“I was a too mature for AC/DC when they first started getting properly noticed over here in the Americas, my late teenage tastes leading me toward more sophisticated stuff like Styx and Kansas. Never trust anyone under twenty. Fact is, it took me ten years before I was mature enough for AC/DC’s no bullshit powerage. But it had to be the old stuff with Bon Scott, long dead but immortal, howling up from hell or wherever. Sheer Riff Raff all the way.” (Philip Random)
Speaking of bass culture, (and contrary to popular belief) it needs to be said that White Man in Hammersmith Palais was neither The Clash‘s first reggae song, nor its best — that was Police + Thieves (or maybe something from Sandinista). But it was the first one they actually wrote, Joe Strummer to be specific, slipping out of his punk mindset long enough to wax poetic on politics and music, Robin Hood and Hitler, black and white, everything really.
In which the Buzzcocks unleash a short, sharp fever of pure and beautiful pop with punk in its soul. Or is it the other way around? One thing is clear. They were one of (if not the first) bands to have it both ways, and we’ll forever love them for that. Just because you’re mad as hell doesn’t mean you can’t be pretty, too.
Note the question mark in the title. This is XTC telling it like it was in early 1978 – everybody confused about the new wild sound that was tumbling out of the punk eruptions and eviscerations of the previous year. But what was it? New Wave, claimed the marketing types, but that didn’t mean anything. That was just a way of selling stuff that wasn’t disco or metal or prog or just boring old rock. What it was, was pop, bullshit free, for the moment and all time.
“Lewd, crude (some have called it obnoxious) title track from the last Rolling Stones album that anyone needs to hear. Because past Some Girls, they just wouldn’t be that dangerous anymore. Probably connected with Keith Richard finally having to clean up his off-stage act. The western world would never be the same.” (Philip Random)
Synergy was one man, a guy named Larry Fast who, when he wasn’t working with the likes of Peter Gabriel, Nektar, FM was inventing the future via his devotion to synthesizer technologies, with 1978’s Cords one of those albums that still manages to sound rather ahead of things. Peter Gabriel gets credit for helping with some of the titles, and none better than Disruption in World Communication. Because yes, this is exactly what it ends up sounding like when we humans cease communicating with each other. Genuinely scary stuff.
As the story goes, Magazine got formed because Howard Devoto thought the Buzzcocks were already sounding too “old hat”. Which makes My Mind Ain’t So Open a perfect intro to this new sound he had in mind. A little too smart for punk, a little too vicious for pop. The 1980s were still two years away but stakes were already clarifying. They’d be like the 1960s all over again, except this time it would be love and spite, not love and peace.
Jethro Tull main man Ian Anderson was nothing if not level-headed in 1978. While many of his fellow formerly cool rock star types were scrambling (often pathetically) in attempts to reinvent themselves as somehow edgy and relevant in the face of punk rock etc, he just told it like it was. He was more concerned about his farm up in Scotland than the state of the zeitgeist, the big horses in particular. The album in question may have seemed a throwback at the time, but over time, its mix of folk and rock elements has come to feel more timeless than anything.
In which Keith Richard stumbles through a reggae classic that no white man has any business even touching and actually delivers something halfway worthy, maybe because of all the heroin related calamity he’d recently endured in Toronto. Found on the b-side of Run Rudolph Run, a 1978 Christmas single that went nowhere.