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1979 Pazz & Jop: The Pazz & Jop Critics’ Poll (Almost) Grows Up

1979 Pazz & Jop: The Pazz & Jop Critics’ Poll (Almost) Grows Up

A number of weeks in the past two rock critics have been gossiping on the telephone, one thing rock critics do greater than ever now that there aren’t any press events. Each have been among the many many newcomers requested to contribute to the sixth or seventh annual Pazz & Jop Critics’ Ballot, and each have been awed by this duty, as is just mete. One in every of them, nevertheless, was apparently overawed, he — I assume it’s a he, since most rock critics are — advised my informant he felt like he’d been knighted. A jest, in fact, however however — I imply, I’m clearly not the one one who takes this factor critically. Yearly I’m beset by late ballots by way of particular supply and categorical mail; messengers and dwelling critics come as much as the fifth flooring handy me and my fellow Poobah their lists. And for what? Nobody is paid, and only a few ballots are reprinted. Because the ballot will get bigger the facility of any particular person to have an effect on the outcome diminishes. However individuals truly pay attention once more to dozens of albums, agonize, name lengthy distance to make clear our chronically incomprehensible a call for participation, all to guarantee that the tally displays their deepest convictions. Ain’t consultant democracy grand?

Consultant of what, you may ask, and I admit I might be happier with the reply. This was to be the yr the P&JCP grew up; I vowed that in 1979 I’d begin tackling the issues of regional and racial unfold early. However that vow, like others earlier than it, went right down to defeat. As an alternative I spent two days in mid-December working telephones with co-Poobah Tom Carson. Our technique was easy — frantic calls to acquaintances everywhere in the nation to determine who was truly reviewing data the place, by no means thoughts how properly — and its effectiveness scattershot. We did higher in Minneapolis than Chicago and awful certainly via the southeastern and Rocky Mountain states. It doesn’t hassle me that L.A. and Boston are disproportionately represented, or that New York offered 66 of the 155 critics who responded. These are the cities the place the retailers are, and anyway, that is nonetheless a Voice ballot — all Riffs contributors who hear loads of data are included in routinely. However no one from Nashville or Denver or Omaha or New Orleans was even invited, and this can be a good time to say that any repeatedly revealed rock critic with entry to a lot of the essential releases who’d like in ought to write now and I”ll file his or her tackle. Go knight your self.

Racial stability proved much more troublesome to return by. Our informants have been ineffective, and session with black journalists round right here yielded few new names. Lastly, round New Yr’s, I resorted to report firm publicists specializing in black music, however a lot of the 30 or so invites that resulted went out so late that I obtained solely 11 again in time, sufficient to suss sure patterns however not sufficient to see them absolutely realized within the tally. The publish workplace was an enormous drawback typically. Lots of people received our directions 10 or 12 days after they have been mailed, or by no means, and when no first-class letters have been delivered to the paper on deadline day we have been pressured to postpone the ultimate rely for 24 hours. Even so, late ballots stored dribbling in afterwards, together with a number of from black critics and a number of other others from regional punkzines, which have been additionally contacted late. Subsequent yr we’ve obtained to get organized.

Because it was, although, I feel the ballot ended up just about what it ought to have been in a really satisfying however critically inconclusive yr. 4 “r&b” acts (the time period is returning to favor) made the album listing, expanded this yr from 30 to 40 in honor of an enlarged citizens and the curly-headed child within the third row. Extra black enter would have meant extra commanding finishes for all 4 — crossover queen Donna Summer time, comeback prince Michael Jackson, disco pacemakers Stylish, and elder statesman Stevie Marvel — in addition to for Ashford & Simpson (Keep Free, 44th), in all probability Dionne Warwick (Dionne, 52nd), and probably Millie Jackson (Stay and Uncensored, 55th). Extra punkzine enter would have helped the nouvelle obscure concrete of Pere Ubu, the reggae agitprop of Linton Kwesi Johnson, the maximal minimalism of Philip Glass, and the aged statesmanship of Iggy Pop, in addition to pushing Off White (45th) and/or Purchase the Contortions (47th) — James Probability’s two albums, which totaled 139 factors on a spottily distributed unbiased label — into the highest 40, and maybe aiding XTC (Drums and Wires, 49th) and Wire (154, 53rd) as properly. Each constituencies would have boosted Bob Marley, and both may need gone for the jazz data that obtained scattered point out: not solely the Artwork Ensemble’s Good Guys, but in addition Mingus at Antibes (48th) — three Mingus albums totaled 121 factors — Air Lore (51st), and Blood Ulmer’s (excuse me, I imply James Blood’s) Tales of Captain Black (60th). And they might have upped the disco discs and imports on the singles chart.

However particularly if allowances are made for Nashville and Denver and Omaha and New Orleans, it’s onerous to think about another album cracking this yr’s prime 5: Armed Forces, by final yr’s overpowering winner, Elvis Costello; Worry of Music, by Speaking Heads, up from fifth in 1978; the complicated American model of The Conflict, which in its 1977 English version confirmed up on a whole lot of best-of-the-decade lists; Rust By no means Sleeps, usually considered Neil Younger’s greatest album since Tonight’s the Night time; and this yr’s mannequin, Squeezing Out Sparks, by Graham Parker & the Hearsay, who positioned their first two albums at two and 4 within the 1976 ballot however haven’t made a lot noise among the many voters since.

The 1978 P&JCP’s consensus was, within the immortal phrases of my editor, a “triumph of the brand new wave,” with 16 of the highest 30 albums falling clearly into the class and plenty of others on the perimeter regardless of elevated participation by suspected conservatives. Not that I thought-about the triumph unmixed — my punkophile elation was undercut by my pure mistrust of hegemony, particularly defensive hegemony based mostly on ressentiment. Commercially, in any case, Saturday Night time Fever and its trentuple platinum was spearheading its personal victorious vanguard, and I detected within the sweep a few of the racism and homophobia of “disco sucks,” then a mere slogan quite than an arrogantly out-of-it prefab “motion.” Nevertheless it did appear that new wave was over the underside line — that the most effective artists within the type (or no matter it’s and was) have been going to make albums for fairly some time — and that print media have been a part of its success. It had all the time been a truism of the report producers (and of music journalists) that good critiques don’t promote sufficient product to maintain anyone however the reviewers in enterprise. However just lately it’s grow to be obvious that between the status they communicate and the core viewers they generate (particularly within the absence of adventurous radio), good evaluations do maintain good bands, within the immortal phrases of the Bee Gees, “stayin’ alive.”

That was final yr. Since then, an arrogantly out-of-it prefab business has taken a nasty fall, with some blame due each trentuple platinum (and the resultant lure of overproduction) and disco (now regarded as soon as once more as a cult music with crossover potential). As a consequence, there are rock and roll propagandists who’ll inform you that new wave’s triumph isn’t simply inventive — that final yr’s essential consensus is subsequent yr’s massive factor. As traditional, I don’t consider it’ll occur, and moreover I don’t need anybody else to. I’m delighted that Blondie’s Parallel Strains, which completed 25th within the 1978 P&JCP, subsequently achieved the AM airplay and platinum gross sales its impressed popcraft deserved, and happy sufficient that along with, sure, Get the Knack, (86th), it’s made it simpler for comparable bands to document. I even discover a good most of the ensuing energy pop albums pretty likable. However a world of Blondies and Knacks would hardly be rock and roll heaven, and I fear about unreasonable expectations, which after a number of silly bidding wars might make new wave a no-no identical to disco. Who wants them? Rock’s capital disaster is a drag for would-be Foreigners, however for good bands it’s a blessing. What should make new wave engaging bizwise isn’t mass attraction a lot as robust regional roots in an period of prohibitive journey prices and powerful easy music in an period of studio parsimony. To hell with superprofits. I’ll offer you energy pop should you’ll give me all of the unbiased labels which have come over from Europe this yr — I.R.S., ZE, Stiff, a revitalized Mango, a reorganized Virgin. Might they prosper modestly, identical to such U.S.-based corporations as Alligator, Rounder, and Ralph.

Briefly, I haven’t spent years studying how and when to disregard the Scorching 100 simply so I might get all het up when Blondie makes primary or CBS makes a boo-boo. It was an incredible yr for rock and roll — in a category with 1978, which was the most effective ever for the exhausting strategy I want — due to all of the good-to-great new data. Admittedly, it’s solely over the previous month, which I’ve spent in a continuing state of determined delight catching up with stuff I hadn’t discovered time for, that I’ve turn out to be absolutely satisfied. And I feel extra of my finds are good than nice — I’ll in all probability find yourself with 50 A or A minus albums from 1979, a number of greater than final yr, however the place in 1978 I wanted I might squeeze 14 data into my prime 10, now I might cease comfortably at seven. My prime 10 can be even thinner if I hadn’t given up and included jazz data that enriched my quite inchoate rock aesthetic — that spoke to my shifting concepts about rhythm and electrical noise, pop and people, “accessibility.” (In different phrases, I eradicated all jazz within the pure music custom first asserted by my favourite jazz fashion, bebop, together with Thelonious Monk’s All the time Know and Ornette Coleman/Charlie Haden’s Soapsuds, Soapsuds, which I really like, and the Artwork Ensemble of Chicago’s Good Guys, which — to my very own discredit, I’m positive, because it got here in quantity 29 this yr, the primary time an acoustic jazz document has ever positioned — I by no means fairly obtained.) Anyway, right here’s my very own record, with Pazz & Jop factors appended to the highest 10. It’s my customized to joke about how everlasting the order is, however this yr my listening continues to be in such flux that I gained’t hassle. Consider me, these are rattling good albums, and there are others (by Irakere, Midnight Rhythm, the Heartbreakers, David Bowie, perhaps Smokey, perhaps Toots, perhaps Cleanhead, perhaps James) ready within the winds:

1. The Conflict (Epic) 18. 2. Neil Younger & Loopy Horse: Rust By no means Sleeps (Reprise) 17. three. Pere Ubu: Dub Housing (Chrysalis) 14. four. Van Morrison: Into the Music (Warner Bros.) 11. 5. Air: Air Lore (Arista Novus) 11. 6. Graham Parker & the Hearsay: Squeezing Out Sparks (Arista) 9. 7. The B-52s (Warner Bros.) 5. eight. Nick Lowe: Labour of Lust (Columbia) 5. 9. The Roches (Warner Bros.) 5. 10. Arthur Blythe: Lenox Avenue Breakdown (Columbia) 5.

11. Tom Verlaine (Elektra). 12. Donna Summer time: Dangerous Women (Casablanca). 13. Speaking Heads: Worry of Music (Sire). 14. Wreckless Eric: The Entire Large World (Stiff). 15. The Solely Ones: Particular View (Epic). 16. Footwear: Current Tense (Elektra). 17. James Monroe H.S. Presents Dr. Buzzard’s Unique Savannah Band Goes to Washington (Elektra). 18. The Buzzcocks: Singles Going Regular (I.R.S.). 19. Neil Younger & Loopy Horse: Reside Rust (Reprise). 20. Marianne Trustworthy: Damaged English (Island).

21. Linton Kwesi Johnson: Forces of Victory (Mango). 22. Dave Edmunds: Repeat When Essential (Swan Track). 23. Trend: Product Good (I.R.S.). 24. James Brown: The Unique Disco Man (Polydor). 25. Gary Numan & Tubeway Military: Replicas (Atco). 26. Michael Jackson: Off the Wall (Epic). 27. Tradition: Worldwide Herb (Virgin Internatioal). 28. Stylish: Good Occasions (Atlantic). 29. Millie Jackson: Stay and Uncensored (Polydor). 30. Dwelling Chicago Blues Quantity 1 (Alligator).

31. Lene Lovich: Stateless (Stiff/Epic). 32. Tom Robinson Band: TRB Two (Harvest). 33. James Blood: Tales of Captain Black (Artists Home). 34. Cory Daye: Cory and Me (New York Worldwide). 35. Mutiny: Mutiny on the Mamaship (Columbia). 36. Metal Pulse: Tribute to the Martyrs (Mango). 37. Blondie: Eat to the Beat (Chrysalis). 38. Roxy Music: Manifesto (Atlantic). 39. George Jones: My Very Particular Visitors (Epic). 40. Elvis Costello: Armed Forces (Columbia).

However although report albums dominated rock within the ’70s, they’ve by no means been the entire story, as each new wave and disco have demonstrated. Considerably belatedly, the P&JCP has expanded to mirror this: Along with 10 albums, contributors have been requested for unweighted lists of as much as 10 singles and three native bands. From disco adepts like Mike Freedberg (“it’s unattainable to ballot disco, and even black sluggish music, pretty from LPs alone”) to r&b oldtimers like Robert Pruter (“my record-buying associates have all the time purchased singles and all the time most popular them to albums”), black music followers have been enthusiastic, and so have been new wavers, lots of whom commented that it was arduous to maintain their lists to 10. “Rock” individuals, however, complained (Noel Coppage of Stereo Assessment: “I’m too previous and elitist for this shit”; Blair Jackson of Bay Space Music: “Aah overlook it. I hate most singles”). Since I spend most of my working (and waking) hours listening to albums, I had no hassle containing my record, however the next 10 singles undoubtedly weren’t the one ones to make a dent on my life this yr:

The Brains: “Cash Modifications The whole lot” (Grey Matter); Michael Jackson: “Don’t Cease ’Til You Get Sufficient” (Epic); the Conflict: “1-2 Crush on You” (CBS import); James Brown: “It’s Too Funky in Right here” (Polydor 12-inch); Sister Sledge: “We Are Household” (Cotillion 12-inch); McFadden & Whitehead: “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” (Philadelphia Worldwide 12-inch); Kleenex: “Ain’t You” (Tough Commerce import); the B-52s: “Rock Lobster”/”52 Women” (B-52s); the Data: “Starry Eyes” (Virgin); Machine: “There however for the Grace of God Go I” (RCA Victor).

The brand new class during which I had extra hassle limiting my alternatives was native bands, an appellation that was left obscure to learn how the voters would outline it. For me, there have been two musts: the Feelies, whose avant-garde surf music thrilled me often earlier than they withdrew to the large time, and the James “Blood” Ulmer Quartet, whose second set on the Tin Palace Might 23 rivaled the Conflict on the Palladium for depth and who additionally fused me at CBGB and Hurrah. However I handed on the Lounge Lizards and Within the Custom — to not point out Joe “King” Carrasco and the Crowns, whose go to from Austin impressed lots of people, as we will see — reluctantly, solely so I might pay my respects to Richard Hell’s lamented Voidoids.

New York appeared sure to dominate the native band competitors — on demographics, if not sheer vitality. And certainly, the winner was predictable, a shoo-in with 14 votes: Anya’s Dangerous Boy himself, James Probability, a/okay/a James White and the Blacks, a/okay/a the Contortions. (This yr we’re giving out awards with the ballot and we’re questioning whether or not James would like his throughout the backs of the thighs.) However after that the New York vote broke up, in order that three out-of-town bands scored extra mentions than the native second-runner. Most spectacular by far was the aforementioned Senor Carrasco, who divided 10 votes between Texas and New York — his band feels like a speedy synthesis of each Farfisa group that ever tripped over a hook, and also you’d higher pay attention up or they’ll move you on the left. After that, with six mentions, got here X, from Los Angeles, and Human Sexual Response, from Boston (although as a sexually responsive human I need to register my doubts concerning the latter). New York’s Fleshtones strolled in fifth with 5. Different robust showings included 4 votes for New York’s Feelies and L.A. Alley Cats, and three for Curtiss A (Minneapolis), the Beat (San Francisco and CBS), Greg Kihn (Berkeley and Beserkley), Robin Lane (Boston and fairly quickly now Warners, plus an indie EP that scored on our singles chart), the Lounge Lizards (New York), the Naughty Sweeties (L.A.), the Nervous Eaters (Boston), Prince Charles and the Metropolis Beat Band (Boston), the Speedies (New York), Blood Ulmer (New York), and the Zippers (L.A.).

It might say one thing about local-band consensus or lack of it that though I spent extra time seeing teams in golf equipment in 1979 than ever earlier than, my most unforgettable second was not offered by Blood Ulmer or the Feelies and even Pere Ubu. It got here one frigid night time in February when three of us slogged uptown to catch the Solely Ones and as an alternative stumbled upon a seething mass of well-kempt youths who have been dancing to rock and roll. Mercy day, I stated to myself, this ain’t no Mudd Membership, or CBGB — that is the “rock disco” Hurrah, solely it has regular rock and rollers in it. Straight weekend escapists, on depart from Fordham and Farleigh Dickinson and highschool, they danced stiffly, apart from a couple of scattered punks, however there they have been, shaking ass to Low cost Trick and the Automobiles and Devo and the Ramones. All of the sudden I believed but once more that rock and roll was right here to remain.

This wasn’t the punk-disco fusion I had posited wistfully on the finish of final yr’s P&JCP roundup, however it was a begin — a primitive one, because it turned out. Six months later art-punk and electropop have been melding into dance tracks as empty as probably the most soulless Eurodisco, and in the event you needed to step out to Low cost Trick you needed to go to Brooklyn, or anyway Warmth — all of a sudden rock discos have been far and wide. However by that point the B-52s had confirmed that they actually have been “a cheesy little dance band from Athens, Georgia” — it was on the dance flooring fairly than in my front room that they made my prime 10 — and white individuals have been as soon as once more catching up with the black music of an earlier time, on this case James Brown funk. Bizzers started speaking about DOR — dance-oriented rock — as an alternative of disco, and an actual punk-disco fusion was achieved by two notable data, which oddly sufficient ended up on prime of the primary P&JCP singles chart: Ian Dury’s “Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick”/”Causes To Be Cheerful, Pt. three” and M’s “Pop Muzik.”

I need to now interrupt this program to elucidate how singles have been counted. P&JCP contributors are requested to restrict their album decisions to home releases in order to not cut up help for the various new albums launched in several years on totally different sides of the Atlantic. However singles are about instant influence, and critics who care about them often purchase (or commerce for) imports. So guidelines have been stored to a minimal, and we received votes for all types of stuff — not simply EPs and disco discs, which have been inspired, however promos, even album cuts, the latter of which have been expressly forbidden (and never counted). A number of editions, configurations, and mixes introduced worse issues. In the long run we determined not solely so as to add all variations of a track collectively, however — as a tribute to the traditional idea of the two-sided single — to mix the votes for 2 songs that appeared on the identical document. That is how Ian Dury beat out Robin Scott (a/okay/a M), whose “Pop Muzik” was definitely our music of the yr. Not everybody who voted for “Rhythm Stick” or “Cheerful” has even heard the 12-inch that included each songs; some might (foolishly) disapprove of the disco mixes. However it appeared fairest to consolidate all of Dury’s votes.

Though singles truly performed and possessed by critics would have been most popular, we acquired loads of lists of radio favorites. This was truthful sufficient. Each the r&b development in disco and the popularization of latest wave have as soon as once more “made the radio enjoyable” (J.D. Considine); 1979 was the yr when Donna Summer time heated up her stuff and Nick Lowe produced pure pop for actual individuals. However even one of the best radio stations don’t play all probably the most fascinating music, and away from the likes of BCN and PIX it’s nonetheless onerous to listen to imports and indies. Which is why the displaying of the Brains’s privately produced and distributed “Cash Modifications All the things” — somewhat too sluggish for DOR, a lot too obscure for AOR, and tied for ninth anyway — is doubly vital. And why the Pretenders, who with no U.S. launch acquired extra votes than any singles artist besides Donna Summer time (along with “Cease Your Sobbing” and “Child,” “Brass in Pocket” was on seven ballots), might be anticipated to make appreciable noise with their debut album.

I need to admit that I discovered the singles chart extra fascinating than the widely unexceptionable album alternatives. That’s what’s so nice concerning the singles — they’re quirky. I particularly loved the tie for sixth — “My Sharona,” which brightened the radio as certainly as Fantastik takes the enamel off your fridge, and “Tusk,” the weirdest 45 issued by any megagroup because the defeat of George McGovern. I used to be happy that Funkadelic, who dipped virtually as precipitously as Ian Dury within the album voting (Dury went from 13th to at least one point out, Funkadelic from 27th to 89th), might rating in its lengthy go well with. I used to be glad so many highschool intellectuals manque admitted their crush on the grown-up teen schlock of Peaches & Herb. And I discovered the five-way tie for 22nd laudable in 5 totally different instructions.

It’s value stating that the singles record is hardly a triumph of the brand new wave. Given the presumed bias of the citizens, it’s extra of a triumph of disco, with two consciously compromised (and fairly satisfying, don’t get me flawed) punk-disco fusions beating out two irresistible examples of the actual factor — besides, in fact, that “Scorching Stuff” is as a lot a acutely aware compromise as “Pop Muzik.” The actual new wave triumph goes to the Pretenders, who did it with a Ray Davies music. Hmm. Maybe after triumph comes progress, consolidation, and a few wanting round, eh? That’s the best way the album vote appears to me.

To begin with, regardless of (or perhaps due to, as they are saying) the plethora of latest wave albums launched in 1979, the variety of them within the prime 30 is down from 16 to 14 — not an enormous dip, however sufficient to make room for Michael Jackson and the Artwork Ensemble. Furthermore, even the staunchest new wavers appear to have broadened their listening this yr — Donna Summer time and to a lesser extent Stylish received votes from throughout, and it was the hard-core punks who introduced Linton Kwesi Johnson house. Additionally, the brand new wave grows older. Of the 9 debut albums within the prime 30 final yr, seven have been outright new wave, an eighth was David Johansen, and a ninth was the Automobiles (who fell to 61st this yr, which can say extra concerning the fickleness of pop followers than the fickleness of the Automobiles). This yr’s eight debuts embrace the Roches, Marianne Faithfull, Rickie Lee Jones, and Linton Kwesi Johnson in addition to the B-52s, the Buzzcocks, Lene Lovich, and Joe Jackson (hurray for all the ladies in that catalogue, by the best way — final yr we have been right down to Blondie and Patti Smith). And if the widespread help for Pere Ubu’s ugly, humorous, resolutely experimental, subtly hooky Dub Housing is a shot within the arm for the futurists amongst us, the equally robust displaying of Tom Petty’s Rattling the Torpedoes is a shot within the mouth.

Petty obtained this yr’s Bruce Springsteen Memorial Rock and Roll Verities vote. Rattling the Torpedoes is a reasonably good report, however a measure of its attraction is that of 18 first-string every day critics, all the time the conservatives, 12 voted for it. (None, by the best way, chosen Pere Ubu; one in every of them, the truth is, is reputed to have as soon as — actually — pulled the plug on the band.) Rattling the Torpedoes is a breakthrough for Petty as a result of lastly the Heartbreakers (his Heartbreakers, this Reside at Max’s fan ought to say) are rocking as powerfully as he’s writing. However whether or not Petty has any have to rock out past the sheer doing of it — that’s, whether or not he has something to say — stays shrouded in banality. And on this he establishes himself as the favorite rave of those that need good rock and roll that may be forgotten as quickly because the document or the live performance is over, rock and roll that gained’t disturb your sleep or your conscience or your valuable bodily rhythms. It’s enjoyable in small doses — about three minutes is true — and it beats state-of-the-studio smuggeries like these of Supertramp (tied for 66th) or the Eagles (69th). But when Tom Petty finally ends up defining rock and roll heaven, then Johnny Rotten could have died in useless.

I don’t imply to suggest that the 1979 P&JCP is a triumph of let’s-boogie revisionism, and an excellent factor, too. However as a 37-year-old professional, I’ll commerce insults myself with any ageist putz who claims it’s unimaginable for different ageing execs to make thrilling rock and roll, and I feel that, principally, this occurred to be a yr when previous guarders — from artists like Neil Younger and Van Morrison to craftsmen like Ry Cooder and Fleetwood Mac — managed to translate their vitality and braveness to vinyl once more. Morrison’s return was particularly auspicious; he exhibits indicators of turning into Ray Charles with lyrics. However the voters just about knew it wasn’t occurring: Previous guarders who made drained albums, like Randy Newman, have been rewarded in variety (43rd), and people who flubbed altogether, like Joni Mitchell, acquired theirs (two mentions). And I consider the good El Lay hope of Rickie Lee Jones is a chimera, the identical goes for the good post-punk hope of Joe Jackson. There are not any stylistic guidelines; tons and plenty of good data are being made; collectively, the critics have a reasonably correct concept of what they’re.

And so, upon reflection, I feel that Squeezing Out Sparks is a completely apposite winner. Graham Parker is a real transitional artist. Surfacing a bit of sooner than fellow pub-rock veterans like Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello, he by no means assumed the sort of protecting pop irony they’ve perfected. Although his lyrics are knotty, their ardour is palpable — Parker speaks instantly. And his music, whereas a great distance from Robbie Robertson, isn’t reticent about its blues and nation roots. Rhythmically and dramatically he’s not above corn, however it will be dangerous to name him protected — he may [spit] in your eye. I discovered that the masterfully hooked-up Squeezing Out Sparks wore skinny after a strong preliminary impression, however the reminiscence of its craft and dedication stayed with me, and apparently many felt the identical. The type of critics who voted for Rickie Lee Jones or Ry Cooder typically picked it primary, however these of us who most popular Neil Younger or the Conflict (each of which acquired as many first-place votes) nonetheless felt inclined to pay our respects, which is the way it amassed its strong margin. If this be compromise, I simply may accept it myself.

The Pazz & Jop Critics’ Ballot has grown fairly a bit since its semi-official quasi-beginning in 1974. As soon as it was a survey of some writers I particularly revered; now I’ve by no means learn half the individuals whose ballots I tabulate. It’s based mostly on what could also be a naive perception — that individuals who pay attention lengthy and exhausting sufficient to formulate their opinions on paper have particular judgments to make. That assumption is holding up fairly nicely up to now.

Chosen Ballots

ADAM BLOCK: Ian Dury & the Blockheads: “Beat [sic] Me with Your Rhythm Stick”/”Causes To Be Cheerful, Pt. three” (Stiff/Epic 12-inch); Roxy Music: “Dance Away” (Atlantic 12-inch); Data: “Starry Eyes” (Virgin); Nick Lowe: “Merciless To Be Variety” (Columbia); Jacksons: “Blame It on the Boogie” (Epic 12-inch); M: “Pop Muzik” (Sire); Pearl Harbor & the Explosions: “Launch It”/”Drivin’ ” (415); Sister Sledge: “We Are Household” (Atlantic 12-inch); Ray Charles: “Some Enchanted Night” (Atlantic); James White and the Blacks: “Contort Your self” (ZE 12-inch).

TOM CARSON: M: “Pop Muzik” (Sire); Lene Lovich: “Fortunate Quantity” (Stiff/Epic); Ian Dury & the Blockheads: “Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick” (Stiff/Epic); Dave Edmunds: “Women Speak” (Swan Music); Marianne Faithfull: “Damaged English” (Island); Sister Sledge: “We Are Household” (Cotillion); Sid Vicious: “My Method” (Virgin 12-inch import); Speaking Heads: “Life Throughout Wartime” (Sire); The Kinks: “Superman” (Arista 12-inch); Anita Ward: “Ring My Bell” (T.Okay.).

GREIL MARCUS: Important Logic (Virgin import EP); Brains: “Cash Modifications All the things” (Grey Matter); Donna Summer time: “Scorching Stuff” (Casablanca); Pretenders: “Cease Your Sobbing” (Actual import); Blue Oyster Cult: “In Thee” (Columbia); Marianne Faithfull: “Damaged English”/”Why D’Ya [sic] Do It” (Antilles 12-inch); Moon Martin: “Rolene” (Capitol); Foreigner: “Soiled White Boy” (Atlantic); Public Picture Ltd.: “Reminiscences” (Virgin import); Delta 5: “Now That You’ve Gone” (Tough Commerce import).

JON PARELES: Brains: “Cash Modifications The whole lot” (Grey Matter); Ian Dury: “Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick” (Stiff/Epic); Fleetwood Mac: “Tusk” (Warner Bros.); Donna Summer time: “Scorching Stuff” (Casablanca); Elvis Costello: “My Humorous Valentine” (Columbia promo); Gang of 4: “At House He’s a Vacationer” (EMI import); Pop Group: “We Are All Prostitutes” (Tough Commerce import); Robin Lane & the Chartbusters: “When Issues Go Mistaken” (Deli Platters); Machine: “There however for the Grace of God Go I” (RCA Victor 12-inch).

GEORGE ARTHUR: Blondie: Eat to the Beat (Chrysalis) 15; Dave Edmunds: Repeat When Essential (Swan Track) 12; Rickie Lee Jones (Warner Bros.) 12; Lene Lovich: Stateless (Stiff/Epic) 12; Nick Lowe: Labour of Lust (Columbia) 10; Kinks: Low Finances (Arista) 9; Rachel Candy: Idiot Round (Stiff/Columbia) eight; Jerry Lee Lewis (Elektra) eight; Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Rattling the Torpedoes (Backstreet/MCA) eight; Get the Knack (Capitol) 6.

LESTER BANGS: Van Morrison: Into the Music (Warner Bros.) 25; Marianne Faithfull: Damaged English (Island) 20; The Conflict (Epic) 20; Speaking Heads: Worry of Music (Sire) 5; Lou Reed: The Bells (Arista) 5; Neil Younger & Loopy Horse: Stay Rust (Warner Bros.) 5; Charles Mingus: Mingus at Antibes (Atlantic) 5; Miles Davis: Circle within the Spherical (Columbia) 5; Heartbreakers: Stay at Max’s Kansas Metropolis (Max’s Kansas Metropolis) 5; Patti Smith Group: Wave (Arista) 5.

BRIAN CHIN (all 12-inch disco discs): Fern Kinney: “Groove Me” (T.Okay.); Jackie Moore: “This Time Child” (Columbia); Love De-Luxe: “Right here Comes That Sound Once more” (Warner Bros.); Don Armando’s Second Avenue Rhumba Band: “I”m an Indian Too”/”Deputy of Love” (ZE); Bionic Boogie: “Scorching Butterfly” (Polydor); Machine: “There however for the Grace of God Go I” (RCA Victor); Claudja Barry: “Boogie Woogie Dancin’ Footwear” (Chrysalis); Carrie Lucas: “Dance with You” (Photo voltaic); Black Ivory: “Mainline” (Buddah).

TOM CARSON: David Bowie: Lodger (RCA Victor) 14; The Conflict (Epic) 14; Elvis Costello: Armed Forces (Columbia) 14; Pere Ubu: Dub Housing (Chrysalis) 12; Graham Parker & the Hearsay: Squeezing Out Sparks (Arista) 10; The Roches (Warner Bros.) 9; Nick Lowe: Labour of Lust (Columbia) eight; Neil Younger & Loopy Horse: Reside Rust (Warner Bros.) 7; Lou Reed: The Bells (Arista) 7; Iggy Pop: New Values (Arista) 6.

DAVID JACKSON: Millie Jackson: Stay and Uncensored (Polydor) 15; Speaking Heads: Worry of Music (Sire) 10; Artwork Ensemble of Chicago: Good Guys (ECM) 10; Steppin’ with the World Saxophone Quartet (Black Saint import) 10; Van Morrison: Into the Music (Warner Bros.) 10; Miles Davis: Circle within the Spherical (Columbia) 10; Neil Younger & Loopy Horse: Stay Rust (Warner Bros.) 10; Robin Williamson and His Merry Band: A Big on the Kindling (Flying Fish) 9; James Blood: Tales of Captain Black (Artists Home) eight; Bread and Roses (Fantasy) eight.

GREIL MARCUS: Van Morrison: Into the Music (Polydor) 20; Neil Younger & Loopy Horse: Rust By no means Sleeps (Reprise) 15; Fleetwood Mac: Tusk (Warner Bros.) 15; Peter Inexperienced: Within the Skies (Sail) 15; Tonio Okay: Life within the Foodchain (Full Moon/Epic) 10; Graham Parker & The Hearsay: Squeezing Out Sparks (Arista) 5; David Johansen: In Type (Blue Sky) 5; Pere Ubu: Dub Housing (Chrysalis) 5; Randy Newman: Born Once more (Warner Bros.) 5; Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Rattling the Torpedoes (Backstreet/MCA) 5.

REGGIE MATTHEWS: Brenda Russell (Horizon) 15; Heath Brothers: In Movement (Columbia) 13; Ron Carter: Parade (Milestone) 12; McCoy Tyner: Collectively (Milestone) 11; Kinks: Low Finances (Arista) 11; Michael Jackson: Off the Wall (Epic) 10; Donna Summer time: Dangerous Women (Casablanca) 10; Graham Parker & the Hearsay: Squeezing Out Sparks (Arista) 7; Ashford & Simpson: Keep Free (Warner Bros.) 6; Jeff Lorber: Water Signal (Arista) 5.

MARIE MOORE: Stevie Marvel’s Journey Via the Secret Lifetime of Crops (Tamla) 10; Stylish: Risque (Atlantic) 10; Ashford & Simpson: Keep Free (Warner Bros.) 10; Crusaders: Road Life (MCA) 10; Cameo: Secret Omen (Chocolate Metropolis) 10; George Benson: Reside Inside Your Love (Warner Bros.) 10; Dionne Warwick: Dionne (Arista) 10; Stephanie Mills: What Cha Gonna Do with My Lovin’ (20th Century-Fox) 10; Michael Jackson: Off the Wall (Epic) 10; Commodores: Midnight Magic (Motown) 10.

JON PARELES: Pere Ubu: Dub Housing (Chrysalis) 15; Speaking Heads: Worry of Music (Sire) 15; James White and the Blacks: Off White (ZE) 15; Philip Glass/Robert Wilson: Einstein on the Seashore (Tomato) 15; Artwork Bears: Winter Songs (Ralph) 15; David Bowie: Lodger (RCA Victor) 5; XTC: Drums and Wires (Virgin) 5; Police: Regatta de Blanc (A&M) 5; Wire: 154 (Warner Bros.) 5; Tom Verlaine (Elektra) 5.

DOUG SIMMONS: Iggy Pop: New Values (Arista) 25; The Conflict (Epic) 15; Buzzcocks: Singles Going Regular (I.R.S.) 10; Pere Ubu: Dub Housing (Chrysalis) 10; Linton Kwesi Johnson: Forces of Victory (Mango) 10; Nick Lowe: Labour of Lust (Columbia) 5; Dave Edmunds: Repeat When Essential (Swan Music) 5; Inmates: First Offence (Polydor) 5; Heartbreakers: Reside at Max’s Kansas Metropolis (Max’s Kansas Metropolis) 5; The Boston Bootleg (Varulven) 5.

TOM SMUCKER: Gino Soccio: Define (RFC) 20; Stylish: Risque (Atlantic) 20; Tom Robinson Band: TRB Two (Harvest) 14; Merle Haggard: Serving 190 Proof (MCA) 11; Donna Summer time: Dangerous Women (Casablanca) eight; Tammy Wynette: Simply Tammy (Epic) 6; Sylvester: Stars (Fantasy) 6; Footwear: Current Tense (Elektra) 5; Blondie: Eat to the Beat (Chrysalis) 5; Arlo Guthrie: Outlasting the Blues (Warner Bros.) 5.

Prime 10 Albums of 1979

1. Graham Parker & The Hearsay: Squeezing Out Sparks (Arista)

2. Neil Younger & Loopy Horse: Rust By no means Sleeps (Reprise)

three. The Conflict: The Conflict (Epic)

four. Speaking Heads: Worry of Music (Sire)

5. Elvis Costello: Armed Forces (Columbia)

6. Van Morrison: Into the Music (Warner Bros.)

7. The B-52s: The B-52s (Warner Bros.)

eight. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Rattling the Torpedoes (Backstreet/MCA)

9. Pere Ubu: Dub Housing (Chrysalis)

10. Donna Summer time: Dangerous Women (Casablanca)

Prime 10 Singles of 1979

1. Ian Dury & the Blockheads: “Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick”/”Causes To Be Cheerful, Pt. three” (Stiff/Epic)

2. M: “Pop Musik” (Sire)

three. Donna Summer time: “Scorching Stuff” (Casablanca)

four. (Tie) Sister Sledge: “We Are Household”/”He’s the Biggest Dancer” (Cotillion)
The Pretenders: “Cease Your Sobbing”/”The Wait” (Actual import)

6. (Tie) Fleetwood Mac: “Tusk” (Warner Bros.)
The Knack: “My Sharona” (Capitol)

eight. Blondie: “Dreaming” (Chrysalis)

9. (Tie) The Brains: “Cash Modifications Every part” (Grey Matter)
The Flying Lizards: “Cash” (Virgin)

— From the January 28, 1980, challenge


Pazz & Jop essays and outcomes can be discovered on Robert Christgau’s website. His most up-to-date guide, Is It Nonetheless Good to Ya? Fifty Years of Rock Criticism, 1967–2017, was revealed earlier this yr.

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