No Elvis, No Beatles, No Stones… by 1979????
In December 1979 the Clash released their magnum opus, “London Calling”, considered by some the greatest rock album of all time, and the highest testament to the rule of punk which had begun all of three years earlier. A snarling, raging, multi-genre, punk, ska, R&B meisterwork that in any other year would have put rock on notice; in 1979 it simply joined a long line…
The Jam would release “All Mod Cons,” the best Mod album of all time, Elvis Costello’s “Armed Forces” was his third album and with hits like “Oliver’s Army” and (Nick Lowe’s) “(What’s So funny About) Peace, Love, and understanding” would bring him into the mainstream. Nick Lowe himself would follow up the seminal “Pure Pop for Now People” with the delightful “Labour Of Lust”.
Better still, the promise of the Sex Pistols -shot down in a hale storm of syringes and avarice- would rise again with Johnny Rotten’s greatest moment, his second band Public Image, Ltd’s second album “Metal Box”. At the palladium that year with jazz guitarist James Ulmer opening, PIL played one of the great sets. Where Rotten gotten eaten up by the hype with the Sex Pistol, PIL, by the very nature of its uncommercial hard dub sound, turned it’s back on punk and headed straight into… well, within a year or two oblivion, but straight into the future of rock.
Meaning Neil Young was singing “The king is gone but he’s not forgotten, is this this the story of Johnny Rotten on the “Rust Never Sleeps” making him the hero of legions of former hippies who thought they were had become a total irrelevance.
And if punk was dead nobody bothered to tell X-Ray Specs, Alternative TV, Television….
AND Michael Jackson released easily his best album to date, “Off The Wall” and Donna Summers released disco’s shining moment, “Bad Girls”.
ANDANDAND Kurtis Blow was playin’ around town and released his first single that year preceding the saving grace of the 80s… rap music.
The British invasion reached its climax in 1967 and music began a steady decline from the summer of love to the summer of the same old stuff in 1973. (Similarly the IPOD was invented in 2001 and the musical results of the tidal change in distribution reached its height in 2008). The backlash to the bloated, preening, rock superstars of 73 was the return of the guttersnipes in 76 and the greatest year in music history 79.
Unfortunately, 79 was follow by 80 and a dark ages for popular music that wouldnt fully begin to recover till 91 (and reached its peak in 98).
Which leaves us with the five month doldrums in 2009.
After a year of such stunning strength, what gives?
76 was a reaction to a brutal recession.
09 is another brutal recession and perhaps the real results won’t be felt for five more years but with instant distribution available t0 all, perhaps this is the reaction to our fears for the future. If a kid is coming out of college and can’t find a job, how should they react? Form a band? Buy a drum machine? Panic?