Stylus subscriber Mike Pearce earmarks eight great records that, this year, join him in celebrating the big 4-0
Words Mike Pearce
Yup. I’m 40. But hey, 40 is the new 30, or so they say. And, importantly, I’m now able to have an early night whenever I want, without having to make excuses.
The year 1977 was very cool. Not only was I born (ahem), but Star Wars Episode IV came out, while the first Rocky movie and Saturday Night Fever were also released. The Apple II series computer made its debut, and Queen Elizabeth the 2nd celebrated 25-years on the throne. Oh, and let’s not forget, the last ever execution by guillotine was carried out in France and Elvis Presley died on the toilet. What a year!
On top of that, Punk became a thing. The Clash released their first album and the Sex Pistols got the sack by EMI, before getting picked up by Virgin and releasing Nevermind the Bollocks! The Buzzcocks, The Jam and The Damned also released their debuts records too. It really was an incredible year. I feel a genuine pang of sadness that I had only just been squirted into existence…
Anyway, on to the albums I wanted to give a shout-out to – these are in addition to those mentioned above. They’re not in any particular order, but some, I think, you really should own. Even if that makes me sound like your dad. Which I am not. Hopefully…
David Bowie Heroes
No list would be complete without at least one Bowie record and, although it’s hard to believe, this was his 12th studio album. Frankly, I think it’s the best of the so-called “Berlin trilogy” – a collection of records he made with Brian Eno. It’s features some straight up pop in places, but always with a dark undertone that makes the spine tingle.
The record also includes a couple of instrumental tracks. For me, the best is ‘Sense of Doubt’, which makes me think of that “I-can’t-stop-looking-at-Bowies-package” classic, Labyrinth. And it screams “Eno”. While the album only reached number three in the UK charts, it stayed there for 26 weeks. If you ask me, if you’re going to only own one Bowie album, it should be Ziggy Stardust. But if you want another, Heroes should be next in line.
Opening with the best frickin’ bass licks found on any album ever (bold statement, I know), this album – the band’s debut – punches you in the face, while smothering you with a pile of sweaty leather trousers. Now, it’s not strictly their first album, as the band had other recordings, but those weren’t released until Motorhead had became a commercial success.
This album is raw and unadulterated. It’s worth owning just to hear the line: ‘And Sally buys her underwear from a store where no-one goes, she makes it big in photographs, on the strength of what she shows.’ Tut tut.
Foghat Foghat Live
Essentially, this is a greatest hits record. And, unless you’re a super fan, it’s probably all you’ll need. It’s one of the best live albums you’ll hear from this period and is the band’s best-selling record, to date. For good reason too.
If you know the songs, they really are sing-along material. I think the best song on the album, by far, is ‘Slow Ride’. I’ve whiled away hours trying to master it on Guitar Hero III. However, the lyrics are a bit naff, but it’s ideal for a little bit of one-on-one gyration, if you get what I mean?
Quick note: if you do enjoy this record, then you should also get Night Shift. The intro to the song ‘Drivin’ Wheel’ will make you shake your head, tap your feet and reconsider your life choices. Trust me.
Steely Dan Aja
Apparently, this album is pronounced “Asia”. Just saying.
Anyway, with this record, Steely Dan created what is possibly one of the most finely produced, and engineered, albums the world has seen. It’s a beautiful combination of jazz and laid back rock – Jazz Rock, I suppose. It’s the kind of music you put on with the lights down low, a black Russian cocktail in-hand and someone you love by your side.
Since its release, the album has gone platinum, selling over 5-million copies. It’s also won a Grammy for the Best Engineered Non-Classical Recording (never even heard of that award) and is on Rolling Stones’ 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. That makes it a good album in anyone’s book (unless you only listen to Black Metal, of course).
My favourite track is ‘I Got The News’, which reminds me of some Miles Davis’s later stuff. It’s worth adding to your collection, if only to appreciate what an album, produced to this level, sounds like at full volume.
Part two of this feature coming soon…
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