These Albums From 1978 Just Turned 40 (Part 2)

These Albums From 1978 Just Turned 40 (Part 2)

devo 1978
Devo, 1978 (Photo by Michael Marks/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Earlier in the year we looked at a number of classic albums that were celebrating their 40th birthday at the time, here.  Six months down the line we present a bunch more; one of which qualifies more as a classic failure than anything. All these were released in the middle months of the great year of 1978! Enjoy!

Skyhooks  - Guilty Until Proven Insane

Skyhooks’ last album with Shirley came a good two years – nearly three - past the peak of 'Hooks Hysteria, and followed the disappointingly received Straight In A Gay Gay World. With a tougher production than they’d had previous – American, Eddie Leonetti, was drafted in to replace original producer (and mentor) Ross Wilson, and of course, Red Symons had left, to be replaced by Bob Spencer from Sydney hard rockers Finch – the album showed the influence of punk and heavy metal. It was a bold move but no way to garner more favour with commercial radio. Of course the magnificently rocking “Women In Uniform” was a hit, and the album cracked the Top 40, but by now the ‘Hooks were basically a pub band, and their star was about to be dimmed by others playing that circuit, including the Angels, Cold Chisel and Midnight Oil.  


Todd Rundgren – Hermit of Mink Hollow

Todd Rundgren spent most of the 70s a critics favourite. He was seen by many as a genius songwriter and recording artist capable of tapping into all manner of classic pop styles and creating bold new forms out of it. Having a hit earlier in the decade with “Hello It’s Me” and “I Saw The Light”, Rundgren was all but forgotten by radio until “Can We Still Be Friends” appeared in ’78. Sweet to the point it should carry a warning for diabetics, the single was a great lead for a fabulous album on which Rundgren played every instrument himself.  


Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers -  You're Gonna Get It!

Petty & band’s second album is a fan favourite despite containing no hits and being a commercial and critical let down after their self-titled debut, which contained their first US top to hit “Breakdown”. Here,  “Listen to Her Heart”, “I Need To Know” and “When The Time Comes” are amongst Petty’s finest in the chiming early-Byrds style he made his name with. The album is strong from start to finish and laid a solid foundation for their breakthrough album Damn The Torpedoes the following year.   


The Saints - Eternally Yours

It’s funny to think that Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers were considered punks by some folks early on, due to their sneering attitude and back-to-basics rock’n’roll. It was a confusing time in 1976. And of course, Brisbane’s Saints confused the hell out of the Australian music industry that year when they released their first single “(I’m) Stranded” by themselves and sent to it the UK music press, who promptly declared them one of the most important bands in the world. Arriving in England when punk was in full swing, the band then decided to confuse the hell out of the English music industry by drafting in a brass section for their second album, which was not something any self-respecting punk would ever dream of doing. Of course Eternally Yours is an Australian classic and I reckon Tom Petty would’ve approved too. 


The Sports - Reckless

Another Aussie classic – albeit more of an unsung one -  the Sports’ debut caught the band as they moved out of their rockabilly and R&B roots into something more original. Clearly influenced by Daddy Cool and their big brother band Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons, the Sports hit the Melbourne pubs just as things were changing, and, like Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers in the US, they rode the new wave with an old school sound. Reckless features the early near hits “Boys (What Did The Detectives Say)” and “When You Walk In The Room” (a superb Jackie DeShannan/Searchers cover), the gorgeous title track and much much more. Don’t forget the revelatory Expanded Edition for a few years back, with about four times as many tracks!  


Cheap Trick - Heaven Tonight

With an Australian tour on the horizon, it’s a great time to remember the mighty Cheap Trick and their masterpiece album, which features their all-time great single “Surrender”. Yet another bunch of longhairs who were momentarily thrown into the new wave basket thanks to their concise songs and retro-pop leanings, Cheap Trick were the most radio-friendly American rock band to come along since Kiss (a fact that was perhaps helped into being by their name-drop of Kiss within “Surrender”), and with Robin Zander and Tom Petersson looking so spunky on the LP cover they were never going to fail. If you get a chance to see the band when they’re here later in the year, take it – they are still great.  


Foreigner – Double Vision

They didn’t ride the new wave in any way, but Foreigner, an American band formed by English guitarist Mick Jones, formerly of Spooky Tooth, helped keep classic hard rock and on the radio in the late 70s. Double Vision followed the band’s 1977 debut which had yielded the massive hits “Feels Like The First Time”  and “Cold As Ice”; and with similarly inclined tracks like “Hot Blooded” and the title track, it was a successful follow-up. The band would soon soften their sound for hits like “Waiting For a Girl Like You” as sounds got more cushioned in the early ‘80s.  


Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – Soundtrack

We mentioned at the top a “classic failure”, and this is it. The concept was ludicrous, but on the back of Saturday Night Fever and the Bee Gees it must’ve seemed like Robert Stigwood could do no wrong when it came to working music into movies. The film itself, which ‘starred’ the Bee Gees, Peter Frampton and others, is barely intelligible, and the soundtrack, which features covers of virtually all of the original Sgt. Pepper’s album plus most of Abbey Road, and which was produced by George Martin, was a dog. It did stay in the US Top 10 for over a month and produce hits for Earth Wind & Fire and Aerosmith, but, infamously, it was also the first record to "return platinum" with four million copies of it shipped back to distributors by retailers. In the spirit of all this craziness, let’s check out Steve Martin’s version of "Maxwell's Silver Hammer”. (You can thank us for not tormenting you with the George Burns track!)


Devo – Are We Not Men? We Are Devo!

They’d been around since ’73 and were noted by the likes of David Bowie and Iggy Pop before punk broke out, but when they finally released their debut album in ‘78, they were considered by many to be “post-punk”. Of course, Devo wasn’t really punk at all, just weird, and brilliant. The concept for the band, and the concept of “de-evolution” – the idea that mankind was not evolving but regressing – actually went back to founding members Gerald Casale and Bob Lewis’ late 60s college days, and was compounded when they witnessed the infamous Kent State shootings of students by National Guardsmen in 1970. As serious as they were, many later fans saw them as just a fun band, but their Brian Eno-produced debut is a brilliant and unprecedented record.  


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