MUSIC FREAKIN’ ROCKED WHEN I WAS 3
by Todd Hartley
You’ll have to indulge me a little this week, folks. I’m afraid stupid people other than myself have decided to take the week off, leaving me to plum the shallows of my limited imagination to bring you this week’s rant.
Fortunately, I have something I’ve been wanting to say for a long time. You see, I’m what some people might call a music geek, and every time I hear a little snippet – and believe me, that’s as much as I can bear – of the auto-tuned, DJ-spun, crotch-grabbing-rappery, boy-bandish, no-instruments-required crap that people call music these days, a little part of me dies.
Seriously, I know I’m old, but how did music get so bad? I mean, the Eighties weren’t great musically, and the Nineties didn’t end too well after a strong, grunge-fueled start, but for pure sucktasticness, popular music doesn’t get a whole lot worse than it is right now. Of course, that’s just my opinion. Thankfully, my opinion gets published.
Having said that, I will now devote the rest of this column to arguing something that you may think is my opinion but by column’s end will be forced to admit is indeed a fact, and that is this: In the spirit of stupid debate, I declare 1973 the single greatest year in music history, and to put it bluntly, I don’t think you can make the case for any other year, unless you’re a big Mozart fan or something.
I know a lot of you will say right off the bat that any year that didn’t include the Beatles can’t be the best, and you have a point. The Beatles did not release a studio album in 1973, admittedly, but all four members of the Beatles did. So did Yoko Ono.
Despite the absence of the Fab Four, classic rock was obviously a major force in music in 1973. All of the Beatles’ British Invasion contemporaries put out albums. The Rolling Stones released “Goats Head Soup,” Led Zeppelin put out “Houses of the Holy,” and The Who struck big with the landmark double album “Quadrophenia.” Oh, and then there was a little record from Pink Floyd called “Dark Side of the Moon” that spent more weeks on the charts than any album ever.
Some other classic rock albums of note from 1973 include Bruce Springsteen’s first album, Aerosmith’s first album and albums from The Beach Boys, Elvis Presley, The Kinks, Elton John, The Guess Who, Bob Seger and Deep Purple. And that was only January. By the end of the year, every classic rock band that didn’t choke on its own vomit had put out at least one album.
But it wasn’t just classic rock. It was music across the board. What genre do you like? Country? Johnny Cash, Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton, Glen Campbell, Waylon Jennings, Tanya Tucker, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson and Hank Williams, Jr. all hit the charts in 1973.
Singer-songwriters? Jim Croce, Judy Collins, John Denver, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, Jimmy Buffett, Carole King, Don Mclean, Cat Stevens, Neil Young, Jackson Browne.
Motown? The Temptations, the Four Tops, Diana Ross, The Jackson 5, Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye.
Folk music was clearly past its prime by 1973, but Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Arlo Guthrie, Leonard Cohen and Cass Elliot all still put out albums. Same thing with jazz, although ’73 did see the release of Herbie Hancock’s “Head Hunters,” one of the biggest jazz albums ever.
And maybe metal, punk and disco were still some years from their heydays, but Black Sabbath released “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath,” Iggy and The Stooges put out “Raw Power,” the New York Dolls released their debut album, and the Bee Gees, KC and the Sunshine Band, ABBA and Earth, Wind & Fire were all active.
Do you like funk? James Brown, Funkadelic, Sly & the Family Stone, Mandrill, Tower of Power, The Isley Brothers, Billy Preston, War.
Reggae? Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Burning Spear, Toots & the Maytals.
Glam rock? Alice Cooper, David Bowie, Gary Glitter, Mott the Hoople, T. Rex.
Progressive rock? Frank Zappa, Yes, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Blue Oyster Cult, Genesis, King Crimson, Manfred Mann.
Southern rock? The Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Marshall Tucker Band, Charlie Daniels.
Bad arena rock? Styx, REO Speedwagon, Uriah Heep, Nazareth, Foghat. I could go on and on, believe me.
Most importantly, though, for fans of squeaky-clean family rock, The Carpenters, Cher, Sha Na Na, The Partridge Family and The Osmonds all had albums in 1973. Heck, Donny and Marie Osmond each released solo albums that year. What more do you need to know?
Todd Hartley apologizes to people who aren’t music geeks and found this boring.