Tag: 1978

The Cars – The Cars

ARTIST: The Cars                      220px-the_cars_-_the_cars

TITLE: The Cars

YEAR RELEASED: 1978

CHART ACTION: #18 US, #29 UK

SINGLES: Just What I Needed (#27 US, #17 UK), My Best Friends Girl (#35 US, #3 UK), Good Times Roll (#41 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Bye Bye Love. Moving In Stereo

LINEUP: Ric Ocasek, Ben Orr, Elliot Easton, Greg Hawkes, David Robinson

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Perfect pop-new wave with an experimental touch, brilliant harmonies, and Elliot Easton’s fantastic guitar solos.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Today, there’s not a cut on this record that doesn’t bring a smile to my face. Even the ‘weird’ ones like “Moving in Stereo” do that. Is it nostalgia for high school, or a damn good album.

Maybe a little column A, and a little column B, but man, objectively, it’s one of the best examples of new wave that aimed for the pop chart, rock radio, and still kept its edge.

Featuring two lead singers, the conventional Ben Orr, and the oddly angular Ric Ocasek, the Cars planted themselves in several camps at once. For synth fans, they experimented with textures and fills. For guitar heroes, the fills and solos were top notch. But most of all, the songs (written by Ocasek) were top notch. Without the songs, this would be a curio.

If you question this rating, listen to Side 2 with an open ear. The deep cuts cement this record’s brilliance.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This quintet were in myriad bands before: David Robinson was in the Modern Lovers, many were in a band called Cap’n Swing and some toiled in Richard and the Rabbits.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, some demos and outtakes, and the demos show the songs fully formed, albiet without the sheen and polish of Roy Thomas Baker’s production.

 GRADE A+: I can’t say anymore about this without devolving into a fanboy.

Kate Bush – The Kick Inside

ARTIST: Kate Bush                               The_Kick_Inside_(Album_Artwork)

TITLE:  The Kick Inside

YEAR RELEASED: 1978

CHART ACTION: #3 UK

SINGLES: Wuthering Heights (#108 US, #1 UK), The Man with the Child in His Eyes (#85 US, #6 UK), Moving, Them Heavy People, Strange Phenomena

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not over here

LINEUP: Kate Bush, Ian Barinson, Paddy Bush, Duncan Mackay, Andrew Powell, David Paton, Stuart Elliott, Morris Pert.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Nineteen year old songwriter and dramatic soprano becomes a UK phenomenon with her evocative voice and literary songs. The_Kick_Inside_(alternative_cover)

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Featuring songs written throughout her teenage years, 19-year old Kate Bush became a phenomenon in the UK and Europe with a dramatic single retelling of “Wuthering Heights”.

The album sold well, and has some fantastic tracks (such as the opener “Moving”) and some tracks that cover a lot of subject matter than normal 19-year olds don’t cover.“Them Heavy People” covers religion, and the title track is a child and murder ballad based on a child and murder ballad about a murderous brother, though Bush gives it a twist.

Some tracks, though, sound like they don’t belong, and use different studio musicians. A few probably had to make up the numbers, but for the classic tracks this is definitely one to check out.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: She formed a band to tour a bit and get ready for the studio, but only used one of those musicians (her brother) on the album itself.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 

GRADE: A-: There’s some really outstanding tracks here and you can skip through some of the others without a problem.

Journey – Infinity

ARTIST: Journey                         Journey_Infinity

TITLE: Infinity

YEAR RELEASED: 1978

CHART ACTION: #21

SINGLES: Wheel In the Sky (#57), Anytime (#83), Lights (#68)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Feeling That Way

LINEUP: Neil Schon, Ross Valory, Gregg Rolie, Aynsley Dunbar, Steve Perry

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After three flop albums, Journey goes to plan B (actually B2), and scores on mainstream album rock radio and in concert.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Thanks to record companies with patience, a connected manager, and some fast talking, Journey survived after three bum albums and changed direction. Gone were the prog rock excursions, in were tight song structures. They gave room for Rolie and Schon to do their thing, (“Winds of March”) but in a concise way.

This focus on songs made all the difference. I’m not 100% convinced that Rolie couldn’t have handled the vocals like he did before, but Steve Perry’s voice is distinctive AND he brought a pop songwriting ear to the band. This album has four Journey classics – the ones that you still crank up on the radio (though two, “Feeling That Way” and “Anytime” are practically linked together and radio plays them that way).

There’s filler, of course. But this is heads and shoulders better than their other work, and only obstinate contrarians will disagree.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Robert Fleischman was the first vocalist they tried, and he co-wrote “Wheel in the Sky” and another track, but he fell out with management and Perry was hired.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: B: The filler’s just there, but it’s better filler. The high points are definite “A” AOR material.

XTC – Go 2

ARTIST: XTC                      220px-XTC_Go_2

TITLE: Go 2

YEAR RELEASED: 1978

CHART ACTION: #21 UK

SINGLES: Are You Receiving Me

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: I doubt it, unless you’re in the cult.

LINEUP: Andy Partridge, Colin Moulding, Barry Andrews, Terry Chambers

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Less-than-stellar follow-up is a case of “I’ve heard this record before…”

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Listening to Go 2, you get a sense of déjà vu. The style and songcraft is very much the same as XTC’s debut – all hyper and jittery. This time, though, except for a few exceptions, the songwriting isn’t as good.

They didn’t wait long to write and record this record after their first album, which shows here. It seems they’re the leftovers. There’s melodies, yes, and some charm, but they’re hidden by the quirks here.

This would only be a detour, but it did curtail the interest in XTC in the states a bit (it took another year for their catalog to be released here).

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The album title was a reference to the board game Go.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: It all depends – some pressings have the single (and best tune) “Are You Receiving Me?” Some don’t.

GRADE: B-:  It’s not a total failure, and has some charms, but it’s really too similar to their debut to stand out.

The Buzzcocks – Love Bites

ARTIST: Buzzcocks                           220px-BuzzcocksLoveBites

TITLE: Love Bites

YEAR RELEASED: 1978

CHART ACTION: #13 UK

SINGLES: Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve) (#12 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Operator’s Manual

LINEUP: Pete Shelley, Steve Diggle, Steve Garvey, John Maher

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second full album by the pop-punk band is a bit ragged. With their best songs saved for singles the deep cuts seem lackluster.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Working fast was the ethos in the punk and post-punk era, and with the singles released around this time shows that Pete Shelley had the songwriting chops.

Yet it seemed that as the record moves on to side two, it runs out of steam. The fantastic single “Ever Fallen in Love” is definitely worth the price of admission, but as we move to side two it definitely feels that the Buzzcocks needed to fill up the numbers instead of making great art.

A lot of this is still quality stuff, and the packed deluxe edition is fantastic. But the original album isn’t as shiny as their first releases.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They started recording just six months after their first album was released.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, the great non-album singles released around the time (“Love You More” (#34 UK), “Noise Annoys”, “Promises” (#20 UK)), and demos, Peel Sessions, etc.

GRADE: B:  I just didn’t feel this as much as their debut album.

Talking Heads – More Songs About Buildings and Food

ARTIST: Talking Heads                                                   220px-TalkingHeadsMoreSongsAboutBuildingsandFood

TITLE:  More Songs About Buildings and Food

YEAR RELEASED: 1978

CHART ACTION: #29 US, #21 UK

SINGLES: Take Me to the River (#26)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Thank You For Sending Me an Angel, Found a Job, The Girls Want to Be with the Girls

LINEUP: David Byrne, Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth, Chris Frantz. Brian Eno is also hands on as producer.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second album by the Heads broaden the sound and styles while keeping the essence the same. A true winner.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The second album was not sophomore slump for David Byrne and the Talking Heads. Fully utilizing Jerry Harrison (a latecomer to the initial trio) and adding the guidance and ears of Brian Eno, Byrne and the band moved past the other CBGB’s bands into their own unique space.

Rhythm section Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz totally locked in and created rhythms and structure to underpin the new directions Byrne and Eno were leading the band. A track like “Warning Sign”, which it’s syncopation, gradual additions layers of guitars, synths and effects,and Byrne’s treated vocals, was ear opening, as people realized the Talking Heads weren’t just a quirky, jittery guitar band anymore. Weymouth was probably the hero of the album with solid, moving bass lines that anchor the songs and provide movement.

All eleven tracks are stellar – in fact the weakest cut may be their hit cover of “Take Me to the River” – that’s how strong the original songs are. This is a must have for any rock fan.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The backing vocals on “The Good Thing” were credited to “Tina and the Typing Pool”. It sounds like Tina and her sisters that would soon form the Tom Tom Club.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a few alternate versions.

GRADE: A+:  This is the pinnacle, artistically, of the CBGB scene. Soon, the Talking Heads would move way past this.

Prince – For You

ARTIST: Prince                         220px-prince_foryou

TITLE:  For You

YEAR RELEASED: 1978

CHART ACTION: #163 US, #156 UK

SINGLES: Soft and Wet (#92, #12 R&B), Just as Long as We’re Together (#91 R&B)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No. This is obscure Prince.

LINEUP: Prince

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT:  Teenage wonder writes, plays, and sings an entire album. While not earth shaking, the feat is notable in itself.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The opening vocal montage of Prince’s debut album shows the meticulous craftsmanship that Prince would put toward most all of his work in his career. Even in his early years, Prince was comfortable in his artistry, and able to conceive and play all of the parts on his records.

Yet what he needed the most seasoning in was songwriting. “Soft and Wet” definitely is Prince as we knew him, but the rest of the album is just OK. He had a long time to get better though.

Nothing else really sticks besides the single, but it’s interesting to hear where Prince started to his peak and beyond. It wasn’t that long until he really became Prince.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The final recording tripled the budget allotted. Also, this is only streaming on Tidal. If $10 a month is worth it for Prince, then by all means.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: C+: It amazing that he played all 27 instruments and did all of the intricate vocal work, but the songs aren’t there yet.

Judas Priest – Hell Bent for Leather

ARTIST: Judas Priest

TITLE:  Hell Bent for Leather (Killing Machine in the UK) judas_priest_-_killing_machine_album_coverart

YEAR RELEASED: 1978 (1979 in the US in case you were wondering)

CHART ACTION: #128 US, #32 UK

SINGLES: Take on the World (#14 UK), Evening Star (#53 UK), Rock Forever

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Delivering the Goods, Hell Bent for Leather, The Green Manalishi (with the Two-Pronged Crown)

LINEUP: Rob Halford, KK Downing, Glenn Tipton, Ian Hill, Les Binks

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT:  Having broken through a bit in the US, Priest goes all-in, establishing a look and tightening and polishing up their sound.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: How do you review and album that you’ve known and loved forever? Well, you try to listen to things you haven’t heard before when you were mindlessly headbanging.

While not a huge chart success in the US, this was the breakthrough in terms of sound and approach. The Priest were now a tight, taut, heavy metal machine ready to rock the world. While there’s still some darkness and some deviance (especially on side two), here the band reins in any prog-rock aspersions and delivers tight, concise songs. (OK, some are over four minutes, but still that’s mostly some solos going on).

There are a couple of mis-steps. “Take on the World” is just a football chant that’s kind of a rip on “We Will Rock You”. It, of course, was a big hit in the UK. “Before the Dawn” is a ballad that’s, well, their best single ballad, but that’s not saying much. And “Evil Fantasies” seems a bit sparse.

The Priest were now primed and ready for their breakthrough. It would just be a matter of time.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Columbia Records in the US didn’t like the Killing Machine title, so they had to come up with another. They chose the single track that is symbolic of the Priest, especially at live shows.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. The US version added the cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Green Manalishi”. Sorry Brits. Also, there is an outtake and a live cut appended, but not from these sessions. Why?

GRADE: A-: I love this record. But it has a couple of flaws Stained Class didn’t. Still, crank it.

Judas Priest – Stained Class

ARTIST: Judas Priest 220px-jpstandclass

TITLE:  Stained Class

YEAR RELEASED: 1978

CHART ACTION: #173 US, #27 UK

SINGLES: Better by You, Better Than Me

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW:  Exciter

LINEUP:  Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton, KK Downing, Ian Hill, Les Binks.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Nine cuts of classic Priest. This is an underrated gem in the Priest canon. 

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Hiring a new drummer in Les Binks, Judas Priest went about to record a nine-song album that set the stage for their commercial breakthroughs soon to follow. It’s a record that really on Priest fanatics know, but more people should.

Everything people love about the band is here. Rob Halford’s voice is in fine form, hitting his patented high notes. KK Downing and Glenn Tipton’s guitar attack is both heavy and melodic. The songs are right in the Priest wheelhouse, and even though they’re longer than the more popular songs, they don’t overstay their welcome.

Only “Exciter” seems to have survived from this set as a go-to Priest set, but more should check this out, for songs like “Saints in Hell”, “Invader” and the title cut. It’s a pleasant surprise.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The one other song people remember is “Better by You, Better Than Me”, which was the song at the center of their famous lawsuit. What was ironic was that it wasn’t a Priest original, but a cover of a Spooky Tooth song.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: An extra song appended, and oddly from an album 10 years after this album. Priest didn’t have a lot of outtakes.

GRADE: A: Underrated, except by Priest fanatics. Well, I didn’t underrate it, did I?

Warren Zevon – Excitable Boy

ARTIST: Warren Zevon                    220px-excitable_boy_cover

TITLE:  Excitable Boy

YEAR RELEASED: 1978

CHART ACTION: #8

SINGLES: Excitable Boy, Werewolves of London (#21), Lawyers, Guns, and Money

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Johnny Strikes Up the Band, Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner, Accidentally Like a Martyr.

LINEUP: Warren Zevon, Jorge Calderon, Danny Kortchmar, Russ Kunkel, Jackson Browne, Kenny Edwards, JD Souther, Waddy Wachtel, Bob Glaub, Rick Marotta, Jeff Porcaro, Karla Bonoff, Linda Ronstadt, Leland Sklar, Jennifer Warnes. Mick Fleetwood and John McVie play on Werewolves of London.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT:  A fantastic album buoyed by a classic song, which was an unlikely hit.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Most every song on this record is a Zevon classic, which means well-written, impeccably arranged and played, sardonic, sarcastic, political, and darkly humorous.

Zevon can make you singalong to African mercenaries, trust funders in over their head, and werewolves. In fact, the only song that’s questionable is the title track, which seemed a bit forced and tossed off for a song about a teenage killer. Maybe that was the point, though.

Everyone who was someone in the LA session world was part of this album, with Jackson Browne and Waddy Wachtel producing. It sounds nearly perfect, and also a lot of fun to make, which is a hard thing to do. Zevon’s songs will do that to you. I can see musicians loving to play them.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Yeah, with the LA scene came the cocaine. Wachtel said that it only took him one take to get the solo for “Werewolves of London” down, and he didn’t have a chance to take a hit of the coke before hand. I’m sure he got a bump or two after, though.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A few outtakes.

GRADE: A: And now you have the piano riff from “Werewolves of London” in yer head.