Ping Pong Over the Abyss ~The 77’s | Then and Now
Ping Pong is The 77’s debut effort, released in 1982. The title is said to have come from Allen Ginsberg‘s poem “Howl,” section 3: “I’m with you in Rockland / where you scream in a straight jacket that you’re losing the game of the actual ping pong of the abyss.”
When this album was released in ’82, The 77’s were the new kids on the block to this thing that was being called, “Christian rock”. Not only were they new, they brought with them a new style and sound. It wasn’t a new to the kids they were writing and playing for, but it was very new to a very new “industry”. Because of that, I can’t remember if it was greeted with a ton of acceptance. In fact, I’ll go on a limb and say that it probably wasn’t. However, it was greeted with just enough optimism. Even if it was my own personal optimism, it was enough to keep me and others listening to the band and it’s front man, Michael Roe, for years now.
Since the idea of these music reviews is based on my view of bands and their music, then and now, I believe Ping Pong Over the Abyss is stronger now than it was then. When the album came out in 1982, musically, it seemed all over the map. You have the crazy new wave , “It’s So Sad”, the amazing post-punk, “Falling Down a Hole”, the very listen-able Duran Duran-like, “Renaissance Man”, the hard rock / metal, title track…the list could go on. Every song sounds different, with a different style. As crazy and unfocused as this album is, it just works. Listening to this album now, you find real gems, musically, stylistically and lyrically. Though Ping Pong feels like a compilation of four or five bands, the majority of the songs stand well on their own.
Earlier, I mentioned something about optimism. Despite what the 1982 music critiques thought of the Sevens at the time, Ping Pong Over the Abyss pointed to the possibilities and the future. At the time, bands like, Resurrection Band and Petra were defining what “Christian rock” was. And there was nothing wrong with that. The Sevens and their Exit Records label cohorts (Steve Scott, Vector, Charlie Peacock) were broadening what that definition could be. Michael Roe and the 77’s would later prove to be a significant influence on Kevin Max (DC Talk, Audio Adrenaline) and many others.
Ping Pong Over the Abyss ~The 77’s
Genres: Hard Rock, Post-punk, New Wave, Rock
Line Up: Mike Roe – guitars and lead vocals | Mark Tootle – keyboards, guitars and vocals | Jan Eric – bass guitars and background vocals | Mark Proctor – drums and vocals
Produced By: Steven Soles
Purchase On: iTunes / Amazon