Posts Tagged punk rock
And it’s in Dr. Rock’s Top 10 best damn rock albums ever.
London Calling was released by The Clash and Epic Records in the U.K. 31 years ago today, December 14, 1979 (it came out in the U.S. in January 1980).
Without losing one snarling bit of the raw, nervous, socio-politically-nihilistic core of pure punk, The Clash spanned the huge gap between late 70s mainstream pop-rock, power pop and straight-up rock ‘n roll (on the one side – the left?) and the incessant driving noise of pure punk rock (on the right? – or whichever). They pulled everyone back into the middle ground. And London Calling’s no commercial sell-out. A double album (yes!), it’s is full of catchy riffs, toe-tapping rhythms, sing-along lyrics and more distinct genres than the Sex Pistols or Generation X could ever play. And it’s still very much pure punk.
London Calling mixes the shuffling reggae sounds of “Rudy Can’t Fail,” the anachronistic, danceable celebration of “Revolution Rock,” the pulsing but melodic punk of “Hateful,” the roots rockabilly of “Brand New Cadillac,” the metal-rock title track, and the hard-edged pop-rock of “Train In Vain” (which was not listed on the cover or Side 4 label of the original Epic vinyl release – but I’ve got mine!).
London Calling is an essential LP in any rocker’s collection. It’s a Grammy Hall of Fame record, #8 on the Rolling Stone Magazine list of the 500 top albums of all time, and #1 on the magazine’s Top 100 Albums of the 80s.
Soon after the release of the masterpiece Exile On Main Street in 1972, the Rolling Stones got caught in a fog of self-indulgent superstardom and lost their bearings. The four subsequent albums – Goats Head Soup (1973), It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll (1974), Black And Blue (1976) and Love You Live (1977) – were all chart toppers, but, with few exceptions, the material was largely mediocre. Ominously, while the band enjoyed its drug, booze and celebrity lifestyle, disco and punk rock were creeping in from the fringes of the mainstream, threatening to render the Stones superfluous to a new generation of rock and pop music fans.
Some Girls (released June 9, 1978) could aptly be named The Stones Strike Back. With Mick Jagger’s leadership and focus (Keith Richards was distracted by legal trouble from a heroin bust in Toronto in early 1977), the band settled into a five-month recording schedule in Paris that produced dozens of new tracks, many of which ended up on the LP. Some Girls takes direct aim at the mirror ball dance crowd with the thumping disco beat of “Miss You.” The steady roller “Shattered” serves up a 70s New York City street groove with a slice of proto-rap. “Lies” is straight-forward rock ‘n’ roll built on punk influences. “Before They Make Me Run” is Richards’ faux-country answer to the Toronto constabulary. The cover of the Temptations “Just My Imagination” provides a grittier, faster and louder version than the soul classic. “Respectable” and “When The Whip Comes Down” are decent second-tier Stones rockers. “Far Away Eyes,” and the title track add off-center flavor, and a personal favorite, “Beast Of Burden” is one of Jaggers’ best mid-tempo ballads, topping out the whole disc.
Some Girls jumpstarted the Stones’ career and led to three great albums and three major tours (two U.S. and one European) in the five years following its release. It registered #1 on Billboard’s Pop Album chart (#2 in the U.K.) in 1978 and is ranked #269 on Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 500 albums of all time. There are two Stones playlists for review and download (comments welcome!) in the Playlist Vault and Some Girls is on Amazon and iTunes.
Though rightly given the moniker “Godmother of Punk,” Patti Smith drew much broader appeal than that of the hard-core punks who came after her. (A Patti Smith playlist will be on DrRock.com shortly). Many of Smith’s earliest songs were primitive, stripped-down rock ‘n roll and garage rock in the punk vein. Her first two albums, Horses (1975) and Radio Ethiopia (1976) were unquestionably the lead-in to the punk movement. But she also delivered shining examples of toned-down punk with melodies and poetic lyrics that actually held meaning, and thus was far more accessible than most of the buzzsaw noise that pounded New York, London and Los Angeles in the late 70s.
Smith’s third album, the March 3, 1978 release, Easter was the most entertaining (and commercially viable) of all of her early works. Sure, there’s the fury of “Babelogue,” the snarl of “Space Monkey” and the indignation of “Rock N Roll Nigger.” But there’s also the straight-ahead rock of “Till Victory,” the sweetly plodding, vaguely choral sound of the title track, and the emphatic hit “Because The Night,” the song she co-wrote with Springsteen and took to Top 10 status in the U.K. and #13 in the U.S.
Smith moved just enough away from the punk movement she helped launch to score a Top 20 album that charted for over five months. And with Easter, she also unmistakably opened the door for 80s hard rocking females like Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, Joan Jett and the Wilson sisters of Heart.
The album title was a bit of shock for this Brit. What’s Boys Don’t Cry (BDC)? ‘Cos in the UK, it was Three Imaginary Boys. Whatever it’s called, it was the first record by The Cure, and introduced the world to Robert Smith and…ummm… the revolving cast of characters that his support band turned out to be. (For Dr. Rock’s playlist of The Cure, click here).
For those of used to the full-on guitar/tongue-in-cheek onslaught of the Sex Pistols and the quirky humor of the Stranglers and their keyboard-dominated-punk driven sound, The Cure were a definite WTF? moment. From the introspective, moody, Albert-Camus-inspired lyrics (and, yes, THAT’s where the lyrics for “Killing an Arab” came from) to the sparse, crisp, distortion-free and (dammit) intriguing guitar style of Mr. Smith, the Cure left its audience a bit baffled as to genre. They weren’t punk, ‘cos no one was spitting at them. They weren’t pop because Robert Smith didn’t look like he’d ever smiled inanely in his life; and Goth hadn’t been invented yet – although kudos to Howard Devoto’s Magazine, who were making serious strides in that direction before the Sisters of Mercy got going.
Overall a great album, and a neat glimpse into Mr. Smith’s highly-inventive guitar chops, which dominate here, before keyboards started pushing his sound a little off center stage in the next album, Seventeen Seconds.
Moonglum rating: 4 tubes of mascara (out of a possible 5).
Review by Moonglum.
Punk was cresting and the New Wave was just beginning to swell when the Pretenders (see my playlist here) floated their eponymous debut on January 19, 1980. Pretenders was one of those bridge-the-gap albums that clearly spanned the divide between the loud, raw energy of 70s British punk and the subtler, synthesized post-punk sounds of the 80s.
Ohio native Chrissie Hynde assembled her band in 1978 in London, where she’d been a music critic and aspiring songwriter. The band released several singles in 1979 and generated enough enthusiasm to produce a full album. The nucleus of Pretenders is several of those early tracks, including the cover of the Kinks’ “Stop Your Sobbing,” the glorious pop-rocker “Brass In Pocket” (#14 single in 1980) and a re-recorded version of staccato “The Wait” (a Dr. Rock favorite). Seven new songs round out the affair, notably a rolling “Tattooed Love Boys,” a jangly love song in “Kid” and a pop-based but still edgy “Mystery Achievement.” On all tracks, frontwoman Hynde’s beautifully confident, rich voice reaches above but still complements the riffs and solo spurts supplied by guitarist James Honeyman-Scott and the driving rhythm from bassist Peter Farndon and drummer Martin Chambers. (Sadly, Honeyman-Scott and Farndon would die from drug overdoses less than a year apart in 1982 and 1983).
Pretenders reached #1 on the U.K. album charts (#9 in the U.S.). I’ve included it as #10 on Dr. Rock’s Best Debut Albums (click here for the list) and #2 on my Top 25 Albums for 1980 (click here). Rolling Stone magazine ranked it #155 on their Top 500 Albums of All-Time. That should tell you enough about its place is your collection. Pretenders is available for download on iTunes (click here) and can be purchased as a CD or mp3 downloads from Amazon (click here).
London Calling is the best damn punk album ever. Period. It was released by The Clash (click here for my playlist) in the U.K. thirty years ago today on December 14, 1979 (it came out in the U.S. during January 1980).
Without losing one snarling bit of the raw, nervous, socio-politically nihilistic core of pure punk, The Clash spanned the late 70s abyss from mainstream pop-rock, power pop and straight-up rock ‘n roll to the driving noise of pure punk rock, and pulled everyone back across. And it’s no sell-out. A double album(!), London Calling is full of memorable riffs, toe-tapping rhythms, sing-along lyrics and more distinct genres than the Sex Pistols or Generation X could ever play. And it’s still basic punk.
London Calling has the shuffling reggae sounds of “Rudy Can’t Fail,” the anachronistic, danceable celebration of “Revolution Rock,” the pulsing but melodic punk of “Hateful,” the hard-rock title track, the roots rockabilly of “Brand New Cadillac,” and the hard-edged pop-rock of “Train In Vain” (which was not listed on the cover or Side 4 label of the original Epic vinyl release – but I’ve got mine!).
London Calling is an essential LP in any rock music collection. It’s a Grammy Hall of Fame record, #8 on the Rolling Stone Magazine list of the 500 top albums of all time, #1 on the magazine’s Top 100 Albums of the 80s, and available as a CD on Amazon (click here) and download tracks on iTunes (click here).