It Was A Very Good Year: 1979 In Music

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1979 poster – click to enlarge!

I’ve been following some interesting thoughts on David Hepworth’s blog around 1971 being the annus mirabilis of the rock album”  – for those who don’t know, annus mirabilis a Latin phrase that means wonderful year, “year of wonders” or “year of miracles”. It’s a fascinating list of unbelievable releases, but while I can appreciate it retrospectively, there’s a different year that I truly remember in the first person as the one where music peaked for me. 1979 in music was the one for me.

Now to give that some context, I have read – although I can’t remember where – that “the music you listen to when you are 16 defines your musical taste”. It’s a big call, but I know that in my case it’s very accurate. That year was 1979.

Below is the list of albums (roughly in chronological order of when they were released through the year) that meant something to me that year – some are a bit dodgy (like Bad Company) by they did make an impression. More to the point, artists who would remain at the core of my absolute favourites list – like The Jam, The Clash, Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, Joe Jackson – are all represented. Many of the others signal the seeds of interest in a style of music that I would later come to embrace.

In terms of absolute classics it doesn’t come close to the 1971 list, but it was a big year for me! A while back I took this a step further by going through my iTunes library and gathered all the album covers from the music I was listening to in 1979 and created a poster (click the image above to get a look at it). It’s a great snapshot of my life at that time. I’ve also done it for 1995 – 16 years later.

Live (X Cert)  by The Stranglers
Cool for Cats by Squeeze
Armed Forces by Elvis Costello & The Attractions
Look Sharp! by Joe Jackson
At Budokan by Cheap Trick
Life in a Day by Simple Minds
Desolation Angels by Bad Company
Breakfast in America by Supertramp
Rickie Lee Jones by Rickie Lee Jones
Squeezing Out Sparks by Graham Parker and The Rumour
Black Rose: A Rock Legend by Thin Lizzy
It’s Alive by Ramones
Replicas by Gary Numan and Tubeway Army
Three Imaginary Boys by The Cure
The Undertones by The Undertones
The Kids Are Alright by The Who
Get The Knack by The Knack
Candy-O by The Cars
Unknown Pleasures by Joy Division
No Exit by The Angels
Rust Never Sleeps by Neil Young and Crazy Horse
The B-52’s by The B-52’s
Highway to Hell by AC/DC
Bop till You Drop by Ry Cooder
Drums and Wires by XTC
Fear of Music by Talking Heads
A Different Kind of Tension by Buzzcocks
Entertainment! by Gang of Four
Singles Going Steady by Buzzcocks
I’m the Man by Joe Jackson
Quadrophenia Soundtrack by The Who
Reggatta de Blanc by The Police
Eat to the Beat by Blondie
The Specials by The Specials
Whatever You Want by Status Quo
Setting Sons by The Jam
Metal Box by Public Image Ltd.
Degüello by ZZ Top
Machine Gun Etiquette by The Damned
One Step Beyond… by Madness
London Calling by The Clash
The Incredible Shrinking Dickies by The Dickies
Head Injuries by Midnight Oil

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