For better or worse, I’ve started on a book about 1970s popular music. I plan is to write about 10 entries a day, which means I should have the first draft done sometime in December. I’ve divided each year into pop, rock, soul, and country. Here’s my first 12 rock entries from 1970.
Posts By: Steve Crawford
“Anything, Anything (I’ll Give You),” Dramarama. While there are plenty of songs about romantic infatuation, singer John Easdale conveys almost a life or death need for validation on “Anything, Anything.” Hormonal angst rock at its finest.
wW here at rock nyc know the 1970s were the greatest decade in rock and roll history topped by punk and disco at the end but if you don’t believe us check out Steve Crawford’s 997 best songs of the decade. Though we will pass on “The Cover Of The Rolling Stone”,
To cut to the chase, The Bottle Rockets in 2014 are as superb as they’ve ever been. Perhaps they are even better now than they were in the ‘90s, they are more disciplined and have four members that really understand how to play as a unit.
As much as the ‘80s are maligned musically, ’84 was an outstanding year for pop music. Check out my lengthy list of Honorable Mentions below #20, many of which are as good/even better than the twenty annotated below in alphabetical order.
On a personal level, my goal is to always extend that comfort zone. It’s hard to learn much in life if you are only willing to dog paddle within the same peer group. It’s a big, messy world out there. Go out and explore it with open ears and an open mind. You might discover that both Glenn Miller and Kanye West are pretty hep cats.
Thematically Isaak is all about hummable heartbreak. Women love the guy. He’s witty and charming enough to be a stand up comic, but also knows how to play the seduction card. When the band hit the opening chords of “Wicked Game,” it felt like the room was hit by an estrogen thunderstorm.
“Age of Consent,” New Order. Three years after permanent mope Ian Curtis offed himself, New Order effectively established a new post punk sound, sounding a bit like a less attention needy version of the The Cure. An unexpected entry on your “Songs About Jailbait” playlist.
Gray sang and rambled like an alcoholic with two plugs of Skoal in his cheeks; James Henderson’s flute lead intro on “Heard It in a Love Song” was tentative and halting, percussionist B.B. Borden lacked the finesse for the material, and the group’s attempt at funk were laughably bad
Outside of Amarillo is a weird roadside attraction known as Cadillac Ranch – a line of ten Cadillacs buried nose first into the ground. Visitors are encouraged to spray paint graffiti on the Detroit relics. Noting one of the cars already was tagged with “Steve,” no work was required on my behalf.
I’ve never seen a bad Asleep at the Wheel show and this one was solid at times and sometimes moved from professionalism to true inspiration. One telling difference between Bob Wills and Benson is that Wills always had an edge of inspired chaos in his work. There was an improvisational sense of never knowing what was coming next.
Mrs. Lorene Burns, an Alabama woman that had the famous seven digits for her telephone number was not a fan. “When we’d first get calls at 2 or 3 in the morning, my husband would answer the phone. He can’t hear too well. They’d ask for Jenny, and he’d say ‘Jimmy doesn’t live here anymore.’ Tommy Tutone was the one who had the record. I’d like to get hold of his neck and choke him.”
Where Have All The Good Times Gone,” 1965. At the ripe old age of 21, poor rock star Ray is already wondering what’s happened to the worry free lifestyle of his youth. This sounds like a major hit, but was a B-side in 1965, then bombed as a single in 1973 (released after Bowie did his cover on Pin Ups). Is it just me or does the mother figure sound like a cougar?
The picture is Waterloo Station in the mid 1800 but by the time young ray wrote about it, it was an industrial quagmire, Number One? Crawford had this to say: “Waterloo Sunset,” 1967. The most beautiful song I will ever hear.
It’s all about irreverent fun, although the shirtless Smith does bring a layer of sweat and sexuality. The 90 minute set ran a bit too long, this band can say everything it needs to in an hour, and I would have loved to have heard their spleen crushing version of “Brontosaurus” again.
My first draft list had 25 entries, but with feedback from experts like Bill Holdship, John Kordosh, Iman Lababedi, Michael Bennett, A.C. Rhodes, and others, the list expanded to 40 and I could have easily included many others (“Powerman,” “Two Sisters,” “God’s Children,” and “Celluloid Heroes” are among the missing)
At the # 1 spot, American artist: “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground,” Willie Nelson. One of Willie’s best – a beautiful lyric of self-less love matched with equally inspiring guitar work. A #1 country hit.
Lemmy and the boys formed in 1975, but struggled in their native U.K. until the Overkilland Bomber albums dented the album charts in 1979. The band released their signature punk meets metal anthem “Ace of Spades” in 1980 and it even went to #15 on the U.K. pop charts. Kilmister’s work as a rock ‘n’ roll icon and independent lawn killer is a never ending mission.
The Ramones provided a psychological safety zone for a generation of misfits who intrinsically knew that conformity was neither a valid goal nor a viable option. They provided a haven not just as a gathering place for outcasts, but a beautiful celebration of the power of eccentricity.
While his name isn’t widely known among music fans, the list of artists that recorded his material would make any writer proud. George Jones, Johnny Cash, George Strait, Willie Nelson, Lefty Frizzell, Jerry Lee Lewis, Waylon Jennings, and John Anderson all sang Vickery compositions
It was suggested that I might want to submit an article on my favorite songs by my ten favorite bands or spend the rest of my career dissecting Peter Cetera’s contribution to the Mexican milkweed underwear industry for Granola Bong Hit magazine’s South American edition
. “Boogie Wonderland,” Earth, Wind, & Fire. EWF managed to be all things to all people in the late ‘70s – they had elements of disco and funk, but stayed safely within the confines of Top 40 music. Looking back, they seemed bigger than they were – scoring seven Top Ten hits, four in ’78 and ’79. This happy feet dance number, which included The Emotions on vocals, captured the giddy vibe of the disco era,.
That Pentecostal fervor informs his music – he can sing a straightforward ballad, but on the uptempo numbers, he howls and screams and bellows and throws his entire body into the music. He is a naturally unique and gifted performer.
Van Halen erupted on the scene in ’78 with Eddie’s unmatched guitar pyrotechnics and David Lee Roth’s tongue-in-cheek (and elsewhere) macho posturing. Pretty much a coin flip on whether to select this one or “Dance the Night Away,” but the campy “I been to the edge” monologue makes the difference for me.
“Alison,” Elvis Costello. Declan MacManus delivered a debut album that couldn’t be ignored; pairing pub rock licks with punk rock attitude and the wordplay/songwriting skills of a learned veteran, not a rookie that had just quit his day job. On “Alison,” he stumbles across an old flame that is drowning in unsalvageable sorrow
He is most famously known for his songwriting partnership with Carole King (the couple were married from 1959 to 1968). As a lyricist, Goffin was known for his acute writing from a female perspective and as King has noted, his ability to put “big ideas into simple words.”
“Anarchy in the U.K.,” The Sex Pistols. In November of ’76, a sea change occurred in the U.K. music scene as Johnny Rotten introduced himself as an anti-Christ/anarchist. While Rotten was declaring his goal to destroy passersby, the multi-tracked guitar of Steve Jones roared in violent agreement with the sentiment.
If Kasem had been simply spinning platters and telling chart positions, he would have been imminently replaceable. The bits of trivia, the stories about the artists and the songs, the dramatic build to the #1 hit of the week was all part of an ongoing narrative – part mystery, part discovery, always leading to the next week’s chapter in the ongoing saga of pop music history.
“Ballroom Blitz,” Sweet. Mixing bubblegum pop with Townshend power chords, songwriters Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman wrote a series of U.K. hits for Sweet, including “Little Willie,” “Wig-Wam Bam,” and the excitingly punctuated “Block Buster!” “Ballroom Blitz” is Sweet at their irresistible best and was a major international hit – it went to #2 in the U.K. in 1973 and #3 in the U.S. in 1975.
He truly displayed the versatility of the Texas Playboys during a stretch from 1935 to 1938, when the band recorded material influenced by blues, jazz, jug band, big band, pop, and country sources to make his uniquely rhythmic and upbeat brand of dance music
He could be catchy and clever at times, but his calling card was restraint, not emotion. He didn’t make me laugh or cry or belt out a chorus – at best, he just didn’t make me lunge to change the station when his latest hit was played.
John Prine penned “Angel” for his extraordinary 1971 debut album. Raitt gave this despondent tale of a woman living a passionless life an even more touching treatment. Always remember, common side effects of Zoloft include sleepiness, nervousness, insomnia, dizziness, nausea, skin rash, headache, diarrhea, upset stomach, loss of appetite, abnormal ejaculation, dry mouth, and weight loss.
The rag kicked off its new venture with, of course, a list. The website trumpeted loudly this week – “The Greatest 100 Country Songs of All Time.” The specific country was not designated.
“Love Train,” The O’Jays. Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, the kings of the Philly soul sound, wrote and produced this #1 hit. The O’Jays formed in the late 1950s, but had no success until 1972, when Gamble and Huff produced “Back Stabbers” for the group. The O’Jays smartly stayed with G&H for the rest of the decade. For the love of money, if nothing else.
There is nothing inherently wrong with glitz, but Dolly has spent so much time focusing on her image and her bank account, that she has no energy left to put any heart into her music. I spent over $150 for two of the cheap seats at the sold out casino gig and in return my money, I got a lengthy Milli Vanilli tribute show.
This list heavy on alt-country No Depression Americana, but that’s just the way I roll these days. The #1 slot is by the band with the best album of the year so far (and the #3 slot comes from the second best album of the year). I have no idea if Parker Millsap is being sincere or ironic on “Truck Stop Gospel,” but in either case, he’s made me a believer. In Parker Millsap.
The city council of Lake City has yet to formally vote on the name change, but that is most likely a mere formality. “Rocky Top,” a tune written in ten minutes to celebrate an idyllic, fictional Tennessee lifestyle will soon morph into a manufactured, t-shirt selling tourist trap. I bet Hooter’s is already looking for property.
The common theme of ‘70s rock criticism was “this decade is horrendous, everything great happened in the ‘60s,” which is a sentiment that proves that The Beatles were more effective as a hangover than they were as an intoxication. 1972 was actually an embarrassment of riches and this listing could easily be doubled. So, let’s groove on back to the Nixon era without being nattering nabobs of negativity.
Like most documentaries, this is a labor of love and director Garcia does a fine job at highlighting the key events in Thunders’ life. However, the limited ability he had for licensing is a shortcoming of the film – most of the music used in the film is clamorous stage footage that doesn’t adequately display Thunders’ skill as a songwriter
Rambunctious and sloppy and chaotic and hysterical with songs that you can both sing with and scream along to. If you’ve forgotten how thrilling traditional rock ‘n’ roll can be, this is one hell of a reminder. Play it loud. Knock back a few shots. Piss off your uptight neighbors.
Poverty among rural farm families was the norm in that era and as you drive down the rough dirt road where Cash lived, you can easily imagine long walks into town on humid summer days – surrounded by nothing but dirt, cotton, and endless blue skies
1971 was a great year for what we now call classic rock – Rod Stewart, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and The Who all released indispensable albums. Boiling down 1971 to 20 A+ tracks was no easy feat – my apologies to the Chi-Lites and the Stylistics, among others.
This record gets the Best Supporting Cast award for 1970. Motown legends Holland/Dozier/Holland wrote the tune under a lawsuit avoiding pseudonym and The Funk Brothers played on the track. Ray Parker, Jr., who was still attending classes at Detroit’s Northwestern High School, played lead guitar.
It was an abbreviated set – approximately 45 minutes long (or, one minute for each member of the audience). Jordan even apologized for the weak performance prior to the encore
Following the pre-taped introduction, the band hit the stage like a tornado – using wireless equipment gives the guitarists the freedom to stomp around the stage like rabid pachyderms. There’s plenty of flash, crunch, and bombast typical of a heavy metal show
Blunstone and Argent really haven’t lost a step; Blunstone still sounds more like a rock star than a man pushing 70. Argent gave the original hits “She’s Not There” and “Tell Her No” a jazzier feel with his signature keyboard style. There were plenty of pleasures in the nineteen-song set.
Cochran’s wasn’t interested in clever wordplay or innovative song structures. His specialty was traditional country heartbreak, served up in a simple ballad format. Listed below in chronological order are some of his most enduring contributions to country music.
Every year during the last weekend of April, the small West Texas community of Turkey, Texas celebrates the legacy of their most famous citizen with Bob Wills Day, as a huge fan of both Bob Wills and general weirdness, I’ve wanted to attend this event for years
As attentive readers know, the theme of this piece is great songs by different artists that share the same title. In the first article on this subject, we learned to “Walk Like a Man” with The Four Season and Bruce Springsteen (but forgot Grand Funk), we observed “Love Is All Around” from the Troggs and Joan Jett, and we were infatuated with “Starry Eyes” by The Records and Roky Erickson.
Inspiration can come at odd times. On one of my recent trips to Rock NYC Headquarters, Helen Bach and I got into a wee bit of legal trouble. It’s a long story that started with us…um…borrowing all of the money in the petty cash fund