Home

1978 Albums

This the static timeline. You can also view this list in a more compact data table or the interactive timeline.

Vielleicht Bist Du Ein Clown? > Novalis

September, 1978
Germany
Brain
3
By 1978, Novalis was one of Germany's most successful rock bands, both in record sales and concert attendance, with only the Scorpions outselling the band. Thus, the quintet was able to leave their day jobs behind to work full-time as musicians. Their next album, Vielleicht Du Bist Ein Clown? ("perhaps you are a clown?") was also produced by Achim Reichel and saw release on the Brain label. It again displays their penchant for elegant, romantic rock music. "Der Geigenspieler" opens the album, offering the band's symphonic and epic songwriting, with a potently electric instrumental break in the middle. The instrumental "Zingaresca" offers a rather harder edge, courtesy of Detlef Job's angular guitar and Hartwig Biereichel's feisty rhythm with guest percussionist Tommy Goldschmidt. The title track again furthers the band's symphonic sound, here punctuated by Lutz Rahn's incessant piano and a strong vocal from Fred Mühlböck. "City Nord" sees Rahn return to his classic organ tones, a welcome reminder of their progressive roots. Released during an extensive tour of Germany, the album again proved successful. The band then moved to Reichel's Ahorn label, setup specifically for German-language rock music: "Ahorn die Marke für Rock in deutsch" ("Ahorn the mark for Rock in German"). With their 1979 concept album about whaling, Flossenengel ("Finned Angel"), Novalis did something extraordinary: The band donated 20,000 DM from their advance to the World Wildlife Fund. The band would then skirt the Neue Deutsche Welle and, as the Freeman brothers assert in their encyclopedic The Crack in the Cosmic Egg book, "go on about five years too long;" Anyway, Biereichel, Job and Rahn would carry on with varying lineups (including bassist Heinz Fröhling) until the mid-80s.

The Future Now > Hammill, Peter

September, 1978
United States
Charisma
3.6
Recorded just before the last days of VdG, The Future Now marks another beginning for their ex-lead singer. It's an idiosyncratic record, partly due to the lo-fi nature of the recording, and also in part to it being a Peter Hammill record: The Man Ray-influenced pose on the cover should signal that this wasn't going to be easy listening. And except for a few overdubs by some ex-VdGG musicians, the album is 100 percent Hammill. The opening track, "Pushing Thirty," is a throwback to Hammill's Rikki Nadir alter-ego; it's slightly acerbic, highly literate and full of attitude. Yet Hammill is much more than a wordsmith. The unconventional performance of both "Energy Vampires" and the title track tread similar lyrical ground, yet occupy different music spaces. Whether it's through his thick-toned guitar, ambling harmonium, multi-tracked vocals or some other fx'd instrument, there is a glorious indulgence of "sculpted noise" (and a tribute to the tape-recorder and razor blade as well). Undoubtedly, the technology wrought each track: "The Cut" and "A Motor Bike in Afrika" are from a similar dye, while "The Second Hand" blithely ticks away over its drum-machine pattern. But Hammill is in his element with as little accompaniment as possible. Whether forged on the guitar ("Trappings" and "If I Could"), the piano ("The Mousetrap (Caught In)" and "Still in the Dark") or just through his voice ("Mediaeval"), few artists can convey so much with so little. Stripping away the studio trickery, Hammill's delivery is both emotive and superlative, and also represents a good approximation of the power of his live performance. Hammill's next album, pH7, would tread similar ground; in fact, it's almost like a sister-set of recordings. But with little commercial success to show for his efforts, these would be his last records for Charisma Records.

Tormato > Yes

September, 1978
United States
Atlantic
2.4
One look at the album cover and once again you'd have to figure something was different inside Yes' latest album. Recorded at London's RAK Studios, Tormato was another step away from the band's epic-length proportions, as it contained nine (count ‘em) songs. "Future Times" kicks in immediately and races along in fine Yes tradition; Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman trade leads, while Chris Squire delivers one rubbery bass. In fact, that bass tone would lend a unique signature to the album. This song dives right into "Rejoice," reminding us that the band had indeed made it "ten true summers long." "Don't Kill the Whale," one of the band's most outright statements, was the album's single and a Top 40 hit in the UK. "Release, Release" is again frantic, though the "live" break in the middle is a little misguided. Wakeman moves to the fore with his new polyphonic synthesizers; but unfortunately, he's playing over everyone else. After all, frantic isn't a word often used to described Yes' music; but then again, this isn't your typical Yes album. Side two opens with "Arriving UFO" and "Circus of Heaven;" and, as you might guess, both are prime examples of Jon Anderson's cosmic fancy—and perhaps something only a Yes fan would truly appreciate. Squire offers the placid "Onward" to slow the pace, before the album winds up with its undisputed classic, "On the Silent Wings of Freedom." Driven along by Alan White's drums, it contains all the power and splendor of any of Yes' classics. The album was a success too, reaching the Top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic. Yes then spent the rest of the year in the US performing "in the round," and later returned to the UK for a few dates at London's Wembley Empire Pool. After touring ended, both Howe and Wakeman took time off to complete solo records, while Anderson teamed up with Vangelis. In 1979, the band returned to the US for another tour in the spring, and then headed to Paris to record their next album, with Roy Thomas Baker producing. However, the sessions ended acrimoniously with only a handful of unfinished tracks; and by early 1980, both Anderson and Wakeman had left Yes. Drama, of course, was just around the corner.

Con > Schnitzler, Conrad

October, 1978
France
Egg
5
Born in 1937, Conrad Schnitzler was one of the most original and influential audio artists in Germany. Having studied under Josef Beuys in Düsseldorf in the early 60s, he found himself in Berlin towards the end of the decade. There, with a similarly-aged Hans-Joachim Roedelius, they started both the Zodiak Free Arts Lab club and the group Kluster; eventually, Schnitzler also joined Tangerine Dream, playing cello on their debut album. His earliest solo recordings were mostly private releases—commissions from galleries, or cassettes—and most were titled with a color (Schwarz, Rot, Blau, Grün, usw.). Schnitzler's forte, however, was his so-called "intermedia," or performance art. Iconic images of Schnitzler either face-painted in a Kabuki mask, or wearing a motorcycle helmet mounted with a megaphone and holding tape-recorder, reveal his true artistic self. But in 1978, he teamed up with Peter Baumann at his Paragon Studio to record a more commercial release, simply titled Con. "Electric Garden" opens the record, revealing a stark, electronic landscape. Blips, bleeps and washes of sound may render it alien-sounding, but their construction is preeminent here. The ensuing "Ballet Statique" offers a minimal sequence over its five minutes, as well as a contemplative, even soothing mood. "Zug" kicks off the second side; and yes, it mimics a train. The following "Metall 1" is white noise, while "Black Nails" reprises many of the album's themes. Con saw release on the French label Egg (and would later be retitled Ballet Statique when it was released on CD). From here, Schnitzler would enter his most prolific stage—at least, from a commercially-viable release standpoint-working with other artists, including his son Gregory and Wolfgang Seidel. He even collaborated with Baumann again in 1982 as Berlin Express; they produced a new wave-ish 12-inch for CBS's Portrait Records in the US.

25 Years On > Hawklords

October, 1978
United States
Charisma
3.5
Returning to the UK after a tour of the US in Spring 1978, Dave Brock and Robert Calvert had a change of heart regarding Hawkwind; they jettisoned not only the band, but the band name and management as well. Perhaps the seeds were sown in late 1977 when, teamed with the Devon-based Ark-bassist Harvey Bainbridge, drummer Martin Griffin and keyboardist Paul Hayles-Brock and Calvert performed as the Sonic Assassins. The pair began new sessions in June with Bainbridge, Griffin and keyboardist Steve Swindells (previously in Pilot) under the moniker Hawklords. Released in October, 25 Years On sported not only a new name, but also a new image. Although the musical plot is similar to the previous couple of Hawkwind albums, the record evokes a slightly different feel. "Psi Power" and "Flying Doctor" contain a classic Calvert lyric, witty and sharp; yet the band, aided by Swindells's approach to the keyboards and a load of acoustic guitar, sound much more contemporary. "Freefall," co-written by Calvert and Bainbridge, offers an updated take on the classic Hawkwind sound, as do "The Only Ones" and Calvert's excellent "(Only) the Dead Dreams of the Cold War Kid." The album reached No. 48 on the UK charts and saw release on Charisma Records. Barney Bubbles had a large role in not only the album's art, but also in staging the subsequent tour, a massive 42-date endeavor; but it didn't last. Budget cuts continually curtailed its elaborate presentation; and by tour's end, both Griffin and Calvert had had enough. Subsequent sessions were aborted, and Swindells split when offered a solo deal. This would be the end of the road for Calvert and Hawkwind, with only a spattering of guest appearances in their future. His rather under-the-radar solo career did continue, however, until his untimely death at age 43 in 1988.

Give And Take > Here & Now

October, 1978
UK
Charly Records Ltd.
4
After their amicable separation from Daevid Allen and Gilli Smyth in March, Here & Now spent the balance of 1978 touring, finding time along the way to record their debut album at Foel Studio in Wales, with Dave Anderson producing. Though certainly influenced by Gong, Here & Now was an original outfit, combining the best of space rock with a punk attitude. Their debut album for Charly Records, Give And Take, is proof. "What You See Is What You Are" leads off: melodic and free-spirited, it's bolted onto a tight, solid rhythm before launching off into deep space. With its Bowie-esque vocal, the straight-up tune "Nearer Now" returns to earth. "Grate Fire of London" floats over the chorus of Anni Wombat and Suze Da Blooz's Choir of Angels, percolating synths and glissando guitar without ever really finding traction. "This Time" and "Seventies Youth" offer a great narrative of the band's lifestyle; each tuneful track is expertly written, and perhaps with a nod to Hawkwind, another band with whom their history would intertwine. "Improvisation" closes, offering a healthy dose of space rock made complete by Steffe Sharpstrings's Steve Hillage-inspired guitar. It's a dynamic record, and a rare chance to hear the band with studio precision sound. But by the end of the year, Kif Kif and Suze Da Blooz, along with their bus, had split. Preceded by a few singles for Charly, the live album All Over The Show appeared in late 1979, now with drummer Rob Bougie and additional guitarist Bernie Elliot. Here & Now kept gigging, changing members and continuing to develop their own unique style of music, but it would be years before another record would be released.

The Wild Places > Browne, Duncan

November, 1978
US
Sire
4.5
Duncan Browne's career began in the 1960s under the management of Andrew Loog Oldham and the Immediate album. His earliest albums offered folk and classic guitar music, but deeper listening reveals a compositional style that recalls Genesis' more gentle moments. He also provided a choral arrangement for The Nice's version of Tim Hardin's "Hang On to a Dream." Browne's self-titled 1973 album yielded a minor hit with the single "Journey" b/w "In A Mist," which rose to No. 23 on the UK charts. In the mid-70s, the guitarist teamed up with Peter Godwin and Sean Lyons for the post-glam band Metro. Their self-titled album featured the classic track "Criminal World," later covered by David Bowie. However, Browne only lasted one album with Metro, leaving Godwin and Lyons to pursue a musical course into the new wave. Browne then recruited a top-shelf rhythm section of bassist John Giblin and drummer Simon Phillips for his next record, The Wild Places, released in 1978 on Sire Records. Also joining for the record was noted session keyboardist Tony Hymas. The title track opens with punchy bass and a solid hook; but as the track progresses, it becomes obvious that Browne's going for a progressive sound somewhere in the realm of Anthony Phillips or Steve Hackett's music—and as the fade confirms, everyone delivers. "Roman Vécu" offers a somber vocal from Browne, as well as some beautiful intertwining guitar lines towards the end. "Camino Real" is a full-on display of both the instrumental prowess of the album's musicians and Browne's compositional skill. Co-written with Godwin and dating back to their Metro days, "Samurai" has a proggy intro and break that quickly switches gear to some cutting rock riffing, with an uncharacteristically strong vocal delivery from Browne. The introspective "Kisarazu" floats over Browne's finger-picked guitar and a compatible arrangement. "The Crash" is a spry number that skates along its catchy hook, while "Planet Earth," also co-written with Godwin, is more placid; the aching vocal delivery pairs with an enrapturing coda. For his next album, Streets Of Fire, Browne took his hand at lead guitar, though clearly in a Mark Knopfler-style of playing. It's a fiery and well-executed album; but with chart success proving elusive Browne then turned to scoring films and music (quite successfully) for the BBC in the 1980s. Sadly, Browne would succumb to cancer in 1993.

Love Beach > Emerson, Lake & Palmer

November, 1978
United States
Atlantic
2.125
After the gigantic tours supporting the Works albums, it's no wonder that in Summer 1978, the well-tanned members of Emerson, Lake & Palmer appeared on the beaches of Nassau, Bahamas to record their final studio album of the 70s. The record reflects ELP's extremes: When they were good, they were great; but when they were awful, you had Love Beach. To wit, the band has since acknowledged that the album was pursued only to fulfill their contractual obligations with Atlantic Records. Pete Sinfield provides lyrics for the record, and the sun must have affected him as well: To quote the refrain from the title track, "I'll make love to you on love beach." The first side contains a series of shorter songs, mostly penned by Greg Lake, that amount to little more than over-arranged boogie rock—though "For You" is marginally tolerable. However, the second side raises a little more hope, as it contains the Keith Emerson-penned side-long track "Memoirs of an Officer and a Gentlemen." The first and fourth sections trace more familiar ELP terrain, while "Love at First Sight" constitutes overly romantic sap. "Letters from the Front," however, is the most successful offering, providing a modern-enough take on the ELP sound. The album barely cracked the Top 50 on both sides of the Atlantic, and the band folded with little fanfare; both a posthumously released live album and a greatest hits album would seem like a feeble postscript for the once mighty supergroup. Carl Palmer then fronted the short-lived PM in 1980 before joining Asia, while Lake released a couple of solo albums a year later. Emerson, meanwhile, would turn to the steady work of movie soundtracks.

Hemispheres > Rush

November, 1978
United States
Mercury
4.5
Rush was riding high on the success of their previous two years in the spotlight when, once again, they rolled into Rockfield Studios in the UK to record their sixth studio album. Hemispheres would stand as the last in their "progressive" phase, and featured no radio singles. The saga of "Cygnus X-1" from the previous year's record continued in epic proportion, picking up some Greek mythology along the way. "Apollo" and "Cygnus" are highlights to the six parts of the title track that cover the album's first side. Alex Lifeson's guitar tone is as unique as it is astounding, yet most surprising on this record is his restraint: guitar solos are few and far between. The second side is comprised of a few shorter songs. "Circumstances" contains Rush's brand of heavy riffing, though the keyboard break is welcome. "The Trees" is excellent storytelling that also highlights the band's versatility and arrangement skills; by now, Rush had reached or surpassed the quality of their prog rock mentors—and that includes the use of a naked man's posterior on the record cover! "La Villa Strangiato" is a self-described "exercise in self-indulgence;" running at breakneck speed and all-instrumental, the track is a showcase for the band's virtuosity and verve; and no, they aren't kidding. The album was more successful in the UK, reaching No. 14; while in the US, it barely broke the Top 50. This imbalance, however, would be corrected in early 1980, when Rush would perfect their formula for radio-friendly prog rock on the exceptional Permanent Waves album.

Of Queues And Cures > National Health

December, 1978
United States
Charly Records Ltd.
4.5
Following their debut album's release, National Health saw bassist Neil Murray leave for (can you believe it?) Whitesnake, and ex-Henry Cow John Greaves arrive to replace him. The band returned to the road in 1978, which included a supporting slot for old friend Steve Hillage, before entering the studio in July to record Of Queues And Cures. Dave Stewart kicks things off with two compositions: "The Bryden 2-Step (For Amphibians) (Part 1)" and "The Collapso." The first has a considerably lighter melody than anything on the previous album, but is by no means lightweight; while the second pokes fun under a sideways steel drum, though for the most part, it's tried-and-true ensemble playing for the band. "Squarer for Maud" is Greaves's contribution and contains some exciting guitar work from Phil Miller. Ex-Henry Cow cellist Georgie Born and ex-Slappy Happy vocalist Peter Blegvad make appearances as well. Miller's "Dreams Wide Awake" opens side two, and leans more on the heavy jazz quotient. Pip Pyle's "Binoculars" is a surprising and welcome vocal diversion, with Greaves tackling the crooning-possibly the band's greatest moment on record. Stewart left before the album's release, citing "musical anarchy," which caused the band to abort an upcoming Italian tour; but Alan Gowen eventually stepped back in, rejoining Pyle, Greaves and Miller. The quartet spent the next year touring, and even made a jaunt to America in November 1979. Momentum, however, was not on their side; and in early 1980 the band folded before committing any music to tape. Sadly, Gowen would succumb to leukemia in 1981, which prompted Stewart, Miller, Pyle and Greaves to reform the band for one last album of Gowen's compositions as tribute, titled D.S. Al Coda. The album was released on Jean-Pierre Weiller's Europa Records in 1982.