Thursday, February 11, 2010

What a year was 1977. My top 20 or so choices could easily be #1 choices in a lesser year. Standing alone, the year would be remarkable enough. Followed by four years of equal, if not greater richness, 1977 was the beginning of the true golden era of pop. Yet, many of these records were hardly pop, certainly not popular at the time of their release. Obviously, I use "pop" to describe a genre, not objectively popular records. 1977 was the year pop was redefined and re-imagined and re-made into punk. There is a clear break between what came before and what came after this seminal year. Despite the fact, my top choices are: a jazz record, a soul record and a reggae record, 1977 was year one of punk rock. This list includes 12 of the greatest punk rock records of all time by: Wire, the Voidoids, the Clash, the Saints, the Sex Pistols, the Ramones, the Buzzcocks, the Damned, the Real Kids, the Vibrators and the Heartbreakers. Then there are great records by punk first cousins: the Talking Heads, MX80 Sound, Elvis Costello, Suicide, Throbbing Gristle, and the Jam. And three great records that divide both camps by the man who invented the whole thing: Iggy Pop. All these musicians and many more came together without a plan, without a cause, without direction, without knowing they were together, came together to form a new wave of music. This "new wave" simply could not have been three years earlier. For better or worse pop music was never the same again.

Best LPs of 1977

1. Ornette Coleman: Dancing In Your Head (Horizon)
2. Al Green: The Belle Album (Hi)
3. Peter Tosh: Equal Rights (CBS)
4. Wire: Pink Flag (Harvest)
5. Richard Hell & the Voidoids: Blank Generation (Sire)
6. Sex Pistols: Never Mind the Bollocks (Warner Brothers)
7. The Clash: The Clash (CBS, UK)
8. The Ramones: Leave Home (Sire)
9. Television: Marquee Moon (Elektra)
10. Talking Heads: 77 (Sire)
11. David Bowie: Low (RCA)
12. Junior Murvin: Police & Thieves (Island)
13. Elvis Costello: My Aim Is True (CBS)
14. The Saints: I'm Stranded (Harvest)
15. MX80 Sound: Hard Attack (Island)
16. Brian Eno: Before & After Science (Island)
17. The Ramones: Rocket to Russia (Sire)
18. Iggy Pop: The Idiot (RCA)
19. Suicide: Suicide (Red Star)
20. Bob Marley & the Wailers: Exodus (Island)
21. Lynyrd Skynyrd: Street Survivors *MCA)
22. David Bowie: Heroes (RCA)
23. The Jam: In the City (Polydor)
24. The Real Kids: The Real Kids (Red Star)
25. The Vibrators: Pure Mania (Epic)
26. Throbbing Gristle: 2nd Annual Report (Industrial)
27. Philip Glass: North Star (Virgin)
28. Kraftwerk: Trans-Europe Express (Capitol)
29. Leonard Cohen: Death of a Ladies Man (CBS)
30. LaDonna Smith, Davey Williams, Jim Hearon, & Timothy Reed: Trans (Trans Museq)
31. Iggy Pop & James Williamson: Kill City (Bomp)
32. The Buzzcocks: Another Music In a Different Kitchen (United Artists, UK)
33. Iggy Pop: Lust For Life (RCA)
34. The Damned: Damned Damned Damned (Stiff)
35. The Jam: This is the Modern World (Polydor)
36. Michael Hurley: Long Journey (Rounder)
37. Third World: 96 Degrees In the Shade (Island)
38. Bootsy Collins: Ah... the Name is Bootsy Baby (Warner Brothers)
39. Peter Hammill: Over (Charisma)
40. Blondie: Plastic Letters (Chrysalis)
41. Hawkwind: Quark Strangeness and Charm (Sire)
42. Parliament: Funkenstein Vs. the Placebo Syndrome (Casablanca)
43. Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers: LAMF (Track, UK)
44. The Brothers Johnson: Right On Time (A&M)
45. Townes Van Vandt: Live in the Old Quarter (Fat Possum)
46. Van Der Graaf Generator: The Quiet Zone (Charisma)
47. Tom Waits: Foreign Affairs (Elektra)
48. Garland Jeffreys: Ghost Writer (A&M)
49. Van Morrison: A Period of Transition (Warner Brothers)
50. Elliott Murphy: Just a Story from America (CBS)
51. The Boys: The Boys (Nems, UK)
52. Motorhead: Motorhead (Chiswick)
53. The Dictators: Manifest Destiny (Asylum)
54. Neu: '75 (United Artists, UK)
55. Pink Floyd: Animals (Capitol)
56. Blue Oyster Cult: Spectres (CBS)
57. Cheap Trick: Cheap Trick (Epic)