1978 – The Year The UK Turned Dayglo: Album Review

An excellent Cherry Red compilation thats sets the time machine dials to 1978 when the backlash punk had evolved in all sorts of directions.

Release Date: 28th August 2020

Label: Cherry Red Records

Format: Triple CD

1979. The wind of change continued to blow. Things were afoot in the musical world. Peel had changed his allegiances and was now a fully-fledged advocate of the new wave. Pink Floyd’s Echoes was no longer the top of his pops and another cultural shift was on the way. Music affects change.

Following up their 1977 (The Year Punk Broke) Cherry Red takes us into 1978 where all hell breaks loose and the new musical fashion fragmented into offshoots. First there was punk and which has moved into new wave, post-punk, proto-Oi, power-pop, punk poets, the mod revival, ska-punk, synth-oriented electronic/industrial music.

The set also takes into account happenings in the regions, paying close attention to the likes of Manchester, Scotland and, in particular, Northern Ireland. Places where the arrival of punk offered a life-affirming relief from the drudgery of everyday life. Don’t forget this was the era of what UB40 sang about in their One In Ten (although one in eight was more likely)

Wonderfully creative times and even Genesis, now a three-man unit, reined their prog tendencies into three-minute songs and the NWOBHM was exploding with varying degrees of success as the denim and leather brigade started to take up their arms.

Quite apt that there are 79 tracks (a lead into a continuation of the series possibly) and almost four hours of musical nostalgia on which to imbibe yourself. Like their recent NWOBHM Thunder compilation (our review) from a similar era, you can have a suitably legal family gathering and see how many you know. It’s a proper voyage of (re)discovery. One on which you’ll find, in no particular order:

The landmark tracks – X Ray Spex’s song that’s paraphrased on the title of the set, Public Image, Alternative Ulster, Borstal Breakout – need we say the names of the bands?

A reminder of those days watching Top Of The Pops when one of the new wave would make an appearance – who could forget Poly Styrene and Jilted John (oh God, I’ve just remembered for the first time in years the “Gordon is a moron” bit while glossing over the “not that puff” part and the general juvenile name-calling…)

The Pleasers doing The Who’s The Kids Are Alright and from landmark songs, there are the landmark bands – The Stranglers, The Boomtown Rats, The Jam and the not quite landmark but highly respected and influential – Magazine, Japan and The Fall.

Well known names but with the less obvious tracks from Tubeway Army, Ultravox before they went mainstream/mega. And of course, the bands and songs that might have slipped under the radar and some belting little treasures. Check out Nobody Loves You When You’re Old And Gay by Dead Fingers Talk and The Stoat’s Loving A Killer that has a groovy Sixties vibe. Not forgetting When The Tanks Roll Over Poland Again by The Automatics (not to be confused with The Coventry Automatics)

The Members are there, taking things in a ska/dub direction rather than kowtowing to the typical guitar-driven ditty and hang on, is that the short-lived The Europeans that features current Marillion singer Steve Hogarth….another fine example of how to enjoy an evening of ‘where are they now’?

Meanwhile, if you’ve never heard Ed Banger going “kinnel Tommy, what you doing?” it’s going to be your new catchphrase. Along with reviving ‘Gorodn is a moron’.

You’ll have your favourites. They could even match mine – Alberto Y Los Trios Paranoias’ Heads Down No Nonsense Mindless Boogie (I had a 2×7″ release of this); the ex-Sex Pistol Glen Matlock’s Rich Kids (with a pre-Ultravox Midge Ure) and their Ghosts Of Princes In Towers and of course the magnificent Public Image (“Hello, hello, hello…“) that inspired more than a few to sell sanctuary. Not to forget TRB’s Up Against The Wall, the Power In The Darkness album opener and a tremendous fist-pumper.

There’s a hint of slight tongue in cheekiness with the selection on 999’s Emergency and The Vibrators’ Automatic Lover (some may recall guitarist John Ellis graduating into Peter Gabriel’s band in 1980).

With a theme starting to appear, Cherry Red could have set themselves with a winning an infinitely more palatable alternative to Now That’s What I Call Music.

Listen to a dayglo looking Head Down No Nonsense Mindless Boogie here:

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