Tag: 1977

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

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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.

The Runaways – Queens of Noise

ARTIST: The Runaways              220px-The_runaways,_queens_of_noise

TITLE:  Queens of Noise

YEAR RELEASED: 1977

CHART ACTION: #172

SINGLES: Queens of Noise, Heartbeat (#110)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Neon Angels on the Road to Ruin

LINEUP: Cherie Curie, Joan Jett, Lita Ford, Jackie Fox, Sandy West

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Jailbait rockers record second album to crickets in the US, except for the devoted few and some magazines.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The ratio of hype to quality here is imbalanced, for sure. Kim Fowley, degenerate, still is trying to break the Runaways worldwide and lavishing personal attention on them. The press were again all over this, but the public didn’t buy it (except in Sweden, for some reason).

The music itself is kinda dumb rock-and-roll. There are a few embarrassing cuts that do sound like they came from high-schoolers. The lyrics on the opening cut “you gave me the answer / now I got the answer / oh, yeah” ain’t Shakespeare. It also was the only song not written or co-written by the group. Ah, well.

Pluses, though, for their playing. Ford rips some great leads. Jett does her best with what she’s got, and Fox and West are solid. If they just wrote better songs, but we can blame their Svengali for that, right?

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This is the last record that featured Currie and Fox, as they left because of disputes with Jett and Fowley, respectively.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: C: Half of it is decent, the other half cringe-worthy.

Riot – Rock City

ARTIST: Riot 220px-Riot_-_Rock_City

TITLE:  Rock City

YEAR RELEASED: 1977

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Warrior, Rock City

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Only released in Japan, and maybe Canada, so unfortunately no.

LINEUP: Guy Speranza, Mark Reale, Lou Kouvaris, Peter Bitelli, Jimmy Iommi. Phil Felt played bass on three tracks before he left.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: First album from the NYC metal band that was cursed with bad luck throughout its career despite making decent albums, like this one.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: It was tough being a metal band in New York in the 70’s. Disco and punk / new wave were the things that were the buzz. Meanwhile, this workmanlike metal band slogged away, and made a record financed by the producers that sold decently in Japan, but never released here at first.

Riot’s just a regular ol’ metal band, but they’re a good one. Not as heavy as Sabbath, but they’re heavier than Aerosmith and actually write better songs than Nazareth. Two guitars, bass, drum and a singer, and there’s good riffin’, good harmonies, good singin’, and pretty decent melodies, and not a lot of metal pretension.

I think any metal-head, especially those who like the older metal from the 70’s and 80’s, could definitely give this a spin and nod their head accordingly. It’s darn decent.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Phil Felt later played with Billy Idol and Joan Jett.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No, but we’re lucky it’s released here.

GRADE: B: It’s not life changing, but it’s good. Wish I had it on 8-track for the full effect.

Ramones – Leave Home

ARTIST: Ramones          220px-Ramones_-_Leave_Home_cover

TITLE:  Leave Home

YEAR RELEASED: 1977

CHART ACTION: #148 US, #45 UK

SINGLES: I Remember You, Swallow My Pride (#36 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment, Suzy Is a Headbanger, Pinhead, California Sun, Commando

LINEUP: Johnny, Joey, Dee Dee, Tommy

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second album, same as the first? Pretty much.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Sure, this album’s not AS good as their debut, but most of the songs aren’t played ad nauseum, and they do change gears a couple of time and get almost tender or something. It’s a pop album for the most part, but in a Ramones way, which is cool in of itself.

The cover of “California Sun” may be the best cover version they’ve ever done. It’s both respectful of the original, but gives it the Ramones treatment which almost steals the song from the original.

If you think the Ramones are played out, this album, while containing some lesser cuts, will bring you around to them again.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Carbona Not Glue” was pulled off the album after the first printing thanks to the makers of Carbona raising a ruckus. It was replaced with the single “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker” in the US (which also is on their followup album) and “Babysitter” in the UK. Now, the streaming copies have the right song.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes! Bonus cuts, demos and a whole live performance at the Roxy.

GRADE: A-: In totality, it’s not as consistent as their first one, but there’s a lot of great stuff here. Gabba-gabba-hey, as they say in “Pinhead”. Gabba-gabba-hey.

Peter Gabriel – Peter Gabriel 1

ARTIST: Peter Gabriel          Peter_Gabriel_(self-titled_album,_1977_-_cover_art)

TITLE:  Peter Gabriel 1 (Car)

YEAR RELEASED: 1977

CHART ACTION: #38 US, #7 UK

SINGLES: Solsbury Hill (#68 US, #13 UK), Modern Love

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Moribund the Burgermeister, Humdrum, Here Comes the Flood

LINEUP: Peter Gabriel, Robert Fripp, Steve Hunter, Tony Levin, Jozef Chirowski, Larry Fast, Allan Schwartzburg, Jimmy Maleen, Dick Wagner

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Former Genesis front man’s first solo album breaks out of the mold of Genesis, but is poppier than his old band, but still as challenging and intriguing as his work with the group.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Instead of long, long story-song suites, Peter Gabriel goes towards a poppier sound (“Solsbury Hill” is a definite pop song and the key track). However, that doesn’t mean he stopped moving forward artistically.

The sound scapes that Gabriel and his crack band come up with are arty, complex and varied. The talent surrounding Gabriel gives the songs a lot of depth and makes the album and arrangements vibrant. You know with players like Fripp and Levin that it will be arty, but not inaccessibly arty.

The nine tracks here give Gabriel and excellent start on his solo career. The songs and performances are excellent and for a while, he became bigger than his old band.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This is called “Car” as for the longest while, he never titled his albums. In many guides, this is also called Peter Gabriel 1.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A: Absolutely first class. He leaves Genesis behind him.