KamerTunesBlog

Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time

Forty Year Friday – …AND THE REST (PART 1)

[Welcome to Forty Year Friday, the weekly series on my favorite albums of 1977]

Nearly every Friday since the start of 2017 I’ve been writing about one (and occasionally two) of my favorite albums from 1977. It’s been an immensely enjoyable opportunity to look back on an incredible year of music, and (just like last year, with the Thirty Year Thursday look back at 1986) it kept me connected with readers, friends & fellow bloggers during an extremely busy time in my life. For more than two years I’ve been unable to focus on the original purpose of this blog (revisiting the complete catalogs of the lesser-played artists in my collection), so this has been a wonderful outlet for generating conversations with my fellow music lovers. As of last week I’ve covered 47 albums from ’77 over the course of 41 posts. There are still numerous albums I didn’t get to discuss but, as 2017 draws to a close and blogging time remains limited, I’ve decided to showcase four of them at a time across a handful of posts, with brief summaries and an audio sample for each.


As I explained toward the end of Thirty Year Thursday: Much like Russell Johnson and Dawn Wells, who were credited in the Gilligan’s Island first season theme song with “…and the rest” before being properly acknowledged as “the professor and Mary Ann” in subsequent seasons, these are records that are arguably as good as the ones I’ve already highlighted and, under different circumstances, would have been featured in their own posts. Below are the first four “…And The Rest” titles, all of which were featured in previous posts. Next week I’ll shine a light on four new-to-KamerTunesBlog albums.

 

 

Artist: THE KINKS
Album: SLEEPWALKER

Originally posted in Part 6 of my Kinks series:
As their RCA contract came to an end, The Kinks signed with Arista Records under strict orders from label boss Clive Davis to drop the concepts of recent years & record songs that were radio-friendly and marketable to an American audience. Ray even moved to New York City for several months to get a feel for the culture & musical trends. Although their full-on return to commercial success was still a couple of years away, they started laying the groundwork with their Arista debut, Sleepwalker. While not quite as concise as the previous record, it’s still an easy record to digest even though many fans of their late-‘60s to early-‘70s golden era still dislike the slicker direction their music took. I, on the other hand, have no problem with this change in their sound, and I liked Sleepwalker a little more each time I played it.
Essential Tracks: “Life On The Road,” “Sleepwalker” and “Juke Box Music”
Other Notable Tracks: “Mr. Big Man,” “Stormy Sky” and “Life Goes On”

 

Artist: THE BEACH BOYS
Album: LOVE YOU

Excerpts from Part 7 of my Beach Boys series:
The “Brian’s Back” concept (used to promote 15 Big Ones in 1976) applies more to their next album, Love You, since Brian Wilson wrote or co-wrote every song, and he seems more engaged with the musical and vocal arrangements. Album opener “Let Us Go On This Way” has an interesting organ & horn arrangement with a steady beat and synth backdrop, and nice harmonies during the one-line chorus (“God please let us go on this way”). “Johnny Carson” is weird, but in a good way. The cool electric piano and staggered vocals contain elements of art-rock (i.e. Roxy Music, early 10cc) and point toward the synth-pop craze that was still a few years away. “Solar System” is strangely intoxicating, even if the lyrics (“Solar system brings us wisdom”) are once again a bit too simplistic. My favorite song on this album is “The Night Was So Young,” showcasing a wonderful arrangement with a bed of synths and some weeping guitar stabs. Brian’s & Carl’s voices blend beautifully, and the best part might be, “Is somebody gonna tell me, why she has to lie-ie-ie.” I would consider this among the best work they’ve ever done. I feel nearly as strongly about “I’ll Bet He’s Nice,” which has cool squiggly synths and a catchy melody, with Dennis, Brian and Carl sharing vocal duties. Brian duets with his then-wife Marilyn on “Let’s Put Our Hearts Together.” His raspy vocals convey the pleading nature of the lyrics as he pursues his woman, and her strong voice is a nice counterpoint. Like 15 Big Ones before it, the rest of the album is a bit hit-and-miss, with some songs coming across as nothing more than glorified demos. I would probably rank this on the same level as its predecessor, and both albums work well together on the 2-fer CD released in 2000.

 

Artist: PETE TOWNSHEND & RONNIE LANE
Album: ROUGH MIX

Originally posted in Part 4 of the One And Done series about my favorite one-album artists:
The Who has long been among the handful of artists I consider my “favorites of all time,” and their chief songwriter, Pete Townshend, has had a solo career that’s nearly as impressive as his day job. I came to The Small Faces and Faces (two distinctly different British bands which consisted of mostly the same musicians across two different decades) sometime in the ‘80s, but it was years later when I realized the importance of their bassist/songwriter, Ronnie Lane. My first exposure to him was the A.R.M.S. benefit concert at Madison Square Garden in 1983 that featured the talents of Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck & Eric Clapton, raising money for Multiple Sclerosis research, the disease that was slowly crippling him and would eventually kill him in 1997. Over time I’ve realized what a great songwriter he was and what a wonderful earthy voice he had. I’ve had this one-off collaboration between these two musical giants for many years, and each time I play it I enjoy it a little more than I did before. There’s a folky vibe throughout, with country influences as well, and the cast of musicians is impressive: the aforementioned Eric Clapton, Charlie Watts, Ian Stewart, John Entwistle, and many others. The album is packed with highlights: “Keep Me Turning” (a pretty Townshend tune), Lane’s rollicking “Catmelody,” “Street In The City” (with its lovely string section), Townshend’s classic rocker “Heart To Hang Onto,” the instrumental title track with Clapton on lead guitar, and the best-known song here, “My Baby Gives It Away.”

 

Artist: THE SEX PISTOLS
Album: NEVER MIND THE BOLLOCKS, HERE’S THE SEX PISTOLS

Originally posted in Part 3 of the One And Done series:
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m not much of a punk rock fan, so the inclusion of The Sex Pistols in this series might come as a surprise to some of my readers & friends. I was in my pre-teens when punk was in its heyday and I enjoyed bands like The Ramones and The Clash, but only the songs I heard on the radio or at friends’ houses. I didn’t buy any of their albums nor did I have the same reaction to punk that I did to so many other genres. What little I knew of The Sex Pistols, it was clear that they weren’t in my musical wheelhouse. I first heard their only studio album when I was in my early-‘20s, expecting a collection of noisy, tuneless, aggressive songs with amateur musicianship yet, much to my surprise, it was the exact opposite. Sure, Johnny Rotten’s sneering vocal delivery is an acquired taste (one which I acquired more than 25 years ago, and renewed recently when I gave his later band Public Image Limited a shot), but musically they’re incredibly tight, thanks to the solid drumming of Paul Cook and the inventive guitar work of Steve Jones. Co-producers Chris Thomas and Bill Price gave the record a commercial sheen that a typical underground punk band would never be able to achieve (nor would they want to). There are plenty of great songs here, from the awareness-raising abortion song, “Bodies,” to classics like “God Save The Queen” & “EMI” and especially my favorite track, “Pretty Vacant.” I may never be passionate about The Sex Pistols but for a non-punk guy I find this album immensely enjoyable.

39 comments on “Forty Year Friday – …AND THE REST (PART 1)

  1. 80smetalman
    November 25, 2017

    I’ve never heard any of these albums except for the Sex Pistols. I do like the Kinks and Pete Townsend songs though.

    Like

  2. DanicaPiche
    November 25, 2017

    I also like “The Night Was So Young” and wouldn’t have identified it as a Beach Boys song.

    Like

    • Glad you like that song, Danica. It certainly doesn’t sound like any of The Beach Boys’ hits, but for anyone who’s delved into their lesser-known records it’s not a big departure for them.

      Liked by 1 person

      • DanicaPiche
        November 26, 2017

        The needlepoint-effect cover is an interesting choice.

        Like

      • I remember needlepoint being a big thing with my mom & grandmother in the mid-’70s so the choice for this album cover isn’t terribly surprising…or terribly inspiring. I like it more than the previous year’s 15 Big Ones, which looked like a cheap K-Tel compilation.

        Liked by 1 person

      • DanicaPiche
        November 27, 2017

        Maybe it was supposed to be a cultural reference? Or maybe they had no idea what to do with the cover.

        Like

      • DanicaPiche
        November 27, 2017

        Maybe they were trying to appeal to a certain demographic?

        Like

      • “We know it’s a cliche, but this is our homage to mothers & grandmothers who do needlepoint.” Hehe.

        Liked by 1 person

      • DanicaPiche
        November 28, 2017

        Haha 🙂 …and someone got fired….

        Like

      • DanicaPiche
        November 28, 2017

        If they included a little needlepoint kit I’d probably get it for the novelty. Go big or go home. 🙂

        Like

      • “Go Big Or Go Home” sounds like a song title they might have come up with at that time. Well done.

        Liked by 1 person

      • DanicaPiche
        November 28, 2017

        It’s the proximity to the art. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. kevin
    November 25, 2017

    Hey Rich, glad to see you include the Sex Pistols. Wasn’t sure if you would. Seminal album. It’s called “punk” but if you can get past Rotten’s sneering vocals, it really is just a solid rock and roll album.

    “Sleepwalker” might actually be the first Kinks song I ever heard. Love the arena rock-era Kinks. (I always thought the live versions of “Attitude” and “Hard Way” sounded a bit punk-ish).

    Townshend is my hero, but I never loved much of Rough Mix. “Heart To Hang Onto” is classic Pete, though, and I wish he saved it for The Who.

    Brian Wilson is my hero, too, but my patience with the BB’s wears very thin after Holland.

    Like

    • Hi Kevin. I’ve never loved the Sex Pistols album but I like it a lot more than my non-punk self should and they certainly deserve to be featured in any discussion of the top albums of ’77. I knew they wouldn’t get their own post here but this seemed like a good opportunity to give them a shout-out. When I first heard it in my early 20s I was surprised at how melodic it was. Good call regarding those punk-ish Kinks performances.

      Sorry we don’t see eye to eye on Townshend-Lane and The Beach Boys. You’re probably right that “Heart To Hang Onto” could have been even better with The Who.

      Like

  4. stephen1001
    November 26, 2017

    I haven’t gotten to the Sex Pistols yet – but as a fellow non-punk guy, I hope I find it similarly enjoyable!

    Like

    • keepsmealive
      November 26, 2017

      No Pistols yet? Like, not ever in your life? HOW?? 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      • stephen1001
        November 26, 2017

        If you can call that living!

        Like

      • keepsmealive
        November 26, 2017

        I’d wonder! Man, they’re on the list though, right? You’re gonna get to them sooner rather than later?

        Liked by 1 person

      • stephen1001
        November 26, 2017

        I most definitely will – and it sounds like I ought to sooner!

        Like

      • I can understand that some music lovers wouldn’t own or even know the Sex Pistols. I didn’t hear them for the first time, beyond some video clips, until I was in my early 20s. Not being a punk guy I had no interest and expected them to be tuneless & talentless, and I was pleasantly surprised at how polished & melodic the album is. Hopefully Geoff feels the same way whenever he gets to Never Mind The Bollocks.

        Liked by 1 person

      • keepsmealive
        November 28, 2017

        Yes and at high volume too. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      • DanicaPiche
        November 26, 2017

        I had a punk collection because of the Pistols. (I’d also consider myself to be a non-punk guy….)

        Like

      • I figured you were non-punk but the “guy” thing is a bit of a surprise. 😛

        Liked by 1 person

      • DanicaPiche
        November 27, 2017

        I get that a lot, Rich. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  5. keepsmealive
    November 26, 2017

    Stopped by to give love to the Sex Pistols, stayed for the Twonsend/Lane! I think I have that LP somewhere in the Man Cave, oughta dig it up…

    Like

    • Glad I was able to draw you in with the Pistols. Let me know whenever you revisit the Townshend-Lane album. Would love to hear your thoughts.

      Like

      • keepsmealive
        November 28, 2017

        Will do! It’s in the mountain of stuff to play, but nearer the top of the heap than others!

        Like

      • I know what you mean about the mountain of music. I’m about to climb to the top of mine, as I will have an audio/video system for the first time in more than 2 years. In that time I accumulated at least 70-80 LPs and dozens of surround sound albums and live DVDs & blu-rays which I haven’t been able to play. I will be locking myself in that room for a year just to catch up on what I missed.

        Like

  6. ianbalentine
    November 26, 2017

    Fantastic, as always Rich. Completely agree on all, and I am glad you mentioned the overly simplistic lyrics of The Beach Boys on this one. Sometimes this simplistic style works incredibly well (God Only Knows comes to mind), and sometimes it does not work at all. And I am a MASSIVE post Pet Sounds Beach Boys fan (plenty to love on each album, including Love You). To quote NIgel Tufnel “There’s a fine line between stupid and clever”. Thanks again for all your hard work on this blog, I appreciate it very much.

    Like

    • Thanks, Ian. Hope all is well by you. I’ve missed our musical conversations so it’s great to hear from you. I’m glad you enjoyed this post, and I agree with your comments about the Beach Boys’ lyrics. Nice Spinal Tap reference, too. So true.

      Like

  7. Alyson
    November 26, 2017

    Well here we are nearing the end of the year and you’re starting to mop up the “best of the rest” – Kind of sad really as the year seems to have passed so quickly and a regular Friday feature will soon be no more. (Sad face.)

    But anyway I am pleasantly surprised to see the Sex Pistols appear here as I really didn’t think they would – As a teenager living in the UK on that, our Queen’s Jubilee year, it didn’t get more shocking than having the Sex Pistols at the top of the music charts and the newspapers and TV news programmes had a field day. As a 17-year-old at the time, I can confirm however that we teenagers got a certain amount of pleasure from the outrage felt by our parents and those in authority – That’s what it all about at that age isn’t it? The boys in our year at school changed their clothes overnight from the wide flares wore by the soft rock bands of of the early/mid ’70s to the tight straight legged trousers of the punk bands. And you are right, once you get past the sneering vocals of Mr Rotten, musically the band was very tight and this is a seminal album. There is a great book by the author Tony Parsons called Stories We Could Tell about those days of change in our country and I’ve written about it over at my place (hope you don’t mind if I share a link): https://jukeboxtimemachine.com/2016/09/15/punk-late-70s-fashion-and-the-wrong-trousers/

    Not very familiar with the other albums here but I do remember getting the Beach Boys 20 Golden Greats for my 17th birthday as it had been heavily advertised on telly around that time so got a lot of us who missed them at the height of their fame, more familiar with their most recognised songs. What a strange time though. Beach Boys and the Sex Pistols on the same turntable at the same time!

    Like

    • Hi Alyson. Thanks for pointing me in the direction of your pop-to-punk-fashion post. That was fun. The punk look didn’t catch on in the mainstream over here, and very kids in school at the time jumped on that fashion bandwagon. Then again, I was only 11 that year so perhaps things were different in high school.

      I have mixed emotions about nearing the end of this series. On one hand there are at least a dozen more albums I wanted to highlight on their own, and I really enjoy the feedback I’m getting from people who loved the music of ’77 as much as I do, while on the other hand I’m exhausted and can’t wait to have a break from “critical writing.” I’m certainly proud that I set a goal for myself to stick with this series through a year that presented a lot of time constraints and its nearing a conclusion.

      I’m guessing the Beach Boys compilation you had was very similar to the ubiquitous Endless Summer, which reintroduced the band’s classic recordings to a new generation and made them cool again (or possibly for the first time). Hard to believe they were already has-beens just over a decade into their recording career. Some great marketing made them relevant again and their popularity has never waned since then.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Alyson
        November 27, 2017

        Looking back, that post I wrote was more about fashion than music but thanks for visiting it. Yes it will be strange not writing a FYF post every week (or nearly every week anyway) but will free up some of your time. I have a feeling however that like me you would get withdrawal symptoms if you stopping blogging completely so maybe time to do less critical writing and start treating this place as a bit of a web diary where you can share new discoveries etc. Time will tell but will be sad to see this series come to an end (I’m not yet all out of anecdotes you know!).

        As for the Beach Boys, yes incredible that they were old hat in the late ’70s but have since been elevated to iconic status – I recently watched the film Love and Mercy about Brian’s life at the time of the recording of Pet Sounds and then in the ’80s when he was not a well man. Learnt a lot and of course it had a great soundtrack.

        Next week it will be December, last month of the year – Looking forward to seeing what you share with us.

        Like

      • The last time I took an extended break from the blog, which I believe corresponded to my move from New York to North Carolina more than 2 years ago, I had no withdrawal symptoms. I was so focused on other tasks that I barely had time to think about the blog. This time it should be interesting since I hope to be “settled.” At the very least I will only post something when I feel like I have something worth sharing. I don’t want to be on a schedule.

        I really liked Love And Mercy. Even though I already knew the story it was great to see those eras reproduced on screen and, of course, the music was amazing.

        Three days until December. How did that happen?

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Murphy's Law
    November 28, 2017

    Just curious – are you familiar with The Clash’s less “punk” later work (London Calling, Combat Rock) or just the earlier more “punk” stuff like the first album? For me, I got tired of their early songs, but I still come back to the more adventurous albums.

    Like

    • I do know those Clash albums and I do like them more than their early stuff. It’s all very good but I don’t have an emotional connection to most punk artists like I do with so many other genres. My favorite Clash album is probably Sandinista.

      Like

      • Murphy's Law
        November 29, 2017

        Wow, that album(s) is a glorious mess. I tend to edit Sandanista down to a single album. Now, London Calling…

        Like

      • I agree that Sandinista is a bit of a mess but I love the fact that it’s musically all over the place & very unpredictable. Sure, London Calling is probably stronger, song-for-song, but I have very little emotional connection to it.

        Like

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