Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Rock Albums Post Three / 1979

This post features albums released in 1979...

1979  was a great year in music with albums by groups such as Led Zeppelin, Michael Jackson, The Cars, Donna Summer, Supertramp, Styx, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and many other favorites. Rock music was once again in a transition period. Classic Rock (which was still very much alive) was sharing the spotlight with New Wave, an increasingly popular new sub-genre and hybrid of rock, punk and dance music. Groups such as Blondie,  Talking Heads, The Cure, The Cars, Gary Numan and others were beginning to make a huge impression on the face of popular music.

Each album is given a rating ranging from 1 star to 10 stars 
(10 stars is the best) 
Please add your comments and ratings on each album

The Cars - Candy-O 
Released in June 1979 exactly one year after the release of their hugely successful debut album the Cars continued in a trend of success. Their second album hinted more at an electronic KROQ new wave style while their first album featured a classic rock sound.

Candy-O, like their debut, featured  female on the album cover. This cover was painted by Alberto Vargas, an artist known for his paintings of pin-up girls which showed up in Esquire and Playboy magazines from the 40's to the 60's. The model who posed for the painted coincidentally was named Candy.

With Candy-O the Cars proved they were not a one hit wonder. The album reached #3 on the US chart as well as #6 in New Zealand and #7 in Australia it also hit #30 in the UK.

The first single from the album was the classic "Let's Go", which was written by Ric Ocasek and featured lead vocals by the band's bassist Benjamin Orr. The song was a huge hit in many countries around the world reaching #14 in the U.S., #5 in Canada and #6 in Australia. The song featured a signature clapping sound which was derived from a 1962 instrumental called "Let's Go" recorded by the Routers. The second single "It's All I Can Do" wasn't quite as successful on the charts but was certainly a big favorite by fans of the Cars and AOR music listeners. This song is described as a romantic new rock ballad. The third single "Double Life" failed to chart but received heavy airplay on classic rock radio stations across the U.S.. This song featured the lead vocal of Ric Ocasek with backing vocals by the entire band. "Double Life" embraces a fresh modern rock sound as it's lyric speaks of the alienation of infidelity in a relationship. "Lift me from the wondermaze, alienation is the craze".

Besides the three singles the albums also features several outstanding album cuts including "Since I Held You", "Candy-O", "Nightspots", "Lust For Kicks", "Got A Lot On My Head" and "Dangerous Type" - all of which received a good amount of airplay on classic rock and new wave radio stations.
Rock Music Rating: 9 stars

Eagles - The Long Run
After releasing five consecutive album one right after the other it took the Eagles 3 long years to record and release "The Long Run". Released on September 24, 1979 the album reached #1 in the U.S. and stayed their for 8 weeks. It dethroned Led Zeppelin's "In Through The Out Door" (of which you can read later in this post). The album also reached #1 in Australia, Canada and Sweden. It was Top 5 in Norway, New Zealand and the UK.

The track "The Geeks Don't Want No Freaks" included Jimmy Buffett on backing vocals.  The moody "Sad Cafe" featured jazz musician David Sanborn playing saxophone.

The album included three U.S. top ten hits with "The Long Run", the ballad "I Can't Tell You Why" and the classic "Heartache Tonight". The latter of which went #1. "In The City", "Sad Cafe" and "Those Shoes" also received radio airplay on classic rock stations.

"Heartache Tonight" won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group. This was their fourth out of six Grammy Awards.
Rock Music Rating: 8 1/2 stars

Electric Light Orchestra - Discovery
"Discovery" was a big hit worldwide charting in Japan, New Zealand, Italy, Austria and Canada as well as reaching #1 in the UK, Austrailia and Norway. In the U.S. the album made it up to #5.

Released in May 1979 their were five singles released from the album. The first was "Shine A Little Love", contained a bit of a disco beat and gave ELO a huge boost in universal sales. The song reached the Top Ten in 8 different countries around the world including #1 in Poland and Canada. In the UK the song reached #6 and in the U.S. #8.

The second single was the big sounding "Don't Bring Me Down", which ended up being ELO's biggest worldwide hit (barring movie songs and/or duets). It charted in the Top Ten in 12 countries around the world, which is more than any of their other songs. The song placed the best in Australia and Canada where it reached #2 and in the UK it was #3. In the U.S. the song made it to #4 becoming their biggest U.S. hit.

The third single didn't fare to well. "The Diary of Horace Wimp" was a curious song obviously influenced by the Beatles with the added electronic technology of the late 70's. The song was patterned after one of their hits from 1978 "Mr. Blue Sky". Despite it's catchy feel good sound the song failed to catch on in most parts of the world, although it did hit #8 in Ireland and #10 in England.

The fourth single "Confusion" brought ELO back into the Top 20 throughout many countries around the wrold. By the time the fifth single, "Last Train To London" was released the album had run it's course and the song did not chart in many countries although fared well in France reaching #3 there. It also reached the Top Ten in the UK and Ireland. In the U.S. the song just squeezed into the Top 40 at #39.

The song "On The Run" received a fair amount of classic rock radio airplay and could have been a single had there not already been five releases.

As with other ELO releases the album featured an entire orchestra including instruments such as cello and violin. The orchestral and choral arrangements were composed by Jeff Lynne, Richard Tandy and Louis Clark . Clark also conducted the orchestra. Louis Clark is best remembered for his "Hooked On Classics" albums released in the early 80's.
Rock Music Rating: 7 1/2 stars

Journey - Evolution
In 1979 Journey was just on the brink of taking an already hugely successful career into worldwide super-stardom with in the next 2 and 3 years. 

"Evolution" brought Journey their first legitimate U.S. hit single with "Lovin' Touchin', Squeezin'". The album was their first to chart in the UK reaching #100.

"Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'" was written by Steve Perry and was influenced by Sam Cooke's 1962 classic "Nothing Can Change This Love". "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'" hit #16 in the U.S. as well as #6 in Canada and #37 in New Zealand.

"Just The Same Way" was the album's first single release but did not chart so well. It reached #58, but still showed an upward progression in the records sales and chart positions. "Just The Same Way" was co-written by Journey band members Gregg Rolie, Neil Schon and Ross Valery. The leads vocals were shared by Gregg Rolie and Steve Perry.

"Too Late" was a third single that showed poorly on the charts but received a good amount of classic rock radio airplay.

"City of the Angels" was a highlight from the album which some claim may be the album's strongest track. The song received radio airplay on FM classic rock station throughout the U.S. and Canada.

With Steve Perry now firmly fronting the band, "Evolution", their fifth studio album,  found Journey sounding stronger and more focused then ever. They incorporated many elements of romance and radio friendly hooks in the album's songs. This was the prototype for future albums such as "Departure", "Escape" and "Frontiers".
Rock Music Rating: 8 stars

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - Damn The Torpedos
"Damn The Torpedoes" was one of those albums that became part of the culture of many rock music listeners. Each song contained the electric power of the current music of the day, yet with a sense of going back to roots in rock with hints of country and blues. The album felt comfortable from first listen and became a staple at most house parties throughout 1979 and 1980.

Their 3rd studio album, "Damn The Torpedoes", was Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers U.S. breakthrough having reached #2 (for seven weeks) and selling over 2 million copies.   Pink Floyd's "The Wall" kept Petty from reaching #1. The album was released on October 19, 1979.

The first single "Don't Do Me Like That" received heavy rotation on FM classic rock radio including KROQ, KLOS and KMET as well as some Top 40 radio.  The song reached U.S. #10 and generated enthusiastic interest and strong sales for the album. Tom Petty was firmly poised for worldwide super-stardom.

Two other singles "Refugee" and "Here Comes My Girl" both received heavy airplay and reached #15 and #59 respectively. "Refugee" became an anthem of sorts with it chant like chorus..."Everybody's had to fight to be free. You see, you don't have to live like a refugee".  The song gave a feeling of freedom and release for those locked up in the torments of love.

"Even The Losers", "Shadow of a Doubt (A Complex Kid)", "Century City"  and "Louisiana Rain" all received critical acclaim as well as heavy airplay on album oriented rock stations.
Rock Music Rating: 10 stars

Pink Floyd - The Wall

1973's "Dark Side of the Moon" was a turning point for Pink Floyd, both in sales and musical growth. "The Wall" released on November 30, 1979 became a classic upon it's release. This was their crowning moment. It just didn't get any better than this. It went on to become one of the Top 30 biggest selling albums worldwide having sold over 30 million copies to date.

The album  delivered a theme of isolation and loneliness in it's songs. Pink Floyd asked Is there anybody out there? Was this a cry for help. In the song "Another Brick In The Wall", the author (Roger Waters) is tormented by his schooling in 1950's Britain. The school was extremely controlling and as Waters said, rebellion was needed. To escape the loneliness Waters built a wall around himself.

"Another Brick In The Wall (Part Two)" was released and the song immediately rose to #1 in more than ten different countries around the world as well as Top 3 in several others. The song brought out a sense of unity as the chorus shouts "we don't need no education". It was a means of speaking out against discipline as a means of control. The North London Islington Green School students provided the school choir type vocals. The choir included 23 kids aged 13 to 15. They were overdubbed 12 times to give them a larger and haunting choral sound.

Two other singles were subsequently released "Run Like Hell" and "Comfortably Numb". Both received heavy airplay while "Comfortably Numb went on to become an all-time classic and has been covered by many acts including radically re-arranged Bee Gees disco styled version which reached #10 in the UK in 2004 by Scissor Sisters.

Roger Waters vision was that of a momentous musical experience. The result was well beyond the band's wildest expectations. The album was one in which multitudes of people felt a type of identification in the philosophical statements in the album. It was a connection with the dark side of loneliness and isolation.

Many musicians from various musical genres participated in the making of the album. Bruce Johnston (Beach Boys and Rip chords), Toni Tennille (Captain and Tennille) both contributed background vocals in a few songs. Lee Ritenour (guitar) and Jeff Porcaro (Toto, drums ) were only a few of many uncredited musicians who participated in the recording of "The Wall".

The double album, Pink Floyd's 11th studio album includes many classic tracks such as "Mother", "Goodbye Blue Sky", "Young Lust", "Hey You", "Is There Anybody Out There" and "In The Flesh".

The album is created to be listened to as an album instead of a set of individual songs - although each song holds up well on it's own strength and as a thematic whole.

In 1982 the spectacular British film, "The Wall", which incorporated live action and animation was released and based on the classic 1979 album "The Wall". All the songs from "The Wall" were featured in the movie with the exception of "Hey You" and "The Show Must Go On".
Rock Music Rating: 10 stars

The Police - Regatta de Blanc
Preceded by the single release "Message In A Bottle" the release of "Regatta de Blanc" was emphatically anticipated. "Message In A Bottle" was the perfect teaser for the upcoming album. The song had all the trademarks of classic written all over it. A chant like chorus. A message of a cry out for help, a plea to be noticed. Right from the opening guitar chords the song hits on strong and keeps a driving momentum with Stewart Copeland's always fantastic drum work. The song was a huge European hit reaching #1 in England, Ireland and 32 in the Netherlands. In the U.S. it didn't fare as well, it only reached #74, but received very strong radio airplay and became a classic Police track.

One month later, in October 1979, "Regatta de Blanc" was released to a welcome reception. The album flew to #1 in the UK, Australia, France and the Netherlands. As well as reaching #3 in Canada and #4 in New Zealand. The U.S. seemed to be the hard sell, the album fared decently reaching U.S. #25 and eventually sold over a million copies. The album recharted on the U.S. billboard chart at #153 in 1983, after the release of "Synchronicity". This was the Police's 2nd studio album.

The reggae influenced "Walking On The Moon" was the second single and it sold just a s well as "Message In A Bottle" with the exception of not charting in the U.S. The video for the song was filmed at the Kennedy Space Center and features footage from NASA.

The instrumental "Regatta de Blanc" brought the Police their first Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. This was their first of 6 total Grammy Awards wins.

The song "Bring On The Night" was written about the execution of Gary Gilmore who was found guilty of robbing and murdering two men in Utah. He was executed by a firing squad on January 17, 1977.

Five of the eleven songs were written by Sting. Stewart Copeland wrote 3. Copeland and Sting co-wrote one song together, while the last two were written by the entire trio of Sting, Copeland and Summers.
Rock Music Rating: 8 1/2 stars

Supertramp - Breakfast In America
"take a look at my girlfriend. she's the only one I got," echoed the halls of many high school campuses and college age dorm parties. Supertramp's 6th studio album, "Breakfast In America", was their peak both commercially and artistically.  The album reached #1 in seven countries arround the world including Canada, Australia and the U.S., where it stayed at #1 for six weeks.

Several of the songs on the album are played on a wurlitzer electric piano, creating a distinctive sound. The album's first single "The Logical Song" was driven by this sound. Right from the very opening of the song the Wurlitzer is prominently featured and is a dramatic constant throughout until the end. "The Logical Song" was released a month and a half after the album's March 29th release. The song was an instant hit commanding heavy airplay in both the U.S. and UK, where it reached #6 and #7 respectively.

The second single, "Breakfast In America", didn't do as well in the U.S. reaching only #64, but became a staple on classic rock radio. In the UK it reached #9.

"Goodbye Stranger", the album's third single, took Supertramp back into the U.S. top 15 reaching #15, but only made it to #57 in the UK. It was somewhat a reversal of the chart history of their previous single. This song, like the others, is supported by the Wurlitzer and propels forward with electric guitar and rhythmic bass lines in the chorus.

The band decided to release a fourth single, which was somewhat uncommon during this time. Three singles from one album was the industry norm. Though as we moved into the 80's four to five singles from an album became commonplace. The fourth single was the classic "Take The Long Way Home, which was already well known both from it's inclusion on the phenomenally successful "Breakfast In America" and from the heavy airplay it had already received at this point in time. Despite the fact the song brought Supertramp back into the U.S. Top Ten reaching #10, though it did not chart in the UK. It did however reach #9 in Germany.

"Breakfast In America" won two Grammy Awards. One for Best Recording Package and the other for Best Engineered Album, Non Classical. The album was nominated for Album of the Year but lost out to Billy Joel's "52nd Street".
Rock Music Rating: 8

 Talking Heads - Fear Of Music
This was the second of three Talking Heads albums produced by the maestro Brian Eno. Eno brought Robert Fripp (of King Crimson fame) to play guitar on "I Zimbra". During this time Eno was also working with David Bowie and Devo. Eno was becoming a heavily sought after producer and musician.

"Fear Of Music" contained funk based rhythms which looped back and forth with electronic sounds constructed by Eno. Tina Weymouth (the band's bass guitarist) has commented that David Byrne has an insane but fantastic sense of rhythm.

The album was a minor but worldwide hit having charted in the Top 30 in the U.S., Canada, UK and New Zealand, where it reached #11.  Three singles were released as follows; "Life During Wartime", "I Zimbra" and "Cities". None of them charted well anywhere, but all of them became alt-rock classics and also garnered airplay in dance clubs. Talking Heads entered a new phase in their career - dance music.

"I Zimbra" was the first of three Talking Heads to place on the U.S. Dance chart reaching #28. "I Zimbra" capitalized on a prominent disco beat and funk filled bass lines which pushed the song forward to become an underground dancefloor classic. 

"Life During Wartime" is the prominent track on "Fear Of Music". The song is a grim look of a recruit on the front-line. Byrne's lyric speaks of gunfire, grave sites, roadblocks and disease. Byrne shouts out, "this ain't no party, this ain't no disco, this ain't no fooling around,"  (which became an anthem in the clubs and at house parties). In one round of the chorus Byrnes names Mudd Club and CBGB, both popular underground clubs in New York.

Critics have hailed "Fear Of Music" as one of rock music's finest moments. In a Rolling Stone Magazine review, John Pareles commented, "Fear of Music is often deliberately, brilliantly disorienting. " He continued to say, "The album is foreboding, inescapably  urban and obsessed with texture." Other critics described it as an unconventional rock release and praised the album's gritty weirdness.

In the Rough Guide to Rock published in 1979, Andy Smith commented that the album was a strong contender for Best Album 70's because it's "bristling with hooks, riffs and killer lines."
Rock Music Rating: 9 1/2


  1. I'm not sure about 10 stars for The Wall, it's a long way from Floyds best album-even if it is (arguably) their most iconic. I rate it about a 7.

    1. I rate it a ten. The musicianship is outstanding and the album holds a lot of meaning for me. It may not be Floyd's best in my mind either - but it still rates a ten. There are five PF albums I give a solid ten and "The Wall" is one of them.

  2. I remember playing the crap out of Breakfast in America when I lived in England as a young boy. First 'real' record I ever owned - my mom got it for me for Christmas. I think it was 'tame' enough that she felt safe getting it for me knowing that it probably wouldn't cause me to become a deviant or worship the devil... LOL

  3. I own every one of these on vinyl except for Fear Of Music. All great albums!

  4. I also own every one of these albums on vinyl including Fear Of Music. And I have them all on CD - geesh I spend too much money on my music...



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