Happy New Year! And in the first of a series of lists designed to remind you of just how frighteningly old you’re getting, we take a look at eight of the best albums celebrating their 40th birthday in 2018.
If 1977 was the landmark year of punk, 1978 was kind of like Boxing Day. All of punk’s remnants and wrappers were still all over the place and the high spirits were still aplenty, but resolutions were forming too and things were about to change. Post-punk was already in development even though its prototype was still in nappies, and four decades on, the influences of these albums still filter into the music we love today.
Life begins once again for these records this year!
1. Buzzcocks – Love Bites
One of two albums released by the Bolton punks this year, and one no self-respecting look at the birth of UK punk can overlook. Pacey and poppy, yet gritty and frustrated.
2. Crass – The Feeding of the 5000
This album still seems shocking today, beginning with a foaming-at-the-mouth attack on Jesus Christ (‘Asylum’), before tearing into politicians and the state (Do They Owe Us a Living?’) and even the whims of their own scene (‘Punk Is Dead’). Crude, belligerent and, well, crass!
3. Devo – Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!
The commercial success of ‘Whip It’ in 1980 sees Devo often wrongly thought of as a one-hit wonder. Two years earlier, this debut saw them rattle out just over half an hour of infectious synth-pop, new wave nuggets.
4. The Jam – All Mod Cons
Arguably the band’s most complete album, and said to be the product of an entire previous album being rejected. ‘Down in the Tube Station at Midnight’ is quintessential Jam, with its tempo aided by Paul Weller’s first-person narrative lyrics, while ‘English Rose’ sees Weller in the familiar future position of going solo.
5. Kraftwerk – The Man-Machine
Kraftwerk had been going for almost a full decade by 1978, yet still were way ahead of their time. This album saw the German experimentalists become unlikely UK singles chart toppers with ‘The Model’.
6. Public Image Ltd – Public Image: First Issue
It really didn’t take long for ’77 punk to branch out into something much more arty and avant-garde. Through spoken word, driving basslines and the brutal repetition of riffs, John Lydon fearlessly takes aim at religion and his own former band (on ‘Public Image’ and ‘Low Life’)
7. Wire – Chairs Missing
A far cry from the rawness and pace of their Pink Flag debut the year before, the prog-rock influence on Wire’s follow-up makes it a real gateway into ‘80s post-punk.
8. X-Ray Spex – Germfree Adolescents
Punk, punk, punk… yeah, there was a lot of it back then! Even today, the genre is dominated by white males, but Poly Styrene is no token inclusion as a mixed-race female. Complemented by the hard edge of the saxophone, her yelled, warbling vocals remain the blueprint for significant punk bands of today such as Priests.