Ramones Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers Songs in the Key of Life Silk Degrees
Shake Some Action Blondie The Modern Lovers Station to Station

History looks back at 1976 and sees a parade of the most reviled pop singles of all time, the kind of songs that sold millions of copies and motivated thousands of punk bands. The bicentennial year for America, 1976 excelled in delivering plentiful fodder for commercial radio, slick and simple pop songs to the tune of "Afternoon Delight" and "Muskrat Love" and "Save Your Kisses for Me" and "Silly Love Songs" and "Moonlight Feels Right" and "Dancing Queen" and "Nights Are Forever Without You" and "(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty" and "Play That Funky Music." The denouement came in October, when a Memphis DJ named Rick Dees hit number one with one of the infamous chart-toppers of all time, the one and only "Disco Duck."

Despite all this (or maybe because of it), popular music was going through massive change under the surface. A new generation of hard rockers were learning lessons from their forebears, highlighted by excellent first shots from Heart, Boston, Tom Petty, and AC/DC, plus other great work from young rockers like Ted Nugent, Kiss, Aerosmith, and Blue Öyster Cult. The so-called Krautrock scene was flowering as it never had before, even earning the notice of David Bowie, who began incorporating the sound into his Station to Station LP (the precursor to his Berlin Trilogy of the late '70s). 1976 was also yet another strong year for reggae, with jam after jam of massive Lee Perry productions shining particularly bright. And Motown reached a late peak with iconic LPs from Diana Ross and Stevie Wonder. (Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life, a double-LP plus bonus 7", represented an epic culmination of his career to that point.)

Finally, in a year when the old guard of rock was showing signs of age -- Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Queen, and Paul McCartney all delivered varyingly deflated work -- a new wave of rockers began curbing the excesses of '70s rock and giving pop music a shot in the arm. In America, the self-titled debuts from Blondie and Ramones showed that straight-ahead rock & roll was gaining a new life, while in Britain, new labels like Chiswick and Stiff began amping up pub rock, with singles by Nick Lowe, the Damned, and the 101'ers planting the seeds for the coming punk revolution. But no one inspired punk in the U.K. more than the Sex Pistols, who released their first single "Anarchy in the U.K." in July, and played throughout Britain during the entire year, polarizing generations and energizing hundreds of teenagers to form bands. By the end of the year (December 28, to be exact), one of those groups inspired by Sex Pistols shows, a Manchester foursome named Buzzcocks, had kicked off the indie/DIY movement by recording (and later self-releasing) their Spiral Scratch EP.

John Bush
AC/DC - High Voltage
Joan Armatrading - Joan Armatrading
Boston - Boston
Guy Clark - Texas Cookin'
Cluster - Sowiesoso
The Doobie Brothers - Takin' It to the Streets
The Flamin' Groovies - Shake Some Action
Marvin Gaye - I Want You
Led Zeppelin - Presence
Steve Miller Band - Fly Like an Eagle
Joni Mitchell - Hejira
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers - Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Ramones - Ramones
Al Stewart - Year of the Cat
Dwight Twilley Band - Sincerely
Stevie Wonder - Songs in the Key of Life

Captain & Tennille - "Going Bananas"
Nick Lowe - "Heart of the City"
The Runaways - "Cherry Bomb"
Dwight Twilley Band - "I'm on Fire"
Ramones - "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend"
The Flamin' Groovies - "Shake Some Action"
The 101'ers - "Keys to Your Heart"
The Damned - "New Rose"
The Sex Pistols - "Anarchy in the U.K."
Pere Ubu - "Final Solution"
Junior Murvin - "Police + Thieves"
Max Romeo - "Chase the Devil"
Roy Ayers Ubiquity - "Everybody Loves the Sunshine"
The Spinners - "The Rubberband Man"
Ted Nugent - "Free-For-All"
Thin Lizzy - "Jailbreak"
Led Zeppelin - "Nobody's Fault But Mine"
Johnny Cash - "One Piece at a Time"
Heart - "Magic Man"
Steve Miller Band - "Fly Like an Eagle"

Stephen Thomas Erlewine [Spotify]
The birth of punk, the dawning of disco, the glory days of SoCal soft rock, power pop breaking on through, sensitive singer/songwriters and outlaw trouabdours -- 1976 had it all. The 20 albums and 20 singles listed below only scratch the surface of all the good music from ’76 and my accompanying Spotify doesn't have all of the good tunes, either, due to licensing restrictions and sheer space, but all of the lists combined illustrate just how good this year was.

Boz Scaggs - Silk Degrees
Dr. Feelgood - Stupidity
Thin Lizzy - Jailbreak
Ramones - Ramones
Billy Joel - Turnstiles
David Bowie - Station to Station
Warren Zevon - Warren Zevon
Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band - Night Moves
Graham Parker - Howlin' Wind
Dwight Twilley Band - Sincerely
Flamin' Groovies - Shake Some Action
Steely Dan - The Royal Scam
Blondie - Blondie
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers - Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Bob Dylan - Desire
The Modern Lovers - The Modern Lovers
Harry Nilsson - Sandman
Stevie Wonder - Songs in the Key of Life
AC/DC - High Voltage
Sir Doug & the Texas Tornados - Texas Rock for Country Rollers

Nick Lowe - "Heart of the City"/"So It Goes"
Flamin' Groovies - "Shake Some Action"
The Damned - "New Rose"
Rick Springfield - "Take a Hand"
Climax Blues Band - "Couldn't Get It Right"
The Spinners - "The Rubberband Man"
Boz Scaggs - "Lido Shuffle"
The 101'ers - "Keys to Your Heart"
The Rolling Stones - "Hand of Fate"
Eddie & the Hot Rods - "Teenage Depression"
Bryan Ferry - "Let's Stick Together"
Eddie Rabbitt - "Two Dollars in the Jukebox"
Waylon Jennings - "Can't You See"
ZZ Top - "It's Only Love"
Cliff Richard - "Devil Woman"
Steve Miller Band - "Take the Money and Run"
Mickey Gilley - "Don't the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time"
England Dan & John Ford Coley - "I'd Really Love to See You Tonight"
Starbuck - "Moonlight Feels Right"
Al Stewart - "Year of the Cat"

Heather Phares
AC/DC - Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
Blondie - Blondie
David Bowie - Station to Station
Electric Light Orchestra - A New World Record
Flamin' Groovies - Shake Some Action
Marvin Gaye - I Want You
The Modern Lovers - The Modern Lovers
Ramones - Ramones
Al Stewart - The Year of the Cat
Stevie Wonder - Songs in the Key of Life

Tim Sendra
In 1976, my brothers and I played our scratched copy of K-Tel's Out of Sight collection every day, at least twice. We mixed in the occasional "good" album our next-door neighbors gave to us (a Temptations best-of, the Beach Boys' Summer Days, the Beatles' Yesterday and Today) but really, this was the stuff that moved me back then. Most of it still does now. I feel like I can trace most of the music I like today back to certain songs on this comp, especially "Life Is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me)."

Here's the tracklist:
Elton John - "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting"
The Kiki Dee Band - "I've Got the Music in Me"
Reunion - "Life Is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me)"
First Class - "Beach Baby"
Paper Lace - "The Black-Eyed Boys"
Fancy - "Touch Me"
Kool & the Gang - "Higher Plane"
The Tymes - "You Little Trustmaker"
Gladys Knight & the Pips - "I Feel a Song (In My Heart)"
Carl Douglas - "Kung Fu Fighting"
Bachman-Turner Overdrive - "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet"
Stealers Wheel - "Star"
Prelude - "After the Goldrush"
The Hudson Brothers - "So You Are a Star"
The Stylistics - "Heavy Fallin' Out"
Jim Weatherly - "The Need to Be"
The New Censation - "First Round Knockout"
The DeFranco Family Featuring Tony DeFranco - "Abra-Ca-Dabra"
Brownsville Station - "Kings of the Party"
The Hues Corporation - "Rock the Boat"

Jonathan Ball [Spotify]
Peter Frampton - Frampton Comes Alive!
The Rolling Stones - Black and Blue
Led Zeppelin - Presence
AC/DC - High Voltage
Heart - Dreamboat Annie
Augustus Pablo - King Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown
Blue Öyster Cult - Agents of Fortune
Steve Miller Band - Fly Like an Eagle
The Upsetters - Super Ape
Ashra - New Age of Earth
Stomu Yamashta's Go - Go
Bryan Ferry - Let's Stick Together
The Modern Lovers - The Modern Lovers

AC/DC - "It's a Long Way to the Top"
Wings - "Maybe I'm Amazed"
Heart - "Crazy On You"
The Damned - "New Rose"
The Rolling Stones - "Hot Stuff"
The Bay City Rollers - "Money Honey"
Bryan Ferry - "The Price of Love"
The Trammps - "Disco Inferno"
Cliff Richard - "Devil Woman"
Steve Miller Band - "Fly Like an Eagle"
Gary Wright - "Love Is Alive"
Andrea True Connection - "More, More, More"
KC & the Sunshine Band - "I'm Your Boogie Man'"
The Spinners - "The Rubberband Man"
Peter Frampton - "Show Me the Way"
Orleans - "Still the One"
Steve Miller Band - "Take the Money and Run"
Steve Miller Band - "Rock'n Me"
Al Stewart - "Year of the Cat"
Lou Rawls - "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine"
Cyndi Grecco - "Making Our Dreams Come True"
ABBA - "Dancing Queen"

Matt Collar
AC/DC - Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
ABBA - Arrival
Blondie - Blondie
Boston - Boston
David Bowie - Station to Station
Electric Light Orchestra - A New World Record
Bryan Ferry - Let's Stick Together
Heart - Dreamboat Annie
Eddie Henderson - Heritage
Kiss - Destroyer
Led Zeppelin - Song Remains the Same
Pat Martino - We'll Be Together Again
Robert Palmer - Pressure Drop
Pilot - Morin Heights
Andy Pratt - Resolution
Queen - A Day at the Races
Ramones - Ramones
Boz Scaggs - Silk Degrees
Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band - Night Moves
Woody Shaw - Little Red's Fantasy
Styx - Crystal Ball
Thin Lizzy - Jailbreak
Dwight Twilley Band - Sincerely
Kenny Wheeler - 1976
Stevie Wonder - Songs in the Key of Life

Thom Jurek
Phil Ranelin - Vibes from the Tribe
Dexter Wansel - Life on Mars
Mike Longo - Talk with the Spirits
Roy Ayers Ubiquity - Everybody Loves the Sunshine
The Crusaders - Free as the Wind
Ornette Coleman - Dancing in Your Head
The Isley Brothers - Harvest for the World
Black Renaissance - Body, Mind and Spirit
Boz Scaggs - Silk Degrees
Thin Lizzy - Jailbreak
Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson - It's Your World
Tom Waits - Small Change
Stevie Wonder - Songs in the Key of Life
Warren Zevon - Warren Zevon
Bob Dylan - Desire
Marvin Gaye - I Want You
Leon Ware - Musical Massage
Max Romeo and the Upsetters - War ina Babylon
The Upsetters - Super Ape
Return to Forever - Romantic Warrior
Grover Washington Jr. - A Secret Place

Andy Kellman [Spotify]
Marvin Gaye - I Want You
Stevie Wonder - Songs in the Key of Life
Deniece Williams - This Is Niecy
Steely Dan - The Royal Scam
David Bowie - Station to Station
Augustus Pablo - Meets Rockers Uptown
The Upsetters - Super Ape
Earth, Wind & Fire - Spirit
Jaco Pastorius - Jaco Pastorius
Leon Ware - Musical Massage
Black Renaissance - Body, Mind and Spirit
Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson - It's Your World
Parliament - The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein
Frank Zappa - Zoot Allures
Larry Young's Fuel - Spaceball
Jean Carn - Jean Carn
The Isley Brothers - Harvest for the World
Roy Ayers Ubiquity - Everybody Loves the Sunshine
La Düsseldorf - La Düsseldorf
Klaus Schulze - Moondawn

Earth, Wind & Fire - "Getaway"
Parliament - "Tear the Roof Off the Sucker (Give Up the Funk)"
Stevie Wonder - "I Wish"
Deniece Williams - "Free"
Pere Ubu - "Final Solution"
Norman Connors - "You Are My Starship"
Double Exposure - "Ten Percent"
L.T.D. - "Love Ballad"
The Isley Brothers - "Harvest for the World"
Diana Ross - "Love Hangover"
Minnie Riperton - "Adventures in Paradise"
Eddie Kendricks - "Goin' Up in Smoke"
Brass Construction - "Movin'"
Bootsy's Rubber Band - "I'd Rather Be with You"
Four Below Zero - "My Baby's Got ESP"
Weldon Irvine - "I Love You"
Death - "Politicians in My Eyes"
Prince Far I - "Heavy Manners"
Crime - "Hot Wire My Heart"
Junior Murvin - "Police and Thieves"

James Christopher Monger
AC/DC - Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
Warren Zevon - Warren Zevon
The Bothy Band - Old Hag You Have Killed Me
Judas Priest - Sad Wings of Destiny
Jorge Ben - Africa Brasil
Albion Country Band - Battle of the Field
Stevie Wonder - Songs in the Key of Life
Roger McGuinn - Cardiff Rose
Steeleye Span - Rocket Cottage
David Bowie - Station to Station
The Modern Lovers - The Modern Lovers
June Tabor - Airs and Graces
Gordon Lightfoot - Summertime Dream
Rush - 2112
Heart - Dreamboat Annie
Ramones - Ramones
Tom Waits - Small Change
Electric Light Orchestra - A New World Record
Queen - A Day at the Races
Silly Sisters - Silly Sisters

AC/DC - "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Want to Rock and Roll)"
Kiss - "Detroit Rock City"
Nick Lowe - "So It Goes"
Thin Lizzy - "The Boys Are Back in Town"
Steely Dan - "Green Earrings"
Aerosmith - "Back in the Saddle"
Boston - "More Than a Feeling"
Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band - "Main Street"
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers - "American Girl"
Roxy Music - "Do the Strand"
Blue Öyster Cult - "Don't Fear the Reaper"
Led Zeppelin - "Achilles Last Stand"
Peter Frampton - "Do You Feel Like We Do"
The Runaways - "Cherry Bomb"
Jethro Tull - "Pied Piper"
Neil Diamond - "Beautiful Noise"
Bee Gees - "You Should Be Dancing"
Daryl Hall and John Oates - "Rich Girl"
Bryan Ferry - "Casanova"
Blondie - "X Offender"

Sean Westergaard
Jeff Beck - Wired
David Bowie - Station to Station
Ornette Coleman - Body Meta
Bootsy Collins - Stretchin' Out in Bootsy's Rubber Band
Bryan Ferry - Let's Stick Together
Funkadelic - Hardcore Jollies
Funkadelic - Tales of Kidd Funkadelic
Henry Cow - Concerts
The Kinks - Schoolboys in Disgrace
Fela Anikulapo Kuti & Africa 70 - Na Poi
801 - 801 Live
Parliament - The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein
Penguin Cafe Orchestra - Music from the Penguin Cafe
Sun Ra - Cosmos
Ramones - Ramones
The Residents - Third Reich 'N Roll
The Residents - Fingerprince (Tourniquet of Roses)
Frank Zappa - Zoot Allures

Matthew Garbutt [Spotify]
ABBA - Arrival
Augustus Pablo - King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown
Big Youth - Natty Cultural Dread
Bryan Ferry - Let's Stick Together
David Bowie - Station to Station
Dillinger - CB200
I-Roy - Crisus Time
Ivor Cutler - Jammy Smears
Jah Lion - Colombia Colly
Johnny Clarke - Rockers Time Now
Jorge Ben - Africa Brasil
Lee "Scratch" Perry - Super Ape
Linval Thompson - Don't Cut Off Your Dreadlocks
Max Romeo - War ina Babylon
Ramones - Ramones
The Gladiators - Trenchtown Mix Up
The Isley Brothers - Harvest for the World
The Modern Lovers - The Modern Lovers
Tom Waits - Small Change
Yabby-U and the Prophets - Ram-a-Dam

Blondie - "X-Offender"
Cornell Campbell - "Gorgon"
Deniece Williams - "Free"
Diana Ross - "Love Hangover"
Dr. Alimantado - "Poison Flour"
Dr. Feelgood - "Roxette"
Fela Kuti - "Upside Down"
Jacob Miller - "Tired Fe Lick Weed"
James Brown - "Get Up Offa That Thing"
Johnny Clarke - "Crazy Baldhead"
Junior Murvin - "Police and Thieves"
Leroy Smart - "Ballistic Affair"
Michael Rose - "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner"
Milton Nascimento - "Cravo e Canela"
Parliament - "Tear the Roof Off the Sucker (Give Up the Funk)"
Sex Pistols - "Anarchy in the U.K."
The Damned - "New Rose"
The Saints - "(I'm) Stranded"
Wayne Wade - "Lord of Lords"
Vivian Jackson (aka Yabby You) and the Prophets - "Fire in a Kingston"

James Wilkinson
Bob Dylan - Desire
The Modern Lovers - The Modern Lovers
The Flamin' Groovies - Shake Some Action
Douglas Wood - Industrial Underscore: Rythm
Augustus Pablo - King Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown
Neil Ardley - Kaleidoscope of Rainbows
Jean Michel Jarre - Oxygene
Ramones - Ramones
Can - Flow Motion
Burning Spear - Man in the Hills
David Bowie - Station to Station
Steely Dan - The Royal Scam
Penguin Cafe Orchestra - Music from the Penguin Cafe
Todd Rundgren - Faithful
Guy Clark - Texas Cookin'
John Renbourn - The Hermit
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers - Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Blondie - Blondie
Roger McGuinn - Cardiff Rose
Klaatu - 3:47 EST

The Sex Pistols - "Anarchy in the U.K."
The Saints - "(I'm) Stranded"
The Walker Brothers - "No Regrets"
ABBA - "Dancing Queen"
The Stills-Young Band - "Long May You Run"
Johnny Cash - "One Piece at a Time"
Steeleye Span - "All Around My Hat"
Poco - "Rose of Cimarron"
Jesse Winchester - "Let the Rough Side Drag"
America - "Amber Cascades"
Clifford T. Ward - "Ocean of Love"
Liberation Group - "Namibia"
Eddie & the Hot Rods - "Teenage Depression"
Dr. Feelgood - "Roxette"
Blue Öyster Cult - "(Don't Fear) The Reaper"

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