Spillyear 1977

If you’ve been paying attention over the last couple of weeks, you’ll have realised that our next stop is 1977.

What a momentous year for music! The top-selling singles in the UK were “Mull of Kintyre” by Wings, “Don’t Give Up On Us” by David Soul, Julie Covington singing “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina”, “When I Need You” by Leo Sayer and “Silver Lady” (David Soul again). Notable albums included Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours”, Meatloaf’s “Bat Out Of Hell” and “Going for the One” by Yes. Other best-selling records included “20 Golden Greats” by the Shadows, “20 Golden Greats” by Diana Ross and the Supremes and “The Sound of Bread”.

Am I missing out on anything significant?

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77 thoughts on “Spillyear 1977

  1. Posting this early as I’m on holiday this week (taking a break from living on a Caribbean island by going to a Caribbean island – hopping three stops down to St Lucia). Will be online only occasionally, but here’s three classics from entirely different genres to get the playlist started:

    1. Television – Marquee Moon
    2. Donna Summer – I Feel Love
    3. Bob Marley – Three Little Birds

    As for me, I didn’t exist for the first few months of 1977, but spent the second half in Papua New Guinea and Australia, in utero.

  2. What a year – something for everyone. Especially Wyngate. I’ll keep it to what i was listening to at the time though –

    Talking Heads – Psycho Killer
    Rolling Stones – Hot Stuff (live)

    and one i wasn’t –

    Wire – Reuters

    Honorble mention –

    Rose Royce – I’m Going Down
    Elvis Costello – Less than Zero and Alison
    Fleetwood Mac – Songbird
    Ian Dury – Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll
    Bob Marley – Waiting in Vain
    Tubes – White Punks on Dope

    One i wish i wasn’t listening to – Slowhand. Wasn’t yet listening to the Igster, but i did catch some Bowie.

    ok, over to the British people for this year. Some kinda vile American stuff out there.

  3. My first year having a ‘proper’ job – I worked in the DHSS in Woolwich. I had money which I burnt on booze and drugs and albums. What? – me save? No chance. My salary was my spending money. I lived in a grotty bedsit in Lewisham for 25 quid a week – it wasn’t easy even back then to find affordable, decent accommodation. It was a time of racial tension, with what we now call ‘racial profiling’ going on. The racist National Front were targetting Lewisham at the time, and this led to the ‘Lewisham Riots’ taking place. I was there helping to stop the National Front march down the High Street. Exhilarating, scary stuff.

    There was a huge disparity between what appeared in the charts and what was available on album. I had stopped following Top of the Pops by then, as it was remorseless pap. But the albums coming out were stunning. I’ll go for:

    Talking Heads – ‘Don’t worry About the Government’

    The Pistols – ‘Pretty Vacant’

    Culture – ‘Two sevens Clash’. I used to visit a mate in Brixton at the time, and we used to drink in The New Queen’s Head in Stockwell Road. The landlord was from the Carribbean and had a huge reggae collection which he played in place of a juke box. That is where I heard so much reggae for the first time, including Culture.

    • I was born in ’77 and spent the next ten years living in Catford and hanging out in Lewshum. The spririt of departed Elvis entered my body when I was born. Uh huh huh thankyewverymuch.

    • I too got my first real job in the DHSS (Department of Stealth and Total Obscurity) in 1977. I used to pass the building on the bus,on my way home from school. It was at the bottom of Lodge Causeway in Bristol. I always thought what a hideous building it was and how awful it must be to work there. And guess what?!

  4. Well, if Two Sevens Clash hadn’t just been taken it would have been my first choice, no question. Pretty Vacant might have been in there too but I think I’ll go for.

    Gary Gilmore’s Eyes – Adverts
    Showroom Dummies – Kraftwerk
    Watching The Detectives – Elvis Costello

    On paper, my life would have been a complete mess in 1977 as I had floundered through the first year of a University course and dropped straight out again. I was 19 though and living in London in the most exciting year for British music since 1963 (according to John Peel) so it all seemed pretty good to me.

    • Could have chosen a different Culture song of course. Or Roadrunner, Couldn’t Love You More – John Martyn, Oh Bondage Up Yours, several tracks from the first Clash album, Pretty Vacant, Heroes, Sheena, something from Pink Flag or New Boots and Panties, Eno’s By This River…………………………

  5. Sex Pistols – Pretty Vacant
    Stranglers – Something Better Change
    Bowie – Heroes

    Honorable Mentions:

    Junior Murvin – Roots Train
    Ultravox – Hiroshima Mon Amour
    Clash – White Man In Hammersmith Palaus

  6. I have to confess that, as a 16-year old, Afghan-wearing prog-rock fan, I didn’t really get the whole punk thing – in fact, if I’m totally honest, I’m not sure that I do now…

    I was listening to a lot of Genesis, Hatfield & The North and Caravan at the time and, while the occassional ‘pop’ song came to my attention, I tended to give TOTP and Radio 1 a fairly wide berth.

    I was just learning to love Steely Dan, so Peg, from 1977’s Aja album is my first choice. I’m not sure that I’d discovered the joys of Jonathan Richman yet but looking back, there’s probably no other album from 1977 which influenced my musical tastes quite as much the Modern Lovers Live – it sounds every bit as good today as it did back then. I give you The Morning Of Our Lives…

    My final choice is probably the closest I got to punk at the time – Eddie & The Hot Rod’s wonderfully shambolic Do Anything You Wanna Do.

  7. The bedroom punk band I was in used to cover “Bodies” by the Sex Pistols, so I’ll have that one. We also had a rip-off of “White Riot” by the Clash called “Punk Dog” (sample lyric: “Don’t throw me a stick. Unless you’re thick.”) and I’ll take “Lust for Life” as a third cos it’s Iggy.

  8. Anything before the 80’s is me rifling through my Dad’s record collection – trying to remember the sleeves makes ’77 is a bit like a pub landlord who has given up smoking – who after a few too many real ales is hiding outside behind the bins with 10 Silk Cut trying to remember what he enjoyed about smoking in the first place – it certainly wasn’t Silk Cut – then ending up feeling sick.

    With 2 children under the age of 10 my dads record buying habit had become a desperate grab for that hook he used to enjoy: There was some John Mayall and Wishbone Ash because he always still bought them, maybe some Motorhead, Fleetwood Mac because everyone had it, Saturday Night Fever (The Original Movie Sound Track) and Abba to cover the ‘new fangled’ disco thing … and well, not much more, oh that beefy bloke with the overwrought vocal and the homosexual one that my mum fancied weirdly! Meat Loaf and Queen – that’s it.

    From that; ’77 would be the pits of despair – but thankfully I had Our Price sales to catch later on in life:

    Suicide, Talkin Heads, X-ray spex, Ian Dury, Can, Jah Stich, Horace Andy, Television, Wire and Iggy Pop all make a show in my iTunes.

    My top 3 look and listen like this:
    Between Two Sheets Fred Wesley & The Horny Horns Feat. Maceo Parker
    Oh Bondage Up Yours! X-Ray Spex
    Wake Up and Make Love To Me Ian Dury

  9. 1977 was the year I became a Dad and started a career in IT. So, quite significant personally.

    Psycho Killer, Watching The Detectives and Ian Dury all jump out at me from comments above as being significant but I’ll go and ponder what else has stuck around. The Dead released Terrapin Station but I’m not sure I paid it much attention: I probably discovered a bit later how much I hated the song arrangements – a crime against some excellent songs.

    • Well… I probably have to admit that The EaglesHotel California made an impact alongside the more punky stuff, as did Bob Marley‘s Jamming. So I’ll pick those two and the magnificently rude Billericay Dickie by Ian Dury:

      Had a love affair with Nina
      In the back of my Cortina
      A seasoned up hyena could not have been more obscener
      She took me to the cleaners
      And other misdemeanours
      But I got right up between her
      Rum and her Ribena

      • Wikipedia has the Eagles at 1976, fwiw.

        That’s exactly why stuff like the Heads and Elvis Costello were so welcome though. That west coast thing – Eagles, Jackson Browne, Lind Ronstadt, Fleetwood Mac, etc – was becoming beyond anemic here. Not to mention disco. After 1977 we had Devo, the Cars, B-52’s, Tubes, Dead Kennedys, Ramones, etc, and a breath of badly needed fresh air. Even though a lot of those bands didn’t stick around too long.

    • The album came out in ’76 but the single was released in Feb ’77.

      I know what you mean, amy. I came to detest The Eagles’ Greatest Hits album we acquired, for its bland smoothness. But HC has a chord progression to rival Pachabel’s Canon.

      • The years do get kind of confusing to look at the album vs. singles charts. For us anyway, due to FM radio and AOR – we heard a lot of the stuff before the singles came out. By ’77 though, college radio was becoming the coffin nail in FM.

        Peak position for Psycho Killer on US Billboard charts is #92. And yet we all knew the song at the time.

  10. 1977 was the most brilliant year ever because I left school on Thursday and started work on the following Monday. I hated school, couldn’t wait to get out and start earning. I met an older lady called Sheila who looked after me on my first day at work and who is still a good friend, 38 years and 200 miles later. She inducted me into the local lunch-time pubs, too, though neither of us had much money so this was a once-a-week treat.

    It’s hard to pick out songs or bands that haven’t already been mentioned. I used to go clubbing (rock discos, I suppose) a few times a week and see bands locally. My boyfriend was an idiot but I hadn’t worked that out at the time and I hung around with him and his mates because most of my friends had gone to university. Like Toffeeboy, I liked Caravan, genesis, ELP and what was classed geberally as “prog rock”. Songs I particularly remember off the top of my head (that’s not to say they were the best, but they were popular) are:

    Black Betty – Ram Jam Band – (clubbing at The Granary)
    Egyptian Reggae – (dancing at The Plume of Feathers when my friend came home for the Christmas holidays)
    Alessi – O Lori – (no idea why I liked this, it’s not my normal “thing” but it sticks in the mind).

    • I was a snot-nosed alcoholic coke-snorting pothead bored to death in high school. Spent my time at keg parties and sneaking into bars as an underage, but nobody much bothered with IDs at the time. I’m sure i must have worked some sort of crap job for weed money. I took a college art class in the fall, and my friends were starting to turn 18 (legal age at the time) and were able to sign their own absence notes and permission slips to be able to smoke on the high school campus. I had a late birthday so i couldn’t do that, so i graduated a half year early at the end of ’77, and then worked full time at the college bookstore before starting university the next autumn.

  11. Okay I’m gonna cheat because I was alive and engaging with music, but not the same music as I like from then now, so at the time when I was an infant

    David Soul – Silver Lady
    Abba – Knowing Me, Knowing You
    Queen- Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy

    Richard Hell – Blank Generation
    The Danmed – Feel the Pain
    T Rex – Dandy In the Underworld

    (Bowie and Iggy, but they’re already in the list, I think)

  12. Ok, I added Black Betty this morning, I think before Alimunday did because I checked them through first! 😉 So she’s free to choose another one if she wishes (great choice all time favourite) and then just now I added the Sex Pistols God Save The Queen because it was the first song that actually came to mind this morning but another Pistols song had been nominated, but then as nobody else had added it by this evening I thought why not, following it with a complete contrast, Paul Simon’s Slip-Slidin’ Away. 1977 a very happy year, all good memories.

    • Ooops, sorry Suzi – I can’t seem to delete it so perhaps Barbryn can – if not you’ll all have to suffer twice!

    • Awww, go on then, I’ll have Manhattan Transfer and “On a Little Street in Singapore” – dancing with Nicky at the student union bar (seem to have danced a lot)!

  13. Don’t have too many musical memories of ’77 that didn’t involve Sesame Street, what with just turning seven and all, but here goes a pretty diverse bunch:

    1) Jerry Reed – East Bound And Down put dat hamma down and give ’em heeeell!

    2) Peter Gabriel – Solsbury Hill One of the best uses of an odd time signature

    3) Idris Muhammad – Turn This Mutha Out FUN-KAY!

  14. ’77 at Uni with a foot in both camps -old farts at the Liverpool Empire and young punks at Erics
    Saw the Going for the One at some vast shed, New Bingley Hall, Awaken was jaw-droppingly beautiful
    There were burn marks on the ceiling from the night before when Floyd’s airplane dive to start DSOTM got stuck against a vent .. so maybe they were they were touring Animals
    Rainbow On Stage – the vinyl didn’t have Stargazer – but Mistreated is a highlight
    Genesis Seconds OUt .. saw Phil wearing a yellow onesie like some big budgie .. Cinema Show for drums & Firth of Fifth for Hackett
    Hillage possibly L in that year Hurdy Gurdy
    Then all the punks .. with the Heads and Richman my faves .. the Buzzcocks best of the lot live .. and the Stiffs

  15. 1977 – Girl Guides, Silver Jubilee memorial coins and my favourite DJ, Johnnie Walker, lamenting that the greatest rock band in the world had been knocked off the top of the charts by three actresses, only one of whom could sing.

    I was a little schoolgirl, still listening to Radio One and just starting to experiment with treasures found in the music department at the local library (Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin). I was probably listening to

    Status Quo – Rockin’ All Over The World
    Stevie Wonder – Sir Duke
    Tom Robinson Band – 2-4-6-8 Motorway

    • Aargh, wikipedia is telling me that Really Free was 1977, so I’m going to have to add that to the list (although I very much suspect that I wasn’t listening to it until 1978). Our home economics teacher was Wild Winnie Barrett, which may have led to the original popularity of this track at my school, but it remains the only single I still own.

      • I saw Otway perform that song about a week ago at the London Palladium for John Shuttleworth’s MS fund-raiser. Lovely bloke. Jilted John was on the bill too. Shuttleworth didn’t hang around to watch that bit.

    • I’m not going to lie: the Silver Jubilee party on our Close was brilliant, one of my most vivid memories of the year – we won Best Decorated Street In Runcorn, the prize for which was most of the parents disappearing down the pub, and all us kids playing out until it had long since gone dark.

      Of course, LFC were responsible for the other vivid memories of ’77.

      • My friend Fatma and I walked up to the old hill camp in the dark to celebrate at a Jubilee bonfire party. Walking back through dark, muddy fields after drinking cider was … interesting.

  16. 1977 is an interesting one for me. For most of ’77 I was twelve years old; first year of senior school (20 miles away from the one I lived near, that ALL my junior school friends went to). So with no new or old friends available to do anything like junior discos, my music exposure was still strictly radio – Radio 1, Radio City and Radio Luxembourg. I bought my first serious single AND first serious album in 1978, so for 1977 I know I can concentrate on singles not albums.

    I’ll look up those lists of singles later; just ticking the ‘Notify Comments’ box for now.

  17. !976-77 were halcyon days, for me the start of an obsession that pretty much took over my young life. I’m talking of course about Dr Who. Deadly Assassin, Robots Of Death, Talons Of Weng-Chiang, 3 of my top 5 ever stories in one season. Great days. I went dressed as the Doctor to our Silver Jubilee fancy dress party. Speaking of which , apparently there were other things going on culturally at the time.
    I’m going to throw in a contentious statement and say that 1977 was by no means the best year for punk rock, that was still to come and I’ll wait til we get there. There was good stuff, just not as much as some later years. There were also a lot of bands that came through that did their best stuff later (Wire and The Jam come straight to mind)
    Onto my three choices

    The Clash – Complete Control

    The best record made by human beings! They got Lee Perry to produce, when he’d done his bit Mick Jones decided to mix the guitars louder again. If by some chance you’ve not heard it before give it about 2 minutes because that’s about when it becomes the best record ever.

    Some Chicken – Blood On The Wall

    Punk was as much about 100s of no hopers making one or two 7″s on the cheap before disappearing as it was about the big bands. This piece of pogo punk with shock/horror lyrics typifies that.

    The Lurkers – Freak Show

    They probably should have come and gone as well but somehow in various versions have managed to survive. This is their second 7″ and still their best – classic punk snottiness.

    • I’ve got a self-imposed rule of not picking more than one song by the same artist for each year, which is why it’s not just three Clash songs. Other favourites from 77 :

      Penetration – Don’t Dictate
      Buzzcocks – Orgasm Addict
      Slaughter & The Dogs – Cranked Up Really High
      The Drones – City Drones
      Cock Sparrer – We Love You
      Johnny Moped – No One
      Chelsea – High Rise Living
      My Pistols choice would probably be Bodies

      Just waiting for Pairubu to come along and say hat apart from Johnny Moped none of these were punk…

      • Not at all, you’re fine with all those ( except , perhaps, Cock Sparrer who could, perhaps, be called “proto-Oi” ( I made that up !).
        Your choice of Some Chicken was spot on , really, the true espirte du Punque, was, IMHO, scruffy scruffs making their own noise and , if lucky, recording and releasing the results on the cheap.

        Acutally Moped was probably the least “punk” of your selection, they verged on prog at times ( kind of) and didn’t embrace the spikes and leather look at all. They looked like what they were, a bunch of scruffy oiks from Croydon and that , I think , was their charm and value.
        “Oik power”, that’s the essence.

      • They were , I never get bored with them. In fact I think I’ll watch them again soon , as soon as Mrs wyngatecarpenter is watching one of the endless supply of NCIS episodes she’s recorded…

  18. So, from ,looking at the rateyourmusic list, singles that I remember being fond of on release in ’77 included:

    Donna Summer – I Feel Love
    Eagles – Hotel California
    Plastic Bertrand – Ca Plane Pour Moi
    Tom Robinson band – 2-4-6-8 Motorway
    Status Quo – Rockin’ All Over The World
    Marie Myriam – L’Oiseau Et L’Enfant
    Julie Covington – Only Women Bleed
    ELP – Fanfare For the Common Man

    But the three I’m picking are:
    Space Art – Onyx.
    Ram Jam – Black Betty.
    Yes – Wondrous Stories.

    Remember, I was still around 12 months away from really latching onto UFO, KISS, AC/DC etc., which is why none of those subsequent faves get a mention for within 1977. I heard Devo’s early singles and White Punks On Dope from a friend’s older brother, but even there I suspect that’d not be until the following year.

    I did notice the Genesis Spot The Pigeon EP, which I had totally forgotten about. I did have that (though not in ’77). I don’t now. Wonder where that went?

    • Ca plane pour moi was 1977, too? Scrap my list, I need to have that one!

      M. Bertrand was on Village du Départ yesterday, performing this little ditty and looking incredibly well for his age 😉 Actually, he sounded much better than back then, too, but wasn’t there some fuss that it hadn’t actually been him singing on the original hit? Belgium’s answer to Milli Vanilli?

  19. 1977! I’m amazed. I can actually see how much my tastes were actually already formed by then.

    Bowie’s Heroes and Sound and Vision made me dream and never fail to raise the hairs on the back of my neck. Love that sound.

    I remember standing on the back lawn (probably playing football or cricket) and my father was doing something by the windows and his paint-splattered Roberts radio was blasting out Donna Summer’s I Feel Love. From that image of looking back at the radio I can describe everything from the warmth of the evening to the nest the housemartins made under the eaves.

    Punky/power pop tunes in my head would be TRB’s 2-4-6-8 Motorway and Something Better Change and Don’t Dictate and Do Anything You Wanna Do, Dancing the Night Away.

    I’m amazed at how many tunes I remember from that year. Boogie Nights, Lido Shuffle, Magic Fly, Oxygene, Uptown Top Ranking, She’s Not There, Black is Black, Supernature, Spanish Stroll, Nights on Broadway, Easy, Car Wash, I Wanna Get Next to You. Also lots of Fleetwood Mac, 10cc, Foreigner (Foreigner!), Elvis Presley, Elkie Brooks, Status Quo, Abba in there too. Will now go and rewatch Life on Mars.

    The other hipper stuff comes later. I’ll choose Spanish Stroll, Uptown Top Ranking, Sound and Vision.

  20. Bob Marley – Exodus
    Reluctantly demoted the sweet Three Little Birds for the anthemic Exodus because “We know where we’re going/We know where we’re from” still inspires me. Six of the 10 songs on Exodus made his best-of album.

    Ramones – Do You Wanna Dance
    Perfecting the 2-minute pop song. Loved My Aim Is True, but why drink from the end of the hose when you can sip from the spring. (???)

    Fela Kuti – Sorrow Tears and Blood
    Non-esoteric jazz and no-ego funk/afrobeat, with a social conscience.

  21. I’d have heard this stuff later, only chart stuff at the time. but as they were out then.

    hanging around – stranglers. probably my favourite intro
    ex-lion tamer – wire. probably my favourite song about milk bottles and fish fingers
    venus – television. I didn’t hear marquee moon until after I’d got into felt and really hear the influence.

    love a lot of stuff mentioned. pretty vacant, new rose, alison, orgasm addict etc

  22. So much to dond here – lots of amazing stuff.

    I was born the previous November, mere weeks before the Pistols appeared on the Bill Grundy show!

    My three are:

    Crime – Murder by Guitar (still the coolest band to ever walk the earth!)
    Suicide – Rocket U.S.A. (still the secons coolest band to ever walk the earth!)
    Congos – Fisherman (a bone fide classic!)

  23. “1977 and we are going mad” sand wor Polly. And she was right. I certainly was. A reluctant student who chose the course on the basis of it being in London and , therefore, making my long held ambition to be in the heart of punkdom possible.
    However, the grant system and the cunning plan of staying in the cheapest slum landlord owned digs possible left me, for the first time, with money for gigs, records and ill fitting clothes.
    Bliss it was to be alive !

    I’d go for

    Abyssinians – Declaration of Rights – Along with Two Sevens Clash this LP was practically compulsory for all punks and very good it was too.

    The Germs – Forming – Badly recorded , incomprehensible and laughingly un-musical. Just as it should be.

    Puncture – Mucky Pup – Much played in the clubs of yore.

  24. I hadn’t realised quite what a phenomenal year this was. Thanks everyone.

    And nice to see some more people joining in. Come back next week when we’ll be doing… well, that would be telling.

  25. Bit late but 1977 was the best year for music ever imho although I guess I was a bit young for the 60s but to pick just 3 songs from that year is nigh on impossible and a number have already been chosen (Complete Control, etcetc) still

    1) 1977 – The Clash
    2) Breakdown – Buzzcocks
    3) Venus de Milo – Television

  26. Late with my comments, due to being away on holiday.

    1977 was a glorious year for music. I was living in Notting Hill, which felt like the centre of the musical universe for a while.

    It was the year when things really came back to life for me. I wasn’t a student any more and I was working and had some money. I began to buy a lot more music.

    Most of the things I’d have picked are already in the comments so, leaving aside the two (cultural and musical game-changing) giants of the year, The Pistols and The Clash, I’ll just mention;

    Television – Venus De Milo
    Talking Heads – Psycho Killer
    Elvis Costello – Less Than Zero

  27. Boogie Nights ~ Heatwave
    Star Wars theme/Cantina Band ~ Meco
    Higher and Higher ~ Rita Coolidge
    gotta add
    Slow Dancin’ ~ Johnny Rivers

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