Pink Floyd. The Rolling Stones. Miles Davis. The Ramones. Stevie Wonder. Neil Young. The Who. Genesis. All of these artists fell prey to one of the most unfortunate musical phenomena of the past 30 years – the 1978 Rule.
The 1978 Rule simply states that any band who was popular before 1978 sucked in the 80s. There are a couple simple rules for this :
1) Solo artists must be considered separate from their groups. So, while Peter Gabriel may have rocked in the 80s, Genesis still sucked in the 80s, and thus the 1978 rule applies.
2) Proportionality. If a band had a hit or two before 1978, but then became mega-stars in the 80s, I would consider them to be 80s artists, and thus the 78 rule wouldn’t apply.
The reasons for this rule are manifold. The late 70s were a time of great change for popular music. Disco became an evolutionary dead-end. Prog rock fell out of fashion. Punk came about and knocked everyone on their asses. Most significantly, bands had far more technology to work with, both in terms of instrumentation (think synthesizers) and production techniques. Unfortunately, many felt the need to graft these new techniques and elements onto their existing styles, and the result was epic FAIL.
Also, by the time that 1978 rolled around, many artists were just flat burnt-out from doing too many goddamn drugs.
In any case, this isn’t just a theory that I came up with at the spur of the moment because I had to make a deadline. (Yes, really.) The 1978 theory is time-tested. I’ve brought it up in bars, blogs, and casual conversation for years. The result? Relatively few exceptions. Most of them were solo artists. I shall list them here:
Brian Eno, Bruce Springsteen, Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon, David Bowie, and possibly Bob Dylan
Only two bands thus far have been suggested, and on both of them I have my doubts :
Kraftwerk (one great album in ’81, one bad one in ’86) and Rush (a number of people have suggested this, but never having been a Rush fan, I cannot verify).
And so I turn the question over to you – can you think of any bands or artists who bucked the 1978 rule?