Iggy Pop – The Idiot (1977)

AllMusic Review: In 1976, the Stooges had been gone for two years, and Iggy Pop had developed a notorious reputation as one of rock & roll’s most spectacular waste cases. After a self-imposed stay in a mental hospital, a significantly more functional Iggy was desperate to prove he could hold down a career in music, and he was given another chance by his longtime ally, David Bowie. Bowie co-wrote a batch of new songs with Iggy, put together a band, and produced The Idiot, which took Iggy in a new direction decidedly different from the guitar-fueled proto-punk of the Stooges. Musically, The Idiot is of a piece with the impressionistic music of Bowie’s “Berlin Period” (such as Heroes and Low), with it’s fragmented guitar figures, ominous basslines, and discordant, high-relief keyboard parts. Iggy’s new music was cerebral and inward-looking, where his early work had been a glorious call to the id, and Iggy was in more subdued form than with the Stooges, with his voice sinking into a world-weary baritone that was a decided contrast to the harsh, defiant cry heard on “Search and Destroy.” Iggy was exploring new territory as a lyricist, and his songs on The Idiot are self-referential and poetic in a way that his work had rarely been in the past; for the most part the results are impressive, especially “Dum Dum Boys,” a paean to the glory days of his former band, and “Nightclubbing,” a call to the joys of decadence. The Idiot introduced the world to a very different Iggy Pop, and if the results surprised anyone expecting a replay of the assault of Raw Power, it also made it clear that Iggy was older, wiser, and still had plenty to say; it’s a flawed but powerful and emotionally absorbing work. — Mark Deming

Track Listing

Side one
  1. “Sister Midnight” – 4:19
  2. “Nightclubbing” – 4:14
  3. “Funtime” – 2:54
  4. “Baby” – 3:24
  5. “China Girl” – 5:08
Side two
  1. “Dum Dum Boys” – 7:12
  2. “Tiny Girls” – 2:59
  3. “Mass Production” – 8:24

 

Schill Score:  6/10

 

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Iggy Pop – Lust For Life (1977)

AllMusic Review: On The Idiot, Iggy Pop looked deep inside himself, trying to figure out how his life and his art had gone wrong in the past. But on Lust for Life, released less than a year later, Iggy decided it was time to kick up his heels, as he traded in the midtempo introspection of his first album and began rocking hard again. Musically, Lust for Life is a more aggressive set than The Idiot, largely thanks to drummer Hunt Sales and his bassist brother Tony Sales. The Sales proved they were a world-class rhythm section, laying out power and spirit on the rollicking title cut, the tough groove of “Tonight,” and the lean neo-punk assault of “Neighborhood Threat,” and with guitarists Ricky Gardiner and Carlos Alomar at their side, they made for a tough, wiry rock & roll band — a far cry from the primal stomp of the Stooges, but capable of kicking Iggy back into high gear. (David Bowie played piano and produced, as he had on The Idiot, but his presence is less clearly felt on this album.) As a lyricist and vocalist, Iggy Pop rose to the challenge of the material; if he was still obsessed with drugs (“Tonight”), decadence (“The Passenger”), and bad decisions (“Some Weird Sin”), the title cut suggested he could avoid a few of the temptations that crossed his path, and songs like “Success” displayed a cocky joy that confirmed Iggy was back at full strength. On Lust for Life, Iggy Pop managed to channel the aggressive power of his work with the Stooges with the intelligence and perception of The Idiot, and the result was the best of both worlds; smart, funny, edgy, and hard-rocking, Lust for Life is the best album of Iggy Pop’s solo career. — Mark Deming

Track Listing

Side one
No. Title Music composer(s) Length
1. “Lust for Life” David Bowie 5:13
2. “Sixteen” Pop 2:26
3. “Some Weird Sin” Bowie 3:42
4. “The Passenger” Ricky Gardiner 4:44
5. “Tonight” Bowie 3:39
Side two
No. Title Music composer(s) Length
6. “Success” Bowie, Gardiner 4:25
7. “Turn Blue” Bowie, Warren Peace 6:56
8. “Neighborhood Threat” Bowie, Gardiner 3:25
9. “Fall in Love with Me” Bowie, Hunt Sales, Tony Sales 6:30

 

Schill Score: 6.75/10

 

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Ian Dury – New Boots And Panties! (1977)

AllMusic Review: Ian Dury’s primary appeal lies in his lyrics, which are remarkably clever sketches of British life delivered with a wry wit. Since Dury’s accent is thick and his language dense with local slang, much of these pleasures aren’t discernible to casual listeners, leaving the music to stand on its own merits. On his debut album, New Boots and Panties!!, Dury’s music is at its best, and even that is a bizarrely uneven fusion of pub rock, punk rock, and disco. Still, Dury’s off-kilter charm and irrepressible energy make the album gel, with the disco pulse of “Wake Up and Make Love with Me” making perfect sense next to the gentle tribute “Sweet Gene Vincent,” the roaring punk of “Blockheads,” and the revamped music hall of “Billericay Dickie” and “My Old Man.” [Repertoire’s 1996 CD reissue adds five essential singles — “Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll,” “Razzle in My Pocket,” “You’re More Than Fair,” “England’s Glory,” “What a Waste” — that nearly make the disc a Dury best-of.] — Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Track Listing

Side one
  1. “Wake Up and Make Love with Me” – 4:23
  2. “Sweet Gene Vincent” – 3:33
  3. “I’m Partial to Your Abracadabra” – 3:13
  4. “My Old Man” (Dury, Steve Nugent) – 3:40
  5. “Billericay Dickie” (Dury, Nugent) – 4:17
Side two
  1. “Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll” – 3:04
  2. “Clevor Trever” – 4:53
  3. “If I Was with a Woman” – 3:24
  4. “Blockheads” – 3:30
  5. “Plaistow Patricia” (Dury, Nugent) – 4:13
  6. “Blackmail Man” (Dury, Nugent) – 2:14

 

Schill Score: 9.75/10

 

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Fleetwood Mac – Rumours (1977)

AllMusic Review: Rumours is the kind of album that transcends its origins and reputation, entering the realm of legend — it’s an album that simply exists outside of criticism and outside of its time, even if it thoroughly captures its era. Prior to this LP, Fleetwood Mac were moderately successful, but here they turned into a full-fledged phenomenon, with Rumours becoming the biggest-selling pop album to date. While its chart success was historic, much of the legend surrounding the record is born from the group’s internal turmoil. Unlike most bands, Fleetwood Mac in the mid-’70s were professionally and romantically intertwined, with no less than two couples in the band, but as their professional career took off, the personal side unraveled. Bassist John McVie and his keyboardist/singer wife Christine McVie filed for divorce as guitarist/vocalist Lindsey Buckingham and vocalist Stevie Nicks split, with Stevie running to drummer Mick Fleetwood, unbeknown to the rest of the band. These personal tensions fueled nearly every song on Rumours, which makes listening to the album a nearly voyeuristic experience. You’re eavesdropping on the bandmates singing painful truths about each other, spreading nasty lies and rumors and wallowing in their grief, all in the presence of the person who caused the heartache. Everybody loves gawking at a good public breakup, but if that was all that it took to sell a record, Richard and Linda Thompson’s Shoot Out the Lights would be multi-platinum. No, what made Rumours an unparalleled blockbuster is the quality of the music. Once again masterminded by producer/songwriter/guitarist Buckingham, Rumours is an exceptionally musical piece of work — he toughens Christine McVie and softens Nicks, adding weird turns to accessibly melodic works, which gives the universal themes of the songs haunting resonance. It also cloaks the raw emotion of the lyrics in deceptively palatable arrangements that made a tune as wrecked and tortured as “Go Your Own Way” an anthemic hit. But that’s what makes Rumours such an enduring achievement — it turns private pain into something universal. Some of these songs may be too familiar, whether through their repeated exposure on FM radio or their use in presidential campaigns, but in the context of the album, each tune, each phrase regains its raw, immediate emotional power — which is why Rumours touched a nerve upon its 1977 release, and has since transcended its era to be one of the greatest, most compelling pop albums of all time. — Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Track Listing:

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Lead vocals Length
1. “Second Hand News” Lindsey Buckingham Buckingham 2:56
2. “Dreams” Stevie Nicks Nicks 4:18
3. “Never Going Back Again” Buckingham Buckingham 2:14
4. “Don’t Stop” Christine McVie C. McVie with Buckingham 3:13
5. “Go Your Own Way” Buckingham Buckingham 3:43
6. “Songbird” C. McVie C. McVie 3:20
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Lead vocals Length
1. “The Chain”
  • Buckingham
  • Mick Fleetwood
  • C. McVie
  • John McVie
  • Nicks
Buckingham with C. McVie and Nicks 4:30
2. “You Make Loving Fun” C. McVie C. McVie 3:31
3. “I Don’t Want to Know” Nicks Nicks with Buckingham 3:15
4. “Oh Daddy” C. McVie C. McVie 3:56
5. “Gold Dust Woman” Nicks Nicks 4:56

 

Schill Score: 9.25/10

 

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Elvis Costello – My Aim Is True (1977)

AllMusic Review: Elvis Costello was as much a pub rocker as he was a punk rocker and nowhere is that more evident than on his debut, My Aim Is True. It’s not just that Clover, a San Franciscan rock outfit led by Huey Lewis (absent here), back him here, not the Attractions; it’s that his sensibility is borrowed from the pile-driving rock & roll and folksy introspection of pub rockers like Brinsley Schwarz, adding touches of cult singer/songwriters like Randy Newman and David Ackles. Then, there’s the infusion of pure nastiness and cynical humor, which is pure Costello. That blend of classicist sensibilities and cleverness make this collection of shiny roots rock a punk record — it informs his nervy performances and his prickly songs. Of all classic punk debuts, this remains perhaps the most idiosyncratic because it’s not cathartic in sound, only in spirit. Which, of course, meant that it could play to a broader audience, and Linda Ronstadt did indeed cover the standout ballad “Alison.” Still, there’s no mistaking this for anything other than a punk record, and it’s a terrific one at that, since even if he buries his singer/songwriter inclinations, they shine through as brightly as his cheerfully mean humor and immense musical skill; he sounds as comfortable with a ’50s knockoff like “No Dancing” as he does on the reggae-inflected “Less Than Zero.” Costello went on to more ambitious territory fairly quickly, but My Aim Is True is a phenomenal debut, capturing a songwriter and musician whose words were as rich and clever as his music. — Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Track Listing

Side one
No. Title Length
1. “Welcome to the Working Week” 1:22
2. “Miracle Man” 3:31
3. “No Dancing” 2:39
4. “Blame it on Cain” 2:49
5. “Alison” 2:54
6. “Sneaky Feelings” 2:09
Side two
No. Title Length
1. “(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes” 2:47
2. “Less Than Zero” 3:15
3. “Mystery Dance” 1:38
4. “Pay it Back” 2:33
5. “I’m Not Angry” 2:57
6. “Waiting for the End of the World” 3:22

 

Schill Score:  8.75/10

 

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Electric Light Orchestra – Out Of The Blue (1977)

AllMusic Review: The last ELO album to make a major impact on popular music, Out of the Blue was of a piece with its predecessor, A New World Record, as the most lavishly produced album in the group’s history, but it’s a much more mixed bag as an album, suffering from overkill in several departments. For starters, it was a double LP, a format that has proved daunting to all but a handful of rock artists. The songs were flowing fast and freely from Jeff Lynne at the time, however, and the idea of a double LP was probably tempting as a chance to release an album that was irrefutably substantial. And well more than half is very solid, at least as songs, if not necessarily as recordings. “Sweet Talkin’ Woman” (which is a worthy successor to the previous album’s “Livin’ Thing”) and “Turn to Stone,” are among the best songs in the group’s output. And much of the rest is very entertaining — “Across the Border” sounds like what would result if the Beatles’ “Paperback Writer” and the Beach Boys’ Heroes and Villains” had somehow produced an offspring, with some synthesizer digressions and phased drumming typical of mid- to late-’70’s progressive rock. Those digressions and the heavy sound of the orchestra, as well as the layer upon layer of vocal overdubs, however, also often seem out of place. “Night in the City” would be a solid enough rock number without the extensive orchestral overdubbing or the synthesizer effects being as invasive as they are; “Jungle,” which might have been a decent little rocking number, just seems pretentious here with its thickly layered vocals, and “Believe Me Now” scarcely benefits from its synthesizer voice. All in all, the group was trying too hard to generate a substantial sounding double LP, complete with a suite, “Concerto for a Rainy Day.” The latter is the nadir of the album, an effort at conceptual rock that seemed archaic even in 1977, and which is more a vehicle for Jeff Lynne the producer than Jeff Lynne the musician, with the band practically disappearing under the orchestra and overdubs on songs like “Summer and Lightning.” The “suite” would be unsalvageable except for the catchy “Mr. Blue Sky,” which sounds like a weird musical genetic amalgam of various Paul McCartney songs from “All Together Now” through “Another Day” — and even it gets too pretentious in its final minute. Another chunk is filled up with what might best be called art rock mood music (“The Whale”), before we finally get to the relief of a basic rocker like “Birmingham Blues,” which borrows a melodic orchestral phrase from George Gershwin’s An American in Paris, but is still the best piece of straight rock & roll on the album. Even here, the group couldn’t leave well enough alone — rather than ending it on that note, they had to finish the album with “Wild West Hero,” a piece of ersatz movie music that adds nothing to what we’ve heard over the previous 65 minutes. In its defense, Out of the Blue was massively popular and did become the centerpiece of a huge worldwide tour for the group which earned them status as a major live attraction for a time. — Bruce Eder

Track Listing

Side one
No. Title Length
1. “Turn to Stone” 3:47
2. “It’s Over” 4:08
3. “Sweet Talkin’ Woman” 3:47
4. “Across the Border” 3:52
Total length: 15:34
Side two
No. Title Length
5. “Night in the City” 4:02
6. “Starlight” 4:30
7. “Jungle” 3:51
8. “Believe Me Now” (instrumental) 1:21
9. “Steppin’ Out” 4:38
Total length: 18:22
Side three (Concerto for a Rainy Day)
No. Title Length
1. “Standin’ in the Rain” 4:20
2. “Big Wheels” 5:10
3. “Summer and Lightning” 4:13
4. “Mr. Blue Sky” 5:05
Total length: 18:48
Side four
No. Title Length
5. “Sweet Is the Night” 3:26
6. “The Whale” (instrumental) 5:05
7. “Birmingham Blues” 4:21
8. “Wild West Hero” 4:40
Total length: 17:32

 

Schill Score:  8.5/10

 

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David Bowie – Low (1977)

AllMusic Review: Following through with the avant-garde inclinations of Station to Station, yet explicitly breaking with David Bowie’s past, Low is a dense, challenging album that confirmed his place at rock’s cutting edge. Driven by dissonant synthesizers and electronics, Low is divided between brief, angular songs and atmospheric instrumentals. Throughout the record’s first half, the guitars are jagged and the synthesizers drone with a menacing robotic pulse, while Bowie’s vocals are unnaturally layered and overdubbed. During the instrumental half, the electronics turn cool, which is a relief after the intensity of the preceding avant pop. Half the credit for Low’s success goes to Brian Eno, who explored similar ambient territory on his own releases. Eno functioned as a conduit for Bowie’s ideas, and in turn Bowie made the experimentalism of not only Eno but of the German synth group Kraftwerk and the post-punk group Wire respectable, if not quite mainstream. Though a handful of the vocal pieces on Low are accessible — “Sound and Vision” has a shimmering guitar hook, and “Be My Wife” subverts soul structure in a surprisingly catchy fashion — the record is defiantly experimental and dense with detail, providing a new direction for the avant-garde in rock & roll. — Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Track Listing

All lyrics are written by David Bowie; all music is composed by Bowie, except where noted.

Side one
No. Title Music Length
1. “Speed of Life” 2:46
2. “Breaking Glass” Bowie, Dennis Davis, George Murray 1:51
3. “What in the World” 2:23
4. “Sound and Vision” 3:03
5. “Always Crashing in the Same Car” 3:29
6. “Be My Wife” 2:55
7. “A New Career in a New Town” 2:51
Total length: 19:18
Side two
No. Title Music Length
1. “Warszawa” Bowie, Brian Eno 6:20
2. “Art Decade” 3:43
3. “Weeping Wall” 3:26
4. “Subterraneans” 5:39
Total length: 19:08

Schill Score:  2/10

Schill Comment:  There’s too much of a Brian Eno influence going on here. The albums is mostly just synth noise garbage

 

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David Bowie – Heroes (1977)

AllMusic Review: Repeating the formula of Low’s half-vocal/half-instrumental structure, Heroes develops and strengthens the sonic innovations David Bowie and Brian Eno explored on their first collaboration. The vocal songs are fuller, boasting harder rhythms and deeper layers of sound. Much of the harder-edged sound of Heroes is due to Robert Fripp’s guitar, which provides a muscular foundation for the electronics, especially on the relatively conventional rock songs. Similarly, the instrumentals on Heroes are more detailed, this time showing a more explicit debt to German synth pop and European experimental rock. Essentially, the difference between Low and Heroes lies in the details, but the record is equally challenging and groundbreaking. — Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Track Listing

All tracks are written by David Bowie, except where noted.

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “Beauty and the Beast” 3:32
2. “Joe the Lion” 3:05
3. “‘Heroes'” Bowie, Brian Eno 6:07
4. “Sons of the Silent Age” 3:15
5. “Blackout” 3:50
Total length: 19:49
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “V-2 Schneider” 3:10
2. “Sense of Doubt” 3:57
3. “Moss Garden” Bowie, Eno 5:03
4. “Neuköln” Bowie, Eno 4:34
5. “The Secret Life of Arabia” Bowie, Eno, Carlos Alomar 3:46
Total length: 20:30 (40:19)

 

Schill Score:  6/10

 

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Chic – C’est Chic (1977)

AllMusic Review: Released in 1977, just as disco began to peak, C’est Chic and its pair of dancefloor anthems, “Le Freak” and “I Want Your Love,” put Chic at the top of that dizzying peak. The right album at the right time, C’est Chic is essentially a rehash of Chic, the group’s so-so self-titled debut from a year earlier. That first album also boasted a pair of floor-filling anthems, “Dance Dance Dance” and “Everybody Dance,” and, like C’est Chic, it filled itself out with a mix of disco and ballads. So, essentially, C’est Chic does everything its predecessor did, except it does so masterfully: each side similarly gets its timeless floor-filler (“Le Freak,” “I Want Your Love”), quiet storm come-down (“Savoir Faire,” “At Last I Am Free”), feel-good album track (“Happy Man,” “Sometimes You Win”), and moody album capper (“Chic Cheer,” “[Funny] Bone”). Producers Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers were quite a savvy pair and knew that disco was as much a formula as anything. As evidenced here, they definitely had their fingers on the pulse of the moment, and used their perceptive touch to craft one of the few truly great disco albums. In fact, you could even argue that C’est Chic very well may be the definitive disco album. After all, countless artists scored dancefloor hits, but few could deliver an album this solid, and nearly as few could deliver one this epochal as well. C’est Chic embodies everything wonderful and excessive about disco at its pixilated peak. It’s anything but subtle with its at-the-disco dancefloor mania and after-the-disco bedroom balladry, and Edwards and Rodgers are anything but whimsical with their disco-ballad-disco album sequencing and pseudo-jet-set Euro poshness. Chic would follow C’est Chic with “Good Times,” the group’s crowning achievement, but never again would Edwards and Rodgers assemble an album as perfectly calculated as C’est Chic. — Jason Birchmeier

Track Listing

Side one
  1. “Chic Cheer” – 4:42
  2. “Le Freak” – 5:27
  3. “Savoir Faire” – 5:01
  4. “Happy Man” – 4:17
Side two
  1. “I Want Your Love” – 6:55
  2. “At Last I Am Free” – 7:08
  3. “Sometimes You Win” – 4:26
  4. “(Funny) Bone” – 3:41

 

Schill Score: 9/10

 

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Brian Eno – Before And After Science (1977)

AllMusic Review: Before and After Science is really a study of “studio composition” whereby recordings are created by deconstruction and elimination: tracks are recorded and assembled in layers, then selectively subtracted one after another, resulting in a composition and sound quite unlike that at the beginning of the process. Despite the album’s pop format, the sound is unique and strays far from the mainstream. Eno also experiments with his lyrics, choosing a sound-over-sense approach. When mixed with the music, these lyrics create a new sense or meaning, or the feeling of meaning, a concept inspired by abstract sound poet Kurt Schwitters (epitomized on the track “Kurt’s Rejoinder,” on which you actually hear samples from Schwitters’ “Ursonate”). Before and After Science opens with two bouncy, upbeat cuts: “No One Receiving,” featuring the offbeat rhythm machine of Percy Jones and Phil Collins (Eno regulars during this period), and “Backwater.” Jones’ analog delay bass dominates on the following “Kurt’s Rejoinder,” and he and Collins return on the mysterious instrumental “Energy Fools the Magician.” The last five tracks (the entire second side of the album format) display a serenity unlike anything in the pop music field. These compositions take on an occasional pastoral quality, pensive and atmospheric. Cluster joins Eno on the mood-evoking “By This River,” but the album’s apex is the final cut, “Spider and I.” With its misty emotional intensity, the song seems at once sad yet hopeful. The music on Before and After Science at times resembles Another Green World (“No One Receiving”) and Here Come the Warm Jets (“King’s Lead Hat”) and ranks alongside both as the most essential Eno material. — David Ross Smith

Track Listing

Side one
No. Title Length
1. “No One Receiving” 3:52
2. “Backwater” 3:43
3. “Kurt’s Rejoinder” 2:55
4. “Energy Fools the Magician” (arranged by Percy Jones, Eno) 2:04
5. “King’s Lead Hat” 3:56
Side two
No. Title Length
1. “Here He Comes” 5:38
2. “Julie With …” 6:19
3. “By This River” (Eno, Hans-Joachim Roedelius, Dieter Moebius) 3:03
4. “Through Hollow Lands” (for Harold Budd) (arranged by Fred Frith, Eno) 3:56
5. “Spider and I” 4:10

 

 

Schill Score: 4/10

 

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