Now let’s not pretend that this was a great year for music. I know you’re thinking it. It wasn’t even a good year, not really. Too many soppy ballads, the charts dominated by disco and then punk, which are perfectly fine in small doses but thank heavens for The Knack and ‘My Sharona’, one of few rock songs to top the charts this year. Bob Dylan had gone all evangelical (he had recently become a born-again Christian) and Neil Young’s Rust Never Sleeps was something of a hit-and-miss affair, I felt.
But there was this, from Dire Strait’s self-titled debut album of 1978, re-released as a single in 1979. It’s a bit good, I’m sure you’ll agree (even though it’s missing the end solo; cheers for that, VEVO).
I really struggled to list ten songs I consider to be among my favourites from this year, and wasn’t allowed to cheat by listing select portions from The Wall so neither are you, so hope you can do better. List the ones you hate most, too, if you wish. Oh, how many times I’ve daydreamed about throwing heavy objects at the Buggles – and the less said about Dr Hook, the better. I don’t know if there are throwable objects heavy enough to satisfy the urge to silence them. I’ll have to give that some more thought.
1979 was the year of Kate Bush’s one and only tour, so I’ll start with ‘Wow’, which spent ten weeks in the UK chart between March and May.
As if giving the world ‘Comfortably Numb’ wasn’t enough, David put in an appearance on Back to the Egg by Wings, along with a vast array of musical talent – on the Grammy award-winning ‘Rockestra Theme’ (Best Rock Instrumental Performance, 1980) and ‘So Glad To See You Here’.
And now I’m stalling.
I liked The Jacksons’ ‘Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)’ as much as The Jam’s ‘Eton Rifles’; I enjoyed much of Double Vision by Foreigner, even if it did bomb in the UK charts, and everything about Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’, which remained there for most of the year. But is it enough? I mean, 1979 had 365 days just like most years do. It seems a frustratingly scant return for all that time presumably spent in rehearsals, recording studios and big headphones.
Even the albums don’t help. It’s not like there’s much to select from those songs that weren’t released as singles, because they remained album-only tracks for good reason. There was an offering from the Eagles – The Long Run – probably their weakest, but it did contain some good tunes, ‘The Greeks Don’t Want No Freaks’ not being one of them.
Led Zeppelin’s In Through the Out Door was rather disappointing, too. Heavily synthesized, low on drums and guitar, it would be their last album. Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk was a commercial flop, panned by critics. (Maybe everyone simply thought that Rumours was better than it really was?)
It’s no wonder that 72 per cent of you were in agreement with me when I put it to you some time far, far away that the first half of the Seventies comfortably surpassed the latter. Shall we just admit right now, right here, that 1979 was a thoroughly lacklustre year with only a handful of records worth listening to? I will if you will. I’ll even mean it literally if we’re thinking of vinyl rather than cassette and can use a second hand for support.