1978

Joe Ely – Boxcars

21st January 2023 · 1970s, 1978, Country, Music

Country music was so uncool in the Seventies that I never went near it in my youth. Until I came across Joe Ely. There was something about his debut album in 1977 that struck the same sort of chord as the ramshackle thrashings of punk. But in an American way – specifically a Texan way.

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Some time in 1979 I was at a gig at the Electric Ballroom when a sharp-dressed man with a prematurely balding dome and pallid complexion walked past me. He was not a looker by any means, but he had a stunning girl on his arm. I recognised him as Joe Jackson; and his debut single came instantly and inevitably to mind.

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I’ve had this terrible seven-inch EP by lower-league punk group Riff Raff in my collection for nearly 45 years and I had no idea until literally just now that the singer is Billy Bragg.

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Greg Kihn – For You

15th December 2022 · 1970s, 1978, Music

Amid the visceral energy and tuneless thrashing of punk, a label called Beserkley somehow surfed along on the New Wave with a bunch of records that reminded us what a tune was. This was one of the best examples – a jangly version of a song from Springsteen’s debut album by a bloke called Greg Kihn.

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I never thought I’d be singing the praises of disco tunes, least of all from a period when I was plunged deep in punk and post-punk. Until I remembered this hit by Odyssey.

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Hi-Tension – Hi-Tension

6th December 2022 · 1970s, 1978, Disco, Funk, Music

London collective Hi-Tension flew the flag for the disco offshoot of Brit-funk with their self-titled hit single. I have to confess the song – and entire genre – passed me by completely at the time.

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Chic – Le Freak

5th December 2022 · 1970s, 1978, Dance, Disco, Music

You didn’t have to like disco to like Chic, who always claimed to be a rock band for the disco generation. And you didn’t have to like Le Freak to find yourself singing along.

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Talking Heads’ second album tends to get unfairly overlooked. Probably partly because it came so soon after their debut, and partly due to being sandwiched between their landmark debut 77 and the masterpiece that followed with Fear Of Music.

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The Pop Group never sold many records but their legacy has been huge in their influence on other bands. Nick Cave, whose band The Birthday Party was very much in their image, acclaimed this song as their masterpiece.

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Listening now to their debut single, Tell Me Your Plans, it’s hard to see (or hear) how The Shirts were ever considered a punk band. Yet they were staples at CBGBs in that golden era of the mid-Seventies that spawned The Ramones, Television, Talking Heads and Blondie.

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