1973 In Review (Rock and Roll)
Since the beginning of the Radio Faux Show, I have produced shows focused on my favorite albums of different years. At first, these were 10, 25, and 50 year anniversary and Best of The Current Year albums. Moving forward, all years are fair game depending on my mood, but in keeping with the original plan I’m going to continue with the 50-year anniversary concept and focus on 1973. Unlike past entries in this Year In Review series, this is not simply a Top 20 albums of the year list. Instead, this will be a multi-show breakdown of 1973 with each show focused on different aspects of the year. Every year in music is filled with influential artists and albums, major shifts in the world of music, and other important aspects that can’t be discussed in a simple Top 20 list. This show is the first of several (I’m not sure of how many yet) that will attempt to cover the different aspects of music in 1973.
The easy way to start a discussion of 1973 is with a list of my favorite albums of the year, so I began my study of the year by looking at my Top 20 list. The first thing I noticed when doing this is that my list is filled with a wide variety of styles of music. After the explosive period of experimentation that occurred in the late ’60s and early ’70s, 1973 was a year in which music started to settle into the wide variety of styles that had been born during the past few years. However, it was also a year that saw yet more new styles starting to make their mark globally, as well as a year that saw the birth of some future legends. I’ve decided to focus the first show of this 1973 series on music that falls into the category of rock and roll. Future shows in the series will focus on other styles of music, but I have to start somewhere and there is plenty of great rock in 1973 to fill out a show. This is not a complete retrospective of all rock music produced in 1973, but I will attempt to cover some of the most important moments while also focusing on records that are meaningful to me.
Birth of a Legend: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Bruce Springsteen did not suddenly appear in 1973. As should be expected by an artist who has spent a career writing music about the struggles of blue collar workers and who is known affectionately as The Boss, Springsteen honed his rock and roll craft over years of hard work playing clubs, touring, and trying to get his foot in some record label’s door before getting signed to a label and recording his debut album. During that period he led several locally successful rock bands with each one moving closer to what would ultimately become his sound. Most Springsteen fans have likely already read or listened to his great autobiography Born To Run. That book explains in detail his first ten or so years as an up-and-coming rock legend, his struggles with obscurity and near-misses with success, and his never-wavering vision to become the greatest rock and roll band in history. All of that work led to his break-through in 1973, although to call his 1973 albums a success is a great overstatement. Nowadays, Springsteen is clearly a household name and legend, but his first two albums, both released in 1973, were not successful and certainly did not foreshadow the legend he was to become. However, I am a true Springsteen fan, and these first two albums are two of my favorites. But first…
The E Street Band
More important than the two albums he released in 1973 is that this is the year the world was introduced to the E Street Band. Although the makeup of the band would change year to year and album to album, the concept of the E Street Band was there from the beginning. Springsteen’s band was to be a group of the best musicians he could collect, all focused on one mission – providing a soundscape for his songwriting to grab the audience by their hearts, souls, and guts.
The 1973 E Street Band included some of the best musicians he would ever work with, even if they weren’t destined to stay past the year. David Sancious (keyboards, piano, organ) was probably the best jazz musician Springsteen ever worked with. It is hard to imagine Sancious fitting on the Born to Run album, but the importance of his playing on the 1973 albums is irrefutable. He is especially noticed on the soulful tracks of The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle such as the title track, “Kitty’s Back” and “Incident on 57th Street.” Vini “Mad Dog” Lopez was not as steady a percussive force as future E Streeter Max Weinberg, but Lopez provided an almost out of control drumming energy when needed, especially on upbeat tracks like “Blinded By The Light,” “Growin’ Up,” and “It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City.” The original E Streeter, Danny Federici, doesn’t appear on Springsteen’s debut, but he is there on The Wild, The Innocent, and his presence helps lend a soulful feeling that was missing on Greetings From Asbury Park. Bassist Garry Tallent is also present, making him one of only two members to appear on all of Springsteen’s classic period of albums. Tallent is unheralded, but his bass lines are rock and roll. Much like Bill Wyman, John Paul Jones, and John Entwistle, Tallent drives the rhythm like a bass player should, even if no one notices. Finally, the other member to appear on all of the E Street Albums is there as well. Clarence Clemons, AKA The Big Man, was the most important piece of the puzzle that pulled the E Street Band together as something more than a simple backing band. Clemons completed Springsteen’s vision of how the band should sound. Springsteen has made it very clear over the years that Clemons was the solution to his missing sound, and these two albums may have been the end of Springsteen’s recording career if Clemons had not been a member of his band.
Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.
Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. introduces Springsteen to the world as a Dylan-inspired songwriter focused on presenting characters and song-poetry via an old school multi-piece rock and roll band. The album is now a classic, having sold over two million copies and often included on Top 500 albums of all time lists. In 1973, this was not the case. The record sold about 25 thousand copies and peaked at #60 on the Billboard Albums chart. It sold well enough to keep Springsteen’s label interested, but it was the critical reviews that stood out. Most major critics at the time heralded Springsteen as a new artist to pay attention to, even if the public hadn’t figured it out yet.
The album contains some now-classics, such as “Blinded By The Light” (soon to be made popular as a cover by Manfred Mann), “Growin’ Up,” and “Spirit In The Night,” but it is the filler tracks that give it its fifty-years of staying power. “Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?” is a two-minute burst of Springsteen’s song-poetry aesthetic and one of my favorite Springsteen compositions. “Lost In The Flood,” “The Angel,” and “For You” present Springsteen’s ability to develop characters in a four-minute rock song. “It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City” is arguably his best album closing track.
This was not the first Springsteen album I ever heard, but it didn’t take me long to discover it after I was first introduced to The River by my New Jersey cousin. It has been one of my favorite albums since then. This is one of a handful of albums that I turn to when I want to roll down the windows and drive through the summer sun.
The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle
It took Springsteen just over one year to record and release both of his 1973 albums. While Greetings From Asbury Park had been built from songs he had worked on for some time before their recording, The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle presented much newer songs. The sound on this album advanced from folk/rock poetry to a much more R&B influenced sound. Although it was also a commercial failure at the time, the album has a much more cohesive sound, both musically and lyrically, than Greetings. Even the oddest tune on the album, “Wild Billy’s Circus Story,” fits into the overall landscape that Springsteen produced for this album, especially if one understands the history of traveling circuses and rodeos in New Jersey’s smalltown history. The songs selected for the album present a group of characters born out of Springsteen’s Jersey Shore and New York City experiences – characters that he would leave behind over the next two years as he worked on his masterpiece Born to Run.
Although not known at the time, the focus on these characters meant that some of the best material the group recorded during the period, “Thundercrack,” “Zero and Blind Terry,” and “Santa Ana” (to name just three) would not be released for another 25 years. Taken as a set, Greetings and E Street Shuffle are a pair of rock albums that present the start and end of everything Springsteen had built up to this point. He had honed his songwriting into sharp focus, created two albums that presented the best of what he had worked toward accomplishing, and would never return to this type of music again.
Any discussion of The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle is not complete without mention of Side Two, Track Two. “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)” is known to all Springsteen fans as a career-standout and the song he closed his live sets with for decades. Clocking in at 7:04, it is a perfect example of how rock, soul, storytelling, and a band working at its peak can create rock and roll perfection. I’m sure that if you do a few Google clicks you can find a thousand essays about the song, so I’m going to focus on what I believe to be the most amazing aspect of the song – the sax playing of Clarence Clemons.
There could have been an E Street Band without Clarence Clemons, and Springsteen may have enjoyed some amount of success without Clarence Clemons, but I wouldn’t be writing about Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band right now if not for Clarence Clemons. And no song presents the importance of Clemons to Springsteen more than “Rosalita.” This songs presents the greatest saxophone performance in rock and roll history. Some will point to the closing section of “Jungleland” as Clemons’ career highlight, but that is an obvious opinion based on one section of a song that was composed to highlight Clemons in his only extended solo performance on a Springsteen song. I argue that “Rosalita” is much more impressive because it is the exact opposite of “Jungleland.” Throughout the entire 7:04 of the song, Clemons uses his sax as a comping instrument instead of a feature instrument. He plays his sax unendingly through a series of different riffs, some of which are not repeated even within the different verse or chorus sections. He doesn’t command your attention as he riffs, but he drives the song as much if not more than the rhythm section. This is a masterclass in rock and roll saxophone that has never been matched before or since. It most likely never will now that sax playing has been pushed out of rock and roll by thirty-plus years of producer-driven rock which has replaced musicians with sampling and focus-group-contrived mediocrity. But, if rock and roll ever evolves back to its original focus on a blues based sound with saxophone at its core, this song should be lesson number one in how to do so.
Breakdown of the sax on “Rosalita”
0:00-0:07: No sax, yet…
0:07-0:13: After a 7-second guitar intro, the sax comes in as a drone underneath a keyboard explosion, followed by a lower drone under the end of the guitar intro.
0:13-0:26: The first sax riff – a 6-note riff – closes out the intro along with guitars and piano.
0:27-0:51: The start of the first verse is sung over a sax riff, played in a low register, that serves as a complementary bass rhythm.
0:52-1:03: The second part of the verse is sung over another sax drone – simple, and in a higher register, followed by the brief “the only lover I’m ever gonna need…” verse with another lower sax drone.
1:04-1:10: The first verse ends with a sax riff that slides up the scale.
1:11-1:22: The second verse starts with an entirely different sax riff than the first verse – it is more complicated, filled with joy, and slowly builds…
1:23-1:35: …into an even more joyous riff.
1:36-1:41: The second part of the second verse finds yet another, slightly different sax drone.
1:42-1:54: The second verse ends with a return to the drone/scale riff section from the end of the first verse.
1:55-2:06: The first chorus comes in with the well-known sax riff that defines the song, but only for one bar, followed by another short riff.
2:07-2:18: The bridge between the chorus and next verse is presented as a sax solo reminiscent of the sax riff from the start of the second verse.
2:19-2:40: The 6-note sax riff opening returns, but this time presented underneath the third verse.
2:41-2:58: A series of sax drones continue as the third verse progresses.
2:59-3:05: The third verse ends with a return to the drone/crescendo section from the end of the first two verses.
3:06-3:18: The second chorus sax riff mirrors the first chorus…
3:19-3:41: …and then the sax builds with notes running up the scale underneath an extended up-tempo guitar lick.
3:42-: 4:06: The sax riff from the start of each chorus is extended and presented as a featured sax solo.
4:07-4:17: A subdued sax drone runs underneath the lead-in to the “I know your mama…” vocal bridge.
4:18-4:45: The sax becomes a slow and low drone as Springsteen sings about Rosie’s parents, with one short burst when Rosie’s papa “lowers the boom and locks her in her room.”
4:46-4:51: The sax presents a harmony with the vocal melody.
4:52-4:55: The sax gives a short drone before…
4:56-5:05: …all of the instruments except the drums drop out for the “Papa says he knows” sing-a-long section.
5:06-5:11: The sax adds some quick bursts up the scale.
5:12-5:17: The sax runs up the scale with the riff from the end of the first three verses.
5:18-5:42: Then the fourth verse brings back the joyous riff from the start of the second verse, but even fuller and more elaborate.
5:43-6:06: The sax moves back to a series of simple riffs that build up until the entire band drops out for a pause before the final chorus.
6:07-6:30: The final chorus includes the well-known sax riff that defines the song.
6:31-6:37: All but the guitars and drums drop out as the entire band chants “Hey, hey, hey, hey.”
6:38-7:04: The sax bursts out the closing riff along with a keyboard explosion before the song slowly fades out.
That is 6 minutes and 41 seconds of saxophone, almost all played as an integral piece of the rhythm. No one does that anymore, and few did even back then. Thank you, Big Man.
Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon
For most of my life, Pink Floyd’s 1973 album was their most famous, most popular, and most successful. Tracks like “Money,” “Time,” and “Brain Damage/Eclipse” were AOR and classic rock radio staples for decades. Dark Side of the Moon was mentioned annually as the album to spend the most years on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart, and still going. Now, fifty years after it was first released, it is no longer THE Pink Floyd album. As best I can tell, the public at large likes The Wall more. Personally, when I listen to Pink Floyd now I usually select Wish You Were Here, Animals, or the song “Echoes” from Meddle. All that being said, albums don’t spend twenty years on the Billboard 200 and make Best Album of All Time lists for as long as this one did without having an intrinsic quality that gives merit to those accolades.
Dark Side of the Moon was an album recorded at the perfect time. Prior to this record, Pink Floyd were known as a psychedelic rock band. One of their best-selling albums prior to 1973 was their 1970 album Atom Heart Mother, which included a full album side pseudo-psychedelic suite and a thirteen-minute track on side two literally called “Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast.” In between Atom Heart and Dark Side, Pink Floyd released Meddle, an album of transitional psych-rock songs and the soundscape “Echoes,” and Obscured By Clouds, a soundtrack to a long-forgotten film filled with transitional songs that both looked back to their psych-rock roots and looked forward to what was to come. By 1973, psych-rock fans had either moved on to the prog-rock of groups like Yes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer, or were braindead from excessive drug use. While the music of Yes and ELP was perfectly fine (I like both), someone needed to take the last five years of psych/prog/concept studio experimentation and create a cohesive concept album that pulled together modern recording technology, progressive songwriting, and early ’70s rock. By combining the lessons taught by albums like side two of The Beatles’ Abbey Road and The Who’s Tommy with the newfound guitar sound of David Gilmour and the conceptual lyrical vision of Roger Waters, Pink Floyd delivered on a grand scale. If Dark Side had been released even one or two years later, it would have missed its chance at immortality and been just one of many concept albums. Instead, it set the bar high and provided the blueprint for prog rock and concept albums throughout the rest of the decade. It showed that hit singles can fit perfectly within the concept album formula, and that they can be more than 3-minute pop songs and still get radio play. The sound of radio changed after this album, as did the idea that an album should only have its moment in the charts for a few months until replaced by the next similar album or an album by the same band.
Prog Rock and Concept Albums
The early ’70s were the heyday of prog rock, concept albums, and explorations into the limits of how much over-the-top intellectualism an audience will suffer through before turning away. For Pink Floyd, it was the rebirth of their career. For others, such as Genesis, ELP, and Yes, the formula worked, but only up to a point. For others, such as Van der Graaf Generator, King Crimson, and Gentle Giant, it was the blueprint for their existence and led to people either loving them without question for the last fifty years or turning away as soon as the first note drops. 1973 was an important year for these bands, including a few of my favorites.
King Crimson: Larks’ Tongues in Aspic
This is the first album featuring Robert Fripp’s third version of the band that influenced prog rock more than any other. This is one of Faux Jr.’s favorite bands, and this is one of his favorite albums by them. I agree on both counts. This version of the band saw the addition of John Wetton (bass/vocals) and Bill Buford (drums). Wetton would later form the prog pop band Asia and Buford was the original drummer for Yes. The new version of the band also featured Jamie Muir (percussion) and David Cross (violin and keyboards).
The sound of this band is a leap into the unknown for anyone not prepared, but once you jump it is a great journey. This version of King Crimson only released three albums and only existed for two years. After making the album Red in 1974, Fripp would move away from King Crimson for another seven years. Luckily, the three albums they released, starting with Larks’ Tongues, are all fantastic prog rock. If you don’t like it, I understand. If you want to take a sonic adventure into music you may not normally listen to, this is a great trio of albums with which to start.
Procol Harum: Grand Hotel
It wasn’t until 2016 that I learned there is more to Procol Harum than their single “Whiter Shade of Pale.” Over the last few years, I have listened to all of their albums, and there is one that stands above the rest as my favorite. Released in 1973, Grand Hotel was the group’s sixth album, but the first without lead guitarist Robin Trower. The loss of Trower led to a sound that was much lusher and less-defined by virtuoso guitar. For many at the time, this was a weakness, but I didn’t pay attention until over forty years later so I find it refreshing.
There are still guitars, but they are focused more on the occasional solo, and the main focus is on the songwriting of Gary Brooker (piano, vocals) and Keith Reid (lyrics). Reid was like Bernie Taupin (lyricist for Elton John), writing all of the lyrics for the band (including “Whiter Shade of Pale”) without performing on the recordings. The newfound focus on the arrangements opened up the album to a much more interesting sound than their earlier recordings and I believe this album sounds like something bands such as Coldplay and U2 may have listened to during their childhoods. In comparison, “Whiter Shade of Pale” sounds very dated now, evoking memories of Big Chill obsessed baby boomers during the ’80s.
Genesis: Selling England by the Pound
This album was the band’s next to last before their sprawling messterpiece The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. Selling England was the band’s first album that could be called a hit, and it has gained in popularity over the last fifty years. It is my favorite of the Peter Gabriel period, especially side one. “I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)” isn’t a conventional pop song, but it was their first single that felt like a pop hit. The title track, “Dancing With The Moonlit Knight,” is one of Gabriel’s best and the band’s best album opener during this period. While most prog artists were releasing overly pretentious concept albums, especially Jethro Tull’s A Passion Play and Yes’ Tales From Topographic Oceans, Genesis were working the formula as well an any of their contemporaries.
The Who: Quadrophenia
Quadrophenia is often selected by Who fans as their favorite album. I’m weird in that my favorite Who albums are from the late ’70s and early ’80s, but I can see why fans love this album. As an example of a sprawling, overly pretentious concept album none can beat this record. The difference between this conceptual double album and others from 1973, such as Tales From Topographic Oceans, is that this is still The Who. Keith Moon and John Entwistle never fail to lay down a groove that can’t help but grab you, no matter what sort of nonsensical, simplistic story Pete Townshend is attempting to present as poetry. I don’t often listen to this one, but when I do I am never disappointed. Most important, in terms of 1973, is that this record is yet another example to show that EVERYONE was making progressive concept albums in 1973.
Here is a list of just a few of the concept albums released in 1973. There were many more, including dozens of prog rock albums with album-length song cycles and 20-minute excursions into absurdity.
Gentle Giant: In a Glass House – based around the phrase “those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”
Jethro Tull: A Passion Play – the story of a dead guy’s travels in the afterlife
Elton John: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – yes, this is a conceptual double album based around nostalgic memories of childhood and past cultural events and icons.
The Kinks: Preservation Act I – this one is about a guy named Mr. Flash who does bad stuff to good people
Nektar: Remember the Future – this one is about some being named Bluebird who tries to explain the meaning of life
Pink Floyd: Dark Side Of The Moon – it’s about mental health, insanity, and the pressures of being in Pink Floyd
Todd Rundgren: A Wizard, A True Star – this album pushes the limits of the single-track-with-no-breaks-between-songs concept, coming in at 19 songs, all connected together over 56 minutes and representing some sort of hallucinogenic exploration
The Who: Quadrophenia – it’s about a young mod named Jimmy who likes The Who and deals with a bunch of stuff
1973 wasn’t any different than any other year when it comes to debut albums. There were most likely dozens released that you may like. I’m not even going to try to look them all up or attempt to pick the best ones. Two of the most obvious to mention are Lynyrd Skynyrd (Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd) and the New York Dolls’ self-titled debut. I’m only going to focus on one. It is a fantastic and often overlooked debut by one of my favorite bands. It is Queen.
Special note for Aerosmith fans: I don’t like the music of Aerosmith so I’m not going to write about their 1973 self-titled debut album. I understand why you do. No hard feelings. There is no accounting for taste, both yours or mine. I do think “Dream On” is a pretty good song, though, and a great way to start a career if you are going to become one of the most popular bands in rock and roll history.
I am not going to tell you to like Queen. If you don’t like them, that is your choice. It is also your loss, but nobody’s perfect. I am a card carrying Queen fan, and my love of the band only grows stronger as I get older. I’ve been a fan ever since I was 8 or 9 years old and my best friend’s sister bought the News of the World album and I couldn’t stop looking at the poor band members being crushed in a bloody mess by the weird robot on the front cover. That is when I realized they were the band who sang that new song “We Will Rock You.” It wasn’t long before I discovered “Bicycle Race” and “Fat Bottomed Girls.” Somewhere in there I am sure I heard “Bohemian Rhapsody” and liked it. Only a few years later, I bought their album The Game and played it every day for a year. When MTV gave them a second generation of fans with hits like “Radio Ga Ga,” “Under Pressure,” and “Body Language,” I waited patiently for every new video. Then, I stopped paying attention. That happens. My tastes moved toward much more alternative sounds and I barely even noticed when they released their last album and Freddie Mercury died in 1991. It was probably ten or fifteen years later when I rediscovered my love for them, mostly because of Ms. Faux’s love for them, and started gathering up their albums. Even then, however, I was focused on the more popular releases. It wasn’t until a few more years of re-listening to those great albums that I realized I was missing the meat in my Queen sandwich. Sure, A Night At The Opera, A Day At The Races, and Jazz are great albums, but I only truly realized the genius of the band when I went back to 1973 and started to listen to their first three releases. Now, when I listen to Queen, I am just as likely to pull out Queen II, Sheer Heart Attack, or their debut.
Queen was barely noticed when it was released in 1973. Even in their homeland, it didn’t crack the Top 20 album charts. It was virtually ignored in the United States. Neither of the two singles, “Keep Yourself Alive” and “Liar,” charted in the U.S. or the U.K. It is one of the least acknowledged debuts of any great band you can name. Looking back at some old reviews, the band is compared to Led Zeppelin and they are labeled as heavy metal by more than a few. Some saw greatness in them at the time, but didn’t necessarily see it in this album. However, hindsight is a wonderful attribute of our human intellect, and many people have now looked back to see that this debut is one of the greatest electric guitar performances ever recorded for a debut.
Freddie Mercury’s ridiculously impressive vocal range is there, but it hasn’t yet taken full command of the songs. What does take command is the guitar wizardry of Brian May. May pulls out all sorts of tricks from his guitar wizard hat, with each track providing an incredible mix of riffs, lead lines, acoustic bits, shredding effects, and dozens of other sounds that would later become standard in Queen songs. There is no Queen without Freddie Mercury, and his introduction to the world was not far away. Although no one noticed it at the time, THIS was Brian May’s introduction to the world, even if it was a world that wasn’t quite ready to listen.
The First Punk Rock Album
Iggy Pop and the Stooges: Raw Power
Iggy Pop and the Stooges had been developing a sound that can be called protopunk for several years before this album was released. New York Dolls released their glam/protopunk debut in 1973, but Raw Power IS the first true punk album. The Ramones’ debut was still three years away when this album was released. It purposefully pushed all of the needles into the red, ran over everything in its path, and left the world lying in a pool of blood, piss, and shit like an apocalyptic deathstorm.
Being a Fan Means You Like All of a Band’s Albums
Van Morrison: Hardnose The Highway and T. Rex: Tanx
For the first ten years of my adult life, Van Morrison was my favorite artist. I obsessively collected all of his albums and bought the new one every time it was released (which meant buying a new one every year because that is the kind of artist he was in the ’80s and ’90s). For the second ten years of my adult life, T. Rex was my favorite artist. I obsessively collected all of their albums (I couldn’t buy new ones because Marc Bolan was long gone from this Earth by then). I’ve since moved on so that there are still a few Van Morrison and T. Rex albums in my Top Albums of All Time list, but not near as many as there used to be. That is what happens as you grow older and broaden your worldview.
For both of these artists, 1973 was the year that saw their first drop-off in album quality. For Van Morrison, this was to be expected after releasing a run of five great albums (from 1968’s Astral Weeks through 1972’s St. Dominic’s Preview). For T. Rex, this was a surprise (although album sales were still very good) because the band’s lineup was still the same as on their first three fantastic albums (T. Rex, Electric Warrior, and The Slider), the amazing Tony Visconti was still involved in the production, and the band was at the peak of their popularity (having led the glam rock charge alongside David Bowie).
Looking back now, I enjoy both of these albums more than I did when I first discovered them. The Morrison album is a fine collection of songs that foreshadow where he was going to take his sound moving forward. The T. Rex album is a fine collection of songs that would have fit perfectly on The Slider, but without any obvious standouts. That is why these two albums seem like failures in the overall discography of these artists – they are really good sets of songs that would have been album filler on their previous records, albeit really good album filler.
A Few More To Finish The List
There are obviously hundreds more rock albums from 1973 that could be included in this week’s Faux Show. Some of my favorites are Elton John Don’t Shoot Me (which is a great album and includes two of his career-defining songs), Rolling Stones Goat’s Head Soup (which is their first album to miss the mark after a string of classics), Black Sabbath Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (which is a solid Sabbath album, but at some point all Sabbath songs start to sound the same), David Bowie Aladdin Sane (which has never grabbed me like Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust, or the albums to come later in the ’70s), and ZZ Top Tres Hombres (which includes the great song “Waitin’ On The Bus” and their breakthrough hit “La Grange”).
Led Zeppelin: Houses of the Holy
I am going to argue that this is the best Led Zeppelin album. I am not going to defend my opinion. Take or leave it, that is what I think. When I want to get the Led out, I go here.
Steely Dan: Countdown to Ecstasy
The second album by Steely Dan is their first really good album. It is not their best, but it is really good.
ELO: On the Third Day
The third album by ELO is their first really good album. It is not their best, but it is really good.
Little Feat: Dixie Chicken
The most famous and critically acclaimed Southern Rock band of the ’70s was Lynyrd Skynyrd. Personally, I much prefer the music of Little Feat. Lowell George’s song are funkier, more soulful, and catchier than Skynyrd’s, even if they don’t rock as hard.
Special note for Eagles fans: I don’t like the music of The Eagles so I’m not going to write about their 1973 album Desperado. I understand why you do. No hard feelings. There is no accounting for taste, both yours or mine. I do like the song “Desperado” because of its use in this episode of Seinfeld.
That’s it for this first of several shows focused on 1973. There are more to come with a focus on other styles of music. In the meantime, as always, thanks for listening (and reading)!
And, as always, I’ve created a playlist featuring some of the music discussed in this week’s show.
- The Rolling Stones “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)”
- The Who “5:15”
- Queen “Liar”
- Led Zeppelin “The Ocean”
- Lynyrd Skynyrd “Gimme Three Steps”
- ELO “Showdown”
- Procol Harum “Grand Hotel”
- The Kinks “Sitting In The Midday Sun”
- Van Morrison “Purple Heather”
- Bruce Springsteen “Blinded By The Light”
- Bruce Springsteen “Rosalita”
- Pink Floyd “Time”
- King Crimson “Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, Pt. 1”
- Genesis “Firth of Fifth”
- Elton John “Grey Seal”
- Elton John “High Flying Bird”
- Steely Dan “The Boston Rag”
- Little Feat “Two Trains”
- ZZ Top “Waitin’ For The Bus”
- Black Sabbath “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”
- Iggy Pop & The Stooges “Search and Destroy”
- David Bowie “Panic in Detroit”
- New York Dolls “Personality Crisis”
- T. Rex “Life Is Strange”
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