Spillyear 1976

I usually do a Google image search of the year in question to find a picture to go at the top of the post. It’s an interesting exercise, bringing up a ragbag of magazine covers, film posters, logos from sporting events, cars and soft porn.

In this case, there were a few images accompanying a survey from a couple of years ago claiming that 1976 was the best time to be young. I’m not buying it, personally – I’m not finding a huge amount to get excited about musically – but then again, I wasn’t born. So what do I know?

Listen to the case for the defence here

Add your top 3 here

56 thoughts on “Spillyear 1976

  1. So I’ve kicked off the playlist with:
    Candi Staton’s joyous Young Hearts Run Free
    Bob Dylan’s terrorist anthem Isis
    Joni Mitchell’s dense, intense Song for Sharon

      • Add in Motown, Stax, Northern Soul, etc. and you’ve got yourself a PhD thesis. Actually, a quick look at my 1976 collection on the computer reveals a real hedonistic party streak to disco/funk in ’76. Oh! And two classics I wish I’d mentioned. They can wait.

        I remember playing cricket non-stop that summer and wanting to be Michael Holding or Andy Roberts. I also had a chopper. An ace summer to be 10.

  2. Wild Cherry – Play that Funky Music
    Rose Royce – Car Wash
    10cc – Art for Arts Sake

    I guess I should go for the obvious punk tunes or Bowie or Richman but I remember these three from Piccadilly Radio 261

  3. Blimey I was wondering last week when we would do 1976. I suppose the clever thing would be to have worked out what three songs to choose. Which are….

    Sex Pistols – Anarchy In the UK
    Joan Armatrading – Love and Affection
    Junior Murvin – Police and Thieves

    Isis is also my favourite track from Desire. Nearly included something from The Ramones and Modern Lovers first albums. at the time I would have included Graham Parker’s Hotel Chambermaid.

    I took my A-Levels in summer 1976. Yes it was hot. We should have had an upgrade.

    • oh, oops, sorry, have nominated Love and Affection too, missed seeing on reading through so it will appear twice. Don’t know how to remove from Boombox list, big donds, probably my favourite song of the year.

      • I loved that song and still do. Unfortunately I’m so out of touch with what’s going on these days that I didn’t even hear about her final major tour (playing solo) until it was almost over and I was far too late to attend.

      • She appeared at Cambridge folk fest, one of my reasons for going there after a long break. The other reasons were Peggy Seeger, which I absolutely would not have missed, Katzenjammer, and Joan Baez although there was plenty more to enjoy. But oh how I wish they’d get their act together, hire proper marquees instead of the relics that they have, and sort out the sound system, which is better outside the marquees than inside except that then you can’t see the artists except on screens which are a recent innovation – a few years ago they didn’t even have those.

  4. And (although I wasn’t aware of it at the time) Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ eponymous first album burst upon the scene…and was ignored in the US while finding some following over here. I’ll choose the little-known Mystery Man which is in my top 11 TP favourites. Also eponymous was the first Five Hand Reel album – I’ll have Both Sides Of The Forth. And Martin Carthy’s Crown Of Horn had the mighty Palaces Of Gold.

  5. Ah, 1976, the year of the long, heatwave summer. I was living in a flat near Clapham Common at the time and it was so hot indoors that we used to spend as much time as possible at the pub, or on the Common.

    Musically, it was the year before Punk came along and turned it all upside down. I was vaguely aware of people who were deliberately dressing differently, with short hair and drainpipe jeans, I used to see them in Soho, Covent Garden and around Leicester Square. It was also the year that the Peter Gabriel-free Genesis released A Trick Of The Tail which sounded pretty much like Genesis with Peter Gabriel.

    What was I listening to, though? Well, a lot of reggae, country rock, folk and all the same kind of stuff that I’d been listening to for the previous few years.

    What was I buying? Led Zeppelin‘s Presence and The Song Remains the Same, Joni Mitchell‘s Hejira, L by Steve Hillage, the afore-mentioned A Trick Of The Tail, Steve Miller‘s Fly Like An Eagle, Chicken Skin Music from Ry Cooder and Spirit‘s Farther Along.

    So, what shall I pick? I think I’ll start with some Joni.


    Joni Mitchell – Coyote
    Steve Hillage – Electrick Gypsies
    Genesis – Ripples

      • TOTT was the last Genesis album that I bought. It is certainly the last one that I wholeheartedly liked. There are some decent tracks on Wind & Wuthering but by the time it came out (was that early 1977 or the end of 1976) I was moving on to different things. I heard Television right at the beginning of 1977, for example, and bought Marquee Moon as soon as it came out.

  6. I was six in ’76 – I spent my time planting celery on my dad’s smallholding – there was a stream between us and the mental asylum; it never dried up in the boiling heat wave, however much we stole water from it, to grow our crops. ’76 and ’77 were the only years that I’ve know the old man to make money out of farming.
    My brother being older (8 going on 48) took us out on strike – our 14 1/2 pence per hour was negotiated to peace time – a good move in reality – as we made far more money (1/2 pence per bunch of radish/ spring onions picked or 5p per row of celery planted) but our 25p per week pocket money was stopped to cope with our new found wealth.
    50 Black Jacks and Rhubarb and Custard chewy sweets, each and every pocket money day, had taken it’s toll on my teeth anyway… with more wealth I could buy Norwich City football stuff and really stand out on the streets of Kent. It obviously toughened me up into the all seeing, all go getting, all confident, extreme alpha male that I am today – Here’s:

    Blondie – Rip Her to Shreds

    Donna Summer – Wasted

    Prince Nico Mbarga – Sweet Mother

  7. A great great year and almost impossible to pick 3 but

    That’s What They All Say – Graham Parker
    Keys to Your Heart – The 101ers
    Get Out of Denver – Eddie and the Hot Rods (live)

    also rans

    New Rose – The Damned
    Train Train – Count Bishops
    The Blitzkrieg Bop – Ramones
    Gloria – Patti Smith
    I’m Stranded – The Saints
    Final Solution – Pere Ubu

  8. I was seventeen, still (reluctantly) at school, coming up for A levels or OA levels or somesuch, or both. It was a scorching summer and there were hoards of ladybirds, I remember walking up Wellington Hill West on the way back from school with my friend, and we were covered in them. Struggling to think of what I was listening to but will go with these:

    Steve Miller – Fly Like and Eagle
    Stevie Wonder – Sir Duke
    John Miles – Music

  9. Age five, going on six. My father had been driving trucks for about 10 years. He started out doing mostly short runs to Atlanta or Memphis, but started taking on longer and longer runs and hazardous cargo. Enough to worry a wife with two small children waiting nervously at home in a bad part of town. He was finally persuaded – that is, threatened with divorce – if he didn’t give it up which he did in late ’76. Right at the height of that whole “Trucker as Last American Cowboy, 10-4?” craze, which saddened me at the time.

    Oh there was also a Bicentennial celebration. Honestly don’t remember much about it. Dad hated parades (“All’s they do is block traffic when I’m tryin’ to get somewheres!”) and fireworks (“Just wastin’ money! You maz well just set it on fire as blowin’ it up!”). So I think we just stayed home. 😦

    1) Blue Oyster Cult – Don’t Fear The Reaper I gotta have more cowbell!
    2) The Manhattans – Kiss And Say Goodbye Originally composed as a country song, it just works so well. One of the last of a dying breed before disco took over.
    3) Kenny Rogers – Love Lifted Me “Hey mama, that’s a church song! What’s it doin’ on the radio?”

      • Just called Mama: “Lands sakes, boy. We did not stay at home for the Bicentennial! Don’t you remember? I yelled at you ’cause you were going with them older boys and tryin’ to put pennies on the railroad track, ‘stead of watchin’ your sister in the parade?”
        Oh yeah, I do kind of remember now!

  10. I was 16 with a limited allowance in 1976 so I’m not taking the blame for Al DiMeola, Seals & Crofts, George Benson, Olivia Newton John…OMG, it goes on and on. But lots of good suggestions above, and:

    Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson – Bicentennial Blues (1976 was the 200th anniversary of America’s Declaration of Independence, and [white] Americans were celebrating themselves. “The blues has grown, but the country has not. The blues remembers everything, the country forgot.”
    Tom Waits – Bad Liver And A Broken Heart
    Bee Gees – Love Me
    Can’t believe I decided not to list one of my favourite Guy Clark songs, Anyhow, I Love You. But, Bee Gees 🙂 It’s tough getting these things down to 3!

    Emmylou Harris, Waylon Jennings and Rodney Crowell sing harmonies on the Guy Clark song and Jennings gets in some wicked Telecaster licks. Heck of a studio session that must have been!

    • Oh, and apologies but I boomboxed Gil Scott-Heron’s Let Me See Your I.D., but realized later it was only on the remastered/rereleased From South Africa To South Carolina, not the 1976 original.

  11. Hmm, year zero-1:

    Modern Lovers – She Cracked
    Yabby You – Conquering Dub
    B. O. Cult. – (Don’t Fear) The Cowbell

    New Rose & Ramones sound very dated now, but still fun. Always liked Patti Smith’s attitude more than her tunes.

  12. The year I did my Finals at Thames Poly. I remember getting stoned and playing frisbee on Plumstead Common after a hard day’s study. The sun wouldn’t stop shining. I got a 2:2. A just reward for all my efforts. I went on to start working for the DHSS in September of that year.

    Anyway, three for the pot:

    Dr Feelgood – ‘Back in the Night’ just pips ‘Roxette’
    The Flamin’ Groovies – ‘Shake some Action’
    Bob Seger – ‘Night Moves’

  13. Aargh – got the wrong year for Dr Feelgood. Quick amendment: ‘One more cup of Coffee’ from Desire. Played the album remorselessly. And donds to all that has gone before.

  14. A year I don’t particularly remember, musically. The top 100 singles webpage tells me that there were an awful lot of awful songs in the charts. Desire was the only album I bought (plus The Eagles’ Greatest Hits for my wife). Like Tempus, ‘One More Cup of Coffee’ was my favourite track.
    By the end of 1976 we were expecting a child, perhaps like the music scene. Both turned out to be noisy, snot-nosed and wearing nappy pins, but ours wasn’t a bastard…..

  15. I loved Desire, save for the Hurricane. Big donds for One More Cup of Joe and Isis. also Love and Affection, Don’t Fear the Reaper, Blitzkreig Bop, Wild Cherry, Sex Pistols.

    I see Barbryn’s point about nothing overly inspiring here, on the surface, it was more of a wrapping up of what was, and seeds of what was to come, not all of it good. Still some jewels in there though.

    Stones – Hey Negrita – a very mighty un-PC tune that showed that they hadn’t quite lost it yet. Chuck in Hand of Fate, Memory Motel and Hot Stuff too. Some might even slip in Fool to Cry.

    Aerosmith – Back in the Saddle – cheesy lyrics, kickass riff.

    Ohio Players – Who’d She Coo – funky funky funky

    also –

    Bowie – Station to Station, Stay – probably my favorite post-Ziggy album.
    Ramones – I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend, I Wanna Sniff Some Glue
    Dylan – Sara
    Rose Royce – I’m Going Down
    Earth Wind and Fire – Getaway
    Heart – Magic Man

  16. This is really difficult. Plenty of good songs, someothers not so great, quite a few cover versions, Very hard for me to pick out of the good ones but will try

    Love and Affection – Joan Armatrading
    Flying Sorcery – Al Stewart
    Hotel California – The Eagles

    Had a few doubts about the last one as being over-familiar, but then such a classic. Also considered –

    Somebody to Love – Queen
    Fool to Cry – The Stones
    The Boys Are Back In Town – Thin Lizzy
    Dancing Queen and Knowing Me, Knowing You – Abba
    The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald – Gordon Lightfoot

    Donds for Blondie noms. Would have picked Rip Her To Shreds but already nominated!

    • oh, rats, missed seeing Severin’s Love and Affection nom, rather skipped through as felt I really ought to be doing something else. I don’t know how to remove it from Boombox so it will have to stay. My favourite song of the year. Living in Bristol at the time, we’d bought a lovely Victorian house near the Gloucester Road. I can’t honestly remember buying many records but listened a lot to the radio and watched the Old Grey Whistle Test every week.

    • Rhiannon, The Boys Are Back In Town and I’m Mandy Fly Me were three jukebox perennials all summer in our favourite pub back in 1976. Unfortunately, Jeans On by David Dundas was also a popular choice with the clientele, as was Afternoon Delight.

  17. 1976, A few albums and titles come to mind.

    BMW – Rastaman Vibration. – War
    Joan Armatrading – Love and Affection;
    Peter Tosh – Legalise It.
    Burning Spear – Marcus Garvey.
    Joni Mitchell – Hejira.
    Junior Murvin – Police and Thieves
    In a dis ‘ya Time – the Itals
    Forward Jah Jah Childen – Inner Circle

    In most cases the title cut would be the choice, particularly Peter Tosh, Joan Armatrading, Burning Spear, Junior Murvin, The Itals, but for the others I’d choose Joni’s Coyote or Amelia, Bob’s ‘War’. To pick just three, it’d have to be

    Bob – War
    Junior Murvin ‘Police’
    Spear – Marcus.

    • Marcus Garvey and U-Roy‘s Dread In A Babylon were two albums I played a lot in 1976. They belonged to one of my flatmates, so I didn’t pick anything from them because I didn’t own any of them until 1977, when I’d moved to Notting Hill and bought them in one go at the Virgin Records there, which is also where I bought Never Mind The Bollocks.

      Another one I played a lot was Max Romeo‘s War Ina Babylon, which I’ve still never got round to owning. I ought to remedy that.

      • Very good, definitely U Roy and Max Romeo, don’t know what I was[n’t[ thinking, ditto Diamonds, and I’ve got all those albums, I should take a quick scan through the vinyl.

  18. at Uni in Liverpool with Eric’s opening just about due, but still seeing the old farts at the Empire and Uni itself .. Blackmore was in Rainbow — so Stargazer
    Rennaisance Live at Carnegie came out in 76 with Ashes are Burning and a great bass solo
    Hillage did L at the Empire .. wish i knew who the support band were – they were amazing
    and it was Presence then Achiles Last Stand .
    with a shout for Gary Moore in Colluseum II on electric gypsy album

    • Erics opened in 76 with the Runaways and then Stranglers .. third band Sex Pistols who i missed due to travelling home .. it was great to hear Cherry Bomb in that film Guardians of the Galaxy .. we’d have heard RoadRunner as a flatmate ordered it at Probe as an import ‘cos he’d read a review of the Berkeley compilation it was on (that and Picasso ) .. it played non-stop at Erics as no officially punk records were out yet .. it also played non-stop at the student house as he used to left the record player arm open to just repeat records he liked .. new rose was on for several days solid when it arrived

  19. 14 and oblivious of what was just around the corner :

    ‘Show Me The Way’ – Peter Frampton
    ‘New Kid In Town’ – The Eagles
    ‘Lowdown’ – Boz Scaggs

    Spent too much time listening to Nicky Horne on Capital Radio (in tune with nothing!)

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