309. Ping Pong Over the Abyss – The 77’s
PING PONG OVER THE ABYSS (1983)
While working at a small christian bookstore in the early 80’s I would eagerly anticipate a monthly release from a “New Release” sampling company called Sonlight. they would send out demo sample of upcoming releases for customers to preview before purchasing the latest music. One tape was labeled “Scratch Band.” I listened to it over and over and over. It took forever for the album to be released and when is finally did hit the shelves the band had changed its name.
Immediately labeled as some new “punk” band the truth couldn’t have been any further from the truth. With songs having more in common with post punk new wave and Americana, blues rock and roll, The 77’s were really a rock band. Just a rock band!
The first track was closer to Tom Petty and the Cars musically and lyrically was much more bold than they were ever given credit for. Mike Roe’s penchant for dealing with world philosophies started earlier and remained a common theme for the following years. Though here it is a Steve Scott song that displays that worldview.
It should be noted here that this is truly the most “band” oriented release with all members taking songwriting credits and Roe only composing four of the numbers. The first Roe song is “How Can You Love,” a straight rocker followed by “It’s Sad,” a unique keyboard driven “new wave” song that became a controversial and amazing live song.
The original version of “Someone New” appears here and will be remade on their follow up, “All Fall Down.” The title track is the heaviest rocker on the album and hints at future Roe guitar work. Progressive, loud and driving, this song remained a concert favorite for years and the highlight from the album.
the album closes with a cover of “Denomination Blues,” a classic song covered countless times. This version is mellower than one might expect but also shows Roe’s vocal prowess. It also hints at a Byrds-like style that would show up again throughout the years, marking the diversity of the band.
This will by no means be the last of the 77’s on this list and Roe’s name, which has been mentioned several times in the past, will be mentioned even more often as the list continues.