1977 – 1983, A Golden Era in Music…

Posted: June 23, 2015 in Bands, Music
Tags: , , , , , ,

We humans have a tendency to put everything into neat conveniently defined boxes but many of the categorizations we use are at best arbitrary and at worst totally bogus. I often say “Genre is a dirty word” for a number of reasons ranging from; the fact that I find music that adheres most closely to any “genre” conventions or boundaries to be the most uninspired and forgettable. Through to the fact that most of my favourite artists’ music is either a fusion of two or more styles or unclassifiable by virtue of being so inventive that it defies all genres.

Another tendency that annoys and frustrates me is our tendency to classify music (and indeed many aspects of life) by decades. In reality creativity, artistry and any “movement”, fashion or lifestyle does not and cannot simply follow the convenient blocks of time we assign as decades.

For people too young to have lived through it or remember, I can assure you there is no single “genre” or style of music that defines the 1960’s, 70’s, 80’s or 90’s. Furthermore creative movements and styles do not start or end conveniently following any defined decade. A movement may emerge at any time during any decade and slip away quietly or rise to the fore and last for a number of year or much longer than a decade.

As an artist David Bowie is one that has been on the cutting edge, constantly evolving and embracing many styles/influences. His musical output spans 5 decades and has remained influential. This does not mean however that musical styles that rise up and seem to disappear quickly are not influential to some degree, even a one hit wonder can have long lasting influence. I prefer to define music’s evolution in terms of styles, periods/eras & lasting influence.

One such period that produced much of my favourite music and is often under-appreciated in terms of innovation, style and influence is the period from 1977 – 1983. This is the period that followed the peak dominance of punk and disco and pre-dates Madonna but includes the emergence of artists as diverse and influential as; Prince, The Police, U2, Talking Heads, Television, Joy Division, New Order, The Cure, The B52’s, Gang Of Four, Ultravox, The Clash, Depeche Mode, The Church, Meatloaf, Dead Or Alive, Divynls, Eurythmics, Spandau Ballet, The Hooters, Soft Cell, The Jam, Madness, The Pretenders, Elvis Costello, INXS, The Buggles, The Human League, Joe Jackson, Stray Cats, Ian Dury & the Blockheads, The Psychedelic Furs, Magazine, Flowers/Icehouse, Bauhaus, Duran Duran, Adam & The Ants, Echo & The Bunnymen, Toto, XTC, Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, Cheap Trick, The Knack, Def Leppard, Midnight oil, Public Image Ltd, Simple Minds, Tubeway Army, UB40, Visage, Fishbone, Pere Ubu, Husker Du, The Fall, Mink Deville, Suicide, Killing Joke, Modern English, Wire, Jimmy and The Boys, Black Flag and I could go on… Even some established bands and artists found new life and rose to even greater heights during this period; Fleetwood Mac released Rumours (one of the greatest popular albums of all time), AC/DC shot to stardom in 78/79 then in 1980 released Back In Black (the second highest selling album ever), Michael Jackson released Off The Wall in ’79 then followed up with Thriller (the biggest selling album of all time) in 1982, Peter Gabriel released his first solo album (after leaving Genesis) etc. etc… There were also many lessor known or obscure artists/releases during this period that are note-worthy. It was also a period in which anything from the slickest most carefully arranged and produced upbeat pop song to the moodiest, darkest, slash your wrists, synth driven single could be a hit if it was a great song.

In reality though it was music that neither belonged to nor is synonymous with the decades of the “70’s” or 80’s. It is music that emerged and evolved over that five year period.

You may not have heard of all these artists, you may have overlooked some of them and you may not like some of these artists, I don’t like all of them. However (with the notable exception of 1966 – 1971) you’d be hard pressed to find any five year period in popular music of the past 50 years that produced an equal level of diversity, innovation, excitement and lasting influence as 1977 – 1983.

So over the next few months I’ll be posting links for some of my favourite (well known or lessor known) tracks from this period; songs that caught my attention, influenced or excited me and still do in most cases. Starting with this infectious near perfect example of power-pop from one hit wonders Sniff ‘n’ The Tears… And as if to ad weight too my point this particular clip opens with a graphic reading “Back To The Eighties”, when in fact Driver’s Seat was released and became a hit in 1978….

Drivers Seat by Sniff ‘N’ The Tears


Rokk lattanzio


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