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January 06, 1978 - Image 5

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Michigan Daily, 1978-01-06

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The Michigan Daily-Friday, January 6, 1978-Page 5
ROCK 77 . reviewers pick e es

EDITOR'S NOTE: "Best of the year" lists have
the uncanny knack of offending more people than
they please. Invariably, a given list includes items
that an individual dislikes, and omits ones he or she
likes. In an effort to please a wider range of readers,
we offer here three separate lists. Take your pick.
1 977 BROUGHT US plenty of good
new rock'n'roll. Punk, or New
Wave, or whatever you prefer to call it,
dominated the scene, with new bands
popping up on both sides of the Atlantic
every week. Many of these new groups
made promising debut albums, al-
though this surge of creativity has yet
to capture a wide listening public.
With the exception of albums by
David Bowie, Steely Dan, and Peter
Gabriel, the year's ten best rock recor-
ds were produced by fairly new artists.
This is music with all the urgency and
power that ever made rock'n'roll great;
as long as former rockers like the
Rolling Stones, the Who, and Bob Dylan
insist on recording remakes of time-
worn material, it's all we've got.
Here then, are the ten best rock
records of 1977, as we see them:
1) Marquee Moon, Television (Elek-
tra 7E-1098). By combining intelligent
lyrics with piercing, powerful instru-
mentation, this was one of the first
records to present punk rock as a seri-
ous musical movement. The crisp pro-
duction by Andy Johns and band leader
Tom Verlaine accurately recreates the
band's stunning live sound. Verlaine's
eerie vocals, coupled with the group's
raw waves of sound, make it the most
dynamic debut in recent years.
2) "Heroes," David Bowie (RCA
AFLI-2522). Bowie's recent self-exile in
Berlin was a productive one.
Collaborating with English avante-
garde musician Brian Eno, he made
two extraordinary albums, Low, a col-
lection of zany song fragments and
spacy instrumentals, and "Heroes,"
Bowie's most substantial musical con-
tribution in years. Aided by ex-King
Crimson leader and guitarist Robert
Fripp as well as Eno, Bowie synthe-
sized the rock and soul influences of his
last few records into a vibrant, frenetic
disc. The six songs with lyrics contain
some of Bowie's most incisive poetry to
date, along with strong, varied vocals,
and the four instrumentals exhibit an
increased musical confidence.
3) My Aim is Tue, Elvis Costello (Co-
lumbia JC 35037). He looks more like a
misanthropic computer operator than a
rock star, but what a star he is!
Costello's cynical lyrics and spartan
rock'n'roll carry the listener through
his tales of rejection, bitterness, an-
guish, and hate. The harsh reality of his
world may be a little too much for those
accustomed to the plush sounds of
Fleetwood Mac.
4) Aja, Steely Dan (ABC AB-1006).
Paradoxically, group leaders Walter
Becker and Donald Fagen created an

angry lyrics and equally angry riffs
form a chaotic, but tasty stew. But be-
neath the harsh veneer lurks surpris-
ingly eloquent melodies, and "God Save
the Queen" is without doubt the single
of the year.
7) Talking Heads: 77 (Sire SR-6036).
The lyrics are not offensive, the volume
is not deafening, the instrumentation is
not jarring, and they don't look like
outcasts, but Talking Heads is just as
much a part of the New Wave as
Television, Patti Smith, or the Sex Pis-
tols. Songs like "Don't Worry About the
Government" and lines like, .
Other people's problems, they overwhelm my mind
Compassion is a virtue. but I don't have the time.
from "No Compassion" show that this
is another "me-generation" band. Tht
music can't really be described, but
falls somewhere between Fleetwoc
Mac and the Ramones.
8) Peter Gabriel (ATCO SD 36-14'.
Gabriel's first album since he left G(-
sis two years ago captured him atfle
peak of his creative powers. Tapng
the imaginative resources of guitists.
Robert Fripp and Steve Huntersyn-

able o review the fourth Bruce
Spriisteen album, since it is still to be
releed. If we keep our fingers crossed
male we'll hear it this year.
-Alan Rubenfeld
Mike Taylor
- 977 WAS an average year for rock
roll. Foreigner and the Alan
arsons Project burst upon the scene
vith phenomenal debut albums. Es-
;ablished artists (Queen, Steve Mil-
ler, The Eagles) produced mostly
material we're accustomed to listen-
ing to. Who will emerge from the
depths as the hottest new band of
1978? Maybe another Foreigner. The
following is my list of the top five
rock albums of 1977:
1) Rumours, Fleetwood Mac (War-
ner BSK 3010). What can be said
about this phenomenal album and
group that hasn't already been said.
Five of its eight songs were hit
singles; four were Top Ten. We can
play "Name That Tune" (or album)
to find the last LP which had that
number of hit singles on one album.
(wrong - Foreigner comes close -
which is why they are second).
2) Foreigner, (Atlantic SD 19109).
What a debut album for these six
lads! Foreigner was last year's
hottest band like Heart was the year
before. This band's forte is good,
basic rock 'n roll, which is probably
one reason why they are so success-
ful. Rock fans might also have been
looking for another band to follow
after a group called Boston ripped up
the rock scene with an incredible
debut album of its own. One thing is
for sure - people are going to be
waiting for Foreigner's secondal-
bum as eagerly as they are waiting
for Boston's.
3) Book of Dreams, The Steve
Miller Band (Capitol SO 11630). Book
of Dreams spawned three enormous
hit singles: "Jet Airliner", "Jungle
Love", and "Swingtown" and it
probably won't stop there. It was on
Billboard's Top Ten album list for
God knows how long. Rockers ate it
up at the stores. Why? Because it's
the Steve Miller brand of rock 'n roll
that folks can relate to. It is also good
dancing music.
4) Hotel California, The Eagles
(Asylum 6E-103). This LP was big at.
the beginning of the year with hits
like the title cut, "Life In The Fast
Lane", "New Kid In Town," and

album that is esoteric and commercial-
ly accessible at the same time. The re-
cording is clear, the lyrics intriguing,
the musicianship impeccable; wha'
else can be said? Aja strove for perfe
tion, and came very close. One can on'
hope this studio amalgamation vdl
someday tour.
5) 801 Live (Island import28-
187XOT). Unquestionably the finesdive
recording since the Who's Lir At
Leeds, ex-Roxy Music member Phil
Manzanera and Brian Eno are acked
by some of England's best mvicians
for a live performance that m,, never
be repeated. This combinati1 of so
many talented people results incredi-
ble pulses of controlled engy. The
band's studio album, ListerNow, re-
cently released, is almost asood.
6) Never mind the bollock here's the
Sex Pistols (Warner Brlhers BSK
3137). The controversial e)loits of this
English punk band made is the year's
most awaited record. Luily, the disca
lives up to the band's anrchist image;

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thesizer whiz Larry Fa: (of Synergy),
and producer Bob Ezri Gabriel fash-
ioned a texturally ric! highly varied
album. The melodiesire strong, the
lyrics intriguing, the cals bizarre (as
always with Gabriel and the instru-
mentation superb.
9) This Time It's pr Real, Southside
Johnny and the AstrY Jukes (Epic PE
34668). The Jukesire the best white
soul band around ght now; this, their
second record, is rousing trip through
rock's roots. ThEiroduction, by Bruce
Springsteen's otarist, Miami Steve
Van Zandt, is rfliniscent of Phil Spec-
tor's lush heydl, and the material, in-
cluding songs 1 Van Zandt, Van Zandt
and Springstfl, and a few delightful
covers, is fi't-rate. Few other per-
formers can atch the soulful intensity
of this band, ve, or in the studio.
10) Ghosfriter, Garland Jeffreys
(A&M SP 409). This angry young man
from New ork came up with a great
song five/ears ago, "Wild in the
Streets." hostwriter surrounded that
semi-hit th a unique fusion of reggae,
jazz, andock. Each song is a painful
fisplay ouman emotions. Jeffreys is a
talentecsinger and songwriter; his
backingnusicians make the album a
musicareasure.
MAY OTHER WORTHWHILE al-
bumpvere released. Among these were
PetfTownshend and Ronnie Lane's
Rovh Mix, the Dwight Twilley Band's
Twley Don't Mind, Joan Armatrad-
ins Show Some Emotion, NRBQ's All
Hpped Up, Poco's Indian Summer,
7e Tubes Now, and Robert Gordon
ith Link Wray.
From the world of punk came good
albums from Blondie, the Clash, the
Stranglers, the Jam, the Vibrators, and
too many others to mention. The Ra-
mones released two albums, Leave
Dome, which contained more variety
than their first album, and Rocket to
Russia, a stunning set of bright pop
tunes, Beach Boys harmonies, and sar-
:astic humor.
Besides making two albums of his
>wn, David Bowie collaborated with
Iggy Pop on two interesting records,
rhe Idiot, filled with the avante-garde
sounds Bowie has just started working
with, and Lust For Life, closer to the
rock'n'roll that made Iggy and the
Stooges famous.
Some of the year's biggest disap-
>ointments were Graham Parker and
he Rumour's Stick to Me, Bryan
Ferry's In Your Mind, Richard Hell and
the Voidoids' Blank Generation (not all
punk is good), and two dull live albums,
Genesis' Seconds Out, and the Rolling
Stones' Love You Live. But the biggest
isappointment of all was not being

behind this? Are their "dreams"
being fulfilled? Maybe their dreams
were to be number one.
Anyway, Linda struck gold with
Simple Dreams. It is currently
numero uno on the charts (it re-
placed Rumours). Even though Ron-
stadt sings a couple of popular tunes
recorded by other artists a while
back (The Rolling Stones' "Tumblin'
Dice" and "It's So Easy") she adds
her unique country-rock touch to
them. My favorite tune, "Poor Poor
Pitiful Me" is really catching on, too.
Simple Dreams is one of Linda's
better efforts.
One other album worth mentioning
is Foghat's Live album. The record-
ing of this power rock-blues group in
concert is excellent. It's probably the
best live disc of the year.
-Tim Yagle
L ISTENING to the radio was once
a pleasurable experience: there
was some amount of craft evident in the
songs of the late sixties and early sev-
enties. Today the Top 40 stands as a
battleground between two forces, "mel-
low" and "disco." The listener has the
choice of being put to sleep by John
Denver or jolted into action by K.C. and
his Sunshine Band.
Some of the albums listed here pro-
duced single releases in 1977, and for
the most part, those singles were a
bright spot on the otherwise bland play-
lists. The common element of all these
LP's is that the artists did their own
songwriting. There is an intricate craft
involved in composing good tunes, and
the ten artists below are among the best
in their field:
1) The Stranger, Billy Joel (Columbia
JC 34987). This is definitely the surprise
album of 1977. After five years of mild
popularity with songs like "Piano Man"
and "The Entertainer," Joel has sud-
denly hit the spotlight with this out-
standing LP. He plays the piano like he
was born in front of the keys, and each
of the songs on the record has the mel-
ancholy-streetwise touch that makes
Billy Joel so unique. (This includes his
current single, "Just The Way You
Are").
2) Greatest Hits, Etc., Paul Simon
(Columbia JC 35032). The songs of Paul
Simon are always a joy to listen to, and
this album provides a varied cross-sec-
tion of his best solo tunes. Two new
songs add to the quality of this LP;
"Slip Slidin' Away" is getting radio
play now, but the real treat is "Strand-
ed In A Limousine." Simon takes off
with a frenetic narrative about a
"mean individual" (apparently Maf'io-
so in nature), and rocks from start to
finish. This tune has that feel that was
once called "funky" but now goes
without a name.
3) Little Criminals, Randy Newman
(Warner Bros. BSK 3079). Newman's
diversified weirdness reappears on his
sixth and finest album. From the now-
infamous "Short People" to the haun-
ting "Baltimore," his songs focus on
the bizarre side of humanity and ex-

pand it to its greatest possible extreme.
Beautiful orchestration, a Newman
trademark, is also abundant here.
4) From A Radio Engine To The
Photon Wing, Michael Nesmith,
(Pacific Arts ILPA 9486). Nesmith is
quite precise with his use of imagery,
and his efforts are particularly enjoy-
able on this fine album. He works com-
fortably within a light country-rock
framework; songs like "Rio" and "We
Are Awake" are the culmination of
eight years of diligent solo work.
5) Sleeping Gypsy, Michael Franks
(Warner Bros. BS 3004). Using roman-
ce as his major theme, Franks has pro-
duced a collection of light jazz composi-
tions. The album features top-notch
performers like David Sanborn and the
Jazz Crusaders, and they blend well
with Franks' melodic vocalizations.
This is an excellent followup to his first
two LP's, Michael Franks and The Art
of Tea.
6) Foreign Affairs, Tom Waits
(Asylum 7E-1117). Waits continues his
inebriated travelogue of urban Ameri-
ca; although his voice gets rougher
with each release, his compositions be-
come more and more precise. The or-
chestration comes as a pleasant sur-
prise, along with a bar-counter duet
with Bette Midler.
7) Miracle Row, Janis Ian (Columbia
PC 34440). This album also showcases
the cause of romance, but with a little
more rock than Janis Ian fans might
expect. The uptempo feel gives her

songs some added strength, but there
are also a good number of the softer
ballads which recently renewed her
popularity.
8) Don Juan's Reckless Daughter,
Joni Mitchell (Asylum BB 701). This
two-record set contains a number of
fine tunes similar in style to those of her
previous LP, Hejira. Joni finally takes
to the piano again after a two-year ab-
sence, on a sixteen-minute epic entitled
"Paprika Plains." (1977 Winner: Tack-
iest Cover Design).
9) I'm Everyone I've Ever Loved,
Martin Mull (ABC AR-997). The man
who brought us "Fernwood 2-Night"
and "Dueling Tubas" presents a prize
collection of musical comedy. The
music is surprisingly high quality, and
Nom

Mull's lyrics are filled with his double-
entendre sense of humor. (This in-
cludes a hilarious Steve Martin-Martin
Mull collaboration entitled "Men").
10) Leo Kottke, (Chrysalis CHR
1106). Kottke is one of the premier
acoustic guitarists performing con-
temporary music today. He avoids
cliched riffs with this LP and con-

CH A RLAND
SCHLESIN GER
CRESSMAN
prints &drawings
january 6-29

centrates on originality, clarity and
style. It's all instrumental, with Kottke
and some unidentified back-up
musicians, so anyone who enjoys his
vocals will just have to keep their
fingers crossed for the next album.
Other albums released in 1977 de-
serve at least some recognition. Fleet-
wood Mac's Rumors has been pounded
into the ground with airplay, but it does
have it's bright spots. Foreigner's first
LP presented the first new rock group
to show promise in some time. Emer-
son, Lake & Palmer offered Works Vol-
ume 1; the Greg Lake-Peter Sinfield
compositions on side two are worth the
price of the two-record set.
And there are some bright prospects
for 1978: new songs by Carly Simon. Art
Garfunkel and Loudon Wainwright III
give evidence that new albums may
soon be forthcoming. Elton John is also
rumored to be in the studio; although
his last effort, Blue Moves, was a little
shaky, it seems reasonable to assume
that some quality music is still to be
heard from Captain Fantastic.
- Michael Baadke
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"Victim of Love". Hotel California
was released at an opportune time;
right on the heels of the Greatest Hits
1971-1975 album which was success-
ful because of the One Of These
Nights LP (got it?). The basic appeal
of the Eagles is their sparkling guitar
work featuring lead guitarist Joe
Walsh. It really is evident in Cali-
fornia. Keep it up, Eagles. They are
in the studio now.
5) Simple Dreams, Linda Ronstadt
(Asylum 6E-104). There's that word
dreams again. Two of the five
albums listed here have "dreams" in
their titles and the second Rumours
hit is entitled "Dreams". What is

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