Jacket Required: An Ode To Blazer Rock
How a deeply uncool garment helped bridge the gap between ‘70s and ‘80s rock.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A Blazer Rock Primer: