Disco may never have been great art, but for what it's worth some of the best disco albums date from 1978. Chic's C'est Chic and the Bee Gees' Saturday Night Fever (released in 1977, but all over the charts throughout the year) are probably the best examples; even the Bee Gees' kid brother Andy Gibb was able to tear up the charts. Rock stars like the Rolling Stones and Rod Stewart turned to disco and promptly scored major hits, although Aretha Franklin and Martha Reeves bombed with the approach. Disco also influenced more conventional, but first-rate soul and R & B was still coming from older acts like Ashford & Simpson, the Isley Brothers, the Jacksons, and newly independent artists Chaka Khan, Patti LaBelle, and Bonnie Pointer.
On the down side, a lot of important artists just took the year off: Led Zeppelin, John Lennon, Joni Mitchell, and most notably Stevie Wonder. The Beach Boys, James Brown, Eric Clapton, and Bob Dylan all probably should have taken the hint, but didn't. Frank Zappa made a damned fool of himself with "Baby Snakes." Black Sabbath was floundering. Meanwhile, the Ohio Players were falling apart, and Prince's debut album wasn't exactly impressive. All of that, and the sputtering momentum of the newest innovations, didn't bode well for the coming years. (JA)