The post Brian Eno, pre valiumized Roxy Music captured in full live force, taking an okay sort of half-country experiment from their first album and pumping it full of all kinds of delirious drama. Stick with it through the violin solo, the conclusion is as big and rich and mercurial as love itself. From 1976’s Viva! which was in fact recorded on Roxy’s 1974 tour.
“If you were there at the time (1976), the first you heard of Klaatu likely came in the form of rumour. They were the Beatles secretly reunited, with the clues all there if you just did a little digging. It was all bullshit, of course, and thank God, because the album really wasn’t that good. Rather like what you would’ve gotten if Paul McCartney had rediscovered LSD and tried to do another Sergeant Pepper’s, but all alone this time, and maybe drinking copious amounts of vodka spiked Cream Soda on the side. But the last track was a keeper, something to do with split atoms, I think, and the wrath of gods thus unleashed.” (Philip Random)
Deep cut from the album that finally, irrefutably kicked the Electric Light Orchestra into the big leagues, 1976’s New World Record. A story song about an alien that comes down to earth, gets taken for a street person, files a negative report back to the home planet. It was a common theme in those days as the afterglow of the big deal moon landings faded and the various grim realities of life on earth got harder and harder to ignore. Same as it ever was.
“I’m pretty sure Toots + the Maytals were the first reggae band I ever consciously heard. It was their cover of John Denver’s Take Me Home Country Roads, which suddenly showed up on the local radio. I would’ve been sixteen at the time, 1976, and I hated it. The guy couldn’t sing and the rest of the band were just wrong somehow, seeming to have no idea how to play proper funk. But jump ahead to 1983 and I was naming Funky Kingston as one of my fave all time party albums. And I was right. It really is right up there. Which gets us to teenagers. When they’re wrong about something, they’re at least comprehensive about it.” (Philip Random)
John Miles‘ timing sucked. Because he really did seem to have it all on his debut album Rebel. Solid songs, kickass band, world class production c/o Alan Parsons who had his own big deal project going by then. Except it was 1976, so punk was breaking out across town. Even cutting your hair short and trim and posing with a rifle on your album cover wasn’t going to slow that storm down.
Led Zeppelin didn’t have a whole lot left in their tank by 1976. Which isn’t to say that, on a good day, they still weren’t one of the most devastating four-pieces the world would ever know. Case in point, Hots On For Nowhere wherein rhythmatists John Bonham and John Paul Jones give full rein to their love of all things groovy, which the other two turn sideways, inside-out, any which way but where you think it might be going. And it rocks.
For all their pomp and fantasy, Queen could also get real every now and then as Drowse makes clear. Like something Brian Wilson and David Bowie might’ve come up with if they’d ever managed to write a song together. Because it’s eternally true. Teenagers spend a pile of time alone in their rooms frustrated and confused, bored to rages of tears.