Top 40 – A Retrospective – 1979

Today I bring the Seventies to a close — lots more good music. I was only four years old, and so had to discover all this after the fact, but it’s still some of my favourite music. I bet you I listen to Tusk by Fleetwood Mac once a week or so.

The Clash – London Calling

The Clash transcended punk. None of the bands they came up with could have made this album. Hell, years later, no matter how much Green Day tried to be the Clash, they could never have made this album. (And don’t cite American Idiot – the true wonder of that album — and don’t get me wrong, I love it — is that they somehow made a concept album using only three chords.) London Calling should be on everyone’s shelf. It’s one of my favourite albums that still sounds amazing today — the sound of a band playing together, recorded live on analogue equipment, no auto-tune, no computers to fix shitty tracks.

Elvis Costello – Armed Forces

Oh, I just don’t know where to begin….

Elvis is King. But not that Elvis. A geeky-looking guy from London with more musical knowledge in his pinky finger than you or I.

Joe Jackson – Look Sharp!

Then there’s this guy, who came on to the scene in ’79 with an unforgettable debut album, with this unforgettable song…

Manfred Mann’s Earth Band – Angel Station

Art rock was not dead in 1979. Manfred Mann, who started out as a British Invasion artist (Doo Wah Diddy, anyone?) proved he was more than that. You’ll be familiar with their many covers of Dylan tunes, and of course, Bruce Springsteen’s Blinded By The Light — arguably better than the original — certainly more popular.

Supertramp – Breakfast in America

In my opinion, the end for Supertramp. Or at least, the last album that interested me. They’d never be this good again, but oh, how good is this album?

Robert Fripp – Exposure

I’m going to give you two tracks for this one — Robert Fripp produced Peter Gabriel’s second album (not a great album…) and Daryl Hall’s Sacred Songs (also not a great album) and then made this album (a great album). Peter Gabriel recorded Exposure for his album, and Fripp recorded Here Comes the Flood — arguably the better version. Also, I can’t help but include You Burn Me Up, I’m a Cigarette — a sly nod to a Joni Mitchell tune You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio.

Neil Young – Rust Never Sleeps

One of Neil’s most iconic albums — this would prove to be, in my opinion, his last great album for quite some time. As you’ll soon see, the ’80s were not kind to some formerly great artists, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, and even David Bowie included.

Talking Heads – Fear of Music

The second great Eno/Byrne album, with one of my favourite ever tracks!

Led Zeppelin – In through the Out Door

This is an album recorded in the wake of the death of Robert Plant’s son. It was never going to be a hard rocking album, and isn’t a very popular album, but I still love it for what it is. The story is, Jimmy Page was pretty strung out on heroin around this time. Maybe that’s why John Paul Jones stepped up and this album is full of great keyboards and string arrangements.

The Police – Regatta De Blanc

Well, I’ve got to put Message in a Bottle on here as a personal favourite, and while I cannot fathom a world where you’ve never heard this, I would be remiss if I didn’t try to correct that grievous oversight. But then — Bring on the Night. MWAH!

The Who – Quadrophenia

I was lucky enough to see The Who play Quadrophenia a couple of years ago. Roger Daltrey can still wail.

Fleetwood Mac – Tusk

More than even Rumours, I love this album. It’s Lyndsey Buckingham at his best as a songwriter.

Tom Petty – Damn the Torpedoes

Remember, I’m picking albums, not just single tracks. True, his 1976 debut has American Girl, a song that will forever remind me of the film Silence of the Lambs, but as far as perfect albums go, this one’s it for Tom Petty (the first of several, as you’ll see). But there’s only one song that I can possibly post here.

Pink Floyd – The Wall

The bloated masterpiece that would be the first nail in Pink Floyd’s coffin. More than just “We Don’t Need No Education”, this album is quite magnificent, if, like some say, a bit pompous. Believe it or not, this isn’t even Roger Waters at his moaning bleakest — that would be The Final Cut, his last album with the group.



17 responses to “Top 40 – A Retrospective – 1979

  1. I think between my parents and myself, we own all of these albums, the CD’s and the mp3’s! Great selections, especially “Tusk” and “In Through The Out Door”. 🙂

  2. 1978 and 79 were supposed to be the best years of my life. The best laid plans of mice and girls, gang oft a-gley. All of this music was right there with me, on my car radio and jukebox at work. Thank god the 80’s are coming up!

  3. Another great list. London Calling is the only Clash album I still listen to even though back in the day I had them all.

    Although the musical threads and themes weave themselves through the Wall in a way rarely seen outsides of classical and it truly is an impressive feat, this is my least favorite Floyd album after the Final Cut.

      • I’m a keyboardist – I missed when Richard Wright wasn’t in the band (he was a session man on the Wall and wasn’t on Final Cut at all). I’m currently watching Once in a Lifetime on your 1980 retrospective. I had forgotten that video – David Byrne was/is an interesting person….

      • Yes, very sad when he passed. I’ve enjoyed the latest album – although it’s just a bunch of out-takes stitched together it is the last time we’ll hear “new” music with his playing, and playing that often had a similar sound and texture to Wish You Were Here, my favorite.

      • I did enjoy hearing that, but thought maybe it should’ve been left as box set material – outtakes etc. as an album I thought it completely unnecessary, and almost disappointing that that will be the last album, when division Bell would’ve been a better one to go out on and be remembered by.

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