Thursday, July 20, 2017

Just Laugh It Off

Whether you got off on Be Bop Deluxe's live album, Live! In the Air Age,  released in July of 1977, depended on whether you thought the studio sheen was a benefit or hinderance to your enjoyment of their music. Recorded on the Modern Music tour, it was originally released as a two record set, one black vinyl, the other white vinyl.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Go and Do It!

On July 19, D-I-Y evangelists The Desperate Bicycles released their second self-released single, "The Medium Was Tedium", a song that seemed to be a response to the question the English punk rockers must have been asked the most: how did they make a record. The answer is in the refrain: "It was easy/It was cheap/Go and do it"! 

The drummer on the track was 14 years old.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Winter Is Here

On July 18, 1977 The Ramones followed up "Sheena is a Punk Rocker", a UK #22 hit,  with a new single, "Swallow My Pride" b/w "Pinhead". The new single would peak at #36, a number they'd fail to reach again until 1980 with "Baby, I Love You". Even the biggest Ramones fans might not know "Swallow My Pride" had ever been a single. "Pinhead", with its "Gabba Gabba Hey" chorus, is far better remembered forty years later.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The New Wave

On July 17, 1977 The Sunday Times published an article entitled "Good Clean Punk" about The Clash and their fans:

For most people, "punk rock" still means four-letter words, safety-pin jewelry, and a rude song about the Queen. After the Sex Pistols' infamous language on TV, concerts were cancelled, contracts were torn up, and righteous outrage swept the land. Punk, it seemed, was sunk. But eight months is an eon in pop; the record companies, hungry for a genuine youth phenomenon, have swallowed their misgivings and re-opened their cheque books. Punk, deodorised and re-packaged as the "New Wave", is here to stay - at least for half an hour.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

A Rotten Radio Show

On July 16. 1977 Capitol Radio broadcast a half hour show of music Johnny Rotten picked out. The show was called "A Punk and his Music" Among the songs on the playlist : Tim Buckley's "Sweet Surrender", David Bowie's "Rebel  Rebel", Neil Young's "Revolution Blues",  Gary Glitter's "Doing Alright With The  Boys", Kevin Coyne's "Eastbourne Ladies", Captain Beefheart's "It's The Blimp and a surprising amount of reggae including Aswad's "Jah Wonderful" , Dr Alimantado's "Don't Determine My Right", and Culture;'s "I'm Not Ashamed".

Hear the first part of the show here:

Rotten may have surprised listeners by denouncing the punk scene on the show:

A lot of it's rubbish, I mean real rubbish. Pathetic. And just giving it all a terrible bad name. A lot of bands are just ruining it. They're either getting too much into the star trip or they're going the exact opposite way. Neither way is really honest. If you know what you're doing you can completely ignore the whole damn thing.  

Part Two here:

Friday, July 14, 2017

Prog Lives

Yes : Wondrous Stories


In July of 1977, The Sex Pistols, The Stranglers, Jonathan Richman and The Saints may have entered the U.K. singles charts, but album sales still very much belonged to prog rock veterans. That month, both Yes and Styx released some of their most successful albums, neither of which gave even the slightest inclination that punk had entered their musical vocabulary. And why should it? Both bands had developed their sounds through years of practice, practice, practice. Every member of Yes was a prodigy and, God, did they make that clear over the years. Going For the One had some nice melodies like the catchy title cut and "Wondrous Stories", but it also had a naked man's ass on the cover and I'm betting there were thousands of American teens who wouldn't take anything like that to the cash register.

Styx : Come Sail Away


Chicago's Styx released The Grand Illusion on July 7 . Their breakthrough album sold three million copies thanks to the top ten hit "Come Sail Away" and "Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)" which contains the masturbatory lines "You've got it all in the palm of your hand/But your hand's wet with sweat and your head needs a rest " .

Thursday, July 13, 2017


On June 13, 1977 lightening strikes left the city of New York without power for 25 hours.  According to the New York Times because of the power failure, LaGuardia and Kennedy airports were closed down for about eight hours, automobile tunnels were closed because of lack of ventilation, and 4,000 people had to be evacuated from the subway system. ConEd called the shutdown an "act of God", enraging Mayor Abe Beame, who charged that the utility was guilty of "gross negligence."

Beame said "We've seen our citizens subjected to violence, vandalism, theft, and discomfort. The Blackout has threatened our safety and has seriously impacted our economy. We've been needlessly subjected to a night of terror in many communities that have been wantonly looted and burned. The costs when finally tallied will be enormous. "

Meanwhile at the Bottom Line, NRBQ played an all acoustic set, using flashlights taped to their microphone stands.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Black Soul Brothers

It's Brazilian. It's funky. It's Miguel De Deus of Bahia who founded the band Os Brazões. I know nothing else about this much sampled nugget from 1977.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Macho Types Wanted

In July of 1977, Village People released their first single, "San Francisco (You've Got Me)", a Top 50 hit in the U.K. , a #1 song in U.S. dance clubs in September and a gay anthem to this date.

 The band was the brainchild of French composer Jacques Morali. He hired Victor Willis to sing his songs and then ordered a casting call for dancers willing to fit the gay fantasy archetypes.the ad read "Macho Types Wanted: Must Dance And Have A Moustache". Morali hired dancers to be an American Indian, a solider, a construction worker, a cowboy and a leatherman. Willis dressed up as a cop.

The fact that America accepted The Village People was a huge step for the gay culture in the 1970's. You can open a lot of minds just by having fun.

Monday, July 10, 2017

In Love With Massachusetts

On July 10, 1977 Jonathan Richman's "Roadrunner" , the world's greatest driving song, entered the U.K. charts at #33. It would peak at #11. There are at least three versions of "Roadrunner" worth discussing. There is the 1972 John Cale produced original Modern Lovers version which I would like to call "Roadrunner (Once)". There is the UK hit version, recorded with Bezerkley label mates The Greg Kihn Band in 1974. That's "Roadrunner (Twice)". There is also "Roadrunner (Thrice)", an eight minute live version that was released as a B side in 1977.

In any case the tune conjures up some memories of driving through New England towns in the dead of winter. Boston is still a city I don't know so well. Can we feel nostalgic about a place we've never visited? I think the answer is yes.

When Top of the Pops couldn't get the now acoustic Jonathan to perform Roadrunner on their show, Legs and Company slapped together this silly dance routine. 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Disturb The Calm

On July 9, 1977 The Only Ones released their classic "Lovers of Today" single on their own label, Vengeance Records. The tune was immediately named the "Single of the Week" by three out of the four major U.K. music mags. A year later The Only Ones would be signed to CBS Records.

  Songwriter Peter Perrett was a member of the Velvet Underground sound a likes England's Glory. Scottish bassist Alan Mair had been in The Beanstalkers, guitarist John Parry was an ex-Rat and drummer Mike Kellie , at age 30, was the old man in the band, a veteran of Spooky Tooth. Kellie died in January of this year.

Peter Perrett would always sound detached from his own songs. He was certainly uncomfortable with being attached to the punk scene, telling an interviewer in 1977 "To the hippies we were punks and to the punks, we were hippies.". Listen closely and you'll hear Perrett declare the death of the flower power generation:

We ain't got feelings /We've got no love /We ain't got nothing to say/ We're lovers of today.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

A Youth Explosion

On July 8, 1977 The Jam released their second single, the U.K. #13 hit "All Around the World". The rocker hit record store just six weeks after the Jam's debut album, but it didn't come from the In The City. It was a brand new tune.

Weller was given the opportunity to review the single for Record Mirror and he raved about it like a teen age fan:

I was hoping for 'Modern World' as the new single from The Jam. I love them. Seen them play about 15 times and this is no disappointment. In fact they make records that sound like anthems Weller's guitar explosion in the middle is like a quick journey to the centre of the earth. Single of the week and number one. 'Carnaby Street' is on the B side. 

Introduced above as "JAM" by Marc Bolan, Rick Butler loses his drumstick at the 2:21 mark. 

There was no second take either, so once it was filmed that was it. And I still don't know what happened to that drumstick. Maybe it's still there because I don't remember it coming down.

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Echo And Sway

Oh, oh I said, "I'm so happy I could die" 
She said "Drop dead" then left with another guy

On July 7, 1977 Elvis Costello released his third single, "(The Angels Wanna Wear) Red Shoes". In Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink, Costello writes about the moment a year earlier on a train when the song came to his mind, fully formed. 

What surprised me was this visitation by angels. Who were these cats? Were they gatekeepers to a land of acclaim and immortality that still seemed so unattainable? I can't tell you. I simply wrote it down and heard all the accompanying music playing in my head, The words arrived as fast as I could scribble them down in my notebook as the train juddered to a slower speed on the final approach through the Liverpool suburbs.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Yeah Hup

Next to The Saints, Sydney's Radio Birdman were the loudest and hardest rocking punk band in Australia. One of the founders of the band, Deniz Tek,  is actually a Michigan native who grew up hearing the Motor City's maddest bands like The Stooges and MC 5. 

Birdman's debut album, Radios Appear,  named for a Blue Oyster Cult lyric, opens with a Stooges cover. Like their EP Burn My Eye, the album doesn't let up, even when acoustic guitars come into the fray as on "Love Kills".

The first single was "New Race". It was hoped that the teen anthem lyrics would catch on. Lines like 

There's gonna be a new race 
Kids are gonna start it up 
We're all gonna mutate 
Kids are saying yeah hup 

Unfortunately some critics thought the song smelled a bit like a fascist anthem. Nevertheless, the Australian version of Rolling Stone gave the album its highest rating and The Ramones label, Sire. soon came calling.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The 30 Year Old Whore

Recorded by the legendary producer Shel Talmy, who had recorded both The Who and The Kinks,  The Damned's new single "Stretcher Case Baby" was released in July of 1977 by Stiff Records as a thank you to the fans. The song had been part of the regular set since March when Rat Scabies wrote the lyrics over a Brian James riff. "I tried to get it to sound like the early records by The Who - a band I liked a lot. I don't know a stretcher case baby is. You'd have to ask Rat," said James.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Goodbye Valentine

On the 4th of July, 1977, Blondie bassist Gary Valentine ( far right in the photo above) split from the group. He had given Blondie their first single, "X-Offender", and the band's 1978 hit "(I'm Always Touched by Your) Presence, Dear". But, as he told Rolling Stone, he had some artistic integrity issues with Chris Stein and Deborah Harry. "I would write six songs, and they would say, 'Okay, we'll do this one.'" 

Valentine would move to L.A., form a band called The Know and write books and articles, many of which would deal with mysticism and occultism. An interest that would surface in "Prescene" with lyrics like "Floating pass the evidence of possibilities /We could navigate together, psychic frequencies /Coming into contact with outer entities /We could entertain each one with our theosophies".

In the 90's he returned to New York to play with Blondie. The reunion didn't last. 

Monday, July 3, 2017

Blue Flowers Echo

On July 3, 1977 The Brothers Johnson single "Strawberry Letter #23" entered the U.K. pop charts at #42 and the U.S. charts at #71. Originally composed and recorded by Shuggie Otis in 1971, the Quincy Jones produced tune would top the US R and B charts,  peak at #7 on the U.S. pop charts and peak at #35 in the U.K. Is it funkier than Shuggie's version? It certainly has a bridge of cascading electric guitars that would make Yes jealous. One of those songs that defines 1977.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Your Cheap Comment

On July 1, 1977 The Sex Pistols released their third "Pretty Vacant", with high hopes they would have another huge hit on their hands. After all they weren't disrespecting the queen this time. That said, it does seem like Johnny Rotten is really hitting the CUNT in the word VACANT.  NME magazine made it their Single of the Year in 1977.