Favorite Albums of My Life: 1978
1. CHEAP TRICK: "Heaven Tonight"
1. CHEAP TRICK: "Heaven Tonight"
What? You're surprised to see another Cheap Trick album topping my list? Of course you aren't. "Heaven Tonight" was the "era" in Cheap Trick's career when I jumped on board. "In Color" may have been the first album that I purchased, the first one that I fell in love with, but it was "Heaven Tonight" and the subsequent live album, "At Budakon" that actually catapulted Cheap Trick to superstardom. And even then, to be honest, it was the live album. However, that didn't stop me from picking up "Heaven Tonight" and immediately falling in love with it. I remember having a 90 minute gold Ampex tape that had Cheap Trick "Heaven Tonight" on one side, and the Xanadu soundtrack on the other. I remember listening to one side to bed, and flipping that baby over, in the middle of the night, to listen to the other side. It didn't matter which album it was, I could fall asleep to both of them.
2. ALAN PARSONS: "Pyramid"
I don't know who to blame for my falling in love with this album.... my dad.... or my brother. Either way, it was a fixture in our home, especially on those relaxing summer evenings when my dad would fire up his stereo out in the living room, and turn on his Heath Kit "light organ". This light organ would analyze the frequency of the music and create light patterns. It was hypnotic and beautiful, at the same time. Alan Parsons music always seemed to be perfect for listening AND viewing. The lush orchestral arrangements, the beautiful songwriting and, in the case of this album, the song "In the Lap of the Gods". There are few songs that are more rich in orchestral grandeur than this song. Complete with full symphony, pipe organ and choir, it is powerful and majestic. In the grand scheme of Alan Parsons music, this is quite possibly my favorite album.... or, at the very least, second favorite (behind 1976's Edgar Allen Poe tribute album, "Tales of Mystery and Imagination".
3. BILLY JOEL: 52nd Street
In all honesty (no pun intended), this album has only recently become one of the musical loves of my life. I've always enjoyed the hits on the album (Honesty, Big Shot, My Life), but it was the album cuts like Zanzibar and Rosalinda's Eyes that really move me. In my honest opinion, this was the end of the truly magical era in Billy Joel's career. In all fairness, I need to listen to "Glass Houses" and "The Nylon Curtain" again, to see if they touch me in the same way, but it was the early albums that really seem to hit the spot.
4. RUSH: "Hemispheres"
What is more memorable to me? The naked dude on the front cover? Or walking around the Mirror Lake campground, blasting this baby from my little one speaker boom box? It's tough to say. This album was the culmination in a series of "concept albums" by Rush, beginning with 2112 and continuing on through "A Farewell to Kings". As a matter of fact, you will find "Cygnus X-1" on "A Farewell to Kings" and "Cygnus X-1: Book 2" on "Hemispheres". That's how concept-y these albums are. Of the two, this is by far my favorite. "A Farewell..." may have had the song "Xanadu" (quite possibly my favorite Rush song), but this baby had "Trees" AND "La Villa Strangiato", which is an incredibly powerful instrumental, showcasing the guitar abilities of Alex Lifeson.
5. KATE BUSH: "The Kick Inside"
Kate Bush. What can I say about Kate Bush? First, let me give you a history of my Kate Bush fandom. My first encounter with her music was in junior high, when I purchased the cassette of Pat Benatar's "CRIMES OF PASSION". Included on that album was a song called "Wuthering Heights", based off of the Emily Bronte' book. I just assumed it was a Pat Benatar song (heaven knows, most cassette tapes had the crappiest liner notes in the world) and dismissed it as such. My first REAL encounter with her music was the song, "Running Up That Hill" on 1985's "The Hounds of Love". Not only did I not care much for the song, but I remember going into Cosmic Aeroplane (a local SLC record/book/counter-culture store) and seeing a petition demanding that Kate Bush come to town and perform live. I scoffed at the notion. Why, I asked, would anyone want HER to come to Salt Lake? Little did I know (at the time) that Kate had decided to discontinue touring after her initial tour, back in the late 70's. Her concert performances were such an incredible tapestry of dance, theatrics and music that she ran herself into complete physical and emotional exhaustion.
Another tidbit about Kate that many people do not know, is that she was originally discovered by David Gilmour (of Pink Floyd). When she was 16, Gilmour had introduced her to an EMI Records executive who immediately signed her to the label, insisting that she take the next two years to polish her art and come up with some more music. After turning 18, Kate immediately began working on her first album "The Kick Inside" and by the end of the year had released a follow-up, "Lionheart". For those of you that follow the career of Kate Bush, you know that there were 2 albums in 1978 (both included on this list), then a third in 1980 and a fourth in 1982. Three years later we had her US breakthrough, "Hounds of Love", and then we were forced to wait four years for the next album. This became the trend in Kate's output. Each subsequent album was more distanced from the previous. After 1993's "The Red Shoes", we had to wait over 10 years for a follow-up. However, as my friend and I have often said, it is better that we wait 10 years for a piece of art, than a year or two for a piece of garbage.
I love both these albums, but rank "The Kick Inside" over "Lionheart" based on the fact that it has some of my favorite Kate Bush tracks. Mainly, "The Man With the Child in His Eyes". Wow. No... not the song "Wow"... that was me SAYING "Wow".
6: KATE BUSH: "Lionheart"
Yeah... what I said up there.
7. FRANK ZAPPA: "Studio Tan"
Two words, ladies and gentlemen: GREGGARY PECCARY. If you want to understand what I am talking about, get this album. Greggery Peccary is the 20 minute adventure of everyone's favorite nocturnal, gregarious, wild swine. What a great story. What a great album. What a great artist.
8. THE CARS: "The Cars"
From a Rock and Roll perspective, what isn't to like about this album? From a New Wave perspective, what isn't to like about this album? From a collection of catchy FM radio anthems, WHAT ISN'T TO LIKE ABOUT THIS ALBUM? I love this album... and reading that their long awaited reunion album is similar to the stylings of this record... well... that excites me.
9. TOTO: "Toto"
I remember going out to eat at Shakey's Pizza Place, a local Pizza restaurant, and hearing the song "Hold the Line" on the jukebox for the first time. I was blown away. It wasn't until years later that I truly realized the talent of this band... and sadly enough, most Americans STILL don't truly realize (let alone appreciate) their talent. They don't know what they are missing. Fortunately, the Europeans have kept this truly amazing band going all these years.
10. QUEEN: "Jazz"
From the opening Freddie Mercury anthem, "Mustapha", through songs about big bottomed girls riding their bicycles, this album is full of classic Queen music. Freddie wanted to entertain us... and he didn't want us to stop him. Unfortunately, his life was cut short several years later.