It’s Britain, 1977, and if you’re not punk, you’re not worth knowing. Unless you’re the Stranglers, who were more like punk’s mean older brother, more sophisticated, and tougher in a street fighting sort of way. Also, they had a sort of existential edge as a song like Get A Grip On Yourself makes clear. Yeah, society’s f***ed, the world’s going up in apocalyptic frames. No reason to lose your cool, man.
“The Brothers Johnson being one of those bands that I pretty much missed completely during my white bread suburban youth … except somewhere along the line, Right on Time slipped into my stacks of vinyl. And it’s all very nice, groovy and smooth, but then Strawberry Letter 23 comes along and takes things to a whole other level of cool and soulful invention. Music you can taste as well as feel.” (Philip Random)
“In which Peter Tosh (ex of the Wailers) takes a Joe Higgs original about being dangerous indeed, and very much makes it very much his own. “It was released in 1977 but I didn’t really connect with it until the late 80s when so-called Gangsta rap was starting to hit hard, turning the uttering of threats into a functional musical vocabulary. Ah, the good ole days.” (Philip Random)
Side One Track One of the first (and only really) Sex Pistols album is a solid and enduring f*** you to everyone that’s ever taken a cheap holiday in some broken down so-called Third World locale. Because it was true in 1977, it’s even more true now – the world ain’t equal, your luxurious fun and good times inevitably involves some other guy’s blood, sweat, pain, misery. But don’t let that worry you. Just stick to the big hotels and always drink bottled water, and if you see a new Belsen in the distance, look the other way.
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.