Friday, February 27, 2015

MY TOP 25 ALBUMS OF 1975: Still Fresh After 40 Years!

Still Fresh After 40 Years

Don't ya love those "Best 
of Whatever" lists? Gosh, 
I sure do. I love reading 
them, and I love creating 
them. And fortunately 
for my enormously large 
worldwide audience, my 
insights and are ALWAYS 
100% spot-on. I hope you 
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1975 — the White House was occupied by the first and (so far) only president never to be elected to the office, the economy was in the toilet, and polyester leisure suits were considered cool. (Stop laughing, kids.)  I was just 12 years old in 1975, and I rarely was separated from my "best friend" — my trusty AM headset / radio. The glorious "golden god" era was winding down and the disco craze was revving up. The year gave birth to a bumper crop of records that would set new industry standards and launch the careers of several soon-to-be pop / rock stars. While some of the releases that year would further cement the careers of many established artists, others marked the end to longtime platinum-selling streaks. 40 years later, we now can look back with 20/20 hindsight clarity and recognize the truly great records of 1975 — the ones that continue to stand the test of time.


Defying the dreaded "sophomore jinx,"
this British supergroup delivered a
Top Ten album packed with such
high-octane classics as "Good
Lovin' Gone Bad" and "Feel Like
Makin' Love." This one makes
the list, hands-down, based on
Mick Raphs' sonic crunch alone.


Produced by founder, Maurice White, the
sixth LP from this Chicago-based band held
down the #1 position on Billboard's Top 200
for three weeks in May 1975. From the
smooth groove of the Top 20 title track to
Philip Bailey's super-human, nut-busting
performance on "Reasons" to the badass
funkiness of their only #1 single, "Shining
Star," That's the Way of the World was
(and still is) the "whole enchilada" — and
it remains the crown jewel of the band's
extensive catalog — 40 years later!


Produced by Paul Simon and Phil Ramone,
this splendid, chart-topping treasure
showcased arguably Simon's best '70s
era work. It also boasted an amazing
four Top 40 hits — the title track (#40),
"Gone at Last" w/ Phoebe Snow (#23),
"My Little Town" w/ Art Garfunkel (#9),
PLUS the monster-size hit "50 Ways
to Leave Your Lover" (#1).


From the mind-expanding, synth-
driven "Shine on You Crazy Diamond"
(all parts), to the hypnotic and spacey
"Welcome to the Machine"to the tasty
 (near) groove flavor of "Have a Cigar"
to the undeniable charm of the timeless
title track, this record remains (for my
money) Pink Floyd's finest work. Even
without the benefit of the drugs that I
may or may not have taken back in the
day, it still offers me a personally more
engaging listening experience than that
other popular album that they put out.


Florida's "Guitar Army" created a bona
fide, southern-fried masterpiece with the
release of their 1975 debut. Packed with such 
chicken pickin' nuggets as "Waterhole" and
"Knoxville Girl," as well as the FM staples,
"There Goes Another Love Song" and "Green
Grass and High Tides," the album is iced with
layers of the band's deliciously tight-knit,
signature harmony vocals  light years 
beyond the music being produced by their
contemporaries at the time, or since.


Released in December 1975, Equinox arrived
following the breakout success the band had
experienced with the surprise Top Ten single,
"Lady," just a few months earlier. It marked
the final contribution from longtime guitarist
John Curulewski, as Tommy Shaw would
soon come on board. In addition to the Top
30 hit, "Lorelei," the record also features the
Dennis DeYoung-penned staples, "Light Up"
and "Suite Madame Blue." One of the more
powerful Styx efforts  before they went
all, well, you know.


After slogging through the rock and roll
trenches for nearly a decade, fronting
The Amboy Dukes, Ted Nugent finally
became a household name when his
debut solo album hit FM airwaves in
1975. This multi million-seller oozed
such signature standards as "Just
What the Doctor Ordered," "Snakeskin
Cowboys,""Stormtroopin'" and "Motor
City Madhouse," PLUS the undisputed,
stripper anthem of all time — 
"Stranglehold." Great Gonzo, dude!


Although I can think of very few things in
life as personally traumatic as enduring the
music of Bob Dylan, his self-produced 1975
offering seemed, um, different. Even to my
rather unsophisticated 12-year-old pallet, I
recognized immediately that this was a
truly great record. Solid, organic-sounding
songs accented by compelling storytelling.
In sum, Blood on the Tracks remains one
of my absolute favorites.


The pied pipers of prog-pop dropped a
doozie with this million-selling operatic
opus. Although "Bohemian Rhapsody"
has since achieved super-uber icon
status, the brightest gem in this royal
"crown" actually is John Deacon's
Top 20 hit, "You're My Best Friend."

-Physical Graffiti-

Produced by Jimmy Page, this double-slab
showcases Zep at its absolute apex. The
. band's last great record, Physical Graffiti 
was a treasure trove, featuring a buttload 
of biggies, including "The Rover," "In My 
Time of Dying,""Houses of the Holy," 
"Trampled Under Foot" and "Ten Years 
Gone," as well as a relatively unnoticed
little dittie entitled, "Kashmir." However, 
the album did suffer from one MAJOR
design flaw — seeds and stems became
too easily trapped between the die-cut
window openings on the front cover and
the inner sleeve. Just sayin'.


Long before the rampant global demand,
this Scottish hard rock act was already
supplying "more cowbell" with the
classic title track from it's 1975 breakout
album. The sweet rasp of Dan McCafferty's
whiskey-soaked vocals pinned against the
crunchiness of Manny Charlton's heavy
guitar riffs made for a magical, platinum-
selling combination. In addition to such
signature cuts as "Beggar's Day" and
"Whiskey Drinkin' Woman," the record
also featured the band's Top Ten single,
"Love Hurts" — a true blue "power
ballad" that dominated the airwaves years
before that term had even been coined.
And what legitimate '70s era teenage rock
fan can forget the record's iconic album
cover, created by David Fairbrother Roe?
Now you're messin' with 
son of a bitch, indeed!


Produced by longtime manager, Bill Ham, the
fourth album from that "lil' ol' band" was a
stroke of pure genius. Side A featured super-
charged / super-raw live tracks. Side B offered
newly recorded (and equally engaging) studio
 tracks — including (arguably) the band's two
all-time greatest creations "Tush" and "Heard
it on the X." In sum, this blistering, hunka-hunka
burnin' vinyl is THE ultimate ZZ Top record.


Considering the cultural climate of '75, 
The Tubes' controversial live show 
combined with such outrageous debut 
album tracks as "Mondo Bondage," 
"What Do You Want From Life?" and 
"White Punks on Dope" made this 
California collective simply too cool 
for mass consumption — at the time.
But even as a pre-teen, I totally 
"got" their act, and to this day, they 
remain one of my favorite bands. 


One shouldn't be fooled by the polyester
panache of the band members or the
album's disco-dominate #1 single,
"Love Roller Coaster." Ohio Players
were ferocious badasses, and Honey
was perhaps their strongest effort.
Case in point, "Fopp." 'Nuf said.


As a wide-eyed church boy, just reaching
my teens, I wasn't yet terribly familiar
with Alice Cooper's unique brand of
shock rock and super-cool persona in
early '75. Then came that glorious day
in April when I entered the record
department of my local Sears store and
I discovered this sacred gem. The album
cover alone had me sold. Then, I heard it.
From the eerie opening of the title track
to the fading I gotta get out of here(s)
at the conclusion of "Escape," I loved it
— to death. Even now, as an old man in
my 50s, "Devil's Food," "Department
of  Youth" and "Cold Ethyl" still get
my fists AND blood pumping!


Prior to being promoted-up as purveyors
of platinum-selling pablum in the '90s,
Aerosmith actually was a darn snappy,
dirty little rock and roll band during the
'70s. That was a very long time ago. But
fortunately, producer Jack Douglas
captured the boys from Beantown in
all their smacked-out glory within the
stanky grooves of this 1975 classic — 
a record from which I learned the other
definition of "muffin." If the question is,
"Will there ever be a time when 'Adam's
Apple' and 'No More No More' aren't 
completely freaking cool?" — then the
answer is a resounding, "No way, dude!"


The songs  heartfelt and real.
The voice — honest and pure.
The band  impeccable.
And after 40 years, it all
still sounds as fresh as ever.
A true masterpiece.


The singles were top-shelf. The title
track rocked with the best of 'em.
"Listen to What the Man Said" is
one of Paul and Linda's most perfect
pop songs. And "Letting Go" was
beautifully brooding. Yes, Wings
certainly was flying high with this
1975 chart-buster. BTW, "Magneto
and Titanium Man," "Medicine Jar"
and "Call Me Back Again" also
were most excellent treats. My
second-favorite of McCartney's
post-Beatles records.

-Red Octopus-

For me, the music of Jefferson Starship
was far more engaging than any of Paul
Kantner's previous"far out," counterculture
projects. C'mon, I was 12! Through Red 
Octopus, I discovered a new guitar hero
in Craig Chaquico, a new "rock star" in
Papa John Creach.and a new pin-up girl
in Grace Slick. From the first time I heard
"Miracles,"  I was completely enthralled
— I still am. But the album possessed
many equally seductive selections,
including "Fast Buck Freddie," "Git
Fiddler," "Sweeter Than Honey" and
"Play on Love." It still sounds current.


Country-meets-rock at an all-night,
old school L.A. pool party. Hey man, 
anybody got any ludes? Exquisite songs.
Perfect musicianship and production
craftsmanship.The single greatest female
vocal recording in the history of mankind.
PLUS she was SUPER hot!


For hard rock fans, there was only ONE
band and only ONE record in 1975. The
band was KISS and the record was Alive! 
There was never anything cooler — before
or since. Henceforth, the double-live LP
became an industry mandate for ALL
recording artists  from Rush and REO
to Seger and Skynyrd to Bette and Barry.
Nice work, Starchild.


The new band members breathed a certain
freshness into what were, for me, some of
Elton and Bernie's most exciting songs ever.
It would also be his last US #1 album.


The last great record to feature the classic
Elton John Band line-up. This set is so
powerfully moving that, to this day, it
still prompts me to immediately ball-
up in a corner and sob like a forgotten
schoolgirl on prom night.


The tenth time proved to be the charm
for this British-American combo. With
it's "classic" line-up in place, the record
spawned three Top 20 singles — "Over
My Head," (#20) "Rhiannon" (#11) and
"SayYou Love Me" (#11), and ultimately
reached #1 on the Billboard Top 200
album chart. A magical and organic
collection, this is Fleetwood Mac's
best work ever — bar none!


I often refer to Hearts as my "Abbey Road."
Given Gerry Beckley, Dewey Bunnell and
 Dan Peek's penchant for British pop / rock,
and the fact that the album was overseen by
longtime Beatles producer, George Martin,
that analogy isn't really much of a stretch.
Every track is a glorious gem — from "Half
a Man" and "Midnight" to "Tomorrow"
and "Seasons" to the hit singles, "Daisy
Jane" and "Woman Tonight" to the iconic,
chart-topping "Sister Golden Hair."
A perfect record from start to finish

I hope that you've enjoyed this little trip down Memory Lane. Maybe you discovered a new musical treasure, or perhaps rediscovered one of your personal favorites. I further encourage everyone to leave comments (below) and to share your own stories, picks and insights. But for now, I gotta go my crew is all ramped-up to watch an awesome rerun of Don Kirshner's Rock Concert on Roku — in five minutes!

-Christopher Long
(February 2015)

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