Marquee Moon Aja Low Come into Knowledge
Rumours Slow Traffic to the Right Peter Gabriel Trans-Europe Express

It was the year of "Strawberry Letter 23" and "2-4-6-8 Motorway," "Southern Girls" and "Southern Nights," "Slip Slidin' Away" and "Dancing the Night Away," "Dancing Queen" and "Teenage Lobotomy," "Margaritaville" and "Solsbury Hill," "I'm So Bored with the U.S.A." and "I Feel Love," David Bowie and Iggy Pop, Bat Out of Hell and Pink Flag, and -- of course -- Aja and Suicide. Following our feature on the music of 1999, we take a look at some of our favorite albums and songs of 1977, a year that obviously was not just about punk and disco. While it might look like we forgot something, the odds are far greater that we remembered to leave it off.

John Bush
The Beach Boys - Love You
No one was going to mistake it for their best album, but for the first time in ten years, it sounded like it might actually be fun to live in Brian Wilson's world. Backed by some brutal but effective synthesizers, Love You is a panorama of mini-masterpieces concerning everything from the solar system ("Solar System") to Johnny Carson ("Johnny Carson"). And with a Side 2 suite of confessional love songs, it was easy to visualize that another Pet Sounds was just around the corner. Instead, it was MIU Album and Keepin' the Summer Alive (aka Keepin' the Summer on Life Support).

Barry Manilow - Live
Again, no one was confusing this with the best of anyone’s career, but Barry Manilow put on one of the best shows of the '70s, and his punchy backup band follows him note for note and strut for strut through the hour-plus program. Add in a medley/apotheosis of his best television-commercial themes -- the cumulative weight of them all is staggering -- and you begin to realize what Manilow meant to "professional" pop music in the '70s and '80s. Still one of the best live albums of the ‘70s (which is really saying something).

The Clash - The Clash [UK]
Definitely the best punk album of all time (especially since the Sex Pistols were firmly "hard rock"), the first Clash album had it all -- Strummer’s righteous anger at a series of soft targets, Jones’ furious guitar work, and the beginnings of punky reggae chillout on "(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais" (especially if you didn't listen to the lyrics). Strummer & Jones were headed for maturity by the time their first album was released, but adolescent rage never got any better than this.

Wire - Pink Flag
This was punk of a different sort. Even before punk grew predictable (as it quickly did), Wire were dispensing with formulas and instead trying -- well, everything, then just as quickly moving on. (Fully three-quarters of the songs are less than two minutes long.) The brooding man's punk masterpiece.

The Damned - Damned Damned Damned
Damned Damned Damned may have been only the second or third best punk album of 1977 (or the best of all time, as it turns out), but it’s definitely the wildest, most freewheeling moment in a very freewheeling year. "Neat Neat Neat" and "New Rose" stand above all else, moving so fast they sound as if everyone's in a race to the finish.

Television - Marquee Moon
Twenty odd years after rock’s beginnings, how was it possible for four people, working in the standard rock-band format (guitar solos and all), to produce such a strange and invigorating record? After all, rock & roll was dead; a glance at any dinosaur band could tell you. Well, even if rock was dead (at least temporarily), then Marquee Moon was a most elegant and eloquent eulogy.

Peter Gabriel - Peter Gabriel
One of the oddest albums of 1977, along with Eno's and Bowie's experimental meisterworks, Peter Gabriel's actually sounds the most natural and unforced, with an effective cycle of build-up and release, encompassing the wheezing clockwork production on "Moribund the Burgermeister," Who-style anthemizing on "Modern Love," and somehow, barbershop harmonies on "Excuse Me."

Cheap Trick - Cheap Trick
Hard rock was big business in 1977, and with only a few exceptions, it hadn't been much fun for at least five years. The debuts of Cheap Trick and Van Halen changed all that, with sleazy posturing (mostly) replacing real sleaze from the quickly fossilizing monsters of rock.

Steely Dan - Aja / Boz Scaggs - Down Two Then Left
Two of the mellowest records in a very mellow year for music. Aja was also the best production of the year, bar none. There's plenty of space to hear every detail (and every solo), while the pacing couldn't be better -- virtually every track moves at no more than a strolling pace, except for the bright "Peg" (with an average of five minutes for each track). Even mellower than Aja, Down Two Then Left was one of the easiest, breeziest records of the '70s. If you want a musical definition of laidback, "A Clue" is the perfect start.

Dennis Wilson - Pacific Ocean Blue
Who knew that the Beach Boys' prankster/heart-throb was, at his heart, a tender balladeer? Well, Beach Boys fans, of course, who had been crying out for years to hear more of Dennis than just a ballad or two (great as they were) on Side 2 of the band's ‘70s records. They got what they wanted with Pacific Ocean Blue, although it’s hardly just a Beach Boys record with Dennis vocals; dark and proggy, miles away from pop, with songs that detour into unexpected places. Placed next to the Beach Boys of the '70s, it's better than all but one or two (those would be Sunflower and fellow 1977 entry Love You), but it's more emotional and affecting than anything they did barring Pet Sounds.

Stephen Thomas Erlewine
1977 is an ideal definition of a perfect musical year: there was great stuff happening in the mainstream and underground. Being the year of punk and the year of disco, it's heavy on canonical albums -- the kind of records that show up on "greatest albums ever" lists, and deservedly so. Anybody familiar with these titles can be tempted to avoid these albums when putting together a retrospective list as there are just so many damn times you can see The Clash on a greatest-ever list, but you gotta go with your heart and put the albums you play the most; after all, there's a reason why My Aim Is True and Marquee Moon are perennials. That said, I've pulled together a list of 15 favorite overlooked albums to shine a spotlight on some great LPs that tend to get shoved aside by the titans.

Also, for the singles list I decided not to cannibalize great singles that are on the albums I selected, so "Solsbury Hill" got axed along with "Neat Neat Neat," which just may be my favorite punk single ever (this also applies to records on the Overlooked list, with the Motors' "Dancing the Night Away" suffering the unkindest cut). It's all a way to get different bands and sounds on there. I'm greedy that way.

David Bowie - Low
David Bowie - Heroes
Cheap Trick - Cheap Trick
The Clash - The Clash [UK]
Elvis Costello - My Aim Is True
Rodney Crowell - Ain't Living Long Like This
The Damned - Damned Damned Damned
Ian Dury - New Boots and Panties!!
Dave Edmunds - Get It
Fleetwood Mac - Rumours
Peter Gabriel - Peter Gabriel
The Jam - In the City
Billy Joel - The Stranger
Lynyrd Skynyrd - Street Survivors
Meat Loaf - Bat Out of Hell
Iggy Pop - The Idiot
Ramones - Rocket to Russia
Steely Dan - Aja
Talking Heads - Talking Heads: 77
Television - Marquee Moon
Thin Lizzy - Bad Reputation

The Brothers Johnson - "Strawberry Letter 23"
Glen Campbell - "Southern Nights"
Cheap Trick - "Southern Girls"
Climax Blues Band - "Couldn't Get It Right"
Eddie & the Hot Rods - "Do Anything You Want to Do"
Electric Light Orchestra - "Livin' Thing"
Marvin Gaye - "Got to Give It Up"
Andrew Gold - "Lonely Boy"
Hall & Oates - "Rich Girl"
Richard Hell & the Voidoids - "Blank Generation"
Waylon Jennings - "The Wurlitzer Prize (I Don't Want to Get Over You)"
The Kinks - "Juke Box Music"
Little River Band - "Help Is on Its Way"
Nick Lowe - "Marie Provost"
Steve Miller Band - "Jungle Love"
Tom Robinson Band - "2-4-6-8 Motorway"
Boz Scaggs - "Lido Shuffle"
Paul Simon - "Slip Slidin' Away"
Al Stewart - "Year of the Cat"
Utopia - "Love Is the Answer"
Wreckless Eric - "Whole Wide World"

15 Overlooked LPs:
American Flyer - Spirit of a Woman
Amazing Rhythm Aces - Toucan Do It Too
Clover - Unavailable
Rick Danko - Rick Danko
Eddie & the Hot Rods - Thriller
Kursaal Flyers - Five Live Kursaals
Milk 'n' Cookies - Milk 'n' Cookies
Frankie Miller - Full House
The Motors - The Motors 1
Pezband - Pezband
Blue Ash - Front Page News
The Rubinoos - The Rubinoos
The Scruffs - Wanna Meet the Scruffs?
Shoes - Black Vinyl Shoes
Dwight Twilley - Twilley Don't Mind

Thom Jurek
Mink DeVille - Cabretta
Elvis Costello - My Aim Is True
Television - Marquee Moon
Thin Lizzy - Bad Reputation
David Bowie - Heroes
Julian Priester - Polarization
Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson - Bridges
Ramones - Rocket to Russia
Steely Dan - Aja
Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes - This Time It's for Real
Muddy Waters - Hard Again
Woody Shaw - Rosewood
Ramp - Come into Knowledge
Bennie Maupin - Slow Traffic to the Right
Bobby Lyle - The Genie
Augustus Pablo - East of the River Nile
The Saints - (I'm) Stranded

Garland Jeffreys - "Wild in the Streets" b/w "Ghost Writer"
Marvin Gaye - "Got to Give It Up"

Andy Kellman
Steely Dan - Aja
Miles Davis - Dark Magus
John Martyn - One World
Kraftwerk - Trans-Europe Express
David Bowie - Heroes
Television - Marquee Moon
Heatwave - Too Hot to Handle
Iggy Pop - The Idiot
Fela Kuti - Zombie
The Congos - Heart of the Congos
The Crusaders - Free as the Wind
Brian Eno - Before and After Science
Fleetwood Mac - Rumours
The Isley Brothers - Go for Your Guns
James Mason - Rhythm of Life
Horace Andy - In the Light
Parliament - Funkentelechy Vs. The Placebo Syndrome
Cluster & Eno - Cluster & Eno
Ramp - Come into Knowledge
Bennie Maupin - Slow Traffic to the Right

Kraftwerk - "Trans-Europe Express"
The Isley Brothers - "Footsteps in the Dark"
Stevie Wonder - "Sir Duke"
Slave - "Slide"
Donna Summer - "I Feel Love"
Natalie Cole - "La Costa"
Althea & Donna - "Uptown Top Ranking"
Bill Withers - "Lovely Day"
Norman Connors - "Once I've Been There"
Marvin Gaye - "Got to Give It Up"
War - "Galaxy"
Idris Muhammad - "Could Heaven Ever Be Like This"
Penetration - "Don't Dictate"
The Damned - "Neat Neat Neat"
Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan - "At Midnight (My Love Will Lift You Up)"
The Brothers Johnson - "Strawberry Letter 23"
X-Ray Spex - "Oh Bondage Up Yours!"
Roy Ayers Ubiquity - "Running Away"
The Saints - "(This) Perfect Day"
Culture - "Two Sevens Clash"

Andrew Leahey
I've always wished the Bangles had covered Fleetwood Mac's "I Don't Want to Know." It would've made a great B-side to their take on "Hazy Shade of Winter."

Fleetwood Mac - Rumours
Ramones - Rocket to Russia
The Runaways - Live in Japan
The Rubinoos - The Rubinoos
Emmylou Harris - Luxury Liner
Ramones - Leave Home
Billy Joel - The Stranger
Bob Marley & the Wailers - Exodus
ABBA - Arrival
The Runaways - Queens of Noise
Heart - Little Queen

The Rubinoos - "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend"
Ramones - "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker"
Fleetwood Mac - "I Don't Want to Know"
Buzzcocks - "Orgasm Addict"
Heart - "Barracuda"
ABBA - "Dancing Queen"
Fleetwood Mac - "Gold Dust Woman"
Eagles - "Hotel California"
Boston - "Peace of Mind"
Jackson Browne - "Running on Empty"

Jason Lymangrover
Radio singles of the year included "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue," "You Light Up My Life," and disco versions of themes from Star Wars, Close Encounters, and Rocky. Once Saturday Night Fever came out, music needed a good hard kick in the polyester slacks. Fortunately, punk rockers started lacing up their combat boots and taking aim.

Wire - Pink Flag
Television - Marquee Moon
David Bowie - Low
Ramones - Leave Home
Suicide - Suicide
Peter Tosh - Equal Rights
Parliament - Funkentelechy Vs. the Placebo Syndrome
Pink Floyd - Animals
Kraftwerk - Trans-Europe Express
Iggy Pop - The Idiot

Ian Dury - "Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll"
Ram Jam - "Black Betty"
Peter Gabriel - "Solsbury Hill"
Curtis Mayfield - "Do Do Wap Is Strong in Here"
Kiss - "Christine Sixteen"

J. Scott McClintock
Electric Light Orchestra - Out of the Blue
Ian Dury - New Boots and Panties!!
The Damned - Damned Damned Damned
David Bowie - Low
David Bowie - Heroes
Cheap Trick - Cheap Trick
Saturday Night Fever
Weather Report - Heavy Weather
Deaf School - Don't Stop the World
Split Enz - Dizrythmia
10cc - Live and Let Live
Peter Tosh - Equal Rights
Dennis Wilson - Pacific Ocean Blue
Bill Withers - Menagerie
Metro - Metro
Randy Newman - Little Criminals
The Jam - In the City
Pink Floyd - Animals
Goblin - Suspiria
Steely Dan - Aja (honorable mention)

James Christopher Monger
David Bowie - Low
The Clash - The Clash [UK]
Fleetwood Mac - Rumours
Pink Floyd - Animals
Iggy Pop - Lust for Life
The Sex Pistols - Never Mind the Bollocks Here's the Sex Pistols
Steeleye Span - Storm Force Ten
Steely Dan - Aja
Rush - A Farewell to Kings
Television - Marquee Moon

AC/DC - "Let There Be Rock"
Cheap Trick - "Southern Girls"
Elvis Costello - "Less Than Zero"
Fleetwood Mac - "Second Hand News"
Peter Gabriel - "Solsbury Hill"
The Motors - "Dancing the Night Away"
Queen - "We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions"
Ramones - "Teenage Lobotomy"
Television - "See No Evil"
Dennis Wilson - "River Song"

Heather Phares
David Bowie - Low
The Clash - The Clash [UK]
Fleetwood Mac - Rumours
Peter Gabriel - Peter Gabriel
Iggy Pop - Lust for Life
Ramones - Rocket to Russia
The Sex Pistols - Never Mind the Bollocks Here's the Sex Pistols
Television - Marquee Moon
Suicide - Suicide
Wire - Pink Flag

ABBA - "Dancing Queen"
David Bowie - "Sound and Vision"
The Brothers Johnson - "Strawberry Letter 23"
Commodores - "Easy"
The Doobie Brothers - "It Keeps You Runnin'"
Electric Light Orchestra - "Livin' Thing"
The Emotions - "Best of My Love"
Fleetwood Mac - "Dreams"
Peter Gabriel - "Solsbury Hill"
Marvin Gaye - "Got to Give It Up"
Hall & Oates - "Rich Girl"
Heart - "Barracuda"
Thelma Houston - "Don't Leave Me This Way"
Meco - "Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band"
Steve Miller Band - "Fly Like an Eagle"
Elvis Presley - "My Way"
Ram Jam - "Black Betty"
Al Stewart - "Year of the Cat"
Donna Summer - "I Feel Love"
Stevie Wonder - "Sir Duke"


Tim Sendra
If you lived in small town Middle America in 1977, you weren't listening to Television, you were watching it; Iggy Pop was the off-brand soda your mom bought at A&P; Lee Perry was the kid who sat behind you in biology; and the Ramones were that family down the street who never mowed their lawn. No, you were glued to the radio and Casey Kasem was God as he ran down the AT40 each week. That's why you won't find Wire, Kraftwerk, or Dennis Wilson on this list. And you know what? That's okay. If you listen hard and check your expectations, you might realize that the aching pain of "Rich Girl," the carefree strut of "Southern Nights," or the epic grandeur of "Fly Like an Eagle" are nothing to be scoffed at, certainly nothing in need of being swept away. You might see Meco's novelty tune as the work of subversive genius that it is. You might hear Shaun Cassidy's feathered bounce as the power pop dream realized, Rose Royce's all-inclusive funk as a capitalist utopia, or the Sylvers' "Hot Line" as the best Jacksons single never released. You could even posit that without Leo Sayer, there would be no Maroon 5. Well, maybe we can forgive him for that because "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing" is the giddiest, most smile-inducing record of '77 and maybe forever. (Right behind "Steal My Sunshine," anyway.) Punk, new wave, and post-punk had to happen but we should never forget that among the casualties of time and standard rock-crit narrative are some moments of genius like these.

Glen Campbell - "Southern Nights"
Shaun Cassidy - "That's Rock & Roll"
Earth, Wind & Fire - "Serpentine Fire"
Andy Gibb - "I Just Want to Be Your Everything"
Hall & Oates - "Rich Girl"
Meco - "Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band"
Steve Miller Band - "Fly Like an Eagle"
Rose Royce - "Car Wash"
Leo Sayer - "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing"
The Sylvers - "Hot Line"

While some of the songs listed above appeared on albums released in 1976, they were either issued as singles ("As") or peaked as singles ("Fly Like an Eagle," "Lido Shuffle," "Sir Duke") in 1977.

Previously
AllMusic Loves 1999