Pitchfork Staff - Top 100 Albums of the 1970s

By sethgeck0 sethgeck0
updated over 6 years ago

The Pitchfork Staff chose their 100 favorite albums of the seventies.

  1. Brian Eno - Before And After Science

    There's no more appropriate way to kick this list off than with a record from Brian Eno, an artist within only a couple of degrees of separation from upwards of one-quarter of this list. Before and After Science, however, could be seen as an odd choice: Not formally groundbreaking, it's frequently overlooked when discussing great albums from an era that's romanticized as placing premiums on progression and innovation-- and particularly in the context of Eno's career, which is so full of both. But it's a lovely, charming album from the dadaist jaunt of "Backwater" to its tranquil second side, whose mood and texture seems to tear a page from Eno's 1977-78 David Bowie Album Construction Playbook, yet rectifies the divide between his pop and ambient impulses. --Scott Plagenhoef

  2. Neil Young - After The Gold Rush

    After the gold rush of 1960s California rock, most of its main players spent the 70s slowly hippie-twirling towards irrelevance and rehab resorts. Not so for Mr. Young, who was just hitting his stride as the decade turned over, kicking off a run of 11 great albums in 10 years with After the Gold Rush. One of his few efforts that can't be considered either the product of Crazy Horse feedback Neil or sensitive-hayseed Neil, Gold Rush is also one of Young's most consistent records. Holed up in his Topanga Canyon home writing a soundtrack for a never-made Dean Stockwell-scripted film, Young invited his friends to join him on alien-abduction ballads, preachy Skynyrd-provoking jams and lovesick nocturnal country-blues. Unlike so many of his sun-dazed contemporaries, Young had the right kind of eyes to see the high-water mark, and After the Gold Rush is the departure point on his essential decade-long journey away from the fallout of the 1960s. --Rob Mitchum

  3. Robert Wyatt - Rock Bottom

    Rock Bottom was in the planning stages when Robert Wyatt survived a fall from a fourth-floor window, a tumble that left him confined to a wheelchair and ended his career as British art-rock's most endearingly maverick drummer. It's impossible not to hear the stretched-out time of convalescence in its drones and long melodies as Wyatt devotes himself to keyboards, whittling at his synths as quizzically as he hones his lyrics, which gnarl with surreal wordplay but temper the brilliantly grounded wit that flashed across his earlier work.
    With no need to keep up a working band, Wyatt surrounds himself with his best Canterbury colleagues-- there are cameos by Fred Frith and Mike Oldfield, as well as regular support from fellow Soft Machine bassist Hugh Hopper-- and, bound to the studio, he invented the next phase of his career. The melancholy that buoys his classic "Sea Song" doesn't block the exquisite melody, which assuages regrets before they can even creep in, and as Wyatt croaks his fascination for the strange real-life lover that he was about to marry, he settles for tapping the beat on a single, handheld drum. --Chris Dahlen

  4. Various - The Harder They Come (Original Soundtrack Recording)

    I never bought Jimmy Cliff's optimism in the face of adversity. If Horatio Alger was a ridiculous longshot in the United States, imagine the odds for someone coming from a Jamaican slum. Statistically speaking, that which the people from ghettoized Kingston really want, they never get-- no matter how much they try and try. This is political music before reggae artists commonly named names; as in the blues, the only relief from suffering comes when the heart stops beating. In this situation, life without belief would be unbearable. You can hear the weariness even on the party tracks, making The Harder They Come one of the saddest albums of the decade. --Mark Richardson

  5. Iggy Pop - The Idiot

    After the release of the Stooges' final album, 1973's Raw Power, Iggy Pop bottomed out. It would take four years, several jailings, and countless beatings before he would get back on his feet to launch his solo career. After a self-imposed exile in a West Coast mental institution, Pop put in a call to David Bowie, as the two had been intending to hook up for years, and a few days later, they'd boarded a plane to Paris, and then to romantic Berlin where they would finish work on The Idiot.
    The Idiot presents what is probably Iggy Pop's darkest release, and rightfully so, given the period of his life during which it was recorded. Set to music written primarily by Bowie during the Station to Station sessions, Pop's lyrics are often reflective and sentimental-- "Dum Dum Boys" pines for his Stooges bandmates, while "Tiny Girls" and "Mass Production" lament stupid love-- and when they're not, they're bitter and scathingly sarcastic ("Nightclubbing", "Funtime"). Against minimal, mechanical instrumentation, Pop's delivery is suitably passionless, as he dryly sing/speaks in a deep, unfeeling croak. Musically, it formed the foundation for Joy Division's cold, caustic creepiness, at times echoing their sound so strikingly it could be mistaken for Unknown Pleasures. In the throes of a crippling bout with depression, it's clear what was on Ian Curtis' mind in his final hours. --Ryan Schreiber

  6. Led Zeppelin - Physical Graffiti

    Physical Graffiti is not the hardest or most influential Zeppelin album. It's not even their best. But it's arguably the most essential. At 80 minutes, it's as insurmountable, grimy, intimidating and flat-out awesome as the monolithic tenement building on its cover. And it's about to collapse on all your friends. The tracklist is like the Ten Commandments of hard rock, wielding "Custard Pie", "The Wanton Song", "Trampled Under Foot", "Ten Years Gone" and "Kashmir". Some of the most popular bands of the 1980s and 90s did nothing but rip off those five songs over and over again.
    Graffiti is also the pinnacle of Zeppelin's mythology: It contains all the requisite gnomes, swashbuckling fools and garbled Paradise Lost-garden-car-incest-pie euphemisms. Jimmy Page's broiling and obstinate riffs flatten the songs' images of Middle Eastern mountains and pristine country landscapes. Robert Plant's lungs have been seemingly saturated in tar and moonshine. If you must know what John Bonham's thunderous drums are like, cover your head in cement and run into a tsunami. Bizarrely then, the rest of Graffiti is overwhelmed by Page's country and blues fixations. "In My Time of Dying"'s hurling slide-guitar and Plant's entirely blasphemous Christ-lust blast out of a South Carolina shack. The bagpipe-harmonica synths on "In the Light" are sheltered by serenely droning strings. Graffiti proves that not only was Zeppelin powerful enough to sustain a double-album; they were powerful enough to sustain every metal band that came after them. --Alex Linhardt

  7. King Crimson - Starless And Bible Black

    Experimental bands are always awarded points for making fragmented albums that actually hold together. The mid-70s Crimson line-up stood for taste and efficiency with a dry, dark wit, and Starless and Bible Black epitomized those qualities. John Wetton's tersely macho posture suits the lyrics of Richard Palmer-James, who matches the album's opening squall with the rude awakening of, "Health food faggot." Even "The Night Watch" skips the mawkishness of other Crimson ballads. The live tracks are mostly improvised, which is one reason Bill Bruford renamed the album "Braless and Slightly Slack". But the pieces are mostly chafe-free, cropped down to spiky instrumentals that highlight the Robert Fripp-David Cross frontline of sharp guitar and under-the-breath violin and mellotron, all gnashed against Bruford's clatterwork. And if you can get over how much "Fracture" now sounds like The Simpsons theme song, it's an aggressively brilliant through-composed set piece, as methodical as it is nasty. --Chris Dahlen

  8. Hendrix* - Band Of Gypsys

    Although they were together for less than a year, the Band of Gypsys provided the springboard for some of Hendrix's most soulful, enduring music. The Experience's psychedelic maelstrom encouraged Hendrix's attention-grabbing antics, but Buddy Miles and Billy Cox supplied the funky, backbeat-driven rhythm section he sought at the turn of the decade. "Who Knows", "Power of Soul" and "Message to Love" blister with the deep funk rock sound Hendrix was turning towards.
    And then there's "Machine Gun". Quite possibly the most wildly explosive and painfully vivid musical statement ever caught live on tape, Hendrix's 12-minute psychedelic soul mindbender surged from the tragic violence at Altamont to the chaos and devastation of Vietnam. In this one song, he pioneered the simultaneous use of four different effects pedals and cemented his reputation as one of the greatest guitarists of all time. Talk about shock and awe: If it sounds that insane on the album, imagine what the Fillmore East crowd was feeling that New Year's Eve. --Jonathan Zwickel

  9. Kraftwerk - Die Mensch•Maschine

    Despite what their song titles suggest, Kraftwerk have never sounded like trains, planes or automobiles. They sure as hell don't sound like mannequins or bicycles. They just sound like robots. The Man-Machine remains the most obvious Kraftwerk record: robots making music about robots making music. If 1974's Autobahn embodied naïve euphoria and 1977's Trans-Europe Express was thumping desolation, Man-Machine is completely neutral. While the fast-paced world of Ralf Hütter quotes knows no limits of pretension, this is the only album that conceivably expresses his ideal music: No emotions, no philosophies, no performances, and virtually no humor. It is pure technology: the whistles and surging circuitry of unmanned factories; twinkling hydraulic tubes; flaring odometers and cogs; and pre-Pong claw-claps.
    For the first half of the album, the only remotely human touch is the rolled "r" when Ralf robo-sings, "We are the robots." But the inhumanity is suddenly broken towards the end with the wry, pop-art commentary of "The Model" and the enrapturing pulsations and wavering reflections of "Neon Lights", which contain enormously melancholy lines fragile enough to collapse or evaporate under the slightest drum machine. The title track, however, is pure solidification: the sound of amassing troops, pinpointed trajectories and speaker-box opiates of the masses. --Alex Linhardt

  10. Throbbing Gristle - 20 Jazz Funk Greats

    20 Jazz Funk Greats' most impressive trait isn't the pulverizing factory machinations of Genesis P-Orridge's blasted allegories-- "Pain is the stimulus of pain"; "I've got a little biscuit tin/ To keep your panties in/ Soiled panties, white panties, school panties, Y-Front panties"-- or its winking pastoral cover art, or those crazy-ass bird calls, sleazy ambient pulsations and homemade electro-pop grooves. No, 20 Jazz Funk Greats' most impressive trait is its timelessness. As proven by the recent TG remix project, you don't need to touch these soundtracks with your grubby synthesizers-- you'll just stain the magic with the ones and zeros of digital cliché. Left to simmer in its own juices, the band's 1979 masterstroke exhibits no dust crackle or incense-soaked hokum. And outside the sexed-up dance-of-death hooks-- "Hot on the Heels of Love" should by now be a matrimonial favorite-- songsmiths without a compelling raison d’être would do themselves well to mainline as much William S. Burroughs, Marquis de Sade, Aleister Crowley, Fluxism and Vienna Actionism as this smarty-pants quartet. --Brandon Stosuy

  11. Fẹla* And Afrika 70* - Zombie

    While Bob Marley was railing against "War" in the Western Hemisphere, Fela Kuti was fighting his own battles for the dispossessed on the other side of the world. An anti-militarization anthem, "Zombie" grabbed the African continent's collective imagination with its lyrical urgency and relentless rhythm. Perhaps Fela's most effective fusion of funk and politics, it confronted Nigeria's increasingly corrupt, detached government head-on, and in doing so both united the public and incensed the ruling party.
    The monstrous line that comes crashing through the title track a few minutes in is one of the most recognizable in afrobeat, led by Lekan Animashaun's heaving, incessant baritone sax. Amidst the sinuous roar of drums, bass and brass, Fela's commanding vocals drive the song like a drill sergeant, and his massive chorus of background singers keeps time with the chant of "Zombie!" to his every command. The original album is backed by a couple of lesser-known singles; MCA included the title track on a Fela compilation. Whichever version you come across, "Zombie" is a must-have for anyone ready to climb the pinnacle of afrobeat. --Jonathan Zwickel

  12. Devo - Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!

    Q: Were all those plastic helmets and black one-piece leotards just a glib, giggly extension of Devo's high-art image game, or a deliberate ploy to figure themselves as inanimate and unthinking as the toasters and toys featured on their records? What about when they suggested that mankind had actually evolved from mutant, brain-eating apes-- were they just being funny? Is all that cold, synthy new-wave supposed to represent the slow retardation of the human spirit? Is everything in Akron this subversive? What did Brian Eno think? What is the uncontrollable urge? Why did Rolling Stone call them fascists? Is it because they covered "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"? Do they actually sleep inside sealed plastic pods? A: They are Devo. --Amanda Petrusich

  13. Giorgio* - From Here To Eternity

    Italian-born producer Giorgio Moroder built Musicland Studio in Munich in 1969 and, with partner Pete Bellotte, proceeded to invent electronic dance music. Not only did he revolutionize the budding disco movement with his digitally powered "four-on-the-floor" bass drum pulse, but also more than any other 70s artist, he was responsible for contributing to the birth of house and techno. His productions for Donna Summer are perhaps his greatest achievements in the decade, but the apex of his solo work is 1977's From Here to Eternity. This brilliant record glides by with the ebb and flow of a modern DJ mix, sparkling with audiophile-precise sound and arguably the finest vocoder vocals in history. The entire first side of the original LP contains five songs morphed together into one mega-mixed suite of hedonistic minimalism; when he croons, "Baby gives sweet loving, leaves me meaning nothing," he intones the gospel for disco nymphs and club culture forever more. --Dominique Leone

  14. Roxy Music - For Your Pleasure

    Morrissey recently told The Observer Music Monthly that he could "only think of one truly great British album": Roxy Music's For Your Pleasure. Well, conservatively, I can think of at least three great Roxy Music albums (one of which, Country Life, had the misfortune of landing at #101 on our list), though he's right that For Your Pleasure is the best of them. More ambitious, enigmatic and expansive that their self-titled debut, Roxy Music's second album (and last with Brian Eno) perfectly captures the balance and tension between the keyboardist and leader Bryan Ferry.
    Roxy's penchant for continental decadence, off-kilter romanticism and melomania is the perfect foil for Ferry's vocal affectations and singular quiver. But here-- with Eno still on board-- the band's tendency to drift into atmospherics is often tethered by some driving hooks. That's one of many surface contradictions on an album which features both fictional dance crazes and love poems to blow-up dolls, sounds laboriously crafted but reeks of restless excess, and is fronted by a man who delights in skewering upper-class conventions but seems to want nothing more than to join the jetset. --Scott Plagenhoef

  15. Joni Mitchell - Blue

    There are two ways to hear Blue. The first is as a historical document. If you are white, middle-class and liberal-- and, especially, if the spirit of the feminist movement had touched someone in your family-- then Blue encapsulates your mindset in the 70s. Kids who grew up on Sesame Street with Free to Be You and Me on the hi-fi heard Blue wafting upstairs when Mom and Dad had friends over and the living room started to reek of that funny smoke. This was the perfect hippie comedown record for those young adults with families who wanted to move on to more serene and comfortable bohemianism. But aside from its historical markers, Blue is a fine stripped-down record with extremely solid songwriting-- despite the occasionally cringe-worthy lyric. In this way, Blue is like a companion to Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks-- a confessional album very much of its time that endures on the strength of fantastic melodies and musical simplicity. --Mark Richardson

  16. Wire - 154

    By their third album, Wire scarcely resembled the band that a few years earlier had released Pink Flag. They had lost much of their rawness, but none of their edge, pushing into clanging, even chilling, electronic textures and oddly moving their catchiest melodies to the front of the mix, conceding to pop convention even as they perverted it. Of course, pop success was about the furthest thing from their minds, as evidenced by the sonic apocalypse of "A Touching Display" and the fractured synth chords of "On Returning", and the fact that they titled the album's lead single and most accessible song "Map Ref. 41 Degrees N 93 Degrees W". Incredibly, after the restless creativity that culminated in 154, the group claimed that they were fresh out of ideas and disbanded (albeit temporarily), ending one of the greatest three-year runs in rock history. --Joe Tangari

  17. Nilsson* - Nilsson Schmilsson

    A quirky day-in-the-life snapshot, Nilsson Schmilsson catches singer, songwriter and Beatle heir apparent Harry Nilsson in playful mid-life catharsis. That notorious, grainy cover perfectly preserves Harry's cheerful dejection re: quaint, bygone days of dancing "until a quarter to 10" and blue-collar early morning drudgery. Tempered hope and humor steal every priceless tune, but also, it was 1971, and things were getting pretty weird. On Schmilsson, reticent urbanites go nowhere fast; car pedals and flower petals merge; bits of crap and moonbeams mingle in a woozy Brian Wilson daydream.
    Throughout the album, producer Richard Perry's earthy tone befits the album's post- Revolver heritage; likewise, Harry's tropical hangover goof-off "Coconut" rivals the Fab Four's inspired wackiness. Nilsson's crystalline whisper and wail translate Badfinger's stilted "Without You" into a glorious, wrenching suicide note set to humble strings and brass. And finally, the underrated closing couplets: "Jump into the Fire"'s motorik and tribal insistence that "we can make each other happy!" simply won't age, while the eclectic banjo, piano and ensemble on "I'll Never Leave You" lushly and gently ease into calm goodnight. Thanks, Harry: I can't live if living is without Schmilsson. --Judson Picco

  18. Iggy And The Stooges* - Raw Power

    If Jesus Christ ever comes down to separate the sinners and saints, the wheat from the chaff and the Iggy Pops from the Kenny Gs, he'll be in a judgin' mood, and it might just be Raw Power roaring out of his iPod. Heck, JC'll probably have a chorus of angels wailing on axes, churning out its maniacal, nitro-fueled riffs as his theme song while he sends us all on the short bus to Hell-- 'cause rock and roll's a sin, friends. And if anyone asks why we're all going to sleep with Kurt Cobain, Eric Carr, Chuck Berry and the rest of a laundry list of rock casualties but it's somehow all right for him to be listening to "Search and Destroy", we'll be enlightened and know that the Big Guy saved a special place for Pop. Why? 'Cause no one sings and screeches the wrath of God quite like Iggy Stooge. 'Cause he's the father of punk, and we're a little better off for him passing through. 'Cause the Ramones were just a gleam in Iggy's eye until they were conceived by Raw Power. 'Cause War, Famine, Pestilence and Death have nothing on the apocalyptic soul and fire the Stooges bring to bear on this album. 'Cause Iggy might not have died for our sins, but he did the next best thing-- he rolled around in peanut butter for rock and roll. Amen? --Eric Carr

  19. George Harrison - All Things Must Pass

    With Lennon/McCartney standing on the garden hose of George Harrison's songwriting career throughout most of Beatlemania, the guitarist celebrated his former band's demise with a triple-LP deluge. While nothing on All Things Must Pass touches the garment-hem of "Something" or "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", clearly there was a great deal of quality inventory to unload-- the "unintentional plagiarism" of "My Sweet Lord" aside-- and the first two-thirds of the album (nobody ever listens to that awful jammy third platter) overcomes its dated mysticism. George was self-critical enough to know that his thin voice couldn't carry a set this ambitious, and so recruited sonic drywall installer Phil Spector to liberally drip syrup all over the album's dark-tinged Krishna folk-rock. Nevertheless, even recent remasterings make Spector's echo-drenched symphonics sound endearingly bleached-out, a technical shortcoming that no doubt influenced the many lo-fi orchestras that have riddled the indiescape. George Harrison will forever be the patron saint of rock 'n' roll underdogs, and All Things Must Pass is his Confessions. --Rob Mitchum

  20. David Bowie - The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars

    Bowie would eventually live to rue his Ziggy Stardust character to some degree, but the icon remains his gender-bent guitar-rock po-mo Hamlet. In its church of man, squawking pink monkey birds give the alien writer's block until Mick Ronson freaks out; epic dead-father daydreams portend Earth's five-year expiration date; "Lady Stardust" is just a dolled-up Marc Bolan, but count the entendres when Bowie demands he "Get some pussy now..." All told, it's a disfigured sci-fi autobiography strewn with decadent ego-victims and brilliant tracks that don't fit the plot-- all held together by hook after indelible Bowie hook. The Spiders from Mars played a gripping hard-rock/doo-wop amalgam, as retro-theatrical as the then-fresh Grease, yet progressively festooned with grandiose raygun strings and metallic crunch chords. It's only too fitting that the Sex Pistols would one day cop to ripping Ronson's riffs. --Judson Picco

  21. David Bowie - Hunky Dory

    With the androgyny-charged hard-rock of The Man Who Sold the World behind him, Bowie retreated to his singer/songwriter roots and came into his own. Hunky Dory marked the true start of what would be one of the most successful careers in rock music, spawning millions of scarily obsessive fans. Here, he delves into Dylan-inspired folk ("Eight Line Poem", "Quicksand", and tellingly, "Song for Bob Dylan"), bombastic piano ballads ("Life on Mars?"), and primitive twee-pop ("Kooks", "Fill Your Heart"). "Oh! You Pretty Things" seamlessly merges science fiction and cabaret; "The Bewlay Brothers" is one of his most musically ambitious closers, despite its nonsensical lyrics; and you can count on one hand the number of songs in Bowie's catalog quite as awe-inducing as "Life on Mars?", whose descending piano and grandiose, climactic chorus are delivered with an intense and contagious longing as its character seeks refuge from the disappointment of life. Hunky Dory is by no means his most cohesive release, but it remains one of his most charming, and unquestionably, one of his best. --Ryan Schreiber

  22. Randy Newman - Sail Away

    What a curmudgeonly old man Randy Newman has become. The Southerner-by-proxy has long since alienated his hipper associates, and these days gets by with the occasional smarmy remark at the Oscars and reel after reel of finely crafted yet rote Disney soundtracks. It's almost difficult to remember what a fantastic, optimistically wry young composer he was in the early 70s. The sentiments of Sail Away-- his third studio record-- range from the title track's beaming indictment of the hypocrisy of the American Dream via a slave trader's sales pitch, to the definitive account of the half-assed dad in "Memo to My Son", to the acidic environmental satire of "Burn On". He even turns the smoking gun on himself and his "fame" on "Lonely at the Top". Yet, that he could still deliver lines like, "Let's sing a song of long ago/ When things could grow and days flowed quietly," without a hint of irony reveals the hopeful, sentimental heart buried in this record. Maybe a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down: Newman's humble, humane critiques never tasted sweeter or more genuine. --Dominique Leone

  23. Fela Ransome Kuti* & Africa 70 - Expensive Shit

    It's that guitar vamp and the onslaught of percussion, the horns that sound like pure joy, and the fury and humor of a man caught in the crosshairs of a corrupt government. Fela Kuti's afrobeat is both protest and celebration. It's kinetic, complex and infectious, the sound of Africa awakening from its colonial nightmare full of righteousness and rage. In 1975, Fela's anger with the Nigerian government brought him face-to-face with its corruption, as police raided his residential compound (The Kalakuta Republic, he called it), equipped with marijuana they planned to plant on him. But Fela was a quick thinker, and he swallowed the supply with which they had intended to frame him. Swapping excrement with a fellow prisoner at the jail, he produced untainted shit for the police, who were forced to let him go or admit their own corruption. Fela turned the whole surreal incident into this absolutely epochal slab of epic funk. Fuck the "world music" tag-- this is punk in the purest sense. --Joe Tangari

  24. David Bowie - Aladdin Sane

    In 1972, Ziggy Stardust made David Bowie a star on both sides of the Atlantic; in 1973, Aladdin Sane made him, well, one album removed from the album that made him a star. Given the mammoth footsteps of Ziggy's glam-rock futureworld-- and Hunky Dory's equally impressive array of lushly styled pop-- it's not surprising that Aladdin Sane was largely unheralded. Its relative anonymity, however, is undeserved.
    Tiring of glam's cliches and having just penned the album that was arguably the genre's magnum opus, Bowie found himself between styles at a time when he most needed to capitalize on his nascent superstardom. Rather than release a transparent Stardust Redux, a desperation to build upon his reputation for the avant-garde led Bowie to strike out-- seemingly at random-- in search of newer, more fertile ground. Jazz, rock, lounge, glam, cabaret, pop and anything else Bowie and the Spiders could bring to the table is incorporated here. Bowie revels, if only briefly, in the freedom afforded him by forsaking any overarching contemporary style. Aladdin Sane's only defining characteristic is its carelessly brilliant, gleefully schizophrenic style-hopping. Many artists wallow in limbo for a time, only to have that period rightfully forgotten-- but few have ever made artistic purgatory sound this good. --Eric Carr

  25. Blondie - Parallel Lines

    The funny thing about roots is that you only see the twisted, dirty, ugly things if you dig them up. And so, although Blondie-- CBGB's most successful alumni-- got their start in that club's dirty stalls and nascent punk scene, it would take a hard, reactionary heart to grumble at the sweet pop fruit of Parallel Lines. The album's duochromatic cover is appropriate for a fence-straddling group that both supported Iggy Pop on his comeback tour and deservedly enjoyed four #1 singles.
    It was with thanks to this record that the band swiftly moved from subway to taxi to limo. From Buddy Holly to Brill Building to burgeoning new-wave, Blondie filtered a quarter-century of American pop into sharp songs about curfew breaking and unrequited love. Some credit for the record's success is down to ex-glam producer Mike Chapman, who reigned in the nonchalance and occasional sloppiness of Blondie's first two albums and helped transform "Heart of Glass" from cheeky minimal motorik into a pulsing and sensual dancefloor anthem. An assist also goes to ex-Nerve Jack Lee, who provides two songs, including the opener "Hanging on the Telephone", which kicks off with the familiar coo of its titular object, a prescient touch for a record that would eventually communicate so much to so many people. --Scott Plagenhoef