Speaking of Pink Floyd, come 1977, they were pretty much the poster children for all that pompous, bloated, overblown so-called Prog Rock that Punk was supposed to be annihilating. Which made Animals a source of much confusion, because it was so full of uncompromising bile and rage, it would’ve been punk rock if the songs weren’t so long. Pigs gets singled out here for the sheer violence of the instrumental parts, like the worst of dreams. You wake up to air raid sirens. You look skyward into the night, catch a glimpse of a pig the size of a football field, with red laser eyes, and they’re fixed on you.
“Second of two in a row from Brian Eno’s Before And After Science, because the already post-punk frenzy of King’s Lead Hat has never really sounded right to me unless it’s fading up from the strange and sensual calm of Energy Fools the Magician (and vice versa). In fact, the whole first side of that album is an argument for the whole being more than the sum of its parts, even as the parts are, in turns, disorienting, magnificent, groovy, abstract, intense, everything. And Side Two – well, that’s a whole other kind of journey.” (Philip Random)
“It took me a while to warm to what Brian Eno was up to come the later 1970s. Actually, what it took was a dose of weapons grade LSD, a small town, a brutal winter night, a bunch of people playing foosball, listening to Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan … and something had to change. I couldn’t change the people or the town or even go outside really, it was too f***ing cold. But I did have this cassette tape in my pocket that someone had recently given me. I could change the music, and inevitably, effectively, seductively, about four tracks in, energy fooled the magician, and nothing’s ever really been the same.” (Philip Random)
“In which young Elvis Costello smartly, smugly reminds us of what we were all doing back in 1977, and probably last week for that matter. For me, it started when I was maybe seven, flipping through one of those Time-Life picture books about the planet Earth. It told me the world was going to end in about four billion years. An inconceivably long time for sure, but still The End. In a small, yet significant way, everything suddenly changed, such that a few years later, when I started getting clear on things like the arms race, the Doomsday Clock, global thermo-nuclear war, Apocalypse in our time – well, it wasn’t such a big deal, I was already waiting for it.” (Philip Random)
Utopia was initially formed because Todd Rundgren felt a need to rock progressively, some would argue excessively. Which was definitely the case come 1977’s Ra, their third album, with material ranging from an overlong children’s fantasy concerning a glass guitar to a genuine communion with the sun god of ancient Egypt. The singular highlight was Hiroshima, a blistering, metal-infused ode (with guitar and keyboard freakouts) to the worst split second in the history of mankind (also Nagasaki, three days later). Don’t you ever f***ing forget.
FM, straight outa Toronto, hit the so-called prog-rock scene just as everything was falling apart amid the combined assaults of punk, disco, overall societal skepticism toward heavy and bloated concepts. But their first album Black Noise was still a cosmic delight, particularly One O’clock Tomorrow. “It forever abstracted my sense of space-time-everything, though LSD was also a factor.” (Philip Random)
Brian Eno and friends deliver a nifty bit of funked up coolness, with samples, from 1977. The friends being Snatch the best two woman punk band you’ve probably never heard of, Brian Eno being, as always, way ahead of his time (sampling wouldn’t really be a thing for better a decade). RAF first showed up as a b-side to Eno’s King’s Lead Hat single, and later on First Edition, a nifty little 10-inch album that was packed full of precisely the kind of modern music that caused arguments. And yes, some of those samples come from a Baader Meinhof ransom message that was delivered via public telephone call. Those were the days.
In which the Residents sample the Beatles and make such a glorious mess of things that rumours eventually surface that they are in fact The Beatles themselves, undercover. And all of this at least a decade before sampling-stealing-pirating in the name of art had even begun to achieve hip status. “I actually heard this when it was new in 1977. Not that I was remotely cool at the time, more the opposite. A friend’s big brother heard me talking loud about how progressive rock was the only music that really mattered, because it was so inventive, so ambitious, so strange … so he got me high and set me straight on the fact that there were far, far stranger things going on out there in the name of music than I ever could have imagined.”
“The Alan Parsons Project were still pretty cool in 1977. In fact, if you were me, you were listening to a lot of I Robot (the album), digging the smooth and groovy and spacey hi-fi future it was suggesting. Apparently it was a concept derived from an Isaac Asimov book. I just dug it as a better than average stoner option, and it never got better than the lead off title track.” (Philip Random)