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