Friday, 9 May 2014

Top 5 Albums of 1978

The year that I really got into football. Underdogs Ipswich won a thrilling F.A. Cup final 1-0 against Arsenal. The following month the World Cup kicked off in Argentina, introducing me to the greatest spectacle in International Football (typically without any involvement from England). The most memorable game for me was the final itself and I still have a vivid memory of the packed stadium being filled with ticker tape as the teams ran out. It was also the year Pope John Paul II was elected Pope, introducing me to the "white smoke Pope, black smoke nope" process of announcing the papal decision. 1978 was also the year Pope John Paul I was elected but his papacy lasted only 33 days before he unexpectedly passed away due to either a heart attack or some mysterious deviousness.

In music Punk was changing into New Wave and, as if to indicate the end of an era, the Sex Pistols broke up mid-tour in San Francisco.

1. Wire "Chairs Missing" - Wire were a fabulously inventive band who I only really discovered thanks to Elastica's blatant appropriation of one of their chord sequences. It's difficult to separate their first three albums but Chairs Missing just edges it for me. They've had a couple of periods of hiatus but their 2013 album Change Becomes Us was one of my favourites of the year and pleasingly shows they've lost none of their spark.

2. X-Ray Spex "Germ Free Adolecesants" - This album is brilliant, one of the most unique & fascinating albums to come out of the UK punk scene. Typically it was only after Poly Styrene's death that I properly listened to it, having only really known a few singles, and of course I now regret not doing so sooner. Poly's lyrical skills are the real draw for me, her powerful yet off-kilter vocals providing the perfect delivery and an alternative to all those shouty blokes who were popular at the time.

3. Magazine "Real Life" - The debut album from Howard Devoto's post Buzzcocks outlet. My love for this LP may be somewhat skewed by the fact Shot By Both Sides is one of my all-time favourite songs but the rest of the album doesn't fall far short. It's also worth tracking down the Buzzcock's song Lipstick which uses the same tune as Shot By Both Sides but with different lyrics.

4. Johnny Thunders "So Alone" - Another album that might have made the list due to my enormous love of one particular song. This was the first proper solo record from former New York Dolls guitarist Thunders. I discovered it fairly recently thanks to 6Music & Marc Riley. Featuring Walter Lure and Billy Rath of Thunders other band Heartbreakers and a cornucopia of well-known guest musicians, including Chrissie Hynde, Phil Lynott, Steve Marriott, Steve Jones and Paul Cook. It's a mixed bag of originals and covers (including a fabulous version of the Chantays' surf classic Pipeline) but it's the sublime You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory that makes it a favourite for me.

5. Kate Bush "The Kick Inside" - Kate Bush was one of the first artists I remember liking though I didn't actually own any of her early albums until splashing out on the This Woman's Work box set in the early 90s. This is her debut album and has many of my favourite KB tunes including Wuthering Heights, The Man With The Child In His Eyes, Kite & James and the Cold Gun.

Near Misses; Buzzcocks "Another Music in a Different Kitchen", Peter Gabriel "Peter Gabriel II", AC/DC "Powerage", Kate Bush "Lionheart", Van Halen "Van Halen", Buzzcocks "Love Bites", Ramones "Road to Ruin".

Albums to try; Alternative TV "The Image Has Cracked", Blondie "Plastic Letters", Bob Dylan "Street Legal", Bruce Springsteen "Darkness on the Edge of Town", The Clash "Give Em Enough Rope", Crass "Feeding The 5000", Elvis Costello "This Years Model", Jilted John "True Love Stories", John Cooper Clarke "Disguise In Love", Little Feat "Waiting For Columbus", Pere Ubu "The Modern Dance", Siouxsie And The Banshees "The Scream", The Jam "All Mod Cons", Tom Waits "Blue Valentine", UFO "Obsession", Warren Zevon "Excitable Boy".


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