January 2015

emotions#7 – The Emotions – “Best of My Love” – (1977)

This might be the best disco song ever released. It’s a fantastic blend of soul and disco and R&B. It was a Hot 100 #1 hit and if you’ve never seen the opening sequence of the film Boogie Nights, do yourself a favor and watch it as it uses this song in a fantastic way. This song was written by two members of Earth, Wind & Fire, which is perhaps why it is so awesome. It is completely unrelated to The Eagles “Best of My Love” that came three years earlier.

jt#8 – James Taylor – “Your Smiling Face” – (1977)

James Taylor: king of soft rock. But not like 1980s-kinda-sappy-soft-rock. But like actually really good music. He’s a fantastic singer. It only reached #20 on the Hot 100, but peaked at #6 on the Adult Contemporary chart. Fun fact: James Taylor was the first non-British singer signed to Apple Records. That’s right, to get his first record contract as a solo artist, he had to audition for The Beatles. Also: this song is lovely.

jbuffchangesin#9 – Jimmy Buffett – “Margaritaville” – (1977)

This is Jimmy Buffett’s signature tune. It’s also the name of the many of the Buffett-themed products and restaurants out there. Seriously, when I typed in “Margaritaville” into Amazon, the “Digital Music” category didn’t even appear. Instead, “Home & Kitchen,”  “Appliances,” and “Grocery” were the top results. Cliche or not, this is the perfect song if you’re sitting in white sand and drinking.

#10 – Queen – “We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions” – (1977)

Whoa – number 10 is actually two songs. Two songs that are often played back to back as a single, uninterrupted track. They were issued as a singe together and flow perfectly between each other. Queen was a wonderful band that made beautiful music. You don’t often hear rock and roll called “beautiful” but that’s exactly what Queen’s music was. These two songs are perfect for sporting events, specifically hockey where they seem to live on forever (thanks to  The Mighty Ducks).

emotionssang#11 – Samantha Sang – “Emotion” – (1977)

When you’re listening to this song, it’s very probable that you’re  thinking “Who is Samantha Sang? This is obviously the Bee Gees.” Well, you’re kinda right. It was written by Barry & Robin Gibb and that is definitely them on backing vocals. And Ms. Sang’s voice itself sounds like she is one of the Gibb brothers. It’s a vocal gem and a was a top three hit for the Australia-born Sang – her only hit.

bookodreams#12 – Steve Miller Band – “Jet Airliner” – (1977)

I once read somewhere that Steve Miller listened to all of his songs over and over and over again to ensure he didn’t get sick of them too quickly – and if they passed the test, he’d release them. Maybe that’s why he’s responsible for some of the catchiest rock songs of the 1970s. This song was actually written by Paul Pena but he didn’t release his version until 2000 and Miller was able to score a top ten hit with his version in 1977. It’s great.

stband#13 – Sanford-Townsend Band – “Smoke From a Distant Fire” – (1977)

John Townsend and Ed Sanford aren’t really household names in the world on rock ‘n’ roll, but they did have a successful single in 1977 with this soft rock hit. In fact, it broke the top ten, peaking at #9. Interesting note: this group was the opening act for Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours tour. That would’ve made for a pretty awesome show.

ram jam#14 – Ram Jam – “Black Betty” – (1977)

Not only one of the top songs of 1977, this is one of the best driving tunes ever recorded. “Black Betty” is a traditional song whose true roots are unknown but the first recorded version is usually attributed to Lead Belly. The Ram Jam version is the best version and also the most popular. It was the band’s biggest hit and still shows up everywhere.

IggyPopLustForLife#15 – Iggy Pop – “Lust for Life” – (1977)

Those drums. The beat of this song is amazingly catchy and lends the song to a sort of pop second life as it was originally a punk song. Sure, the lyrics are weird, but it’s just so damned catchy that it could’ve made it on pop radio, I think. Where Iggy Pop failed, Jet succeeded in the early 2000s with a song that eerily mimicked what Pop had done so many years before. It gained a second wind when it was used in Trainspotting in the mid-1990s and later when it was used in a Royal Caribbean commercial. Strange how a song about heroin can sell family cruises.

#16 – Electric Light Orchestra – “Mr. Blue Sky” – (1977)

ELO has some great, lesser-played songs – “Mr. Blue Sky” the best amongst them. It might be my favorite ELO song because it’s just so upbeat and happy sounding. It is very similar in structure to “A Day in the Life” by the Beatles… I think that every time I hear it. It’s like a fresh take on that song (and a happier one at that). Anyone who doesn’t consider Jeff Lynne a master song-crafter needs to re-evaluate. Also, this track features what sounds like a talk box but is really a vocoder, which is pretty cool.

#17 – Randy Newman – “Short People” – (1977)

Gotta love Randy Newman. Sort of like Warren Zevon, his songs never featured the typical subjects (love, etc.) – instead, they feature offbeat things like… well, short people. What’s funnier is that this album is called Little Criminals which sounds like he’s levying an even greater insult at people that are short. This actually made it to #2 on the Hot 100 but was largely considered a novelty song, which sucks because it’s a pretty good song that has long been misinterpreted as a song about Newman’s hate for short people. It’s not his view, it’s a song. Fun fact: three of the Eagles perform background vocals on this track.

#18 – Peter Gabriel – “Solsbury Hill” – (1977)

I always forget this song actually came out in 1977. It could’ve come out during the 80s at any point and been right at home (maybe that’s because it charted in 1977 and in 1983 on the Hot 100… which is odd because it wasn’t because of a movie). This was Gabriel’s first single after he left Genesis. It only reached #68 on the Hot 100 (in ’77 – it was #84 in ’83), but it’s one of his most famous songs and it’s a really good one at that.

#19 – Eddie Money – “Two Tickets to Paradise” – (1977)

I don’t know that I could pick out one Eddie Money “signature song,” but this would be near the top of the list. It only peaked at #22 on the Hot 100 but it has been a mainstay on the radio for over 30 years. This song pops up all over the place in TV and film and has an abrupt chorus that makes you want to yell along with Eddie: “I’ve got. Two tickets to Paradise…”