Friday, July 9, 2010




In 1978, I would’ve been 19 years old, going on 20 years old. I believe that’s when this photo was taken – I am dating it by the Ultravox “Systems Of Romance” poster on the wall. I was working at a record distributor; I wouldn’t leave the country for the first time until the fall of 1979. My band was active at this time – recording, not necessarily playing live much. The young man in the photo is probably slightly conflicted as to his progressive rock interests / influences, and the pervasive sway of “new wave” music, such as Magazine, XTC & Ultravox (with John Foxx). I saw Ultravox first, followed by Magazine in the spring of 1979 and XTC a short time thereafter. The truth is, I was changed after my first trip to England / Europe in ’79.

As little new progressive rock of any merit was being created in 1978 / 9, I gradually shifted towards “new wave” music. On my debut trip to England, I first heard The Slits, Madness, Spizzenergi etc. I never got to see The Slits play live, but I saw both Madness and Spizzenergi (as “Athletico Spizz 80” in 1980).

Let’s do my roll call of 1978:

10cc – Dreadlock Holiday (45) on the radio

Althea & Donna – Uptown Top Ranking (45) on KROQ

The B-52’s – Rock Lobster (45) on KROQ

Lucio Battisti – Una Donna Per Amico (LP) I was buying all of his stuff I could find

Black Randy / The Metro Squad – Idi Amin (45) I saw him live

Black Sabbath – Never Say Die (LP) I was given this LP by the pressing plant where my first record was pressed (KM in Burbank, CA)

Roland Bocquet – Paradia (LP) this was recommended to me by a mail-order catalog, I got to meet Mr. Bocquet in 1979

Herman Brood & His Wild Romance – Saturday Night (45) on the radio

Kate Bush – The Kick Inside (LP) a ‘rep’ from Capitol recommended this to me

John Cooper Clarke – Disguise In Love (LP) it came in as an import LP, looked good

The Deadbeats – Kill The Hippies (45) I saw them live

Ian Dury & The Blockheads – Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick (45) I was buying Dury’s stuff by this time, peaked with the “Do It Yourself” LP

Godley & Crème – L (LP) I heard it in a record store

The Group – The Group (Pekka Pohjola) (LP) this was recommended to me by a mail-order catalog

Gruppo Sportivo – Back To 78 (LP) I had loved their debut album “10 Mistakes”

Peter Hammill – The Future Now (LP) I had been following him for some years, he played live in L.A., too

The Hawklords – 25 Years On (LP) I had really liked “Quark Strangeness & Charm”

Kraftwerk – Die Mensch Maschine (LP) I was a huge fan of Kraftwerk

Nick Lowe – The Jesus of Cool (LP) it came in as an import LP, looked good

Magazine – Real Life (LP) it came in as an import LP, looked good

Magma – Attahk (LP) I was a Magma fan at this point; this was the last one I was really in touch with

Phil Manzanera – K-Scope (LP) I had liked “Diamond Head” and “Listen Now”

The Normal – T.V.O.D. (45) on KROQ

Annette Peacock – X-Dreams (LP) it came in as an import LP, looked good

Steve Reich – Music for 18 Musicians (LP) I had his DG box and loved it

The Rolling Stones – Some Girls (LP) I saw them live around this time

The Rutles – The Rutles (LP) I saw it on TV

Sad Café – Fanx Ta’ra (LP) it came in as an import LP, looked good

Vivian Stanshall – Sir Henry At Rawlinson End (LP) I liked this better than the Bonzo Dog Band material

The Stranglers – Black & White (LP) I peaked with “The Raven” in ‘79

Tanx Der Youth – I’m Sorry I’m Sorry (45) it came in as an import 45, looked good

Ultravox – Systems Of Romance (LP) it came in as an import LP, looked good

Various Artists – Blub Krad (L.A.F.M.S.) I knew some of the Pasadena crowd, and I really liked the band “Paul Is Dead”, who sort of became Human Hands

Verto – Reel 19.36 (LP) this was recommended to me by a mail-order catalog

The Who – Who Are You? (LP) I remember seeing the videos on TV, I was sort of ‘in shock’ when Keith Moon died

XTC – Go 2 (with Go Plus EP) (LP) it came in as an import LP, looked good – I especially liked the “Go Plus” EP

Frank Zappa – Studio Tan (LP) I had been following Mr. Zappa for over a decade, at this point; “Greggery Peccary” still amuses…

These are the titles that were genuinely important to me in 1978 – and that remain important to me in 2010 – likely not 100% of everything from ’78, because – as always – I was listening to a lot of different years!

Some of these were records that were being played on the radio, or were being talked about by friends / peers. Some were more reluctant to break with their progressive rock pasts than others. I really didn’t like some of the “punk” music that I was hearing – Generation X, The Sex Pistols, The Jam etc. At least XTC, Magazine and Ultravox had keyboard players!

So, the above listed titles is what the man / boy in the photo was listening to, and understanding.


Brian Ware said...

1978... I totally wasn't there... yet. How incredibly fortunate you were to be in LA with it's rich concert/cultural scene and dang... how cool to be working in the record business with those cool imports jumping out of those boxes each week! I'll bet they "looked good"!

Brother Jim and I continually blame Orlando's chronic backwater status, but within a year or two we found the path to enlightenment.

Ron Kane said...

At times, it felt like being in a record store in 1976 - 1978 wasn't really the place to be either - the new wave was sort of swelling up in the clubs...but one could walk along Hollywood Blvd., run into Rodney B. and hear "What's happening?" - apparently, he didn't know either!

Anonymous said...

That's a very healthy list you've got there Ron. As potentially being a "Ron Microcosm" slice of life, it does a fairly good job.

'77-'78 I was still sucking on the cigarette butt of prog rock way past the sell by date. Yes put out the wretched "Tormato" and ELP countered with "Love Beach." That pretty much sealed the nail in the prog-coffin.

'78 was the time I heard the occasional New Wave tune that pointed the direction forward. "Talking Heads "Take Me To The River." Anything by DEVO. I'll never forget seeing DEVO on SNL and hating them the first minute, yet by the end of their number I was straining at the bit to hear their album. Never before has knee-jerk reaction come to such a screeching volte-face with me. By '79 prog had trickled down to nothing and all of that hooky New Wave was the vast bulk of my musical diet. Lots of keyboards like prog, but in the service of pop songs. The best of both worlds and what I'd been waiting for. New Wave was like the music of the 60s with new technology.

Anonymous said...

By the time I developed an interest in prog, it was basically all over - '76-'77. I only got as deep as the typical entry level stuff [Yes, ELP, Crimson, Nice]. This was due to my age, 13-14. Had I been born 3-4 years earlier, I may well have gotten into Krautrock and italo-prog stuff on import. As it was, my awareness of import music coincided with my maturation as a teen at 17-18. So the import New Wave explosion coincided with the time that I was "ready" for it. Of course, that doesn't mean that one of my favorite "prog" albums of all time, "Black Noise" by FM, which got released in the States in '78, didn't make a big and lasting impression. Indeed. That was the first album I bought after getting a stereo in '78! And I still love that album! To me, it's comparable to Ultravox's "Vienna" album: incredible musicianship, creative production and arrangements, saddled with poor lyrics. They both sound fantastic, as long as you don't listen too closely and I love them for what they are.