In a continuing series of musical highlights to help educate those younger and less well-musically informed, here is a small list of 1970s songs that, in my humble opinion, they absolutely must know. As always, this is far too brief a list and, of course, you may disagree with my picks. Suggestions are always welcome and I will fold them into future articles.
Marvelous, simply marvelous. We Moondanced the night away.
1. Van Morrison – “Moondance” (1970)
The millennials have their rap and hip-hop; we had Motown and funk and I believe we got the better deal. Marvin Gaye is everything a Kanye West might always want to be – and never can. Sorry, Kanye, but the truth is hard sometimes.
2. Marvin Gaye – “Mercy Mercy Me” (1971)
On Soul Train, no less!
3. The O’Jays – “Back Stabbers” (1972)
No one sounds like ELP, just…no one. Unique and they rock. They are almost grandiose in their sound, an entire orchestra in three talented musicians. I know many people consider Keith Moon to have been a magnificent drummer, but he was actually not. A constant, almost manic driving rhythm, yes, but no Mozart. Carl Palmer is the far better percussionist.
4. Emerson, Lake and Palmer – “Hoedown” (1972)
“Nobody gonna take my car – I’m gonna race it to the ground.”
5. Deep Purple – “Highway Star” (1972)
I wonder just how many guys back then ran this song through their heads, at one time or another, when pursuing the love of their lives? All of us, I think. I know the girls liked it a lot, so for hormonally saturated teenagers, that was just fine by us.
6. Stevie Wonder – “Golden Lady” (1973)
One of the two scantily clad babes on the album cover is the actress Joanna Lumley, later known to us as Edina Monsoon from Absolutely Fabulous.
7. Roxy Music – “Out of the Blue” (1974)
Certainly one of the most prolific, popular acts of the ’70s, the Dan had it all. Cool, rhythm, lyrics — you name it. A pair of angsty recluses who crafted great music. A curious note is that in their earliest days (while working up as a band when in college), their drummer was the future actor Chevy Chase.
8. Steely Dan – “Pretzel Logic” (1974)
I remember this on the radio when in my first year of high school.
9. Raspberries – “Overnight Sensation” (1974)
Nothing Led Zeppelin ever did was bad. Nothing. The real trick is to find the nuggets of platinum in a sea of gold. Yes, they were that good.
10. Led Zeppelin – “Kashmir” (1975)
Punk rock didn’t just appear from nowhere — we had our 1970s “proto-punk” as well. The Tubes, Lou Reed — you could hear the future sound in their songs. A few years later, our running joke was, we were “White Dopes on Punk.”
11. The Tubes – “White Punks on Dope” (1975)
Coolness from a master of music, George Benson.
12. George Benson – “This Masquerade” (1976)
Little Feat was one of my more favorite acts at that time.
13. Little Feat – “Time Loves a Hero” (1977)
Just like today, there were catchphrases that, well, caught. Almost everyone then knew the lyrics, “I don’t care…what you do – I wouldn’t want to be like you.”
14. The Alan Parsons Project – “I Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You” (1977)
And, finally, music as sophisticated performance art. Bowie could certainly put on a show.
15. David Bowie – “Heroes” (1977)