Sunday, April 25, 2010

I have taken many weeks to gather my memories of 1978 music. There was a lot to consider, more than 1977 or '76 or any of the years I have thus far considered going back to '65. '78 was the year the gates opened wide and the punk/new wave/post punk flood began in earnest. That flood would never subside. In fact "flood" does not do justice to the changes that began in '78 and continue to this very year, this very day. "Snowball" would be a better analogy, but I am getting far ahead of myself. After '77, it seemed unlikely another year would follow to rival the great sounds of Richard Hell, Peter Tosh, Ornette Coleman and the rest of that year of great records. Yet here it was, the very next year and again there were 20 -- perhaps 30 -- records of #1 quality. So much good music, 32 years later, I am still trying to catch up with the music 1978 had to give. The meaning of such terms as "punk" and "new wave" quickly began to blur, losing whatever meaning they ever had. "Post punk" hardly solves the happy problem. Good music never needed a pigeonhole to fill. Pere Ubu, Television, Magazine, Public Image Ltd., Wire and many others were playing music not easy to shove into any labeled boxes. These new sounds resonate decades later, as fresh and difficult to simplify as the day they were released.

Best LPs of 1978

1. Captain Beefheart: Shiny Beast/Bat Chain Puller (Warner Brothers)
2. Pere Ubu: Dub Housing (Chrysalis)
3. Air: Open Air Suite (Arista Novus)
4. Sun Ra: Lanquidity (Philly Jazz)
5. The Contortions/Teenage Jesus & the Jerks/Mars/D.N.A.: No New York (Antilles)
6. Big Star: Third (PVC)
7. Pere Ubu: The Modern Dance (Blank)
8. Wire: Chairs Missing (Harvest)
9. Television: Adventure (Elektra)
10. Magazine: Real Life (Virgin)
11. Public Image Ltd.: Public Image (Virgin)
12. Lou Reed: Street Hassle (RCA)
13. X-Ray Spex: Germ Free Adolescents (EMI)
14. Crass: Feeding the 5000 (Crass)
15. Lee Scratch Perry: Roast Fish, Collie Weed & Corn Bread (Upsetter LP)
16. The Clash: Give Em Enough Rope (CBS)
17. Siouxsie & the Banshees: The Scream (Polydor)
18. Patti Smith: Easter (Arista)
19. The Talking Heads: More Songs About Buildings & Food (Sire)
20. Elvis Costello: This Year's Model (CBS)
21. Ry Cooder: Jazz (Reprise)
22. David Behrman: On the Other Ocean/Figures in a Clearing (Lovely)
23. La Dusseldorf: Viva (Radar, UK)
24. Funkadelic: One Nation Under A Groove (Warner Brothers)
25. Devo: Are We Not Men, We Are Devo (Warner Brothers)
26. Radio Birdman: Radios Appear (Sire)
27. Ornette Coleman: Body Meta (Artists House, France)
28. Residents: Duck Stab/Buster & Glen (Ralph)
29. Culture: Two Sevens Clash (Lightning, UK)
30. The Saints: Eternally Yours (Harvest)
31. Throbbing Gristle: DOA/3rd & Final Report (Industrial)
32. Sam Rivers: Waves (Tomato)
33. Air: Montreaux Suisse (Arista Novus)
34. Willie Nelson: Stardust (CBS)
35. The Jam: All Mod Cons (Polydor)
36. Various: Pebbles, Volume 1 -- Original Artyfacts From The First Punk Era (Mastercharge, AUS)
37. Peter Tosh: Bush Doctor (Rolling Stones)
38. Cecil Taylor: The Cecil Taylor Unit (New World)
39. LaDonna Smith, Davey Williams & Ted Brown: Folk Music (Trans Museq)
40. XTC: White Music (Virgin)
41. Al Green: Truth 'n' Time (Hi)
42. Tom Waits: Blue Valentine (Asylum)
43. Bob Marley & the Wailers: Kaya (Island)
44. XTC: Go 2 (Virgin)
45. AMM: To Hear & Back Again (Matchless)
46. Brian Eno: Music For Films (EG)
47. Henry Cow: Western Culture (Recommended, UK)
48. The Ramones: Road to Ruin (Sire)
49. Adverts: Crossing the Red Sea (Bright, UK)
50. Alternative TV: The Image Has Cracked (Deptford, UK)
51. Holy Modal Rounders: Last Round (Adelphi)
52. Parliament: Motor Booty Afair (Casablanca)
53. The Rezillos: Can't Stand the Rezillos (Sire)
54. Johnny Thunder: So Alone (Real, UK)
55. Bootsy Collins: Player of the Year (Warner Brothers)
56. Kraftwerk: The Man-Machine (Capital)
57. The Only Ones: The Only Ones (CBS, UK)
58. Townes Van Zandt: Flying Shoes (Tomato)
59. John Prine: Bruised Orange (Asylum)
60. Flamin' Groovies: Now (Sire)
61. Alternative TV: What You See (Deptford)
62. Joe Ely: Honky Tonk Masquerade (MCA)