Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Was It 30 Years Ago Today?

I was a 19 year old student working as a music director at a college radio station that could only be heard within a half mile of campus. But together with co-conspirator Vince Spiziri we felt like we were part of a small community that was going to change the world… or at least the world of music. It felt like each day brought incredible new music… and each a week a new favorite band. All the shows were events, in hot, little, sweaty punk clubs with no air conditioning and cheap, warm beer. Amazingly… much of this music has endured and sounds as vibrant (if not as earth-shaking) as it did 30 years ago. There were terrific mainstream records in 1977, but there was (is) something special and timeless about the class of 1977 punk rock records that still inspires in 2007. Here are ten that killed me:

1. Elvis Costello – My Aim is True – Our favorite misanthrope stormed America with his regal name and Buddy Holly look and revved-up Holly-inspired, stinging proclamations that look backward and forward at the same time… a rare feat. This album changed the way I heard music… I’m forever grateful.

2. Television – Marquee Moon – A punk rock prog rock guitar assault and a song over ten minutes that I never want to end. Music from Mars.

3. Ramones – Rocket to Russia / Leave Home – The blueprint for all that is good and holy in the last 30 years.

4. Cheap Trick – In Color – Bridging the gap between AOR and punk rock, they married stadium rock to three chords and took it to the bank two years later. And how great a singer is Robin Zander?

5. Richard Hell & The Voidoids – Blank Generation – The original New York punk, Patti Smith’s male doppelganger, Richard Hell gave punk a theme song and had the good sense to hire Robert Quine.

6. Talking Heads – Talking Heads ’77 – What happens if you marry art-rock, jittery guitars, bubblegum, pop songcraft and a manic, bug-eyed lead singer: Talking Heads ’77.

7. Sex Pistols – Never Mind The Bollocks – Punk’s poster boys, against all odds, delivered the goods. This was a record destined to age poorly. Guess what? It didn’t… play it today.

8. The Jam – In The City – Greeted with a huge shrug by America, the Jam tightened up the Kinks/Small Faces mod blueprint and Weller became spokesman for a generation of disaffected Brits.

9. The Heartbreakers – L.A.M.F. – Born to Lose.

10. Mink DeVille – Cabretta – Tin Pan Alley meets Phil Spector in an R&B streetfight in Spanish Harlem. Ridiculously great hair.

1 comment:

Michael Atchison said...

Excellent list, partner. Didja ever see that ten-part rock and roll documentary that ran on PBS back in the mid-90s? The punk episode was brilliant, and Richard Hell's reminiscences were just about the best part. The coolest guy in the room.