That’s the number.
I didn’t know what it would be when I started but that’s where it came out.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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|
|3/10/1980||Billy Joel||Glass Houses||5|
|4/22/1980||The Cure||Seventeen Seconds||5|
|4/25/1980||Black Sabbath||Heaven and Hell||5|
|4/1/1980||The Feelies||Crazy Rhythms||5|
|10/17/1980||Bruce Springsteen||The River||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|
|9/12/1980||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|
|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|
|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||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|
|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|
|11/24/1978||Gary Numan & Tubeway Army||Tubeway Army||4.5|
|6/1/1978||The Dickies||The Incredible Shrinking Dickies||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|
|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|
|4/13/1979||Thin Lizzy||Black Rose: A Rock Legend||4.5|
|4/20/1979||The Pop Group||Y||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|
|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|
|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||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|
|8/4/1980||The Fabulous Thunderbirds||What’s the Word||4.5|
|6/28/1980||The Soft Boys||Underwater Moonlight||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|
|10/1/1980||New England||Explorer Suite||4.5|
|11/8/1980||Motorhead||Ace of Spades||4.5|
|11/21/1980||REO Speedwagon||Hi Infidelity||4.5|
|11/28/1980||The Jam||Sound Affects||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|
|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|
|5/22/1981||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|
|7/31/1981||Eddie Rabbitt||Step by Step||4.5|
|7/1/1981||Demon||Night of the Demon||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|
|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|
|4/19/1982||Jethro Tull||The Broadsword and the Beast||4.5|
|4/28/1982||Marshall Crenshaw||Marshall Crenshaw||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|
|7/17/1982||Judas Priest||Screaming for Vengeance||4.5|
|8/20/1982||Yaz||Upstairs at Eric’s||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|
|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|
|3/8/1982||The Fall||Hex Enduction Hour||4.5|
|3/15/1982||Graham Parker||Another Grey Area||4.5|