October 7, 2015
#14 – The Stampeders – “Sweet City Woman” – (1971)
Well, hell. I wasn’t even close on this one. Like way off. Oh well. Lead banjo is a beautiful thing and this group of Canadians use it to perfection. It was a top ten hit in the U.S. and features the lovely lyric: “She feeds me love and tenderness and macaroons.”
October 5, 2015
#15 – The Allman Brothers Band – “Jessica” – (1973)
This is one of the greatest rock instrumentals of all time. Written by guitarist Dickey Betts, this is a classic rock staple. It peaked at #65 on the Hot 100. It’s a good driving song – and as such, it was the theme for Top Gear.
October 2, 2015
#16 – Stealers Wheel – “Stuck in the Middle With You” – (1972)
Stealers Wheel, from Scotland, actually released their debut album at the tail end of 1972. This song peaked at #6 on the Hot 100 in 1973. This was a surprise hit for the band (which included song co-writer and lead singer, the late Gerry Rafferty) as it was written to sort of mock Bob Dylan’s style. Perhaps most famously, the song was used in Reservoir Dogs where Michael Madsen cuts off another man’s ear.
September 30, 2015
Posted by RetroTunes under Top 21 By Year
| Tags: 1970s
, harry nilsson
, paul mccartney
, ringo starr
, top 21
, top songs
, youre sixteen
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#17 – Ringo Starr – “You’re Sixteen” – (1973)
As creepy as the title and chorus might seem, imagine that it’s being sung by another 16 year old, and not the now 70+ Ringo Starr. Ringo actually took this song to #1. It’s a cover of Johnny Burnette’s 1960 top ten hit. The song was actually written by the Sherman Brothers (of Mary Poppins, etc. fame). The kazoo sound during the bridge is actually Paul McCartney. And that’s Harry Nilsson on backing vocals. Looks like Ringo’s “All-Starr Band” started earlier than we thought…
September 28, 2015
#18 – Lynyrd Skynyrd – “Free Bird” – (1973)
“Free Bird” was actually the final track on Lynyrd Skynyrd’s debut album. It’s the band’s signature song (right there with “Sweet Home Alabama”) and stands as one of the definitive songs of classic rock. At an album length of just over nine minutes, live versions regularly exceeded 10 (sometimes 15) – including the one below which is actually from Freebird… The Movie, a concert documentary about the band. The joke with this song is, of course, to yell out “Free Bird!” at concerts as it’s one of the most requested songs ever. The song peaked at #19 on the Hot 100 and has one of the greatest guitar solos of all time.
September 25, 2015
#19 – Al Wilson – “Show and Tell” – (1973)
Early-70s soul music is the best kind of soul music. There’s horns and great voices… this song was originally recorded by Johnny Mathis but it was Meridian, Mississippi’s Al Wilson who took it to #1 – the biggest hit of his career. Late Show fans will know this as the song Paul Schaffer would sing when they played Audience Show and Tell.
September 23, 2015
#20 – Jim Croce – “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” – (1973)
I’ve always wondered where Jim Croce’s career would’ve taken him had he not died in a plane crash in 1973. This was his final #1 hit from a career that was all too short. This song is a fantastic folk song with some gospel/R&B infused into it. It’s one of those songs that tell a story – wait, I think I just described folk music in general.
September 21, 2015
#21 – Seals & Crofts – “Diamond Girl” – (1973)
This isn’t 2004. I’m just going to start embedding the song into the post. Duh. Anyway, on to 1973 and this soft rock classic from Jim Seals and Dash Crofts. This was the biggest hit from the Diamond Girl album, peaking at #6 on the Hot 100. It’s one of the greatest soft rock songs of all time.
September 18, 2015
Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova – “Falling Slowly” – (2007)
Folk music has never really been the mainstream genre… it sort of infiltrates and disappears throughout time. Folk rock is sort of popular right now but back in 2007 there was a movie called Once about two musicians – namely Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. It’s fictional, but the two stars wrote and performed all of the music, including this beautiful song that won an Oscar for Best Original Song. It was a top ten hit in Canada but only managed #61 in the U.S. (proving that it came out just a few years too early to really hit it big).
September 16, 2015
Hootie & the Blowfish – “Tucker’s Town” – (1996)
This was Hootie & the Blowfish’s final album single that really garnered any real airplay. When you listen to it, if you don’t remember it specifically, you definitely can recognize the sound as mid-90s pop rock – something that has more or less entirely disappeared from modern radio. It was a top 40 hit, reaching #38 and was one of two radio singles from 1996’s Fairweather Johnson.
September 14, 2015
Michael Jackson – “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” – (1982)
Thriller was so good that even this, it’s sixth single was still awesome. Originally Michael and someone else wrote a song with this title, but producer Quincy Jones didn’t like it but liked the title enough to co-write this song instead (with James Ingram) and kept the title. It reached #10 on the Hot 100. Strangely, he never performed this song live.
September 11, 2015
#1 – Ace – “How Long” – (1974)
One of the best soft rock songs ever, “How Long” was a #3 hit in the U.S. for Ace, of Sheffield, England. It was their biggest hit. Those smooth lyrics are delivered by Paul Carrack, who would later helm Mike + The Mechanics. The song is actually about the band’s bassist, who had secretly been recording with other bands. It’s really nice.
September 9, 2015
#2 – Lynyrd Skynyrd – “Sweet Home Alabama” – (1974)
There is a lot that can be said about this song. It’s sort of like the anthem for the Deep South. The Confederate Flag has been in the news a lot lately and this is sort of its theme song. It has a really catchy guitar riff and was written as a reply to Neil Young’s “Southern Man” and “Alabama.” Neil Young later agreed that the shots they took at him in this song were deserved. This is a song about a time – it may have been 1974 but the wounds of the 60s were still healing. This is the definitive southern rock song and one of the definitive classic rock songs. Like it or not, you must admit this is a piece of American history.
September 7, 2015
#3 – Elton John – “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” – (1974)
Elton John almost pulled off an amazing feat with this song. It reached #2 on the Hot 100 in 1974. He re-recorded it as a duet with George Michael in 1991 and it hit #1. He almost had two number one hits with the same song. This is one of Elton’s most beautiful songs. Co-written with Bernie Taupin, it was one song from Caribou – an album recorded in nine days and written in about the same amount of time. The chorus of this song features vocals from Carl Wilson and Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys (and you can totally hear Beach Boys-style harmonization if you listen for it) as well as Toni Tennille of Captain and Tennille.
September 4, 2015
#4 – John Denver – “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” – (1974)
There are two versions of this song, first, the one included on the 1974 album Back Home Again. Then there is the very popular live version released in 1975 (recorded in 1974). The live version went to #1 on the Hot 100. It’s immensely catchy and remains very popular to this day. It was one of six songs in 1975 to top the country and pop charts. It was actually written by one of John Denver’s band members (the guy on fiddle). John Denver was actually pretty awesome… known mostly as a folk/country singer, he was beloved across America (and genres) and was one of its best-selling artists.
September 2, 2015
#5 – Billy Preston – “Nothing From Nothing” – (1974)
This #1 hit from Billy Preston is a masterpiece of piano-driven soul. Billy Preston was incredibly talented (and taken too soon). He was one of only two people ever credited alongside the Beatles on one of their tracks (“Get Back”). He played with the Rolling Stones, George Harrison, and Eric Clapton. He had two #1 hits and this is his best song (of what I’ve heard). Fun fact: it was the first song ever performed live on Saturday Night Live.
August 31, 2015
#6 – Pilot – “Magic” – (1974)
What a happy song. This was Pilot’s biggest hit in the U.S. (they were from Scotland and had another big hit in the U.K.). It still received airplay in the U.S. here and there and is perfect for commercials and movies. It hit #5 in the U.S. and comes from a fabulously titled album: From the Album of the Same Name.
August 28, 2015
#7 – Queen – “Killer Queen” – (1974)
This song by Queen, lyrically, is one of magnificence. Freddie Mercury wrote the lyrics before the music and you can tell that there is definite cohesion among the lyrics and the music was beautifully crafted to fill the gaps. It didn’t make the top 10 in the U.S. (#12) but it stands of one of Queen’s top tracks.
August 26, 2015
#8 – Three Dog Night – “Shambala” – (1973)
“Shambala” is one of Three Dog Night’s most fun songs and it came out in 1973 (dammit!). “Shambala” refers to an El Dorado-like mythical place that can be found in Tibetan Buddhism. I guess it’s like Shangri-La. Three Dog Night’s version of this song hit #3 on the Hot 100 (B.W. Stevenson released a version at the exact same time, but it was not as successful).
August 24, 2015
#9 – Kool & The Gang – “Summer Madness” – (1974)
If you ask me, this is the best Kool & The Gang song. It’s jazzy, funky, and soulful all at the same time – and it sounds like something that could’ve been released in 1983. It’s completely relaxing in a throwback kind of way and that synth is so smooth. This was the highest charting single from this album, peaking at #35.
August 21, 2015
#10 – George McRae – “Rock Your Baby” – (1974)
Catchy, catchy disco. This #1 hit was by far the biggest for McRae, even though it was written by K.C. & The Sunshine Band (which you can totally hear it you listen to it). This song was the inspiration for two other giant hits: ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” and John Lennon’s “Whatever Gets You Thru The Night.” How about that, K.C. & The Sunshine Band influencing John Lennon.
August 19, 2015
#11 – The Righteous Brothers – “Rock and Roll Heaven” – (1974)
This song is actually a cover. It was originally done by Climax but the Righteous Brothers took it to #3 in the U.S. The song is about deceased rock stars and how heaven must have “one hell of a band.” They mention Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Jim Croce, Otis Redding, and Bobby Darin. It’s catchy. And interesting. And creepy: “there’s a spotlight waiting no matter who you are…” implying that the grim reaper is sitting in wait so you can sing for him when he gets you.
August 17, 2015
#12 – Eagles – “Best Of My Love” – (1974)
Here’s a Hot 100 #1 single from the Eagles. It has a very soft country rock sound and is a slow dance classic. It was actually the group’s first #1 single and the biggest hit from On the Border.
August 14, 2015
#13 – Barry White – “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe” – (1974)
Barry White had the most soulful voice in the 1970s. It sort of defines that era of soul and disco. Especially when paired with such a funky beat like this. When you hear this song you can just picture people spinning on roller skates below a disco ball. It was a #1 for White and one of his biggest hits – not to mention it’s pretty much his signature song. The other thing about it is the title, which is very long. A lot of Barry White song titles are this way… sort of a near-sentence. In fact, take any sentence and add “, babe” to the end of it and you’ve just generated a Barry White single!
August 12, 2015
#14 – America – “Lonely People” – (1974)
Even though the song is called “Lonely People”, which sounds depressing, the song is kind of an upper if you listen to the lyrics. It’s about not giving up. In fact, the song was written as a counter to the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” – which is not a happy song. It peaked at #5 on the Hot 100.