Sunday, September 22, 2019

A Sure-Fire Smash

Joe Jackson : I'm The Man

On September 25, 1979 Joe Jackson released "I'm The Man", the new single from his forthcoming album with the same name. In the same vein of  Look Sharp!'s "Got The Time" , "One More Time" and "Throw It Away", it's an upbeat rocker that shows Jackson wasn't ready yet to veer too far off the formula that made his debut a Top 40 album in the U.K. and Top 20 in the United States. The single failed to chart anywhere but in Canada. The follow-up single, "It's Different For Girls", would do much better.

Best of all is the cover photo with Jackson dressed as a shiv, a character Jackson says "always wears a gross polka-dot tie and a pencil-thin mustache, and he's always trying to sell you a watch or something like that real cheap. I think people always want to put a label on what you do, so I thought I'd be one step ahead of them and invent one myself - spiv rock." 

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Such a Cold Bird

Lene Lovich : Bird Song

In September of 1979, a quite remarkable month for new music, let's not forget Detroit's Lene Lovich wowed us with her third Top 40 U.K. hit, "Bird Song". The track from Flex begins and ends with Lovich using her incredible  multi-octave range to imitate a bird's song. The music video is a high concept classic that suggests Lovich is far off her rocker. 

The Undertones : You've Got My Number

The Undertones also released their fifth single, "You've Got My Number (Why Don't You Use It)". A U.K. Top 40 hit, the song received raves from David Hepworth of Smash Hits who called it "a taut compulsive love song, resting on a guitar figure that could have been lifted from an early Buzzcocks track with Feargal Sharkey, as good a singer as you'll find anywhere, wringing the lyric for every last ounce of desperation. The number on the cover , SIR4024, refers to the Sire single's catalogue number ,not the number to Feargal's mum.

Friday, September 20, 2019

A Feel Good Story

The Feelies : Crazy Rhythms

Dubbed the "Best Underground Band in New York"  by the Village Voice a year earlier, The Feelies finally get signed to Stiff Records in September of 1979. Using The Velvet Underground's "What Goes On" as a musical starting point, the Hoboken, New Jersey band rarely rehearsed and were rarely seen in clubs. Drummer, Anton Fier was always threatening to quit. Glenn Mercer and Bill Million seemed more interested in jogging than dealing with the people who run things like record labels and music clubs. 

When they did play together, most often at Maxwell's in Hoboken,  the results could be pulsating and hypnotic. The songs all sounded like variations on each other. What kind of album would the band make? The world would have to wait until April of 1980 for the release of Crazy Rhythms.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

John Cooper Clarke: My 10 All Time Fave Songs

John Cooper Clarke : Evidently Chickentown

In September of 1979, punk poet John Cooper Clarke offered Smash Hits a list of  his 10 all time favorite songs, a mix of tracks from the 50's, 60's and 70's. There's a nod to the Velvet Underground as one might expect, but Shirley Bassey and Ann Peebles also made the list. No explanation given. Clarke is now 70 years old and still a proper dresser. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Two From The Buzzcocks

Buzzcocks : Ever Fallen in Love 

In September of 1979 The Buzzcocks offered two albums for the back to school crowd. Singles Going Steady remains the must have album for any even vaguely familiar with the Manchester band's history of fusing punk energy into remarkably catchy pop song. Released by I.R.S. Records as a primer for American audiences, it includes eight A-sides and their formidable B sides from 1977's "Orgasm Addict" to the recent summer's "Harmony in My Head". Sez Robert Christgau: 

 The Buzzcocks' knack for the title hook and the catchy backup chorus, along with their apparently asocial lyrics, tempts tastemakers in jaded olde England to dismiss them as mere pop, but over here their high-speed, high-register attack sounds powerful indeed.

The album finished at #20 in 1979's Pazz and Jop Critic's poll. It remains absolutely essential.

Buzzcocks : Hollow Inside

September is also the month the Buzzcocks released their third and final album of  the glory years, A Different Kind of Tension. It's Buzzcocks style punk pop on side one ( aka "The Rose on the Chocolate Box") with more experimental forays on side two (aka "The Thorn Beneath The Rose"). The critics weren't overwhelmed. Red Starr of Smash Hits called it "likeable but predictable--the slightly seedy wimp pop formula is getting threadbare", and Rolling Stone's Mikal Gilmore found it repetitive "resulting in a catchall of reworked riffs and static, similar tempos". Over the years the album's stock has raised considerably. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Pictures Came and Broke Your Heart

The Buggles : Video Killed the Radio Star


Claiming to be devoted to "electronic pop for the Eighties", studio veterans Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes entered the U.K. charts as The Buggles on September 16, 1979 with the eventual chart topping "Video Killed The Radio Star". The pair had worked with everyone from Gary Glitter to jazz guitarist Gary Boyle. (They even produced The Jags '79 hit "Back of My Hand"). The three minute single took three months to produce and has all kinds of obscure touches. First off, the first 20 seconds sound like some England Dan and John Ford Coley crap. There's a glockenspiel in the mix and a Vox AC30 guitar amplifier was used to achieve the telephone effect.

The music video cost $50,000 and was the first to be played when MTV made its debut on August 1, 1981. "Video Killed the Radio Star" gone on to top polls as the favorite one hit wonder of all time. Horn and Downes would soon join the progressive rock powerhouse Yes, contributing to 1980's Drama. Horn would also produce their #1 hit, "Owner of a Lonely Heart".

An obscure note : the song was first recorded by the third of the song's co-writers Bruce Woolley. Woolley would go on to form the Camera Club with Thomas Dolby and write the Grace Jones hit "Slave To The Rhythm".

Monday, September 16, 2019

Hip-Hop, Hippie to the Hippie

The Sugarhill Gang : Rapper's Delight

On September 16, 1979 The Sugarhill Gang released "Rapper's Delight", the breakout Top 40 single of the year for a new kind of sound, hip hop. In fact the genre gets its name from the opening lines rattled off by Wonder Mike: "Hip-hop, hippie to the hippie, to the hip-hip-hop and you don't stop". Right from the start you'll hear some of rap's signature characteristics: boasting MC's, dancing, humor, sex and what would soon be called sampling. "Rapper's Delight" borrows its music wholesale from Chic's #1 smash hit "Good Times". Eventually Bernie Edwards and Nile Rodgers got the writing credit and Rodgers now performs at least a portion of "Rapper's Delight" every time he plays "Good Times" in front of an audience. 

 "“Rapper’s Delight’ is one of my favorite songs of all time. At first, I admit, I was pissed off. You work your whole life to write a song like ‘Good Times.’ It takes all of your experience, all of your music lessons, all the places I got fired, all the times I was robbed — all of that living. But the truth is, I was especially pissed because as innovative and important as ‘Good Times’ was, ‘Rapper’s Delight’ was just as much, if not more so. " Rodgers told Blender.

It was Sylivia "Pillow Talk " Robinson's independent label Sugarhill Records that released the single, supposedly recorded in a single 14:30 take with 17 year old Chip Shearin on bass. "The drummer and I were sweating bullets because that's a long time.," he told the Raleigh News and Observer. "And this was in the days before samplers and drum machines, when real humans had to play things. ... Sylvia said, 'I've got these kids who are going to talk real fast over it; that's the best way I can describe it".  

"The kids", Wonder Mike, Big Bank Hank and Master Gee, weren't the biggest hip hop stars in New York. Lovebug Starski, Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaataa believed rapping was an art form that had to be performed live, not captured on tape. But here it is, 40 years later. As the editor of 2003's "Classic Material: The Hip-Hop Album Guide" Oliver Wang put it, "it's a pretty impressive fabrication, lightning in a bottle".

Sunday, September 15, 2019

An Island Lost At Sea-o

The Police : Message in a Bottle

On September 16, 1979 , just weeks after the band topped the bill at the Reading Festival... and days after Sting made his film debut as "Ace Face" in Quadrophenia, The Police's new single, "Message in a Bottle" b/w "Landlord", debuted at #8 on the U.K. charts. The single from the forthcoming Regatta de Blanc would be the first of their five #1 hits, topping the charts just a week later.

Guitarist Andy Summers has said it's the best song Sting ever wrote and the best track the Police ever recorded. Sting would agree that it's a good song, adding

 " I like the idea that while it's about loneliness and alienation it's also about finding solace and other people going through the same thing. The guy's on a desert island and throws a bottle out to sea saying he's alone and all these millions of bottles come back saying, So what So am I! I like the fact that the whole deal is clinched by the third verse. It makes a journey. "

The B side, "Landlord"  is a rocking tune from the early clubbing days with lyrics by Sting and music by drummer Stewart Copeland, which may be why it sounds so much like a Klark Kent tune.

Friday, September 13, 2019

24 Track Loop

This Heat : 24 Track Loop

In September of 1979, the British experimental art rock band This Heat released their self-titled debut, 47 minutes of uncategorizable white noise, tape loops and overdubs. "Though insolent and withdrawn, the music is adventurous and, in its own peculiar way, engrossing," says Trouser Press. This Heat , formed during the punk era, is made up of veterans of the progressive rock scene, including Charles Hayward of Gong (and Phil Manzanera's Quiet Sun) along with Charles Bullen and Gareth Williams.

 Ranked as the #9 album of the year by the online collaborative metadata database Rate Your Music, it has its supporters like Silly_Puppy who writes "THIS HEAT provided a blueprint for noise rock bands such as Sonic Youth as well as a prototype framework for what would become post-rock via the likes of Glenn Branca and ultimately to the explosion of the style that Talk Talk would nurture into the 90s. " Members of Animal Collective and Caribou have both cited the band as an influence.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

He Must Be Happy

XTC : Making Plans for Nigel

In September of 1979 XTC released their breakthrough single "Making Plans for Nigel", a top 20 hit. The single was released in a glossy sleeve that folds out into a board game, though nobody but Andy Partridge seemed to know how to play the game. "You play the game using the snakes and ladders principle," he told Smash Hits. "You need to throw or spin the exact number to finish. ..and remember if your parents try to squeeze you into a mould that you don't fit, fight it. ( I did...look what happened to me)."

It was Colin Moulding who wrote the song:

I didn't know where it came from. That phrase popped into my head, and one line followed another. Before I knew it, I'd written three parts of the song, and the rest of it just kind of fell in line probably a day or two later. ... When I was about 16, my father wanted me to stay on in school. But by that time, I really didn't want to do anything other than music, I think. ... So, in a way, is it autobiographical? Well, a little bit. I knew somebody called Nigel at school. But I think that, when you write songs, it's a lot of things all wrapped up, like in your dreams. Your dreams are kind of bits and pieces of all the walks of life you've been in. ... 

 We used to rehearse about two or three times a week with the band, and I'd take songs to rehearsal, you know? This one seemed to get a favorable response. But at that time, I didn't really have enough confidence in myself to know where I was going with the arrangement. The other guys helped me on that, I suppose

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

After Turning Off the Television

Tom Verlaine : Breakin' In My Heart

In September of 1979 former Television frontman Tom Verlaine released his self-titled debut album. With three Television era songs, the album scored an A- from Village Voice critic Robert Christgau who wrote 

In which he deploys backup choruses and alien instruments, the kind of stuff that bogs down all solo debuts, with modest grace and wit. And continues to play guitar like Captain Marvel. Neater than Television, as you might expect, but almost as visionary anyway, and a lot more confident and droll. Inspirational Verse: "My head was spinning/My oh my." 

The best track may be the final one. "Breakin' In My Heart" is a Television-era live favorite with the B-52's Ricky Wilson adding guitar. The album ranked #15 on the NME album poll. On the Village Voice Pazz and Jop critics poll, the album finished #14.

Richard Lloyd : Misty Eyes

In the meantime Verlaine's Television bandmate, Richard Lloyd, released his debut album Alchemy on Elektra. Joined by Television bassist Fred Smith, Feelies drummer Vinny DeNunzio and future Bongos guitarist James Maestro, the album's title track was a local FM hit in New York City. Christgau gave the album a B+, writing:

Lloyd really has his pop down, and this record never fails to cheer me when it comes on-the songwriting and guitar textures are consistently tuneful and affecting. I don't mind that he always sings off-key, either--part of the charm of his pop is how loose it is. But the voice is so whacked-out that even if you'd never seen Lloyd lurching around a stage or matching magic with Tom Verlaine you'd sense that where for the Shoes or the Beat teen romance is a formal stricture, for him it's an evasion--he's just not telling us what he knows.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

So Cold and Distant

Gary Numan : Conversation

On September 7, 1979 Gary Numan released his debut solo album, The Pleasure Principle. Having already scored a U.K. #1 hit with Tubeway Army's "Are 'Friends' Electric" and  with "Cars" racing up the charts to #1, Numan is in the midst of his biggest moment. Sure, he borrows elements from David Bowie and Kraftwerk, but he has also found his own catchy slice of the spectrum: android vocals over electronic machines played over Cedric Sharpley's drums.

In the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, Yoshi Kato writes "The Pleasure Principle manages to sound at once futuristic and oddly timeless in a postmodern world."

From Smash Hits, Red Starr writes "I'm not greatly sold on this. It's not bad, mind you--a smoother, almost disco-ish version of Replicas--but much too it and not as adventurous, though Numan worshippers will doubtless adore it anyway."

And from Robert Christgau a dismissive grade of B:

Once again, metal machine music goes easy-listening. But last time the commander-in-chief of the tubeway army was singing about furtive sex, policemen, and isolation, while this time he's singing about robots, engineers, and isolation. In such a slight artist, these things make all the difference.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Don't Create, Don't Rebel

The Slits : Typical Girls

On September 7, 1979 The Slits released Cut. Originally a fearsome feminist foursome, The Slits supported The Clash on the 1977 White Riot tour along with The Buzzcocks. By no means were they typical girls. Along with thrift shop fashions and wild hair, the band's most memorable fashion trend was wearing bloody tampons as earrings. Learning to actually play their instruments was something they would get around to doing over the next couple of years.

Teenage German vocalist Ari Up was the front woman and on Cut she still sounds like a schoolgirl. Viv Albertine is the guitarist.  Teenager Tessa Pollitt plays bass and future Banshees drummer Budgie steps in to replace the departing Palmolive. By now The Slits have developed a new dub-influenced sound that producer Dennis Bovell accentuates. Punk guitars and attitude meet reggae beats while Up sings about shoplifting (Ten quid for the lot /We pay fuck all ...Do a runner!)

The album was met with critical acclaim. From Smash Hits :

Once the worst band I've ever seen...It's rough and reggae stuff from the wild girls ( may they ever stay that way) -- catchy tunes, fighting lyrics and a powerful personality that leaps right out at you.

From the Village Voice's Robert Christgau, who gave the album a grade of B+:

For once a white reggae style that rivals its models for weirdness and formal imagination. The choppy lyrics and playful, quavering, chantlike vocals are a tribute to reggae's inspired amateurism rather than a facsimile, and the spacey rhythms and recording techniques are exploited to solve the great problem of female rock bands, which is how to make yourself heard over all that noise. Arri Up's answer is to sing around it, which is lucky, because she'd be screeching for sure on top of the usual wall of chords. Some of this is thinner and more halting than it's meant to be, but I sure hope they keep it up.

Regarding the controversial album cover, Albertine shares the story of shooting it in an English rose garden :

We wanted a warrior stance, to be a tribe. We were egging each other on, and the next thing you know we were sitting in the mud, smearing it over each other. We knew, since we had no clothes on, that we had to look confrontational and hard. We didn't want to be inviting the male gaze.

Despite finishing #3 on Sounds, #22 on NME and #32 on the Village Voice's year end polls, and inspiring future female fronted bands of all kinds, the footnotes on this album are rather sad. The Slits apparently never got a cut of Cut, and are still seeking royalties. And that force of nature, Ari Up died of cancer at the age of 48.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Don't Drag Your Head Down

David Johansen : Melody


The most memorable thing about David Johansen's second solo album, In Style, is the cover photography by Richard Avedon. The second most memorable thing is Johansen's full body dive into the disco scene with "Swaheto Woman". 

New York City homer Robert Christgau still gave the album a B+, writing 

Johansen is equal to his more soulish musical concept--no "disco," just slower tempos, subtle be-yoo-ty, and some reggae--but he doesn't have the chops to get on top of it, and while this is solid stuff, the best of it tends to thin out a little. 

Although the problem isn't how often you think "that's bad" but how often you don't think "that's great," the record is summed up for me by "Big City," the most banal lyric he's ever written. Until now, you see, he'd never written any banal lyrics at all. Now he's got three or four.

The Village Voice critics poll, still made up of mostly New York based critics, placed In Style #24.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Tall Tall Tall

The Human League  : Empire State Human

In September of 1979 The Human League released their second single, "Empire State Human". Philip Oakley isn't okay with being human-sized. He would rather be ""tall tall tall" and "as big as a wall wall wall". With some concentration he's able to increase his size to at least 14 storeys high. The single is mindlessly repetitive but it's a clear bid for commerciality and we all know what happens when the Human League finds commercial success.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Caravan on Camping Sand

Fad Gadget : Back to Nature

In September of 1979, Fad Gadget released its debut single "Back to Nature", an influential synth pop classic. Do-it-yourself East London art school grad Frank Tovey is Fad Gadget. He had more experience in performance art than music. He explained how he got started to Smash Hits in 1982 :

I set myself up in this small cupboard within a council flat.  A lot of shared the flat, so the only spare space I could find was inside the cupboard, where I had a cheap electric piano,  a little drum machine and a cassette recorder. There I began making music by playing just two or three notes  over and over again. I realized that if I could sig a further three notes then I had something roughly resembling a song.

"Back to Nature" is the first song that impressed Mute Records chief Daniel Miller, who played most of the instruments. Tovey's career was a spotty one that ended too soon when he died of a heart attack in 2002 at the age of 45.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Kick Me in the Head

Ruts : Something That I Said

On September 2, 1979 the Ruts' follow-up to "Babylon's Burning", "Something That I Said" entered the U.K. charts at #45, eight places better than the new Squeeze single, "Slap and Tickle". Both Ruts singles would appear in re-recorded forms on their debut album, The Crack, one of the best post punk albums of the year. "Give Youth a Chance" is the dub reggae tune on the B-side to "Something That I Said". Better than almost anything on Sandinista!

"Slap and Tickle" is the fourth single from Cool For Cats, another song from an album apparently celebrating the lads discovering sex.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Dreaming of a New Tomorrow

Ian Gomm : Hold On

On September 1, 1979,  Ian Gomm's "Hold On" entered the U.S. chart at #81, one spot ahead of the new Knack single "Good Girls Don't". The former Brinsley Schwarz rhythm guitarist and Nick Lowe's co writer of "Cruel to Be Kind" would  reach #18 with this terrific tune. Nothing beats a bass that tumbles its way into the tune. Gomm's chart success led to his opening for Dire Straits on their Sultans of Swing tour, more albums and high expectations for a solo career that never really took off. But at a time when US radio offered few alternatives to disco, it was nice to hear something that involved strumming guitars.The sax line I could have done without.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Those We Missed August 1979

Led Zeppelin : Fool in the Rain

The biggest album we missed in August is the In Through The Out Door, the final album Led Zeppelin released before drummer John Bonham's unexpected death meant the party was over. Synthesizers were in play and Bonham's drumming was as funky as ever, but the band couldn't muster enough power to go out on a great note. That said, it did  top the Creem Readers poll for best album

CREEM Readers Poll Top 20 Albums

1. In Through The Out Door (Led Zeppelin)
 2. Candy-O (The Cars)
 3. Dream Police (Cheap Trick)
 4. Live At Budokan (Cheap Trick)
 5. Rust Never Sleeps (Neil Young + Crazy Horse)
 6. Squeezing Out Sparks (Graham Parker + the Rumour)
 7. The Kids Are Alright (The Who)
 8. Van Halen II (Van Halen)
 9. Low Budget (The Kinks)
10. Get The Knack (The Knack)
11. The Clash 
12. Dynasty (Kiss)
13. Fear Of Music (Talking Heads)
14. Armed Forces (Elvis Costello)
15. Labour Of Lust (Nick Lowe)
16. Highway To Hell (AC/DC)
17. B-52's 
18. Breakfast In America (Supertramp)
19. Night In The Ruts (Aerosmith)
20. Look Sharp! (Joe Jackson)
21. Eat To The Beat (Blondie)
22. The Long Run (The Eagles)
23. Tusk (Fleetwood Mac)
24. Damn The Torpedoes (Tom Petty + the Heartbreakers)
25. You're Never Alone With A Schizophrenic (Ian Hunter)

Pat Benatar : Heartbreaker

To my ears Pat Benatar has always come across as a hired hand. She's a commercial jingle singer  whose debut album peaked at U.S.#12 and featured covers of songs by Smokie, Nick Gilder, the Alan Parson Project, Sweet and John Mellencamp.  

Randy Newman : The Story of a Rock and Roll Band

What if Randy Newman told a joke and nobody laughed? That's kind of what happened with Born Again, despite the fun ELO tribute. Still got a B+ out of Robert Christgau.

P-Model : Art Mania

Japanese new wave album produced by Plastics keyboardist Masahida Sakuma. What? We haven't mentioned The Plastics yet? I love the Plastics. They take the New Wave to their very quirkiest extreme (yes, beyond even The B-52's)  Check out "Copy", their debut single also released in 1979 below. 

Giorgio Moroder : Baby Blue

Donna Summer's producer takes listeners to an imagined future where people dance to the sound of Star Wars phasers and vocoder vocals.

Friday, August 30, 2019

The Freak of the Week

Funkadelic : (Not Just) Knee Deep

In August of 1979 Funkadelic released "(Not Just) Knee Deep", a single that would top of the U.S. R+B charts for three weeks in October.  Edited down from its 15 minute running time on the forthcoming Uncle Jam Wants You, the tune features a keyboard line and vocals most famously sampled by De La Soul in their #1 R+B hit ten years later, "Me Myself and I". That's PhillipĂ© Wynne (formerly of the Spinners) on lead vocals.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Cool in the Pool

Holger Czukay : Persian Love

In 1979 Can co-founder Holger Czukay released Movies. At the time it was considered a ground-breaking album because of its sampling of short wave radio broadcasts, beating the Byrne/Eno collaboration My Life in the Bush of Ghosts by nearly two years. The Iranian singer on "Persian Love" was discovered over the radio. Members of Can join Czukay in the studio so, musically, the album has the breezy, lightweight feel of latter day Can. 

The album has grown in reputation, even posting at #98 on Sounds All-Time Top 100 Albums list published in the 1980's as well as ranking among 27 albums from 1979 selected for the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

I Wanna Be Your Lover

Prince : I Wanna Be Your Lover

In August of 1979 Prince released " I Wanna Be Your Lover". His breakout hit, "I Wanna Be Your Lover" would sell two million copies, topping the R+B charts for two weeks in December and peaking at U.S. #11 on the pop charts.  Pitchfork's Jason Heller calls this Prince's "Hail Mary", following the commercial failure of Prince's debut album, For You:

Immaculately sculpted and emotionally cool, the song spotlighted everything the burgeoning genius had on tap: skills, hooks, precocious sex appeal, and a preternatural sense of his pivotal place in history. “I Wanna Be Your Lover” is a thing of its era—supple, sleek, and disco-esque—yet it points toward lusher, more ambitious triumphs to come. And as a dance floor jam, then and now, it simply slays. But it’s also the apotheosis of ’70s funk, boiling down a decade’s worth of musical upheaval and innovation to one essential exit track; after this, pop would never be the same.

In the video Prince is seen playing all the instruments and singing in a leopard skin leotard. On the album, the song goes on for two minutes longer than the single with Prince jamming on various synthesizers. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Back On The Van

Van Morrison : Bright Side of the Road

In August of 1979, Van Morrison released the critically acclaimed Into The Music, an album that takes listeners "from the dark end of the street/To the bright side of the road". "I suspect it's Van's best album since Moondance", wrote Village Voice critic Robert Christgau. Recorded in the same Sausalito studio where Fleetwood Mac made Rumours, Into The Music sounds like a joyous, sunny somewhat Christian celebration on Side One. Side Two is more ambitious, intimate and romantic and works as a four song cycle. Side One revisits the moods of Moondance. Side Two, those of  Astral Weeks.

The album as a whole reminds me of what Morrison told Cameron Crowe in 1977:

“Success, to me, is not album sales. It’s being happy with what I’m doing. Every artist, of course, wants the album to sell if they’re going to stay up late at night and I work on it and think about it and come up with the songs… of course, he wants it to sell. But what’s important to me is just being able to sit here and dig everything for exactly what it is, and feel good about it. To sit here and look at the Pacific and think, “That’s okay, That feels good,’

From Robert Christgau who graded the album an A, and ranked it as his fourth favorite album of 1979:

The rockers are a little lightweight, the final cut drags halfway through, and that's all that's wrong with this record, including its tributes to "the Lord." You might get religion yourself if all of your old powers returned after years of failed experiments, half-assed compromises, and onstage crack-ups. Like that other godfearing singer-songwriter, Morrison has abandoned metaphorical pretensions, but only because he loves the world. His straightforward celebrations of town and country are colored and deepened by his musicians--especially sprightly violinist Toni Marcus (feh on Scarlet Rivera)--and by his own excursions into a vocalise that has never been more various or apt. The only great song on this record is "It's All in the Game," written by Calvin Coolidge's future vice-president in 1912. But I suspect it's Van's best album since Moondance

In that Into the Music is brave and unexpected and reflective, it’s much of a piece with all of Morrison’s previous work. He’s taken us on some pretty treacherous journeys, full of dark routes, deep magic, bleak despair. No reason not to settle with him, for a time, in the region of light. One of the singer’s most abundant gifts has always been his ability to be a sort of Gaelic shaman and guide. No matter how obscure things got — whether listening to the lions or watching the ballerina or figuring how Linden Arden stole the highlights — he could always make them seem familiar. You recognized the neighborhood right away, even if you couldn’t find the exact address of Madame George’s. He makes the new territory on Into the Music no less vital, and no less like home.

Monday, August 26, 2019

U.K. Top 10 Singles, August 26, 1979

Cliff Richard : We Don't Talk Anymore


On August 25, 1979 Cliff Richard's "We Don't Talk Anymore" spent its second week in a row at the top of the U.K. charts. The single, which seems to owe a big a debt to Hall and Oates, sold 4 million copies worldwide and was Richard's tenth #1 hit.