Tag: 1977

Scorpions – Taken By Force

ARTIST: Scorpions

TITLE: Taken By Force



SINGLES: He’s a Woman – She’s a Man, Sails of Charon

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Steamrock Fever, We’ll Burn the Sky

LINEUP: Klaus Meine, Uli Jon Roth, Rudolf Schenker, Francis Bucholz, Herman Rarebell

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The pinnacle and endpoint of the Uli Jon Roth era, which is their most consistent album before it falls off a clip with a LOOOONG slow ballad. Sigh.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The Scorpions had eschewed their progressive side for several years and three albums, but that influence came roaring back with this album. The incredible “Sails of Charon” definitely veers into progressive rock and fantasy elements, and Uli Jon Roth’s guitar playing in both riff and solo is incredible.

The band sounds tighter and more focused, which may be due to new drummer Herman Rarebell. The opener, “Steamrock Fever”, introduces the double-tracked harmonies of Klaus Meine, which becomes a trademark for the band as they continue their career.

Yet, I can’t rate this an “A” because the very last track of the original album, “Born to Touch Your Feelings” is an interminable slow ballad. The Scoprions wouldn’t or couldn’t stay away from them. Alas.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Yet another controversial cover, but this time only because of the image of the graveyard and the gun battle juxtaposed with the tombstones.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a track (“Suspender Love”) and a live version of “Polar Nights” originally left off of the original CDs of their live album.

GRADE B+:  One track can really upset the apple cart on the grade. I was all prepared to give this an “A-“ but that last ballad…oof.

Pink Floyd – Animals

ARTIST: Pink Floyd                 
TITLE: Animals
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not many people know this one, really, since it’s basically three LONG songs.
LINEUP: Dave Gilmour, Nick Mason, Roger Waters, Richard Wright..
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: An ALLEGORY, just like George Orwell’s Animal Farm!

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Dogs, pigs, and sheep. Roger Waters has some thoughts about the human race, and they involve those animals and how people are just like them (well, everyone is one of them).

Yes, it’s an allegory! And before you think that Waters was totally ripping off Orwell, the criticism was over capitalism this time, and not Stalinism. The same capitalism that gave Waters, et. al. boatloads of money (and lost them boatloads too due to bad investments).

Now, before you roll your eyes, the music this time is more energetic and urgent than Wish You Were Here, and adds some heft to the proceedings. And while this is Waters’ baby, (only Gilmour has a co-writing credit, and just one), the band seems a bit more into it. Even though it’s just three long songs (and two little tidbits bookending the allegory), it’s not as ponderous.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: David Gilmour again complained about Waters splitting up a song, but this time it was suspected that “Pigs on the Wing” was split in two for royalties and not for artistic purposes. Some anti-capitalist.


GRADE A-: They’ve got some energy that keeps the allegory from overwhelming the music.

Shoes – Black Vinyl Shoes

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

TITLE: Black Vinyl Shoes




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.


 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



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



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



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


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.


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

Journey – Next

ARTIST: Journey                                 Journey_Next




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.


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



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.


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



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



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.


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