Day 2 of 1974 on My 1000 Favorite Albums List

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Wow! What a week! I’m getting too old for this shit (my apologies to Lethal Weapon). Either we’ve had one of the grandchildren at our house or I was taking care of my step-father who is now suffering dementia. So, I haven’t had time to really listen to music or write. And, today, I’m just plain exhausted.

Yet, today, I am digging deep to finish off my second entry of albums from 1974 that I have on this act of stupidity that I call my 1000 favorite albums of all-time. So, let’s get on with it!

6.23 Neil Young - On the Beach

Neil Young – On the Beach (1974). After the death of Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten, Young went on a two-album-and-a-tour bender purging the demons of that death much to the chagrin to his record company. This album is as ragged as the previous two albeit with a survivor’s mentality. This is the prime period in which Young made his reputation as a songwriter and rocker.

6.23 Queen - Sheer Heart Attack

Queen – Sheer Heart Attack (1974). Here’s the album in which Queen finally began to grow into their ambitions. Throughout the album, you hear the band following the muse of their own individual whimsy. Drummer Roger Taylor is the rocker, bassist John Deacon is the pop/R&B lover, guitarist Brian May is the lover of art rock based in the English experience and singer/band focal point is the master of camp. And all of this becomes an unlikely concoction of rock bliss that would dominate music for the next decade.

6.23 Randy Newman - Good Old Boys

Randy Newman – Good Old Boys (1974). Newman has made a career out of walking that thin line between brilliant satire and outright cruelty. And, those for those people who take everything at face value, Newman is a pariah. Yet, there are those of us who love his take on bigotry. What is amazing is that our country has not moved beyond his canny take on the stupidity of racism, as we have witnessed over the past month or so of Black Lives Matter demonstrations throughout the country and world.

6.23 Raspberries - Starting Over

Raspberries – Starting Over (1974). After the departure of half the band, the Raspberries reconvened with an aptly titled fourth album by toughening their sound with an emphasis on The Who influences. While the whole album is killer power pop, which set the stage for the genres late-Seventies resurgence behind Cheap Trick and The Knack, the stand out song is the immortal rock & roll dreams stated in “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record).”

6.23 Roxy Music - Country Life

Roxy Music – Country Life (1974). This album is something of a transition album for Roxy Music, as they continue to record their artier version of Glam Rock and transition to that elegant pop/rock which will soon become their staple at the turn of the decade. It’s not much of a batch of singles but a coherent album statement.

6.23 Shuggie Otis - Inspiration Information

Shuggie Otis – Inspiration Information (1974). You may be wondering who this artist is, and rightfully so. This man was criminally overlooked back in the Seventies. He made social and racial statements that were every bit as strong as Marvin or Curtis, but, today, his music actually sounds contemporary. Artists in the Nineties were singing the praises of the man as they discovered him. Oh, and the Brothers Johnson had a major hit with Otis’ “Strawberry Letter 23,” even though his original version easily outdistances that great cover.

6.23 Stevie Wonder - Fulfillingness' First Finale

Stevie Wonder – Fulfillingness’ First Finale (1974). Much like Marvin Gaye, Wonder followed up his socially/racially motivated previous album with one taking on relationships. But, instead of fulling Marvin’s lead into the sexual, Wonder takes on the heart. “You Haven’t Done Nothin'” and “Boogie on Reggae Woman” are the hits here.

6.23 The Doobie Brothers - What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits

The Doobie Brothers – What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits (1974). I know! There’s probably better albums from The Doobies that were released earlier, but I still love this album! I dig the diversity of the songs, ranging from the huge hit “Black Water” to the laidback, nearly Chicago take on “Another Park, Another Sunday.” Plus, the use of the Memphis Horns was a great touch by the band.

6.23 The Meters - Rejuvenation

The Meters – Rejuvenation (1974). The Rolling Stones always had a way of bringing great black artists to the forefront whenever they toured. This time, the band shown the light upon one of rock’s more overlooked funk bands out of New Orleans called The Meters. There’s much to compare The Meters to being a Seventies musical equivalent of today’s The Roots. In both cases, these guys could play anything and that ability made them able to transcend genres in being a terrific band. Go listen to this album to hear what Mardi Gras should actually sound like.

6.23 Tom Waits - The Heart of Saturday Night

Tom Waits – The Heart of Saturday Night (1974). Tom Waits brilliance only comes through upon multiple listenings. There is an understated beauty to his tales of the losers that cross through the bars on the wrong side of the street. His music is impeccable and only enhances the loneliness of the many characters which inhabit his songs.

6.23 Van Morrison - It's Too Late to Stop Now

Van Morrison – It’s Too Late to Stop Now… (1974). Legend has it that Van Morrison is a temperamental live performer. You wouldn’t know by his passionate performance on this brilliant double album. He and his band run through scorching versions of many of his best-known songs. This album remains one of my favorite live albums of all time.

6.23 Van Morrison - Veedon Fleece

Van Morrison – Veedon Fleece (1974). This album marks the end of Morrison’s most innovative and creative period of his career. Still, he ended it on a high note. Unfortunately, this album lacks a big hit single that marked his previous albums. But, much like the album that kicked off this chapter, 1968’s Astral Weeks, Veedon Fleece is the sound of an artist working through his demons, specifically the sudden divorce from his wife.

And, that, my friends, wraps up my version of 1974. Have a stellar weekend! Peace!

It’s Time for Day 1 of 1974 on My 1000 Favorite Albums List

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Wow! 1974. That was the year I discovered American Top 40. It was the year I got to play basketball on my first school team. I also ran track for the first time, though that was a mixed beginning to a decent career. Perhaps the best part of the year was getting to play basketball for my dad, the former high school basketball coach and my hero. We had two separate basketball teams at our school, but they weren’t “A” and “B” teams. Dad coached the other team but had me and a couple other guys from the other team play on his team in the second half. He would turn the three of us loose at the beginning of the third quarter, pressing the other team full court. The three of us would have a blast getting to do that for the only time in our careers. I wish to this day that Dad had never given up being a coach to become a principal because I wanted to play for him. For a guy who only coached varsity basketball for two seasons, he sure cast a long shadow upon my school’s program for a very long time.

As far as music was concerned, I was still pretty much a singles guy though I was getting my feet wet with albums. Yet, there were a plethora of great albums from 1974. So, let’s get going with this list.

6.23 Bad Company - Bad Company

Bad Company – Bad Company (1974). Yet another supergroup that was assembled from former members of Free, Mott the Hoople and King Crimson to create one of the great blues-based rock bands of all-time. Led by vocalist extraordinaire Paul Rodgers, Bad Company set the tone for the sound of mid-Seventies rock with hits such as “Can’t Get Enough,” “Ready for Love” and “Bad Company.”

6.23 Barry White - Can't Get Enough

Barry White – Can’t Get Enough (1974). I feel Barry White has long been overlooked as a musical genius. The man produced some of the most sophisticated and lush soul music of the era, much of it influencing the whole genre of disco. In addition to his production work, his voice is the most distinctive attribute of his sound, with that patented bass pillow talk-slash-singing voice of his that melted many a woman. His greatest song, “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe” is here, but, for some reason, I have always loved “You’re My First, My Last, My Everything.”

6.23 Big Star - Radio City

Big Star – Radio City (1974). Criminally, Big Star’s debut album was a commercial failure, so co-leader Chris Bell left the band and along with him went the most heartfelt and achingly beautiful songs from the first album. Now, with Alex Chilton left unchecked, the harder edged side of the band was now dominant. And, once again, Big Star responded that sounds much more like the power pop of the Nineties than that of the Seventies. Of course, much like The Velvet Underground before them, Big Star was a commercial failure but influenced some many huge artists of the Eighties and Nineties.

6.23 Bob Marley & the Wailers - Natty Dread

Bob Marley & the Wailers – Natty Dread (1974). Many critics feel this album represents the pinnacle of Marley’s illustrious career. I don’t know. I feel like it becomes a matter of splitting hairs with this man’s legacy. All I know is that this album contains “No Woman, No Cry,” one of the man’s greatest songs. So, maybe it IS his best album?

6.23 Bob Marley & the Wailers - Rasta Revolution

Bob Marley & the Wailers – Rasta Revolution (1974). Four albums in two years? And they are all classics? Marley was the man! I still cannot believe he died at such a young age, yet his popularity continues to grow. Oh, this album is outstanding and contains the terrific “Soul Rebel.”

6.23 Eric Clapton - 461 Ocean Boulevard

Eric Clapton – 461 Ocean Boulevard (1974). Clapton is a rock survivor. He’s created some of the greatest blues-based rock music while maintaining his status as a guitar god. How does a man not get screwed up after experiencing creative and commercial highs with his bands Cream, Blind Faith, Derek & the Dominos, in addition to his impeccable guitar work with the likes of The Beatles and George Harrison, to name a few. So, he took a break, got clean, got influenced by the laidback blues music of J.J. Cale and created this beautiful album.

6.23 Gil Scott Heron - Winter in America

Gil Scott-Heron – Winter in America (1974). Thank you Saturday Night Live episode with Richard Pryor as the host because that was my introduction to the music of Gil Scott-Heron. At the time, I really didn’t know what to make of it, this mixture of R&B, semi-spoken word and jazz mix. But, now, with hindsight being 20/20, I recognize the foundation of hip hop being laid by this brilliant man with an endless fountain of social commentary he set to music with the aid of Brian Jackson.

6.23 Gram Parsons - Grievous Angel

Gram Parsons – Grievous Angel (1974). One of the godfathers of country rock who is perhaps invented the genre with The International Submarine Band, changed the course of The Byrds in 1968, influenced The Stones with a touch of country by co-writing “Wild Horses,” founded The Flying Burrito Brothers and then recorded this album (and one other) before overdosing on drugs. This album is considered to be something of the Rosetta Stone for the whole Nineties alt-country and today’s Americana movement. Oh, did I mention that he introduced us to Emmylou Harris as his duet partner on this album? The man covered a lot of ground in his short life.

6.23 Joni Mitchell - Court and Spark

Joni Mitchell – Court and Spark (1974). On Court and Spark, Mitchell began to add flourishes of jazz to her folk-based sound that only expanded her musical palette. Now, her songs were becoming more esoteric and wistful. And, no one can forget her hit song “Help Me.”

6.23 Kraftwerk - Autobahn

Kraftwerk – Autobahn (1974). Seriously! Who in their right minds makes a rock album with only synthesizers based upon the “sounds” of the original national highway system? Either these Germans were crazy or geniuses. I tend to go with the latter. Think about it. They were so far ahead of the curve, that the whole rave thing has come and gone and now Electronic Dance Music (EDM) is all the rage, and they all sing the praises of this band. Not to mention their influence on mid-Eighties hip hop, synthpop and just the fascination of all things electronic in music in their aftermath.

6.23 Labelle - Nightbirds

Labelle – Nightbirds (1974). These women were like something from the Parliament/Funkadelic wardrobe, you know, a space/funk look. But, man, could they ever sing. The cool part was this trio, made up of Patti Labelle, Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash, had their individual looks and styles, but when they came together, they absolutely rocked! “Lady Marmalade” is all I need to say.

6.23 Linda Ronstadt - Heart Like a Wheel

Linda Ronstadt – Heart like a Wheel (1974). Linda Ronstadt was my first celebrity crush. And, not just for her looks. That voice of hers still sounds like what angels in heaven will all sound. Her canny choice of material has always what has separated her from the pack. Her voice is soulful and tough yet tender and vulnerable. “You’re No Good” sucked me in, but “When Will I Be Loved” made me stay.

6.23 Lynyrd Skynyrd - Second Helping

Lynyrd Skynyrd – Second Helping (1974). Skynyrd did not suffer a sophomore jinx on this album at all. Instead, they upped the ante with classics like “Sweet Home Alabama,” in which the band tears Neil Young a new one for what he sang in his scathing “Southern Man.” And, both parties loved each other’s songs. That would never happen today. Oh, did I mention that this album also has Skynyrd standards “Call Me the Breeze,” “Workin’ for the MCA” and the immortal “The Ballad of Curtis Loew.”

And that’s just the first half! Wait ’til you see what’s coming next time. Peace!

The Year 1973 in My 1000 Favorite Albums

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Oh boy! Am I ever becoming the music connoisseur by the age of ten. Not really, because if I’m honest, I was actually a big fan of “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree” and “Shambala” as much as “No More Mister Nice Guy” and “Long Train Running.” Still, I did begin to slow become a better judge of good music as opposed to bad music, regardless of these discrepancies.

Since I am still battling these persistent back spasms, I have a little more time to write today than I normally would. Plus, I’m in a little groove with my other musical obsession, Tom Petty, playing in the background.

So, let’s get this 1973 bus rolling!

6.21 Al Green - I'm Still in Love with You

Al Green – I’m Still in Love with You (1973). Yet another terrific set of steamy soul songs, a few of them covers. I remember a grade school friend’s teenage sister, who we all thought was hot, playing this 8-track tape. If she liked it, as my pre-hormonal thought process went, it had to be good. And, it is!

6.21 Alice Cooper - Billion Dollar Babies

Alice Cooper – Billion Dollar Babies (1973). This is the first album I ever bought with my own money. Good choice? No! Great choice!!! This album continues the band’s winning formula of shocking stage shows and lyrics, budding hard rock and a high dose of teenage pandering. Kiss and every hair metal band after Van Halen must pay homage to Alice Cooper for their success.

6.21 Bob Marley & the Wailers - Burnin'

Bob Marley & the Wailers – Burnin’ (1973). Wanna know where Eric Clapton discovered “I Shot the Sheriff”? Look no further! As you will soon discover, Clapton’s version is lame in comparison to Marley’s original. Not only that, but this album contains the immortal “Get Up, Stand Up.” So, what else do you need in order to realize reggae is a great genre?

6.21 Bob Marley & the Wailers - Catch a Fire

Bob Marley & the Wailers – Catch a Fire (1973). Here is Marley’s major label debut, and it is a classic! Johnny Nash brought the song to the masses, but Marley’s original version of “Stir It Up” is dripping with sex. Plus, the rest of the album introduced reggae to the mainstream rock audience. This one was the first of two landmark albums in 1973 for Marley & the Wailers.

6.21 Brian Eno - Here Come the Warm Jets

Brian Eno – Here Come the Warm Jets (1973). Eno, the self-described noise manipulator for the band Roxy Music, struck out on his own for the innovative take on Glam Rock. This album set the stage for his great run of albums in the Seventies that influenced punk, new wave and hip hop. Additionally, we get to hear his production work that would become so vital for artists like Talking Heads, U2 and Coldplay, among many others.

6.21 Bruce Springsteen - The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle

Bruce Springsteen – The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle (1973). Dave Marsh once described Side Two of this album like a typical weekend for a working class hero, and that has always stuck with me. Two more mellow songs, representing the Friday workday and the Sunday day off, sandwich the wild Saturday blowout of “Rosalita” in the middle. And nothing better described that album. This is when Springsteen began to sprout into The Boss.

6.21 David Bowie - Aladdin Sane

David Bowie – Aladdin Sane (1973). As the title cryptically implies, Bowie is working out some demons on this album with some slightly bizarre music within the Glam Rock context set forth by his work on Ziggy Stardust. This is a terrific set, even though it lacks the big single like its predecessor or the albums that will follow.

6.21 Led Zeppelin - Houses of the Holy

Led Zeppelin – Houses of the Holy (1973). Led Zep pretty much follows the same game plan they followed on Zeppelin IV only their playing seems a little looser and freer. This album might just be their most consistent and satisfying statement in their illustrious catalog.

6.21 Lynyrd Skynyrd - Pronounced

Lynyrd Skynyrd – (pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd) (1973). This is Southern Rock in all its glory and warts. Unlike the present day version of this band, the Ronnie Van Zandt-led version was lyrically grappling with what it was like to be an American from the former Confederacy. Outside of “Sweet Home Alabama,” all of the band’s big concert songs are found on their debut album, from “Freebird” and “Simple Man” to “Tuesday’s Gone” and “Gimme Three Steps.” It remains a great album today that influenced a huge run on Southern Rock artists in the Seventies up through today in bands like the Drive-By Truckers and North Mississippi Allstars.

6.21 Marvin Gaye - Let's Get It On

Marvin Gaye – Let’s Get It On (1973). So, how did Gaye choose to followup his greatest musical statement? With an album written as an ode to sex. And, if you don’t think about the muse of this album, it stands as one terrific song for physical love. However, the story behind the album would never fly today during the #MeToo movement. I tend to block that story out of my head when revisiting this album, as I do for all Michael Jackson LPs.

6.21 New York Dolls - New York Dolls

New York Dolls – New York Dolls (1973). While Detroit’s Stooges nudged the door open on a thing soon to be called punk rock, NYC’s New York Dolls brought an art school mentality to the sound as they did a Warholian thing by cross dressing onstage. Between the two bands, along with a pinch of political awareness from MC5, they set the parameters of punk. If the band could have only held it together long enough to become as heralded as The Stooges and MC5.

6.21 Paul McCartney & Wings - Band on the Run

Paul McCartney & Wings – Band on the Run (1973). McCartney fans argue all the time as to which of his albums are the greatest. Personally, I love to read their posts on the subject. Some enjoy the obscure latter day albums, while others push the big sellers. Me? I go with this album. Why? The title song! It remains a romanticized yet magical song of the power of a rock band that I want to buy into.

6.21 Paul Simon - There Goes Rhymin' Simon

Paul Simon – There Goes Rhymin’ Simon (1973). Once again, Simon shows what a musical force of nature he was becoming as he continues to dip into musical styles from outside of the typical rock world. “Kodachrome” and “Loves Me like a Rock” are classics that we would play on our high school radio station in the early Eighties as a sing-along bit. And, we were NOT being ironic!

6.21 Stevie Wonder - Innervisions

Stevie Wonder – Innervisions (1973). Now, Wonder is hitting his full creative stride on Innervisions. All I need to say are “Living for the City,” “Higher Ground” and “He’s Misstra Know It All.” Classic.

6.21 The Isley Brothers - 3 + 3

The Isley Brothers – 3 + 3 (1973). Yes, The Isley Brothers were a terrific band from the late-Fifties through the early-Sixties, but this is the album when they turned a creative corner and became true rock immortals. The album comes from the band expanding from the three original brothers to six with two younger brothers and a cousin joining the lineup. Most importantly, younger brother Ernie added his Hendrix-influenced guitar playing to the funk, making them a more commercial version of Funkadelic. “That Lay, Parts 1 & 2” remains a landmark song, and their version of Seals & Crofts’ Yacht Rock classic of “Summer Breeze” is a sensual innovative take.

6.21 The Stooges - Raw Power

The Stooges – Raw Power (1973). For all the praises worthily heaped upon the band’s first two albums, this is the one where the whole rage and rawness came to a head and burst its influence all over rock’s budding punk scene. Of course, you will find Bowie’s fingerprints on the creation of this classic. “Search and Destroy” remains a punk classic.

6.21 The Who - Quadrophenia

The Who – Quadrophenia (1973). While Who’s Next is rightfully praised as The Who’s creative peak and Tommy is considered the granddaddy of all rock operas, I actually prefer this ode to the band members’ Mod days. The story line is so much better, and the songs are terrific. I simply find this album as the most satisfying Who adventures ever.

6.21 ZZ Top - Tres Hombres

ZZ Top – Tres Hombres (1973). This is the album that kicked off ZZ Top’s career. But, never lump these Texans in the Southern Rock category. They are way more blues rock than Southern Rock, just like The Allmans. To me, any album that has an original like “La Grange” is going to be a classic in my book.

And that folks, wraps up 1973 in my list. Peace!

My 1000 Favorite Albums of All-Time: 1972, Part 3

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I gotta be honest. It’s been a rough past couple of days, and today’s not starting off great either. I’ve been experiencing horrible lower back spasms that extend down into my buttocks and even my legs. Now, I have the spasms every day, but they normally don’t knock me down. Unfortunately, there is no rhyme or reason to them as far as severity. They could be aggravated by a sudden movement, sleeping wrong, excessive heat, even back massages have aggravated them. For some reason, even though my spine is supposedly structurally sound, my back muscles will not quit attempting to keep my spine straight. I’ve tried every muscle relaxer and treatment possible, and still I get no relief. Seriously, what can you say about a guy’s back who got Botox injections into the trigger points of those spasms in an effort to relax the spots that lead to the spasms only to suffer WORSE spasms that before? And, the same results happened with trigger point injections of steroids, painkillers and other muscle relaxers.

So, I apologize ahead of time if my entries are not as insightful, if they ever have been, as before. I’m simply hoping for clarity and coherence while writing today. So, buckle up! This could be a roller coaster ride of a read. This is rock blogging on muscle relaxers. At least keyboards don’t trail off as handwriting can.

6.18 Slade - Slayed

Slade – Slayed? (1972). Yet another entry from the UK Glam scene, Slade was the next step in the development of the American scene in NYC with Kiss and the New York Dolls arriving shortly afterwards. Slade never really made a dent here in the States until their early-Eighties resurrection thanks to Quiet Riot’s remake of their “Cum on Feel the Noize.” This album is stuffed full of stuff that the Hollywood Strip Hair Metal bands would cover, especially “Mama Weer All Crazee Now.” Don’t let the phonetic spellings of their titles fool you, this is a great band with their best album.

6.18 Steely Dan - Can't Buy a Thrill

Steely Dan – Can’t Buy a Thrill (1972). Steely Dan’s main songwriting duo, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, are two meticulous studio craftsmen who showed this tendency on their debut album. You can hear the precise arrangements, the impeccable playing and the complex influences of jazz, rock and R&B being melded into a completely new sound. “Do It Again” and “Dirty Work” are terrific songs, but we ALL know the guitar riff to “Reelin’ in the Years,” one of the all-time great riffs of rock music.

6.18 Stevie Wonder - Talking Book

Stevie Wonder – Talking Book (1972). This album begins the maturation of Stevie Wonder into the musical genius he had been touted since his debut album. But, now, Stevie was ready to speak his mind about social issues just like Marvin Gaye. The man wrote and recorded “Superstition” and “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” before opening for The Rolling Stones on their American tour. And, as great as this album is, the best is yet to come.

6.18 The Allman Brothers Band - Eat a Peach

The Allman Brothers Band – Eat a Peach (1972). This album did not begin this way, but it ended up being a loving tribute to the recently departed guitarist Duane Allman. You can hear his greatness on the tracks he recorded before his untimely death, in addition to the live cuts that were added, such as the 33-minute jam “Mountain Jam.” You can hear the beginnings of the more mellow leanings the band would take as Dickey Betts began to assert himself in a leadership role with the exquisite “Melissa.”

6.16 The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - Will the Circle Be Unbroken

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – Will the Circle Be Unbroken (1972). The teaming of a group of Southern California long-hairs and old time real country music pickers might appear a clash of cultures on paper. But, this amalgamation worked because all involved knew what was in the hearts of each other. This just might be the finest country rock album of them all, as the band and players blast through many of the standards those originals wrote. And, the Dirt Band’s originals fit the mood perfectly. This may be the first time when both country and rock purists were commercially satisfied with the outcome.

6.19 The O'Jays - Back Stabbers

The O’Jays – Back Stabbers (1972). This album represents the moment when The O’Jays went from soul and R&B journeymen to Rock & Roll Hall of Famers. The trio asserted their mastery of Seventies soul with keen observations of the society around them. Of course, the title song is immortal. Although their brilliantly positive anthem “Love Train” has been reduced to a beer commercial song, the song remains a landmark song, no matter how many Silver Bullets (and not Bob Seger’s, either) it may have sold.

6.18 The Rolling Stones - Exile on Main St

The Rolling Stones – Exile on Main Street (1972). The recording of this album is legendary for its debauchery and excess. And, The Stones have never got in the way of a good story to aid their lore. And, this album is terrific, although I tend to believe this album is more appreciated for the stories associated with its creation than the actual music, how ever good it is. And, it is excellent. But, I still prefer Sticky Fingers.

6.19 Todd Rundgren - Something Anything

Todd Rundgren – Something/Anything? (1972). The Renaissance man of rock music unleashed this monster double album on an unsuspecting population and garnered the biggest commercial windfall of his career for his solo work. Then, he backed away for a more artistically fulfilling career. Still, this album remains a testament to the depth and breadth of his talent as a singer/songwriter/producer/musician. “I Saw the Light,” “It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference,” “Couldn’t I Just Tell You,” and “Hello It’s Me” are all on here.

6.18 Van Morrison - Saint Dominic's Preview

Van Morrison – Saint Dominic’s Preview (1972). Not exactly album held together by a theme as his previous albums all were, Saint Dominic’s Preview remains a joyous celebration of life through Morrison’s unique blend of rock, R&B and Celtic mysticism. The highlight happens to be my favorite Van Morrison song of all time, “Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven When You Smile).”

6.18 Various - Nuggets Volume 1

Various Artists – Nuggets: Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era 1965-1968 (1972). Future Patti Smith guitarist and at the time rock critic Lenny Kaye put this compilation together, and the album ended up becoming ground zero for the whole punk/new wave movement of the Seventies. The original double album set contained hits by forgotten American garage bands like the Electric Prunes (“I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night”), The Standells (“Dirty Water”) and The Count Five (“Psychotic Reaction”), but unfortunate misses by the likes of The Chocolate Watchband (“Let’s Talk About Girls”) and Mouse (“A Public Execution”). This album spawned five essential four-CD box sets during the Nineties and the Aughts.

6.18 War - The World Is a Ghetto

War – The World Is a Ghetto (1972). War still has not gotten its due as one of the greatest funk/rock bands of all time. This multi-racial band set the standard for musicianship and social commentary that ranks up there with the works of Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Sly & the Family Stone, Parliament/Funkadelic and Curtis Mayfield. This is sophisticated work by musicians at their creative peak. The title song and “The Cisco Kid” were the big hits here.

Next time, we are on to 1973!

My 1000 Favorite Albums of All-Time: 1972, Part 2

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Let’s see, what do I remember about 1972? First, I was petrified at the thought of calling a girl I liked on the phone. Second, I probably had more in common with a basketball than anything else on the planet. Third, my third grade teacher became the first non-family member to encourage me to write more, although I really didn’t take her advise. Fourth, I discover just how hard a person’s head could be when another friend broke his front tooth on the head of another friend as we played basketball. The highlight of the whole episode was seeing the remnant tooth still implanted in the guy’s head. You know, exciting times for a nine-year-old.

And, for some odd reason, I became obsessed with the whole Watergate break-in. That fascination has remained a life-long thing. I’ve always been kind of odd. Enough of that! Let’s do the music.

6.16 Jimmy Cliff - The Harder They Come

Jimmy Cliff – The Harder They Come (1972). Everyone should have a reggae phase during their lives. Honestly, there’s no better music to listen to around water on a warm day. Of course, you have to start your reggae journey with this album that has more than only Jimmy Cliff on the album. But, those three Cliff songs are immortal. Throw in some Toots & the Maytals, and you have the basis of a beautiful introduction into the world of reggae. From there, branch out to Bob Marley, Johnny Nash, Peter Tosh, Burning Spear, Black Uhuru, and the rest. And Jimmy Cliff’s “Many Rivers to Cross” is exquisite.

6.16 Lou Reed - Transformer

Lou Reed – Transformer (1972). Lou Reed left behind The Velvet Underground and got some production help from buddy David Bowie to stake his claim not only as a major player in glam rock or as a godfather of the upcoming punk movement, but as an important rock icon. Bowie tempered Reed’s gritty tales of the NYC underbelly without loosing Lou’s journalistic point-of-view. This classic album will always be best remembered for the terrific “Walk on the Wild Side.”

6.16 Marvin Gaye - What's Going On

Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On (1972). Along with Stevie Wonder and The Temptations, Marvin Gaye has got to be the most important Motown artist of the early-Seventies. This album remains the man’s creative peak, with tales of anguish of inner city life (“Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)”), the environment (“Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology)”) and the disparity in the deaths of poor black men, both at home and in Vietnam (the pleading title song). No other Motown album dealt with black issues like this one did. This album should remain required listening for race relations. It is especially poignant during these days of Black Lives Matter.

6.16 Mott the Hoople - All the Young Dudes

Mott the Hoople – All the Young Dudes (1972). Once again, David Bowie played a major role in the success of this great British band, giving them a glam overhaul and helping the band focus their energies. Plus, no one will ever forget the title song, a nice little gift from Ziggy Stardust himself.

6.16 Neil Young - Harvest

Neil Young – Harvest (1972). Perhaps, this album remains something of a commercial albatross around the necks of critics more than Neil Young himself. This country rock sounding album remains Young’s only number one album, and there are so many great songs on it. And as fantastic as this album is, it only gives the average listener a small glimpse in the depth of the man’s talent. “Heart of Gold” was the hit, but “The Needle and the Damage Done” is the emotional heart of the album.

6.16 Nick Drake - Pink Moon

Nick Drake – Pink Moon (1972). This is the Drake album upon which his reputation is hung. And, it is his bleakest album, yet still achingly beautiful. Unfortunately, it was his last album as he would die from a drug-overdose in 1974. He never really experienced any commercial success in his lifetime, but his reputation as an artist continues to rise. The title song was even used in a car commercial a few years back.

6.16 Paul McCartney - Ram

Paul McCartney/Linda McCartney – Ram (1972). Beatles fans were awaiting major artistic statements from the first solo albums from the formerly Fab Four. And, they got them from John Lennon (John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band) and George Harrison (All Things Must Pass). But, McCartney was just McCartney on his debut, McCartney. So, what did Paul do for a follow-up? He teamed up with his beloved wife Linda and created another batch of “silly love songs.” But, these were very charming songs, including the Beatles-like pastiche of Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey.”

6.16 Paul Simon - Paul Simon

Paul Simon – Paul Simon (1972). If you were wondering why Simon & Garfunkel broke up, from a musical standpoint, Simon’s first solo album proved it. The man wanted to dive into different styles. After the glorious “Bridge over Troubled Water,” Simon showed his playfulness on “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard.” The theme of death is tackled throughout this album, no matter how Simon dresses up the music. Still, Paul did record a brilliant hit song with “Mother and Child Reunion.”

6.16 Pink Floyd - The Dark Side of the Moon

Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon (1972). What can I say about this album that hasn’t been said before? Simply put, it remains a cultural milestone that truly defies its place in musical history. This album is the vision that you’d think Sgt. Pepper would have. This is the granddaddy of all classic rock albums, and much more.

6.16 Randy Newman - Sail Away

Randy Newman – Sail Away (1972). This album just might be Newman’s best. The sarcasm is slightly toned down, but the lyrical impact is still there. It is simply beautiful in its execution. And, there is enough sly winks to keep me coming back. The satire is thick, though. Newman has described the title song as a commercial jingle for slave owners to recruit potential (naive) Africans. “Political Science” is, well, a cynical lesson in political science. And, Newman’s original take on “You Can Leave Your Hat On” is more hilarious when compared to Joe Cocker’s earnest take on the song.

6.18 Raspberries - Raspberries

Raspberries – Raspberries (1972). Before Eric Carmen went solo and gave us the teen weeper “All by Myself” or before he became a right-wing conspiracy-touting nut job, he was the one of the originators of power pop. This Cleveland band’s debut album is a terrific mix of “Paperback Writer”-era Beatles and early Mod-era Who. And, I could go on for days about what a masterpiece “Go All the Way” is. Everyone from Cheap Trick to Bruce Springsteen to Marshall Crenshaw to The Bangles to Matthew Sweet and beyond have all knelt at the alter of the Raspberries.


My 1000 Favorite Albums of All-Time: 1972, Part 1

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I gotta admit that 1972 was the year I was excited to get to because we are now entering my wheelhouse. These albums truly represent the foundation of my musical life. Most of them are ingrained in my memory because of high school kids who rode my school bus or those at the swimming pool during the summer or older kids in the neighborhood blaring either 8-track tapes or the radio set on the legendary Indianapolis radio station WNAP 93.1 FM Indianapolis “The Buzzard,” perhaps the last of the “cool” radio stations.

This was also the year in which my straight-laced, no-nonsense history teacher of an uncle (perhaps the greatest uncle of all-time!) would poll his high school students to determine which 8-track tapes to buy me for my birthday or Christmas. So, I must include a huge thank you to those students at Southport High School on the southside of Indianapolis for convincing my uncle and aunt to purchase these tapes for me: School’s Out by Alice Cooper, Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Goat’s Head Soup by The Rolling Stones that Christmas. You guys truly jump-started this whole music obsession of mine.

Let’s get the ball rolling!

6.14 Al Green - Call Me

Al Green – Call Me (1972). In 1972, I did not understand the power of a sexy slow song. Simply, I only knew what I liked and didn’t like. But, Al Green is the master of those groovin’ slow songs that still make women melt today. Or, at least, I’d like to think they still work today. Maybe, kids, his music will work if you turn up the bass?

6.14 Alice Cooper - Schools Out

Alice Cooper – School’s Out (1972). Nothing spoke to the tween version of me like Alice Cooper! He was our Marilyn Manson or our Ghost. Except, he was the original, if you ignore Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. Still, no one has written such an enduring anthem as the title school which STILL rings true to school kids today.

6.14 Aretha Franklin - Amazing Grace

Aretha Franklin – Amazing Grace (1972). As a kid, church is just not cool (and sometimes, as an adult too). Then, you hear the Queen of Soul vocally ripping apart these hymns in a manner you wouldn’t have envisioned possible. Now, this IS church!

6.14 Big Star -1 Record

Big Star – #1 Record (1972). Like so many others my age, we did not discover this band until the Eighties, when tastemakers like R.E.M. began touting Big Star as a fantastic lost band. Then, my generation jumped all over the band’s three albums, and a new legend was established. Trying to re-establish the original British Invasion sound in the early-Seventies was definitely not considered “cool.” Then, the album was lost to time by incompetence of the label. Now, they are every bit as an influence to the whole alternative rock scene of the Eighties and Nineties as The Velvet Underground. Put them in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this year!

6.14 Black Sabbath - Vol 4

Black Sabbath – Vol. 4 (1972). Here’s the last truly awesome Sabbath album of the first Ozzy-era before they took that Spinal Tap-like turn. The album is known for the song “Snowblind” and being recorded at the beginning of the band’s notoriously large consumption of drugs, which led to their downturn. Still, this album is peak-Sabbath. I gotta give a shout out to my friend Walt Ring who turned me on to this album in eighth grade.

6.14 Chicago - Chicago V

Chicago – Chicago V (1972). After combing through Chicago’s legendary Seventies run of hit albums and songs, I began to notice a slight downward turn in the consistencies of the albums after this one. My belief is that Terry Kath’s drug and alcohol demons were beginning to cut into his creativity, as he is beginning to relinquish his leadership role to others, as evidenced by only one of his songs making the album. Yet, the album had two major hits in “Saturday in the Park” and the underappreciated “Dialogue.”

6.14 Curtis Mayfield - Superfly

Curtis Mayfield – Super Fly (1972). So, Shaft was first in the blaxploitation film soundtrack race, but Mayfield had the ultimate statement with Super Fly. Mayfield was an inspired choice to chronicle the inner city tale of this film. Curtis was able to show the compassion and moral compass to make this music ring true. I cannot heap enough superlatives upon this album and how timeless it truly is. Much of the music is a perfect soundtrack to the Black Live Matter movement today.

6.14 Daryl Hall and John Oates - Abandoned Luncheonette

Daryl Hall & John Oates – Abandoned Luncheonette (1972). This album was a slow-burner, as it took four long years to caught on. But, once it was discovered by my generation, we were quick to sing the praises of this legendary duo’s mix of rock, folk and soul. “She’s Gone” is not the only masterpiece on this album.

6.14 David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust

David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972). This album is a landmark album. Not many albums truly capture the zeitgeist of a moment, but this is one of them. And, it’s stature only continues to grow as time passes. This album is so much more than a glam rock record, as we continue to feel its ripple effects nearly a half-century later.

6.14 Deep Purple - Machine Head

Deep Purple – Machine Head (1972). Ignore everything else about this album for a moment and focus solely on the opening guitar riff for “Smoke on the Water.” That’s all I have to say. Next!

6.14 Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1972). In Eighties parlance, Elton John was the shit at the time of this album. Ultimately, this album represents the Rocket Man’s greatest creative statement. It is my Sgt. Pepper.

6.14 Elton John - Honky Château

Elton John – Honky Château (1972). I like to think of this album as Elton’s Hall & Oates album, only he released it first. This one has “Honky Cat,” “Rocket Man” and my personal fave “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters.” You just knew his next album was going to be huge. And, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was just that.

That concludes the first of three installments on 1972.

Day 2 for 1971 from My 1000 Favorite Albums

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The question I have is did the Classic Rock radio format begin with music from 1971? Seriously! My list is stuffed with artists and music that is heard often on rock radio stations today. If you thought the previous list was full of them, just wait until you see what’s in store for you today. Perhaps, two of the biggest fish in the Classic Rock sea will be thrown out today.

So, tighten your metaphorical seat belts, because here we go.

6.11 Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin IV

Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin IV (Zoso) (1971). There was NO way I could leave off this album. First, it’s Zep. Second, it’s the album upon which Seventies and Eighties hard rock is based. The most-requested radio song of all-time (“Stairway to Heaven”) is here, as are long-time radio staples “Black Dog,” “Misty Mountain Hop,” “When the Levee Breaks” and my personal favorite “Rock and Roll.”

6.11 Leonard Cohen - Songs of Love and Hate

Leonard Cohen – Songs of Love and Hate (1971). Leonard Cohen’s stuff is more about his lyrics than the music. The music is in place to enhance the mood of the music. If you follow his progression, you will notice that Cohen’s singing his becoming more self-assured. This is an intense set of emotional songs, highlighted by “Last Year’s Man,” “Famous Blue Coat” and “Joan of Arc.”

6.11 Nick Drake - Bryter Layter

Nick Drake – Bryter Layter (1971). This album was a late discovery for me, and what a shame! It would have been a “go-to” album for me as a teen, since it’s full of angst, loss and loneliness. The music is beautifully melancholic while the lyrics fit perfectly. Why did this album fall through the cracks here in the US?

6.11 Rod Stewart - Every Picture Tells a Story

Rod Stewart – Every Picture Tells a Story (1971). Is there a better Rod Stewart album? Not at all! For me, this is the only album from his solo career to have, though Atlantic Crossing and A Night on the Town are pretty good. But, he always shined better when he sang with the Jeff Beck Group and The Faces outside of this classic album. And, yes, “Maggie May” is here.

6.11 Sly & the Family Stone - There's a Riot Goin On

Sly & the Family Stone – There’s a Riot Goin’ On (1971). Of all the albums on race relations, this is the one album that still rings true today. I get it that every generation gets to choose the voice of their protests, but Sly is spot on with his social commentary here. What a better compliment than to say your musical message remains relevant nearly 50 years later.

6.11 T Rex - Electric Warrior

T. Rex – Electric Warrior (1971). The Glam Rock granddaddy of the them, apologies to Mr. Bowie. Marc Bolan was the visionary of the glam movement in the UK and deserves his impending Rock Hall induction if only for this album. Unfortunately, at the time, it barely made a commercial dent here in the States. Now, it is considered a major landmark album both for the punk and hair metal movements down the road.

6.11 The Allman Brothers Band - At Fillmore East

The Allman Brothers Band – At Fillmore East (1971). Hello, Southern Rock! We’ve been awaiting you. Yes, Lynyrd Skynyrd perfected it, but the Allmans got their feet in the door. No, they actually knocked the whole damn thing down with this live album, which proved they were actually the best blues-based jam band. Proof? Listen to the last cut, a nearly 23-minute version of “Whipping Post,” where you hear everything that is glorious about the band.

6.11 The Beach Boys - Surfs Up

The Beach Boys – Surf’s Up (1971). The Sixties dream was over. Creative visionary Brian Wilson had gone of the deep end. Drummer and Wilson brother Dennis had been tied to the Manson Family, so The Beach Boys were nearing a nostalgia act status. But, the remaining boys put that darkness into their music and delivered a darkened vision of their California dream that fit the times perfectly. It didn’t sell upon its release, but Surf’s Up has aged well as a grown-up statement.

6.11 The Doors - L.A. Woman

The Doors – L.A. Woman (1971). The Doors are perfect for teens, all dark and angst-ridden. And, sometimes, I feel like they can be a bit overrated. Then, I listen to this album, and it reminds me of their short-lived greatness. The sound is more bluesy than other albums, but Jim Morrison’s poetic lyrics are here in all their majesty while his voice sounds tired, jaded, raspy and just plain worn out. Everyone should have known he wasn’t long for the world. Still, this album contains three of my favorite Doors songs in the title song, “Love Her Madly” and, best of all, “Riders on the Storm.”

6.11 The Faces - A Nod Is as Good as a Wink

The Faces – A Nod Is as Good as a Wink…To a Blind Horse (1971). This is NOT a Rod Stewart album, although many may think the hit song “Stay with Me” is his. A Nod is the sound of a great band actually fulfilling its promise. I would have rather the band stayed together and grown then to have had to hear Stewart’s Eighties albums. The Black Crowes copped the sound of their debut album from The Faces.

6.11 The Rolling Stones - Sticky Fingers

The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers (1971). Sorry everyone! This is the greatest Stones album ever (remind me I said that when we get to 1978, as I might get into hyperbole). We have THE classic Stones sound that everybody from Sex Pistols to The Replacements to The Black Crowes have tried to emulate right on display on Sticky Fingers. Seriously, half of their greatest songs are on this one album. We have “Brown Sugar,” “Wild Horses,” Sway,” “Sister Morphine,” “Bitch” AND “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking”! This album is vastly underrated, especially when compared to Exile on Main Street, the band’s supposed classic.

6.11 The Who - Whos Next

The Who – Who’s Next (1971). Will you just look at today’s list? The Allmans, The Stones, Zeppelin IV, Rod Stewart and, now, Who’s Next? C’mon! Screw 1967! 1971 was an awesome year. And, Who’s Next is a darn-near perfect album. “Baba O’Reilly,” “Going Mobile,” “The Song Is Over,” “Behind Blue Eyes” AND “Won’t Get Fooled Again” are all here! Are you kidding me? This album IS Classic Rock.

6.11 Van Morrison - Tupelo Honey

Van Morrison – Tupelo Honey (1971). By now, Van Morrison was at his creative peak and would remain at it for a couple more years. If this only had “Wild Nights” on it, I would consider it a classic.

6.11 Yes - Fragile

Yes – Fragile (1971). Here is the album that really solidified the career of Yes. They truly gelled on this album. The playing, as always was impeccable, while Jon Anderson’s vocals were pure and soaring. And “Roundabout” is an awesome song! I will always remember one of my fraternity brothers listening to music upstairs in the frat house. He would sit in a rocking chair and you could hear him rocking to the music. The more he got into the music, the faster that chair went. We actually thought the ceiling was coming down while listening to “Roundabout” one day.

And, folks, that ends 1971 on my list. Onward and upward!

It’s Day 1 of the Year 1971 in My 1000 Favorite Albums List

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When looking upon my portion of my 1000 albums list, I notice that 1971 really is a cross-section of music that has been the foundation of the classic rock radio format that has been forced down our throats since the late-Seventies. And, it’s fine. I know I bitch quite a bit about the state of radio, but it has nothing to do with this music. It’s simply that an age group felt alienated by popular music beginning with the MTV revolution of the Eighties that they felt the need to exert their power and ended up killing the vary thing that made their music so compelling in the first place – allowing music to fuel change and not become a cash cow.

But, I get it! I live in a dream world where the youth’s music actually drives popular culture like it did for me in the mid-Seventies. I guess I have never really bought into this whole “I’ll get mine and the hell with you mentality.” Does that make me naive? No. Cynical? Probably. Skeptical. Definitely! So what have I done throughout my life? Been a major hypocrite by being a major consumer, of course. But, I try to talk a good game.

So, I use music to help me deal with my shortcomings as an individual. Like sport, it is an equalizer. Either you are good or you are not. So, let’s focus on what I feel like are the better albums of 1971.

6.9 Black Sabbath - Master of Reality

Black Sabbath – Master of Reality (1971). Ozzy, Tommy, Bill and Geezer made, if you can believe it, a sludgier, dare I say grungier, album than before. I say that this album may have invented the careers of such diverse artists as Iron Maiden, Queens of the Stone Age and Soundgarden, to name a few. “Sweet Leaf” and “Children of the Grave” are the big ones here.

6.9 Carole King - Tapestry

Carole King – Tapestry (1971). Carole King had all ready solidified herself in the annals of rock history as part of the songwriting team of Goffin and King. Then, she released this monster and everything changed for her. Even if she never released another album, King would have remained a giant in the singer/songwriter world of the Seventies. The new songs, like “It’s Too Late” and “I Feel the Earth Move” fit right in next to her reimaginations of her hits for other artists, such as “(You Make Me Like) A Natural Woman,” for a delightful laidback listen.

6.9 David Bowie - Hunky Dory

David Bowie – Hunky Dory (1971). Bowie had been making some fantastic music prior to this, but nothing like this. “Life on Mars?” is an outstanding acoustic song, but Bowie had me at “Wam bam, thank you Ma’am!” during “Changes.” After this, I became a lifetime Bowie fan.

6.9 Dolly Parton - Coat of Many Colors

Dolly Parton – Coat of Many Colors (1971). Give Dolly her rock due! The woman is a terrific songwriter, and this album is her masterwork. Yes, she wrote other huge songs (“Jolene,” “I Will Always Love You,” “9 to 5,” “Here I Go Again,” etc.), but this album is such a personal statement of perseverance which makes it stand as Dolly’s landmark.

6.9 Don McLean - American Pie

Don McLean – American Pie (1971). The title song is an immortal tale of the history of rock & roll. Everything about the song is such a touchstone in American culture. I remember singing this song in the early-Eighties with other college students in various locations like the dish room of the dormitory cafeteria or in a bar in Wisconsin. But, the album is iconic as well, especially the cover photo of McLean’s painted thumb.

6.9 Elton John - Madman Across the Water

Elton John – Madman Across the Water (1971). This album, along with its predecessor may not have seemed like the big-selling albums of Elton’s career as the albums that will follow over the next three or four years, but they do establish Elton as a major artist. Even if the rest of the album was lame, it would still be known for “Tiny Dancer” and “Levon,” two of John’s most beloved songs.

6.9 Funkadelic - Maggot Brain

Funkadelic – Maggot Brain (1971). George Clinton is the Frank Zappa of funk music. And that point is driven home with this fantastic album that set the stage for the likes of hip hop and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. To hear one of the best guitar solos ever recorded, look no further than the title track in which Clinton allegedly told guitarist Eddie Hazel to play “like your mamma just died.” Hazel is one of the criminally underrated guitarists of all time (along with Terry Kath of Chicago).

6.9 Harry Nilsson - Nilsson Schmilsson

Harry Nilsson – Nilsson Schmilsson (1971). As a kid, you had to love “Coconut.” Then, as an angst-ridden teen, you loved Harry’s version of the Badfinger song “Without You.” But, as an adult, you truly appreciate the genius of Harry Nilsson and realize what a shame it is that he wrecked his life with alcohol, leading to his untimely death in 1994. This guy was a terrific talent, both as an unparalleled singer and a terrific songwriter. This album was his ultimate statement.

6.9 Isaac Hayes - Shaft

Isaac Hayes – Shaft (1971). Hey kids! Isaac Hayes was much more than Chef from South Park. The man was a musical genius who created one of the most enduring blaxploitation film soundtracks ever. Left put it succinctly, Hayes is a bad motherf-! “Shut your mouth!” I’m talkin’ by Isaac Hayes!

6.9 Janis Joplin - Pearl

Janis Joplin – Pearl (1971). Big Brother & the Holding Company may have put Janis Joplin on the map, this solo album was intended to mark her as one of her generation’s finest vocalists. This is the stuff of legends. “Me and Bobby McGee” and “Mercedes Benz” are the big ones.

6.9 Jethro Tull - Aqualung

Jethro Tull – Aqualung (1971). Let me be honest. This is the ONLY Jethro Tull album that I can sit through. But, for some reason, maybe it’s the humor in the title song, I like this one. This is the one time I could get into the use of a flute on a rock album. Plus, sometimes it’s just nice to hear some good cynical lyrics once in a while.

6.9 John Lennon - Imagine

John Lennon – Imagine (1971). Lennon put The Beatles in his rearview mirror on the previous album, so it was no surprise that he was going to make an major statement on this one. And, boy, did he ever! The title song is a secular hymn if there ever has been one. In all honesty, I think he became bigger with this album and song.

6.9 John Prine - John Prine

John Prine – John Prine (1971). The Bob Dylan of Appalachia released his debut and stuffed it full of his classics that you must hear before you die. There was a major reason that some many musicians of all generations paid tribute to the man after falling victim to COVID-19 in the spring. This is the album where your lesson in his songwriting should begin.

6.9 Joni Mitchell - Blue

Joni Mitchell – Blue (1971). Surprisingly, this album was Prince’s favorite. But, why not?! It’s is beautiful in its sparse sadness. This album happens to be Mitchell’s best album in a stellar career. The woman bares her soul on this album with songs like “A Case of You,” “California,” “Little Green” and “My Old Man.” Just a stunning display of vulnerability.

See you in a couple of days for the follow up!

1970, Part 3: My 1000 Favorite Albums

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Sorry about the delay on Part 3! My body has just not been cooperating. Let’s finish off 1970 today.

6.6 Simon and Garfunkel - Bridge over Troubled Water

Simon & Garfunkel – Bridge over Troubled Water (1970). What I possibly say about this album that has not been previously said. The album is mainly about the dissolution of a partnership. And as a final statement, this album is perfect. From the gospel title song to the rhythmic “Cecilia” to the poignant “The Boxer,” this album flexes and expands the strengths of the duo: their seamless harmonies and Paul Simon’s unerring songwriting.

6.6 Syd Barrett - The Madcap Laughs

Syd Barrett – The Madcap Laughs (1970). The tale of Mr. Barrett is a sad one indeed. The former Pink Floyd leader left the band after their initial success due to drug and mental health issues. And, throughout this album, you can hear the torment of all of those problems mixed with his brilliance at writing memorable pop/rock songs. If it wasn’t for his Floyd friends Roger Waters and David Gilmour (Syd’s replacement in the band), this album may never have seen the light of day.

6.6 J. Geils Band - The J. Geils Band

The J. Geils Band – The J. Geils Band (1970). Often unfairly touted as America’s answer to The Rolling Stones, The J. Geils Band, along with CCR, reminded everyone what R&B-based rock music would never die. The visual focus of the band was frontman Peter Wolf who was a dynamo in the live setting. However, it is the band that shines on their studio albums. And, nobody, I mean nobody, blows a rock harp like the one and only Magic Dick.

6.6 The Jackson 5 - ABC

The Jackson 5 – ABC (1970). The Motown magic stretched into the Seventies with this album by the now-famous family band. And nothing against Jackie, Jermaine, Marlon and Tito, but young Michael was the star. The title song, “The Love You Save,” and “One More Chance” are all the proof you need. The legend of Michael is solidified on the album and will only expand over time. Plus, it’s nice to hear his innocence, and ours, on vinyl every once in awhile.

6.6 The Kinks - Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One

The Kinks – Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One (1970). The Kinks were on a huge creative roll in the late-Sixties with brilliant depictions of the British common man, but it all comes to end with this fantastic album. Of course, the single “Lola” is the big one on this album, and rightfully so. What is so surprising to me is that the subject matter of the song (being courted by a transsexual) was able to garner radio play during such conservative times. Ironically, the only censorship that took place was Ray Davies had to replace the original “Coke Cola” phrase with “cherry cola” so he wouldn’t infringe upon trademarks.

6.6 The Rolling Stones - Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!

The Rolling Stones – Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out (1970). So, during the year in which The Beatles broke up, The Stones and The Who both released live albums. In the case of The Stones, I can barely listen to their live albums. Honestly, I’d rather listen to The Replacements on one of their drunken worst nights than some of those late-career live albums The Stones released while the were playing at their most bored (and boring). But, this one is the exception. They actually live up to their moniker of being the World’s Greatest Rock & Roll Band.

6.6 The Stooges - Fun House

The Stooges – Fun House (1970). On the band’s sophomore album, they were recorded live in the studio, which was a perfect way to emphasize their power house performances on vinyl. And, Iggy Pop was just beginning to blossom into his madman lead singer status, so this was the perfect venue for The Stooges. “T.V. Eye” and “1970” are the classic cuts on this one.

6.6 The Velvet Underground - Loaded

The Velvet Underground – Loaded (1970). This album’s legend is full of irony. First, it was the band’s first major label release. Next, it was an album that abandoned their legendary New York City streets-influenced lyrics for a more commercial appeal without forgoing their now-influential sound. And, finally, it became their most commercially viable album, all the while it was the band’s swansong. At least they proved the core vision of the band could be successful. Now, we are left to wonder only what might could have been if they had taken this approach sooner. Then again, would have VU had been as influential as they became if they did become commercial successful? Oh, and the whole Butterfly Effect…

6.6 The Who - Live at Leeds

The Who – Live at Leeds (1970). So, The Who were a little bit toast when they finished their tour band Tommy. So, instead of rushing back into the studio, the band, who was jonesing to play some rock music, packed up and headed to Leeds to record a live album. And, what they recorded was a version of The Who at their most intensely powerful and muscular. The band, as later released on the deluxe version of the CD, piledrived through their hits, various covers AND Tommy as if their very lives depended on this performance. The original vinyl version left out the Tommy stuff and focused on six of their punkiest performances. Brilliantly, the whole thing was packaged as a bootleg recording which only added to thrill of the album.

6.6 Traffic - John Barleycorn Must Die

Traffic – John Barleycorn Must Die (1970). Legend has it that the young Steve Winwood was prepping a solo album, when he decided to reconvene Traffic to have another go at it. And the result was perhaps their finest album as a band. Much as been made over the years how much of an influence The Who and The Kinks were an influence on Paul Weller and Britpop, but people should get a load of this album to discover just how much of a role Traffic has played into rock history.

6.6 Van Morrison - His Band & Street Choir

Van Morrison – His Band and the Street Choir (1970). Morrison got critical acclaim early with Astral Weeks. Then, in 1970, he hit commercial pay dirt with two albums, this one being the second of the year. His unique blend of American sounds, particularly R&B, with his Celtic background was, and continues to be, groundbreaking. The enduring “Domino” leads the way on this one.

6.6 Van Morrison - Moondance

Van Morrison – Moondance (1970). The first of two major albums released in 1970 by Van Morrison, Moondance announced to the world what a major artist he had become. Seriously, any album that contains a 1-2-3 punch of the title song, “Caravan” AND “Mystic Eyes” has got to be listed with the immortals.

Next time, we’re on to 1971. Peace!

1970, Part 2: My 1000 Favorite Albums

5.17 Top 1000 Albums_LI

A little perspective is needed here. In 1970, I ended my first grade year in elementary school and started my second grade year. What that means is my actual musical tastes at the time ran the gamut from the Banana Splits and The Archies to The Partridge Family and Bobby Sherman. However, on occasion, something by the likes of Elton John or George Harrison would break through my love of bubblegum music to slightly expand my music palette. And although I actually experienced only a few of these albums during their heyday does not diminish the impact of each one on my life and on rock history.

On with the countdown!

6.4 Elton John - Tumbleweed Connection

Elton John – Tumbleweed Connection (1970). What is the fascination of the Old American West in the minds of the older Baby Boomers? It’s probably due to all of those old Western TV shows and films they watched while growing up. Me? I preferred the sci-fi world of Wild, Wild West when I was a young lad. Anyway, the motif in the hands of great songwriters, such as Elton John and Bernie Taupin, the Old West can be a compelling metaphor for their lives up to this point in their careers. In all honesty, this might me one of their finest moments as an album, all the while it lacks a hit song. Go figure! A major album statement created by one of the all-time great hit-making songwriting teams.

6.4 George Harrison - All Things Must Pass

George Harrison – All Things Must Pass (1970). The quiet Beatle never really got much of his music on the Fab Four’s albums, but when he did, they were major statements. So, when it came time for George to release his first solo album, he had enough quality material for a triple album. When I was younger, I was a Lennon guy. But, when my older son began to learn to play a guitar, he got hooked on Harrison. One day I asked him why. His replay was simple, “I want to hear a musician, not a poet.” From that point onward, Harrison’s star rose with me.

6.4 Grateful Dead - American Beauty

Grateful Dead – American Beauty (1970). The Dead released two absolute classic albums in 1970, and American Beauty is the standard barrier in the band’s illustrious career. It’s as if they decided they could one-up CSNY at their own game, which of course they did. Many of the great Dead songs are here, such as their theme song “Truckin’,” “Sugar Magnolia” AND, my personal fave, “Friend of the Devil.” This is perfect summertime music.

6.4 Grateful Dead - Workingman's Dead

Grateful Dead – Workingman’s Dead (1970). This is the first of the two landmark Grateful Dead albums dropped in 1970. It must have been a bit disorienting when the Dead Heads first heard the band’s new direction. Yet, it only expanded Dead Head Nation and laid the groundwork for the band’s future concert setlists. If you don’t own this album and American Beauty, your music collection is incomplete.

6.4 James Taylor - Sweet Baby James

James Taylor – Sweet Baby James (1970). Back in the day, James Taylor HAD to be a stud! Seriously! I don’t know a woman my age who still doesn’t swoon a bit when they hear a James Taylor song. And the man married Carly Simon too. I honestly don’t think the man understood his power at the time. Hell, did any of us guys realize it? Still, this one remains the best Taylor album because he was cutting through the crap and singing and playing the truth. Plus, drugs weren’t numbing his ability to channel the music gods yet.

6.4 John Lennon - John Lennon Plastic Ono Band

John Lennon – John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1970). This album is not for the weak of heart, as it is John exorcising the demons of his past on one album. He attacks everything, from God to The Beatles to his childhood, releasing himself of as much pain as a person could on one album. If you are looking for “Strawberry Fields, Part 2,” you’ve come to the wrong place. However, if you want to take a journey with an artist coming to terms with all the good and bad things in his past, this album is your primal scream therapy.

6.4 Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin III

Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin III (1970). On the Zep’s first two albums, they helped create the whole classic rock sound. And, on Side One of this album, the foursome expanded upon that sound. But, the jarring thing happened on Side Two. When you flipped the record, you got some of the heaviest sounding acoustic music ever put to vinyl. That’s when you realized that these guys had much more depth than peers Black Sabbath. This remains my favorite Zeppelin album for that diversity.

6.4 Miles Davis - Bitches Brew

Miles Davis – Bitches Brew (1970). What’s a restless jazz man to do when all of the cool musical innovations are taking place outside of his niche? What Miles Davis did is to grab the more interesting sounds coming from popular music and integrate it into his sound. Davis grabbed some funk rhythms, a Hendrixian guitar sound, a little Sly Stone, a pinch of psychedelia and created something others called jazz fusion. But, this wasn’t the boring jams of the mid- to late-Seventies fusion, this was exciting poly-rhythmic, funk based sounds with flourishes of rock god guitar mixed with jazz keyboards and, of course, Davis’ ultra-cool trumpet.

6.4 Neil Young - After the Gold Rush

Neil Young – After the Gold Rush (1970). In 1969, Young had discovered a ragged rock band that became his muse called Crazy Horse. Now, in 1970, he discovered a teenage prodigy named Nils Lofgren (future E-Street Band member) who took this mix to yet another level on this album. Young is so prolific that he released this album before his transformed CSN into a powerhouse foursome.

6.4 Randy Newman - 12 Songs

Randy Newman – 12 Songs (1970). Unfairly, Newman was immediately lumped into the singer/songwriter category. The problem was Newman was much more cinematic in his songwriting, which is why he has made such an impact on soundtrack writing. But, when left on his own, Randy Newman is a master at creating a give-and-take between his New Orleans-influenced sound and his poignant, sarcastic, caustic lyrics. This album only hints at his greatness.

6.4 Santana - Abraxas

Santana – Abraxas (1970). So, Santana further expands the Latin-influenced rock/blues/jazz mix on this classic album. If you look at the cover alone, you might think this is something of a Hispanic version of Sgt. Pepper. But, nothing is farther from the truth. This is a set of terrific songs being played by one of the hottest bands in the world. The album is best known for the band’s covers of “Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen” and “Oye Como Va.”

Next time, we’ll finish off 1970! Peace to you all!