Five Reasons Why 1978 Is The Best Year In Rock EVER!!

Sure, one could argue that a year when both the Beatles and the Stones were simultaneously tearing up the charts would qualify as the best year in rock history, but what fun would that be? That's like saying vanilla and chocolate are the two most popular flavors of ice cream - it may be true, but it's boring. So, barring any such discussion that immediately becomes a Beatles/Stones love fest, what single year in rock history ranks as the best?

We'd love to know what you think but since you're here and you've read this far, allow us to hypothesize: While we emphatically believe that the decade known as the eighties is the best decade in rock, the single best year in rock is, without a doubt, 1978 and here are five reasons why:

1. The Progression of Punk

While the immediacy and urgency of the initial punk movement was an exhilarating thing to behold, it very quickly lost steam and fell into thew wrong hands, so to speak, when impostors such as the Police and others began infiltrating its ranks in hopes of capitalizing on its popularity. Punk was left with no choice but to progress beyond the snarl and less-than-stellar musicianship and Johnny Lydon, amazing as it may seem, was at the forefront of post-punk just as much as he'd been on the front lines of punk. 1978 was a year that saw abrasive rock juggernauts like Television, Talking Heads, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Wire, Elvis Costello and Devo were issuing absolutely landmark records; Adventure, More Songs About Buildings And Food, The Scream, Chairs Missing. This Year's Model and Q: Are We Not Men, A: We Are Devo, just to name a half dozen or so..

2. Riding The New Wave of Power Pop

While the punk and post-punk revolutions did big business in the UK, they went largely unnoticed by the U.S. mainstream, We did catch a mean case of power pop fever as the Knack's "My Sharona" hit to the top of the charts in '79, but 1978 saw this new genre taking the underground by storm, led by a handful of artists on the seminal Bomp! Records label (the Romantics, 20/20, Shoes, the Beat, among others) were quickly signed in the latest major label signing frenzy. Sadly, the Knack's handling of their meteoric success by instituting a press blackout literally led to the entire genre being viewed with great disdain just as most of those bands' first major label albums were hitting the stores. The one band able to harness the quirkiness of new wave and the melodic immediacy of power pop without being pigeonholed by one genre or the other was The Cars, whose self-titled debut album virtually ushered in "the '80s" a full two years early.

3. Disco Was Still The Shit

Oh sure, it eventually wore out its welcome and became a sad parody of itself long before others started to pile on, but in 1978, disco was as vital a genre as any that has ever existed, with acts such as the Bee Gees, Chic and Donna Summer firing on all cylinders with smash hits like "MacArthur Park", "Stayin' Alive" "Night Fever", "Last Dance" and "Le Freak". Ah, but what does any of this have to do with rock, you ask? Just ask the Stones, who ended a five-year absence from the #1 spot in the U.S. with "Miss You", thereby setting off a stampede of rock acts following suit.

4. Greatness Was Bubbling Under

1978 saw seminal releases by the likes of Cheap Trick (Heaven Tonight), Journey (Infinity), Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (You're Gonna Get It), the Jam (All Mod Cons) and Blondie (Plastic Letters and Parallel Lines) that may not have initially set the charts on fire, but have gone on to be regarded as some of the best music of those bands' careers.

5. Bands Had To Be Able To Pull It Off Live

Being that MTV did not yet exist, there were only two ways to break a band: radio airplay and touring. As far as radio was concerned, acts had very little control over whether their songs got chosen by the proverbial gatekeepers who programmed the playlists, but when it came to live performance, a band could chart its own course to success, which is why it paid to get to your concert of choice early enough to catch the opening acts because, in many cases, you stood a good chance of seeing a band that might be headlining the very same halls 6-12 later. Don't believe me? Do a YouTube search for "live 1978" and enjoy the seemingly endless treasure trove of iconic rock performances that await you.

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1 comment:

  1. I still listen to PIL Rise all the time!!! Great f*ckin song!