1978 marked the beginning of the end for Disco. People grew tired of the
hedonistic lifestyle that accompanied the shallow, vapid music. But while Disco
would retreat from its dominance over the airwaves, it didn't completely go
away. Elements of disco live on in Hip Hop, House, New Wave, Techno, Rave, and
Dance Pop. And that's fine. Just so long as it doesn't try to take over the
world again. :)
The release of Who Are You
by The Who
by the death of Keith Moon, three weeks later from
an overdose of
. While the album was a commercial hit, the band was falling
apart between grueling tours, drug and alchohol abuse, and internal friction.
As Who albums go, this one is a bit of a bust for me. Sure, the title track was
huge (and is now forever associated with CSI
), but nothing great stands
out for me. The synthesizers and orchestral arrangements are a bit thick, and
too prominent in the overall mix. It's not that I hate either, it's that there's
a right way and wrong way for them to be used and on this album, Townsend gets
it wrong more often than right. Of course, that's just my opinion. He and
everyone else can tell me to sod off.
For example, "New Song" is a "fuck you" to commercial radio but the synthesizer
makes it sound silly and trite. "Had Enough" has its own rebellious qualities
but the string arrangement makes it sound like they're trying to sweeten the
song. "Guitar and Pen" comes across as witty but "Trick of the Light" is a bit
dull. "Love Is Coming Down" is unlistenable and the strings only make it worse.
On "Music Must Change" the synths are there to rescue the song. Moon couldn't
play the song's 6/8 time (something I just learned) so the synths keep the song
moving along. Entwistle's "905" is an example of getting it right. It's a sci-fi
tale and the synths help to set the mood, getting bits of robot chatter to
dominate the background. It also works on "Sister Disco", where the synths give
you the feeling that you're in a 70's discotheque.
If Moon had been healthy, this would've been a different album. Instead, it
heralds the beginning of the end for The Who. As it stands, the title track is
what draws people to this album, plus the fact that it's Moon's last.
With Led Zeppelin in decline after Presence
drug use becoming a performance issue, the scene was ripe for something new: And
was it. Their self-titled debut is a landmark album in rock
Eddie's guitar work spawned a generation of imitators. Legions of teenage boys
mimiced him with air guitar solos. And there were plenty of professional
copycats too. David Lee Roth got almost as much attention for strutting around
the stage and his caterwauling vocals. The man was a human peacock. Still is.
While Michael Anthony and Alex Van Halen never enjoyed the celebrity worship
that the other two enjoyed, their work on this album was meritorious.
"Runnin' With the Devil", "Eruption", the cover of the Kinks' "You
Really Got Me", "Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love", and "Jamie's Cryin'" have all
enjoyed ample air play. But the other tracks were decent too. "Atomic Punk" and
the slow number, "Little Dreamer", stand out. And my favorite is "Ice Cream
You'll be surprised to know that this is the only Van Halen album in my
collection. I never got around to picking up the other albums as there were
other bands I was more interested in and spending money was limited. As VH were
always on the radio, it wasn't like I was missing out. I picked up 5150
and thought it sucked. I didn't mind Sammy Hagar solo; I just didn't like him in
VH. I went with friends to
concert for that tour
and was so bored I drifted off to sleep. They avoided
playing all but a couple of DLR songs, to break with the past I guess. To this
day, it's probably the worst concert I've ever been to. By the time money was no
longer a factor, I hated them. Their egos were just too much.
debuted with Outlandos d'Amour
. They were
the first New Wave band to really break into commercial radio, although that
didn't really happen until the following year after touring the US in an
Econoline (Can you imagine Sting traveling around the country in van?), the
transportation of choice for countless punk and garage bands. It all started
with "Roxanne", a plea to a prostitute to quit her profession. The next single
was "Can't Stand Losing You" wherein a despondent man considers suicide as a
means of revenge on his ex-girlfriend.
But there was a question as to whether there was any "punk" in this band that
acted as if they were punks. They certainly didn't fit in with The Ramones or
Sex Pistols oerve. While songs like "Be My Girl - Sally" and "Born in the 50's"
were there to give the finger to the mainstream (love songs for blow up dolls,
anyone?), the instrumental closer, "Masoko Tanga" showed surprising musical
sophistication. They also had love songs like "Next to You" and frequently
incorporated reggae rhythms in their music ("So Lonely", "Can't Stand Losing
You"). But for all the mugging for the camera, their music had an infectious
bounce to it that was the hallmark of punk and early New Wave.
album from 1978 has always been Hemispheres
. The title
track, an 18 minute opus is the sequel to "Cygnus X-1" from the previous album.
The suite features a clash of ideologies, reason vs. emotion, and the struggle
to decide which should rule. Ultimately, balance is achieved. While such a
concept may sound pretentious to some, I fail to see why rock music can't do
something besides calling for people to shake their booty.
The other three tracks on the album are just as strong. "Circumstances" is a
short number, reminiscient of "Fly by Night" in verse and length. "The Trees"
became a hit and showcases Peart's lyrical abilities in addition to his
percussive strength. Musically, it heralded songs to come. The album closer,
an instrumental entitled, "La Villa Strangiato", is fabulous. The song starts
with Lifeson noodling on acoustic guitar and then the other instruments fade in.
It's a piece that swirls and whirls all over the place and is one of my favorite
Rush songs. Each member is at the height of musical prowess.
Oh yeah, since I disparaged The Who for their use of synths I should point out
that this album was an example of the good that they can do. Rush kept their
synths in the background on this album. They added texture and mood and
supported the melody. While this wouldn't always be the case down the road, on
the band found the right balance.