Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Beat's Just Screaming

On April 29, 1977 The Jam released its debut single "In the City" b/w "Takin' My Love". It would be the first of 18 consecutive singles to enter the UK Top 40, peaking at #40 as a matter of fact. A wordy Tony Wilson presents The Jam below:

In the same way The Ramones sped up The Beach Boys and garage rock sounds of the 60's , The Jam sped up the mod rock sounds of The Who, Small Faces and The Kinks. Watch below as The Jam race through the B side "Takin My Love".

Friday, April 28, 2017

Rainbows in Your Kiss

In 1977 veteran jazz drummer and converted muslim Idris Muhammad released Turn This Mutha Out, a jazz/funk/disco album featuring both the funky title cut and the sublime disco hit "Could Heaven Ever Be Like This". It was tough choosing which one of those I should feature, but in recent years "Heaven" has been sampled by the likes of Drake, Jamie XX and Chrome Sparks.

Muhammad was born Leo Morris in New Orleans in 1939 and grew up with the Neville family. At the age of 16 he played drums on Fats Domino's "Blueberry Hill". He also played on Art Neville's  Hawketts hit "Mardi Gras Mambo". In New York he was a session player with all kinds of jazz outfits and played on recordings for Sam Cooke and Roberta Flack. When he retired Muhammad returned to New Orleans where he spent the last few years of his life. He died in 2014.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

In a Vegetable Way

"What are songs but exercises in solitude"
-Peter Hammill

In April of 1977 Van Der Graaf Generator frontman Peter Hammill released Over, an excruciating, enigmatic and very emotional album about the end of a relationship. Believe me, this is the last guy you want to hear complaining about some broad. We've all had our hearts broken, but most of us avoid caterwauling about it. 

Hammill described Over to NME thusly : 

"It's 75% love songs, end or ending in some way or another. I can't really talk about it."

The album ranks #37 in 1977 among the RateYourMusic crowd, made up of a lot of prog heads to begin with. ( That's ahead of Blank Generation, Damned Damned Damned and Rattus Norvegicus) But more than a few of this album's fans swear Over got them through some bad days.

Here's just one example from someone who was 15 when he found the album:

 I was in a very minor relationship with a girl who, at the time, I thought was immensely special. I was naive enough to believe that I'd spend my life with her. Funny, isn't it? Not even a legal adult, and I'm thinking that far into the future. Looking back on that, I literally laugh out loud at how ridiculous I was. At the time, though, laughing was the very last thing that I would do. Luckily for me, I had Hammill to get me through it. Peter Hammill is probably the one and only savior of my personal and overall well-being, and I say this because at the time of my instability, I had numerous battles with suicide. Upon the news that it was over, I asked to be admitted to a psychiatric ward. Yes, I was that taken aback by what happened, and remember: 16. Actually, when it happened, I was 15. My 16th birthday was three days after it ended.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Young Words Are Mumbled

On April 26, 1977, three days before the release of their first single, The Jam performed four songs for John Peel's BBC sessions .They led with the new single, the future UK Top  40 hit "In The City", followed by a song many in the band believed would be the next single, "Art School". The next tune is "I Changed My Address". All three came from the debut album. They rounded up the set with "The Modern World", another UK Top 40 hit, from their second album. ( The Jam had 18 straight UK Top 40 hits so this is not a surprise.)

The Jam may have owed their energy to the punk scene but their sound is pure updated mod rock. "In The City" shares the same lyrical themes as the lead off track to The Who's My Generation, "Out in the Street" and "The Kids Are Alright". They would later cover songs by The Who, The Kinks and Small Faces.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Audience Is Gone

On April 25, 1977 The Adverts, an English punk band, recorded the first of four sessions for John Peel's BBC sessions. They led the set with B side "Quickstep", featuring punk icon Gaye Advert on bass. The next song was future U.K. Top 20 hit "Gary Gilmore's Eyes", followed by their new Stiff Records single debut "One Chord Wonders" ( the first single Ian Brown of Stone Roses claims to have purchased). "New Boys" and "Bored Teenagers" ( soon featured on the Live at the Roxy album) wrapped up the set. It has been just four months since their first rehearsal.

"You forget how completely poor you were in those days", Gaye Advert tells John Robb in Punk Rock: An Oral History. "If we walked we could afford one beer. If we took the tube we could not afford a beer-that's how it was. We were still poor even after the hit. I had one pair of jeans, with a monthly trip to the laundrette!"

Monday, April 24, 2017

Mah Na Mah Na

On April 24, 1977 Piero Umiliani's original 1968 version of "Mah Na Mah Na" entered the UK charts, thanks to a performance on The Muppet Show. It would peak at #8. The song was originally written for a Swedish sex-ploitation documentary called Sweden, Heaven and Hell

The original version charted in the US in 1968. In 1969 Sesame Street used their own version of "Mah Na Mah Na" in a skit

The Muppet Show revisited the skit on the program's first episode in 1976.

Things quickly got weird

Since then, there have been countless versions of the song...

All used for comedic effect...

As recently as last year.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Surrender To Me Baby

On April 23, 1977 Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers performed a live set at the Record Plant in Sausalito, CA broadcast by WXRT-FM. The band opened with two songs many fans still don't know: "Surrender" and the Chuck Berry cover  "Jaguar and Thunderbird". Al Kooper would join them later in the show to add keyboards to "Listen To Her Heart", "I Need to Know" and a few others.

 Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were working hard to get their debut record played in the U.S. To little effect. In the summer the band would storm the U.K., gracing the cover of music magazines and appearing on TV shows. Suddenly TP and the Heartbreakers would be a happening band.