My name is Ryan Davey and I am an enthusiastic music fan born, raised, and residing in Toronto, Canada.

I want to pay tribute to the music I love and am still discovering, so this site is for sharing my thoughts, memories, and playlists of the bands, genres, and songs that have meant so much to me.

And yes, this site is named after my lifelong favourite song, “Ceremony” by Joy Division and New Order.

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General disclaimer: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this blog are my own and do not represent those of any people, institutions, or organizations I may or may not be associated with in any professional or personal capacity.

The Modern World: 1977 and the Birth of Modern Rock, Part 2

The Modern World: 1977 and the Birth of Modern Rock, Part 2

This is part 2 of the playlist and profile on 1977 and the music that launched the era of modern music. Part 1 featured thirty-eight songs released between January and September that year. In the playlists that covered the music that led up to 1977, the Builders of Modern Rock, a glam rock retrospective, and 1976 and the birth of punk, in most years there weren’t more than a handful of songs to highlight for any given year. For 1977, just in focusing on modern rock, we’ll cover a total of eighty songs making it evident why 1977 was such an impressive year and the essential start of the modern rock era.

This profile accompanies a single playlist, continuing on from Part 1. If you’re starting here click below on the streaming service of your choice to listen to the music as you read along. Part 2 begins on song 39 in the playlist.

Part 1 also featured the debuts of many of the titans of the modern rock era, the artists that have been the most renowned, beloved, and influential on the legions of acts that sprung up over the later months, years, and decades. In the last quarter of 1977 there were only a few more of those (and in most cases were just the additional releases from those heard from already), since unsurprisingly the wave of artists now leaping into the burgeoning new sounds were numerous and, by the law of averages, just not able to break through to broader success. That didn’t mean there was less quality to choose from, as also from that volume there were many great new songs whether from minor acts and one-hit wonders.

Dead Boys in 1977

Dead Boys in 1977

In Part 2, the sounds remain largely consistent to Part 1, with an emphasis on punk, pub rock and power pop, and combinations thereof. There were the first examples of more experimental music and a little growth of the electronic sound, but those strains wouldn’t be explored more fully until 1978 and beyond. One dynamic that seemed to play larger in the last part of the year was a strong return to the ‘60s pop formula, now delivered with a muscular edge when paired with the punk and power pop styles of 1977. It made for a great and catchy combination. Of course, the music also remained defiantly separate from what was dominating the charts, as noted by the charts from the US and UK at the end of September.


UK Singles Chart, September 25, 1977

  1. Way Down \ Elvis Presley

  2. Silver Lady \ David Soul

  3. Magic Fly \ Space

  4. Oxygene Part IV \ Jean-Michel Jarre

  5. Down Deep Inside \ Donna Summer

  6. Telephone Man \ Meri Wilson

  7. Best of My Love \ The Emotions

  8. Black is Black \ La Belle Epoque

  9. From New York to L.A. \ Patsy Gallant

  10. Sunshine After the Rain \ Elkie Brooks

  11. I Remember Elvis Presley \ Danny Mirror

  12. Nobody Does It Better \ Carly Simon

  13. I Think I’m Gonna Fall In Love With You \ The Dooleys

  14. Looking After Number One \ The Boomtown Rats

  15. Do Anything You Wanna Do \ Rods

  16. Wonderous Stories \ Yes

  17. I Can’t Get You Out of My Mind \ Yvonne Elliman

  18. Black Betty \ Ram Jam

  19. Nights on Broadway \ Candi Staton

  20. No More Heroes

US Album Charts, October 1, 1977

  1. Rumours \ Fleetwood Mac

  2. Simple Dreams \ Linda Ronstadt

  3. Moody Blue \ Elvis Presley

  4. Shaun Cassidy \ Shaun Cassidy

  5. Star Wars Soundtrack

  6. JT \ James Taylor

  7. Foreigner \ Foreigner

  8. Going for the One \ Yes

  9. Anytime…anywhere \ Rita Coolidge

  10. Floaters \ The Floaters

  11. I Robot \ The Alan Parsons Project

  12. Livin’ on the Fault Line \ The Doobie Brothers

  13. Here At Last…Bee Gees…Live \ Bee Gees

  14. Little Queen \ Heart

  15. Rejoice \ The Emotions

  16. Star Wars & Other Galactic Funk \ Meco

  17. Commodores \ Commodores

  18. CSN \ Crosby, Stills & Nash

  19. Foghat Live \ Foghat

  20. Flowing Rivers \ Andy Gibb


October

Sonic Reducer \ Dead Boys – We start Part 2 in Cleveland, the unlikely hotbed of early modern rock that provided a Midwestern home for the new sounds without having to venture to LA, San Francisco, or New York. In the modern rock builders playlist, we learned about the band, Rocket from the Tombs, a Cleveland band that only lasted a few years and from which David Thomas moved on to form Pere Ubu, who was included in the birth of punk playlist. Also a member of Rocket from the Tombs was Gene ‘Cheetah Chrome’ O’Connor and Johnny ‘Blitz’ Madansky, who after the break-up joined with Steven Bator (who performed as Stiv Bators), Jimmy Zero, and Jeff Magnum to form a band called Frankenstein. Formed in 1976, the band soon relocated from Cleveland to New York on the advice of Joey Ramone, and once settled changed their name to The Dead Boys.

The Playlist - Part 2 - artist \ song

October

  1. Dead Boys \ Sonic Reducer

  2. Elvis Costello \ Watching the Detectives

  3. Graham Parker & The Rumour \ Stick to Me

  4. Elton Motello \ Jet Boy Jet Girl

  5. The Diodes \ Blonde Fever

  6. The Lurkers \ Freak Show

  7. The Rezillos \ (My Baby Does) Good Sculptures

  8. XTC \ Science Friction

  9. Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers \ Born to Lose

  10. The Styrenes \ I Saw You

  11. The Tom Robinson Band \ 2-4-6-8 Motorway

  12. Ultravox! \ The Frozen Ones

  13. David Bowie \ "Heroes"

  14. The Sex Pistols \ Holidays in the Sun

  15. Avengers \ We Are the One

    November

  16. Blondie \ Rip Her to Shreds

  17. Penetration \ Don’t Dictate

  18. Throbbing Gristle \ Maggot Death

  19. Wire \ 12XU

  20. Buzzcocks \ Orgasm Addict

  21. The Ramones \ Rockaway Beach

  22. The Jam \ The Modern World

  23. The Pleasers \ (You Keep on Tellin' Me) Lies

    December

  24. Plastic Bertrand \ Ça Plane Pour Moi

  25. Suicide \ Ghost Rider

  26. Eddie & The Hot Rods \ Quit This Town

    Month of release not known

  27. Chrome \ Chromosome Damage

  28. Pere Ubu \ The Modern Dance

  29. Chris Stamey \ The Summer Sun

  30. The Scruffs \ Break the Ice

  31. The Only Ones \ Lovers of Today

  32. The Real Kids \ All Kindsa Girls

  33. Tommy Hoehn \ Blow Yourself Up

  34. Cock Sparrer \ We Love You

  35. The Soft Boys \ Wading Through A Ventilator

  36. The Viletones \ Screamin’ Fist

  37. The Dictators \ Steppin Out

  38. The Dils \ I Hate the Rich

  39. The Mumps \ Crocodile Tears

  40. The Weirdos \ Destroy all Music

  41. The Zeros \ Don't Push Me Around

  42. Rough Trade \ Birds of A Feather

Like other New York punk acts of the time, they played CBGB often. The Dead Boys also built a reputation as one of the more outrageous performers, pushing the boundaries of language and raunchiness. Indicative of how labels were putting their reservations aside to get onboard with new music, Sire Records signed them up. In October of 1977 they released their first LP, Young Loud and Snotty. The album’s first track and lead single was an old Rocket from the Tombs track, “Sonic Reducer,” in which Bators updated the lyrics. It was a fantastic romp of raunchy rock delivered at punk speed and including a wicked, hook-filled chorus. Like most punk tunes it didn’t chart, but many took notice and the song has become a classic of the era, being covered by many rockers since including Guns n’ Roses and Pearl Jam.

The Dead Boys released one more LP in 1978, the cheekily named, We Have Come for Your Children. Battles with Sire to adjust their look and sound to more accessible forms led to the band’s breakup in 1978. Bators went on to form super group, Lords of the New Church, which had some success in the ‘80s with a goth-dance sound. The Dead Boys, in their short time, made their mark most certainly thanks to the song, “Sonic Reducer.”

Watching the Detectives \ Elvis Costello – In Part 1 we were introduced to Elvis Costello – who by October was now the only living Elvis – via his debut single in March, “Less than Zero.” In July, he issued his stellar debut LP, My Aim Is True, one of the greatest LPs of the year and a release that indelibly put Costello on the path to great success with both mainstream and modern rock audiences. You could drop the needle on any track on the LP and thrill to the pop hooks and pub rock grooves, mixing ‘60s pop sensibilities with the edgy guitars and attitude of 1977. The album released two singles, “Alison” and “(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes,” neither of which charted (a simply criminal result) despite the LP reaching #14 in the UK and #32 in the US. The US result was aided by the addition of the single released in October, “Watching the Detectives.” A non-album single in the UK, it finally helped Elvis break through when it reached #15 in the UK singles chart.

“Watching the Detectives” was an important song for the year not just because it was Elvis Costello’s breakthrough and the start of his successful career, but the Nick Lowe produced track was also notable for being one of the first of the modern rock era to incorporate a reggae-ska vibe, presaging the imminent arrival of the British ska scene, the next important genre to breakout within the modern rock movement. The reggae keyboard and guitar riff, rich bassline, tight pub rock melody and rhythm, and Costello’s distinctive vocal made “Watching the Detectives” an instant classic and yet another track that sounded like nothing heard before.

Stick to Me \ Graham Parker & The Rumour – Parker and his band were introduced in the Builders playlist, having released their first two LPs in 1976. Continuing to explore their pub rock sound, the band came back strong with their third LP in 1977, Stick to Me. The album reached #35 in the UK to become their first charting success. It even reached #125 in the US and #19 in Australia, portending greater success across the oceans. On this LP Parker had strived for a much bigger, elaborate sound that included an 80-piece string section. But when the master tape was damaged and couldn’t be salvaged, they had to re-record the album in a week with Nick Lowe producing, and the result was a very stripped down, rawer sounding rock LP. It was out of step for the time given the penchant for the bigger rock sounds of the prog and corporate rock acts, which relegated Parker and the Rumour into the modern rock scene and his pub rock brethren. It should also be noted that reggae also made an appearance on songs like “Problem Child,” perhaps due to Lowe’s influence, further hinting at the sounds bubbling up from the underground scenes of late ‘77. The similarity of this band to the soon-to-arrive Joe Jackson is unavoidable, though Jackson would manage much greater success with his piano-based sound.

Jet Boy Jet Girl \ Elton Motello – Alan Ward was a British glam rocker that had played with The Damned’s guitarist Brian James and in 1977 assembled a new rock band to support his new persona and band, Elton Motello. Ward had played in Belgian band, Bastard, and in the summer of ’77 was in Belgium working on new material with session musicians Mike Butcher (guitar), John Valcke (Bass), and Bob Dartsch (drums). They recorded a song using music written by prolific Belgian artist, Lou Deprijck. Ward wrote English lyrics and the song became, “Jet Boy Jet Girl,” which was released in October. The song wasn’t successful but grew in notoriety when a French song using the same backing track became successful through ’78, making the Elton Motello version appear to be an English cover even though it was recorded first and the lyrics aren’t just in different languages but are completely different. Motello’s version did get some love in Australia, reaching #33 in the singles chart. Elton released two albums in 1978 and 1980 along with four more singles, building his new wave and pop sound, but never caught on to sustainable success.

The Diodes

The Diodes

Blonde Fever \ The Diodes – Through all these modern rock playlists we’ve heard very little from Canada, but undoubtedly there was a modern rock sound developing there too. Naturally inheriting the American sounds, Canada was also more exposed to the UK arts scene than US audiences thanks to its Commonwealth ties. Therefore, it was no surprise that the early Canadian punk and modern rock sounds had a lovely blend of British and American sounds. As an example, look no further than The Diodes, formed in Toronto in 1976. They issued their self-titled debut LP in ’77 and their first single was a cover of a 1966 song, “Red Rubber Ball,” originally recorded by The Cyrkle. The album was a great collection of tight, pop-punk tunes such as “Blonde Fever,” “Tennis (Again),” and “China Doll.” The album also had a cover of the song, “Shape of Things to Come,” taken from the 1968 movie, Wild in the Streets.

The Diodes were art school graduates that were integral to building the punk scene in Toronto, particularly via their club, Crash and Burn, which provided punk acts both local and international a venue to play in Toronto. Despite some US exposure via appearances at CBGBs in July ’77 and opening slots for the likes of Talking Heads, U2, Split Enz and others, The Diodes were never able to build a strong following outside of the Toronto region, and more broadly across Canada after the success of their 1978 hit, “Tired of Waking Up Tired.”

Freak Show \ The Lurkers – Yet another punk band making its way around the London scene through 1976 and ’77 was a band with a name that was both wonderfully sinister and amusing, The Lurkers. Featuring Pete Stride (guitar and principal songwriter), Pete ‘Manic Esso’ Haynes (drums), Arturo Bassick (Bass), and Howard Wall (vocals), they were one of the earlier acts to form and thus were one of the first to play the Roxy Club and scored an opening slot for The Jam in February ‘77. Their first album, Fulham Fallout, and its first single, “Shadow,” were both released in the summer of ’77 and were the first releases on new indie label, Beggar’s Banquet, soon to be an important modern rock label. The next single was, “Freak Show,” and continued to deliver on a Brit version of punk that bore more resemblance to The Ramones (Johnny Rotten was probably unimpressed). Though the singles didn’t break through the album reached #57 in the UK charts, making The Lurkers one of the first punk acts to achieve success. They would have more success in 1978 with the great single, “Ain’t Got A Clue,” which reached #45 in the UK singles chart. They would see many more singles chart over the next few years but never reached the top. They have now released twelve albums off and on over the years, including as recent as 2016. Check out all of Fulham Fallout, it’s a ripper of an album.

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(My Baby Does) Good Sculptures \ The Rezillos – A Scottish entry to our list, this band was formed out of the Edinburgh College of Art in 1976 after two students, Jo Callis and Alan Forbes (who eventually performed under the names Luke Warm and Eugene Reynolds), broke away from a ‘50s and ‘60s cover band. In forming The Rezillos they began performing original material that still drew on the older styles but incorporated the aggressive styles of punk and power pop music. The band included Sheilagh ‘Fay Fife’ Hynd on vocals to  provide a rare female dynamic to that sound. In 1977 The Rezillos signed with Sire Records and released their first two singles, “I Can’t Stand My Baby” and “(My Baby Does) Good Sculptures.” Neither song charted but showed a lively sound with active basslines, quick strumming guitars, and edgy vocals from Reynolds and Fife (who were a couple); in particular “Sculptures” had a clever style and catchy sound. In 1978 they released the song “Top of the Pops” which brought them a top twenty placing in the UK chart and helped their debut LP, Can’t Stand the Rezillos, also crack that threshold.

Science Friction \ XTC – Colin Moulding and Andy Partridge formed a band as early as 1972 in the south-central British city of Swindon. Along with Terry Chambers and a rotating list of other band members they performed first as Star Park, then Helium Kidz, and finally as XTC, a change in 1975 which coincided with their firming up their quartet with the addition of Barry Andrews. Over that time, they were influenced by the early ‘70s sounds of glam and proto-punk, shifting away from ‘60s rock to more experimental pop music styles. Further inspired by the arrival of punk, XTC had no desire to go down that road but sought to exploit the doors it opened fro greater variation of modern rock. Like so many others, they got their break after an appearance on the John Peel BBC radio show which led to interest from several labels and a signing with Virgin Records.

XTC released its first EP, 3D EP, in October 1977. It included “Science Friction” on the A-side. It was produced by John Leckie, making XTC one of the first modern rock acts he’d work with, thus starting a productive and remarkable shift for him in becoming a significant producer in the new world of music. The single didn’t make a dent in the British charts but, with its off-kilter keyboards and guitars, propulsive rhythm, and soon-to-be signature vocal harmonies led by Andy Partridge’s unique voice, it set XTC on its way to a very solid career.

Born to Lose \ Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers – The band was originally just known as The Heartbreakers but needed to add Johnny Thunders’ name to it when Tom Petty and his band also rose to prominence after their debut LP in 1976. They originally formed in 1975 when Thunders and Jerry Nolan left the New York Dolls and joined with Richard Hell, who had just left Television. Walter Lure was also in the line-up on guitar and vocals. That line-up didn’t last long as Hell was jettisoned (or rather, the others all left him), leaving him to go on to form The Voidoids. The Heartbreakers travelled from New York to England, on invitation from Malcolm McLaren, to have a stint as the opening act for the Sex Pistols’ Anarchy Tour in the fall of 1976, which as noted in the Birth of Punk profile, didn’t go too well with most of the shows being cancelled.

Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers

Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers

The Heartbreakers got to recording their first album in March of 1977 and it was finally released in October, titled L.A.M.F. (which stood for ‘Like a Motherfucker,’ taken from New York graffiti). The recordings were a scattered affair and the band was unhappy with the mix, especially Nolan who tried to fix it. The issue was that the recordings didn’t capture the band’s raw energy. Indeed, the album sounded a bit like a pop-rock LP and not that of a proto-punk/punk supergroup. “Born to Lose” exhibited the rock sound with punk edge that marked the band’s style – the New York Dolls influence was undeniable. “Chinese Rocks” was another great song, written by Dee Dee Ramone and Richard Hell (though there are differing claims on this between members of The Heartbreakers and The Ramones, as well as Hell).

The frustration of putting the album together and the dissatisfaction with its result led to Nolan’s departure and the band going briefly on hiatus, before coming back together in ’79 with Billy Rath as Nolan’s replacement. The Heartbreakers wouldn’t get to releasing another LP and Johnny Thunders would eventually go solo, leaving The Heartbreakers as a brief but notable presence in the early formation of the punk scene and one of the few to participate in both the New York and London scenes.

I Saw You \ The Styrenes – Back to Cleveland and a band formed out of the electric eels, who were profiled in the Builders playlist. First known as The Mirrors the new act eventually settled on The Styrenes. They were another act that played that region, built a following, influenced others, yet only released a few singles starting with 1975’s “Drano in Your Veins” and followed by two in ’77, “Radial Arm Saws” and “I Saw You.” A new line-up moved to New York and released an LP, Girl Crazy, in 1980 and then two more LPs in 1989 and 1998. Subsequent compilations eventually brought their early, unreleased recordings into the light of day, first with 1998’s All the Wrong People Are Dying and then 2012’s Essential Styrenes, Vol. 1 (1975-1979). Like their predecessor band, they were experimental and less beholden to typical song structures, sounds, and instruments, but did merge into a more accessible power pop sound by the time of “I Saw You” in 1976.

Tom Robinson Band

Tom Robinson Band

2-4-6-8 Motorway \ The Tom Robinson Band – Another London act that straddled the line between punk and pub rock sounds, Tom Robinson and his band built a following quickly over ’76 and ’77 leading to their debut single, “2-4-6-8 Motorway,” which reached the top five in the UK singles chart. Robinson would become known as a champion of gay rights and the song’s chant was drawn from a gay liberation chant, though at the time that wouldn’t have been well known. Indeed, the song, unlike most others on this playlist, had an upbeat, pop-oriented feel that brought a rare celebratory vibe to the modern rock sound. It was just about late-night driving, but it’s infectious, chanted melody driven by the typical, power-pop, three-chord rhythm made for a sure-fire hit. The band released two LPs in ’78 and ’79 and several more singles, achieving decent success in the UK.

The Frozen Ones \ Ultravox! – Known mostly as a synth-based, ‘80s new wave band, I was admittedly surprised to learn how early Ultravox (the exclamation point only lasted a couple years and was inspired by German band, Neu!) got its start and the sound of their early tunes. Though eventually known as Midge Ure’s band, its origins went back to 1973 and Dennis Leigh and his glam rock band, Tiger Lily, who released a single in 1975. Renaming themselves in 1976 as Ultravox!, their sound evolved into a tougher, leaner sound, resulting in a nice blend of power pop and Roxy Music-styled glam. The initial line-up was Leigh, now performing as John Foxx, Chris Allen (aka Chris Cross), Billy Currie, Stevie Shears, and Warren Cann – all deriving from the Tiger Lily line-up.

Ultravox!

Ultravox!

Ultravox! released its first, self-titled album in February 1977 and it was an unabashed mix of pub rock, glam, and punk-edged power pop. It was a solid LP but didn’t distinguish itself among the many great releases in that period. They then released a second LP in October, Ha! Ha! Ha!, which featured two singles, “RockWrok” and “Frozen Ones.” The singles and the album had a tougher, punkier sound but still drew on some of the fanciful divergences of glam, resulting in intriguing but commercially unsuccessful results.

Ultravox released another unsuccessful album in 1978 and was dropped by Island Records. At that point Shears had been fired from the band, Foxx went solo, Currie played with Gary Numan’s band, Tubeway Army, and Cross did some work with James Honeyman-Scott (future guitarist of Pretenders) and Barrie Masters (Eddie and the Hot Rods). Currie also joined the band Visage with Steve Strange and Midge Ure, which led to him inviting Ure to join Ultravox (Midge was also playing with Thin Lizzy at that point). It was uncertain whether Ultravox even existed in 1979, but with Ure taking the lead the band revived itself with Cross, Currie, and Cann backing Ure. Their first LP, 1980’s Vienna, would chart the new sound and course of Ultravox, making it the successful and influential act of which it is now more likely recalled.

"Heroes" \ David Bowie – We have discussed Mr. Bowie and his considerable contributions already in the Builders playlist, the glam playlist, and the early parts of this playlist both for his LP, Low, and his work on both of Iggy Pop’s 1977 albums. But we can’t let the year ride out without including Bowie’s second LP from 1977, simply because of its iconic stature in the annals of rock, not the least of which is because of its title track, “Heroes.” The song regularly makes it onto lists for best songs of all-time, for any genre, and the album’s continued experimental explorations of the Eno produced Berlin trilogy (discussed further in the deep dive Ceremony profile on Bowie) make it an important album for its influence on the artists evolving in the early modern rock era. The post-punk and electronic styles of music that would blossom over the following two years would be largely influenced by Bowie’s 1977 output. I’ll close this off with a link to the great video of producer Toni Visconti talking about how “Heroes” was recorded and mixed, including the guest guitar work from Robert Fripp of prog rock act, King Crimson, and of course Eno’s keyboard enhancements.

Holidays in the Sun \ The Sex Pistols – Despite being the most notorious, famous, and influential act of the UK punk scene – established over a year of antics, touring, and many publicity incidents for better or worse – by October 1977 the Sex Pistols had only released two singles via recording contracts with three separate labels. All that changed on October 28 when their LP finally arrived, the appropriately titled, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols. It delivered on the hype, instantly asserting itself as one of the most celebrated LPs of its genre and becoming an instant classic. Despite being banned by many retailers, the album still went to #1 in the UK album chart. The US, always less enamoured with punk and its poster child band, only sent the album to #106. Two singles were released, with “Pretty Vacant” reaching #6 in the UK singles chart and “Holidays in the Sun” peaking at #8. The Pistols continued to outperform any punk act in terms of success, despite their best efforts to continually submarine their prospects.

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As noted earlier, Glen Matlock had left the band and was replaced by Sid Vicious. The album’s recording though, had Matlock’s playing on “Anarchy in the UK” and “God Save the Queen,” with Steve Jones providing the bass for the rest. It’s suspected they tried to use Sid’s bass work on the later recordings but they weren’t usable – even during their live shows his bass was usually turned down or completely off, and that was if it had all its strings. Sid was just a poster boy and never really a productive member of the music, though did contribute some songs like, “Belsen Was A Gas,” which was performed live and showed up later on The Great Rock n’ Roll Swindle soundtrack.

The album’s success was not just down to the band’s notoriety. It really was, and still stands up, as a great album. Jones and Cook held the band together with powerful guitars and a tight rhythm section. Rotten’s vocals, full of invective and personality – no one has ever sounded quite like him whether in punk or otherwise – gave the Pistols’ their distinctive character. The songs were catchy, melodic, and despite the chaos of their live performances, performed impeccably in the studio while still maintaining the raw energy and sense of danger their live music always offered. The experienced producers, Chris Thomas and Bill Price, deserved considerable credit for capturing the Sex Pistols’ essence in the studio.

“Holidays in the Sun,” the album’s lead track, was a consummate example. Opening with the sound of marching boots, enticing guitar licks, and then dropping into knee-buckling power chords followed by steady, three-chord punk licks and more hook-filled changes through verse and chorus, it perfectly set the listener up for the rest of the album. The song was about the band’s disdain for the idea of a sun holiday, after having tried it on a trip to the island of Jersey, by expressing a preference instead to go to Germany and its cold war realities of the Wall and its angry history of war.

Sex Pistols in their final performance, San Francisco, January 14, 1978

Sex Pistols in their final performance, San Francisco, January 14, 1978

Famously, the band did its first tour of the US in January 1978, which was strangely routed through the deep south, a territory not likely ready for the Sex Pistols. By the time of the band’s arrival in San Francisco on January 14, with every show having been a variety of incidents of violence and problems with the band’s behaviour, partly driven by Sid’s heroin addiction and stage antics, and increasing acrimony between the band and McLaren, the whole scene was collapsing. Johnny Rotten’s proclamation mid-show that it was “no fun at all” while performing The Stooges’ song, “No Fun,” seemed an almost inevitable conclusion, with him walking off the stage and out of the band. Though there would be more music released, it was effectively the end of the Sex Pistols after less than two years of work, but during which they’d changed the course of music history.

We Are the One \ Avengers – One of the opening acts for the Sex Pistols at that infamous final show was the Avengers, a San Francisco punk band formed in 1977 by Danny ‘Furious’ O’Brien and Greg Ingraham. Jimmy Wilsey joined on bass and Penelope Houston provided them a rare female punk vocal. They played together over a couple of years and only managed to release one EP, We Are the One. They would record more music with the Pistols’ Steve Jones producing, but a full album, which was just a compilation of all their recordings, wasn’t released in 1983 and well after the band’s demise. They were a great example of how punk was continuing to grow in the urban locales around the US even though it wasn’t breaking through into the broader consciousness, remaining a niche oddity in American culture.

Penelope Houston and Avengers, playing in 1977

Penelope Houston and Avengers, playing in 1977

November

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Rip Her to Shreds \ Blondie – As outlined in their Ceremony profile and in the Birth of Punk playlist, Blondie wasn’t purely a punk act but was an integral part of the early punk and modern rock scene. As 1977 was nearing its end, it had been nearly a year since they’d released their debut LP and first two singles, and in the meantime had been lured away from their label, Private Stock, by UK based label, Chrysalis. They had recorded their second LP, Plastic Letters, in the summer of ‘77 and were preparing for its release in February 1978. In the meantime, likely to invigorate interest in the band ahead of that release, Chrysalis issued the band’s first UK single, “Rip Her to Shreds,” taken from the first album. It was a song that perfectly distilled their retro-pop sound mixed with punk edge, mixing edgy guitars with old-school keyboards and harmonies, and as always delivered by Debbie Harry’s charismatic vocals. The song didn’t chart in the US or UK, continuing their subdued presence in those music scenes, but did crack the top 100 in Australia, where they’d already scored a #2 placing with the prior single, “In the Flesh.” Despite the limited results of that first album and singles, it paved the way for the band’s massive breakout over the next year, with improved results for Plastic Letters and then the tidal wave of success from “Heart of Glass” and the Parallel Lines album in late ’78.

Don’t Dictate \ Penetration – This northern England punk act was another with a notable female lead, Pauline Murray, who like Debbie Harry was profiled in the Women in Modern Rock playlist. Penetration was only together from 1976 through 1979, releasing two albums and a few singles, the best known of which was the debut single, “Don’t Dictate.” The song’s defiant tone, especially from a female voice, was an anthem that captured the ethos of punk and the emerging modern rock scene. Carried along by an undulating bassline and percussive guitar licks, Murray’s vocal offset the lower tone of the music for an infectious effect. Their first LP, Moving Targets, was released in 1978 and made it to #22 in the UK album chart.

Maggot Death \ Throbbing Gristle – While the early pioneers of modern rock were still predominantly rock based and driven by the same guitar-bass-drums-vocal mix of its classic rock forebears, the early strains of electronic and experimental music were also occurring. There are a few examples on this playlist and for certain they were very underground at the time. England’s Throbbing Gristle was one of the best-known examples of that underground trend. Formed by Genesis-P-Orridge (Neil Megson), Cosey Fanni Tutti (Christine Newby), Peter ‘Sleazy’ Chistopherson, and Chris Carter, the act was a fusion of experimental sounds and disturbing imagery, making for a jarring and controversial multi-media project. Their mix of recorded samples and loops challenged conventions of what should be considered music and composition long before the broader of use of sampling brought that conversation to the fore.

Throbbing Gristle

Throbbing Gristle

In November 1977 they released their first album, The Second Annual Report (there was a live, unreleased recording originally titled, The First Annual Report). It was a moody mix of sound effects, vocals (mostly spoken), sampled recordings, and noise, and was comprised of various recordings in studio and live with shared titles of “Slug Bait” and “Maggot Death.” It was very unlike anything else on the scene and marked the start of a new strain of experimental, boundary-pushing form of modern music, the genesis of which would lead to industrial music – a term so coined by Genesis-P-Orridge on the album with the lyric, “industrial music for industrial people.

Throbbing Gristle disbanded in 1981 with Genesis P-Orridge and Chistopherson forming Psychic TV and Cosey Fanni Tutti and Chris Carter forming Chris and Cosey. Throbbing Gristle reunited in 2004.

12XU \ Wire – This London band, also referred to as Wir, included Colin Newman, Graham Lewis, Bruce Gilbert, and Robert ‘Gotobed’ Grey. Starting up in ’76 they released their debut LP, Pink Flag, in late ’77 and it has become celebrated as one of the leading musical accomplishments of the early punk scene. The album was a great mix of smart punk-pop songs as well as the traditional frenetic, aggressive punk sound. Their first single was “Mannequin,” which was backed by “Feeling Called Love” and “12XU,” the latter of which has made the greatest lasting impression (though “Mannequin” was an excellent tune also). “12XU” was a straight-ahead sprint, interrupted with great, melodic guitar riffs that all underpinned the rhythmic, repetitively chanted lyrics. If there was ever a song to pogo to, this was it.

While critically recognized, Wire never reached greater success than the lower echelons of the top 100 in the UK charts, but has released sixteen albums over their forty-year career, including one as recently as 2017. They are an oft-cited and covered band by later modern rock acts.

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Orgasm Addict \ Buzzcocks – The Manchester punk pioneers followed up their initial EP from the start of the year with their next single, the stellar, “Orgasm Addict.” Along with the next single in February ’78, “What Do I Get?,” the Buzzcocks set themselves up for the success of their debut LP in March 1978, Another Music in a Different Kitchen. “Orgasm Addict” didn’t chart, but their later singles would and the album would crack the top twenty in the UK, sending them on the way to their influential career. Their pop-punk sound made them more accessible than many other punk acts, but in “Orgasm Addict” they would keep audiences at bay a little longer with its contentious, cheeky lyrics about sex and masturbation.  In their first EP, the song “Boredom” had suggested they were tiring of the punk scene already by the start of ’77, but as the year was coming to a close, it was still the driving force of the new music scene, as the next couple of songs will attest. And as this playlist also reveals, many others were getting away from the three-chord power and pop of punk.

Rockaway Beach \ The Ramones – The boys from New York were back with their second album of the year in November and their third overall, keeping them well ahead of other punks in terms of volume and, at that point, consistency of sound and quality. Rocket to Russia was yet another achievement and their best output to date, thanks to their increased experience, expanded recording budget, and resulting polish and quality of the recordings. Featuring songs like, “Cretin Hop,” “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker,” “I Don’t Care,” “We’re A Happy Family,” “Teenage Lobotomy,” and covers of ‘60s tunes “Do You Wanna Dance” and “Surfin’ Bird,” the album was a fun and spirited listen from start to finish. The second single after “Sheena” was “Rockaway Beach,” making it their fourth single of the year. The song was as consummate an example of The Ramones’ sound as could be found, laying the infectious pop melody over the thick, engine-like drone of their guitar-bass-drum wall-of-punk-sound (and that was before Phil Spector got his hands on them two years later). The album reached #49 in the US to make it their best charting LP yet, and “Rockaway Beach” reached #66 in the US singles chart to become the best charting track of their career.

The Modern World \ The Jam – Also in November, The Jam released their second album of the year and career. The mod-styled punk band had some success between the two LPs with the single, “All Around the World,” which reached #13 in the UK singles chart, but couldn’t build on that with the title track of the new LP, “The Modern World” (though the LP was titled, This is the Modern World) which reached #36. The album likewise did about the same as the debut, reaching #22 in the album chart, but sold better overall. The 1977 albums built momentum for the band’s greater success over their next four LPs in the next five years, all of which cracked the top ten, including a #1 placing with their final LP, The Gift, in 1982. “The Modern World” continued to reveal the band’s blues and soul-styled punk sound, providing a modern, aggressive take on the mod sound.

(You Keep on Tellin' Me) Lies \ The Pleasers – Our last November entry checks back in with the retro-pop, pub rock sound, this time via the London band, The Pleasers. One of the many bands to emerge during ’77 that mined the rich sound achieved by putting a catchy, power pop spin on the early ‘60s vibe. If “Lies” sounded very much like the early Beatles, that was likely no mistake. They never got to release an album during their few years but did issue five singles, with “Lies” being the second. Their last was also a highlight of the era, 1978’s “A Girl I Know (Precis of a Friend).” A compilation, Thamesbeat, was released in 1996 and finally collected together all their recordings.

December

Ça plane pour moi \ Plastic Bertrand – As noted earlier in this playlist, in the summer of ’77 Elton Motello recorded the song “Jet Boy Jet Girl,” using music written by successful Belgian writer and performer Lou Deprijck. A French version of the song was also recorded by Deprijck, using the backing track recorded by Motello but with lyrics written by Yvan Lacomblez. It was called, “Ça plane pour moi.”

Roger Jouret & Lou Deprijck

Roger Jouret & Lou Deprijck

Roger Jouret was a Belgian musician in a band called Hubble Bubble. He started a solo career in 1977 under the name Plastic Bertrand and, through Hubble Bubble’s manager, was introduced to Deprijck who offered him “Ça plane pour moi.” In December the single was released with Plastic Bertrand as the listed artist even though Jouret didn’t perform on it. The Plastic Bertrand version was an international success, reaching the top ten in countries around the world including #1 spots in France and Switzerland and a #8 spot in the UK. In the US it reached #47. Its success must have really pissed off Elton Motello, whose English vocal (different lyrics from the French) recording wasn’t successful.

So now that we’ve heard both the English and French versions, let’s cover the origin of the song. Deprijck wrote it as a send-up of punk music, building it on a simple three-chord guitar structure good for pogo-ing. The lyrics were nonsensical, written quickly by Lacomblez and delivered in staccato fashion by Deprijck. The song’s title was taken from a Michel Delpech song, “Tu me fais planer,” with “Ça plane pour moi" roughly translating to “it is gliding for me,” which was a French expression to indicate all is going well. The song’s simple structure resulted in an incredibly infectious, persistent rhythm accented nicely by sax. Intended to be punk spirited, in many respects it instead helped spur the burgeoning new wave sound through its finer, stylized polish.

As a throwaway song, Deprijck obviously didn’t mind giving it away to Jouret and the Plastic Bertrand name. Jouret only received a nominal royalty and it would take until 2010 for Belgian courts to finally decide that the listed attribution of the song should go to Deprijck and not Plastic Bertrand. Regardless, Plastic Bertrand would release a slew of albums and singles, settling into a solid new wave sound for the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Jouret continued to just be a front for Deprijck, who did all the singing for the first three Plastic Bertrand albums.

Ghost Rider \ Suicide – Showing New York was still one of the main hotbeds of musical creativity and exploration was Suicide, a duo of Martin Rev and Alan Vega. Generally considered a punk act, they were set apart by being a synth-led band. They performed repetitive, hypnotic, sparse synth tracks punctuated with Vega’s affecting, emphatic vocals. Their debut, self-titled LP has become an important and classic installment of the early modern rock era, even though initially it was largely ignored and feared, not the least of which because of the ten-minute, second side opening track, “Frankie Teardrop,” which told the story of Frankie murdering his family and then committing suicide. This was a song my brother delighted in using to terrify me at the impressionable age of eight. Suicide was not your parents’ rock ‘n’ roll.

Suicide: Martin Rev and Alan Vega, performing at CBGBs, 1977

Suicide: Martin Rev and Alan Vega, performing at CBGBs, 1977

UK critics appreciated the LP but in the US, it was a non-starter. Still, more than a few artists bought into their sound and Suicide became an influential contributor to the post-punk scene in the ensuring years, even though it wouldn’t be until 1980 before they released their second album. But it’s the debut that has cemented their legacy, with all the songs becoming minor classics including “Ghost Rider,” “Cheree,” “Girl, and “Che.”

Quit This Town \ Eddie & The Hot Rods – The Hot Rods second album, Life on the Line, was released just prior to Christmas in 1977. It included the single featured earlier on this playlist, “Do Anything You Wanna Do,” and the album’s release was promoted with a new single, “Quit this Town,” released on December 16. The album reached #27 in the UK chart, bettering the first LP’s result of #43 and making it the best result of their career. After the top ten result of “Do Anything You Wanna Do,” the next single, “Till the Night Is Gone (Let’s Rock),” didn’t chart and “Quit this Town” clocked in at #36 to be the last single they’d chart. The band lasted through two more albums in ’79 and ’81 before calling it quits, having been left behind by the music trends and no longer able to find a base for their edgy, pub rock sound. Since then there have been subsequent reunions, some new music released, and a version of the band still exists today.

Release Date Unknown

The following are the many other great songs released in 1977 in which the exact release date is unknown. These are mostly lesser known acts but in which their sounds and songs are still recognized as contributions to that momentous year of music.

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Chromosome Damage \ Chrome – This band was formed in San Francisco in 1975 by Damon Edge (Thomas Wisse) and Gary Spain, with the line-up then filled out by John Lambdin and Mike Low. They were yet another band inspired by The Stooges. Chrome issued an album, The Visitation, in 1976 on their own label, Siren Records. Low was then replaced by Helios Creed for the second album, 1977’s Alien Soundtracks. It was an experimental album with a sci-fi theme, combining their rough-hewed sound with various, prog rock-like musical explorations. Their next LP, Half Machine Lip Moves continued their experimental bent and influenced the evolving sounds of industrial music. The band lasted until 1983 when Damon Edge moved to Paris, where he carried Chrome on with a new line-up. Creed reformed the band after Edge’s death in 1995 and has continued to tour and release albums to this day.

The Modern Dance \ Pere Ubu – As noted in the Birth of Punk playlist and in the Dead Boys entry on this playlist, Pere Ubu came out of Cleveland from the ashes of modern rock builder act, Rocket from the Tombs. Led by David Thomas this band had more staying power, exploring varied strains of punk, alternative rock and pop. The first album was The Modern Dance, released in January 1978, but the title track was issued as a single (a different recording than what appeared on the album) in ’77. It was very different than what the band had provided previously, having moved from the chaotic punk sound of the Tombs to a more polished rock sound. Pere Ubu has now issued sixteen albums and continues to this day, never having achieved much commercial success but sustaining on critical appreciation and a core fan base.

The Summer Sun \ Chris Stamey – Stamey hailed from Chapel Hill, North Carolina and was part of the US east coast power pop scene. He performed with Alex Chilton from Big Star and put together his own label, Car Records, which released former Big Star member, Chris Bell’s single, “I Am the Cosmos.” “The Summer Sun” was a single released in 1977 on Ork Records (we learned about Terry Ork from when he was managing the band, Television). Stamey would go on to form a band, The dB’s, and release several LPs through the 1980s along with a few solo records. “The Summer Sun” was an excellent example of how power pop was offering something different than punk and the broader pop and prog rock offerings, keeping it simple with an old-school rock n’ roll feel.

Break the Ice \ The Scruffs – Another American power pop outfit, The Scruffs were from Memphis, same as Big Star. The band was formed in 1974 and wrote and recorded much of its music by 1976, resulting in an album produced by Big Star’s producer, Jim Dickinson. 1977’s “Break the Ice” was their first single, leading to their debut LP the same year, Wanna Meet the Scruffs?” Despite critical acclaim, their edgy, retro-rock sound couldn’t find more than a local audience, and despite recording much more music, couldn’t get it out. Those recordings would finally be released in the late 1990s.

Lovers of Today \ The Only Ones – One of the better and less appreciated acts of the times, The Only Ones gave us two phenomenal singles, 1977’s “Lovers of Today” and 1978’s “Another Girl, Another Planet.” The trio’s sound was marked by Peter Perrett’s off-kilter, wonderful vocal sound fronting tight, guitar-driven, infectious pop music. Their lack of commercial success was a severe shame, and after three albums they called it quits in 1982. A favourite of retro compilation albums and CDs and oft-covered (“Another Girl, Another Planet” has been done by The Mighty Lemon Drops and Blink-182), The Only Ones have gained more appreciation over time.

The Real Kids, with John Felice, second from left

The Real Kids, with John Felice, second from left

All Kindsa Girls \ The Real Kids – More east coast power pop with Boston’s The Real Kids, formed in 1972 by John Felice. Building off the late ‘50s and early ’60s rock n’ roll they loved, the band played a rough, straight-ahead pop-rock sound. Felice also briefly performed in Jonathan Richman’s band, The Modern Lovers. The Real Kids released their self-titled debut LP in 1977, but it wouldn’t be until 1982 before more music was issued and they disbanded.

Blow Yourself Up \ Tommy Hoehn – I love the classic rock sound of this power pop song from another performer from the Memphis scene. Hoehn originally performed on Big Star’s third and final LP in 1974 before playing in the band, Prix. His solo career started with this single and an LP, Spacebreak, but he couldn’t break through with it despite being picked up by London Records. He released more records in the ‘80s and ‘90s and has played with fellow Memphis performer, Van Duren.

We Love You \ Cock Sparrer – Back to the London punk scene and one of the many bands to promulgate the sound during 1977. Blending pub and glam rock into the punk sound, they were one of a few to employ the chanting, singalong style that was so beloved by English punters. The band’s first single was “Runnin’ Riot,” released in May 1977, which was followed by this cover Rolling Stones cover. The band was dropped by their label after neither single sold well. The album of material recorded during that time wouldn’t be released in the UK, being issued only in Spain at the time. Their sound caught on posthumously in the early ‘80s and the band reformed, having released various albums over the next few decades (including the very listenable, Shock Troops, in 1983), including their most recent in 2017.

The Soft Boys

The Soft Boys

Wading Through A Ventilator \ The Soft Boys – This band is best known as being the start for Robyn Hitchcock, who would have some success in the 1980s with his band, The Egyptians (which included members of The Soft Boys). However, The Soft Boys blend of psychedelic rock with the guitar edginess of modern power pop and punk made for an attractive and influential sound. Though the initial 7” EP, Give It to The Soft Boys, which included “Wading Through A Ventilator” on the B-side, didn’t make much of an impression, the 1978 single, “(I Want to Be An) Anglepoise Lamp” gained more attention, and after an initial LP in 1979, A Can of Bees, the band scored greater attention and acclaim with 1980’s Underwater Moonlight. Hitchcock’s always quirky pop compositions and inventive lyrics have kept larger audiences at a distance, but his music has found a loyal and appreciative audience over the years.

Screamin’ Fist \ The Viletones – As noted with the entry for The Diodes, Canada was also nurturing a nascent punk and modern rock scene in 1977. None were as cherished in those early days like Toronto’s The Viletones. Led by Steven Leckie, the band is still active today. Toronto was recognized as one of the leading scenes for punk in the late ‘70s and The Viletones were a good reason why, playing fast, short, catchy songs that held fast to the pure punk style. They were one of the bands to play during a Canadian feature at CBGBs in July 1977 (along with The Diodes and Teenage Head). “Screamin’ Fist” was the band’s first single and perfectly captured their tight, punk sound.

Steppin’ Out \ The Dictators – Originally formed in 1972, The Dictators were part of the early New York modern rock scene. As noted in the Builders playlist, they arrived in 1975 with their debut LP, The Dictators Go Girl Crazy! The follow-up LP was Manifest Destiny in 1977, which continued to mix their punky, power pop sound and included “Steppin’ Out” and a ferocious cover of The Stooges’ classic, “Search and Destroy.” They were known for their charismatic, occasional lead singer, Richard ‘Handsome Dick’ Manitoba, though the band was formed and driven by keyboardist, vocalist, and songwriter, Andy Shernoff. The Dictators were another regular presence at CBGBs and Max’s Kansas City.

I Hate the Rich \ The Dils – Also, inevitably given the city’s size, Los Angeles began to develop a punk and modern rock scene, as previously noted in the Builders playlist and in this playlist with the likes of The Runaways  and The Germs. The Dils were technically from Carlsbad, near San Diego, but gained notoriety first in San Francisco and then in Los Angeles. “I Hate the Rich” was their debut single, followed by “Class War.” The band only lasted a year or so and had very limited music issued, with more coming out posthumously and mostly as live recordings.  

The Weirdos

The Weirdos

Crocodile Tears \ The Mumps – Another band from New York that played at CBGBs and Max’s Kansas City. The Mumps were led by Alanson ‘Lance’ Loud, who was originally from San Francisco and had gained attention from the PBS reality series, An American Family, a 1973 show based in Santa Barbara that tracked Loud’s family and included his coming out, forever making him a gay icon. After relocating to New York specifically to get into the Andy Warhol scene and then being influenced by the Velvet Underground, he formed The Mumps. Despite being a popular act around New York for several years with their campy, retro-rock sound combined with a punk-pop edge, they only issued a couple of minor singles, 1977’s “Crocodile Tears” and 1978’s “Rock & Roll This, Rock & Roll That,” and never signed with a label.

Destroy All Music \ The Weirdos – More Los Angeles punk, this time from The Weirdos who existed from 1975 to 1981. They released five singles over that time but no albums. “Destroy All Music” was their first single, exemplifying their raw, pop-rock sound. Their typically fast-paced, thick guitar sound was a great example of the harder, more fun side of punk and a pre-cursor to the hardcore punk sound that would soon emerge on the west coast from the likes of Henry Rollins and Black Flag.

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Don't Push Me Around \ The Zeros – The Zeros were a rare punk band comprised of Hispanic band members. They were formed in the San Diego area by Javier Escovedo, Robert ‘El Vez’ Lopez, Hector Penalosa, and Baba Chenelle. Like other west coast acts, they migrated to Los Angeles to get established, with The Germs and The Weirdos in opening slots for their first major LA gig. The Zeros first single was “Wimp,” a grinding mid-tempo rocker that included the more spirited, “Don’t Push Me Around,” on the B-side. They only lasted a couple years but reformed in 1995 and have released more material over the past twenty-five years.

Birds of A Feather \ Rough Trade – Though known more as an ‘80s new wave band, this Toronto act led by duo Carole Pope and Kevan Staples started with this early first album, Rough Trade Live! which included one of their classics, “Birds of A Feather.” It wasn’t recorded at a show, but rather was performed live within a studio and direct to disc, which achieved higher fidelity. Though the album was more of a standard rock and pop composition, Rough Trade were purely modern thanks to Pope’s outlandish personality, being an uncommonly controversial female lead, especially for the staid audiences of late ‘70s Toronto. Her lyrics and gestures on stage were not, shall we say, always of a ladylike nature. Pope and Staples started back in 1968, first as ‘O’ and then as The Bullwhip Brothers and then, with the addition of a full band, moved from folk to rock and pop and became Rough Trade in 1974. Their larger success started with their second LP in 1980, Avoid Freud, and the single, “High School Confidential,” which started a run of charting singles in Canada through the early ‘80s.


So concludes this extensive look at the rise of modern rock in 1977. Before wrapping up, let’s look again at the charts for the end of the year. Yep, starkly opposite to the music on this playlist, which illuminates the radio and mainstream music environment in which early modern rock artists were confronting. Also note that in 1977, charting songs and albums were big sellers, these were not the days of streaming and downloading and a widely diverse music world in which niche players could chart with a decent showing. To get on the charts significant portions of the audience were buying the music or requesting it on radio, and of course being heavily promoted by the labels. Modern rock artists needed to survive while getting little monetary reward for their efforts, as even a minor charting song for a new artist might barely recover their recording costs and commitments to the label – if they were lucky. The genre needed to grow and reach a scale in which at least the more successful artists could sustain or even prosper.


UK Top 20 Albums, December 25, 1977

  1. Disco Fever \ Various Artists

  2. The Sound of Bread – Their 20 Finest Songs \ Bread

  3. Greatest Hits, Etc. \ Paul Simon

  4. 30 Greatest \ Gladys Knight and the Pips

  5. Feelings \ Various Artists

  6. Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols \ Sex Pistols

  7. Rumours \ Fleetwood Mac

  8. Foot Loose and Fancy Free \ Rod Stewart

  9. News of the World \ Queen

  10. 40 Golden Greats \ Cliff Richard

  11.  20 Golden Greats – Diana Ross and the Supremes \ Diana Ross and the Supremes

  12. Rockin’ All Over the World \ Status Quo

  13. Get Stoned \ The Rolling Stones

  14. Out of the Blue \ Electric Light Orchestra

  15. Moonflower \ Santana

  16. 20 Country Classics \ Tammy Wynette

  17. I’m Glad You’re Here with Me Tonight \ Neil Diamond

  18. Come Again \ Derek and Clive

  19. 30 Golden Greats \ George Mitchell Minstrels

  20. Live and Let Live \ 10CC

US Top 20 Singles, 1977

  1. Tonight's the Night (Gonna Be Alright) \ Rod Stewart

  2. I Just Want to Be Your Everything \ Andy Gibb

  3. Best of My Love \ The Emotions

  4. Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star Is Born) \ Barbra Streisand

  5. Angel in Your Arms" \ Hot

  6. I Like Dreamin' \ Kenny Nolan

  7. Don't Leave Me This Way \ Thelma Houston

  8. (Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher and Higher \ Rita Coolidge

  9. Undercover Angel \ Alan O'Day

  10. Torn Between Two Lovers \ Mary MacGregor

  11. I'm Your Boogie Man \ KC and the Sunshine Band

  12. Dancing Queen \ ABBA

  13. You Make Me Feel Like Dancing \ Leo Sayer

  14. Margaritaville \ Jimmy Buffett

  15. Telephone Line \ Electric Light Orchestra

  16. Whatcha Gonna Do? \ Pablo Cruise

  17. Do You Wanna Make Love \ Peter McCann

  18. Sir Duke \ Stevie Wonder

  19. Hotel California \ Eagles

  20. Got to Give It Up \ Marvin Gaye

Coming soon will be a profile on the post-punk period that will pick up on where this leaves off, showing how this explosion of new musical styles was just the start of what would become the modern era of rock. Modern rock became, and is, a concurrent and alternative stream of music to the other forms of rock. It’s gone by various names over the years as styles changed but has been held together by its creative and less commercial approach to rock music. Modern rock had one brief rise in prominence in the 1990s and over time many of its artists have broken through to significant chart and sales success, but they have been just the tip of an iceberg that featured legions of acts toiling away in clubs and other small venues in relative obscurity. Whether it’s been guitars, keyboards, or random sounds and samples, modern rock has continually evolved to reinvent itself for each generation, often reaching back for inspiration in order to evolve the prior sounds into something new.

1977 wasn’t the exact start of modern rock since punk broke the year prior to create the schism with classic rock, but it was a threshold year in which the divergent strains blossomed out of punk, proto-punk, power pop, pub rock, and other inventive sparks such as the electronic music originating in Germany. Like punk, modern rock mostly came out of New York and London as the two locales competed to offer an ever more impressive line-up of bands and artists. Look at the list of artists on this list and think how all of them were just arriving at the same time to reshape the musical landscape. There have only been a few years like this in rock history, and every now and then we need to step back and take it all in to fully appreciate it. I hope this playlist has achieved such appreciation and given proper due to the importance of this breakthrough year.

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Something Better Change: 1977 and the Birth of Modern Rock, Part 1

Something Better Change: 1977 and the Birth of Modern Rock, Part 1

Overlooked: The Posies

Overlooked: The Posies