Technically, I was still a year away from my teenage years when 1975 rolled around. However, the year does represent the year during which I started my middle school years, which meant dances, learning all kinds of things (both good and bad) from the older guys in the team locker rooms, and so many other kinds of social interactions. All kinds of things happen during those years, especially the development of your musical tastes. And, I found myself absorbing music and anything written about rock artists in magazines like Creem, Circus, Hit Parader, Billboard and, most importantly, Rolling Stone.
One can never replicate the time in which the possibilities of the world seemed endless, but your teen years seem wasted with this. And I say “wasted” because we are not ready for that. As teens, we are riddled with self-doubt and a seemingly endless supply of angst. And, if you are dealt a crappy hand in life during that time period, it tends to either momentarily or permanently screw up your life. It’s no wonder that teens are so dramatic. Your brain is not ready for all of this new information bombarding it all the while being cooked in an overabundance of hormones being hyper-produced by your endocrine system.
For me, I threw myself into two refuges: music and sports. Both helped me somewhat deal with my environment. I’d rather not get into the sports side since it seemed to define much of what I am today, both good and bad. Instead, let’s focus on some of the great music in which I discovered while the old hormones were kicking in, making for a lethal mixture.
1975, here we go.
Aerosmith – Toys in the Attic (1975). With all due respect to one of my former athletes, this album is when Aerosmith were cool. Don’t get me wrong, it was pretty cool for this guy to see the boys make a huge late-Eighties comeback. But, this was actually when the band was the funkiest rock band on the planet. This album represents the band’s first Seventies masterpiece. You know how cool this album was? “Big Ten Inch Record” was banned by my high school radio station. And, they were talking about a record, right?
Bee Gees – Main Course (1975). Just a couple of years earlier, the Brothers Gibb had gone their separate ways, thinking their version of baroque pop/rock in the vein of Magical Mystery Tour-era Beatles was passe. But, in 1975, the trio reunited and began incorporating flourishes of R&B and a little underground sound that was leaking into the mainstream called disco. Their first foray into this sound was this album, led by the singles “Jive Talkin’,” “Nights on Broadway” and “Fanny (Be Tender with My Love).”
Bob Dylan – Blood on the Tracks (1975). Dylan made a dramatic comeback of sorts with this set of terrific songs. Unfortunately, it took the dissolution of his first marriage to bring Dylan back to the forefront in a major way. Truth be told, this album was my first introduction to the voice of the Sixties. And, although it’s weighed down by all kinds of factual inaccuracies, “Hurricane” was an important song in the eventual release of Ruben “Hurricane” Carter from his wrongful conviction for murder.
Bob Dylan & The Band – The Basement Tapes (1975). Back in the Sixties and Seventies, bootleg and import albums were an important part of the underground world of “true” rock fans. Without question, there was a rumor back in the day that Bob Dylan and The Band were secretly making some of the best music of their careers. And, while that rumor swirled, bootleg tapes of the sessions were finding their way into fanatics’ hands. Finally, in 1975, many of those recordings were officially released by the parties, and we got to hear the magical music these two creative forces made while all were at their creative peaks.
Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run (1975). After being hailed for a couple of years as a new Bob Dylan and hyped as “the future of rock & roll,” The Boss dropped his first truly classic album with Born to Run. The whole thing is one beautiful ode to growing up on the East Coast, full of rock and soul, all baked in a Phil Spector-like “Wall of Sound” production that made his songs sound like everybody before him yet like no other. This album continues to be one of my ten favorite albums of all time.
Daryl Hall & John Oates – Daryl Hall & John Oates (The Silver Album) (1975). Arguably, Hall & Oates are rock’s greatest duo. At least, they are in my book. And, this album represents their commercial breakthrough. Although not on the level of their Eighties work, The Silver Album does hint at what is to come. Plus, “Sara Smile” was the best song slow at school dances this side of Barry Manilow’s “Mandy.”
David Bowie – Young Americans (1975). Oh, David Bowie, I honestly had no idea you were a glitter god before this album. And, this album got me into your sly little world, and my life, and my boys’ lives, were forever changed because of your little dip into the Philly Soul world on this album. And, yes, “Fame” was my entry drug.
Dr. Feelgood – Down by the Jetty (1975). After reading about the band in an issue of Creem magazine, I went on a search and destroy mission to find this album. I distinctly remember the band being hyped as an updated version of early Stones and J. Geils, only with more energy. I knew I liked those bands, and I LOVED energy, so my interest was piqued. Needless to say, I was sold! These guys were another English lot that were something of a John the Baptist to the whole punk scene that would break up on both sides of the Atlantic over the next 18 months. I just wish I had gotten to see them live. You Brits were so lucky!
Dwight Twilley Band – Sincerely (1975). If you want to know when the second generation of great power pop began, look no further than this album. Unfortunately, this band’s momentum was grind to a halt by an incompetent label. Just take a moment to think about this fact: Twilley had a huge hit song at the time called “I’m on Fire.” It was tearing up the charts, until it unexpectedly began a precipitous chart free fall. Then, the album was delayed, not because it wasn’t done but because the company lacked funds. But, this album remains a landmark in the power pop movement that will peak later on in the Seventies. Side note: both Dwight Twilley Band AND Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers were on the same label at the same time. That label should have been financially set for an eternity.
Earth, Wind & Fire – That’s the Way of the World (1975). Funkadelic were the acid-fried rock gods, Parliament were the horn-laced funkateers and EWF represented the world of positivity in funk. Little by little, the P-Funk brand merged, but EWF continued to make their own brand of horn-based funk. In reality, the band shares similarities with Chicago. Both were on fire with their brands of jazz infused music that turned into something of a ballad machine. But, EWF were reaching their best around this album and would hold onto it through the early-Eighties.
Well, that wraps up Day 1 of 1975. You might read a little more enthusiasm in my writing beginning with these albums. Regardless, enjoy! Oh, and Happy Birthday to Canada! Peace.