Album Chart of 1978

<1977 1979>

  • This chart features albums released in 1978 and is limited to all of the albums in my collection which have “A-list” status.
  • The Top 30 albums are profiled, and the full chart (Top 89) is summarised, in sortable table form, on the Albums released in 1978 page, which shows the full range of albums in this sites' database, including the “B-list” records.
1978-a-kraftwerk.jpg

MASCHINEN MÄNNER SIND NUMMER EINS!

Why put yourself through the hassle and boredom of album-launch photo-shoots when pretend-robots can do the job just as well? The Kraftwerk futurists from Dusseldorf dared to be different in many different ways, and this set them apart from the stars of yesterday and today. In 1978, they were at the peak of their mighty powers, capping a phenomenal 18 months for this most visionary of groups.

Elsewhere, English music is going from strength to strength on the back of last years’ Punk explosion, and leftfield music fans are revelling in glorious offerings from Buzzcocks, The Jam, Elvis Costello, Public Image Ltd. and Kevin Coyne, as well as high quality debuts from Siouxsie and The Banshees, Alternative TV and The Adverts.

The overall rise in quality is measurable in my ratings system; for the first-time ever, only a rating of “7” or more is good enough for a Top 30 place.

The Saints, from Australia, typify the great leap forward, with a quite magnificent follow-up to their ’77 debut.

Jamaican music continues to reverberate strongly, with terrific LPs from Bob Marley and The Wailers, Prince Far I, Culture, Poet and The Roots (led by Jamaican-born poet Linton Kwesi Johnson) and Lee Perry with his Upsetters.

Revolution is afoot in Rhodesia, and Thomas Mapfumo risks life and limb by putting music at the heart of the battle, although this is known only to his people in his homelands at this time.

In the States, old dogs Captain Beefheart and Lou Reed underline their durability, whilst newcomers Pere Ubu demonstrate that they’ve been watching and learning, as they forge ahead with the “Avant-Garage” new tricks of now.

The Jukebox Rebel
28-Sep-2016

TJR says:

9.27 “A masterpiece”

Released in May ’78, the seventh Kraftwerk LP was the group’s poppiest offering to date, yet still retained an allure for the “alternative” camp, thanks in no small part to the vaguely sinister undertone which always seems to bristle beneath the glossy veneer. Opening the set is the lead-single, “Die Roboter” (“The Robots”), which sets the disconnected pop-tone nicely. The futuristic “Spacelab” sounds like something from a 100 years hence, especially with the non-human sounding processed vocals. “Metropolis”, the first to be sung “human style”, completes the entirely danceable side one. Opening side two is “Das Modell” (“The Model”), which is broken up with the unexpected shout out of “Korrekt”, which comes from the voice of a waiter from a bar they used to go to whilst recording the album. It’s a rare human moment from the machine men. Plastic and soul-less, “Das Modell” sounds like a future to be feared, but the futurists of ’78 are all ears anyway. “Neonlicht” (“Neon Lights”) is an exquisite nine-minute stretch-out which reminds just why this group are so irresistible at this time; the melodies are glorious throughout, and the whole concept is very easy on the ear, an endloss luxury. Fantastic rhythms underpin the classic title-track, another sung robotically, which closes the set on a high. The whole album has been nothing short of excellent throughout. Maybe machine men with machine minds aren’t so bad after all…

The Jukebox Rebel
15-Jul-2006


TJR says:

8.67 “A classic”

Following the seminal “Spiral Scratch” EP and two cracking non-album singles – “Orgasm Addict” and “What Do I Get” – there was a big sense of anticipation for the debut Buzzcocks long-player. In the fast moving days of the Punk scene, the band had already moved on from the rough and ready incarnation of 76/77 fronted by Howard Devoto, and had developed into a tight and highly skilled 4 piece, with Pete Shelley assuming lead vocals following Devoto’s departure in the fall of 1977. At the time of release in March ’78 they were: Pete Shelley (22, lead guitar, lead vocals); Steve Diggle (22, rhythm guitar, backing vocals); Steve Garvey (20, bass guitar) and John Maher (17, drums, percussion). It was Shelley’s trademark nasally tone combined with a lyrical technique which was highly articulate in the personal style (whenever he chose it to be) which set him (and the band) apart from all others. They matched all the hype and more with this exhilarating and consistent debut – packed full of pop punk gems with no filler. “Fast Cars”, “You Tear Me Up” and “Sixteen” are all bona-fide punk classics in amongst the many highlights. Pete Shelley’s closing rant on “Sixteen” serves succinctly as an album summation: “I hate modern music. Disco, boogie and pop. They go on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on. How I wish they would STOP!

The Jukebox Rebel
08-Feb-2006


TJR says:

8.40 “Excellent”

What an absolute gem this is; they released two good albums last year, but ‘78s “All Mod Cons” is on a different level altogether. Everything about this LP is fantastic, and sees The Jam fulfil all the potential that was only teasingly glimpsed last time out. With this offering, they finally nail the sound of The Jam which is uniquely theirs; where punk, mod and even acoustic ballads can all live as one, and it’s all good in the melting pot. The song-writing is excellent, the 3 band members are as tight as a drum, and the lyrics get you involved with a sneer one minute and love in your heart the next. Thoughtful is the byword which connects all, from the pretty beauty of “English Rose” to the ugly brutality of “Down In The Tube Station At Midnight”. Meaty and real, this is the kind of stuff that cultivates a devoted fanbase, and this was certainly the case for The Jam, who now had a captive audience hanging on every beat, every word. Legends.

The Jukebox Rebel
29-Jul-2007


TJR says:

8.23 “Excellent”

Following the success of “My Aim Is True”, Costello wasted no time in forming his own permanent backing band, and The Attractions were born in late 1977. The group featured Steve Nieve on keyboards, Bruce Thomas on bass guitar and Pete Thomas (no relation) on drums. The extra-ordinarily high quality of Elvis’s song-writing was complemented superbly by this group, who presented to the world the right sound at the right time, with Nieve’s keyboard licks becoming almost a trademark in their own right. Here, power-pop could meet punk without a hint of sugary juvenilia. These were the kings of New Wave and, at this time, the all-time classics were pouring out effortlessly from the mighty pen of Declan MacManus…

The Jukebox Rebel
25-Mar-2006


TJR says:

8.23 “Excellent”

Eschewing the raw and gritty Stooges-inspired sound of their debut, the Saints opted for a generally brighter, breezier and altogether smarter brand of Pop Punk on their second long player. This step-forward is evidenced immediately on the opening track, “Know Your Product”, which blasts in magnificently, with a brass section that wouldn’t be out of place on a top-notch Memphis soul session. These are new thoughts, new ideas, and it’s all so groovy. Ed Kuepper steps up for some excellent vocal interplay with Chris Bailey (they should have done more of that) on “Private Affair”, and when the latter sings “not everybody wants to look the same, and not everybody wants to think the same, not everybody wants to act the same, and everybody don’t want to be the same” you can’t help but nod in appreciation; there’s more to this lot than fashion statements and mindless riffs. “No, Your Product” rises gloriously with a measured aggression; it’s a sensational masterwork of the new intelligent Punk classes. It almost seems to be borne of the classic ’77 single, “This Perfect Day” which immediately follows. This quick one-two leaves most pretenders on the canvas. The adventurous spirit is to the fore once again on “Run Down”, with some wild harmonica that could have made in Chicago if you didn’t know any better. The horns are back on “Orstralia”, panning all over the place and invoking much excitement. Heck, I almost feel like… dancing. Blimey. Isn’t Punk growing up quickly?

The Jukebox Rebel
15-Mar-2016


TJR says:

8.15 “Excellent”

Johnny Rotten had started the year on stage in America with the imploding Sex Pistols, infamously sneering “this is no fun… no fun at all… ha-ha-ha… ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” to a somewhat bemused audience, seemingly oblivious to the disillusionment and general shoddiness before them. By the springtime he had formed a new band with The Clash’s founding guitarist, Keith Levene, by the summertime they were in the studio, and by October, the blinding debut single, “Public Image” was in the shops. Fans were thrilled to hear that Punk’s figurehead was perfectly capable of forging ahead on his own terms; Johnny Rotten was dead, John Lydon reborn. As he himself put it, it was “a slagging of the group I used to be in… they never bothered to listen to what I was fucking singing, they don't even know the words to my songs… they just took me as an image. It was as basic as that, they really were as dull as that.” The debut album was hot-on-the-heels of the single, and was released just in time to be included in Christmas stockings. The quartet lined up: John Lydon (22, vocals, piano); Keith Levene (21, guitar); Jah Wobble (20, bass, vocals) and Jim Walker (23, drums). Just as he did on last years “Bollocks”, Lydon gets a good boot into “Religion”… “Stained glass windows keep the cold outside while the hypocrites hide inside… Fat pig priest, sanctimonious smiles. He takes the money, you take the lies… This is religion and Jesus Christ, this is religion cheaply priced. This is bibles full of libel, this is sin in eternal hymn”. How refreshing to hear someone shouting out against these holier-than-thou puritans who’ve been plaguing, corrupting and persecuting mankind for centuries. When will we finally come to our senses I wonder? Post-Punk is the only religion you need in 1978. Interestingly, Lydon had similar problems getting this past band members; bassist Jah Wobble in particular did not approve. My respect for his single-mindedness soars further with this knowledge. The doped masses have long since been divided and conquered; the majority of these robotic subordinates have been brain-washed into shouting you down and trying to shut you up when it comes to “matters of the cloth”. Bollocks to their bollocks. For all the forward-march progression of the bass-heavy openers, Pistols fans would have been delighted with the two-pronged assault of “Low Life”and “Attack”, the former of which very much puts me in mind of the mighty “E.M.I.” track from they who cannot now be mentioned. The album’s mock-disco closer “Fodderstompf” was a mess-around that turned out to be casually fantastic with shout-out slogans such as “be bland, be dull, be boring” and “we only wanted to be loved” repeated ad nauseuem to the point you can’t help but submit and join in with the whacksters. It tickles me to know that this became an anthem on the gay disco scene, a happy accident. Right here, Lydon and his new gang, complete with a one-man bass powerhouse, delivered the goods unusually and quite brilliantly.

The Jukebox Rebel
22-Dec-2007


TJR says:

8.12 “Excellent”

Cleverly annexed from the “Exodus” sessions, “Kaya” stands cohesively as an album of peace, love and marijuana. Once I get over myself that it’s going to have a laid back, non-political outlook, the sheer warmth of the wails and the vibes, combined with the brilliance of the music, just permeates down to very soul; the aural equivalent of basking in the sunshine. There’s not a weak track on-board, but “Easy Skanking”, “Is This Love” and “Satisfy My Soul” are first-half giants, whilst “Time Will Tell” closes the album mightily. I once got a hotel mento band in Montego Bay to play this song for me – it was one of the most magical musical experiences of my life. Those boys felt that tune; it's not all milk, honey and coconuts in Jamaica. A round of drinks was no price at all, for it was priceless. I’m not one for getting all hippy dippy, but this song is simply magical, transcendental even, and, for me, stands as Bob’s greatest masterpiece.

The Jukebox Rebel
23-Jul-2006


TJR says:

7.98 “Brilliant”

Far I’s second album for Virgin this year was undoubtedly the stronger, even if it is preachy, harking back to “Psalms For I” spiritually, with songs of praise and positive vibrations. It’s heavy, it’s deeply dubby, and it’s hugely infectious; the band are immense. The frontman himself is a superstar of the world, even if he doesn’t have the trappings nor the adulation. His presence on this one is simply mesmerizing – you don't want to miss a minute of the action. If you only ever invest in one Far I long player this is the one to have.

The Jukebox Rebel
02-Nov-2008


TJR says:

7.58 “Brilliant”

An album called “Bat Chain Puller” had been recorded in ’76 for DiscReet in 1976, but label co-owner Frank Zappa withheld the master tapes, seemingly in a huff because his partner, Herb Cohen, had funded the production surreptitiously by the use of Zappa’s royalty cheques. Alas, Captain Beefheart was forced to abandon the thing and wholly record a new work, hence the title “Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller)”. “The Floppy Boot Stomp” gets us off to a great start, harking back to the stop-start blues-rock goodness of the “Safe As Milk” debut from all those years ago. By sheer contrast, “Tropical Hot Dog Night” is firmly in the here and now, all funky flamencos with bright and breezy brass to go. It’s an extra-ordinary sensory experience – and a reminder that the unexpected is actually just what you expect from your Beefheart. “Harry Irene” is completely different again, an entirely whistle-able French-cabaret number on a dead-end-street beat, with a bizarre narrative incorporating four lesbians and a tavern. He’s having a laugh. “Bat Chain Puller” closes side 1 with an insistent swamp-stomp beat, some spectacular use of language, and finds the Captain in full-on expressive-vocal mode, up, down and all over the shop. It’s simply marvellous – and completely unique. The good thing about the album’s delay is that these songs had now fully matured with a staggering range of new tricks n licks incorporated. Also, the delay gave us some new songs, the best of which, “When I See Mommy I Feel Like A Mummy”, opens up side 2 with a syncopated rhythm, some ace Mardi Gras trombone and some choppy Post-Punk guitar action. Again, Beefhearts vocals are all over the place, veering from paranoid whispers to gruff bellows. Truly, he is like no other. “Owed T’Alex” is another which seems perfectly in vogue with this Post-Punk era, and could easily sit on any of Pere Ubu’s sets from this year. The magical harmonica at the end simply connects eras, like all good artists should. The album’s supreme cut, “Candle Mambo”, embodies all that’s good about this set – it’s mambo Jim, but not as we know it, with progressive disco beats that would sway even the most reluctant of hips. So there we have it, Post-Punkish and not entirely Dancefloor-unfriendly, the sound of Captain Beefheart ’78 is simply a joy to listen to. DiscReet’s loss was Warner Brothers’ gain.

The Jukebox Rebel
23-Mar-2007


TJR says:

7.58 “Brilliant”

Following royalty disputes with Joe Gibbs, Culture had been “looking around” for a new production partner and had recorded some demos with engineer Sylvan Morris at Harry J’s Studios. Whether they were unsatisfied with the deal or the actual recording results remains a story untold, but the sessions were abandoned in any event. To their eternal horror, the semi-finished works surfaced in the United States as a bootleg titled “Africa Stand Alone” (April Records, 1978). To add insult to injury the bootleg did really well and the import into England saw it voted the 5th best album of 1978 in NME’s annual Top 50 albums poll. It was a real sweet and sour scenario all around. The “proper” third album “Harder Than The Rest” (the band’s first for Virgin’s Frontline imprint) would spend the rest of its life competing for sales with the bootleg, with five tracks crossing over between the two. In a move which surprised many in Jamaica, the band hooked up with Sonia Pottinger for this set, a producer whose pop success with the likes of Marcia Griffiths and Bob Andy didn’t seem like the most convincing credentials for handling the crucial third from Jamaica’s leading conscious roots group. We needn’t have worried. Not only did Miss P keep the band’s momentum strong, she pushed it forward with even more vitality. Two Studio One cuts from the preceding Baldhead Bridge LP get a reworking – “Behold I Come” (as “Behold”) and “Love Shines Brighter” (as “Love Shine Bright”). Did they think I wouldn’t notice? The former delivers the definitive version of the classic song, as bright as a button “This world is like a mirror, reflected in what you do, And if you face it smiling, it will smile right back at you… and I know that it was the voice of the most high he say Behold”. This is the mighty Culture in full flow. Single “Work On Natty” is another terrific highlight – a militant tale of ghetto life set to a super tough backline. This is vital Culture…

The Jukebox Rebel
27-Aug-2009


TJR says:

7.57 “Brilliant”

Co-produced by Kevin Coyne and Bob Ward, who also plays on the album. The contributors are: Kevin Coyne (vocal, guitar); Zoot Money (piano); Bob Ward (guitar); Al James (bass); Vic Sweeney (drums); Paul Wickens (accordion, drums, mini-moog, congas) and Tim Rice (piano). He made my Top 10 in both ’72 and ’73, and it’s a great testament to the “old guard” that he’s still right in there as the new wave comes sweeping through the scene in ’78. Kevin Coyne stands with Captain Beefheart in this regard, and this doesn’t surprise me one little bit; both have always bristled with inventiveness and single mindedness, and are more punk than iconic punks. “Dynamite Daze” opens the set energetically, and our man is on the money, showing great self-awareness to boot: “We know the Pope is too old to rock n roll and quite aware that he's got no soul, you see me and I stand outside the Palais de Dance, I'm rattling my bones, I'm pogoing, I'm giving myself a little chance these-a-dynamite-daze”. It’s more Status Quo than Buzzcocks but that doesn’t matter a damn – it’s all about the great delivery from Coyne and, besides, Status Quo are alright by me. Even better is “Brothers Of Mine”, an acoustically strummed swinger that’s reeks of paranoia: “Brothers of mine, brothers of mine, you're building the crucifix, the crucifix in the market square, Brothers of mine, brothers of mine, oh they're lining up the people, lining up the people to watch and stare”. The excellence is maintained on “Lunatic”, as disturbing and sad as it is powerful: “An old man surrounded by his books, trestle table pilled with old newspapers, fifteen cats scratching at his door, filth and mess all across the floor”. He sure can paint lyrics some. Side two is graced by the classic “Juliet And Mark”, which serves as a great reminder that even the darkest of days can always be followed by wide open curtains, sunshine and music. We’re then back on a strong-backbeat Rockabilly tip with the excellent “Woman, Woman, Woman”, the upbeat nature of which belies the sentiment that only the lonely know how he feels tonight. I find “Dynamite Daze” to be every bit the equal of the much lauded “Marjory Razorblade” – there can be no higher praise for this brilliant offering.

The Jukebox Rebel
05-Apr-2006


TJR says:

7.56 “Brilliant”

The fourth Ramones already? They didn’t hang about in any way whatsoever, that’s for sure. “Road To Ruin” isn’t as strong as the preceding three, but that’s a relative complaint, for there is much to love and cherish within. There had been a personnel change since “Rocket To Russia”, with Tommy deciding to give up the drumsticks, citing stress at the relentless touring and frustration at the lack of commercial success. His new role was to sit in the producers’ chair, and his place in the band was taken by Marky Ramone. Just how many brothers did Johnny have? As good and solid as it is, there are none of the stone-classics that we’ve come to expect from the Ramones on side 1, but side 2 makes up for it some. Reflecting further on the stress that they were under at this time, there was a great quote attributed to Joey, made after a show in London, when he told manager Linda Stein: “Put me in a wheelchair and get me on a plane before I go insane.” Knowing this, a whole new light is shone upon the ever-mighty “I Wanna Be Sedated” which opens up side 2. It’s the quintessential Ramones song is it not? There’s a fantastic step away from the pop-punk template with the country-fused pop of “Questioningly”, fuelled with the classic themes of that genre; namely failing relationships and heartbreak. As if apologising to the hardcore brigade, “Bad Brain” reminds that they can thrash it hard and fast with the best of ‘em. I find this mixing-up very welcome, they should do more of it. Alas, the pop concessions did them no favours as Tommy relates: “Road to Ruin was a flop Stateside, even though it had been a very deliberate attempt to secure American radioplay.” What terrible taste the general public has…

The Jukebox Rebel
16-Apr-2016


TJR says:

7.53 “Brilliant”

Further to the publication of his 1975 book of poetry, “Dread Beat and Blood”, Linton Kwesi Johnson became a revered name in the black community of his adopted homeland. With the rise of British reggae, an opportunity opened up for Johnson to broaden his listenership, and he took full advantage of this, aligning himself with the roots-rocking crew headed up by Dennis Bovell. The partnership was sheer dynamite, apparent immediately with the immense openers, “Dread Beat An’ Blood” and “Five Nights Of Bleeding”, both of which portray the violence and misery plaguing the West Indian community in Brixton at the time. Steel blades. Stabbings. Blood. It’s all there, every gory detail, with every verse hitting heavy, never a rhythmically-concise word wasted. In his hands poetry is “a cultural weapon”. He wields his sword well.

The Jukebox Rebel
14-Apr-2008


TJR says:

7.51 “Brilliant”

Since the 1960s, Thomas Mapfumo had been playing western rock music with his band, The Springfields, in the pubs and clubs of Rhodesia, but this belied a love for the traditional drums and mbira music from his rural upbringing which burned deeply within him. Eventually, he worked out a fusion formula, translating the mbira (a hand held piano thumb) to the electric guitar, enthusing others around him in the process. In 1974, he found a key supporter in Crispen Matema, a jazz drummer who was then working for Teal Records as a producer. The single “Hoyo Murembu”, sung in the native Shona tongue, made reference to the war against minority rule in his country that had now began in earnest. This combination of traditional, but modern, music, which boldly sang out against oppressors, caught on like wild fire, and Mapfumo quickly became something of an underground cult figure. He joined forces with Charles Makokove's Acid Band in 1976 and, following a string of single releases, a full LP was delivered in 1978. The LP was the first on Teal’s “Chimurenga Music” imprint, validating the music in print with an identifiable name. Chimurenga is a word in the Shona language, roughly meaning “revolutionary struggle”, and is used to identify the native’s first revolt against British rule in the 1890s. The Second Chimurenga, also known as the Rhodesian Bush War or the Zimbabwe Liberation War, refers to the guerrilla war of 1966–1979; the timing was right for this new genre tag. Despite the heat of the subject matter, album opener “Hokoyo!” (“Watch Out”) is disappointingly tame, musically at least, opting for a funky western disco vibe. The mood seems to be celebratory already, almost as if openly mocking Ian Smith’s white minority government. Thankfully, the rest of the LP concentrates on the new Zimbabwean sound, and is consistently terrific throughout. “Dindingwe” (a re-recording of the 1977 single), “Hwa-Hwa” and “Matiregerera Mambo” are the three songs which immediately cleanse the pallet following the westernized pollution of the opener. Quite apart from the war for independence, this music must have seemed revolutionary purely in musical terms, instilling a great sense of cultural pride within black Rhodesians. Free Zimbabwe was now just a Chimurenga beat away from reality.

The Jukebox Rebel
25-May-2012


TJR says:

7.50 “Brilliant”

Following “Scratch The Super Ape” and “Roast Fish Collie Weed And Corn Bread”, Lee Perry continued his fine form with “Return Of The Super Ape”, a quite brilliant affair, and the best of the eleven Lee Perry albums that I own. Early highlights are “Dyon-Anasaw” and the Rufus & Chaka Khan cover “Tell Me Something Good”, both of which benefit enormously from the wonderful vocals of Lee’s Full Experience Girls (Aura Lewis, Pamela Reed and Candy MacKenzie). He really should have made more of them. “Psyche & Trim” is a big highlight of side 2, as Lee takes to the mic to condemn the exploitative ruling class: “Mister Top Ranking, you gonna get a spanking!”. Lee’s great vocal form continues on “The Lion”, as he toasts and sings over a wonderfully eccentric backing track which seems to place a piano player slap-bang in the middle of the jungle. Only Lee Perry can conceive these ideas. As if concluding thematically, the great “High Ranking Sammy” finds Lee on the rampage again, having another dig at the power-abusing top-dog. Is Sammy the Super Ape?

The Jukebox Rebel
22-Jul-2007


TJR says:

7.45 “Really good”

Culture’s second and final LP for Joe Gibbs was, once again, brilliantly recorded with “The Professionals” studio band, and featured the likes of Lloyd Parks (bass), Sly Dunbar (drums), Robbie Shakespeare (guitar), Errol Nelson (keyboards), Tommy McCook ( tenor saxophone) and Bobby Ellis (trumpet). With this lot backing the songs of Joseph Hill’s powerful vocal trio, success was an absolute certainty. Whilst not as strong as the debut collectively, this set offers up the band’s first out-and-out monster classics with the immense “Behold I Come” and the intoxicating 8 minute nyabinghi chanter “So Long Babylon A Fool I (And I)” which close Side 2. Sadly, despite the glorious harmony on record, all was not well between producer and group. By the time of this album’s release, Culture had entered into a long-running dispute with Gibbs over royalties to the first album, and, already, that was the end of a highly productive 2 year relationship…

The Jukebox Rebel
23-Aug-2009


TJR says:

7.45 “Really good”

“Love Bites” arrived just six months after the debut and, already, there’s a remarkable difference in the band’s sound, with added pop sensibilities and ever more complex rhythmic structures, diluting the purer punk, but with some very fine results. It’s good to see a band moving on but, as strong as this album is, it seems to me to contain “the next best group of songs” after the glory of “Another Music”. Therein lies the trouble with scorching debuts…

The Jukebox Rebel
08-Feb-2006


TJR says:

7.43 “Really good”

With the confrontational explosion of British Punk anything now seemed possible, and the Banshees, commanded by Siouxsie, were certainly in tune with this philosophy. Theirs was an adventure beyond Punk, headlong into a bleak, industrial wasteland, with a sound as scathing as it was passionate. At the time of release in November ’78 they were: Siouxsie Sioux (21, vocals); Steven Severin (23, bass guitar); John McKay (guitars, saxophone) and Kenny Morris (21, drums, percussion). The long-player was in the shops just as the classic non-album single, “Hong Kong Garden”, had set them up as the next big thing, having ascended mightily into the Top 10 of the UK Pop Charts. Creating tension right from the start, the uncompromising and disconcerting “Pure” sets an unfriendly tone, distant with sacrificial wails, broken beats and dead guitars. “Jigsaw Feeling” immediately offers relief, albeit angrily. The mood is set; it’s disconnected. We are now in a Post-Punk landscape, 90 degrees more thoughtful. The excellent “Overground” shows just why they were beloved by a hard-core fan base; on a restless and rolling rhythm they let it be known there will be no compromise in their sound, they will not be normalized: “Overground from abnormality, Overboard for identity, Overground for normality, Overboard for identity”. A surprising but nonetheless well-done cover of “Helter Skelter” closes side 1, and this seems like good news; they will partake in music history, but on their own terms. The unique brilliance of the band is then absolutely driven home with the dynamic one-two which opens up side 2, namely the anthemic and upbeat “Mirage” and the robotic mid-tempo riffage of “Metal Postcard (Mittageisen)”. This band are excellent but, ultimately, it’s the detached intensity of Siouxsie Sioux which truly steals the spotlight. A new bona-fide superstar is born.

The Jukebox Rebel
05-Aug-2008


TJR says:

7.33 “Really good”

The third Stranglers LP in just 13 months arrived in May ’78, with labels and sleeves distinctly coloured to reflect the positive side 1 (White) and the negative side 2 (Black). They sound more threatening than ever, with muscular bass lines dominating, supported by choppy guitars entwined with their familiar, slightly sinister-sounding fairground keyboards. The white side wins my favour hands-down, with great tracks such as “Tank” and “Toiler On The Sea” (wouldn’t Toilet On-The-Sea have made a better title?) as well as the all-time classic “Nice n Sleazy”, which does it for me every time. The black side is darker and decidedly Post-Punkish in outlook, best served by the sneering “Do You Wanna”, where keyboardist Dave Greenfield surprisingly demonstrates that the group have three capable frontmen if required. These lads march on, in fine fettle.

The Jukebox Rebel
05-Aug-2008


TJR says:

7.28 “Really good”

Jim Morrison recorded quite a few sessions in 1969 and 1970 where he laid down some poetry and stories, with the intent of making an audio presentation of some sort. Prior to leaving for Paris in March 1971, he had approached composer Lalo Schifrin as a possible contributor for the music tracks meant to accompany the poetry. Events took over – it never happened. Five years after splitting, Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger, and John Densmore reunited to record these backing tracks over Morrison’s poetry. Other pieces of music and spoken word recorded by the Doors and Morrison were also used in the audio collage, such as dialogue from HWY: An American Pastoral (Jim Morrison’s 1969 film) and snippets from Doors jam sessions. “An American Prayer: Jim Morrison” serves as a marvellous tribute – an aural treat for the senses with excellent support from his hombres. Manzarek, Krieger and Densmore – I forgive you for those last two albums. You have finished the Doors story with a fascinating and beguiling full stop. Long-time Doors’ producer Paul Rothchild labelled this album a “rape of Jim Morrison”. According to these ears he’s completely mistaken…

The Jukebox Rebel
16-Jun-2007


TJR says:

7.24 “Really good”

After breaking several neck vertebrae as a result of her horrendous fall from stage at the beginning of last year, Patti’s resurrection was complete just in time for Easter ’78. The common complaint from the leftfield in relation to this third coming was that she played the cheap stadium-anthem card in a bid to win over mainstream America, but even the worst offender, “Because The Night”, does not grate with me – and I’m very easily offended by POWER RAWK. In fact, the first three rockers are all pretty decent before “Ghost Dance” serves up something a little different; it’s verging on the shamanic… I dig it. “Babelogue” then finds Patti reciting poetry over a live recording of an “encore-demanding audience”… leading into the underbelly of “Rock n Roll Nigger”. It’s a real neat moment as the album suddenly gets a LOT more interesting. Patti don’t want no part of your society, she’s a Rock n Roll nigger, just like Jimi. “We Three” soon follows; it’s a wee cracker of a Rock n Roll ballad, led by piano and strings and a crooning Patti. “25th Floor” is much like the album as a whole, building and growing, getting stronger and better, later revealing some more thought-provoking spoken word from Patti… running on into “High On Rebellion”, the album’s high-point, made for the 1978 punks that didn’t want to pogo. Sell-out my ass…

The Jukebox Rebel
27-Mar-2011


TJR says:

7.22 “Really good”

4 live tracks (recorded at the 100 Club in London on 7 February 1978) and 5 in the studio make up the strange but compelling debut from ATV, the band famously co-founded by the non-musical Sniffin’ Glue fanzine editor, Mark Perry. By the time of this debut LP, co-founder Alex Fergusson was out of the band. Perry forged ahead regardless, clear in his messy vision. The ten-minute live opener is a strange one. Over a laid-back repetitive bass and drum rhythm, audience members are invited up on to the soap-box / stage to impart words of wisdom over the mic, but it generally descends into a non-cohesive rabble, with squabbling amongst the throng. A disgruntled Mark Perry takes over the mic to vent his frustration with them: “I love you people but I hate you when you act like idiots, coz that’s when they GRIND YOU DOWN” I’m not sure we needed ten minutes to get that message out, but it’s kind-of interesting as a fly-on-the-wall sort-of-way, a warts n all taste of the “scene”. Much better is the big statement of intent single “Action Time Vision” which is, shock-horror, a well-produced highly polished slice of Pop Punk. Better again is the Frank Zappa cover “Why Don’t You Do Me Right” which swings like Iggy Pop’s “Passenger”. Live tracks very rarely go down well with me on record, but “Still-Life” manages to overcome my prejudiced ways, with a wonderfully abrasive-groove which would be all the rage in ’79 for Adam & The Ants and Joy Division. Amazingly, a boogie-woogie piano is the next thing to be heard, albeit dissipating quickly to reveal the Punkish majesty of “Viva La Rock N’ Roll” which offers a big-up to New York’s New Wave whilst lamenting Jim Morrison’s demise in Paris. By the end of this captivating homage, the piano has reverted back a couple of centuries to classical roots. Expect the unexpected. Talking of which, “Nasty Little Lonely” serves as a great reminder of how well Black Sabbath used to sound, with their sludgy, riff-heavy ways. There’s more to Punk than the Cretin Hop is the moral of this story. Got to hand it to Mnsr. Perry, from DIY fanzine editor to DIY music-maker, he had some balls. Bloody good job Perry.

The Jukebox Rebel
18-Mar-2016


TJR says:

7.21 “Really good”

Lou’s eighth album of new music in seven years was the best of his solo career since the high-watermark of 1972s “Transformer”, despite the fact that 6 of the 8 tracks were live, an unwelcome second-rate trait which usually gets my back-up. Well, kind of live, given he played bits and bobs in the studio over the top. “Gimmie Some Good Times [live]” comes on all “Sweet Jane”, and is enjoyable as ironic piss-takes go. With “Dirt [live]”, musos the world over are stroking some chin… noddin’ some head… yeah man… “Bobby Fuller Four”… I dig ‘em… I dig ‘em… The almighty “Street Hassle” has got to be the best “don’t do drugs kids” campaign I’ve ever heard… “but when someone turns that blue, it’s a universal truth, and you just know that bitch’ll never fuck again…” Ooft. The self-deprecating blues rocker “I Wanna Be Black [live]” is the weakest track here, with clumsy lyrics such as “I wanna be black like Malcolm Luther Ling and get myself shot in the spring”. Moving quickly along, “Real Good Time Together” is a look back over the shoulder to the VU song. I do quite like it - even though it’s presence somewhat cheapens the album. “Shooting Star [live]” is very Bowie… or should I say very Ziggy… The crunchy “Leave Me Alone [live]” is a misanthropic letter of despair with a good incessant bassline and an empathetic sax, and the rawness of the live environment seems to work well for the track. Lou’s pop traits are to the fore on “Wait [live]”… when all is said and done, he’s got a great Rock n Roll heart and we do have a real good time together.

The Jukebox Rebel
29-Mar-2011


TJR says:

7.20 “Really good”

Incredibly, this was the 20th new music LP from the prolific producer, and the first which fully featured him on lead vocals on every track. He’s on great form at this time, eccentric to the max lyrically, with some mind-boggling effects and drops ensuring there’s never a dull moment. I presume it’s the Full Experience Girls who provide some sweet backing vocals here and there. On the excellent, “Throw Some Water In” Scratch is imparting nutritional advice about servicing one’s body: “Tune up your system”. The fact that it was probably conceived and executed in the world’s smokiest studio per-square-foot is by-the-by. “Curly Locks”, a version of the song he wrote for Junior Byles, is very nice indeed and comes with the bonkers straight-faced exclamation “your Father is a Pork Chop”. Oink! “Favourite Dish” is a mid-set monster, once again getting all healthy with it: “I’m a working man so I eat up strong”. Quite why we have samples of crying babies and moo-ing cows from start to finish is a mystery which will never be solved and I’m content to revel in the barmy. The rolling rhythm just sets this one off nice, I love it. The cows are back for the album’s mighty clip-clop clippity-clippity-clop closer, “Roast Fish and Cornbread”; the album’s final feeling is heavy dub manners as a result. “Skank it in the backyard, yeah!” Great fun. Forget Jane Fonda and Felicity Kendall, shape up and skank with Lee the Motivator!

The Jukebox Rebel
22-Jul-2007


TJR says:

7.19 “Really good”

A massive improvement on last years’ self-titled debut, “A Tonic For The Troops” found the Rats playing to their own strengths, which, as it turns out, were best served in a Glam/Punk/New-Wave hybrid, with superb playing from Johnny Fingers and crew, and some highly entertaining lyrics and showmanship from frontman, Bob Geldof. The album is graced by three superb singles, “She’s So Modern”, “Like Clockwork” and “Rat Trap”, all of which hit the UK Top 20, the latter giving them a UK Number One. Dún Laoghaire’s finest were a breath of fresh air in the Pop scene.

The Jukebox Rebel
01-Feb-2006


TJR says:

7.19 “Really good”

I keep reading stories about how these misfits couldn’t play to save themselves – a tale backed-up by themselves on their self-deprecating debut 45 “One Chord Wonders” – but all the evidence from their John Leckie-produced debut album suggests they must have been extremely quick learners, with no little talent. At the time of release in February ’78 the London-based quartet were: T.V. Smith (21, vocals); Gaye Advert (21, bass guitar, vocals); Howard Pickup (guitar, vocals) and Laurie Driver (drums). They were characterized by Tim Smith, the literate and energetic frontman, and Gaye Advert, his striking bass-playing girlfriend with big panda eyes. They had really made a good name for themselves by now, with 2 well-received Peel sessions and a few decent 45s, including the Top 20 hit, “Gary Gilmore’s Eyes”. Three of those ’77 sides – “One Chord Wonders”, “Bored Teenagers” and “Safety In Numbers” – make it onto the debut LP, along with their latest Top 40 hit, “No Time To Be 21”. All of these give the set a solid base to work from but, if truth be told, there is no filler; there’s plenty more where that lot came from, most notably with “On The Roof”, “On Wheels” and “Great British Mistake”. This is smart Punk for tasteful music fans.

The Jukebox Rebel
08-Mar-2016


TJR says:

7.03 “Really good”

Much against the prevailing punk trend, The Clash took their time with the second album – it arrived fully 18 months after the debut. Most thought it worth the wait; it was album of the year at Rolling Stone, Time and Sounds magazines and was also a big commercial success, ascending all the way to No.2 in the UK charts. “Tommy Gun” and “English Civil War” were released as the album’s singles, either side of Christmas 1978, entering the UK charts at numbers 19 and 25, respectively. It was the first LP to feature new drummer Nicky Headon, a classically trained musician nicknamed “Topper” by Paul Simonon, who felt he resembled the Topper comic book character, Mickey the Monkey. Strummer later observed, “We were lost until we found Topper Headon… finding someone who not only had the chops, but the strength and the stamina to do it was just the breakthrough for us”. During recording sessions for the album, producer Sandy Pearlman dubbed Headon as “The Human Drum Machine”, due to his impeccable timing and seemingly tireless energy. The album has a fantastic opening three, beginning with “Safe European Home”, a reflection of the anti-white hostility they had personally faced whilst in Jamaica. I KNOW. I’ve been there, felt that. This opening vitality is maintained on “English Civil War”, derived from an American Civil War song, “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” (which in turn was derived from the Irish anti-war song “Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye”.) Those on the left wing saw the rise during the mid-1970s of far right groups such as the British National Front as alarming and dangerous omens for Britain’s future. The song is about this state of politics in the country and warns against all things uniformed and sinister. The all-time classic “Tommy Gun” rants against global terrorism, and is famously set to Topper Headon’s snare drum mimicry of gunfire; it’s a work of thrilling genius. If we could stop right there the album would rate 8.63. However, from there-on the album fails to maintain bite, immediately exemplified on the faux Rock n Roll of “Julie’s Been Working for the Drug Squad”, a commentary on the infamous “Operation Julie” drug bust that saw the largest LSD production ring in the world, based in Wales, dismantled by an undercover police operation. A laugh, but it’s not what we really want from our Clash. It is a really good set, but the major classics of which they're capable are thin on the ground…

The Jukebox Rebel
13-Jun-2008


TJR says:

7.03 “Really good”

As clearly marked on the label itself, this is an album of two distinct halves, with side 1 being described as the “soul” side, and the flip being labelled the “Zulu Vocal Jive” side. The resonance with which each side hits me is almost a formality before I’ve heard a note, and so it proves to be; where the first half is fair-to-middling, the second is super-exciting. Interestingly, producer Hamilton Nzimande is credited with writing the entire “soul” side and the girls themselves – Lindiwe Mthembu, Ruth Mafuxwana, and Jane Dlamini – account for 5 of the 6 on the superior side. Best of these is the title-track which opens up the second side, Lindiwe Mthembu’s “Ujabulisa Abantu” (“Happy People”), which features some gritty, over-amped guitars, a trait which continues subtly on this tougher, and altogether better, half. Two fantastic late-album highlights are delivered with “Izindlela Ziyahlangana” (“Encounter”) which finds the girls sharing the vocals with a couple of males, a groaner and a singer, one of whom may well be the credited songwriter, Mabhawodi Ndlovu. Even better is Ruth Mafuxwana’s “Ekhaya Kulezontaba”, a call and response stomper which seems to be pining nostalgically for mountain homelands. If I haven’t got that right, well, no matter, the infectious jive is all you really need… (note: you can download this out-of-print LP for free from the ever-wonderful Electric Jive.)

The Jukebox Rebel
11-Oct-2014


TJR says:

7.01 “Really good”

The album blasts in with a killer version of The Nerves’ 1976 single, “Hanging On The Telephone”, and Blondie boss the tune. The ubiquitous “One Way Or Another” follows, and the group continue to show they can sometimes deliver the goods outside of the 45s. The mighty “Picture This” is next, and leaves absolutely no doubt in regards to the special powers of this band; for the third album in-a-row we’ve had tracks of the “all-time classic” variety. Amazingly, they proceed to bomb with “Fade Away And Radiate” (actually the b-side to “Picture This”) – I find it bizarre and disturbing that Blondie can suddenly attempt to reinvent themselves as the New York Pink Floyd; an epic fail. Why is it albums often have the very best tracks followed by the very worst? This leaves me reeling, trust having been lost. Neither “Pretty Baby” nor “I Know But I Don’t Know” do much to restore faith, but “11:59” perks me right back up with its soar-away feel-good pop brilliance; all the fun of the fair with none of the schmaltz. All of my earlier doubts are then cast aside completely with the sheer excellence of “Sunday Girl” and “Heart Of Glass”. A fun-packed cover of “I’m Gonna Love You Too” (Buddy Holly, 1958) seals the deal on this zippy affair. They walk a thin-line sometimes, but they always end up on the right side of the fence for me; they're never too far away from a Clem-tastic snap of stick-twirling cool.

The Jukebox Rebel
25-Jan-2006


TJR says:

7.01 “Really good”

Serving bona-fide modernity as opposed to Kraftwerk's unrealistic variant, this peculiar quintet from Cleveland were just as likely to appeal to disillusioned prog-rockers as eclectic punks, and were the epitome of New Wave experimentation. They were to American left-field rock what Lee Perry was to Jamaican reggae; historically aware but very much forging ahead with a weird and wonderful sense of adventure, with loops, samples and effects sprinkled atop rhythms which could be rock-solid or loose-caboose, as the mood of the piece demanded. At the time of release in January ’78 they were: David Thomas (24, vocals, musette, percussion); Tom Herman (28, guitar, backing vocals); Allen Ravenstine (27, synths, saxophone, tapes); Tony Maimone (25, bass, piano, backing vocals) and Scott Krauss (27, drums). Original bassist Tim Wright played on a couple of tracks, but he was a goner already. Like all good bands, Pere Ubu are instantly recognisable from the off, almost entirely due to the strange vocalisations of lead singer and chief visionary, David Thomas, who treats words like elastic-bands and trembles, yelps and barks his way into your psyche over the course of the 36 minutes, with a nervous energy that’s highly infectious. Whilst there’s hardly a weak moment on this LP, the best from side 1 is the closer “Chinese Radiation”, which seems to find our man scarily addressing a thronged mass at Tiananmen Square: “We will purify, we must purify, for the sake of that security we all want, we will purify. He'll be the red guard, she'll be the new world, he'll wear his grey cap, she'll wave her red book.” My favourite track appears at the start of side 2, “Life Stinks”, the only song on the LP not to have been written by any of the current group. How fabulous that the spotlight shines on Peter Laughner here on Pere Ubu’s debut album. He was a Cleveland, Ohio singer, songwriter, guitarist, and occasional journalist best known for being in the “classic” late period line-up of Rocket from the Tombs and also for co-founding Pere Ubu after Rocket’s split. Born 22nd August 1952, he died on 22nd June 1977, aged just 24, of acute pancreatitis. They’ve done him proud here, ripping into his song with mucho gusto. Continuing this great run, “Real World” is absolutely the sound of now, the new no-wave, unconsciously elitist superior-than-thou music. I sense disdain. For whom, or what, I’m not quite so sure, but it’s there in bucket-loads. This album is super-smart from start to finish, a memorable debut.

The Jukebox Rebel
14-Nov-2014

chart first published 28 Sep 2016; last edited 14 Oct 2016

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