Talking Heads named their album ' 77. Television, the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, the Jam, all kinds of new bands with new music proved to the world that with enough antipathy from radio it, too, could NOT SELL in large amounts. Sure, Never Mind the Bollocks It's the Sex Pistols turns 30 this year. But so do the following albums that became just as important in their own way.
Rush - A Farewell to Kings
Before these guys became the RUSH that brought together generations of music fans with their laborious concept albums, overwrought lyrical concerns, tricky, uselessly complicated time signatures and Daffy Duck on helium lead vocals, they were this little band from Canada (only three of them) that most people felt sorry for and bought their albums solely to boost up the band's self-esteem. In 1977, it wasn't uncommon to walk into a record store and overhear an earnest young girl say, "Oh, but their Canadian. I'd feel bad if I didn't help them out in some small way." In Canada, you had to buy their albums by law.
The Beatles - Live at the Star Club in Hamburg Germany, 1962
You know what I'm going to say: If you can only buy one Beatles albums, this is the one to have. Unlike all those fancily produced later works with all those milk-toast hits on them, this is the Beatles before the MAN got to them. Before they learned the art of compromise and sold their souls to radio. Who would choose "Hey Jude," 'Yesterday" or "The Inner Light" when they could be rolling out with "Besame Mucho," 'Ain't Nothing Shakin' Like the Leaves on a Tree" and "Your Feets Too Big"? All recorded without the fancy production tricks that would polish their sound to the point of being unrecognizable. This sounds like it was recorded in a shoe! Played loud, it causes seizures and headaches.
The Rolling Stones - Love You Live
Hard to believe it took the Rolling Stones till 1977 to release a double-live album. These days, they release a live album every few years just to see if you're paying attention. But back then, this wasn't just a stalling pattern till the next studio album - though it was - it was also a way of showing the world how much worse they were getting. You better come out and us see this year, they seemed to be taunting, because you know by next tour we'll be sloppier and even worse next year. This is the true beginning of the "Ron Wood" era, when mugging for the camera became every bit as important as hitting the wrong chord and tripping over your guitar cord. Love You Live has since become the "gold standard" for mediocre live albums the world over.
Journey - Next
See, before you accuse me of favoring the older acts, I thought I'd throw in one of those young, cutting edge groups. While Journey's third album isn't really considered to be much of anything, you have to admire them for not giving in and cutting their hair and going "New Wave" or "Punk." No, these guys stood their ground. And when they finally decided to "sell out," they chose to hook up with Steve Perry and make records that could sell. Unlistenable? Maybe. Why does everyone have to be so picky? Besides, the truth is in the title. One listen and you'll be thinking....NEXT!
Peter Frampton - I'm In You
You have to admire this one. Peter Frampton did in one swift move what Bob Dylan spent the better part of the late '60s and early '70s trying to do and that is lose his audience and disappear. Peter Frampton was huge with his 1976 double-live album Frampton Comes Alive! And then realizing the prison of fame, the tedium of having to say "Yes" to so many women, the burden of spending all that extra money, he deliberately turned away from his hard rock roots and embraced his teen pin-up good looks and recorded a soft rock album that nobody liked. Instead of fans reading his garbage, he was back to collecting it for cash.