May 22, 2015
#7 – Aerosmith – “Sweet Emotion” – (1975)
While “Sweet Emotion” wasn’t Aerosmith’s first hit, it did set off a string of success for the band when it was released off of Toys in the Attic in 1975. It peaked at #36 on the Hot 100, becoming the band’s first in the top 40. This song actually has a pretty funky groove to it before the guitars kick in. It pops up nearly everywhere and is one of the band’s best known songs. It was also re-released in 1991 and was accompanied by an unnecessary music video.
May 20, 2015
#8 – Led Zeppelin – “Kashmir” – (1975)
Physical Graffiti was the last Led Zeppelin album to feature some really great stuff. That hard rock-defining sound they cultivated prior to 1975 was still on full display, but it tapered off pretty quickly after this. Side two of this double album is where all the action is, with the three songs there (and “Kashmir” being the third) being the best on the album. It’s an eight-and-a-half minute epic. It’s one of Zeppelin’s best songs – and the members of the band agree, with Robert Plant calling it “the pride of Led Zeppelin.”
May 18, 2015
#9 – The Carpenters – “Please Mr. Postman” – (1975)
If you ever go to a garage sale, among the pile of Lawrence Welk and Herb Alpert records, there is bound to be at least one Carpenters album. I don’t care for their music, but this cover of The Marvelettes’ 1961 classic is great. It has a wonderful over-produced pre-synth keyboard sound. It’s just solid pop music.
May 15, 2015
#10 – Hall & Oates – “Sara Smile” – (1975)
It’s like when they shot this album cover, they went “let’s try and look as much like Freddie Mercury and David Bowie as possible. And Oates, put more makeup on. The 70s were a confusing time. This was Hall & Oates first top ten hit in the U.S., climbing to #4. It’s a fantastic song – nice soft, rock. It’s also one of the reasons we’re breaking everything pre-1980 down year by year… because music like this bled over into the 1980s and every year seemed to have a different feel about it.
May 13, 2015
#11 – Electric Light Orchestra – “Evil Woman” – (1975)
This pre-disco rock song is what put ELO on the map. It sounds so glittery yet it is such a fine, tightly choreographed symphonic rock… and then you add Jeff Lynne’s amazing vocal range… it’s wonderful. This was the band’s first major, global hit charting in the top ten in the U.S., Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand. It remains one of their best-known songs.
May 11, 2015
#12 – Ted Nugent – “Stranglehold” – (1975)
Ah, The Nuge. This hard rock song from Ted Nugent was released on Ted Nugent’s first solo album. And he doesn’t even perform the vocals here – they’re done by Derek St. Holmes. This song is a rambling eight and a half minutes but it’s worth it because the entire time, it’s building. There is wailing guitar and sparse vocals – a menacing sound. There’s a really long instrumental section that is generally cut out of the single edit, but it all goes down after the seven minute mark – specifically when Ted shreds it at 7:45. It’s an epic piece of rock and roll.
May 8, 2015
#13 – Bee Gees – “Nights on Broadway” – (1975)
The Bee Gees dominated the charts in the late 1970s. But their mid-70s stuff wasn’t quite as “guaranteed-#1″ as the later stuff. Actually, 1975’s Main Course was a sort of comeback album for the Brothers Gibb, who hadn’t scored back-to-back top 10 hits since 1968. It’s a nice song because it doesn’t fall into the disco trap that their later music would. The vocals are Gibb-fantastic in their own special quivering way and the music is funky. This song also was the basis for the “Barry Gibb Talkshow” on SNL.
May 6, 2015
#14 – Foghat – “Slow Ride” – (1975)
“Slow Ride” is a classic, uh, classic rock song, by Foghat, the strangely named band from London. This is the band’s signature and best-known song. The LP version was over eight minutes long, while the single was cut down to less than four – either one is good. It’s just good, solid hard rock from the 1970s.
May 4, 2015
#15 – War – “Low Rider” – (1975)
War released some catchy songs back in the day, perhaps none more so than this. It evokes images of low rider cars in Southern California and does so brilliantly with a nice mix of funk and Latin music. It’s the best Chicano rock song ever and if you picture anything other than Cheech wiping down his car, you’re crazy.
May 1, 2015
#16 – Ozark Mountain Daredevils – “Jackie Blue” – (1974)
Boooo! Some idiot messed up his years. This album was actually released in October of 1974 and the single was from ’74 as well, even though it didn’t peak on the Hot 100 (at #10) until 1975. This is one of those good, mid-70s country rock/southern rock hits. The guitars are twangy and the vocals soft. It’s a great song, but unfortunately for me, from the wrong year. But it’s staying right here.
April 29, 2015
#17 – Fleetwood Mac – “Say You Love Me” – (1975)
What is great about this, Fleetwood Mac’s second self-titled album, is it is the first of the modern Fleetwood Mac sound. It’s the first album to feature Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks in the revised lineup. Their sound transformed from blues-y rock to radio-friendly rock – and boy did the band take off. This was one of two #11 singles from this album and it was the start of something really big.
April 27, 2015
#18 – Captain & Tennille – “Love Will Keep Us Together” – (1975)
The thing I like about this song is it’s way over-produced synthetic sound. This was the first single from Captain & Tennille and it is their signature song, even though it was written and originally recorded by Neil Sedaka. The Captain (and Tennille) took it to #1, however. Ironically, this married couple was not able to keep it together and divorce papers were filed in 2014.
April 24, 2015
#19 – Elvin Bishop – “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” – (1975)
Elvin Bishop got his start performing with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Eventually going solo, Bishop released Struttin’ My Stuff in 1975. This would be his biggest hit, charting at #3 on the Hot 100. The blues-ey guitar throughout the song is Bishop, but the vocal is not. It’s actually sung by Mickey Thomas, who normally sang backing vocals for Bishop. It’s really good.
April 22, 2015
#20 – Gary Wright – “Dream Weaver” – (1975)
Gary Wright had a few singles get radio airplay, but this is easily his signature song. It’s kind of a very early version of synthpop and was Wright’s biggest hit, climbing all the way to #2 on the Hot 100. Famously, it is used in the movie Wayne’s World when Wayne sees Cassandra performing for the first time.
April 20, 2015
#21 – Michael Martin Murphey – “Wildfire” – (1975)
I remember seeing Michael Martin Murphey perform this song on Letterman what seemed like a few years ago (turns out it was in 2007… and that was seven years ago, which is insane). This was his biggest pop hit in the U.S., reaching #3 on the Hot 100 – pretty high considering it’s essentially a country song. It’s a sort of cowboy song – telling the story of a woman who died chasing a pony in a blizzard. Yes, that’s a weird subject for a top five pop song. But it’s good.
April 17, 2015
John Mayer – “Dreaming With a Broken Heart” – (2006)
Continuum is one of my favorite albums. It’s full of really good songs from John Mayer right before his sound started to change. I mean, this was a departure from his previous albums as it’s pretty somber and blues-y, but it hadn’t gone folksy just yet. This was the fourth single from the album – but it only just barely made it onto the Hot 100, peaking at #99, which is a shame, because it’s pretty good.
April 15, 2015
Ozzy Osbourne – “No More Tears” – (1991)
This is the title track of Ozzy’s sixth solo album and what I like most about it is the really nice groove it has going with the bass in the background. It actually charted on the Hot 100, peaking at #71. The awesome metal rhythm is broken by this weird and unnecessary Meat Loaf-like piano bit that really tended to mar most rock songs from the late 1980s through the early 1990s. Otherwise, good tune.
April 13, 2015
Madonna – “Into the Groove” – (1985)
Madonna’s second studio album Like a Virgin had its share of hits none more dance-worthy than this track, which wasn’t originally included on the album’s release. It was added for a 1985 re-release after being used in the film Desperately Seeking Susan, in which Madonna stared. It’s a synth-infused 80s dance track and a fine example of early Madonna.
April 10, 2015
#1 – Eagles – “Hotel California” – (1976)
This is, perhaps, The Eagles’ signature song. It’s chock full of classic, well-known lyrics such as “you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.” It was a Billboard Hot 100 #1 in May of 1977 and should be on everyone’s list of the greatest songs of all time.
April 8, 2015
#2 – Boston – “Foreplay/Long Time” – (1976)
Boston’s debut album is sort of their greatest hits album. I’ve heard every one of the album’s eight tracks on classic rock radio. That’s not to say they didn’t have later hits – they did. But this is easily their best song. “Foreplay/Long Time” is one album track (although Boston did release “Long Time” as a standalone single). “Foreplay” is instrumental and it’s pretty awesome on its own. Apparently, Tom Scholz (the very intelligent man behind Boston), recorded “Foreplay” in his basement by himself about six years before this album was released. Scholz is interesting because he has a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from MIT and was a Polaroid product engineer before becoming a rock legend.
April 6, 2015
#3 – Peter Frampton – “Do You Feel Like We Do” – (1976)
“Everybody in the world has Frampton Comes Alive. If you lived in the suburbs you were issued it. It came in the mail with samples of Tide” is the great quote from Waynes World 2 about the album that this great song came off of. Peter Frampton originally recorded this in 1973 for a studio album. But then in 1976 he recorded a live version for Frampton Comes Alive – one of the best-selling albums of all time. It’s a 15 minute meandering rock song that includes a number of solos and one of the most famous uses of the talk box. It’s an incredible song from one of the happiest-seeming guys in rock and roll. If you get a chance to see him live – DO IT!
April 3, 2015
#4 – Lou Rawls – “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine” – (1976)
The voice. The song opens with a great rhythm and then Lou comes in with that deep, soulful voice and that simple piano hit and blows everything away. Somehow this only hit #2 on the Hot 100 (becoming Rawls’ breakthrough hit). If you were to argue about what the best R&B song of all time is, this is certainly a prime contender.
April 1, 2015
#5 – David Bowie – “Golden Years” – (1976)
This is my favorite David Bowie song. It’s funky – funkier than just about any other Bowie hit. It was the first single from Station to Station and is the best song on the album. Apparently, according to Bowie, he wrote the song and offered it to Elvis, who declined. Good thing.
March 30, 2015
#6 – Manfred Mann’s Earth Band – “Blinded By The Light” – (1976)
Originally written and recorded by Bruce Springsteen (it was his first-ever single in ’73), “Blinded by the Light” was turned into a classic rock staple by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band. The group was formed in 1971 even though Manfred Mann (the person) had been in bands like Manfred Mann (the band) since 1962. The lyrics are a bit different in this version versus the original and it’s one of the most misheard lyrics of all time (the “revved up like a deuce” part). This was also a #1 on the Hot 100.
March 27, 2015
#7 – Al Stewart – “Year of the Cat” – (1976)
This quirky song starts of with nice piano before being joined with a kind of funky pop beat. One thing I really like about it is its references to Humphrey Bogart and Peter Lorre – it really sets the tone of some faraway place and time. This was Scotland’s Al Stewart’s biggest hit. A great use of this song was in what is probably the best scene in the otherwise “meh” film Running With Scissors (I don’t have a link to it, sorry!).