AllMusic Review: The Jam regrouped and refocused for All Mod Cons, an album that marked a great leap in songwriting maturity and sense of purpose. For the first time, Paul Weller built, rather than fell back, upon his influences, carving a distinct voice all his own; he employed a story-style narrative with invented characters and vivid British imagery à la Ray Davies to make incisive social commentary — all in a musically irresistible package. The youthful perspective and impassioned delivery on All Mod Cons first earned Weller the “voice of a generation” tag, and it certainly captures a moment in time, but really, the feelings and sentiments expressed on the album just as easily speak to any future generation of young people. Terms like “classic” are often bandied about, but in the case of All Mod Cons, it is certainly deserved. — Chris Woodstra
All songs written by Paul Weller except as noted.
“All Mod Cons” – 1:20
“To Be Someone (Didn’t We Have a Nice Time)” – 2:32
“Mr. Clean”* – 3:29
“David Watts” (Ray Davies) – 2:56
“English Rose”** – 2:51
“In the Crowd” – 5:40
“Billy Hunt” – 3:01 (UK and 1st US pressings)/”The Butterfly Collector” – 3:11 (US reissues)
AllMusic Review: The Cars’ 1978 self-titled debut, issued on the Elektra label, is a genuine rock masterpiece. The band jokingly referred to the album as their “true greatest-hits album,” but it’s no exaggeration — all nine tracks are new wave/rock classics, still in rotation on rock radio. Whereas most bands of the late ’70s embraced either punk/new wave or hard rock, the Cars were one of the first bands to do the unthinkable — merge the two styles together. Add to it bandleader/songwriter Ric Ocasek’s supreme pop sensibilities, and you had an album that appealed to new wavers, rockers, and Top 40 fans. One of the most popular new wave songs ever, “Just What I Needed,” is an obvious highlight, as are such familiar hits as “Good Times Roll,” “My Best Friend’s Girl,” and “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight.” But like most consummate rock albums, the lesser-known compositions are just as exhilarating: “Don’t Cha Stop,” “Bye Bye Love,” “All Mixed Up,” and “Moving in Stereo,” the latter featured as an instrumental during a steamy scene in the popular movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High. With flawless performances, songwriting, and production (courtesy of Queen alumni Roy Thomas Baker), the Cars’ debut remains one of rock’s all-time classics. — Greg Prato
AllMusic Review: A devastating debut, one of the finest albums not only of the punk era, but of the 1970s as a whole, Crossing the Red Sea With the Adverts was the summation of a year’s worth of gigging, honing a repertoire that — jagged, jarring, and frequently underplayed though it was — nevertheless bristled with hits, both commercial and cultural. “No Time to Be 21,” “One Chord Wonders,” and “Bored Teenagers” were already established among the most potent rallying cries of the entire new wave, catch phrases for a generation that had no time for anthems; “Bombsite Boy,” “Safety in Numbers,” and “Great British Mistake” offered salvation to the movement’s disaffected hordes; and the whole thing was cut with such numbingly widescreen energy that, even with the volume down, it still shakes the foundations. The band’s original vision saw a rerecording of “Gary Gilmore’s Eyes,” a Top 20 hit during summer 1977, included on the album — it was dropped (for space considerations) at the last minute. Several early ’80s reissues of the album attempted to rectify the omission by appending the single version to side two of the LP, but it was 1983 before the rerecording itself made it out, as a minor U.K. hit single, and 1998 before Smith himself was finally able to restore Red Sea to its original glory, with “Gary Gilmore’s Eyes” slotted in immediately before “Bombsite Boy,” and another absentee, “New Day Dawning,” following “Safety in Numbers.” — Dave Thompson
AllMusic Review: Marquee Moon is a revolutionary album, but it’s a subtle, understated revolution. Without question, it is a guitar rock album — it’s astonishing to hear the interplay between Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd — but it is a guitar rock album unlike any other. Where their predecessors in the New York punk scene, most notably the Velvet Underground, had fused blues structures with avant-garde flourishes, Television completely strip away any sense of swing or groove, even when they are playing standard three-chord changes. Marquee Moon is comprised entirely of tense garage rockers that spiral into heady intellectual territory, which is achieved through the group’s long, interweaving instrumental sections, not through Verlaine’s words. That alone made Marquee Moon a trailblazing album — it’s impossible to imagine post-punk soundscapes without it. Of course, it wouldn’t have had such an impact if Verlaine hadn’t written an excellent set of songs that conveyed a fractured urban mythology unlike any of his contemporaries. From the nervy opener, “See No Evil,” to the majestic title track, there is simply not a bad song on the entire record. And what has kept Marquee Moon fresh over the years is how Television flesh out Verlaine’s poetry into sweeping sonic epics. — Stephen Thomas Erlewine
AllMusic Review: The title of Talking Heads’ second album, More Songs About Buildings and Food, slyly addressed the sophomore record syndrome, in which songs not used on a first LP are mixed with hastily written new material. If the band’s sound seems more conventional, the reason simply may be that one had encountered the odd song structures, staccato rhythms, strained vocals, and impressionistic lyrics once before. Another was that new co-producer Brian Eno brought a musical unity that tied the album together, especially in terms of the rhythm section, the sequencing, the pacing, and the mixing. Where Talking Heads had largely been about David Byrne’s voice and words, Eno moved the emphasis to the bass-and-drums team of Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz; all the songs were danceable, and there were only short breaks between them. Byrne held his own, however, and he continued to explore the eccentric, if not demented persona first heard on 77, whether he was adding to his observations on boys and girls or turning his “Psycho Killer” into an artist in “Artists Only.” Through the first nine tracks, More Songs was the successor to 77, which would not have earned it landmark status or made it the commercial breakthrough it became. It was the last two songs that pushed the album over those hurdles. First there was an inspired cover of Al Green’s “Take Me to the River”; released as a single, it made the Top 40 and pushed the album to gold-record status. Second was the album closer, “The Big Country,” Byrne’s country-tinged reflection on flying over middle America; it crystallized his artist-vs.-ordinary people perspective in unusually direct and dismissive terms, turning the old Chuck Berry patriotic travelogue theme of rock & roll on its head and employing a great hook in the process. — William Ruhlmann
All tracks are written by David Byrne, except where noted.
AllMusic Review: After building up an intense live reputation and a rabid fan base, Siouxsie and the Banshees almost had to debut with a stunner — which they did, “Hong Kong Garden” taking care of things on the singles front and The Scream on the full-length. Matched with a downright creepy cover and a fair enough early producing effort from Steve Lillywhite — well before he found gated drum sounds — it’s a fine balance of the early band’s talents. Siouxsie Sioux herself shows the distinct, commanding voice and lyrical meditations on fractured lives and situations that would win her well-deserved attention over the years. Compared to the unfocused general subject matter of most of the band’s peers, songs like “Jigsaw Feeling,” “Suburban Relapse,” and especially the barbed contempt of “Mirage” are perfect miniature portraits. John McKay’s metallic (but not metal) guitar parts, riffs that never quite resolve into conventional melodies, and the throbbing Steven Severin/Kenny Morris rhythm section distill the Velvet Underground’s early propulsion into a crisper punch with more than a hint of glam’s tribal rumble. The sheer variety on the album alone is impressive — “Overground” and its slow-rising build, carefully emphasizing space in between McKay’s notes as much as the notes themselves, the death-march Teutonic stomp of “Metal Postcard,” the sudden near-sunniness of the music (down to the handclaps!) toward the end of “Carcass.” The cover of “Helter Skelter” makes for an unexpected nod to the past — if it’s not as completely overdriven as the original, Siouxsie puts her own definite stamp on it and its sudden conclusion is a great moment of drama. It’s the concluding “Switch” that fully demonstrates just how solid the band was then, with McKay’s saxophone adding just enough of a droning wild card to the multi-part theatricality of the piece, Siouxsie in particularly fine voice on top of it all. — Ned Raggett
Siouxsie Sioux, Steven Severin, John McKay, Kenny Morris
AllMusic Review: Like it or not, Public Image Limited’s First Issue (aka Public Image) was an album that helped set the pace for what eventually became known as post-punk. In England a vacuum had opened up in the wake of the breakup of the Sex Pistols in January 1978, and many punk fans and rival groups were impatient to see what ex-Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon aka “Johnny Rotten” was going to roll out next. Disheartened owing to events in his legal proceedings against the Sex Pistols management company Glitterbest, and disgusted by the punk scene in general, Lydon was determined to create something that was neither punk nor even really rock as it was known in 1978. Working with ex-Clash guitarist Keith Levene, first-time bassist Jah Wobble, and Canadian drummer Jim Walker, Public Image Limited produced an album that represented the punk sound after it had shot itself in the head and became another entity entirely. Embracing elements of dub, progressive rock, noise, and atonality and driven by Lydon’s lyrical egoism and predilection towards doom, death, and horror, First Issue was among a select few 1978 albums that had something lasting to say about the future of rock music. And not everyone in 1978 wanted to hear it; contemporary critical notices for First Issue were almost uniformly negative in the extreme. Not all of the material on First Issue was necessarily forward-looking: “Attack” and “Low Life” could almost pass muster as latter-day Sex Pistols songs if it weren’t for their substandard production values. These two numbers were recorded late in the project, and on the cheap, as the fledgling Public Image Limited had already been kicked out of practically every reputable studio in London. And there was a bracing song about Lydon’s pet peeve, “Religion,” presented in both spoken and sung incarnations. It is about as vicious and personal an anti-Catholic diatribe as exists on record, and in its day was considered a high holy turnoff by many listeners. But from there it gets better — Public Image Limited’s debut single, “Public Image,” was also included on First Issue, and Keith Levene’s guitar part, with its tasty suspensions and held-over-the-bar syncopation, was an important departure from standard punk guitar language absorbed so quickly by others (the Pretenders, U2, the Smiths) that listeners and musicians alike forgot the source of the sound. First Issue’s opener, “Theme,” was a force to be reckoned with, a grindingly slow dirge with wild, almost Hendrix-like figurations on the guitar and Wobble’s floor-splitting foundation. This was punk with the power of Led Zeppelin, but none of the pretension. Lydon’s anguished mantra in “Theme,” “…and I just wanna die,” was the exact reflection of what his generation was thinking about in the wake of the collapse of classic punk. “Annalisa” is the hardest-kicking rocker on the album, with nosebleed-strength guitar from Levene; it is so good that Nirvana in all practical purposes purloined the whole number, with minor alterations, as “Radio Friendly Unit Shifter” on In Utero.
But even with all of the calculated controversy seemingly built into the various cuts on First Issue, none attracted quite so much attention as “Fodderstompf.” Faced with a serious shortage of material to fill out the album and with its release date looming, Public Image Limited decided to conclude the project with a track 12:55 in length, consisting of no more than a disco beat, chattering synthesizers, a bassline, and Jah Wobble singing, shouting, and screaming the phrase “we only wanted to be loved” in a joke voice. Rock critics savaged the song as a deliberate attempt to rip off the public, but it became hugely popular at the Studio 54 disco in New York; the drag queens and hipsters sang and screamed right along with Wobble out loud on the dancefloor — nothing like that had ever happened at Studio 54. As it is perhaps the earliest extended dance mix that has little to do with disco or dub, it is apparent that “Fodderstompf” is an obvious precursor to the acid house and techno that began to evolve in the mid-’80s, although it is seldom accredited that distinction.
After it was released in December 8, 1978, First Issue peaked at number 22 on the British album charts, and import copies were snapped up in America practically as soon as they were loaded off the boat. But Warner Bros., the American label to which Public Image Limited were signed, was unhappy with the album, particularly in that the label felt the bass was mixed too loudly — no one had ever recorded the bass so hot on a regular LP before. Public Image Limited protested, but Warner Bros. stood fast and the band ultimately relented; in the early weeks of January 1979 the whole of First Issue was re-recorded for the American market. But the only portion of this project ever to surface appeared on the backside of the U.K. 12″ single of “Death Disco” in July 1979, a mix of “Fodderstompf” minus the vocals, retitled “Megga Mix.” Warner Bros. never released the remade album, and the remainder of it has since disappeared. By early 1980 Trouser Press was joking that the American issue of First Issue was the “longest rush release in recorded music history,” but clearly long before First Issue was a “dead” issue with Warner Bros. Right after the remake session concluded, drummer Jim Walker surprised Public Image Limited by departing with no notice to join the interesting but now forgotten English group the Pack. In came ex-101’ers drummer Richard Dudanski, and by their next album, Metal Box, Public Image Limited had already worked out an entirely different sound and approach. —Dave Lewis
Schill Score: 1/10
Schill Comment: Look, I like PIL, their stuff in the 80s was great. And as a band that is still around to this day 43 years later they obviously have something going for them. But this album is complete garbage. Ambient noise with random talking. There’s not a single song on this album anyone would every want to listen to twice. It’s the definition of crap.
AllMusic Review Though Pere Ubu’s tenure on Mercury lasted one record, their departure for their unlikely home of Chrysalis (at the time the label of Jethro Tull) resulted in Dub Housing, widely considered their masterpiece. Darker and more difficult than The Modern Dance (indicated by the cover’s darkened apartment complex and stormy Cleveland skyline) with plenty of bleak soundscapes (e.g., “Codex”), Dub Housing also includes “Navvy”‘s bouncy burble (featuring Thomas yelping “I have desires!”), and “(Pa) Ubu Dance Party”‘s surreal big beat. Make no mistake, as much as Ubu indulged in arty dissonance and mucked about with song structure, this is very much a rock & roll record, albeit one made by a band interested in pushing the envelope when it came to sound, song construction, and performance. As much as this is a band effort, the guitar of Tom Herman and the synthesizer of Allen Ravenstine frequently stand out. Herman’s strong, polished playing veers from assertive riffing to assaultive noise; Ravenstine, who may be one of the all-time great synth players, colors the sound with ominous whooshes of distortions, blips, and blurbs that sound like a sped-up Pong game. But, as is often the case with Ubu, it’s David Thomas’ singing (here at its most engagingly unrestrained) that is front and center. Part comic foil, part raging madman, Thomas utilizes all of his limited range in a whacked expressiveness built around hiccups, yodels, screeches, and, sometimes, singing. Dub Housing sold next to nothing and signaled the beginning of the end of Ubu’s relationship with Chrysalis, but it remains an important and influential American rock record. — John Dougan
AllMusic Review: After a string of mediocre albums throughout most of the 1970s, Muddy Waters hooked up with Johnny Winter for 1977’s Hard Again, a startling comeback and a gritty demonstration of the master’s powers. Fronting a band that includes such luminaries as James Cotton and “Pine Top” Perkins, Waters is not only at the top of his game, but is having the time of his life while he’s at it. The bits of studio chatter that close “Mannish Boy” and open “Bus Driver” show him to be relaxed and obviously excited about the proceedings. Part of this has to be because the record sounds so good. Winter has gone for an extremely bare production style, clearly aiming to capture Waters in conversation with a band in what sounds like a single studio room. This means that sometimes the songs threaten to explode in chaos as two or three musicians begin soloing simultaneously. Such messiness is actually perfect in keeping with the raw nature of this music; you simply couldn’t have it any other way. There is something so incredibly gratifying about hearing Waters shout out for different soloists, about the band missing hits or messing with the tempos. Hey this isn’t pop music, it’s the blues, and a little dirt never hurt anybody. The unsung star of this session is drummer Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, whose deep grooves make this record come alive. The five-minute, one-chord “Mannish Boy” wouldn’t be nearly as compelling as it is if it weren’t for Smith’s colossal pocket. Great blues from one of the dominant voices of the genre. — Daniel Gioffre
All tracks are composed by Muddy Waters (listed as McKinley Morganfield), except where noted.
Morganfield, Ellas McDaniel, Mel London
Morganfield, Terry Abrahamson
“I Want to Be Loved”
“Jealous Hearted Man”
“I Can’t Be Satisfied”
“The Blues Had a Baby and They Named It Rock and Roll, Pt. 2”
AllMusic Review: There is no other album like Bat Out of Hell, unless you want to count the sequel. This is Grand Guignol pop — epic, gothic, operatic, and silly, and it’s appealing because of all of this. Jim Steinman was a composer without peer, simply because nobody else wanted to make mini-epics like this. And there never could have been a singer more suited for his compositions than Meat Loaf, a singer partial to bombast, albeit shaded bombast. The compositions are staggeringly ridiculous, yet Meat Loaf finds the emotional core in each song, bringing true heartbreak to “Two out of Three Ain’t Bad” and sly humor to “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.” There’s no discounting the production of Todd Rundgren, either, who gives Steinman’s self-styled grandiosity a production that’s staggeringly big but never overwhelming and always alluring. While the sentiments are deliberately adolescent and filled with jokes and exaggerated clichés, there’s real (albeit silly) wit behind these compositions, not just in the lyrics but in the music, which is a savvy blend of oldies pastiche, show tunes, prog rock, Springsteen-esque narratives, and blistering hard rock (thereby sounding a bit like an extension of Rocky Horror Picture Show, which brought Meat Loaf to the national stage). It may be easy to dismiss this as ridiculous, but there’s real style and craft here and its kitsch is intentional. It may elevate adolescent passion to operatic dimensions, and that’s certainly silly, but it’s hard not to marvel at the skill behind this grandly silly, irresistible album. — Stephen Thomas Erlewine
“Bat Out of Hell”
“You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)”