A Musical Archeological Dig

968.
That’s the number.
I didn’t know what it would be when I started but that’s where it came out.

968.

Albums.

I don’t know how long in minutes or hours but I know that I started this listening project in 2015 and only just finished today.

So, what is this?

I was a teenager in 1978. I turned 13. It’s in those teen years that we develop our musical tastes. What speaks to us. What we relate to. We become possessive of bands that we “discover” and think they are “sell outs” when they become popular and sell millions of records.

Life was different in the days between 1978 and 1982. Not just for me. Every teenager goes through changes and those stories are unique and boring and I’m not going to write my autobiography here.
Life was different for us growing up in that era inasmuch as we had some access to new music or popular music but it was from varied and, sometimes, veiled places. It was just plain hard to hear new music, underground music, different music. Not like it is today. On our phones. And I’m thrilled about that. I LOVE the access we have today. But it was not the same back in the old days….

First there was, of course, top 40 radio. I didn’t JUST listen to WNBC in the afternoon to hear the hits of the day. I put my boxy tape recorder next to the speaker on my Technics stereo, held down PLAY & RECORD and just walked away, making sure to return in either 30 minutes or 45, depending on what length tapes I had lying around. Then I would listen back, over and over, and decide, with great and delicate precision, which song represented the album I would fork over cash to own.

When I was just a little older I discovered Trouser Press. This was after a dalliance with CREEM (which seemed to pander to the stadium rock that already had legions of fans) and Rolling Stone, which was fun in 77 when it featured Star Wars on the cover (and an interview with George Lucas where he said that there would be NINE movies in total! 3 sequels followed by 3 prequels where Mark Hamill would play his own father and then 3 sequels to the original 3 where Mark would play the older Luke. It was a glorious idea. I never forgot it. Unless I imagined it.)
No. Trouser Press was the one for me. One issue (I don’t recall which) and I was hooked. I subscribed so I could get my “flexi-disk” singles. The first one I got was Adam & the Ants “A.N.T.S.” to the tune of YMCA! And it was in the back of TP that I heard of bands like Romeo Void and X. Although X was written about in Time in 1981 along with The Blasters as having the Album of the Year. But I had already discovered them so it was vindication. And, since X never really got out of cult status I never had to call them sell-outs. Bands I had never heard of plus stores. Stores! Like Trash & Vaudeville in that mysterious “Greenwich Village” in NY. And Sounds records. And what were “Beatle Boots”, anyway? And somewhere, I just knew it, in the caverns of the lower part of Manhattan, I would find an import copy of Adam & the Ants’ “Dirk Wears White Sox”. (I did and my father could not believe I would spent $14 on a record!)
Later, in the confines of the unfinished attic I had converted into my bedroom I would listen, deep into the night, to college radio. Where “The Kid” on WFMU played the entire album of Martin Briley’s “Fear of the Unknown”, an album upon mentioning it, caused Robbie Rist to run to his van and show proof that it was among his favorite “rekkids”.  The Kid let me come in an spin a couple records once. He promised me an entire show but, when I arrived, platters in tow, he had forgotten that he did that and let me sit and spin ONE record. His. David Bowie’s “Andy Warhol”. A resentment of Bowie festered throughout my life because of that event.
But that’s where I heard R.E.M.’s “1,000,000” for the first time. And all of Gary Numan’s “The Pleasure Principle”, an artist I had already fallen in love with because my friend and crush, Toby, loved Gary. And turned me on to him, Human Sexual Response and The Dickies.
My buddy, Pete and I would go to the record store in Maine on our way to the Pizza Parlor to play Defender, or on the way back and we would chug through the new releases. His faves were Ozzy Osbourne (We went to see him in concert at the Bangor State Fair. I stood 3 people from the stage and Randy Rhodes looked right at me! Def Leppard opened…when the drummer still had both arms!), Van Halen, Sammy Hagar. He got The Stray Cats album when I picked up Elvis Costello’s “Imperial Bedroom”. I picked up Dead Kennedys “Plastic Surgery Disasters” when he was air guitaring to Iron Maiden. (We both air guitared to that, actually. It’s where I developed my air guitar chops)
I could go on and on. But the point is that I loved music. But, who could listen to it all?

Me. Now.

Thanks to streaming and some rudimentary Wikipediaing, I compiled a list of as many Rock albums released during 1978-1982, those teen years and got to listening.
I created a spreadsheet to catalog release dates along with links to Allmusic reviews, Pitchfork, if they reviewed the album, and my own blog, www.septenary.blogspot.com, if I covered it in a Listening Post.
Anal. I know. But, who would expect anything less from an obsessive compulsive project such as this?

Of equal interest to discovering if the stuff I already loved, the music that formed me and informed me, still held up, there was the archeology of the entire affair. Would I discover music that I might have missed? Would there be something I might’ve loved that went unheard? Might I have newfound affection for music I had disregarded or dismissed back then?

The answers to those questions are resounded Yeses.

I liked Punk less than I thought I remembered. Anything outside of what I already knew was grating. Annoying.

But the Post-Punk, The Pop Group, Killing Joke, Throbbing Gristle, Joy Division, John Foxx, Captain Beefheart and The Residents all surprised me, excited me, made me wonder if I would’ve loved it back then or if I had to be the person I am now.

I waited 30+ years to listen to Glenn Branca’s The Ascension, even though I’d read about it and loved him in theory. It was worth the wait. Brilliant.

Anvil? I thought they were a joke. Turns out they shred.
Demon? I never heard of them. Too bad. I would’ve probably air guitared to them as well.
I heard the name Mink Deville but never gave the Springsteen-esque guy much due. Too bad.
And Bobb Trimble? Who knew? Almost no one since he only released two albums and only about 500 copies of each.
Saxon, Willy Nile & Young Marble Giants. The Ruts, Magnum, New England.
Great stuff.

And there’s a lot, a LOT, of bad stuff out there. I won’t go down the list but I will say that The Beach Boys…Rick Derringer….Cocteau Twins…I will never forgive you for that time you took for me.

Oh. And regardless of Pitchfork, I fucking HATE The Raincoats.

Anyway.

Here’s the top 210 albums. The first 59 are 5 star records. The rest got 4.5.

In addition, I listed “Heart Songs” or “Starred Tracks”, which is how you let Apple Music or Spotify learn what you like and profile you.

If you want the entire spreadsheet, complete with links, let me know and I will send you a link.

–>

1/18/1978 Warren Zevon Excitable Boy 5
2/10/1978 Van Halen Van Halen 5
3/17/1978 Elvis Costello & the Attractions This Year’s Model 5
6/6/1978 The Cars The Cars 5
6/9/1978 The Rolling Stones Some Girls 5
9/21/1978 The Ramones Road to Ruin 5
10/9/1978 Judas Priest Hell Bent for Leather 5
6/2/1978 Bruce Springsteen Darkness on the Edge of Town 5
1/5/1979 Elvis Costello & the Attractions Armed Forces 5
3/5/1979 Joe Jackson Look Sharp! 5
6/15/1979 Joy Division Unknown Pleasures 5
11/23/1979 The Jam Setting Sons 5
10/19/1979 Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers Damn the Torpedoes 5
9/7/1979 Gary Numan & Tubeway Army The Pleasure Principle 5
10/5/1979 Joe Jackson I’m the Man 5
10/19/1979 Madness One Step Beyond… 5
11/30/1979 Pink Floyd The Wall 5
1/1/1979 The Ruts The Crack 5
4/1/1979 Gary Numan & Tubeway Army Replicas 5
10/9/1979 The Boomtown Rats The Fine Art of Surfacing 5
1/4/1980 The Romantics The Romantics 5
1/14/1980 Rush Permanent Waves 5
3/10/1980 Billy Joel Glass Houses 5
4/22/1980 The Cure Seventeen Seconds 5
4/1/1980 Xex Group:Xex 5
4/25/1980 Black Sabbath Heaven and Hell 5
4/1/1980 The Feelies Crazy Rhythms 5
4/1/1980 X Los Angeles 5
10/17/1980 Bruce Springsteen The River 5
6/30/1980 Queen The Game 5
7/11/1980 Ultravox Vienna 5
7/25/1980 AC/DC Back in Black 5
7/1/1980 The Vapors New Clear Days 5
1/1/1980 Human Sexual Response Fig. 14 5
9/5/1980 Gary Numan Telekon 5
9/12/1980 David Bowie Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) 5
9/20/1980 Ozzy Osbourne Blizzard of Ozz 5
10/8/1980 Talking Heads Remain in Light 5
10/1/1980 The Residents Commercial Album 5
10/1/1980 Rockpile Seconds of Pleasure 5
11/3/1980 Adam & The Ants Kings of the Wild Frontier 5
1/7/1980 Pretenders Pretenders 5
1/23/1981 Elvis Costello Trust 5
2/13/1981 Phil Collins Face Value 5
2/21/1981 Rick Springfield Working Class Dog 5
5/15/1981 Squeeze East Side Story 5
5/1/1981 X Wild Gift 5
6/1/1981 Joe Jackson Joe Jackson’s Jumpin’ Jive 5
7/8/1981 The Go Go’s Beauty and the Beat 5
7/1/1981 Romeo Void It’s a Condition 5
11/1/1981 Glenn Branca The Ascension 5
3/15/1982 Richard & Linda Thompson Shoot Out the Lights 5
4/19/1982 Laurie Anderson Big Science 5
6/1/1982 Roxy Music Avalon 5
6/1/1982 Stray Cats Built for Speed 5
7/2/1982 Elvis Costello & The Attractions Imperial Bedroom 5
11/1/1982 Donald Fagan The Nightfly 5
7/2/1982 X Under the Big Black Sun 5
2/10/1978 Judas Priest Stained Class 4.5
3/1/1978 Nick Lowe Jesus of Cool 4.5
3/1/1978 The Rutles The Rutles 4.5
5/1/1978 Cheap Trick Heaven Tonight 4.5
5/19/1978 Kraftwerk The Man-Machine 4.5
6/1/1978 The Boomtown Rats A Tonic for the Troops 4.5
7/21/1978 The Rezillos Can’t Stand the Rezillos 4.5
8/28/1978 Devo Are We Not Men? We Are Devo! 4.5
10/13/1978 Billy Joel 52nd Street 4.5
11/2/1978 The Police Outlandos d’Amour 4.5
11/10/1978 Queen Jazz 4.5
11/24/1978 Gary Numan & Tubeway Army Tubeway Army 4.5
6/1/1978 The Dickies The Incredible Shrinking Dickies 4.5
5/5/1978 AC/DC Powerage 4.5
10/1/1978 Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller) 4.5
8/1/1978 Magnum Kingdom of Madness 4.5
1/1/1978 New England New England 4.5
10/13/1978 Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes Hearts of Stone 4.5
1/1/1978 Big Star Third 4.5
3/1/1979 Graham Parker Squeezing Out Sparks 4.5
6/9/1979 Nick Lowe Labour of Lust 4.5
7/27/1979 AC/DC Highway to Hell 4.5
9/25/1979 Gang of Four Entertainment! 4.5
10/19/1979 The Specials The Specials 4.5
12/14/1979 The Clash London Calling 4.5
2/1/1979 Tangerine Dream Force Majeure 4.5
3/27/1979 Ian Hunter You’re Never Alone with a Schizophrenic 4.5
3/29/2979 Supertramp Breakfast In America 4.5
3/30/1979 Triumph Just a Game 4.5
4/5/1979 Journey Evolution 4.5
4/13/1979 Thin Lizzy Black Rose: A Rock Legend 4.5
4/20/1979 The Pop Group Y 4.5
4/1/1979 Blackfoot Strikes 4.5
6/9/1979 Dave Edmunds Repeat When Necessary 4.5
6/11/1979 The Knack Get the Knack 4.5
8/1/1979 Van Morrison Into the Music 4.5
9/17/1979 Frank Zappa Joe’s Garage Act 1 4.5
11/19/1979 Frank Zappa Joe’s Garage Acts 2 & 3 4.5
10/30/1979 Adam and the Ants Dirk Wears White Sox 4.5
9/1/1979 The Residents Eskimo 4.5
11/1/1979 Simple Minds Reel to Reel Cacophony 4.5
12/1/1979 Throbbing Gristle 20 Jazz Funk Greats 4.5
1/1/1979 The Roches The Roches 4.5
5/8/1979 The Cure Three Imaginary Boys 4.5
3/3/1979 Frank Zappa Sheik Yerbouti 4.5
5/17/1979 Patti Smith Group Wave 4.5
5/21/1979 Saxon Saxon 4.5
8/10/1979 The Radiators Ghostown 4.5
1/1/1979 Sky Sky 4.5
1/18/1980 John Foxx Metamatic 4.5
1/28/1980 J. Geils Band Love Stinks 4.5
2/4/1980 The Ramones End of the Century 4.5
2/15/1980 Nazareth Malice in Wonderland 4.5
2/1/1980 Squeeze Argybargy 4.5
2/1/1980 Young Marble Giants Colossal Youth 4.5
2/1/1980 Willie Nile Willie Nile 4.5
1/1/1980 Teenage Head Frantic City 4.5
4/21/1980 Pete Townshend Empty Glass 4.5
5/23/1980 Peter Gabriel Peter Gariel (Melt) 4.5
5/1/1980 The English Beat I Just Can’t Stop It 4.5
5/1/1980 Tangerine Dream Tangram 4.5
8/4/1980 The Fabulous Thunderbirds What’s the Word 4.5
6/28/1980 The Soft Boys Underwater Moonlight 4.5
6/30/1980 Girlschool Demolition 4.5
7/18/1980 Echo & the Bunnymen Crocodiles 4.5
7/29/1980 Daryl Hall & John Oates Voices 4.5
8/1/1980 Siouxie Sioux & the Banshees Kaleidoscope 4.5
8/5/1980 Pat Benatar Crimes of Passion 4.5
9/1/1980 Saxon Strong Arm of the Law 4.5
9/2/1980 Dead Kennedys Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables 4.5
9/12/1980 Simple MInds Empires and Dance 4.5
9/24/1980 Utopia Deface the Music 4.5
9/29/1980 Stevie Wonder Hotter than July 4.5
10/17/1980 Dire Straits Making Movies 4.5
10/20/1980 U2 Boy 4.5
10/1/1980 New England Explorer Suite 4.5
11/8/1980 Motorhead Ace of Spades 4.5
11/17/1980 The Fall Grotesque 4.5
11/21/1980 REO Speedwagon Hi Infidelity 4.5
11/28/1980 The Jam Sound Affects 4.5
11/19/1980 Blondie Autoamerican 4.5
11/1/1980 Yello Solid Pleasure 4.5
1/1/1980 Blue Angel Blue Angel 4.5
1/1/1980 Bobb Trimble Iron Curtain Innocence 4.5
5/23/1980 Graham Parker The Up Escalator 4.5
1/1/1980 Mink DeVille Le Chat Bleu 4.5
10/5/1980 Killing Joke Killing Joke 4.5
1/12/1981 April Wine The Nature of the Beast 4.5
2/12/1981 Rush Moving Pictures 4.5
3/13/1981 Slade We’ll Bring the House Down 4.5
4/6/1981 Roger Taylor Fun in Space 4.5
4/13/1981 Billy Squier Don’t Say No 4.5
5/15/1981 The Moody Blues Long Distance Voyager 4.5
5/30/1981 Echo & the Bunneymen Heaven Up Here 4.5
5/1/1981 Plasmatics Beyond the Valley of 1984 4.5
5/10/1981 Kraftwerk Computer World 4.5
5/22/1981 Jean Michel Jarre Magnetic Fields 4.5
5/5/1981 The Undertones Positive Touch 4.5
6/6/1981 Siouxie & the Banshees Ju Ju 4.5
7/2/1981 Foreigner 4 4.5
7/31/1981 Journey Escape 4.5
7/31/1981 Eddie Rabbitt Step by Step 4.5
7/1/1981 Demon Night of the Demon 4.5
9/18/1981 Genesis Abacab 4.5
9/21/1981 Triumph Allied Forces 4.5
9/1/1981 Kix Kix 4.5
9/1/1981 Hall & Oates Private Eyes 4.5
10/16/1981 The Human League Dare 4.5
10/26/1981 J. Geils Band Freeze Frame 4.5
10/1/1981 Mink DeVille Coup de Grace 4.5
10/1/1981 Bow Wow Wow See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang, Yeah 4.5
11/4/1981 Black Sabbath Mob Rules 4.5
11/7/1981 Ozzy Osbourne Diary of a Madman 4.5
11/8/1981 Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark Architecture & Morality 4.5
11/9/1981 Men At Work Business As Usual 4.5
11/1/1981 The Sound From the Lion’s Mouth 4.5
12/1/1981 The Blasters The Blasters 4.5
12/1/1981 David Byrne The Catherine Wheel 4.5
1/1/1981 Martin Briley Fear of the Unknown 4.5
2/12/1982 XTC English Settlement 4.5
3/22/1982 Iron Maiden The Number of the Beast 4.5
3/23/1982 Rick Springfield Success Hasn’t Spoiled Me Yet 4.5
3/29/1982 Scorpions Blackout 4.5
4/19/1982 Jethro Tull The Broadsword and the Beast 4.5
4/19/1982 Motorhead Iron Fist 4.5
4/28/1982 Marshall Crenshaw Marshall Crenshaw 4.5
9/1/1982 Uriah Heep Abominog 4.5
3/29/1982 Sparks Angst in My Pants 4.5
4/30/1982 A Flock of Seagulls A Flock of Seagulls 4.5
5/16/1982 Fear The Record 4.5
7/17/1982 Judas Priest Screaming for Vengeance 4.5
8/20/1982 Yaz Upstairs at Eric’s 4.5
8/24/1982 R.E.M. Chronic Town 4.5
8/1/1982 Hughes/Thrall Hughes/Thrall 4.5
8/1/1982 Demon The Unexpected Guest 4.5
9/13/1982 Kate Bush The Dreaming 4.5
9/17/1982 Phil Lynott The Phil Lynott Album 4.5
11/1/1982 Dead Kennedys Plastic Surgery Disasters 4.5
11/20/1982 Whitesnake Saints & Sinners 4.5
11/1/1982 Venom Black Metal 4.5
4/15/1982 Anvil Metal on Metal 4.5
1/1/1982 Mission of Burma Vs 4.5
6/14/1982 Pete Townshend All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes 4.5
1/1/1982 The English Beat Special Beat Service 4.5
10/1/1982 Madness The Rise & Fall 4.5
9/13/1982 Simple Minds New Gold Dream 4.5
6/17/1982 The Police Synchronicity 4.5
3/8/1982 The Fall Hex Enduction Hour 4.5
3/15/1982 Graham Parker Another Grey Area 4.5
1/1/1982 Triumph Never Surrender 4.5
12/1/1982 Venom Black Metal 4.5

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