaroo” contains one of the Greatest Moments in Cowbell History.

  1. Blondie – Parallel Lines (1978)

One-and-done for this band.

  1. Brian Eno – Ambient 1: Music For Airports (1978)
  2. Bruce Springsteen – Darkness On The Edge Of Town (1978)

It’s possible that you enjoy ambient music. Good for you. Music For Airports is the seminal record of the genre, and should be Your Cup of Tea. Everybody else can fuck off to somewhere else.

1001_Springsteen_DarknessSpringsteen had legal troubles that kept him out of the studio for three years after the release of Born To Run (1975). And he does occasionally sound pissed off on this album (“Adam Raised a Cain”). There are some gorgeous moments (“Candy’s Room” – for the record, my favorite Bruce jam) and several cuts with intros way better than the jam itself (“Something in the Night”); and then, there’s talking about cars, Chevy engines with specifications. Either way, I’m sorry. It’s not a Must Hear. Check back with me when he releases The River (1980).

  1. Buzzcocks – Another Music In A Different Kitchen (1978)

Eh, stingy, stingy, stingy. The Buzzcocks are a greatest hits band who never had any hits. I like the idea of them, but when it comes down to it, I’m not sitting through “Orgasm Addict” ever again. You do what you want, but keep in mind that Singles Going Steady (1979) may or may not be on our horizon.

  1. Cheap Trick – At Budokan (1978)

cheaptrickFourteen Thousand Screaming Japanese Girls Can’t Be Wrong

  1. Devo – Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! (1978)

I’m listening to this right now.

  1. Dire Straits – Dire Straits (1978)
[Hiding out down in the basement on a weeknight, approximately 30 minutes after my bedtime, listening to FM radio on my new Pioneer turnable/8-track/cassette stereo, paid for with a combination of birthday and paper route money. The final notes of “Won’t Get Fooled Again” clamp down as Roger Daltrey whelps, “Yeah!” Followed by one second of silence.]
Double-U…Dee….Eye….Kay…kay…kay. All right, all right…all right! Fisher Bond with you, and I’m cooking up a tasty batch of tunes, just for you, folks. [Sniffs] Ummm, smell that? OK, all right! Another commercial-free, 30-minute WDIK music marathon comin’ at ya. Whaddya say to that, huh? We’re gonna hear from Sabbath, Queen, Zeppelin, and a WDIK-FM exclusive world premiere of the hot new Van Halen jam that’s set to be released next month, and I’m told tickets for all three Van Halen shows at the Auditorium sold out in less that an hour, but don’t worry if you got left out, cuz WDIK-FM 99.9 has you covered. We’re giving away 25 pairs of tickets to lucky callers, and my compadre, the monster of the midnight, Vic “The Animal” Froth will be your Van Halen ticket sugar daddy tonight, boys and girls. All right? I’m Fisher Bond and it’s my job to make sure you keep it tuned to W…D…I…K-FM 99.9…music marathon…Let’s kick it off with Dire Straits, “Sultan’s of Swing”!!!

1001_Dire-StraitsListen, this is not a swipe at the musicianship of the band. In fact, I’ve recently watched some Mark Knopfler live shit that made me say, damn, that cat can really play. If you like this type of music, then by all means; knock yourself out. But understand that even if this was the best of what Dire Straits have to offer, they’re still going to make Brothers In Arms (1985), which is one of the worst albums I have ever heard in my life, and at this point, I could invoke the BS&T Clause. And I should. But I won’t. If you must hear one of their albums in its entirety, this is it. Their next four albums are variations of themes heard herein. Shit all sounds the same. I hate this band as much you can hate something that has almost zero influence in your life.

“Sultans of Swing” in particular is one of my least favorite songs of all-time, and I’ve always thought if some day the Onion’s AV Club calls me up to do a Hatesong, “Sultans” is my hatesong, for reasons insinuated by the above dramatization.

1001_Dire-Straits_Brothers_in_ArmsImagine you’re listening to the radio, the DJ comes on and says he’s going to play all these great jams, teasing you with Sabbath and Van Halen, but wait; first, we’re going to sit through six minutes of the best Bob Dylan song he didn’t write in the 1970s, which is a cheeky way of saying, six minutes of boring sing-talk and partially digested guitar licks. Six minutes is a long fucking time if you’re waiting to hear the opening riff to “Paranoid” and you were supposed to be in bed half an hour ago.

Check out Guitar George / He knows all the chords / He’s strictly rhythm, doesn’t want to make it cry or sing
And Harry doesn’t mind if he doesn’t make the scene/ Got a daytime job / He’s doing all right

According to Rick Moore of American Songwriter in 2013:

With “Sultans of Swing” a breath of fresh air was exhaled into the airwaves in the late ’70s. Sure, Donald Fagen and Tom Waits were writing great lyrics about characters you’d love to meet and Jeff Beck and Eddie Van Halen were great guitar players. But Knopfler, he could do both things as well or better than anybody out there in his own way, and didn’t seem to have any obvious rock influences unless you try to include Dylan.
Like his contemporary and future duet partner Sting, Knopfler’s ideas were intellectually and musically stimulating, but were also accessible to the average listener. It was almost like jazz for the layman. “Sultans of Swing” was a lesson in prosody and tasty guitar playing that has seldom been equaled since. If you aren’t familiar with “Sultans of Swing” or haven’t listened to it in a while, you should definitely check it out.

Honestly, I’m wrong on this one. Dire Straits is actually a decent group, “Sultans of Swing” is a great 70s jam, Knopfler is a genius, and a million flies can’t be wrong, so eat shit. I hesitate to say they “rock.” But this song kills me, and I cursed it every time I tuned in to WDIK-FM 99.9.

1001_Peter-Gabriel2Highly Suggested Alternative:
Peter Gabriel – Peter Gabriel II (1978)

Generally known in fan circles as Scratch, the album was produced by Robert Fripp, whose influence served to tone down some of the grandiosity of Gabriel’s first album.

  1. Elis Regina – Vento De Maio (1978)

Oh God…bossa nova. Make it stop. But bring another pitcher of sangria, if you don’t mind.

Suggested Alternative:
1001_Prince_ForYouPrince – For You (1978)
Little Feat – Waiting For Columbus (1978)
  1. Elvis Costello – This Year’s Model (1978)
  2. Funkadelic – One Nation Under A Groove (1978)

Seriously, how could anyone listen to current popular music and not think, “How did we get from Elvis Costello to One Direction.” It just boggles the mind.

  1. Joe Ely – Honky Tonk Masquerade (1978)

Garth Brooks mounted this Joe Ely guy like a donkey, and rode him out of town.

Suggested Alternative:
AC/DC – If You Want Blood, You Got It
  1. Kraftwerk – The Man Machine (1978)
  2. Magazine – Real Life (1978)

1001_Magazine_-_Real_LifeThere is a particular stratum of musicians who think Kraftwerk is the Led Zeppelin of electronic music, and while Krautrock in general has its charm, it’s like running on a treadmill. You might be burning calories, but you aren’t going anywhere. You’re staring straight ahead at CNN on the flat-screen TV, probably wearing headphones and listening to Soundgarden, I dunno.

Meanwhile, I’ve given Real Life about five chances to make an impression, based largely on the guitar work of John McGeoch (Siouxsie and the Banshees). That’s four more tries than Joe Ely. There’s no doubt in my mind that if I’d heard this 37 years ago, it would have been just as beloved as At Budokan, though probably not as earth-shattering as Van Halen. Magazine would have been one of my favorite bands, for sure.

  1. Marvin Gaye – Here, My Dear (1978)
  2. Meat Loaf – Bat Out Of Hell (1978)

Thanks for the effort, Marvin, but we’re kind of…past all that now? Thanks for understanding?

Why on Earth would anyone need to hear Bat Out of Hell? That’s fucking nonsense. You’re going to hear half of it at some point. Do you think you need to be punched in the face just because you’ve never been punched in the face before?

Suggested Alternative:
1001_Heaven TonightCheap Trick – Heaven Tonight (1978)
  1. Muddy Waters – Hard Again (1978)

Produced by Johnny Winters (and mentioned here), this is not a true Must Hear, but it’s far better than any one of the following albums released in 1978.

Village People – Macho Man
Village People – Cruisin’
1001_Village-People-macho_manBachman-Turner Overdrive – Street Action
Jimmy Buffett – Son of a Son of a Sailor
Ringo Starr – Bad Boy
Jefferson Starship – Earth
Journey – Infinity
The Alan Parsons Project – Pyramid
Shaun Cassidy – Under Wraps
Toto – Toto
Kiss soloElton John – A Single Man
Melissa Manchester – Don’t Cry Out Loud
Gordon Lightfoot – Endless Wire
Atlanta Rhythm Section – Champagne Jam
Rainbow – Long Live Rock n’ Roll
Genesis – And Then There Were Three
Yes – Tormato
Santana – Inner Secrets
….and all four Kiss solo albums
  1. Pere Ubu – Dub Housing (1978)

Maintain the boogie element. Or Not.

Suggested Alternatives:
The Police – Outlandos D’Amour

1001_Police_OutlandosAnother “How Could They Skip This?” Album. Seriously? The Police weren’t so much danceable as they were energizing. Their music didn’t inspire dancing; it inspired bouncing up and down in one place for up to 90 minutes at a time.

  1. Public Image Ltd – Public Image (1978)
  2. Siouxsie & The Banshees – The Scream (1978)
  3. Talking Heads – More Songs About Buildings And Food (1978)
  4. Television – Marquee Moon (1978)

1001_Pil_FirstHere’s a perfect rainy Sunday afternoon in November. Homework has been done since Friday afternoon. Nothing on TV except football.

  1. The Adverts – Crossing The Red Sea With The Adverts (1978)

No. One song, yes.

  1. The Cars – The Cars (1978)
  2. The Jam – All Mod Cons (1978)
  3. The Only Ones – The Only Ones (1978)

The Cars probably made the most perfect pop rock album of the year, thanks in no small part to producer-genius Roy Thomas Baker, who I forgot to mention back there in 1975.

1001_The-CarsThe Jam are champions and there’s no good reason not to hear All Mod Cons. However, as an album, it starts to wear thin—if we were actually listening to an LP, call it side two. It’s not their best record by a long shot.

The Only Ones are a well-kept secret, and I’m sure there are reasons they didn’t stick around long enough for anyone to notice. However, this album gets better every time I hear it.

  1. The Residents – Duck Stab/Buster And Glen (1978)

Humor has a very specious (i.e. deceptively appealing) place in rock music. It should make you smirk, at most. This album makes me feel like I’m tickling myself. It’s like Zappa without so many guitar solos.

  1. The Saints – Eternally Yours (1978)
  2. Thin Lizzy – Live And Dangerous (1978)

1001_Thin_Lizzy_-_Live_and_DangerousThe Saints are a minor figure in the sub-punk genre, i.e. Australia’s version. Not a Must Hear. Saxophones.

Live & Dangerous would be fucking A-M-A-Z-I-N-G if it were anywhere near a live recording. According to producer Tony Visconti, about 25% of this album is live. According to surviving band members, it’s 75% live. Who are you going to believe? The producer, that’s who.

What does Tony Visconti have to gain or lose by saying that more than half of this record was manufactured the way 95% of other records are made? On one hand, it makes him look like a terrible live audio engineer. On the other hand, it makes the band look bad because they were so high on booze and coke that the original tapes were complete shit, and they had to go back in the studio and fix it. There is no question on anybody’s behalf that Thin Lizzy was trying to cash in on the Kiss double live LP phenomenon.

Since we’ve already heard all the tight cuts from Thin Lizzy, a live album is negligible unless it features previously unheard material. L&D does not. On the other hand, it could almost count as a greatest hits collection, and thus, worth the effort, but it doesn’t contain “Fightin’ My Way Back”, so I’m telling you it’s not.

  1. Throbbing Gristle – DOA: Third And Final Report (1978)

This is partially where industrial music comes from. Do you need to hear all of it? Probably not.

  1. Van Halen – Van Halen (1978)

1001_Van_Halen_albumHave you noticed an absence of Big Names in Hard Rock during the period? No Zeppelin, Sabbath, Alice Cooper, Deep Purple, the Who, the Stones, or Bad Company, etc.? That’s because: (a) Those bands were done; and (b) Van Halen was the new reigning champion of hard rock. Nobody put out a record to rival the explosiveness of this album. Originally, I’d written another personal anecdote specifically related to the album, i.e. where I was and what I was doing the first time I heard it. And then I thought, “Who fucking cares?”

  1. Willie Colon & Ruben Blades – Siembra (1978)
  2. Willie Nelson – Stardust (1978)

1001_Willie-Nelson_StardustI don’t know how he did it, but Willie Nelson made the most innocuous album ever. It’s almost impossible to find a flaw with Stardust. So you were wondering whatever happened to country rock and all that nonsense? This is where it wound up: In soft rock hell. And if I’m going to hell, I guess I’ll see you there.

  1. X-Ray Spex – Germ Free Adolescents (1978)

“Oh Bondage, Up Yours” and all that. This record is pretty cool. Not a Must Hear.

Suggested Alternatives:
1001_Gen-x-album-coverThe Clash – Give ‘Em Enough Rope
XTC – Go 2
Black Flag – Nervous Breakdown EP
Generation X – Generation X
Ultravox – Systems of Romance
Seriously, there are probably 50 albums you should hear before X-Ray Spex. Even Rush – Hemispheres is more valuable as a listening experience.

Net Reduction of Albums From the Period: 27
Suggested Alternatives: Too many to count
Running AYMHBYD Total: 897

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