Thursday, July 27, 2017

Please Be Kind

Like The Ramones, The Boys could effectively rock on that tightrope where punk and pop merged. On July 27, they released "First Time",  a song about losing one's virginity. Sounds Magazine made it single of the week.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Go Tulane!

The week of July 26, 1977 witnessed rock veteran Steve Gibbons entering the U.K.charts with his band's cover of Chuck Berry's "Tulane", a song that would climb all the way to #12. It's here mainly because it name checks my alma mater multiple times.

With Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" at the top, the U.K. charts were pretty exciting this week. Among the singles:

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Anything But Love

They were best known as Graham Parker's backing band, but in July of 1977, The Rumour released their won album, the Mutt Lange produced Max. The title was a witty retort to Fleetwood Mac calling their best selling album Rumours ( not unlike Nick Lowe titling his EP Bowi in response to Bowie's album, Low).  

The Rumour were made up of all stars from the pub rock world: Brinsley Schwartz (guitar) and Bob Andrews (keys) cane from the band Brinsley Schwartz, Martin Belmont (guitar) came from Ducks Deluxe, and Andrew Bodnar (bass) and Steve Goulding (drums) came from Bontemps Roulez.

Among the highlights: a cover of Nick Lowe's "Mess Around With Love", Duke Ellington's "So Nothing Till You Hear from Me" and  the Ducks own "Something's Going On".

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Docks The Clocks

On July 24, 1977 Television re-entered the U.K. pop charts, following the title track of Marquee Moon with "Prove It" b/w "Venus". The single would peak at U.K. #25. The song seems to take place on a New York City dock where the singer has woken up before the birds. It's an odd hour to be up, even in New York. 

As Tom Verlaine told a U.K. magazine in 1977, "Living in New York you somehow become very night-oriented. Especially in the summers, when it gets so hot and the streets get so dirty...I've always thought of New York as an inspiration. It isn't for many people, but it is for me. Obviously it was Lou Reed , too. ..New York is a really concentrated microcosm of emotions, you know, and atmosphere. The song do deal mostly with atmosphere, yes; I think that's what art is all about."

Sunday, July 23, 2017

That's Where She Takes Me

On July 22, 1977 just two weeks before the U.S. chart debut of the futuristic synth pop masterpiece "I Feel Love", which he produced for Donna Summer, Giorgio Moroder released his own all synth creation. "From Here to Eternity" kicked off an A side that would steam up  disco floors all around the world. As the liner notes state,"only electronic keyboards were used in the making of this album."  

Saturday, July 22, 2017

His Aim Was True

On July 22, 1977 Elvis Costello released is debut album, My Aim Is True. It was my introduction to Costello's music and I was immediately taken by the smart wordplay, the passion and the pub rock sounds. I was thirteen years old and by the time I picked up one of those prerecorded cassettes, I was trying to survive boarding school.

It wasn't as bad as Costello's description of his rehearsal room, Headley Garage:

It was dark when I awoke. I could hear the rats scuttling across the rehearsal room floor. I t was just as I had been warned. If the light went off, the rats came out.
Feeling for my shoes, I edged to the light-switch and illuminated the drinking party passed out on another ragged sofa.
I tried to go back to sleep with the lights on, I was going to make a record the next day.

The future Huey Lewis Band, Clover, may not get as much love as the Attractions but Costello remembers feeling incredibly lucky to be "playing with such great musicians", especially after John McFee came up with the intro to "Alison"

Critics were enthralled. Only the Sex Pistols rated higher in the Village Voice critics poll for that year.

1. Sex Pistols: Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols (Warner Bros.) 412 (32)
2. Elvis Costello: My Aim Is True (Columbia) 367 (33)
3. Television: Marquee Moon (Elektra) 327 (26)
4. Fleetwood Mac: Rumours (Warner Bros.) 318 (26)
5. Steely Dan: Aja (ABC) 266 (23)

From Robert Christgau's B+ review

I like the nerdy way this guy comes on, I'm fascinated by his lyrics, and I approve of his rock and roll orientation; in fact, I got quite obsessive about his two cuts on the Bunch of Stiff Records import. Yet odd as it may seem, I find that he suffers from Jackson Browne's syndrome--that is, he's a little boring. Often this malady results from overconcentration on lyrics and can be cured by a healthy relationship with a band. Since whenever I manage to attend to a Costello song all the way through I prefer it to "The Pretender." I hope he recovers soon.

 From Playboy

About the same time the king of rock put out the big light, we first heard an impressive New Wave import by a Buddy Holly look-alike calling himself Elvis Costello. On his debut LP, My Aim Is True, Costello has captured the rare synthesis that every Sixties rock band dreamed of -- the raw bluesiness of the Stones successfully mixed with a bouncy, early Beatles sound. My Aim Is True taps riffs that span two decades of popular rock. From "Mystery Dance," which sounds a tribute to his namesake's "Jailhouse Rock," to the Bowieish "I'm Not Angry," the album, penned entirely by Costello, effects a stylistic history of rock 'n' roll. Imagine Van Morrison with The Yardbirds produced by Phil Spector and you'll have an idea. Even better: Graham Parker meets Bruce Springsteen in Motown. Confused? Listen to My Aim Is True and tell us where you've heard it all before.

From Rolling Stone's Greil Marcus:

My Aim Is True (the title is a line from "Alison") is in the Top Twenty in Britain; it is likely to go higher, as Costello recently managed to get himself busted for taking his electric guitar into the streets. The LP is already getting airplay on American FM stations, and a tour of sorts is set for late fall. How far Costello can go — especially given the unfortunate timing that surrounds his assumed first name — remains to be seen, but I have a feeling that once he is heard, he is going to shake up a lot of his erstwhile peers and make many musicians whom he would not consider his peers seem quite irrelevant — he has the musical sophistication, which is to say access to the musical credibility, to do that, as, at the moment, the Sex Pistols don't.

From Michael Heatley's 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die

My Aim Is True was recorded, before the recruitment of The Attractions, in six four-hour sessions in an eight-track demo studio in North London Costello now likens to a telephone booth. It says much for the standard of the songwriting that his debut stands up as a classic. With future Doobie Brother John McFee laying down Byrds-like guitar licks, "Red Shoes" was an obvious single choice. It had been preceded by "Less Than Zero," inspired by British fascist leader Oswald Mosley, and the brilliant (and untypical) ballad "Alison," from whose lyric the album title had come. But it would take "Watching The Detectives" to make the necessary singles-chart mark at the very end of 1977. (Recorded with members of The Rumour, this track was included only on later reissues of the album.) The overriding emotion of My Aim Is True was a lack of satisfaction, openly expressed by "Blame It On Cain" and "Mystery Dance," while "No Dancing" was a second song to equate dancing and sex. 

Producer Nick Lowe, whom Costello had followed round the country when Lowe was frontman with Brinsley Schwarz, added just enough studio fairydust to make this a "proper" record rather than another set of demos, but there was no doubting songs like "Mystery Dance," with its Jerry Lee Lewis vibe, would add a new dimension live when attacked by The Attractions. Few of Costello's songs bar "Alison" have been covered, and this No. 14 album (in the UK), which retains its quirkiness today, suggests why. A heady combination of punk and quality songcraft, it remains unique even by Elvis' standards.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Boy Magazines

On July 22, 1977 Squeeze released their debut record, an EP titled "A Packet of Three". The title comes from a standard package of condoms in the UK, which is a good preview of the kind of humor Squeeze would inflict on listeners during the first two albums.  Inspired by punk  and a good dose of Dr. Feelgood by the sounds of it, the sessions for the three songs were produced by former Velvet Undergrounder John Cale , which shows how small the world is. Squeeze named their band after the 1973 Velvet Underground album whose only recognizable member was Doug Yule. Squeeze are Glenn Tilbrook, Chris Difford, Jools Holland, Harry Kakoulli and Gilson Lavis. The EP helped Squeeze get a deal with A and M Records.

Cale would also produce Squeeze's 1978 debut album, which would be a bit of a mess.