The 77s

The 77's

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Recorded for major label Island in 1987, The 77's was meant to be the record that catapulted the band from California cult icons to rock superstars. That it had the unfortunate honor of being both released with and overshadowed by another Island release -- U2's The Joshua Tree -- is irony at its most awful. Though The 77's earned a favorable write-up in Rolling Stone, Island was too busy handling the runaway success of U2 to figure out how to properly market the anachronistic band. It's a shame, because The 77's has the very sort of breadth and courage it would have taken to rescue the quartet from its niche-market status. Michael Roe & Co. come roaring out of the gate with "Do It for Love," a soaring and triumphant rock number that breathlessly eclipses all of their work up to that point. From there, Roe leads the band on a tour of regret and self-loathing, spiraling down through bitterness ("I Can't Get Over It") and heartbreak ("Frames Without Photographs") before finally arriving at chilling judgment ("I Could Laugh"). The music is either desperate or bitter, pausing only for the Byrds-ian jangle of "The Lust, the Flesh, the Eyes, and the Pride of Life," a song that would become Roe's signature.

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