Some Music is Beyond Category….

….especially when you’re the daughter of a classical violinist, the ex-wife of jazz bassist Gary Peacock, and a close colleague of Timothy Leary. Oh, and she’s been composing since the age of four. From the 1978 album X-Dreams.

Pithy Political Post-Punk Pop

The Monochrome Set deserved a lot more love than they ever got. Morrissey and Johnny Marr were big fans, and the Set’s influence on The Smiths is especially evident on this track, which says what it has to say in under two minutes and gets the hell out.

Richard Pryor Invents Death Metal

Proof that the ’70s were a very different time, from the edgy and short-lived (four episodes!) “Richard Pryor Show” of 1977. A very dark heavy metal parody that the network allowed to go on for nearly eight minutes. Part KISS, part P-Funk, part something that hadn’t been invented yet. Note Sandra Bernhard in the audience, and the black Nazi dwarf doing the commercial segue at the end.

Wild Yoof: The Jam, Joy Division, The Clash, Siouxsie, and The Specials on Something Else

The following clips are from Something Else, a youth-oriented magazine program which ran on BBC2 from 1978 to 1982. Part of a wave of similar British shows known collectively as “Youth TV” (or “yoof,” as some would have it), Something Else‘s run happened to coincide with the apex of post-punk,  and showcased many of the era’s most important bands at the height of their powers.

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Fifty Rocking Humdingers: The Best of 1979

Music scribes are a list-making species.  Like sports buffs, they love nothing more than to argue about the ten-best this and five-most-important that, or which year marked the apex of so-and-so’s career. I intend to continue this dubious tradition by celebrating a year which, despite the embarrassment of musical riches it produced, has never achieved the iconic status it deserves. My choice for the greatest year in rock ‘n’ roll history? No question about it:  if your taste runs toward the diverse music that blossomed in the wake of punk, 1979 was the annus mirabilis.

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