April 2016


The_kinks_lola_versus_powerman_album#16 – The Kinks – “Lola” – (1970)

The Kinks are one of the most underrated bands of all time and this is one of their best songs. The song is actually about a man dancing with a man disguised as a woman. It was an unexpected hit (due to its strange subject matter). There was actually some backlash about it – which sounds ridiculous today, but whatever. Strangely, because it mentions “Coca-Cola” the song was banned by the BBC (so Ray Davies had to record alternate lyrics for the official single release). Good thing he did because it ended up as a #2 song in the U.K. and a top ten hit in the U.S.

UncleCharlieNittyGritty#17 – The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – “Mr. Bojangles” – (1970)

This country folk song is about a tap dancer. It was written by Jerry Jeff Walker and most successfully recorded by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, who took the song into the top 10 on the Hot 100. I would even go so far as to describe this song as “borderline pretty.”

James_Gang_-_James_Gang_Rides_Again#18 – James Gang – “Funk #49” – (1970)

Before Joe Walsh joined the Eagles, he was a member of James Gang, a band he joined in 1968. This is probably their biggest hit and Walsh left the band in 1971. It’s a classic rock staple and it peaked at #59 on the Hot 100 (so technically it was their third-biggest hit… but their most remembered).

Creedence_Clearwater_Revival_-_Pendulum#19 – Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Hey Tonight” – (1970)

CCR put out a ton of awesome hit songs in only three short years. 1970 was chock full of them but this is my favorite, even though it might not be the best (1969 was a better year for them anyway). This was the last album with the full CCR crew and the only single was a dual single: “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?/Hey Tonight.” Together, they peaked at #8. It’s a fun song.

Bluesimageopen#20 – Blues Image – “Ride Captain Ride” – (1970)

This song is kind of reminiscent of The Looking Glass’s “Brandy”. Maybe nautical-themed songs were just popular in the early 1970s, who knows. Blues Image was kind of a one-hit wonder with this #4 hit.

Ray_Stevens_-_Everything_Is_Beautiful#21 – Ray Stevens – “Everything Is Beautiful” – (1970)

Here we are with our final Top 21 countdown for the 1970s before we take a break for the summer and return with the 1960s. Ray Stevens is best remembered for comedic songs that border on novelty status like “The Streak.” But he actually had two #1 hits, “The Streak,” and this beautiful tune. Story time: I was once sitting in France eating dinner outside and I heard a bunch of kids singing something in French (that I couldn’t understand) to a strangely familiar tune. It was this. And it was a strange experience.

220px-ScorpionsCrazyWorldScorpions – “Wind of Change” – (1990)

It’s the whistling that gets you here and sucks you in. I always forget that the Scorpions are German and I usually forgot about this song. This is from that awful era of the late 1980s and the first few years of the 1990s where hair band ballads were still relevant and black and white music videos were all the rage. Here’s a famous one.

The_Cars_-_The_CarsThe Cars – “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight” – (1978)

From the opening chords and lyrics you might think (see what I did there?) that this isn’t anything special – but the chorus is really what sells this song. It wasn’t a major hit (it wasn’t even technically released as a single) but it still receives airplay here and there.

220px-BeatlesforsaleThe Beatles – “No Reply” – (1964)

Okay, it’s apparently hard to find Beatles songs on YouTube. The video below sort of has the song, broken up by a bunch of weird, racist 60s cartoons. It’s not The Beatles’ best work, but it’s not terrible and is kind of underrated. 

220px-MarvinGayeWhat'sGoingOnalbumcover#1 – Marvin Gaye – “What’s Going On” – (1971)

Listen to this and tell me Marvin Gaye wasn’t an incredible singer and songwriter (he co-wrote this one). The song was written about police brutality originally, but given the timely nature of its release it was the perfect song to sum up a lot of people’s feelings on Vietnam. Disappointingly, it only made it to #2 on the Hot 100, but it doesn’t matter because it remains of the greatest songs ever recorded.

 

RamMcCartneyalbumcover#2 – Paul & Linda McCartney – “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” – (1971)

The band Wings would not form until after this album was released, so it was technically a Paul McCartney solo album, though he did share credit with his wife, Linda. Not everyone loves this song, but I think it’s marvelous. From the sound effects to the split A/B layout of the track. Apparently, this song was multiple McCartney half-written tracks stitched together. Strange process, but it worked, propelling it to #1.

 

Whosnext#3 – The Who – “Wont Get Fooled Again” – (1971)

Who’s Next is one of the best albums of the 1970s and the best thing The Who ever did. It has some of their best songs on it, including this eight and a half minute epic of a rock song with a brilliant opening that makes a good number of people want to dramatically take off their sunglasses and peer into the distance like David Caruso on CSI: Miami, the show for which this was the theme song.

 


220px-Hollies_Distant_Light_LP#4 – The Hollies – “Long Cool Woman (in a Black Dress)” – (1971)

The Hollies album Distant Light was released in the U.S. in 1972 but it came out in the U.K. in 1971. Additionally, the U.K. version of the song does not have the parenthetical title like the U.S. version does. This. Song. Rocks. Peaking at #2 on the Hot 100, it has a very recognizable guitar twang that is purposefully reminiscent of the style of Creedence Clearwater Revival.