Tag: 1977

Shoes – Black Vinyl Shoes

ARTIST: Shoes  R-4444570-1365064987-9145.jpeg

TITLE: Black Vinyl Shoes

YEAR RELEASED: 1977

CHART ACTION:  None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Power pop mavens only

LINEUP: John Murphy, Jeff Murphy, Gary Klebe, Skip Murphy

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Indie before indie. Three friends from Zion, IL decided to form a band, and after three years released this on their own label selling it via mail order. It was then picked up by an established indie label, and the buzz started! R-5062814-1383492565-7635.jpeg

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: If you weren’t punk rock, you didn’t do what the Shoes did. They decided to form a band, went away for a year to learn instruments, brought in a drummer, recorded two acetates, then after 3 ½ years released this collection on their own label. They recorded in their own studio and did everything themselves, until PVC / Jem picked them up.

What do we have then? Polished power pop, with hooks and great choruses. The three principals (the Murphy brothers and Klebe) all sing in a similar airy, breathy way and harmonize well. For 1977 / 1978, the music press was gushing about this record, as an alternative to staid corporate rock and toward the promise of what Big Star and the Raspberries held a few years before.

And yes, there’s some resemblance to the Cars. But the Cars were local in Boston at this point without a record deal. The mined the same lode for their sounds, that’s all.

As a listener now, you get a sense that the band was almost ready to escape Zion, IL and go national. They crammed 15 tracks onto two sides of vinyl, and while this isn’t as consistently good as their major label records that would follow, it’s fairly amazing that kids from a Chicago suburb (almost Wisconsin) could do this all themselves without any help in the 70’s. R-2886208-1406157665-3279.jpeg

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They recorded two other albums before this – an acetate for the four of them, and a 300 count pressing that occurred when Klebe was in France.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

 GRADE B+: You can sometimes tell this is in a home studio, if you really want to pick nits, but it’s pretty impressive record and got them noticed.

AC/DC – Let There Be Rock

ARTIST: AC / DC  220px-ACDC-LetThereBeRock

TITLE: Let There Be Rock

YEAR RELEASED: 1977

CHART ACTION: #154 US, #17 UK

SINGLES: Dog Eat Dog, Let There Be Rock, Whole Lotta Rosie (#68 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Go Down, Problem Child, Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be

LINEUP: Bon Scott, Angus Young, Malcolm Young, Mark Evans, Phil Rudd

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: AC / DC’s best early album gives them a UK fan base.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After Atlantic refused to release Dirty Deeds, AC/DC went back to the studio, determined to give the world an album that no one could resist, without compromise. They succeeded.

From the opening notes “Go Down” to the end of “Whole Lotta Rosie”, the boys cranked out a loud and fierce record that illustrated all of the high points of the band. Bon Scott’s leering vocals are on point, Malcolm and Angus Young burn out riffs and guitar magic, and Phil Rudd’s drums give everyone a unwavering platform. In the midst of the beginnings of punk, the rise of disco, and the decline of glam and prog, AC/DC delivered uncompromising, ugly rock-and-roll. Let_There_Be_Rock

Of the eight tracks, nearly every single one is recognizable as an AC/DC staple. For a band that’s gone on as long as they have, that’s praise indeed.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Soon after the release, Cliff Williams replaced Mark Evans as bassist.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Kinda – Atlantic replaced “Crabsody in Blue” with “Problem Child” from Dirty Deeds. That’s an A+ replacement.

 GRADE A: An essential Bon Scott AC/DC recording. Play loud, of course.

Heart – Little Queen

ARTIST: Heart                                              Little_Queen_Heart

TITLE: Little Queen

YEAR RELEASED: 1977

CHART ACTION: #9 US, #34 UK

SINGLES: Barracuda (#11), Little Queen (#62), Kick it Out (#79), Love Alive

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Probably not unless you had this

LINEUP: Ann Wilson, Nancy Wilson, Roger Fisher, Howard Leese, Steve Fossen, Michael DeRosier

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The Wilson sisters and band rush released this album to capitalize on their monster hit, and it’s a diverse mix of rock, folk, and prog.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Though Magazine was to be their official second album, Ann and Nancy Wilson were rightfully angry at their record company for some shenanigans, resulting in the song “Barracuda”, a change in record company, and the old company releasing Magazine as a half-done, half-baked album.

A longer story ensues, needless to say this is the proper second album and I’m skipping Magazine for good reason.

Though most of their radio hits were hard rockin’, this second album picks up a lot of folk elements from their first, and even extends them into prog territory thanks to multi-everything Howard Leese. The diversity is impressive and instrumentally, they can pull it off.

Yet, showing some strain and some rushed out tracks, not everything works well. The second side especially shows some dreaded filler. It’s still a good record, but could have been better had they had time.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They won a court order that allowed this album to be released, and they re-mixed Magazine as best they could.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a version with a demo version and a live cut from 1976.

GRADE B+: Some interesting arrangements and good rock-and-roll, but some filler drags it down.

Dr. Feelgood – Be Seeing You

ARTIST: Dr. Feelgood                220px-Be_Seeing_You_Album_Cover

TITLE: Be Seeing You

YEAR RELEASED: 1977

CHART ACTION: #55 UK

SINGLES: She’s a Windup (#34 UK), Baby Jane

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Noooo

LINEUP: Lee Brilleaux, John B. Sparks, Gypie Mayo, The Big Figure

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: First album with a new guitarist shakes some of the rust off of the band, but it’s still not as vital as their early work.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The first track, a perfunctory cover of “Ninety Nine and a Half (Won’t Do)” gave me pause that this Dr. Feelgood album would be the end of the road for my reviews of them. But then as more originals and obscure covers followed it showed that the change in guitarist somewhat energized the band.

Gypie Mayo is no Wilko Johnson, but the band seemed game for adding his guitar style to the mix, and his songwriting helped the originals. The covers seem to have more depth and crate digging, bringing deep cuts to the fore.

It’s a bit of a renaissance for the band, who were almost considered DOA when Wilko left by the wags. They had a few good years left in them, and this album points the way toward those.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Gypie Mayo’s real name was John Cawthra.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE: B: Decent old-time, old-fashioned rock-and-roll for the UK scene.

Journey – Next

ARTIST: Journey                                 Journey_Next

TITLE: Next

YEAR RELEASED: 1977

CHART ACTION: #85

SINGLES: Spaceman

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: You’re kidding, right?

LINEUP: Greg Rollie, Neal Schon, Ross Valory, Aynsley Dunbar

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Third album for the band still find them in prog land at times, bland rock land at other times, and you wonder why they stayed on a label.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The third record from this band of ex-West Coast bands had elements of guitar rock and prog, and is…BORING AS FUCK. No really, it is.

The songs meander and wander, allowing Neal Schon and Greg Rollie space to solo, and only on the title cut does the energy pick up. The rest of just generic rock and balladeering, played with competence but not brilliance.

While some are (still?) upset that they moved to a more pop direction with the addition of a lead singer (see below), the fact is that they’d have been dropped and no one would remember them had they not changed direction. These albums would just be dust in the library.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: First, they never performed the single in concert, which is odd. They also didn’t record the album with a front man, but soon after hired Robert Fleischmann, who was there briefly, co-writing some tracks. He left and then the band found Steve Perry.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: C-: I had to wake myself up to write this review. EXILED

The Boomtown Rats – The Boomtown Rats

ARTIST: The Boomtown Rats        220px-boomtown_rats_-_the_boomtown_rats_album_cover

TITLE:  The Boomtown Rats

YEAR RELEASED: 1977

CHART ACTION: #18 UK

SINGLES: Lookin’ After No. 1 (#11 UK), Mary of the 4th Form (#15 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Joey’s on the Street Again

LINEUP: Bob Geldof, Pete Briquette, Garry Roberts, Gerry Cott, Simon Crowe, Johnny Fingers

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Debut record by the Irish band has a punk attitude with a some melody shining through. It’s a bit inconsistent, like most debut punk records.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Emigrating from Ireland to London, the Boomtown Rats’ blend of punk with some R&B and Irish influences proved to be popular. The energy of the band carried through even though some of the songs seemed to be rushed or redundant and didn’t quite fit at times.
Bob Geldof’s vocals and energy was the focal point of the band, and his lyrical observations were starting to break out of some of the punk rock limitations. The band, though, was still rather much in the punk rock style and sound for most of the album, except a couple of times where they slowed down enough for Johnny Fingers’ piano to shine through.

The songs are rather inconsistent, except for the singles, and “Joey’s on the Street Again”, which showed Geldof listened to Springsteen. But it was a decent start and there was going to be more good things happening to the band.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The original name of the band was The Nightlife Thugs.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, live demos.

GRADE: B: Decent debut, they were already outgrowing punk but still seemed limited by the genre.

Ramones – Rocket to Russia

ARTIST: Ramones                  220px-ramones_-_rocket_to_russia_cover

TITLE:  Rocket to Russia

YEAR RELEASED: 1977

CHART ACTION: #49 US, #60 UK

SINGLES: Sheena Is a Punk Rocker (#81 US, #22 UK), Rockaway Beach (#66 US), Do You Wanna Dance (#86 US).

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Cretin Hop, Teenage Lobotomy, Surfin Bird

LINEUP: Johnny, Joey, Dee Dee, Tommy

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT:  An actual hit record! Well, a minor hit but Top 50 albums aren’t anything to sneeze at.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After a couple of great records, the Ramones made what many consider their magnum opus. A cleaner sound, some additional chords, a few songs not just hard-and-fast, and a lot of fun made this the album of 1977, sales be damned.

From the opening cut (“Cretin Hop”), through the singles, and the album cuts tender (“Here Today, Gone Tomorrow”), nihilistic (“I Don’t Care”), and fun (“We’re a Happy Family”), this is a record for any rock fan. It’s also a value proposition with 14 cuts, with almost every cut a classic or near-classic.

The band also continued to show their love for old rock-and-roll with covers of “Surfin’ Bird” and “Do You Wanna Dance”.

This was on a trajectory to be a big hit, but then the Ramones were lumped into the ‘troubling’ punk rock genre in the UK (thanks Sex Pistols) and it stalled. But it’s still a great ride.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Tommy Ramone (nee Tommy Erdelyi) left the band after this album to focus on production.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. Some live cuts, B-sides and demos.

GRADE: A+: If you buy just one Ramones album (and you must), buy this.

Graham Parker – Stick to Me

ARTIST: Graham Parker     Stick_to_me_cover

TITLE:  Stick to Me

YEAR RELEASED: 1977

CHART ACTION: #125 US, #19 UK

SINGLES: The New York Shuffle

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down.

LINEUP: Graham Parker, Brinsley Schwartz, Bob Andrews, Martin Belmont, Andrew Bodner, Steve Goulding + session horns

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Parker and his band the Rumour rip through ten songs with raw emotion and fire.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Parker’s third album in two years found him just as angry as he had been. The music, though, had more of a soul element to it which softened the edge a bit.

The band and Parker sounded like they were in a hurry, and they were. They had to record this quickly. It helps the recording in my ears. Even though it’s a bit less polished than other records at the time, it had an immediacy about it.

Still, sales were low in the US and he blamed his record company and soon split with Mercury. While this may not have been right for mass consumption in 1977, it certainly should have had more ears than it did.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The record had to be redone, in a week. The original recording was unusable thanks to a problem with the tape (it was oxidizing before their eyes), so they had to rush a re-do with Nick Lowe producing.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A-: I like the rawer sound, even though it was due to necessity.

 

Heartbreakers – L. A. M. F.

ARTIST: Heartbreakers                    220px-Heartbreakerslamf

TITLE:  L. A. M. F.

YEAR RELEASED: 1977

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: One Track Mind, It’s Not Enough, Chinese Rocks

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Born To Lose

LINEUP: Johnny Thunders, Jerry Nolan, Walter Lure, Billy Rath

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Infamous, short lived band that was an offshoot from the New York Dolls release a flawed, yet great, album that caused a lot of controversy and crisis and led to the band’s early demise.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Heroin. Why does anyone do it? This album is so steeped in the drug that it overwhelms the story of it.

Formed when the New York Dolls imploded, Jerry Nolan and Johnny Thunders formed the Heartbreakers, and took their heroin habit with them. The band left New York and gigged in London, where their music was getting a lot of great reception. So an album was recorded, and then it was mixed. It was mixed here, there and everywhere in London. It was said that many trips to remix the album were covers for drug buys. Still, no one was happy with the mix, and when the album came out it sounded like crap even though you could tell the songs had a lot of potential.

Nolan left due to the rotten mixes. Johnny Thunders kept going to lesser and lesser reward (and more and more drugs).

What we have here is the 1977 mixes, and it sounds decent. The problem then was that the manufacturing of the records was flawed, and any remixes made the sound worse than it really was. So, you can hear the grungy, gritty, punky sounds as they were intended. Yeah, there’s a lot of drug references (“Chinese Rocks”). But it’s great, sloppy rock-and-roll for the most part.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Not only was the mix problematic, but they were also getting confused with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. Not even in the same area code as far as band styles go.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. The version out now has the original mixes, the best ‘remix’ released in 1994, and demos and live cuts. All for a dozen tunes or so.

GRADE: A-: A footnote now, but in 1977 in London the Heartbreakers were the real deal and the music press ate them up, and then spit them out, much like heroin did as well.

Cheap Trick – In Color

ARTIST: Cheap Trick                220px-Cheap_Trick_In_Color

TITLE:  In Color

YEAR RELEASED: 1977

CHART ACTION: #73

SINGLES: I Want You to Want Me, Southern Girls

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Downed, Clock Strikes Ten

LINEUP: Robin Zander, Rick Nielsen, Tom Petersson, Bun E. Carlos

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Illinois power-pop rocking band makes a commercial play. The album is fantastic, and it’s a breakout…in Japan.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: “I Want You to Want Me” is one of the signature songs by Cheap Trick, and it’s on this here album. But the version here is a lot more poppy and melodic, not driven by Nielsen and Carlos, really, but more by the bass of Petersson and a piano, and it’s not as rock-n-roll as the version we all know and love. The band had complained that producer Tom Werman sweetened their sound.

That may be the one song affected by it. The rest of the album sounds just fine to my ears. “Downed”, “Big Eyes”, “Oh, Caroline”, “Come On, Come On” and the rest have a fire in them that allows for the tunes to shine through, but there’s muscle in them as well. Nielsen’s songs are well crafted, with the right balance of melody and power.

They ate this thing up in Japan. “Clock Strikes Ten” hit #1 there, and “I Want You to Want Me” was a favorite. They broke out somewhere, and it was just a matter of time before they would here in the US. A band with this kind of material, ready made for radio yet not compromised, couldn’t be denied.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: In 1998, they wanted to re-record this with Steve Albini in an effort to make it sound how the band wanted the record to, but that wasn’t released.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, some live cuts, demos and a B-side

GRADE: A: Front to back excellence.