Dave's Music Database books

Friday, December 14, 1979

The Clash released London Calling: December 14, 1979

Originally posted 12/14/11. Updated 2/22/13.


Release date: 14 December 1979
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.) London Calling (12/7/79, #11 UK) / Brand New Cadillac / Jimmy Jazz / Hateful / Rudie Can’t Fail / Spanish Bombs / The Right Profile / Lost in the Supermarket / Clampdown / The Guns of Brixton / Wrong ‘Em Boyo / Death or Glory / Koka Kola / The Card Cheat / Lover’s Rock / Four Horsemen / I’m Not Down / Revolution Rock / Train in Vain (3/22/80, #23 US)

Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, -- UK, 2.0 world (includes US and UK)

Peak: 27 US, 9 UK

Rating:


Review: “There were more than a few outraged faithful who thought their heroes had sold out because the sound was too smooth to be punk,” TL but this is an “invigorating, rocking harder and with more purpose than most albums, let alone double albums.” AMGLondon Calling proved that a band could be anti-establishment and pro-melody.” TL The album “is a remarkable leap forward, incorporating the punk aesthetic into rock & roll mythology and roots music.” AMG

This may be no better expressed than on the album’s cover, which “features the most famous photo in rock, Paul Simonon the moment before his guitar becomes thousands of expensive toothpicks, bracketed by the same font and colors used on Elvis Presley’s debut.” TL

The record’s “eclecticism and anthemic punk function as a rallying call.” AMG The Clash “explore their familiar themes of working-class rebellion and antiestablishment rants” TL “Many of the songs – particularly London Calling, Spanish Bombs, and The Guns of Brixton – are explicitly political, [but] by acknowledging no boundaries the music itself is political and revolutionary.” AMG

London Calling

The Clash, however, “also had enough maturity to realize that, while politics was inseparable from life, it was not life’s entirety.” TL Their songs were tied “in to old rock & roll traditions and myths, whether it’s rockabilly greasers or ‘Stagger Lee,’ as well as mavericks like doomed actor Montgomery Clift.” TL “Before, the Clash had experimented with reggae, but that was no preparation for the dizzying array of styles on London Calling. There’s punk and reggae, but there’s also rockabilly, ska, New Orleans R&B, pop, lounge jazz, and hard rock.” AMG “The result is a stunning statement of purpose and one of the greatest rock & roll albums ever recorded.” AMG

Train in Vain


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Saturday, October 13, 1979

The Sugar Hill Gang charts with "Rapper's Delight": October 13, 1979

Originally posted October 13, 2012.

image from ring.cdandlp.com

The development of hip-hop culture dates back to the early ‘70s in the Bronx when DJs and MCs showcased the art form in night clubs and at house parties. NPR However, the movement didn’t hit the mainstream until 1979 when a New Jersey label called Sugar Hill Records introduced the Sugar Hill Gang and the group took “Rapper’s Delight” into the top 40, a first for rap music. FR

The trio of Master Gee, Wonder Mike and Big Bank Hank were unknown MCs recruited by Sugar Hill’s Sylvia Robinson. RS500 Sylvia had seen chart success – most notably with the 1957 song “Love Is Strange” (#11) and her own “Pillow Talk” (#3) in 1973. However, in 1979, the label she’d co-founded was on the verge of bankruptcy. When she saw a DJ talking to the crowd one night at a Harlem club, she thought it would be a great idea to make a rap record. Legend has it that Sylvia’s son Joey auditioned Henry Jackson (Big Bank Hank) outside a pizza joint and his friends asked if they could participate as well. TB It has also been said that they were recruited on a Friday and recorded “Rapper’s Delight” in just one take on the following Monday. NPR

The 12-inch version of “Rapper’s Delight” released in September 1979 ran 15 minutes long. A shorter version went to pop radio. NPR The song borrowed the rhythm track from Chic’s #1 hit “Good Times,” HT itself a significant song in another important musical revolution of the ‘70s – disco. The practice of “borrowing” from another song became known as sampling and would become the basic approach for all raps songs to follow.

The song did not, however, deal with the heavier themes which would come to dominate rap music. While it sported the lyrical boastfulness which became typical for rap, MA “Delight” generated controversy because it was playful instead of reflective of the urban anger of other rap from the time. In addition, none of the three members had ever been a DJ or MC and two of them were from New Jersey. NPR

Rapper’s Delight


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Thursday, July 12, 1979

Disco Demolition Night: July 12, 1979

Originally posted July 12, 2011.


Chicago DJ Steve Dahl, the leader of Disco Demolition Night


When Chicago radio station WDAI shifted from an album rock format to disco, disc jockey Steve Dahl was one of the casualties. WLUP (known as The Loop) still focused on album rock and snatched him up. They knew they could build on the publicity surrounding his firing and the backlash against disco.

In conjunction with the Chicago White Sox, the radio station coordinated a “Disco Demolition Night”. The promotional event was scheduled to take place on July 12, 1979, at a doubleheader with the Detroit Tigers. Fans who brought a disco record to the game were admitted for 98¢. Between the games, Dahl would blow up the discarded records.

White Sox management hoped for a crowd of 12,000. Instead, an estimated 90,000 people turned out. With the numbers exceeding the stadium’s capacity by nearly 40,000, many people were denied admission and took to scaling the walls to get in.

With the crate already full, staff stopped collecting records from fans. Spectators took to throwing LPs around like Frisbees. They also threw beer and firecrackers. When it was time for the event, Dahl emerged wearing a combat helmet and circling the field in a jeep. Chants of “disco sucks” preceded the explosion of the crate.



A small fire started in the outfield and 7000 people stormed the field, vandalized property, lit more fires, and incited a riot. Chicago police had to clear the field in riot gear. 39 people were arrested. The field was so trashed the White Sox had to postpone the second game and later agree to forfeit it. The event has been called “the emblematic moment of the anti-disco crusade”. WK




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Sunday, July 1, 1979

The Sony Walkman was introduced: July 1, 1979

Originally posted July 1, 2012.

the Walkman TPS-L2, image from Wikipedia.org

The blue-and-silver Walkman pictured above was the first model introduced, going on sale in Japan on July 1, 1979. It hit the U.S. in June 1980. Today the idea of a device at least twice the size of an iPod which held 60-90 minutes of music may seem positively quaint, but at the time the Walkman marked a new era for music on the move. The Walkman represented individual portability; listeners no longer had to rely on big bulky ghetto blasters which shared one’s music with the world, whether they wanted to hear it or not. Suddenly a person could pop in a favorite cassette, plug in a pair of lightweight headphones, and the music could travel with them wherever they went and as long as a pair of AA batteries could take them.

Walkman was a brand tradename used by Sony to mark their portable audio cassette players. The company is still around today, marketing portable audio and video players as well as mobile phones. The prototype for the first one was built by Sony engineer Nobutoshi Kihara in 1978. Sony co-chairman Akio Morita reportedly wanted to listen to operas during long plane trips.

the Stereobelt, image from thenutgraph.com

However, the Walkman owes a debt to a predecessor known as Stereobelt which was invented in 1972 by Andreas Pavel, a German-Brazilian. He had the device patented in Italy in 1977. When Sony began selling its Walkman, it agreed to pay Pavel royalties, but only for sales in Germany. Lawsuits followed over the years, finally endingin a multi-million dollar settlement in 2003.

Eventually the Walkman would see the cassette market disintegrate and portable CD players (including Sony’s Discman, introduced in 1984) would take over. Once the digital age hit, there was no need for music to be stored on a device such as a cassette or disc, opening up the possibilities even more. However, every owner of an iPod or other digital music device owes thanks to the original portable music player.


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Saturday, February 10, 1979

The Police charted with "Roxanne": February 10, 1979

Originally posted February 10, 2012.



Drummer Stewart Copeland told Rolling Stone “That song has been the turnaround for us.” RS500 Punk was hitting London in 1977 and The Police’s brand of art rock wasn’t well received. The group was excited when they landed a gig as an opening act for a punk band at a Paris club. However, upon arrival it turned out there was no other act and the group ended up playing to an empty house. SJ

Things got worse when the band’s car broke down after the gig. Sting, the band’s singer and chief songwriter, decided to stake a stroll, finding himself wandering through Paris’ red-light district. As Sting recounted, “It was the first time I’d seen prostitutes on the streets…I imagined being in love with one of those girls.” SJ


The idea for the song “Roxanne” was born. The namesake was inspired by the heroine in the play Cyrano de Bergerac. A poster for the play was featured in the hotel lobby where the band was staying in Paris. RS500

Sting originally conceived of the song as a bossa nova, but Copeland suggested the final rhythmic form as a tango. WK Although Sting wasn’t particularly impressed with the end result, the group’s manager, Miles Copeland III, was “immediately enthusiastic.” WK The single was the first major-label release for the group after they’d released “Fall Out” on an independent label in 1977. SF It didn’t chart initially, but was rereleased after “Can’t Stand Losing You” became a minor UK hit in the fall of 1978.





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