A year when my memories really start to kick in. It was the year of the great British drought. A long hot summer that I'd guess we've not seen the like of since, I have compared every summer since to 1976 and they've all failed to compete quite dismally. Björn Borg won the first of his five consecutive Wimbledon singles titles against Ilie Năstase. This was probably the first All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club Championships I watched and I really wanted Năstase to win as he was funny and played exciting tennis.
'76 also provided my first memory of the summer Olympics, held in Montreal. Great Britain came 13th in the medal table and the only medalist I can actually remember is David Wilkie who picked up a Gold and a Silver in the swimming. Concorde's first commercial flight took place and for years after we would stop whatever we were doing to watch it fly over our house. Musically it was the year that Punk broke in the UK, though it would be some time before I knew anything about that.
1. Ramones "Ramones" - I love the first four or five Ramones albums a lot but their debut remains my absolute favourite. It was the first I heard, has killer tunes from start to finish and set the template for a career blending Johnny's psycho guitar thrashing with Joey's love of great pop tunes. There are fourteen brilliant songs in under thirty minutes. I don't think rock'n'roll gets any better than this.
2. Status Quo "Live!" - "Is there anybody out there who wants to rock? ... Is there anybody out there who wants to roll? ... Is there anybody out there who wants to boogie?". That intro to Quo's Live! album by Jackie Lynton still sends tingles down my spine. Francis Rossi might not agree but to my mind this is Status Quo's greatest LP and is a valid exception to the "no compilations or live album" rule I'd normally apply to these lists.
3. AC/DC "High Voltage" - Despite spending most of my teens as a Metal Head I didn't get into AC/DC until much later. High Voltage was the band's first internationally released album containing the best tracks from their first two Australian-only LPs. This might not be the best known of the band's output but it was the second album I bought, a random pick from the Rock Box in Camberley having decided I needed more than just Highway To Hell in my life. It's grown in my affections the longer I've owned it and I think is a hot contender for my all-time favourite AC/DC album.
4. Tom Waits "Small Change" - Small Change was the first Waits album I bought after several failed attempts to get to grips with Swordfishtrombones. This album gave me a way into to Tom Waits back catalogue and I'm making good progress (I have most of his seventies output and also love Rain Dogs & Mule Variations) though I still haven't given Swordfishtrombones another shot.
5. The Modern Lovers "The Modern Lovers" - Compiled from demos recorded in 1971 & 1972 but not released until 1976, two years after the original band had split up. Confusingly, this came out the same year as Jonathon Richman's new band released Jonathon Richman & The Modern Lovers. The Modern Lovers has more of a punk feel to it and features some of my favourite Johnathon Richman tunes; Pablo Picasso, She Cracked & the seminal Roadrunner.
Near misses; Thin Lizzy Jailbreak, AC/DC Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, Status Quo Blue for You , David Bowie Station to Station and Queen A Day At The Races.
Albums to try; Blondie Blondie, Bob Dylan Desire, Bob Dylan Hard Rain, Budgie If I Were Brittania I'd Waive the Rules, Harmonia and Eno ’76 Tracks And Traces, Jonathon Richman & The Modern Lovers Jonathon Richman & The Modern Lovers, Selda Selda and Warren Zevon Warren Zevon.