Sunday, February 11, 2018

Oblivious in the late 1970s

I recently watched, for the first time, the DVD of Blondie playing at CBGB's in 1977, which is included with their 40th anniversary package released in 2014. What struck me was the way this music was almost punk, almost new wave, in 1977, when in my high school world, pretty much all I knew was what we now call classic rock. I knew disco existed because of the top 40 hits from the Bee Gees, ABBA, etc., and I liked them okay but didn't buy any of that music. I was aware of the punk group Sex Pistols having appeared on the scene in Britain and the all-girl punk band The Runaways in the USA (Joan Jett & Lita Ford were members), but it was nothing more than some kind of awareness; I don't think I'd even heard any punk at that point.
So while I was in my classic rock bubble, for the most part unaware of other kinds of rock -- and for many years afterward associated the 1970s with classic rock -- in 1977 new music was brewing. Blondie had this new music going, with two albums out already by 1977. Ultravox, a group I didn't learn about until 1982, released their first two albums in 1977 (which I didn't even realize until last year). Joy Division (precursor to New Order) and Human League released their first albums in 1979, when I was heavily into disco and funk, and still the only rock I knew about was classic rock. It kind of bugs me that I was missing out on this exciting new music while it was emerging.
But in 1979, I began to become aware of some new sounds. First was the electronic stuff like "Pop Muzik" by M; a hilarious album of 50s hits re-done in playful electronic style by The Silicon Teens; and "Video Killed The Radio Star" by The Buggles (virtually unheard of at the time, but when MTV debuted with that video as their first song ever in 1981, then it became a big hit). 
My first album of the 1980s, which I got just before the new decade, was the debut album by The B-52's. I got my first punk album, an intense album by The Plasmatics. And soon New Wave burst onto the scene, and the early 1980s was awash in fresh new music. But in 1977, I was oblivious to what was brewing.

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