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Friday, March 9, 2012

Super Hits of the 70s

There is lots of nostaglia these days for the 80s.  Groups like Foster the People, M83, and the emergence of Dub-Step in all its record spinning glory owe a debt of thanks to the synth loving melody makers of the acid washed decade.

This spot has been reserved for many of these new acts over the past year or so.  It has been a wonderful moment in music that excites me today yet reminiscing about my formative years.

But one should never forgot his/her roots.  For this humble blogger that is the 70s.  And what a decade it was!  Warm with denim and fluffy hair.  Kinda dirty, kinda dangerous, and kinda nerdy.  Wars in space, mob films, and bell bottoms.  Kojak and Kotter.  Watergate and key parties.  And the music.  Such a wealth and depth that most of us are as comfortable singing along both Abba as we are Blue Oyster Cult.  Big hair and big bands.  Sabbath, Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac...  Progressive rock like Yes and Rush to punkers The Clash and Ramones.  Bowie, Elton John, Bruce, Queen...

Let's celebrate for a moment shall we??  Who is your favorite?  What track brings back memories?  For me, these tracks come to mind in a hurry.  What a wonderful time in music.  You can debate whether it was better in general.  A world without DVR and $2.00 coffees.  Sounds horrible.  These track do not.

Dave Mason "Disagree"  Mason had a nice career, including a nice stretch with Traffic.  This soft rock gem examining the difficulty of relationships is 70s gold.  A little organ, a little harmony and a lot of heart.  A classic in every sense of the word.

Al Stewart "Year of the Cat"  What is with his voice?  Effeminate?  Outright Liberace queer?  Who cares?  Piano riffing with mystical lyrics?  Check.  Huge bass lines and man fro?    Flower blazer? Check!!!  Good, clean fun?  Check.   Here he performs it live and flawlessly.  "She comes in incense/and patchouli."  Who writes that today and isn't laughed out of LA???

Walter Egan w/ Stevie Nicks "Magnet and Steel"  Another easy going love song with the perfect amount of Nicks cheerful background vocal.  Not much to say about this other than try not singing along.

Led Zeppelin "Gallows Pole"  You can take Physical Graffiti, the hardness of 1 and 2, and all the rest.  Led Zeppelin 3 represents their finest work.  Here, with Jimmy Page playing about a thousand guitar parts, is Exhibit Infinity.

Rolling Stones "Sweet Virginia"  Similarly, the 1972 masterpiece Exile on Main St, represents the Stones best work.  From start to finish a true work of art.  You can understand why Mick and Keith feared Mick Taylor.  He had a ton of talent and deserves more credit than he gets.  His work with the band brought them added layers they never replaced.  Ron Wood can play, but never had the finesse Taylor possessed.

Warren Zevon "Lawyers, Guns and Money"  Zevon's 1978 Excitable Boy LP is bold, audacious, humorous and militant.  Another underrated performer from a decade full of them.  His legacy is secured with tracks like this.  Groovy and hard rocking at the same time.  His rasp is incendiary.  A breathing fire singer is their ever was one.  He is missed for sure.

Gerry Rafferty "Right Down the Line"  Another gifted singer/songwriter who passed too early.  A Scottish soul who lived a troubled life.  He left us with "Baker St", "Stuck in the Middle With You" and many other hits.  For the line "It was you/Wo-Mon" alone this song deserves praise.  Another waste due to the dangers of booze/drugs/depression.

Fleetwood Mac "Walk a Thin Line"  Everybody owned Rumours.  Their catalog is well known, as is their plight.  Break ups and make ups.  Drugs and sex.  70s excess wrapped up in a trans continental whirlwind.  Everything, yet nothing at all.  This little known track from the overlooked Tusk LP is the perfect lullaby.  Mick Fleetwood's tactful drumming plays so nicely with the vocals without a hint of auto tune magic or computer effect.  Real people making real music.  Emotional and satisfying in every way.

The Band featuring Emmylou Harris "Evangeline"  A 70s mash up.  If it were today it would be something like Zac Brown Band featuring Taylor Swift.  This clip. from Martin Scorsese's "The Last Waltz", is precision song making.  Like the cast itself it needs few words to describe its kick-assedness.

Patti Smith "Dancing Barefoot"  Just the right amount of anger and rage.  Just the right amount of hope and freedom.  Joy and pain.  Like sunshine and rain.  Wait, that's Rob Base and the 80s.
The female precursor to so many.  Avril, Rhainna and Gaga, ok not Gaga, all rolled up into one.  The voice of a generation.  And what a generation it was.  We are all still benefiting.

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