1977 The Year of the Single – Sounds Magazine.
by Pete Clemons
What a coincidence. As 2017 draws to an end I had been rooting through a box and came across a fascinating article produced by Sounds music magazine from December 1977.
The article’s title was called 1977 the year of the single. And it attempted to document just what had happened during that year in terms of seven inch (or 12 inch) record sales.
As far as the music scene went it was quite a year. We had lost both Elvis Presley, Marc Bolan along with the heart of US rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd. It was also the year David Bowie dueted with Bing Crosby with the song Peace on Earth.
Top selling singles from 1977 included Wings with ‘Mull of Kintyre’, David Soul and ‘Don’t Give Up on Us’, ‘Hotel California’ by The Eagles, Boney M, ‘Ma Baker’ and ‘Knowing Me Knowing You’ by Abba. While top albums included ‘Rumours’ by Fleetwood Mac, ‘Bat out of Hell’ by Meatloaf, Steely Dan ‘Aja’, ‘Animals’ Pink Floyd and ‘Exodus’ by Bob Marley. And well over one hundred million vinyl sales were recorded that year in the UK alone.
Other key events in UK music that year saw The Clash, The Jam, The Stranglers, The Damned all release their debut albums. The Sex Pistols, who also released their one and only album during 1977, were twice released from record contracts as both the EMI and A+M record labels both sacked the band.
But away for the headlines, underneath all that, something seemed to explode and it was as though everyone wanted to put a band together and create music or even go as far as to produce it all for themselves. Classic records just tumbled out week after week. It truly was exciting times.
And it wasn’t just the quality of the song. It was the depth and breadth of the music being played. You had disco, rock, reggae, electronic and of course you had punk rock.
In case they are not clear I have reproduced some of the words from the Sounds article below. With the singles in their list, I felt that they certainly captured the mood well:
The year of the single? You’re not kidding. Last year, when the idea of a top twenty singles was broached, only a couple of the Sounds staff were remotely interested. Now they’re so hot on the idea of seven (or twelve – this year also being the year of overstatement) inches of black, purple, sky blue pink or whatever vinyl, that they’ve come up with a list of a hundred of the little bleeders.
And the article concluded:……….
And of course, the article continued, there must be another two or three hundred that probably deserved to have had their picture in here too.
Hopefully the pictures and the scans I have taken of the article reproduce ok and tell the story. It did seem as though Sounds magazine, at that time, was all about the album.
But 40 years on!. It all seems so long ago, and it is. But then sometimes, when you hear some of these songs – it isn’t. As, still today, a lot of these great tunes are still greatly revered.