Wilson and Alroy's Record Reviews - We listen to the lousy records so you won't have to.

Year In Review: 1977

1977 was the breakthrough year for punk and New Wave, and that made it one of the best of the decade. Major new acts sprung up on both sides of the Atlantic: the Clash, the Jam, the Sex Pistols, and Elvis Costello in Britain, and CBGB's regulars like the Talking Heads and Television in America.

And even though most of the established rock stars ignored the rebels, they did continue to make worthwhile music. Santana still had some tricks up his sleeve, Crosby, Stills & Nash reunited harmoniously, Art Garfunkel delivered some dignified pop, and Joni Mitchell indulged herself with an interesting double album. And similarly experimental, but not quite as successful records were put out by Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Beach Boy Dennis Wilson, and Pete Townshend and Ronnie Lane. Meanwhile, Fleetwood Mac released one of the hottest selling pop records ever: Rumours. Joan Armatrading continued on her individualistic way. Todd Rundgren's Utopia made a couple of fine albums that marked the band's growing independence of prog rock, and the even more obscure New Wave pioneer Jonathan Richman kicked off his anything-but-New Wave calypso/folk/roots rock solo career. And then there was always heavy metal - KISS summed it all up with an amusing double live album.

Disco was still at a peak in 1977, with Donna Summer leading the pack. P-Funk also prospered, not just with a good album by Parliament, but with spin-off records by Bootsy Collins and the Horny Horns. Funky competitors like Earth, Wind & Fire (plus their spinoffs the Emotions), the Ohio Players, Rufus, and the teen-aged wonder Evelyn "Champagne" King all did well. And there were good efforts from older R & B stars like the resurgent Roberta Flack, Patti LaBelle (now solo), and Diana Ross.

Most of the bad news in 1977 had to do with shallow pop and disco acts we haven't covered - let's not forget that "Dancing Queen" became Abba's biggest commercial success this year. But some of our favorite R & B veterans, like Gladys Knight & the Pips and the Temptations, were also struggling. Meanwhile, Capitol Records had continued throughout the 70s to cash in on the Beatles with compilations and re-releases; their latest scam was a live album that never should have seen the light of day. (JA)

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