Jacket Required: An Ode To Blazer Rock

How a deeply uncool garment helped bridge the gap between ‘70s and ‘80s rock.

The Babys (1977) demonstrate the expert-level “Blazer n’ Bulge” look

What we’ll call “Blazer Rock” was more a sound than a fashion choice, but for a few years in the mid-late ‘70s it looked as if JC Penney had suddenly started offering a bag of blow with every suit coat sold.

Affable and mid-tempo, Blazer Rock was a more refined, contemporary brand of power-pop than its British Invasion-influenced precursors (Big Star, Raspberries), with big studio slickness, lush harmonies, smooth edges, good cheekbones, and mainstream airplay in mind.

The Records,”Starry Eyes” (1979)

Its urbane vibe sometimes flirted with the less-schmaltzy edges of Yacht Rock (Player, 10cc), but in blazer-land the rock always came before the yacht. No pina coladas. No getting caught in the rain. Just straight-up boy/girl pop with major-label sheen and immaculately-feathered hair.

Artful Dodger, “Scream” (1976)

The businesslike attire could also be seen as a nod to Blazer Rock’s workmanlike approach. You weren’t going to get much in the way of musical surprises, but there were still variations on the theme like Shoes’ winsome, soft-focus harmonies and the Babys’ glammy FM pomp.

Shoes, “Too Late” (1979)

Blazer Rock ultimately failed to break into a commercial landscape dominated by AOR titans like Fleetwood Mac and Journey (although Steve Perry was no stranger to blazers himself), but the power-pop at its core would soon provide the foundation for a new wave of commercial rock in the ‘80s with the Cars, the Vapors, the Knack, and their innumerable skinny-tied brethren. With blazers intact.

The Cars follow suit.

A Blazer Rock Primer:

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.