Music’s always been a life soundtrack for me. As long as I can remember music was always there: roller skating in my basement listening to Call Me by Blondie, a very young, poorly chosen obsession with the Village People, my first 45-single, I Love Rock N Roll by Joan Jett and the Black Hearts and my first full-length grown up album, Glass Houses by Billy Joel.
More often than not when I recall an event in life, a song comes to mind that was playing or popular with me at the time. Music’s association with events, time and evocative memories is something truly special as the tunes don’t go bad or spoil (maybe ones by the Village People do). With the digital age it’s easier than ever to instantly go back in time by clicking on a track, sound fills the room and I’m at that place again.
Being born in 1973 I discovered most seventies music I now love in the eighties and nineties and in one case just last year. Following on my Ten Eighties and Ten Nineties blogs, following are 10 albums from the 1970s that delight each and every time they pulse through my ears. Listed in alphabetical order, there are no greatest hits or soundtrack packages. Lets go back in time.
Cheap Trick at Budokan (1978)
Few bands best selling album is a live one, but Cheap Trick completely nailed capturing that live concert sound and feel, hence its amazing sales and longevity. They’re super tight, the sound is crisp, rough, raw, and it’s easy to visualize the Japanese fans losing their minds as these then rock gods tore the roof off the place.
Cold Fact (1970)
I only learned about this one in 2013 and haven’t been able to stop listening to it since. Little-known Rodriguez amazed producers and musicians alike who knew of him at the time, but this recording went nowhere. Perhaps there was only room for one Dylan? Watch the captivating documentary about him, Searching for Sugarman, listen to this album, and you’ll have a new best friend.
Cosmo’s Factory (1970)
Perhaps one of the most absurd rock album covers ever, if people judged the record by its cover alone it would have gone nowhere. But inside is some of the best music Credence Clearwater Revival ever knocked out. It’s almost a greatest hits piece on its own: Run Through the Jungle, Who’ll Stop the Rain and it just keeps going. A timeless delight.
Damn the Torpedoes (1979)
Recorded at legendary Sound City studios, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ third album was their first to crack the Top 10. Standout hits like Refugee and Don’t Do Me Like That are high points in this record that sails from start to finish.
Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
Legendary. Anyone who loves music is sure to have fallen under the spell of Pink Floyd’s most famous work at some point during his or her musical journey. There’s a mystical thread throughout that takes the listener on a strange voyage as few records have. And the more one listens, more surprises reveal themselves, things go deeper and you can’t help wondering how they came up with this magical stuff?
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (1976)
AC/DC’s third album packs a punch that ranges from immature teenage fun with Big Balls to serious blues on Ride On. What’s sure, this record put the Aussie rockers firmly on the international map and helped pave the way to their current rock god status. Good fun from start to finish.
Exile on Main Street (1972)
A very risky double-album at the time, no one would now doubt the Rolling Stones’ good judgment in putting this work of art out. Embracing blues, soul, gospel, rock, you name it, they stitched together what may well be their seminal effort.
Led Zeppelin IV (1971)
Every teenager sooner or later comes upon Led Zeppelin’s most famous record, usually in the form of Stairway to Heaven at a high school dance. Every Zeppelin album could make this list but I had to pick just one. From Rock and Roll to Black Dog and When the Levee Breaks, all eight tracks stand out, are completely unique and form an incredible journey.
Off the Wall (1979)
Very much a product of the time period and firmly a disco album, Michael Jackson’s first really big solo commercial success manages to remain listenable, unlike most disco records of the period. It was the first time he partnered with producer Quincy Jones, the results are impressive and it laid the tracks for his even bigger next effort.
Van Halen I (1978)
You can imagine Diamond Dave’s tight leather pants, sweat running off Eddie’s guitar and the smell in California clubs when Van Halen’s first effort plays. Firmly straddling the border between hard rock and pop, few bands of the period got people fired up, having fun and rocking out as this album still does.