1977 was the greatest year for album releases ever, and the bookend years made it the best 3 years in music in modern times.
What a declaration, eh?
I spent a lot of time combing through release lists, best-of and best-sellers lists to verify, and here it is. 1977. Best year ever. (Just listen to classic rock radio - songs from these albums still dominate.)
I did this because I was avoiding work (or actually, being very productive, but if you'd watched me you'd doubt it - but honest and true, when I'm composing something in my head (my job involves a lot of writing), the distraction of combing through lists of albums is just what pries my thoughts loose). But also, I was casually testing a theory that had fnorked into my head after randomly selecting CDs to play for a few days. I had unconsciously concentrated on those released when I was in high school and had a car. I wondered if I was just revisiting that sweet spot we all have in our lives when we're finally old enough to control our own album purchases and playlists, or if there was something else going on.
I think as the list proves below, there was something else going on. Several amazing albums were released in those three years, with the really huge ones in '77.
FWIW, the year Nirvana's Nevermind was released - 1991 - was another banner year for great albums (Pocket Full of Kryptonite - Spin Doctors, Actung Baby - U2, Blood Sugar Sex Magik - Red Hot Chili Peppers), but it didn't even come close to 1977.
Here're the lists, in alphabetical order by album name. Gaze upon its glory and marvel.
*No live albums or greatest hits unless they were considered a classic unto themselves, meaning they charted for a long time and it was likely the one everyone owned.
Aja - Steely Dan
Alive II - Kiss
American Stars 'n Bars - Neil Young
Animals - Pink Floyd
Bat out of Hell - Meat Loaf
Book of Dreams - Steve Miller Band
CSN - Crosby, Stills & Nash
Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes - Jimmy Buffett
Chicago XI - Chicago
Commodores - Commodores
Decade - Neil Young*
Exodus - Bob Marley & The Wailers
Foot Loose & Fancy Free - Rod Stewart
Foreigner - Foreigner
Greatest Hits, Etc. - Paul Simon*
"Heroes" - David Bowie
I Robot - The Alan Parsons Project
In Color - Cheap Trick
Little Criminals - Randy Newman
Little Queen - Heart
Low - David Bowie
Lust for Life - Iggy Pop
Marquee Moon - Television
My Aim Is True - Elvis Costello
Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols - Sex Pistols
News Of The World - Queen
Out of the Blue - Electric Light Orchestra
Peter Gabriel - Peter Gabriel
Point of Know Return - Kansas
Rumours - Fleetwood Mac
Running on Empty - Jackson Browne
Saturday Night Fever: The Original Movie Sound Track - Bee Gees et al.
Simple Dreams - Linda Ronstadt
Slowhand - Eric Clapton
Talking Heads: 77 - Talking Heads
The Best of ZZ Top - ZZ Top*
The Clash - The Clash
The Grand Illusion - Styx
The Stranger - Billy Joel
2112 - Rush
A New World Record - Electric Light Orchestra
A Star Is Born - Barbra Streisand
ABBA - Arrival
Best of BTO (So Far) - Bachman–Turner Overdrive*
Best of the Doobies - The Doobie Brothers*
Blondie - Blondie
Boston - Boston
Changesonebowie - David Bowie*
Desire - Bob Dylan
Destroyer - Kiss
Dream Weaver - Gary Wright
Dreamboat Annie - Heart
Fly Like an Eagle - Steve Miller Band
Frampton Comes Alive! - Peter Frampton
Greatest Hits - James Taylor*
Hotel California - Eagles
Leftoverture - Kansas
Night Moves - Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band
Ramones - Ramones
Rock and Roll Over - Kiss
Rocks - Aerosmith
Silk Degrees - Boz Scaggs
Songs in the Key of Life - Stevie Wonder
Station to Station - David Bowie
Their Greatest Hits - The Eagles*
The Pretender - Jackson Browne
Year of the Cat - Al Stewart
52nd Street - Billy Joel
At Budokan - Cheap Trick
Blondes Have More Fun - Rod Stewart
Briefcase Full of Blues - The Blues Brothers
But Seriously, Folks... - Joe Walsh
City to City - Gerry Rafferty
Darkness on the Edge of Town - Bruce Springsteen
Dog & Butterfly - Heart
Excitable Boy - Warren Zevon
Greatest Hits 1974-78 - Steve Miller Band*
Minute by Minute - The Doobie Brothers
More Songs About Buildings and Food - Talking Heads
Outlandos d'Amour - The Police
Parallel Lines - Blondie
Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town - Emmylou Harris
Some Girls - The Rolling Stones
Stardust - Willie Nelson
Stranger in Town - Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band
The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1 - Earth, Wind & Fire*
The Cars - The Cars
This Year's Model - Elvis Costello and the Attractions
Time Passages - Al Stewart
Van Halen - Van Halen
Who Are You - The Who
And on this high note, I leave you. I've been blogging here for almost a baker's dozen years, and I've had a grand time.
My life, the world, and the web have all become vastly different from what they were when I started this blog. Kottke.org might be going behind a paywall. Dooce.com gets updated as frequently as this blog does anymore (she's mostly on twitter now). As predicted a decade ago, companies and commercial sites now dominate the web, and have the audacity to bitch at you if you have an ad-blocker to save your sanity from auto-playing videos. America continues into its "post-truth" phase; Lord help us to recover.
I'm now a single, middle-aged dude who gets his entertainment primarily from a Roku stick, having cut the cord a few years ago and hitting the theatre only for the odd spectacle. Modern music interests me slightly (there's still a lot of good stuff being made), but I find I enjoy silence a lot these days. The last novel I tore through in a gleeful fever was over four years ago (Gone Girl, if you're wondering). Since this is ostensibly an entertainment blog, the fact that I'm not consuming much new entertainment makes it harder to be relevant or enthusiastic.
Maybe I'll get buyer's remorse in a year and start back up. I intend to keep Third Level Digression in place and will log in once in a while to make sure it doesn't get yoinked.
Thank you to everyone who came by, left comments, and linked to me from elsewhere. Special thanks to my ardent supporters: Whisky Prajer, Syaffolee (aka Don't Shake the Flask), Michael Blowhard (Ray Sawhill), and The Opinionated Homeschooler. It was fun.
P.S. Yes, I'm fine. :)