Saturday, October 22, 1977

Lynyrd Skynyrd members died in a plane crash: October 20, 1977

Originally posted October 20, 2011.



On October 27, 1977, the rock world suffered one of the most tragic losses in music history when a twin-engine, propeller-driven Convair 240 plane crashed in a wooded area near Gillsburg, Mississippi. The chartered plane out of Texas carried the members of Southern rock group Lynyrd Skynyrd. They were headed from a Greenville, South Carolina, show to another in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The reported cause of the crash was fuel shortage. Of the 26 passengers on board, six were killed. They included Lynyrd Skynyrd’s singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, and his sister and backup singer Cassie Gaines. They were all 28 years old. The group’s assistant road manager, Dean Kirkpatrick was also among the dead. Walter Wiley McCreary and William John Gray, the pilot and co-pilot, were also killed. Others were critically injured.

Lynyrd Skynyrd formed in Jacksonville, Florida, when Van Zant played in high school with Gary Rossington and Allen Collins. They named their band after the Robert E. Lee High School’s physical education instructor Leonard Skinner as a means of getting even. He was not a fan of long hair and loud music and he played a hand in getting them suspended from school.




Awards:

Resources and Related Links:

Friday, October 21, 1977

Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell released

Bat Out of Hell

Meat Loaf


Released: October 21, 1977


Peak: 14 US, 9 UK, 5 CN, 17 AU


Sales (in millions): 14.0 US, 3.28 UK, 50.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: classic rock


Tracks:

Song Title [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Bat Out of Hell [9:52] (2/10/79, 3 CL, 8 UK, 26 AU)
  2. You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night) [5:04] (5/20/78, 39 US, 9 CL, 33 UK, 31 CN, 3 AU)
  3. Heaven Can Wait [4:41]
  4. All Revved Up with No Place to Go [4:21] (23 CL)
  5. Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad [5:26] (3/18/78, 11 US, 3 CL, 32 UK, 5 CN, 11 AU)
  6. Paradise by the Dashboard Light [8:29] (8/12/78, 39 US, 1 CL, 11 CN)
  7. For Crying Out Loud [8:44]

All songs written by Jim Steinman.


Total Running Time: 46:36

Rating:

4.205 out of 5.00 (average of 21 ratings)


Quotable: “There are only a small number of records that fall into the ‘essential rock album’ category, and this is definitely one of them.” – Steve Marshall, TheNightOwl.com


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“There is no other album like Bat Out of Hell, unless you want to count the sequel.” AMG “Nobody else wanted to make mini-epics like this.” AMG This collection of songs makes for “one of rock’s most theatrical, grandiose records” RS and one of the genre’s “least likely hit albums.” AZ It is “overwrought and undeniable;” AZ “epic, gothic, operatic, and silly – and it’s appealing because of all of this.” AMG “It’s rock as soap opera.” PR

Meat Loaf, born Marvin Lee Aday, had alternated between recording music and appearing on stage through the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. He starred in the musical More Than You Deserve, written by the classically-trained pianist Jim Steinman, after which the pair decided to work on a musical album project based on Peter Pan. It evolved into the Bat Out of Hell album. TB

As a composer, Steinman drew on the “pomp and circumstance of Richard Wagner” TB and subscribed to the same principle which “made Andrew Lloyd Webber a multimillionaire knight: if you do kitsch, do it big.” AZ “There never could have been a singer more suited for [Steinman’s] compositions than Meat Loaf, a singer partial to bombast, albeit shaded bombast.” AMG In addition, Todd Rundgren “gives Steinman’s self-styled grandiosity a production that’s staggeringly big but never overwhelming and always alluring.” AMG

The songs on Bat Out of Hell are fused with “sentiments are deliberately adolescent and filled with jokes and exaggerated clichés.” AMG This is “the sound of the American dream slipping into a coma as images of drive-in movies, teenage sexual fantasies and motorbike mythology flash before its eyes.” PR “It may be easy to dismiss this as ridiculous, but there’s real style and craft here and its kitsch is intentional.” AMG “There’s real (albeit silly) wit behind these compositions” AMG and “Meat Loaf finds the emotional core in each song, bringing true heartbreak to Two Out of Three Ain't Bad and sly humor” AMG to “the breathless nookie-quest [of] Paradise by the Dashboard Light,” AZ complete with “baseball announcer [Phil Rizzuto] to narrate the backseat hookup.” CS

The album “often gets compared to [Bruce Springsteen’s] Born to Run.” CS Bat has “Springsteen-esque narratives,” AMG “the same small-town themes, epic production, and even personnel [E Street Band members Max Weinberg and Roy Bitten] but where Born to Run provides a nuanced look at the trials and triumphs of kids bursting out of small town America, Meat Loaf throws subtlety out the window. Everything here is bigger. Bat Out of Hell turns ‘Born to Run’ into a 10-minute roar, throwing motorcycle sound effects and ‘Leader of the Pack’ melodrama into the pot.” CS

In addition, this is musically “a savvy blend of oldies pastiche, show tunes, prog rock…and blistering hard rock (thereby sounding a bit like an extension of Rocky Horror Picture Show, which brought Meat Loaf to the national stage).” AMG “It’s hard not to marvel at the skill behind this grandly silly, irresistible” AMG and “brassy, brash and over the top” ZS “megaselling, megabombastic mega-album.” RS “There are only a small number of records that fall into the ‘essential rock album’ category, and this is definitely one of them.” NO


Notes: A 2001 reissue added a live version of “Bat Out of Hell” and its intro, “Great Boleros of Fire.”

Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Meat Loaf
  • AMG All Music Guide review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
  • AZ Amazon.com review by Jerry McCulley
  • CS Consequence of Sound (9/15/2010). “Top 100 Albums Ever
  • NO TheNightOwl.com review by Steve Marshall
  • PR Paul Roland (2001). CD Guide to Pop & Rock. B.T. Batsford LTD: London. Page 165.
  • RS Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of All Time
  • TB Thunder Bay (2005). Albums: The Stories Behind 50 Years of Great Recordings. Thunder Bay Press; San Diego, CA. Pages 190-1.
  • VU VH1 Ultimate Albums TV series (2002-03).
  • ZS Zagat Survey (2003). Music Guide: 1,000 Top Albums of All Time. Coordinator: Pat Blashill. Music Editor: Holly George-Warren. Editors: Betsy Andrews and Randi Gollin. Zagat Survey, LLC: New York, NY.


First posted 3/22/2008; last updated 9/5/2021.

Friday, October 14, 1977

David Bowie Heroes album released

Heroes

David Bowie


Released: October 14, 1977


Peak: 35 US, 3 UK, 44 CN, 35 AU


Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.1 UK, 2.5 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: classic rock


Tracks:

Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Beauty and the Beast [3:32] (1/6/78, 39 CL, 14 CO, 39 UK)
  2. Joe the Lion [3:05]
  3. Heroes (Bowie/Eno) [6:07] (9/23/77, 1 CL, 1 CO, 24 UK, 11 AU)
  4. Sons of the Silent Age [3:15]
  5. Blackout [3:10]
  6. V-2 Schneider [3:10]
  7. Sense of Doubt [3:57]
  8. Moss Garden (Bowie/Eno) [5:03]
  9. Neuköln (Bowie/Eno) [4:34]
  10. The Secret Life of Arabia (Alomar/Bowie/Eno) [3:46]

Songs written by David Bowie unless indicated otherwise.


Total Running Time: 40:18


The Players:

  • David Bowie (vocals, multiple instruments)
  • Brian Eno (synthesizers, keyboards, guitar treatments)
  • Carlos Alomar, Robert Fripp (guitar)
  • Dennis Davis (percussion)
  • George Murray (bass)
  • Tony Visconti (percussion, backing vocals, producer)
  • Antonia Maass (backing vocals)

Rating:

4.131 out of 5.00 (average of 22 ratings)


Quotable: --


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

1977 was a busy year for David Bowie. Iggy Pop released his first solo album The Idiot, which was written and recorded with Bowie. He toured with Pop as his keyboardist and they went back into the studio to record Pop’s second solo album, Lust for Life.

Bowie also released his own album, Low, at the onset of the year. Much of the same lineup returned for Heroes, including collaborator Brian Eno and producer Tony Visconti. For this album, Robert Fripp of King Crimson was added on guitar. He provided “a muscular foundation for the electronics, especially on the relatively conventional rock songs.” AMG Pitchfork’s Ryan Dombal praised Fripp as the standout on the record. WK

Low, Heroes, and the next album, Lodger, are referred to as the Berlin Trilogy, but this was the only one of the three albums recorded entirely in Berlin. The studio, a former concert hall used as a ballroom by Gestapo officers during World War II, was located about 500 yards from the Berlin Wall. WK

Essentially, the difference between Low and Heroes lies in the details, but the record is equally challenging and groundbreaking.” AMG It continued to expand on the experimental music such as art rock, electronica, and ambient music explored on Low. “Heroes develops and strengthens the sonic innovations David Bowie and Brian Eno explored on their first collaboration. The vocal songs are fuller, boasting harder rhythms and deeper layers of sound.” AMG “The instrumentals…are more detailed, this time showing a more explicit debt to German synth pop and European experimental rock.” AMG

Heroes largely followed “the formula of Low's half-vocal/half-instrumental structure.” AMG On the previous album, Bowie penned more autobiographical lyrics; this time they were more oblique and evasive. WK Bowie improvised lyrics in the studio, a technique he’d seen Iggy Pop employ when they worked together.

On the title cut, Bowie’s vocal ranges from “calm and playful to a near-scream.” WK “Fripp’s guitar feedback dominates throughout, while the bass pulsates and Eno sythesizers blends in the background.” WK Bowie said the song was about facing reality and acknowledging that the future didn’t belong to him, but everyone. WK

Joe the Lion was a tribute to American artist Chris Burden, known for outlandish publicity stunts. WK V-2 Schneider was inspired and named after Florian Schneider of Kraftwerk, one of the band’s who’d been significantly influential in the Berlin Trilogy.

Blackout referred to the 1977 blackout in New York City. Sons of the Silent Age was influenced by the works of Jacques Brel. WK The Secret Life of Arabia signalled what was to come with Lodger. WK

The “dark and gloomy” WK instrumentals included Sense of Doubt, which repeated “a four-note piano motif against a set of synthesizers to paint an image of a barren landscape.” WK Moss Garden, which featured Bowie playing the Japanese instrument koto, “evoke[d] a sound resembling aeroplanes flying overhead.” WK Neuköln was named after a district in Berlin and “uses sound to capture the feeling of despair and desperation that the Turkish immigrants who lived there experienced.” WK

Heroes was named Album of the Year by NME and Melody Maker. Zig Zag’s Kris Needs said it was “a strange, cold, sometimes impenetrable album, but Bowie makes all these unlikely ingredients work.” WK In Hit Parader, musician Patti Smith called it “a cryptic product of a higher order of intelligence.” WK Robert Christgau of The Village Voice considered the instrumentals to be little more than “interesting background.” WK


Notes: The 1991 Rykodisc reissue includes the German version of “Heroes” and the song “Abdulmajid.”

Resources and Related Links:

First posted 2/20/2008; last updated 8/3/2021.

Friday, October 7, 1977

Queen released “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions”

First posted 2/11/2011.

We Will Rock You

Queen

Writer(s): Brian May (see lyrics here)


Released: October 7, 1977


First Charted: October 22, 1977


Peak: 4 US, 44 CB, 13 HR, 4 RR, 1 CL, 11 UK, 3 CN, 8 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 5.0 US, 0.96 UK, 7.5 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 615.59 video, 463.0 streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

We Are the Champions

Queen

Writer(s): Freddie Mercury (see lyrics here)


Released: October 7, 1977


First Charted: October 22, 1977


Peak: 4 US, 3 CB, 13 HR, 4 RR, 1 CL, 2 UK, 3 CN, 8 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 5.0 US, 0.96 UK, 6.84 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 487.3 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Songs:

In the history of rock music at radio, there have been a few occasions when two songs are consistently paired together (ZZ Top’s “Waiting for the Bus” / “Jesus Just Left Chicago,” Journey’s “Feeling That Way” / “Anytime”), but nothing comes close to the can’t-play-one-without-the-other dynamic of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions.” The first is the ultimate stadium rocker for letting the opponent know you will take them down. The latter is the perfect victory song after the task has been completed. “Champions’ was even used as the official theme song for the 1994 FIFA World Cup.

The songs open Queen’s News of the World album with “We Will Rock You” first and “We Are the Champions” following immediately after. When released as a single, “We Are the Champions” was technically the A-side and “We Will Rock You” the B-side. They have generally been treated as one chart entry, although “We Are the Champions” technically reached #4 in the U.S. in 1978 while “We Will Rock You” peaked at #52 on the Billboard Hot 100 on its own in 1992. Similarly, “We Are the Champions” was a #2 hit in the UK and “We Will Rock Rock You” didn’t actually chart on its own until the boy band Five released a cover of the band with Queen’s Brian May on guitar and Roger Taylor on drums that hit #1 in 2000.

Both songs were written with the intention of the audience participating, but May wrote “Rock You” while Mercury helmed “Champions.” “We Will Rock You” was inspired by a gig at the Liverpool Football Club when the audience started chanting “You’ll Never Walk Alone” as the band left the stage. May pondered what he could do to get the audience involved and came up with the the “everybody join in” idea of clapping and stomping that has now plagued school bus drivers for decades.

When Queen recorded “Rock You,” they created the effect of multiple people stomping and clapping by overdubbing themselves multiple times. WK1 With the exception of a guitar solo from Brian May in the last 30 seconds, “We Will Rock You” is an a capella song. According to BMI, this is the most-played song at sporting events. SF1

Regarding “We Are the Champions,” Mercury said, “I was thinking about football when I wrote it. I wanted a participation song, something that the fans could latch on to. Of course, I’ve given it more theatrical subtlety than an ordinary football chant. I suppose it could be considered as my version of ‘I Did It My Way.’” SF2 The song is a showcase for his otherworldly vocal range and in 2011 was determined by scientific researchers to be the catchiest song in the history of pop music. WK2


Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Queen
  • SF1 Songfacts page for “We Will Rock You”
  • SF2 Songfacts page for “We Are the Champions”
  • WK1 Wikipedia page for “We Will Rock You”
  • WK2 Wikipedia page for “We Are the Champions”