Let's say goodbye to 1978 on the final night of the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco where the Blues Brothers, New Riders of the Purple Sage and the Grateful Dead played until daybreak. The Winterland had also been the site of the Band's Last Waltz and where the Sex Pistols ended their reign as the darlings of punk rock.
Hundreds of Dead Heads camped out to get their hands on the $30 tickets and to say goodbye to an end to an era. Jimi Hendrix had played there. So had The Jefferson Airplane, The Rolling Stones and Peter Frampton, who recorded some of Frampton Comes Alive in the hall. The ballroom was torn down in 1985, replaced by apartments. A 2 bedroom at that location currently rents for $4,695/month.
Tom Petty + the Heartbreakers played a New Year's show in Santa Monica, introducing fans to a song called "Refugee". Bruce Springsteen's Cleveland show can be heard on YouTube and back in San Francisco, the Runaways played their last show on this night 40 years ago.
I'm not sure how a music snob can justify naming a Bee Gees smash my favorite song of the year, but "Night Fever" has topped my list. It must be something deeply buried in my cortex because it has nothing to do with the chorus ( "night fever, night fever, we know how to do it") and the wah wah guitar in the bridge. I spent most of 1978 as a long haired, too tall and too skinny 14 year old who rarely attended dances at his boarding school. When my parents played the first side of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack and tried to get me to dance, I bolted from the room. But if I closed my eyes on a Saturday night, I could imagine astonishing my classmates with my Travolta like disco moves.
Nah, never happen.
The Big Hits
Bee Gees Night Fever
Rolling Stones Miss You
Gerry Rafferty Baker Street
Robert Palmer Every Kinda People
The Babys Isn't It Time
This was a new discovery: a disco song by art rocker Arthur Russell with guitar lines contributed by David Byrne.
Dinosaur : Kiss Me Again
Chic Le Freak
Heatwave The Groove Line
Cheryl Lynn Got To Be Real
Sylvester You Make Me Feel Mighty Real
The Jacksons Blame It on the Boogie
Power Pop + New Wave
Wings : Backwards Traveller
A 69 second McCartney throw away. But I like this half finished, pure shot of inspiration on the otherwise bland London Town.
Tom Petty + the Heartbreakers Listen to Her Heart
Cheap Trick Surrender
The Motors Airport
Chris Stamey + the dB's (I Thought) You Wanted to Know
Jules and the Polar Bears : You Just Don't Want to Know
The more I hear this one, the more I like it. Jules Shear would eventually make a name for himself on MTV and as a songwriter but this early tune is my favorite of his.
Nick Lowe I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass
NRBQ Green Lights
The Records Starry Eyes
The Cars Just What I Needed
New York City
Television : Days
Gorgeous song I've loved for decades and decades. Gah! I'm getting old.
Talking Heads Take Me To The River
Johnny Thunders (You Can't Put Your Arms Around A ) Memory
Lou Reed Street Hassle
Blondie Hanging on the Telephone
Ramones I Just Want to Have Something to Do
Bruce Springsteen Prove It All Night
UK Critical Faves
Magazine : Shot By Both Sides
DeVoto had something to prove with his first solo single since leaving the Buzzcocks, taking nothing but his awful haircut and a guitar riff the Buzzcocks would also use in "Lipstick".
The Jam Down in the Tube Station at Midnight
The Clash (White Man) in Hammersmith Palais
Siouxsie + the Banshees Hong Kong Garden
The Buzzcocks Ever Fallen in Love
Elvis Costello : I Don't Want to go to Chelsea
In which the Attractions show why they may be the best backing band in the world. They deserved songwriting credit for the way they made these songs jump out of the speakers.
Bryan Ferry Sign of the Times
Devo Gut Feeling/Slap Your Mammy
The Undertones Teenage Kicks
The Saints Know Your Product
Discovered This Year
Be Bop Deluxe : Panic in the World
From the final Be Bop Deluxe album, a catchy should-a-been hit.
Kleenex Ain't You
Radio Birdman Aloha Steve and Danno
The Wipers Better Off Dead
Ultravox Slow Motion
The B-52's : Rock Lobster (DB Records version)
I like this original version better. See! my snobbery is coming back.
Shoes Tomorrow Night (Bomp! Records version)
Embarrassed to Admit
Journey : Lights
I grew up in San Francisco so this is a sentimental favorite.
Suzi Quatro + Chris Norman Stumblin' In
Billy Joel Rosalinda's Eyes
The Doobie Brothers What a Fool Believes
Todd Rundgren Can We Still Be Friends
Rolling Stones : Shattered
To be cranked on headphones whilst walking down the avenues of NYC when your life is in tatters.
Kraftwerk The Model
Warren Zevon Lawyers Guns and Money
Bryan Ferry Carrickfergus
A list of the most played 1978 songs on my computer (number of plays)
Bee Gees Night Fever 19
Bryan Ferry Take Me to the River 13
Magazine Shot By Both Sides
Paul McCartney Backwards Traveler
Al Di Meola Mediterranean Sundance 12
Blondie Hanging on the Telephone 11
Ramones I Just Want to Have Something to Do
Talking Heads The Good Thing
The Saints A Minor Aversion 10
Blondie Heart of Glass 9
Bryan Ferry What Goes On
Bryan Ferry Sign of the Times
Rolling Stones Miss You
The Saints This Perfect Day
The Babys Isn't It Time 8
Bryan Ferry Carrickfergus
Devo Gut Feeling/Slap Your Mammy
Gerry Rafferty Baker Street
Kate Bush Wuthering Heights
The Only Ones Another Girl/Another Planet
Pere Ubu Non Alignment Pact
Shoes Tomorrow Night
My list of favorite albums from 1978 may contain only a few surprises for those expecting the usual suspects. All Mod Cons was the first Jam album I ever owned and will always be up there among my favorites. I also have sentimental favorites in the Creme + Godley album, L, Gerry Rafferty's City to City, The Saints's Eternally Yours and NRBQ's At Yankee Stadium. There were quite a few album I really didn't know before spending the past year living, musically at least, in the year 1978. The ones that made the biggest impact were Wire's Chairs Missing, Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band's Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller), Magazine's Real Life, Kate Bush's The Kick Inside Pere Ubu's The Modern Dance and Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians. Discovering what I missed locked in an upstate Connecticut boarding school is the whole point of this mission . Here's hoping 1979 brings us more hidden gems!
1. The Jam All Mod Cons 2. Elvis Costello: This Year's Model 3. Talking Heads: More Songs About Buildings and Food 4. Bruce Springsteen: Darkness at the Edge of Town 5. Nick Lowe: Pure Pop for Now People (Jesus of Cool)
6. Wire: Chairs Missing 7. The Cars: The Cars 8. Ramones: Road to Ruin 9. The Rolling Stones: Some Girls 10. Blondie: Parallel Lines
11. The Saints : Eternally Yours 12. Kraftwerk: The Man-Machine 13. Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band: Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller) 14. Television: Adventure 15. Magazine :Real Life
16. Godley + Creme : L 17. Pere Ubu: The Modern Dance 18. Big Star: Third 19. Devo: Are We Not Men? We Are Devo! 20. Kate Bush :The Kick Inside
21. NRBQ: At Yankee Stadium 22. Warren Zevon: Excitable Boy 23. Cheap Trick: Heaven Tonight 24. Steve Reich: Music for 18 Musicians 25. The Clash: Give 'Em Enough Rope
26. Chic : C'est Chic 27. Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes: Hearts of Stone 28. Dire Straits : Dire Straits 29. Marvin Gaye : Here My Dear 30. The Only Ones
31. Gerry Rafferty: City to City 32. Tom Petty + The Heartbreakers : You're Gonna Get It 33. Bob Marley + the Wailers: Kaya 34. Lou Reed: Street Hassle 35. Buzzcocks : Another music in a different kitchen
36. The Rutles 37. Flamin' Groovies : Now 38. Funkadelic: One Nation Under a Groove 39. Willie Nelson: Stardust 40. Bryan Ferry : The Bride Stripped Bare
In December of 1978, the Italian disco record producer Giorgio Moroder released the soundtrack to the TV series Battlestar Galactica. Sure, it's a cash-in that might have been instantly forgettable except for the cover featuring a futuristic woman on all fours and the 15 minute "Evolution" on the B side. This instrumental reminds me of my favorite Donna Summer song, the multi-faceted "Try Me I Know We Can Make It" off of A Love Trilogy which Moroder produced. The song appeared on CD reissues of Moroder's E=MC2 which came out in 1979. Is "Giorgio" Italian for genius?
In December of 1978 the Manchester based Factory Records label released an EP titled A Factory Sample, the label's first official release. The bands sampled are Joy Division ("Digital" and "Glass") , The Durutti Column ( a pair of lost classics) , John Dowie ( who?) and Cabaret Voltaire, all of whom played at a club known as The Factory in Manchester. The label would give us not just the bands above but also New Order, A Certain Ratio, Happy Mondays, Northside, and (briefly) Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and James. Sadly, "Digital" is the last song Joy Division ever performed together, 16 days before singer Ian Curtis killed himself.
I did my best to post about as many songs as I could get my hands on from this list compiled by the critics of NME. I confess to not giving enough attention to reggae this year, but I also missed a straight ahead blues number by Captain Beefheart. "Hard Workin Man" appeared on the soundtrack to Paul Schrader's Blue Collar Man, one of Bruce Springsteen's two favorite films from the 1970's. The other one is Taxi Driver, which Schrader wrote.
NME Singles 1978
1. Ever Fallen In Love - The Buzzcocks
2. Public Image - Public Image
3. What A Waste - Ian Dury
4. Miss You - Rolling Stones
5. Radio Radio - Elvis Costello
6. I Don't Want To Go To Chelsea - Elvis Costello
7. Hong Kong Garden - Siouxsie + The Banshees
8. White Man In Hammersmith Palais - The Clash
9. Shot Both Sides - Magazine
10. Sign Of The Times - Bryan Ferry
11. Shame - Evelyn 'Champagne' King
12. Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick - Ian Dury
13. Rising Free - Tom Robinson Band
14. Satisfaction - Devo
15. Ambition - Subway Sect
16. Take Me To The River - Talking Heads
17. It's The New Thing - The Fall
18. I Love The Sound Of Breaking Glass - Nick Lowe
19. What Do I Get - The Buzzcocks
20. Germ Free Adolescents - X Ray Spex
21. I Am The Fly - Wire
22. Because The Night - Patti Smith
23. Damaged Goods - Gang Of Four
24. Mr Know It All - Gregory Isaacs
25. Night People - Alan Toussaint
26. Mighty Real - Sylvester
27. Private Plane - Thomas Leer
28. Where Were You - The Mekons
29. Hard Workin Man - Captain Beefheart
30. Down At The Doctors - Doctor Feelgood
Also Rans, Singles
Little Way Different - Errol Dunkley
Don’t Come Close - The Ramones
Dangerous Woman - Tapper Zuki
Love Don’t Live Here Any More - Rose Royce
Surrender - Cheap Trick
Dry Up Your Tears - The Bold One/Clint Eastwood
Stayin’ Alive - Bee Gees
Badlands - Bruce Springsteen
Tommy Gun - The Clash
Jilted John - Jilted John
Human Fly - The Cramps
Natty Never Get Weary - Culture
Picture This - Blondie
Shank Block Bologna - Scritti Politti
Which Way Is Up - Starguard
Statue Of Liberty - Xtc
Tomorrow Night - Shoes
News Of The World - The Jam
D.I.Y. - Peter Gabriel
I can't post everything worth hearing from 1978 in a single year. This is my attempt at a make good. Let's begin with Graham Parker's Rumour, who signed their own deal with Stiff Records and recorded the unfairly forgotten Frogs Sprouts Clogs and Krauts.
"Till It Shines" is a deep cut from Stranger in Town, a massive hit album from Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, which also featured "Hollywood Nights", "Still the Same", "Old Time Rick + Roll" , "Feel Like a Number" and "We've Got Tonite".
In 1978, six years before they became a funk band, Scritti Politti released the debut single "Skank Bloc Bologna" on their own St. Pancras label. It's a grower. In fact, John Peel liked it enough to play it on his show which ed to a record contract with Rough Trade in 1979.
One of the reasons 1979's Broken English would be such a wonderful surprise is because two years earlier, Marianne Faithfull attempted to record a country album. Originally called Dreaming My Dreams, it was re-released in 1978 as Faithless. Her cover of Dylan's "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" is the most listenable track on the album.
Let's end on a good note. Nick Gilder hit US#1 with "Hot Child In The City" but that wasn't the only catchy tune on City Nights. "Here Comes the Night" is an ear worm that just missed the US Top 40.
1. Darkness On The Edge Of Town - Bruce Springsteen
2. All Mod Cons - The Jam
3. This Years Model - Elvis Costello
4. More Songs About Buildings + Food - Talking Heads
5. Africa Stand Alone - Culture
6. Peter Gabriel (2) - Peter Gabriel
7. Street Legal - Bob Dylan
8. Dub Housing - Pere Ubu
9. Germ Free Adolescents - X Ray Spex
10. David Johansen - David Johansen
11. The Modern Dance - Pere Ubu
12. The Scream - Siouxsie + The Banshees
13. Moving Targets - Penetration
14. Shiny Beast - Captain Beefheart
15. Rasta Communication - Keith Hudson
16. An American Prayer - Jim Morrison
17. Who Are You - The Who
18. Some Girls - The Rolling Stones
19. Marcus Children - Burning Spear
20. Real Life - Magazine
21. Blue Valentine - Tom Waits
22. Go 2 - Xtc
23. Jazz - Ry Cooder
24. We Are Not Men... - Devo
25. Another Music In A Different Kitchen. - The Buzzcocks
26. Dynamite Daze - Kevin Coyne
27. Give 'Em Enough Rope - The Clash
28. First Edition - Public Image
29. Live + Dangerous - Thin Lizzy
30. Man Machine - Kraftwerk Also Rans Albums
Tonic For The Troops - Boomtown Rats
Power In The Darkness - Tom Robinson Band
Dread Beat + Blood - Linton Kwesi Johnson
Wavelength - Van Morrison
The Real Kids - Same
Road To Ruin - The Ramones
Hearts Of Stone - Southside Johnny
Some Enchanted Evening - Blue Oyster Cult
Suicide - Same
Smooth Talk - Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King
Roy Hill - Same
Tell Us The Truth - Sham 69
Comes A Time - Neil Young
Disguise In Love - John Cooper Clarke
The Image Has Cracked - Atv
Midnight Express - Giorgo Moroder
Dark Album - Wigwam
Fool Around - Rachel Sweet
Love Bites - Buzzcocks
Black +; White - Stranglers
Easter - Patti Smith
Love - Twinkle Brothers
The Akron Compilation - Various Artists
Crusin - Village People
The 5th Power - Lester Bowie
Rosewood - Woody Shaw
The Best Dressed Chicken In Town - Dr Alimantado
One Nation Under A Groove - Funkadelic
V.S.O.P. - The Quintet
Enhance - Billy Heart
X Dreams - Annette Peacock
In the post-match analysis, Charles Shaar Murray said: “Compared to the blizzard of short-sightedness that afflicts readers’ polls in other publications of a vaguely rock-orientated nature, the NME readers’ poll vindicates not only our belief in new rock and roll but -let’s get sickening for a second- our belief in you.”
• Album - Jam-All Mod Cons
• Bass - Bruce Foxton
• Best Dressed Lp - Rolling Stones-Some Girls
• Discjockey - John Peel
• Drums - Keith Moon
• Female Singer - Debbie Harry
• Film - Close Encounters Of The 3rd Kind
• Guitar - Mick Jones
Klutz/Creep Of The Year - John Travolta
• Male Singer - David Bowie
• Most Wonderful Humanbeing - Sid Vicious
• New Group/Most Promising - Public Image Limited
• Piano/Keyboards - Dave Greenfield
• Pin Up - Debbie Harry
• Radio Show - John Peel Show
• Single -Clash-(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais
• Songwriters - Elvis Costello
The Village Voice's contemporaneous poll of American rock and jazz critics in 1978 is interesting mostly because we get to see what they missed. The Clash's 1977 debut album wouldn't be released in the US until mid-1979 so Americans were late to certain parties, even if they eventually discovered The Clash, Ian Dury, and Wire in '78. So what did Americans miss by late '78? The Buzzcocks, The Jam, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Magazine, Public Image, The Only Ones, Dire Straits and The Saints, to name a few. And as the years passed Kraftwerk's Man Machine, Steve Reich's Music For 18 Musicians , Marvin Gaye's Here My Dear, Big Star's Third would all be considered classics.
1. Elvis Costello: This Year's Model (Columbia) 783 (58)
2. The Rolling Stones: Some Girls (Rolling Stones) 616 (52)
3. Nick Lowe: Pure Pop for Power People (Columbia) 328 (32)
4. The Clash: Give 'Em Enough Rope (Epic) 328 (28)
5. Talking Heads: More Songs About Buildings and Food (Sire) 317 (28)
6. Bruce Springsteen: Darkness at the Edge of Town (Columbia) 284 (25)
7. Ramones: Road to Ruin (Sire) 262 (24)
8. Neil Young: Comes a Time (Reprise) 250 (25)
9. The Cars: The Cars (Elektra) 223 (24)
10. David Johansen: David Johansen (Blue Sky) 186 (17)
11. Warren Zevon: Excitable Boy (Asylum) 182 (16)
12. Brian Eno: Before and After Science (Island) 171 (16)
13. Ian Dury: New Boots and Panties! (Stiff) 146 (15)
14. Patti Smith Group: Easter (Arista) 144 (18)
15. Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band: Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller) (Warner Bros.) 137 (14)
16. Dave Edmunds: Tracks on Wax 4 (Swan Song) 111 (13)
17. The Who: Who Are You (MCA) 110 (8)
18. Television: Adventure (Elektra) 109 (13)
19. Willie Nelson: Stardust (Columbia) 108 (11)
20. Devo: Are We Not Men? We Are Devo! (Warner Bros.) 107 (12)
21. Bob Dylan: Street Legal (Columbia) 101 (8)
22. Cheap Trick: Heaven Tonight (Epic) 92 (11)
23. Van Morrison: Wavelength (Warner Bros.) 90 (11)
24. Lou Reed: Street Hassle (Arista) 89 (10)
25. Blondie: Parallel Lines (Chrysalis) 88 (11)
26. Pere Ubu: The Modern Dance (Blank) 81 (10)
27. Funkadelic: One Nation Under a Groove (Warner Bros.) 73 (7)
28. Wire: Pink Flag (Harvest) 70 (6)
29. Generation X: Generation X (Chrysalis) 66 (7)
30. Al Green : Truth n Time (Hi) 65 (9)
From Robert Christgau:
Elvis Costello's This Year's Model is the biggest winner in Pazz + Jop history. Except in 1974, when there were a mere 28 voters, only The Basement Tapes has ever made over half the ballots, and Costello's point spread--huge over the runner-up Stones and absolutely staggering over everyone else--is unprecedented and then some. But what's even more remarkable is the rest of the chart. Last year, eight of the 30 finishers were directly associated with new wave; this year--not counting Brian Eno, the Cars or Cheap Trick--the figure is 16. And now consider the non-new wavers in the top 20, where the poll is most reliable statistically. Eno produced No New York and Talking Heads and is referred to in a recent issue of Punk as "God"; the Cars may share a producer with Queen, but they share a&r, not to mention key musical ideas, with Television and the Dictators. Bruce Springsteen was a punk before there were punks--a "real" punk, as they say. Singer-songwriter Neil Young encored at the Garden with a reprise of his paean to Johnny Rotten, and singer-songwriter Warren Zevon is an excitable boy who has done Neil one better by encoring with "God Save the Queen." Hard rock perennials Stones and Who both responded more or less explicitly to the punk challenge with their toughest records in years. The best album since 1971 (if not 4004 B.C.) by the venerable rock vanguardist Captain Beefheart responds to nothing except the weather, but the Captain was his own kind of new waver before there was an ocean, or a flag. And finally there's Willie Nelson, the great exception, described by ace ballot annotator Tom Smucker as follows: "Nelson takes the crossover spirit of 1978 Country Music and crosses so far over with it he misses the mainstream entirely and ends up with an album that takes risks and gains integrity."
Among the shortest songs of 1978, we celebrate National Health's Of Queues and Cures track "Phlâkatön" with a running time of nine seconds and the memorable lyrics: Phlak Phlakka phlakka phlakaton cash Ker-chaffa, ker-chaffa Oum ka ka oum-er ka kaf dof Flibbet, flibbet, flibbet, flibbet Raka taka raka taka BISH! A few more short takes from 1978, all under a minute Jim Morrison ( with music by The Doors) - World On Fire : American Night Teenage Jesus and the Jerks - Red Alert Captain Beefheart - Apes Ma Yellow Magic Orchestra - Computer Game - "Theme From The Invader" The Residents : Ow Boutthat
Of Give 'Em Enough Rope, Lester Bangs wrote "though it sounds a bit overworked, contains more evidence that The Clash are the greatest rock n roll band left standing. There are nods to Mott the Hoople and reggae, but their most characteristic sound is built on martial drums and Mick Jones's Keith Richards in "Cracked Actor" guitar blasts, the feedback filtering through like smoke.'
The Clash: Give 'Em Enough Rope (Epic) 30;
Ramones: Road to Ruin (Sire) 20;
Joe "King" Carrasco and El Molino: Tex-Mex Rock-Roll (Lisa) 15;
David Johansen (Blue Sky) 5;
Bob Seger + the Silver Bullet Band: Stranger in Town (Capitol) 5; (Bangs is also from Detroit)
Lou Reed: Street Hassle (Arista) 5;
Television: Adventure (Elektra) 5;
Pere Ubu: The Modern Dance (Blank) 5;
Brian Eno: Before and After Science (Island) 5; No New York (Antilles) 5.
Among the albums to not make Lester's list is Some Girls by the Rolling Stones. In 1980, Bangs would reconsider, writing that it had taken “ten thousand varyingly voluntary rehearings” for him and a friend to actually like it. The pair discussed whether the band should break up on such a high note and Bangs’s friend said it would be better if the Stones were still “grinding away at the same Chuck Berry licks when they’re 60 years old!” (60! Can you imagine? Keef turned 75 yesterday)
Bangs added, “Go ahead and laugh, but they’re probably going to do exactly that, and after panning just about everything they released in the ’70s I’ve had a change of heart. You tell me whether it has something to do with turning 30 and all that, but what I said to another friend the other night in a similar conversation was, ‘Shit, yeah, let’s all grow old with the Rolling Stones. I can think of worse things.’ ”
On December 18, 1978 Elvis Costello and the Attractions released the non-album single "Talking in the Dark" b/w"Wednesday Week". Both songs are inventive tunes of lost love that hover around the two minute mark and both were produced by Nick Lowe at Eden Studios in London. Costello would later say "Talking in the Dark" was his favorite song from the Armed Forces sessions.
Elvis Costello's favorite albums from 1978
Chet Baker Broken Wing
FRÉDÉRIC CHOPIN: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 and 2 (pianist, conductor: Krystian Zimerman) FUNKADELIC: One Nation Under a Groove
THE HOLLIES: The Best of the Hollies “Look Through Any Window.”
THE JAM: All Mod Cons
NICK LOWE: Jesus of Cool, “36 Inches High”
WILLIE NELSON: Stardust , “Moonlight in Vermont.”
CHARLIE PARKER: The Complete Savoy Studio Sessions, “Ko-Ko.”
THE ROLLING STONES: Some Girls, “Shattered.”
THE SPINNERS: The Best of the Spinners, “Rubberband Man.”
HANK WILLIAMS: 40 Greatest Hits, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “I’ll Never Get out of This World Alive.”
Torn Curtain (Bernard Herrmann)
On December 21, 1978 The Cure released their debut single "Killing an Arab" b/w "10:15 Saturday Night". Fans say "Killing An Arab" is the most misunderstood song and one Robert Smith would spend the rest of his career defending--that it's actually a distillation of Albert Camus' The Stranger and not an irresponsibly racist song. Smith would say "It's not really racist. It's bot a call kill to kill Arabs". The song features the lyrics "staring at the sea", which would be the title of one of their best selling singles compilations.
Smith wrote the B side when he was 16. "'10.15 Saturday Night' was written at the table in our kitchen, watching the tap dripping, feeling utterly morose, drinking my dad's home-made beer. My evening had fallen apart and I was back at home feeling vert sorry for myself," wrote Smith in liner notes for the 2005 reissue of Three Imaginary Boys.
On December 17, 1978 The Jacksons released Destiny, an album that sold four million copies worldwide. This is the first time the brothers had full artistic control. Among the first songs they recorded was "Blame It on the Boogie", a song by English singer-songwriter Mick Jackson ( no relation) that peaked at US#54.
"I got such a rush," Mick Jackson tells disco-disco.com upon hearing the Jacksons version of his song "I was thrilled because their version was INCREDIBLE! Our version had 100% of our heart and soul in it but the Jackson's version had the magic extra 2% that made it incredible. We actually wrote it with Stevie Wonder in mind - now that would have been an INCREDIBLE version and to this day I think that would have been an amazing version."
"It was an uptempo, finger-poppin'-time type song that was a good vehicle for the band approach we wanted to cultivate," said Michael Jackson. " I had fun slurring the chorus: 'Blame It on the Boogie' could be sung in one breath without putting my lips together."
In the U.K.both versions were released at the same time. The music press closely watched "the battle of the boogie".The Jacksons' version was more successful, peaking at UK#8 .The Mick Jackson version—hailed by NME as "far superior"—peaked at Number 15 on the chart.
The second Jackson single, "Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)", would be a bigger hit from Destiny, peaking at US#7.
In December of 1978 the pioneering L.A. punk band Bags released their single "Survive" on Dangerhouse Records. Chicana front woman Alice Bags would write about her experiences in a memoir entitled Violence girl : East L.A. rage to Hollywood stage :
I'm bouncing on stilettos like a fighter in the ring, I charge out onto the edge of the stage, full of adrenaline and fire. I sing into the faces of the front rows. They are my current, my source of energy. I urge them to engage. I know there's something in them, some inner carbonation lying still, waiting to be shaken. It's fizzing in them as I shake them up. Shake, motherfucker, shake! I want you to explode with me.
Alice Bag's newest album is called Blueprint. Here's what NPR said about the album which made the Top 50 records of 2018:
On the eve of the second iteration of the white supremacist Unite the Right march, in Washington, D.C., Alice Bag filled the back room of a conspiratorially maligned pizza place across town with movement. "This march feels like a parade," she sang of very different demonstration, one where agua fresca abounded and storm trooper cops evoked a memory of "gray skies in '70," half a decade before The Bags rehearsed in Alice's parents' East Los Angeles living room.
A November New York Times article titled "The New Punks of Los Angeles" infantilized a rising generation of Chicano punks as adopters of a scene too crucial to have been theirs by birthright. But the first punks of Los Angeles, Alice Bag among them, were brown. This revisionism, too, is a kind of "White Justice." Blueprint is an album that holds even the best intentions accountable. It strips away all the dressery of "we must do better" and "this isn't us" that sits upon a fundamentally fractured foundation. For all the weight of this truth on Blueprint, Bag still finds room to dig her nails into old soil, begin a reconstruction, and hope. —Stefanie Fernández
On December 15, 1978 Gloria Gaynor's epic disco single, "I Will Survive", entered the Billboard Hot 100 at US#87. Originally a B-side to a song called "Substitute", the anthem, celebrating personal strength, would peak at #1 in both the US and UK. Today it is the go-to karaoke tune for millions of people around the world.
On December 15, 1978 Marvin Gaye released Here My Dear, a brooding double album detailing the end of his decade-long marriage with Anna Gordy. At the time, critics and fans didn't know what to make of the sex symbol's bummer of a message.
As part of the divorce settlement Gordy would receive Marvin's $305,000 advance and the first $295,000 he made from the album. At first Gaye wasn't planning on giving his best effort.
From the liner notes:
“I figured I’d just do a quickie record – nothing heavy, nothing even good. Why should I break my neck when Anna was going to wind up with the money anyway? But the more I lived with the notion of doing an album for Anna, the more it fascinated me. Besides, I owed the public my best effort. Finally, I did the record out of deep passion. It became a compulsion. I had to free myself of Anna, and I saw this as the way. All those depositions and hearings, all those accusations and lies – I knew I’d explode if I didn’t get all that junk out of me. So I had Art (Gaye’s engineer Art Stewart) open up the mikes. I sang and sang until I drained myself of everything I lived through. That took me three months, but then I held back the album for over a year. I was afraid to let it go.”
The album was deleted within a few years. Today it is considered one of Gaye's masterpieces.
More from Robert Christgau:
The brightness of the disco remix Motown has made available on "A Funky Space Reincarnation" is a vivid reminder of how pathologically laid back Gaye is striving to be. I mean, seventy minutes of pop music with nary a melody line almost qualifies as a tour de force, and the third side barely escapes the turntable at all. Yet this is a fascinating, playable album. Its confessional ranges from naked poetry ("Somebody tell me please/Why do I have to pay attorney fees?" is a modernist trope that ranks with any of Elvis Costello's) to rank jive, because Gaye's self-involvement is so open and unmediated, guileless even at its most insincere, it retains unusual documentary charm. And within the sweet, quiet, seductive, and slightly boring mood Gaye is at such pains to realize, his rhythmic undulations and whisper-to-a-scream timbral shifts can engross the mind, the body, and above all the ear. Definitely a weird one.
In December of 1978 the industrial music pioneers Trobbing Gristle released D.o.A: The Third and Final Report. Fall asleep with this album playing on your headphones and you may wake up screaming.
Pitchfork describes the album as "a nauseating masterpiece, and an essential recording". AllMusic states that the album "finds the group assembling collages of computer noise, cassette tapes on fast forward, looped feedback and tape hiss, surreptitiously recorded conversation, threatening phone calls, and much more, all to a grand alienating effect, the sound of a gray day in a British tower block after all the drugs have run out."
It didn't help matters that a photo of Genesis P-Orrdige used as the album cover a photograph he'd taken of a friend's daughter exposing her knickers while playing. The band would split acrimoniously, dealing with the same kinds of fractious relationships as Fleetwood Mac. In their wake they would leave a discography that would influence the likes of Nine Inch Nails and Depeche Mode.
In December of 1978 Jean Michel Jarre released Equinoxe, the follow up to his million selling Oxygene. Not all critics had kind things to say about the trance inducing album.
Davitt Sigerson of Melody Maker scorned the record, saying "it is as slushily, pseudo-galactically crass and vapid as last year's Oxygène. The melodies are trite, harmonies predictable, textures almost determinedly hackneyed (even down to artificial 'weather' effects to generate mood). There isn't even much that's danceable."
In Record Mirror Steve Gett considered the album to be "very artificial, and as a result quite emotionless ... As far as I was concerned the effect was one of sleep inducement, basically because it seems so lifeless and infinite, never reaching a specific goal but merely drifting on."
Nevertheless, the album sold more than a million copies in France, peaked at #11 on the UK album chart and #126 on the Billboard 200 chart.
Recorded in 1976 with fellow Stones Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts, Keith Richards' cover of Chuck Berry's "Run Rudolph Run" was finally released in December of 1978. It's his first solo single, released ten years before the album Talk is Cheap. It was again released in October of this year for Record Store Day.
The Eagles covered Charles Brown's "Please Come Home for Christmas" in 178 and scored a Top 20 hit in the US and peaked at UK #30. This is the first Eagles song to feature Timothy B. Schmit on bass.