These albums are all turning forty-five this year. This list is in chronological order by release date and covers albums released between January and June of 1977.
- Low – David Bowie
CHART POSITION: #11 in the US, #2 in the UK
SINGLES: “Sound and Vision”, “Be My Wife”, “Breaking Glass” (Australia and New Zealand only)
MY FAVORITE TRACKS: “Speed of Life”, “Sound and Vision”, “Always Crashing in the Same Car”, “Subterraneans”
FUN FACT: Low began life as the soundtrack to the film The Man Who Fell to Earth, in which Bowie starred. Director Nicolas Roeg rejected Bowie’s submission, preferring a more folk-oriented sound. Upon Low‘s release, Bowie sent Roeg a copy with a note that read, “This is what I wanted to do for the soundtrack. It would have been a wonderful score.”
- Animals – Pink Floyd
CHART POSITION: #3 in the US, #2 in the UK
MY FAVORITE TRACKS: “Pigs on the Wing (Part One)”, “Dogs”, “Pigs (Three Different Ones)”, “Sheep”, “Pigs on the Wing (Part Two)” (that’s all the songs, by the way)
FUN FACT: Animals is loosely based on George Orwell’s Animal Farm, with the animals representing various social groups – the ruthless tycoons (dogs), the greedy politicians (pigs), and the mindless masses (sheep).
- Rumours – Fleetwood Mac
CHART POSITION: #1 in seven countries, including the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia
SINGLES: “Go Your Own Way”, “Dreams”, “Don’t Stop”, “You Make Loving Fun”
MY FAVORITE TRACKS: I mean, all of them, but especially “The Chain” – that bass drum! those harmonies! – and “Gold Dust Woman”
FUN FACT: I have nothing new to say about this masterpiece, so just read this again, please: https://peanut-butter-and-julie.com/2022/02/04/rumours-at-45/
- Marquee Moon – Television
CHART POSITION: #23 in Sweden, #28 in Great Britain, and #92 in Australia (didn’t chart in the US)
SINGLES: “Marquee Moon”, “Prove It”
MY FAVORITE TRACKS: “Venus”, “Marquee Moon”, “Torn Curtain”
FUN FACT: Marquee Moon was a landmark post-punk album and had a huge influence on artists like Joy Division, Echo & the Bunnymen, and R.E.M.
- Peter Gabriel AKA Peter Gabriel 1 AKA Car – Peter Gabriel
CHART POSITION: #38 in the US, #7 in the UK
SINGLES: “Solsbury Hill”, “Modern Love”
MY FAVORITE TRACKS: “Solsbury Hill”, “Humdrum”, “Down the Dolce Vita”, “Here Comes the Flood”
FUN FACT: “Solsbury Hill”, a marvel in 7/4***** time (a highly unusual time signature), is about letting go of what was (Genesis) in order to experience what could be (a successful solo career with complete artistic control). It was inspired by a spiritual encounter Gabriel had at the top of Little Solsbury Hill in Somerset, England, after his departure from Genesis.
“So I went from day to day
Tho’ my life was in a rut
“Till I thought of what I’d say
Which connection I should cut
I was feeling part of the scenery
I walked right out of the machinery“
***** Speaking of 7/4 time, if you are a nerd like me or you want to better understand what the fuck I’m talking about, you should check out David Bennett’s videos. He does a great job explaining what the time signature sounds like and gives great examples. Anyway, this one is about 7/4 time and “Solsbury Hill” is his first example.
- Foreigner – Foreigner
CHART POSITION: #4 in the US, #9 in Australia
SINGLES: “Feels Like the First Time”, “Cold as Ice”, “Long, Long Way From Home”
MY FAVORITE TRACKS: All of the above, plus “Headknocker” and “I Need You”
FUN FACT: “Starrider” features a rare lead vocal by co-founder Mick Jones. It doesn’t even sound like a Foreigner song; it almost has a prog-rock feel to it. Fortunately, Jones let Lou Gramm do the rest of the vocals.
- Works Volume 1 – Emerson, Lake & Palmer
CHART POSITION: #12 in the US, #9 in the UK
SINGLES: “Fanfare for the Common Man”, “C’est La Vie”
MY FAVORITE TRACKS: “C’est La Vie”, “Closer to Believing”, “L.A. Nights”, “Fanfare for the Common Man”
FUN FACT: You might not know it by name, but you’ve almost certainly heard “Fanfare for the Common Man”. Written by Aaron Copland in 1942, “Fanfare” has been widely used in pop culture and at sporting events, including the Olympics.
- The Idiot – Iggy Pop
CHART POSITION: #120 in the US, #28 in the UK
SINGLES: “Sister Midnight”, “China Girl”
MY FAVORITE TRACKS: “Sister Midnight”, “Baby”, “China Girl”, “Dum Dum Boys”
FUN FACT: David Bowie co-wrote and produced The Idiot, which Pop has described as “a cross between James Brown and Kraftwerk”. Six years later, Bowie re-recorded “China Girl” and released it as the second single off his Let’s Dance album.
- Let There Be Rock – AC/DC
CHART POSITION: #154 in the US, #17 in the UK, #19 in Australia
SINGLES: “Dog Eat Dog”, “Whole Lotta Rosie”, “Let There Be Rock”, “Problem Child”
MY FAVORITE TRACKS: All of the above, plus “Bad Boy Boogie”, “Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be”
FUN FACT: The cover for Let There Be Rock was the first to feature the band’s iconic “lightning bolt” logo.
- Commodores – Commodores
CHART POSITION: #3 in the US
SINGLES: “Easy”, “Brick House”, “Zoom”
MY FAVORITE TRACKS: All of the above, plus “Won’t You Come Dance With Me”, “Funky Situation”, “Patch It Up”
FUN FACT: Alt-metal band Faith No More performed a surprisingly reverent cover of “Easy” for their 1992 album Angel Dust.
- Even in the Quietest Moments… – Supertramp
CHART POSITION: #16 in the US, #12 in the UK, #1 in Canada
SINGLES: “Give a Little Bit”, “Babaji”
MY FAVORITE TRACKS: “Give a Little Bit”, “Lover Boy”, “Even in the Quietest Moments”, “Babaji”, “Fools Overture”
FUN FACT: The cover art depicts an actual snow-covered piano; a gutted grand piano was brought to Eldorado Mountain Resort in Colorado, left out overnight, and photographed while the snow was still fresh. The sheet music – titled “Fools Overture” – is actually “The Star-Spangled Banner”.
- Ask Rufus – Rufus
CHART POSITION: #12 in the US
SINGLES: “At Midnight (My Love Will Lift You Up)”, “Hollywood”, “Everlasting Love”
MY FAVORITE TRACKS: “At Midnight (My Love Will Lift You Up)”, “Earth Song”, “Hollywood”, “Better Days”
FUN FACT: Erykah Badu covered “Hollywood” for the soundtrack to Spike Lee’s Bamboozled, and Mary J. Blige performed a version of “Everlasting Love” for the 1996 Olympic Games album Rhythm of The Games.
- The Clash – The Clash
CHART POSITION: #12 in the UK (not released in the US until 1979)
SINGLES: “White Riot”, “Remote Control” (1977 UK release)
MY FAVORITE TRACKS: Literally all of them. One of the greatest debut albums ever. Timeless.
FUN FACT: CBS Records in the US initially passed on the album, stating it wasn’t “radio-friendly”, so The Clash was actually the second Clash album released in the States, after 1978’s Give ‘Em Enough Rope. Because it was only available in the US as an import that first year, The Clash was the best-selling import of the year with about 100,000 copies sold.
- Right on Time – Brothers Johnson
CHART POSITION: #13 in the US
SINGLES: “Strawberry Letter 23”, “Runnin’ For Your Lovin'”, “Love Is”
MY FAVORITE TRACKS: “Free Yourself, Be Yourself”, “Right On Time”, “Strawberry Letter 23”
FUN FACT: “Love Is” was co-written by producer Quincy Jones and his then-wife Peggy Lipton (credited as Peggy Jones).
- Little Queen – Heart
CHART POSITION: #9 in the US, #34 in the UK, #2 in Canada
SINGLES: “Barracuda”, “Little Queen”, “Kick It Out”
MY FAVORITE TRACKS: “Barracuda”, “Love Alive”, “Dream of the Archer”, “Kick It Out”
FUN FACT: “Barracuda” was inspired by the scumbags at Mushroom Records, who as a publicity stunt took out an ad in Rolling Stone, made to look like the cover of a tabloid, that implied an incestuous lesbian relationship between the Wilson sisters, Ann and Nancy. A male radio promoter asked Ann how her lover was; Ann assumed he meant her boyfriend, but when he clarified that he was referring to Nancy, Ann furiously went straight to her hotel room and wrote the lyrics to “Barracuda”. Heart’s new label, Portrait Records, released “Barracuda” as the first single off Little Queen.
“And if the real thing don’t do the trick
You better make up something quick
You gonna burn, burn, burn, burn, burn to the wick
Oooo, Barracuda, oh yeah“
- Book of Dreams – Steve Miller Band
CHART POSITION: #2 in the US, #12 in the UK, #1 in Canada
SINGLES: “Jet Airliner”, “Jungle Love”, “Swingtown”
MY FAVORITE TRACKS: “Winter Time”, “Swingtown”, “True Fine Love”, “The Stake”,
FUN FACT: Book of Dreams‘ artwork was done by Alton Kelley and Stanley Mouse, who also created the “wings and beetles” artwork for several Journey albums and the “skull and roses” artwork for 1971’s Grateful Dead.
- Lights Out – UFO
CHART POSITION: #23 in the US, #54 in the UK, #31 in Sweden
SINGLES: “Alone Again Or”, “Too Hot to Handle”, “Try Me”
MY FAVORITE TRACKS: “Too Hot to Handle”, “Lights Out”, “Alone Again Or”,
FUN FACT: “Alone Again Or” was written by Bryan MacLean of psychedelic band Love for their 1967 album Forever Changes. Other artists who have covered the song include The Damned, The Boo Radleys, and Matthew Sweet & Susannah Hoffs.
- I Robot – The Alan Parsons Project
CHART POSITION: #9 in the US, #26 in the UK, #2 in Sweden and New Zealand
SINGLES: “I Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You”, “Don’t Let It Show”, “Day After Day (The Show Must Go On)”
MY FAVORITE TRACKS: Like any good concept album, I Robot is meant to be listened to as a whole. That being said, “I Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You” and “Breakdown” are my two favorites.
FUN FACT: The cover art features a giant robot with an atom brain; the robot is superimposed over a picture of photographer Storm Thorgerson’s assistants in the escalator tubes at Charles de Gaulle Airport (the robot also appears on the label). Thorgerson was a legend in the art of album covers, famous for his work with Hipgnosis, the design collective he founded with Aubrey Powell. Hipgnosis designed two more covers on this list, Animals and Peter Gabriel.
- Exodus – Bob Marley & the Wailers
CHART POSITION: #20 in the US, #8 in the UK
SINGLES: “Exodus”, “Waiting in Vain”, “Jamming”, “Three Little Birds”, “One Love/People Get Ready”
MY FAVORITE TRACKS: Literally all of them, but especially “Three Little Birds”
FUN FACT: “Master Blaster (Jammin’)”, from Stevie Wonder’s fantastic 1980 album Hotter Than July, is an ode to Marley’s “Jamming”:
“Everyone’s feeling pretty
It’s hotter than July
Though the world’s full of problems
They couldn’t touch us even if they tried
From the park I hear rhythms
Marley’s hot on the box
Tonight there will be a party
On the corner at the end of the block“
- CSN – Crosby, Stills & Nash
CHART POSITION: #2 in the US, #23 in the UK
SINGLES: “Just a Song Before I Go”, “Fair Game”
MY FAVORITE TRACKS: “Carried Away”, “Fair Game”, “Cathedral”, “Dark Star”, “Just a Song Before I Go”
FUN FACT: “Cathedral” was inspired by a particularly heady LSD trip Graham Nash took at Winshester Cathedral in Hampshire, England.
- JT – James Taylor
CHART POSITION: #4 in the US, #10 in Australia
SINGLES: “Bartender’s Blues”, “Your Smiling Face”, “Honey Don’t Leave L.A.”, “Handy Man”
MY FAVORITE TRACKS: All of the above, plus “Another Grey Morning”, “Looking for Love on Broadway”
FUN FACT: JT (along with one more album from my list, which will be included in the second volume) was nominated for the Album of the Year Grammy; it lost to Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours.
- Love Gun – Kiss
CHART POSITION: #4 in the US, #3 in Canada, #2 in Japan
SINGLES: “Christine Sixteen”, “Love Gun”
MY FAVORITE TRACKS: “Christine Sixteen”, “Love Gun”, “Plaster Caster”, “Then She Kissed Me”
FUN FACT #1: “Plaster Caster” was inspired by a groupie named Cynthia Plaster Caster (real name Cynthia Albritton), who created plaster molds of the erect penises of rock musicians and other artists. Her subjects included Jimi Hendrix, Dead Kennedys’ Jello Biafra, and Television’s Richard Lloyd. Cynthia also inspired the Jim Croce song “Five Short Minutes”. Albritton passed away just a few weeks ago from cerebrovascular disease.
FUN FACT #2: “Christine Sixteen” is one of several songs Tone-Loc sampled for his 1989 hit “Funky Cold Medina” (among the other samples are “Hot Blooded” by Foreigner, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones, and “All Right Now” by Free). And Gin Blossoms performed a cover of “Christine Sixteen” for the 1994 Kiss tribute album Kiss My Ass.
Here’s the 1977 playlist (like Neil Young, Crosby, Stills & Nash removed their music from Spotify earlier this year):