JON SAVAGES’S 1977-1979-SYMBOLS CLASHING EVERYWHERE.

Jon Savage’s 1977-1979-Symbols Clashing Everywhere.

Label: Ace Records.

Format: 2CD Set. 

Jon Savage’s 1977-1979-Symbols Clashing Everywhere is the seventh instalment in the compliant series he has curated for Ace Records. This long-running series has been released to critical acclaim, and like previous volumes features a truly eclectic collection of tracks. They reflect just what music journalist Jon Savage was listening to during what was an important period in his burgeoning career. 

He had been writing small live reviews but in April 1978, while working for the British music paper Sounds, progressed to longer interviews. This continued when he moved to Sounds’ rival Melody Maker in October 1978. Like many music journalists he was sent a huge amount of records and his musical taste became increasingly eclectic. He was listening to everything from electronica and Euro disco to new wave, post punk and reggae to right through to dub,  psychedelia,  punk, reggae as indie music from both sides of the Atlantic and the emerging New Musick scene. For a music journalist, the period between 1977 and 1979 was a hugely exciting one with many important and influential albums released. Jon Savage was there to document the development of music during this period.

On Jon Savage’s 1977-1979-Symbols Clashing Everywhere he chooses forty-six tracks that feature on the two CDs. There’s tracks by familiar faces and what will be new names to many music. Especially for younger listeners who weren’t around during this period. They’ll discover singles, album tracks and hidden gems on the two CDs which feature a veritable musical feast.

Disc One.

Bo Jangles open disc one of Jon Savage’s 1977-1979-Symbols Clashing Everywhere with Prophesy Reveal. This dub track was written by Joe Gibbs who co-produced it with Errol T. It was released in early 1977 on the Errol T label and later, became a classic on the DJ culture scene.

On the ‘18th’ February 1977, The Dammed released the Nick Lowe produced album Neat Neat Neat. It was released on Stiff Records and the spasmodic title-track is a reminder of the group’s early sound.

British glam rocker group Tiger Lily was found in London in 1973, and as music changed became new wave band Ultravox! They signed to Island Records in 1976, and on May the ‘28th’ 1977 released the single Young Savage. The group then became Ultravox and between 1980–86 enjoyed seventeen Top 40 singles and seven Top Ten albums in Britain.

The Pere Ubu story began in Cleveland, Ohio where the group was formed in 1975. In 1977, they released their  fourth single The Modern Dance on the Hearthen label. It’s a genre-melting track where elements of art rock, new wave and punk are combined by a group who at the time, were determined to push musical boundaries.

In September 1977, Euro disco pioneer Giorgio Moroder released his concept From Here To Eternity on the Oasis label. He was billed as Giorgio on the album which featured Utopia – Me Giorgio. It’s the highlight of the album and became a favourite of DJs and dancers. 

When Iggy Pop released his new album The Idiot on the ’30th’ of September 1977 his comeback was complete. His career had been in the doldrums until earlier in the year when he played some live shows. His new album was produced by the Bewlay Brothers and featured The Passenger which showcases his new sound and is now considered an Iggy Pop classic.

Another dub track is Bamba In Dub which comes courtesy of The Revolutionaries. This single was released on the Sky Note label in 1977 and is laden with effects. It epitomises everything that’s good about dub.

So does No Bones For The Dogs which was released as a single by Joe Gibbs and The Professionals on the Town and Country label. It was produced by Joe Gibbs and Errol T and is a hidden gem that’s a reminder of the great producer and his legendary house band.

Brian Eno had a lot to live up to after 1977. He had produced Low and Heroes for David Bowie and released his classic album Music For Films. The followup Before and After Science was released by Polydor on the ‘27th’ January 1978 and featured King’s Lead Hat. It’s an innovative track from a true musical pioneers that veers between atmospheric to dark, edgy, menacing to urgent. 

One of the groups at the forefront of the British punk scene was The Buzzcocks. They signed to United Artists and released their debut album Another Music In A Different Kitchen. in April 1878. It featured Moving Away From The Pulsebeat which quickly became a favourite as the band played live.

Closing disc one is True Confessions by The Undertones who were formed in Londonberry, in Northern Ireland in 1975. However, the first time many people heard of the group was mid-1978, and by September of that year had released their Teenage Kicks EP on the Belfast-based Good Vibration label. This early version of True Confession has a much more raw, punky and energetic sound to the version that later featured on the group’s eponymous debut album.

Disc Two.

By June 1978 there had been a massive change in British music as post punk moved towards electronica. Electronic drumbeats played an important part in the new sound. One of the groups at the forefront of the nascent movement was The Human League from Sheffield. Their debut single on the FAST label was Being Boiled which had an almost futuristic sound that had also been influenced by Euro disco pioneer Giorgio Moroder. The result was a track that many critics felt was one of the highlights of a recording career that continued until 1989.

Devo had been around since the early seventies, and in early 1978 signed to Richard Branson’s Virgin Records. A year later, on the ‘17th’ January 1979 the new wave group formed at Kent State University released their debut album Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! It was engineered by Conny Plank and produced by Brian Eno. The lead single was Come Back Jonee which is one of the highlights of Devo’s debut album.

When Siouxsie and The Banshees released their debut single Hong Kong Garden in Polydor, on the ‘14th’ August 1978, tucked away on the B-Side was Voices. This hidden gem is quite different from the single and has a psychedelic sound that shows another side the band.

Scritti Politti released their debut EP on St Pancreas Records on the ‘1st’ of October 1978. The final track was 28/8/78 a lo-fi reggae inspired track that’s very different to tracks like Absolute and Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin). However, it shows another side to aN inventive group who always sought to reinvent themselves.

The Cramps sound is best described as a mixture of garage, punk, rockabilly and even obscure low budget horror movies. It’s a sound that’s uniquely their own. That’s the case with their sophomore Human Fly which was produced by Big Star’s Alex Chilton and released on the Vengeance label in November 1978. It’s inspired by the 1958 sci-fi horror film The Fly, and is a track that could only have been recorded by The Cramps.

When Talking Heads released Found A Job on the ’20th’ October 1978, it was the lead single from their sophomore album More Songs About Buildings and Food. It was produced by the group and Brian Eno and released on Sire. The single was a cinematic slice of new wave about a couple arguing about poor quality television. They decide to make their own sketches that later feature on television. It’s without doubt one of the highlights of the album.

The Members’ best known single was Sound Of The Suburbs, released on  Virgin on the ‘27th’ January 1979. It reached number twelve in the UK. Hidden away on the B-Side of this Steve Lillywhite production was the oft-overlooked Handling The Big Jets. It’s an instrumental that combines elements of surf with psychedelia to produced a futuristic, sci-fi sound.

When The Pop Group started playing in their home city of Bristol it soon became apparent that they were a group who had potential. Their mesmeric genre-melting music featured elements of dub, funk and punk and had been inspired by artists like George Clinton and self-styled Godfather of Funk James Brown. The group released their debut single She Is Beyond Good and Evil on Radar Records. However, the single failed commercially and was an inauspicious start to their career. Those that bought the single heard the B-Side 3.38 which seemed to have been influenced by early psychedelia. It’s another hidden gem that many people won’t have heard.

Tubeway Army released Are ‘Friends’ Electric? on Beggars Banquet on the ’11th’ May 1979. It was written by Gary Webb and produced by Gary Numan who adds a vocal that’s bereft of emotion. This plays an important part in what’s an iconic synth pop single.

In May 1979, A Certain Ration released All Night Party, which was the first single on the Factory label. The song is a bleak portrayal of life in a Northern town that has is atmospheric and benefits from a cinematic quality.

The Slits were a London-based feminist punk band were formed in 1976 and made their live debut in 1977. However, two more years passed before they released their debut single Typical Girls in 1979. Later that year, on the ‘14th’ September, they released their debut album Cut. It features a cover of I Heard It Through The Grapevine where the group transform this classic track.

Closing Jon Savage’s 1977-1979-Symbols Clashing Everywhere is Spacer by Sheila B. Devotion. It was written and produced by Bernard Edwards and Niles Rodgers and featured on the King Of The World album. It was released by the Carrere label on the ‘22nd’ October 1979. The track fuses elements of rock and disco and is one of the album’s highlights. When it was released as a single on the ‘9th’ of November 1979 the disco boom was over. Despite this, the single was a hit in Britain, France, Germany, Italy and even in America. That was despite disco no longer being popular because of the Disco Sucks movement. However, the single went on to influence music in the eighties and has stood the test of time. This makes it a good way to close the compilation.

Just like previous instalments in this long-running compilation series Jon Savage’s 1977-1979-Symbols Clashing Everywhere is a truly eclectic collection of tracks. There’s everything from singles and B-Sides to album cuts, hidden gems and oft-overlooked rarities. These tracks slipped under the musical radar and are part of a lovingly curated compilation that will bring back memories of the music released between 1977 and 1979. For those who weren’t around back then, Jon Savage’s 1977-1979-Symbols Clashing Everywhere is the perfect introduction to what was an exciting time for music, when artists and groups were releasing an eclectic selection of innovative music that pushed musical boundaries and went on to influence future generation of musicians.

Jon Savage’s 1977-1979-Symbols Clashing Everywhere.

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