The Greatest Year in the History of Music

In 1977 I was listening to reggae and rock and roll. Later that year everything changed: I discovered Punk Rock. I suddenly became a rebellious teenager turning up the dial to 10 as I listened to the Sex Pistols’ and The Clash’s debut albums and their American counterparts, The Ramones.

Virtually every major artist of the past 35 years released an album that year. The Police, Van Halen, Dire Straits, INXS and Black Flag were formed and The B52’s played their first concert together. Of the major stars, only Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Bob Dylan and The Eagles didn’t put out an album in 1977; although The Eagles and Stevie held the charts with top-selling singles from albums they released the prior year.

It was a big year in music. Elvis Presley released three albums and died. David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Neil Young, Johnny Cash and Santana each released two albums. Peter Gabriel had his solo debut.

Heart, Earth Wind & Fire, Electric Light Orchestra, ABBA, The Commodores, Foreigner, Kansas, Styx, Journey, Aerosmith, Joni Mitchell, Al Green, Tom Waits, Bryan Ferry, Steve Miller, Eddie Money, Parliament, The O’Jays, Van Morrison, America, Paul Simon, Neil Diamond, Donna Summer, The Doobie Brothers, Jimmy Buffet, Diana Ross, Barry White, The Kinks, AC/DC, The Beach Boys, The Bee Gees, Peter Frampton, Alice Cooper, Queen, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Little Feat, James Taylor, Bette Midler, Joan Baez, Genesis, 10cc, Rush, The Band, T Rex, ZZ Top, Hall & Oates, Roy Orbison, Chic, Muddy Waters, The Rolling Stones, Joan Armatrading, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Carole King ,BTO, Blondie, The Runaways, Yes, Billy Joel, Steve Winwood and Kiss each released an album. Each artist went on to major success and is now considered a classic.

In addition, my top 10 albums from 1977 include, in no particular order:

  1. Bob Marley’s Exodus—the first reggae album I listened to in its entirety. It delivered a pulsing beat that hooked me into reggae forever. And you never forget your first.
  2. Pink Floyd, Animals featured three songs each over 10 minutes in length seamlessly blending searing instrumentals and exciting vocals like I’d never heard before.
  3. The Clash, The Clash. Joe Strummer is the Punk Rock Warlord!
  4. Grateful Dead, Terrapin Station: “Estimated Prophet”. Enough said.
  5. Steely Dan, Aja: Incredibly compelling piano, fabulous horns and a guest vocal from Michael McDonald makes this album soar.
  6. Fleetwood Mac, Rumours. “The Chain”, “Gold Dust Woman”, “Dreams”, “Never Going Back Again”, I could go on.
  7. Elvis Costello, My Aim Is True, the era’s greatest songwriter is born.
  8. Eric Clapton, Slow Hand, “Cocaine”—even though J.J. Cale wrote it, Clapton brought it to life.
  9. Supertramp, Even in the Quietest Moments, one of those albums that takes me to a happy place.
  10. Talking Heads, Talking Heads: 77, “Psycho Killer”, qu’est-ce que c’est fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa. Now there’s some depth.

This blog post originally appeared in the Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch….