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It All Started with Pandora
You see, in the late 1970s, when I was in college, I was kind of cool. I listened to punk and new wave. I heard some really seminal bands in San Francisco and Berkeley – the Clash, the English Beat, the Go-Go's, Elvis Costello. The Talking Heads played a free concert in Sproul Plaza. Hearing some of that music on Pandora made me want to rebuild my whole collection. I thought I would have to spend a fortune on iTunes – but the San Mateo County Library came to my rescue.
The Clash's Combat Rock is still their best work. Totally danceable and sweetly swaggering. Entertainment! by Gang of Four is another story. Harsh and judgmental, the music wreaks havoc on your ears. Not for middle-aged people. But X will never leave my playlist. Make the Music Go Bang, a greatest hits compilation, will make you dance like crazy to "Your phone's off the hook (but you're not)," and "Johnny hit-and-run Pauline."
New-Wave and Pop
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts' "I love rock 'n roll" – need I say more? You'll find it along with "Crimson and Clover" on their greatest hits record. I was thrilled to find Martha and the Muffins retrospective Then Again in the collection. Dance to "Echo Beach" with me! Squeeze's Greatest Hits with "Black Coffee in Bed" and "Tempted" are still fun.
Weird and Wonderful
Lene Lovich was pretty obscure, but recorded a wonderful breathy version of "I Think We're Alone Now." It's on The Stiff Years, V. 1 , along with other good stuff. The inimitable B-52s' classic album Party Mix Mesopotamia lets you dance in your own "Private Idaho" one more time! And what listing of oddball 70s rock would be complete without The Talking Heads' Stop Making Sense? Now, which do I love most, "Psycho Killer" or "Burning Down the House"?
And While You're At It
Photo credit: Punk's not dead poster by 小排
Lucinda Abbott is an MLIS candidate at San Jose State University, interning at Atherton Library. She lives in Palo Alto with her husband and two teenage daughters. She really enjoyed embarrassing her 17-year-old by dancing and screaming at Nick Lowe's performance at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass last fall.