234. Sticks and Stones – The 77’s


The 77’s

How great of a band is The 77’s?

Well, how many bands could release a collection of rejects, B-sides, cast-offs, demos and throw-aways and still have it be one of the best album released for that year and one of the best albums of all time? Pretty much only The 77’s.

After the dissolving of Exit Records and the greatest shame in the history of CCM rock music (the Island 77’s not becoming the biggest album at the time), Mike Roe and mates moved to Broken Records, headed by Ojo Taylor of Undercover, released a bunch of demos and rejects and made one of the most enjoyable and listenable albums in their storied career.

It is actually one of the most commercially pleasing and accessible albums Roe has been involved with. Great alternative pop with killer hooks and a ton of memorable songs. In fact, the lead track (MT) made its way onto popular teen television show, Beverly Hills, 90210. But that was not the only hit song from the album.

Christian rock radio jumped all over Nowhere Else and the reworked “This Is the Way Love Is.” But it is the more self-indulgent songs that became long standing concert favorites and true 77’s classics. Perfect Blues had been a long standing live favorite that finally saw the light of day on this album and shows Roe’s mastery of guitar in all styles.

“Don’t, This Way” is one of the most haunting and beautiful songs of Roe’s career and is also one of the best live songs the band performs. Here, it’s Roe’s subtlety as a musician that shines. Just stunning and mesmerizing. God Sends Quails is anything but subtle and shows Roe’s appreciation for the 60’s and 70’s psychedelic blues, jam bands and would even appeal to fans of Glass Harp and Blind Faith.

Utterly brilliant!

  1. paul
    November 24, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    This is my favorite 77’s album of all time. I would put this in my top 10. My favorite song on this one is “This is the way love is” which is funny because when I first heard it in concert a few times before the album came out I didn’t like it so much. I guess it grew on me. A truly fantastic album.

  2. Shawn McLaughlin
    November 24, 2010 at 11:52 pm

    This is probably my favorite 77’s album also. Favorite song: “Nowhere Else”. Just can’t resist a great Mike Roe pop song. The “Hey la las” really get me. Totally Agree that Roe has an affinity to 60’s psych and that is all over “God Sends Quails.” Still can hear that influence in more modern work like the Dog’s “Get Me Ready”.

  3. James
    November 25, 2010 at 12:14 am

    I think “Don’t, This Way,” “You Walked In The Room” and Love Without Dreams” are among the finest songs of Roe’s career, easily on par with “Do It For Love” and “Caught In An Unguarded Moment.”

    The Mark Tootle penned “Nowhere Else” is, as so many have already said a classic as well, and a song that simply should have catapulted this band into stardom in both Christian and Mainstream music circles, but alas, like so many of the great bands and albums on this fine list, it didn’t happen.

    • Kit
      November 29, 2011 at 10:57 pm

      Mike Roe has stated in The 77s forum that Tootle wrote “Don’t, This Way” as well, even though the credits say it’s by The 77s.

  4. Brian
    November 25, 2010 at 1:13 am

    Two of my top four 77’s songs are on this album alone. That is how strong it is.
    Nowhere Else I never tire of playing.
    And This Is The Way Love Is….powerful powerful tunes that I think eminate from the heart of GOD HIMSELF….

    Awesome! Must Own!

  5. Shawn McLaughlin
    November 25, 2010 at 6:14 am

    Oh yeah…..Tootle did write Nowhere Else. My Bad.

  6. Strawshine
    November 29, 2010 at 11:39 pm

    Love “Nowhere Else”, “The Lust…”, and “MT”.

  7. Kit
    November 29, 2011 at 5:36 am

    This is a top 10’er. I don’t know how it ended up in the middle of the list like this. Only thing close to a dud is “The Loop”.

  8. December 12, 2011 at 2:02 am

    Top ten or twenty for me too. I think Perfect Blues and MT and Quails are great songs, and when the mood is right, and its usually right, Nowhere Else, or Don’t This Way or …

  9. harvey_d
    January 30, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    This is one of my faves, too (also top 10 or 20, and likely my favourite of the 77s).

    Anyway, if you don’t have this album, it’s being re-released: http://downthelinezine.com/blog/2012/01/28/the-77s-announce-sticks-and-stone-re-issue-and-unplugged-tour/

  10. October 31, 2012 at 12:37 am

    Got the reissue in June when I had the privilege of hosting Mike Roe and David Leonhardt for their west coast run of the Sticks and Stones tour. I’ll tell you what…..This album might be in my top 5 now. I’d even say that 3 of these tracks are among the top 100 songs EVER written. (Lust…., Don’t, This Way, And This is the Way…….) with You Walked in the Room and Nowhere Else being barely a step below. The other thing about Sticks and Stones is that Mark Tootle casts a VERY long shadow on the project and is essential to the success and quality of the material. The liner notes confess that Tootle wrote a lot of the songs that were credited to the band as a whole. Plus, the fact that he was, very quietly, going through a devastating break-up with his wife gave the material plenty of depth and subtext. The last thing I will say is how much the remaster improved the sound of this. Nowhere is this more evident than the stunning, thematic guitar playing on “Don’t, This Way” where Roe keeps weaving different licks in and out of the arrangement, and the tone really matches the melancholy of the song. Just extraordinarily beautiful.

  11. John Rodermond
    November 21, 2012 at 6:15 am

    Utterly superb.
    This album made me a life-long fan. A definite AYSO. “And the hits just keep on comin’ folks.”

  12. Brent Johnson
    May 10, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    My favorite 77’s, hands down.

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