My Aim is True by Elvis Costello

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My Aim Is True by Elvis CostelloMy Aim Is True is the debut album by Elvis Costello and it introduced the world to a hybrid sound that drew near equal influence from 1950s old time rock n’ roll and 1970s cutting edge new wave and punk. The album and this artist also represented a (slightly controversial) changing of the guard in the rock world as this artist, with the adopted name “Elvis”, put out his debut album within weeks of the death of the original Elvis (Presley) during the summer of 1977.

Born Declan Patrick MacManus, this English singer/songwriter began his career as part of London’s pub rock scene in the early 1970s as well as performing in the Liverpool-based folk duo Rusty. Between 1974 and 1976, MacManus played in the rock band Flip City and adopted the stage name D.P. Costello, in tribute to his father who had performed under a similar stage name years earlier. During this time, Costello began to write original songs and a demo tape of this material led to a solo recording contract with Stiff Records and, at the suggestion of his manager, Elvis was added to his stage name for these new recordings.

My Aim Is True was recorded in multiple late-night, short studio sessions over the winter of 1976-1977. It was produced by Nick Lowe who would go on to produce each of Costello’s first five studio albums. Backing Costello for this album were members of the country/rock band Clover (originally identified as”The Shamrocks”), who added an energy which gave the production a “live” feel. Left off the album, but later released as a single, was the reggae-fused track “Watching the Detectives”, which would become Costello’s first charting hit.


My Aim is True by Elvis Costello
Released: July 22, 1977 (Stiff)
Produced by: Nick Lowe
Recorded: Pathway Studios, London, 1976–1977
Side One Side Two
Welcome to the Working Week
Miracle Man
No Dancing
Blame It on Cain
Alison
Sneaky Feelings
(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes
Less Than Zero
Mystery Dance
Pay It Back
I’m Not Angry
Waiting for the End of the World
Primary Musicians
Elvis Costello – Lead Vocals, Guitars, Piano
John McFee – Guitars, Vocals
Sean Hopper – Piano, Keyboards, Vocals
Johnny Ciambotti – Bass, Vocals
Mickey Shine– Drums

 

A prolific composer, Costello wrote all the songs on My Aim is True and, although there is a wide range stylistically from song to song, they all seem to work cohesively as an album. The short but effective “Welcome to the Working Week” quickly morphs from doo-wop to new wave before it abruptly ends after about 80 seconds of running time leading to the more substantive “Miracle Man”, a jam with rich instrumentation, an array of guitar textures and a bouncy bass by Johnny Ciambotti.

Next comes the heart of side one, starting with “No Dancing”, featuring a Phil Spector-like beat and presented as almost a ballad but with thick and complex arrangement and multiple guitar styles by Costello and John McFee. “Blame It on Cain” features great pop / rock sensibilities with an upbeat blues, Jersey Shore rock shine, while the more mellow “Alison” combines slightly jazzy guitars and soulful vocals. This great melancholy pop song was written about a checkout girl at a local supermarket and features the line which gives this album its title. “Sneaky Feelings” returns to upbeat blues/pop to complete the first side.

Elvis Costello

Side two begins with “(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes”, featuring fine melodies complemented by lazily picked guitar and a contrasting strong drum beat by Mickey Shine. “Less Than Zero” is a steady rocker with plenty of guitar and keyboard riffs under a lyric driven screed against a British fascist, while “Mystery Dance” is a pure fifties rocker throughout with an almost-punk tempo and time. “Pay It Back” returns to the standard Costello style, well established by this point in the album. “I’m Not Angry” sees a hard rock guitar over a quirky, choppy rhythm and an amplified whisper during the choruses, making for an interesting mix of sonic effects and an overall original song. The album ends strongly with one of its finest tunes, “Waiting for the End of the World”. A nice use of dynamics between the laid back main riff and the strong chorus is combined with great percussion and a combo of rudiments throughout and a cool slide guitar in the choruses are featured in this song.

At the time of My Aim is True‘s release, Costello was still working at his “day job” and had already finished composing songs for his next album, This Year’s Model, released in 1978. Further, Costello established his permanent backing band, the Attractions. A second version of My Aim is True was recorded with the new band with the intention of replacing the original tracks contained in My Aim Is True once the initial pressings had sold out. However, this never came to pass as the original recording gained critical momentum, a momentum which continues four decades later.

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1977 Images

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of 1977 albums.

 

Terrapin Station by Grateful Dead

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Terrapin Station by Grateful DeadBy the mid 1970s, the fiercely independent Grateful Dead decided to make a radical turn towards more conventional music business practices. Foremost in this new direction was the decision to abandon their own record label by signing with Clive Davis’s then-new Arista Records as well as work with an outside producer for the first time in nearly a decade. The initial studio release following this new direction was 1977’s Terrapin Station, which remains a highly regarded yet polarizing album four decades after its release.

In 1974, the Grateful Dead decided to take a hiatus from live touring and, for the next two years, the only band activity was the recording and release of the eccentric 1975 studio album Blues For Allah. In June 1976, the group resumed touring under new management and their Spring 1977 tour has been held in high regard as some of the best performances of their long career.

Terrapin Station was produced by Keith Olsen and recorded at Sound City Studios in Southern California. Olsen made a concerted effort to deliver a song cycle which could break through commercially. This included some post-production overdubs of strings, horns, saxophone and and choral vocals which caused some differing opinions among group members with the end results.


Terrapin Station by Grateful Dead
Released: July 27, 1977 (Arista)
Produced by: Keith Olsen
Recorded: Sound City Studios, Van Nuys, CA, November 1976 – May 1977
Side One Side Two
Estimated Prophet
Dancin’ in the Streets
Passenger
Samson And Delilah
Sunrise
Terrapin Station (Part 1)
Group Musicians
Bob Weir – Guitars, Vocals
Jerry Garcia – Guitars, Vocals
Bob Weir – Guitars, Vocals
Donna Jean Godchaux – Vocals
Keith Godchaux – Keyboards, Vocals
Phil Lesh – Bass
Bill Kreutzmann – Drums, Percussion
Mickey Hart – Percussion

 

The album begins with one of its most indelible tracks, “Estimated Prophet”, written and sung by guitarist Bob Weir with lyrics by poet John Perry Barlow. This track is filled with great melodies, overt sonic riffs, jazzy leads and lyrics which seem to scorn the faithful optimist. Drummer Bill Kreutzmann forged a beat in the 14/8 time signature while session man Tom Scott added lyricon and saxophone to jazz up the song’s arrangement.

The remainder of side one features eclectic song styles intended to be more radio-friendly material. “Dancin’ in the Streets” is a full fledged, funk/disco cover of the Martha and the Vandellas hit but almost sounds like it belongs in some corny school play rendition in comparison. “Passenger” was written by bassist Phil Lesh and features harmonized lead vocals by Weir and Donna Jean Godchaux in an upbeat pop/funk song which was released as a single. “Samson & Delilah” is a traditional song arranged by Weir and it starts with some fine, oddly timed drums before settling into a signature Dead groove with guitars and bass. The first side concludes with “Sunrise”, a folk ballad by Donna Godchaux with some added orchestrations behind.

Grateful Dead in 1977

The entirety of side two is dedicated to the sixteen and a half minute, seven part “Terrapin Station” suite. It was written by Jerry Garcia and lyricist Robert Hunter and is a musical breath of fresh air in contrast to the somewhat disjointed first side of the album. The first part, “Lady with a Fan”, was based on a traditional English folk song known as “The Lady of Carlisle”, and features a theme of seduction and foolish bravery with a fantastic, harmonized guitar lead in between the Garcia-led verses. The next three “Terrapin” parts are more upbeat and climatic while remaining very pleasant and melodic. During “Terrapin Transit” the jam breaks into a slight psychedelic motif with synths, bass and much percussion by Mickey Hart, while “Terrapin Flyer” features richer production over the percussion motifs. “Refrain” includes an opera-like chorus as the final act of the adventure. This suite was actually Part 1 of a two part composition, the second of which was never recorded or performed by the Grateful Dead.

Terrapin Station was far from the hoped for commercial breakthrough for the group (that would not come for another decade with In the Dark), but it did reach the Top 30 on the Pop Albums charts and was eventually certified Gold. The Grateful Dead followed this album with a similar approach on Shakedown Street in 1978 before changing direction in the 1980s.

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1977 Images

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of 1977 albums.

 

Little Queen by Heart

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Little Queen by HeartIt wasn’t easy for Heart to follow-up their brilliant 1976 debut Dreamboat Annie. They started and stopped an album for Mushroom Records, which was later patched together as the release Magazine, but this was hardly an apt follow-up. Finally, in the Spring of 1977, the six-piece group recorded and released the eclectic, classic folk-rock Little Queen on Portrait Records. The album was well received critically and it sold well commercially, ultimately reaching triple platinum status.

Following the success of their debut album, Heart wanted to get back to the studio quickly and soon recorded some tracks with producer Mike Flicker in Vancouver. Meanwhile, Mushroom ran a suggestive full-page advertisement featuring lead vocalist Ann Wilson and her sister, guitarist Nancy Wilson. This infuriated the band members and led to their defection from that label and the subsequent legal battles over Heart’s next album. Mushroom compiled five unfinished tracks along with two live recordings and a previously released B-side to forge the Magazine album in early 1977.

Meanwhile, the band started over,  recording for Little Queen with Flicker in Seattle and delivered ten fresh tracks of differing rock and folk styles in just about three weeks. Eventually, the court allowed Heart to release the album with the caveat that they deliver a proper second album to Mushroom by re-recording and remixing Magazine for a 1978 release.


Little Queen by Heart
Released: May 14, 1977 (Portrait)
Produced by: Mike Flicker
Recorded: Kaye Smith Studios, Seattle, February–April 1977
Side One Side Two
Barracuda
Love Alive
Sylvan Song
Dream of the Archer
Kick It Out
Little Queen
Treat Me Well
Say Hello
Cry to Me
Go On Cry
Group Musicians
Ann Wilson – Lead Vocals, Flute
Nancy Wilson – Guitars, Mandolin, Piano, Vocals
Roger Fisher – Guitars, Mandolin
Howard Leese – Guitars, Piano, Keyboards
Steve Fossen – Bass
Michael DeRosier – Drums, Percussion

 

The album launches with its most recognizable and indelible track, “Barracuda”. The inception of this track began with Ann Wilson’s anger towards Mushroom’s attempted publicity stunt involving her and her sister Nancy. Musically, this is an apt attempt at Zeppelin-style heavy metal with Wilson’s vocals nicely cutting into the dry deadened rock rhythms by guitarist Roger Fisher and bassist Steve Fossen for an overall masterful effect.

“Love Alive” makes a big change in sonic direction with a slow, harmonized acoustic and electric guitar medley during the long intro and an overall fine folk/rock track that breaks out slightly into standard rock later in the song. On the instrumental “Sylvan Song”, Fisher and Nancy Wilson provide acoustic guitar and mandolin respectively with plenty of forest atmosphere, acting as intro to “Dream of the Archer”, which seems to pay homage to Led Zeppelin’s “Battle of Evermore”. “Kick It Out” completes the first side by rotating back to pure rock, electric riff-driven with a good, strong hook, animated bass and choppy piano by Howard Leese.

Heart in 1977

On the title track “Little Queen”, a long guitar textural intro gives way to a funk/rock song proper, making for a potent and enjoyable musical combination. “Treat Me Well” features Nancy Wilson on lead vocals for her acoustic jazz composition with plenty of melancholy moodiness throughout, accented by slight harmonica and later orchestral strings arranged by Leese. The album’s diversity expands with the Caribbean feel of “Say Hello” with Fossen and drummer Michael DeRosier providing the distinct rhythms. The album loses a bit of steam through its closing mini-suite, the acoustic ballad “Cry to Me” and the long, repetitive sequences of “Go On Cry”, which feels mainly like filler to end this otherwise fine album.

Little Queen reached the Top Ten in the US and Canada and charted well in several other countries. Heart’s momentum continued through the late 1970s and well into the 1980s.

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1977 Images

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of 1977 albums.

 

Peter Gabriel 1977 debut album

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Peter GabrielAfter departing from Genesis, the group he founded and fronted for nearly a decade, Peter Gabriel slowly worked his way into launching a solo career. His 1977 debut album (the first of four self-titled releases) features nine tracks of diverse music which reflects back on his extensive work with the band and looks forward to Gabriel’s new musical approach as a distinct solo artist. Commercially, the album reached the Top Ten in Gabriel’s native U.K. and the Top 40 in the U.S.A.

Gabriel decided to leave Genesis after the band completed their 1974 double album, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. The group kept this revelation secret as Gabriel joined them on a massive world tour to promote the album and Gabriel finally revealed his departure in a 1975 published letter to fans entitled “Out, Angels Out”.

When Gabriel was ready to start recording solo material in 1976 he enlisted producer Bob Ezrin, who had previously worked mainly with hard rock acts such as Aerosmith, Kiss and the Alice Cooper Band. Production wise, Ezrin worked on some of the dynamic passages of the songs, using not just rock elements but also string and brass orchestration and lofty, layered synths. Meanwhile, Gabriel focused on the more “quiet” parts of the album. The two enlisted a strong assembly of backing musicians, including Robert Fripp and bassist Tony Levin of King Crimson.


Peter Gabriel by Peter Gabriel
Released: February 25, 1977 (Atco)
Produced by: Bob Ezrin
Recorded: The Soundstage, Toronto, Morgan Studios and Olympic Studios, London, July 1976–January 1977
Side One Side Two
Moribund the Burgermeister
Solsbury Hill
Modern Love
Excuse Me
Humdrum
Slowburn
Waiting for the Big One
Down the Dolce Vita
Here Comes the Flood
Primary Musicians
Peter Gabriel – Lead Vocals, Keyboards, Flute
Robert Fripp – Guitars, Banjo
Steve Hunter – Guitars
Jozef Chirowski – Keyboards
Tony Levin – Bass, Tuba
Allan Schwartzberg– Drums

 

The album begins with wild, synth-like rhythms during the intro and verse of “Moribund the Burgermeister”, which soon explodes into a full-fledged rock orchestra for the chorus section, as Gabriel uses character voices which seem to be left over from some of his character interpretations on The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. “Solsbury Hill” follows as the most indelible track on the album. This bright acoustic track features exquisite vocals delivering poetic lyrics which depict a seemingly religious-like experience that led to his decision to cut ties with Genesis. Released as the lead single from the album, the song failed to chart initially but has long grown in stature as an absolute classic by Gabriel.

“Modern Love” is a pure rocker where Levin provides great bass throughout and Ezrin applies an Alice-Cooper-like theatrical approach while maintaining a hard rock edge. Cowritten by Martin Hall, “Excuse Me” is, by far, the weirdest track as it utilizes classical British dance hall pop harmonies and carnival-like rhythms, complete with a tuba to accompany the lyrical emotional creed of a loner. In contrast, “Humdrum” is a very low-fi recording of piano and vocals with minimal arrangement added later on in the song.

The album’s original second side begins “Slowburn”, another instrumentation rich rock theatrical piece, although this one seems to be more disjointed than earlier ones on the album. “Waiting for the Big One” is a fine soulful, jazz piano track where Gabriel employs a vocal style different than anything else. The song has a bit of false ending before reviving to include an instrumental section with an excellent blues/rock guitar lead by Steve Hunter and inventive drum fills by Allan Schwartzberg. “Down the Dolce Vita” starts with pure orchestration before breaking into a disco-like beat and rhythm, led by a distinct clavichord throughout, while the closing ballad “Here Comes the Flood” features plenty more sonic decor and orchestration with vivid, poetic lyrics and guest Dick Wagner providing a great guitar lead to complete the album on a high note.

Peter Gabriel

Being that Gabriel did not title his first four solo albums, they soon gained aliases based on their cover art, with this 1977 debut being nicknamed “Car”. Following this album’s release, Gabriel enlisted many of the studio musicians for a touring band which performed through much of 1977 before Gabriel returned to the studio for his 1978 follow-up album.

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1977 Images

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of 1977 albums.

 

The Stranger by Billy Joel

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1977 Album Of the Year

The Stranger by Billy Joel There is a bit of irony in The Stranger being our selection as Album of the Year for 1977. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great album by Billy Joel. But it follows Turnstiles and precedes 52nd Street, which are even greater albums even though they may not be Album of the Year for their respective years. The truth is, 1977 was indeed a year of pop music (just check out all our reviews from the year) and this is one of the best pop albums of all time. Joel’s fifth studio album, The Stranger far surpassed the moderate chart successes of his previous four in the early to mid seventies. It reached #2 in the U.S. album charts, is Joel’s best-selling non-compilation album, and surpassed Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water to become Columbia Records best-selling album to that date.

All the material from the album was written exclusively by Joel and produced by Phil Ramone with most of songs composed in the studio. Joel credits Ramone for much of the album’s success due to his innovative production methods which complemented Joel’s songs. This team first worked together on 1976’s Turnstiles and built on the successful fusion of rock/pop and different genres introduced on that album. Joel favored big, sweeping melodies, but Ramone convinced him to streamline his arrangements and make the production more accessible.

The infectious, radio-ready material was complemented by a few vignettes that covered the middle-class ground that Bruce Springsteen was so successfully exploiting in the mid 1970s. But unlike Springsteen, Billy Joel also clearly constructed some artistic centerpieces that give The Stranger a feel of flow and depth. Although it lacks a true masterpiece like “Piano Man”, “Angry Young Man”, or “Zanzibar” from other albums, The Stranger is probably the most consistent throughout with very few moments of weakness.
  

Classic Rock Review
The Stranger by Billy Joel
Released: September 1977 (Columbia)
Produced by: Phil Ramone
Recorded: The Sound Factory, Los Angeles, July-September 1977
Side One Side Two
Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)
The Stranger
Just the Way You Are
Scenes Form An Italian Restaurant
Vienna
Only the Good Die Young
She’s Always a Woman
Get It Right the First Time
Everybody Has a Dream
Primary Musicians
Billy Joel – Lead Vocals, Piano, Keyboards
Steve Khan – Guitars
Richie Cannata – Saxophone, Clarinet, Flute
Doug Stegmeyer – Bass
Liberty DeVitto– Drums

 

The album launches with the sharp, underlying rock riff of “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)”, a song exquisite in its pure oddness. Joel’s the piano takes a back seat for most of this entertaining song, lending space to the various other elements of sonic candy; guitar, saxophone, sound effects, and vocal harmonies. The coda features a slight variation of the main theme, solidifying the overall theatrical feel of the song. Aside from the protagonist, the song has many named, blue-collar characters, which paint a vivid picture of city life in a working class neighborhood. Bass player Doug Stegmeyer lent his Corvette to record the sound-effect in the song’s coda. “Movin’ Out” was also the title of a later Broadway musical based on Billy Joel’s songs.

The title song, “The Stranger”, moves from the quiet cabaret during the opening and closing sections to the disco fused body of the song. The harmonized vocal performance during the choruses are particularly pleasing during this stretch of the song. The signature whistling melody was originally supposed to be played by a clarinet, but Phil Ramone convinced Joel to use the whistle instead after he heard him doing it in rehearsal. “Just the Way You Are” was the biggest hit single off the album, reaching #3 on the pop charts and covered by scores of artists including Frank Sinatra. Joel makes no secret of his disdain of this song, written about his then wife and business manager, and had originally decided against including the track on the album and his band called it “lounge lizard” music. But with the encouragement of fellow artist Linda Rondstadt, Joel and Ramone decided to make a more interesting mix with synthesizers, a vocal chorus, and an extended saxophone lead by Richie Cannata.

Billy Joel, 1977

“Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” is a multi-part suite which morphs from scene to scene in each of four distinct parts that explore rock jazz, blues, and show tunes. The song starts with the atmosphere of a piano bar (or Italian restaurant) and next it moves to a teenage hangout with “a song about New Orleans” and an excellent tenor sax lead. Then there is the song within the song, an upbeat piano tune originally written as the stand-alone “Ballad of Brenda and Eddie”. The song dissolves back to the Italian restaurant to the main theme for the outro. The seven-and-a-half-minute epic is the longest of Joel’s studio cuts.

The album’s second side is the fantastic “Vienna”, inspired by Joel’s young half-brother Alexander Joel (now a classical conductor), who grew up in Vienna. Billy Joel explained how the city was a perfect metaphor for a crossroads situation in life;

During the Cold War, Vienna was between the Warsaw Pact nations and the NATO countries…it was between the Ottoman Empire and the Holy Roman Empire during the Middle Ages…it’s the place where cultures co-mingle”

Musically, the song is a calm piano song with great melodic vocals and a touch of accordion by Dominic Cortese, giving the song a legitimate European feel.

Only the Good Die Young singleI’ve always felt that “Only the Good Die Young” took on multiple meanings. There’s the topical and obvious narrative, which was quite controversial at that time as some felt it was anti-Catholic and the use of the name “Virginia” was a play on “virginity”. But there is also the philosophical undertone of examining one’s life and fate and there is the lamenting of the title itself, which is a profound statement. Still, as deep as this may be lyrically, it is completely light and fun musically. While it begins with a catchy piano part, the song is largely driven by the acoustic guitar of Steve Khan and has an “old time rock” feel.

“She’s Always a Woman” is a beautiful waltz played with a deep and melodic piano line, which pissed off a lot of women’s groups because of alleged stereotyping of the fairer sex. It has been described as a love song about a modern woman with quirks and flaws. “Get It Right the First Time” is an interesting and entertaining rock shuffle featuring a unique drum beat by Liberty DeVitto and a flute lead played by Cannata. The album concludes with the Ray Charles influenced “Everybody Has a Dream”, which includes an instrumental reprise of “The Stranger” to close out the album.

The skyrocketing success of The Stranger, was the first of a long string of Billy Joel albums which would achieve great commercial success over the next decade and a half until Joel “retired” from composing popular music around 1993. While this album fit 1977 perfectly, it does not sound dated in any way and that is why it is Classic Rock Review‘s album of the year.

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1977 Images

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of 1977 albums.

 

Low by David Bowie

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Low by David BowieLow was a 1977 breakthrough album by David Bowie, which contained avant-garde tracks rich with experimental synthesizers and unique compositional approaches. The album was co-produced by Bowie and Tony Visconti and is considered the first of Bowie’s “Berlin Trilogy” along with Heroes later in 1977 and Lodger in 1979. All three of these albums were collaborations with composer Brian Eno. Much of the album’s second side grew from music Bowie had developed for a soundtrack in 1975 but was rejected by the film’s director. The later-written first side contains a balance of art-rock experimentalism and rock n’ roll tradition, in a mix of instrumentals and uniquely arranged pop/rock fragments of songs.

The songwriting on Low tended to deal with difficult issues.  Bowie was attempting to kick a cocaine habit which was an agonizing experieince for him. The title was partly a reference to Bowie’s “low” moods during the album’s writing and recording. Also influencing the album’s darker themes was the hopelessness of people beyond the Iron Curtain, as symbolized by the Berlin Wall. Bowie had moved to Berlin when he decided to get clean from drugs, bringing him within close geographic contact to the European population without freedom or opportunity in East Germany and other Soviet bloc nations.

Bowie was a rock pioneer during the early days of rock’s glam era. In the mid seventies he tried to find his place with different styles, including a bit of avant-garde with 1976’s Station to Station. With Low put Bowie back at rock’s cutting edge by exploring the new frontier of analog synthesizers and electronic effects. The result would be one of the most critically acclaimed albums of Bowie’s long career.
 


Low by David Bowie
Released: January 14, 1977 (RCA)
Produced by: David Bowie & Tony Visconti
Recorded: Château d’Hérouville, France, and Hansa Studio by the Wall, West Berlin, 1976
Side One Side Two
Speed of Life
Breaking Glass
What In the World
Sound and Vision
Always Crashing In the Same Car
Be My Wife
A New Career In a New Town
Warszawa
Art Decade
Weeping Wall
Subterraneans
Primary Musicians
David Bowie – Lead Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards, Saxophone, Harmonica
Brian Eno – Piano, Keyboards, Percussion, Vocals
Carlos Alomar – Guitar
George Murray – Bass
Dennis Davis – Drums

 
Although Low was Bowie’s eleventh studio album, none of the previous ten had included a pure instrumental. That streak is broken  with the album’s opener, “Speed of Life.”  Even though the pattern is rather simple and repetitive, the ambiance of sound lets the listener know from the jump that this is no ordinary rock n’ roll album by making immediate implications about the content of the album and its heavy use of synthesizers as both effects and instruments. “Breaking Glass” follows clocking in at under two minutes, which is really a shame because this fragment is very entertaining and could be tolerated for another minute or two. The funk-influenced track features great bass by Rick Murray.

“What in the World” employs a very 1980s sound well before that decade commenced, with a cool “digital blipping” effect and and other heavy use of synthesizer by Eno. The song also features Iggy Pop on backing vocals. “Sound and Vision” is a funky jazz piece with long intro and small doses of vocals doled out before the actual verses begin about 2/3 through the song. This song was the one singled out by RCA when they warned that the release of Low was tantamount to commercial and artistic suicide, citing the extremely long instrumental intro of “Sound and Vision.” Ironically, “Sound and Vision” became Bowie’s biggest U.K. hit in several years and was adapted by the BBC as background music for its program announcements.

“Always Crashing in the Same Car” may be the song that best personifies this album, with sparse (albeit profound) lyrics and vocals and direct and interesting instrumentals, especially the outtro guitar lead by Carlos Alomar. The lyrics express the frustration of making the same mistake over again and are backed up by more inventive synths and interesting, metallic-tinged guitars by Ricky Gardiner.

Be My Wife single“Be My Wife” is almost like two alternating songs in one – the Beatle-esque “sometimes it gets so lonely” part, and the more traditional Bowie style of the “Be My Wife” section. The overall electronic feel is toned down a bit for a heavier, guitar-driven rock arrangement decorated by sharp “ragtime” piano notes. The first side ends with another instrumental called “A New Career in a New Town”, which breaks from a decidedly new-age intro into an interesting fusion of New Wave and Blues. The song features a harmonica solo by Bowie, giving it a whole new dimension.

As odd as the seven-song first side is, it pales in comparison to the quartet of dramatic pieces which make up side two. “Warszawa” is a collaboration between Bowie and Eno, which sounds like something off Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother or Obscured By Clouds. It contains long, trance-like chord progressions and vocal motifs of nonsensical lyrics, revealing its original intent to be part of a film score. Visconti’s four-year-old son actually played a part in developing this piece by playing A, B, C in a constant loop at the studio piano while Eno worked out the synth parts. “Warszawa” was titled for the Polish city which Bowie visited during 1976 and its bleak mood was inspired by the the feeling he got from the city itself. “Art Decade” is a pun on ‘art decayed’ and reflects Bowie’s concern over his own artistic inspiration. The core melody is performed on heavily produced keyboards and was influenced by the German band Kraftwerk.

“Weeping Wall” refers to the Berlin Wall, with the melody being an adaptation of the traditional song “Scarborough Fair”. On this track, Bowie played all instruments including several percussion and synthesizers. The album concludes with “Subterraneans”, which Bowie says was also influenced by the misery in East Berlin. Unfortunately, this piece is really an uninspired ending to an otherwise interesting album.

Although critical reaction to Low was tepid upon its release, it has come to be acclaimed for its originality and is universally considered ahead of its time for 1977.
 
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1977 Images

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of the 35th anniversary of 1977 albums.

 

Out of the Blue by E.L.O.

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Out Of the Blue by Electric Light OrchestraOut Of the Blue was the seventh album by Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), which began its life in the Swiss Alps after the band wrapped up it’s New World Record tour in April 1977. ELO’s lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter Jeff Lynne rented a small chalet near Lake Geneva. He brought his guitar and rented an electric piano and tape recorder, giving himself about a month of solitude to compose new music. But for about two weeks the weather was terrible and Lynne struggled to write anything of substance. Then one morning, the sun came out exposing the majestic mountains and Lynne’s writer’s block disappeared. Starting with the suite “Concerto For a Rainy Day”, the songwriter composed the bulk of this upcoming double album in total, about fourteen tracks in two weeks. The songs were then rehearsed by and arranged for the band and orchestra before production began at Musicland in Munich, Germany, a place favored by Lynne because of its proximity to “a great football pitch out the back for having a break”.

Lynne was happy to get 40 orchestral musicians into the relatively small Musicland after originally booking and being unsatisfied with a much larger studio where there was too much natural re-verb. In the end, every one of the 19 tracks on Out Of the Blue were composed and produced by Lynne and the album was on the shelf in mere months. Out Of the Blue was a great success, reaching the top five on album charts in seven different countries and becoming the most highly regarded album by ELO. The album also benefited from being highly relevant to its time, having some disco-friendly sounds in the year which brought us Saturday Night Fever and spaceship-centered artwork in the year that brought us Star Wars.

Creatively, it was the apex of Lynne’s ambition to blend basic rock’n’roll with orchestral overtones, something many fans and critics believe was his independent crusade to continue the Beatles musical direction of their latter years. Ironically, Beatles producer George Martin felt their only double album, 1968’s White Album could’ve been edited back to form a really excellent single album and Out Of the Blue may have been better served to follow that advice. The songs tend to be overproduced, which is sonically fulfilling at the beginning but gets mundane as the album progresses, especially with a rather weak fourth “side”. The rich vocal arrangements and the method of call and return by Lynn’s lead and the harmonized backing, especially wear thin as the album progresses.
 

Classic Rock Review
Out Of the Blue by E.L.O.
Released: October 1977 (Jet)
Produced by: Jeff Lynne
Recorded: Musicland Studios, Munich, May-August 1977
Side One Side Two
Turn To Stone
It’s Over
Sweet Talkin’ Woman
Across the Border
Night In the City
Starlight
Jungle
Believe Me Now
Steppin’ Out
Side Three Side Four
Standin’ In the Rain
Big Wheels
Summer and Lightning
Mr. Blue Sky
Sweet Is the Night
The Whale
Birmingham Blues
Wild West Hero
Primary Musicians
Jeff Lynne – Lead Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
Richard Tandy – Keyboards, Guitars
Louis Clark – Orchestra Conductor
Kelly Groucutt – Bass, Vocals
Bev Bevan – Drums, Vocals

 
The album fades in with the hit “Turn to Stone” with a beat equivalent to early techno and Lynne’s call-out vocals returned by thick harmonies (something that will be repeated all too often on this album). The song contains great texture, a key component to many songs on the album along with the skill of mixing string-laden pop hooks with driving rock and roll. The next song, “It’s Over” is an odd song to be placed anywhere but at the end of a side. The song contains a driving acoustic through the verses with a nice piano piece in the lead

Sweet Talkin' Woman single, 1978A short wedding march introduces “Sweet Talkin’ Woman”, a tremendous pop song with fine melodies, harmonies, and overall great use of vocals. “Jungle” is a song of just plain fun with its various types of sound effects, upbeat tempo, and use of nonsensical vocal flourishes and jungle animal noises provided by Lynne along with bassist Kelly Groucutt and drummer Bev Bevan. “Believe Me Now” is a short yet entertaining instrumental that introduces the melodic an melancholy “Steppin’ Out”, written in a similar vein to past classics like “Telephone Line”.

Based on old-time rock, “Across the Border” adds mariachi horns into the already-packed musical palette of sound effects, Moog synthesizer, and violin by Mik Kaminski. The album’s second side starts with “Night In the City”, a definitely disco-influenced track with just a hint of prog-rock experimentation through the changing chord structures and vocal arrangements. “Starlight” is a dreamy, slow dance influenced, piano driven song with topical, new-age sounds.
 

 
The entirety of side three is subtitled “Concerto for a Rainy Day”, a four track suite based on the weather and how it affects mood change, ending gloriously with “Mr. Blue Sky”, an uplifting celebration of sunshine. The song has liberal use of vocoder from keyboardist Richard Tandy. Beyond this, the song contains the best vocals on this vocal-rich album, from the cool lead by Lynne, to the multi-part harmonies in the chorus, to the building arrangement following the second verse, to the great choral arrangement later in the song. Leading up to this climatic final song, the concerto (which would be the end of Lynne’s dabbling in symphonic rock) contains the haunting “Standin’ in the Rain”, the dramatic, string-driven “Big Wheels”, and the acoustic, pop-oriented “Summer and Lightning”.

Electric Light Orchestra

Side four is, unfortunately, the weakest side on Out Of the Blue as this otherwise fine album fizzles to an anti-climatic end. It is not that these songs are terrible, just that all the spectacular moments have passed and nothing here seems too original or inspiring. “Sweet Is the Night” may have been a hit single if it were released, as it does have some pleasant and melodic moments. “The Whale” is an instrumental which is largely an experiment with synthesized sounds by Tandy. “Birmingham Blues” is mainly uninspired filler, and the album’s closer, “Wild West Hero” adds some “honky tonk” elements which seem forced and underdeveloped.

Still, Out Of the Blue contains some fantastic songs and there were actually even a couple of very good songs that were originally kept off (although later added for the 30th anniversary edition. These were the fine instrumental “The Quick and the Daft” and the melodic, pop-oriented “Latitude 88 North”, which has a sound that may have actually been ahead of its time for 1977. Then again, Jeff Lynne and ELO always seemed to be just a little ahead of their time.

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1977 Images

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of 1977 albums.

 

News Of the World by Queen

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News Of the World by Queen News Of the World was recorded and released in the heart of Queen’s most prolific and creative era and may be the band’s most balanced album. It bridges the harmony-rich, virtuoso studio pieces of the era such as 1975’s A Night At the Opera, with the funk-influenced, rhythm driven hits of their near future, like 1980’s The Game. The band’s sixth album in just over four years of recording, News Of the World, is extremely diverse with every one of its eleven tracks credited to a single composer within the band, each of the four band members composing multiple tracks, and a variety of genres explored within the songs themselves.

News Of the World was the second album to be produced solely by the band, with the 1976 predecessor, A Day At the Races, being the first. After that album received some criticism as being “boring”, Queen decided to scale down their complex arrangements and employ a “rootsier” sound while incorporating many diverse styles and approaches for this album. These styles ranged from heavy metal to soft jazz, from Spanish influenced to “stadium rock” and many genres in between. The album contains two tracks without the band’s dynamic front man Freddie Mercury, and two tracks absent their virtuoso lead guitarist Brian May. With the overall songwriting less dominated by May and Mercury, bassist John Deacon and drummer Roger Taylor stepped in to play a larger role.

The album cover was a painting by American sci-fi artist Frank Kelly Freas and was presented to the band by Taylor, who had a copy of the October 1953 issue of Astounding Science Fiction with this cover art. The band contacted Freas, who agreed to alter the painting for the News Of the World album cover, incorporating the four band members. Of course, the title itself came from the British tabloid of the same name, which was once the most popular newspaper on Earth but has in the past year (2011) folded up due in part to scandal.
 


News Of the World by Queen
Released: October 28, 1977 (EMI)
Produced by: Queen & Mike Stone
Recorded: Basing Street & Wessex Studios, London, July-September 1977
Side One Side Two
We Will Rock You
We Are the Champions
Sheer Heart Attack
All Dead, All Dead
Spread Your Wings
Fight From the Inside
Get Down, Make Love
Sleeping On the Sidewalk
Who Needs You
It’s Late
My Melancholy Blues
Group Musicians
Freddie Mercury – Lead & Harmony Vocals, Piano, Percussion
Brian May – Guitars, Percussion, Lead & Harmony Vocals
John Deacon – Bass, Guitars, Percussion
Roger Taylor– Drums, Percussion, Lead & Harmony Vocals

 
News Of the World has eleven tracks, each written solely by one of the four band members. May lead the way, composing four songs, Mercury wrote three, while Deacon and Taylor wrote two apiece.

May made a conscious decision to make “We Will Rock You” a simple anthem in order to get the live audience more directly involved. The album’s opener would go on to become one of Queen’s biggest songs worldwide and a staple of arena and stadiums everywhere. It was inspired by a gig at Stafford’s Bingley Hall, when the audience sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone” to the band to lull them out for an encore (this was a commonplace at “football” matches and one such occurrence was captured at the end of “Fearless” on Pink Floyd’s Meddle.

“It’s Late” was the May’s idea of treating a song as a three-act theatrical play (the verses are even called “acts” in the lyrics sheet). As the guitarist put it at the time;

“It’s another one of those story-of-your life songs. I think it’s about all sorts of experiences that I had, and experiences that I thought other people had, but I guess it was very personal, and it’s written in three parts, it’s like the first part of the story is at home, the guy is with his woman. The second part is in a room somewhere, the guy is with some other woman, that he loves, and can’t help loving, and the last part is he’s back with his woman…”

Brian May also takes over lead vocals on his two other compositions. “Sleeping On The Sidewalk”, was recorded in one take instrumentally with the vocals later overdubbed. It has a strong rockabilly backing with a heavier guitar up front which all works well with the subdued vocals, making it one of the album’s gems. Lyrically, it tells a rags-to-riches story about an aspiring trumpet player. “All Dead, All Dead” is an excellent composition with melodic piano and vocal harmonies, more subdued vocals by May, a section with swelling guitar coming in like a majestic Medieval organ, and a crisp and thumping, yet measured and sparse rhythm by Deacon and Taylor. In later interviews, May revealed that the song is about the passing of his cat.

John Deacon wrote a couple of interesting songs. “Who Needs You” features the bassist along with May playing dueling Spanish guitars with Mercury adding some percussion. “Spread Your Wings” is one of the forgotten gems in the Queen catalog. With moody piano, acoustic guitar, melodic lead vocals, and just a touch of dynamism from May’s lead the song brings out just about all of the best aspects of the band at their peak. Beyond composing the song, Deacon really shines on bass, playing in a style reminiscent of early John Paul Jones, and giving the song a legitimate edge that makes it a classic.
 

 
Drummer Roger Taylor contributed a couple of the harder-edged songs on the album. “Sheer Heart Attack” gave the band’s third album its title in 1974, but the song itself was only partially finished and didn’t make it on to that album. With the punk rock movement in full effect in 1977, Queen brought the song back to life as precursor to “death metal”, setting a template that would be adapted by acts such as Judas Priest in subsequent years. On “Fight From the Inside”, Taylor plays just about every instrument and sings lead as well, making the song very unique in the Queen catalog.

“Get Down, Make Love” was written by Mercury and makes heavy use of sexual innuendo, with suggestive lyrics that stop just short of being explicit. This funk and punk inspired club piece includes a short mid-section with effects that sound like the ambiance of an early 1980s arcade. However, these “psychedelic” effects were not produced on a synthesiser, but on but May’s guitar and an Electroharmonix Frequency Analyzer pedal. The album’s closer, “My Melancholy Blues” is a nightclub inspired, soft jazz number which includes Mercury’s vocal and piano backed only by a fret less bass and percussive hi-hat and kick drum.

Mercury’s masterpiece on the album is “We Are the Champions”, which acts as a melodic counter piece to May’s “We Will Rock You”, also built on audience response. The song had been written by 1975 but was held off albums until 1977. It reached the top five on both sides of the Atlantic. It features beautifully layered and harmonized guitars and and four to five part vocal harmonies, all built above the simple piano tune at its core. Like its counterpart, “We Are the Champions” would be used over and over again in the sports world.

News Of the World went multi-platinum worldwide even though it initially received mixed reviews because of the band’s abandonment of their predominantly progressive rock sound. However, critical reception soon shifted positively as it became evident that the band was displaying yet another layer of their musical ability.

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1977 Images

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of 1977 albums
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Book of Dreams by Steve Miller Band

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Book Of Dreams by Steve Miller Band Steve Miller forged his reputation as a Chicago blues man, immersing himself in that scene during the 1960s and playing with the likes of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Buddy Guy, and Chuck Berry. Still, his most popular and enduring records came in the mid-to-late seventies and featured a blend of pop-rock songs and quasi-psychedelic pieces with synthesized effects. Book of Dreams fell right in the heart of this era and, along with its predecessor, Fly Like An Eagle, demonstrated this approach as well as any album. In fact, much of both these albums were recorded together in 1975. Miller produced both of these albums and considered releasing a double album but instead opted for two single albums that were released in May of consecutive years (1976, 1977).

Fly Like An Eagle by Steve Miller BandFly Like An Eagle was a great success, spawning many radio hits and three singles which reached the Top 20 including the #1 hit “Rock n’ Me”. That album peaked at #3 on the Billboard charts. Book of Dreams fared even better as an album, peaking at #2 on Billboard. This pair of albums represented the peak of Miller’s commercial career.

The diversity of style is what makes the whole of this album far greater than the sum of its parts, although most fans only really know those parts as individual songs long heard on classic rock and AOR radio. Book of Dreams provided a nice blend of the fundamentals of blues-rock and the indulgences of prog rock.
 


Book of Dreams by Steve Miller Band
Released: May 1977 (Capitol)
Produced by: Steve Miller
Recorded: CBS Studios, San Francisco, 1976-1977
Side One Side Two
Threshold
Jet Airliner
Winter Time
Swingtown
True Fine Love
Wish Upon a Star
Jungle Love
Electro Lux Imbroglio
Sacrifice
The Stake
My Own Space
Babes In the Wood
Primary Musicians
Steve Miller – Lead Vocals, Guitars, Synthesizer
David Denny – Guitars
Greg Douglass – Guitars
Lonnie Turner – Bass
Gary Mallaber – Drums

 
The album starts off with “Threshold”, a minute-long, pure synth-effect track which almost sounds like a distant air patrol alarm and acts as defacto into for “Jet Airliner” (in fact, most classic radio stations play these songs together). “Jet Airliner” was composed by Paul Pena for his album in 1973, but when that artist encountered label problems the album and song went unreleased. The song was presented to Miller by a former band mate and Miller developed it using a variation of Eric Clapton’s guitar riff on Cream’s version of “Crossroads”. This method of using a synth-heavy piece to introduce a proper song was commonplace with Miller during this era as he did the exact same thing to start off Fly Like An Eagle and uses this method again later on Book of Dreams with “Electro Lux Imbroglio” and “Sacrifice”.

A couple of Miller’s moody, prog rock-influenced songs are “Winter Time” and “Wish Upon a Star”, which each make heavy use of keyboards for a surreal backdrop. “Winter Time” also features a simple, acoustic folk motif and features some harmonica by Norton Buffalo. The song later breaks into a nicer groove led by double-tracked lead guitar.
 

 
“Jungle Love” was written by guitarist Lonnie Turner and bassist Greg Douglass and may be the best pure pop song on the album, in spite of despite some annoying whistling effects. It features a crisp but heavy guitar riff out front and slightest tinge of reggae in the underlying rhythm, all working in tandem with Miller’s steady, melodic vocal line. Another good pop song on the album is “True Fine Love”, which executes the perfect seventies songwriting formula of – intro/verse/chorus/verse/chorus/lead/verse/chorus/fadeout.

“Swingtown” is an excellent song built on a beat (which is actually more of a “shuffle” than a “swing”) by drummer Gary Mallaber. The intro builds instrument by instrument – first drums, then bass, then rhythm guitar, then piano, then second guitar, then vocals. It is a potpourri of sonic candy especially from the deadened-note guitar and ending synth section. “The Stake” was written by guitarist David Denny and is actually the closest to the classic blues with which Miller cut his teeth, with its riff, harmonica, and harmonized guitar lead – but with a much “hipper” seventies feel, especially with the vocal effects.

The remarkable 1975 sessions at CBS Studios in San Francisco gave us Fly Like An Eagle and Book of Dreams, a unique confluence of sound which worked perfectly for the era and held up well through time. While both of these are excellent albums, Book of Dreams marks the absolute pinnacle of the Steve Miller Band.

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1977 Images

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of the 35th anniversary of 1977 albums.

 

Slowhand by Eric Clapton

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Slow Hand by Eric Clapton1977’s Slowhand was the pinnacle of Eric Clapton’s pop-rock phase during the late seventies, fusing well-crafted rockers, ballads, alt country, and blues numbers. The album came a few years into Clapton’s “comeback” following a four year hiatus in the early seventies. Prior to that Clapton had been one of the most prolific artists on Earth, forming and playing in the band The Yarbirds, John Mayell’s Bluesbreakers, Cream, Blind Faith, Delaney and Bonnie, and Derek and the Dominoes, as well as releasing his debut solo release in 1970. Clapton then fell into a deep funk and heroin addiction due to his unrequited infatuation of Patty Boyd, then George Harrison’s wife. By 1974, Clapton had won Boyd over and began his comeback with the critically acclaimed 461 Ocean Boulevard, although that album was comprised mainly of covers. Clapton followed suit over the next couple years with studio albums which were about 60/40 covers to original but with less success.

With Slowhand, Clapton reached a nice balance recording more recently composed songs by other artists while writing many himself or in concert with members of his backing band. Here the formula is perfected with enough musical prowess to attract rock and blues fans and the right touches of pop craftsmanship to reach the radio-friendly pop audience of the day.

The album was produced by Glyn Johns who had previously worked as an engineer with several top caliber bands like Led Zeppelin, The Who, and The Rolling Stones. It contains three of Clapton’s most popular singles as well as several other classic rock standards that became Clapton classics. The album is an easy listen from front-to-back, with a sort of laid-back virtuosity that never sound pretentious or forced. Yet it is quite eclectic in the styles and approach used in forging each of the nine tracks.
 


Slow Hand by Eric Clapton
Released: November 1977 (R.S.O.)
Produced by: Glyn Johns
Recorded: Olympic Studios, London, May 1977
Side One Side Two
Cocaine
Wonderful Tonight
Lay Down Sally
Next Time You See Her
We’re All the Way
The Core
May You Never
Mean Old Frisco
Peaches and Diesel
Primary Musicians
Eric Clapton – Lead Vocals, Guitars
Marcy Levy – Vocals
George Terry – Guitars
Carl Radle – Bass
Jamie Oldaker – Drums

 

Slowhand‘s hit songs are all stack up front. Right from the jump, the album establishes a nice groove with J.J. Cale‘s “Cocaine”. The combination of the song’s ever-infectious, groovy guitar riff and taboo subject made it both a cult classic and pop song all at the same time. I remember how big this was at a sixth grade, catholic school dance, where the chorus hook whipped us adolescents into a frenzy that totally baffled the chaperones who were on the lookout for the more overt shock-rock by artists like Alice Cooper and not this relatively calm, soft spoken Clapton song. For his part, Eric Clapton claims this is actually an anti-drug song, but that is definitely up for debate. There is no doubt this song did its part to inspire a lot of young people of the seventies to become coke heads in the eighties and because of its “ambiguous” message, Clapton rarely performed the song live for many decades.

Eric Clapton and Patti BoydWhat “Cocaine” did to proliferate drug use, “Wonderful Tonight” may have done for sex. This standard slow dance at weddings and events of all kinds got its start when Clapton was waiting for Boyd to get ready for a Paul McCartney concert they were attending in 1976 and the rest is history. As a disc jockey, I played this song at every single gig, always introducing it as “a song for the ladies”. Although I’ve heard this song way more than its fair share, it is still hard not to appreciate this as one of Clapton’s finest pieces, with the signature guitar riff and almost quiet vocals of Clapton, backed by the perfect slow-dance rhythm of bassist Carl Radle and drummer Jamie Oldaker.

Background singer Marcy Levy and rhythm guitarist George Terry wrote the album’s third hit, “Lay Down Sally”. This is an almost-country song driven more by Terry’s rhythm than the Clapton’s lead. The members of the backing band were all from Oklahoma and Clapton explained how the sound came much more naturally for them;

“It’s as close as I can get, being English, but the band being a Tulsa band, they play like that naturally…”

Marcy LevyLevy also co-wrote “The Core”, a song on which she shares lead vocals with Clapton. The song has a great dancing riff that drives it along nicely through the verses with another excellent, counter-riff following the choruses. The long overall sequence and ending sax solo inflates the song to near epic length at close to nine minutes. “Next Time You See Her” is another fine song with a late sixties vibe due to its organ-rich backing and the chanting vocal style of the bridge, almost a revival folk song. “Mean Old Frisco” is an updated blues song which fills in nicely on the second side.

But the true heart of the album is a trio of largely forgotten classics which really put the album over the top. “We’re All the Way” is a tremendous ballad which ends the first side. It is every bit as romantic as “Wonderful Tonight” with nice harmonies and a perfectly subdued guitar riff that hangs in the background. “May You Never” is an up-beat folk song played as a reverse-schadenfreude barroom anthem, which should have been far more popular. The closer “Peaches and Diesel” is a beautiful instrumental. It predates the instrumental fad of the 1980s with a great, picked-out rhythm and a couple of simple lead riffs soaring above. It closes this pop-fueled album in a more classic style for Clapton.

Eric Clapton 1977

Slow Hand‘s title derives from Clapton’s long-time nickname which was born in the early sixties during his days with the Yardbirds. The album ultimately reached #2 on the Billboard album charts, kept from the top spot only by the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. It would be his highest charting album for nearly twenty years.

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1977 Images

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of 1977 albums.