This list was for a Radio Show that I never recorded. As it was 40 years since 1977 it seemed a good time to look back and see what was really the best, album wise, from that time. Now that it is 2018, 41 years doesn’t seem quite the same milestone so it is now a list instead, and like all lists of this nature it is entirely subjective, based on my own experiences, likes and dislikes. If I’ve missed something obvious do let me know though, it can always become a top 32, or 33 or 34.
31 Abba – The Album
I don’t think that anybody can really deny that Abba were a hit making machine and, that they were damn fine songwriters and performers. They aren’t for everyone of course and, if I recall correctly, they never really made it massive in the US as they did in Europe. I’m not the biggest fan at all and I find a lot of it a bit too saccharine for my liking, on the other hand, some of it is actually very dark indeed
30 Ennio Moriccone – Excorcist ii
A genuinely terrible fim that mamages a 20% rating at rotten tomatoes, and quite rightly. I think the majority of the budget was spent on Richard Burton and getting Morricone to do the score, which is really excellent, unlike Burton in this role, although, he will always find some redemption with his voice.
29 Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
I can understand why some folk might think that this album should have a higher position but I think it has worn me down over the years. There are several albums to come that I would just rather listen to, in fact, I can’t remember when I last put this on the turntable and gave it a spin. It is undeniably a great album, but maybe too FM Radio friendly for my tastes nowadays, still, I’ll undoubtedly contradict that later.
28 Vangelis – Spiral
Apparently, this album is based on a dancer’s appreciation of the universe and how it spirals into infinity, a concept which came to Vangelis through his own pirouettes. That may be true but what is certain is that this is one of Vangelis’ most accessible recordings, and remains essential listening for fans of electronic music in general, in my opinion.
27 Joan Armatrading – Show Some Emotion
I have repeatedly spoken of the quality of Armatrading’s songwriting and of her vocal delivery, she is underrated I think, or if not that, then somewhat forgotten. Her early output is great and pretty much unwanted with albums in perfect condition selling for a £1. It’s no risk, pick a few up if you see them.
26 10CC – Deceptive Bends
We had this on cassette when it came out and it was played to death. ‘Good Morning Judge’ is a great opener followed by the single, ‘The Things We Do For Love’. There are a couple of iffy tracks on it but I loved it as a kid and, for the most part, still do.
25 Motorhead – Motorhead
I can’t claim to have known much about Motorhead back in 1977, I think my first experience was with ‘Bomber’ in 1979, but that opened the door to the two earlier albums and this, the debut, is rock solid.
24 Junior Mervin – Police & Thieves
I heard the Clash first which led back to this, backed by The Upsetters , produced by Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, it’s a winner. The title track is well known of course but every track on the album is quality, if you haven’t checked it out already give it a go.
23 Elvis Costello – My Aim Is True
This is what you get for £2,000 worth of recording sessions. VH1 named it as the 80th greatest album of all time, and Rolling Stone 168th. I think that represents good value for money. The original release did not include ‘Watching the Detectives’, it was added on subsequent pressings after it became a hit single. I’m not sure if it is better with or without to be honest.
22 Blondie – Plastic Letters
The album before the one that sent them stratospheric, but the one where they first came to my attention with the cover Randy & the Rainbows Denise, re titled Denis. I loved Blondie, I was a teenage boy, so of course I did. It was Parallel Lines where I really got into the music, but this album has some real high points as they move towards the Disco-Pop-Punk that was to come.
21 Queen – News of the world
I had this on cassette and I would tape my portable cassette player to the handlebars of my chopper pushbike playing it as loud as it would go as I cycled up and down the street. The neighbours must have bloody well hated me. I know the album so well and the two opening tracks, perhaps the most obvious to like, are not my favourites from it, if pushed I’d pick Sheer Heart Attack and Spread Your Wings. Best album Queen made I think.
20 ELO – Out Of The Blue
I absolutely coveted this album in ’77. Every track that was released as a single and made the charts I taped off the radio, there were 5 I think. I never owned it back then, although I did get the next release (Discovery) from WH Smith’s in Didcot, I had to take it back twice as it was scratched in the same place both times.
19 Grace Jones – Portfolio
I am of the opinion that Ms Jones is rather undervalued. Some of the albums she has released during her career are quite brilliant but I get the sense that she is better remembered by her antics than the music, although one does inform the other a little. On this album there is a 7 minute 27 second version of the Edith Piaf track La Vie En Rose, and it is an absolute belter.
18 Rush – A Farewell to Kings
I discovered this one a few years after it was released, probably in ’79 but saw them perform several of the tracks on the ‘Exit Stage left Tour’ back in the 80’s. The era of Rush is not my favourite really but, well, it’s still Rush and I do remember how big a deal they were among myself and my peers at the time, including the back panels of denim jackets having Rush artwork painted on them with airfix paint.
17 Talking Heads – 77
I have convinced myself that I watched the Old Grey Whistle Test where Talking Heads performed Psycho Killer. I’ve seen that performance so many times since that the memory is smudged, but it is possible even though I would only have been 11, actually, 12 as it was ’78.
16 Yes – Going for the One
An album we had in the house, it was my brothers but it spent some time on the downstairs turntable so I played it a lot. At the time I was mostly interested in the shorter tracks on this but over time I’ve grown to enjoy the whole thing and do still listen to it on a regular(ish) basis. Wonderous Stories made the charts of course and at that age that was my main source of music.
15 David Bowie – Low
Part of the Berlin trilogy of albums and considered by many to be his best album, though not by me. Probably the reason for that is that I haven’t really given it enough of a chance, which I really should do. I missed it when released and have had just a few occasional listens over the years, it’s extremely good, of course it is, and the cover is a pun, which is funny.
14 John Martyn – One World
A masterpiece, simple as that. The album is notable for parts of it having been recorded outdoors. In particular, “Small Hours” was recorded late at night in the English countryside. The sweeping soundscapes on the album are partly due to the consequential presence of ambient sounds (such as water from a nearby lake) and natural reverb, there’s also a collaboration with Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, and Steve Winwood was on there as well.
13 Television – Marquee Moon
Another album I totally missed at the time but I’ve played it to death since I stumbled across it. The title track itself at 9:58 is worth buying it for on its own, quite where that came from at that time from this group I don’t know but it is rightly regarded as a classic nowadays.
12 The Damned – The Damned
What can I say? Ilike the damned, that they didn’t seemto take themselves too seriously nd that they are credited with releasing the first UK punk single in New Rose, which is on this album and is great. If you ever want to know what pure unadulterated rock ‘n’ roll is then play them this album.
11 Peter Gabriel – 1 (Car)
The first four Gabriel solo albums are brilliant, and this is number one of the four, not as commercial, containing experiments that perhaps don’t quite work, but when they do, they are a glorious thing to behold. It is the one with ‘Solsbury Hill‘, that’s on side 1, but I prefer the whole of side 2. ‘Here Comes The Flood‘ is probably my top track from it.
10 Iggy Pop – The Idiot
I’ve grown to like Iggy more since listening to his Radio 6 show fairly regularly, but this album, co-written with David Bowie (except for one track where guitarist Carlos Alomar is also credited) is packed with quality tracks that I find myself repeatedly going back to. I’ve been streaming it asI don’t have a copy but I will be on the look out for one.
9 The Clash – The Clash
The album opens with one of my favourite Clash tracks, Janie Jones and is packed with great tracks, there’s the Junior Mervin cover, Police & Thieves, White Riot, Career Opoortunities, it’s a great album and speaks to what was happening to music at the time as the mainstream was being challenged.
8 The Stranglers – Rattus Norvigicus
I’ve had a copy of this for at least 35 years and love it as much today as I did when I first heard it. It is dark, visceral even at times and seems to have a coating of grime over every track, and that is what makes it great. Anybody whohas never listened to this album all the way through needs to go away and do so right now. I saw them live in 1983, loved it.
7 Kraftwerk – Trans Europe Express
Kraftwerk always seemed to be years ahead of everybody else and this still sounds as though it could have been released yesterday, in 2014, the LA Times called it “the most important pop album of the last 40 years.” which is high praise indeed, but it is a claim not without merit. I tried to get tickets to the recent tour but the damn things sold out in seconds.
6 Pink Floyd – Animals
I understood Dark Side of the Moon but it took me a lot longer to figure out Animals, It was a concept album that provides a scathing critique of the social-political conditions of late 1970s Britain, I was 11, I couldn’t really be expected to figure that out for myself really. I read Animal Farm at school in 78 or 79 and then started to make some connections. Now I love it.
5 David Bowie – Heroes
The second Bowie album of 1977 and the one of the two that I’ve connected with more. The album was marketed with the strap line “There’s Old Wave. There’s New Wave. And there’s David Bowie …” which pretty much summed up most of his career.
4 The Sex Pistols – Never Mind The Bollocks
I had several of the singles back then, but not the album. My friend had it and I got to listen to that when I went round his house. To be honest, it was the perfect album for a somewhat rebellious 12 year old. It is now pretty much the same for a not so rebellious 50 year old. Every track a classic.
3 Steely Dan – Aja
The peak of their album output in my opinion, everything that had gone before had been leading to this. Fagan ands Becker were an incredible writing partnership, absolutely precise in what they were doing and able to sound like nobody else. Brilliant album.
2 Ian Dury & the Blockheads – New Boots and Panties
I’ve written about this album extensively before. It’s an all time great and it is a very thing dividing line between what is at number 1 and this. It could have gone either way.
1 Bob Marley & The Wailers – Exodus
Every home should have one. In 1999, Time magazine declared Bob Marley’s Exodus, released on June 3, 1977, the best album of the 20th Century. I’m not sure about that, but it’s down as my best of ’77 for sure. This album is on the turntable a lot, even after 40 years, it just doesn’t get old.
And what would yours be?