Friday, September 30, 2016

THE SOUNDS OF '76 (Still Sexy After All These Years!)

Still Sexy After All These Years!

It was a gentler, simpler time 
before cell phones and before
the Internet. A time before the
planet became contaminated
by hip hop nonsense. Sounds
magical, right? The year was
1976 — I was 13. I remember
it well — the historic events,
the fascinating people, all the
fun pop culture trends, and of
course, the sweet, sexy music.

1976 was significant and memorable on many levels. While America celebrated its Bicentennial, incumbent President, Gerald Ford, battled former Georgia governor, Jimmy Carter, unsuccessfully in a bid for the White House. The Pittsburgh Steelers pummeled my beloved Dallas Cowboys (21-17) in Super Bowl X, and the Cincinnati Reds swept my New York Yankees (4-0) in the World Series.

Sports and political disappointments aside, '76 truly was an amazing year  especially if you were a teenager. 8-track tapes were the rage and citizens band radios were the craze. The Bad News Bears scored a home run at the box office, Saturday Night Live was new (and still funny), and that Farrah Fawcett poster graced the bedroom walls of every teenage boy from coast-to-coast including mine!

Yeah, that poster!
But for me, what made 1976 so special was — the music. R&B continued to be a personal flavor of choice, as the Ohio Players, the Brothers Johnson, Rufus and Stevie Wonder dominated my bedroom airwaves for much of the year, while such pop artists as John DenverABBA, Barry Manilow, the Bee Gees and The Captain and Tennille all created some of their finest work in '76. "Outlaw Country" also caught fire, making Waylon and Willie "overnight" household names by year's end. As for rock music, underground acts including the Ramones, Blondie, The Runaways and the Sex Pistols all dropped debuts during 1976. And while established chart-busters, the Eagles, checked into the famed Hotel California and newly-minted superstars, Queen, spent A Day at the Races, those records arrived so late in the year, that I believe fans associate them more with 1977 — I sure do.

Okay, so, which rock records were my absolute top favorites in 1976? Well, let's take a little peeksie, shall we?


- Boston -

Every bit as musically groundbreaking as
Van Halen I, all eight tracks from Boston's
debut have become classic rock staples.
Considered by many to be the "corporate
rock" blueprint that many other AOR acts
would follow in short order, the record has
gone on to sell nearly 20 million copies.

- Fly Like an Eagle -

Miller's ninth studio record serves
up a warm mix of rock, pop, country
and blues. The engaging 12-song set
soared to platinum status in '76 and
remains the crown jewel of Miller's
multi platinum-selling catalog. 

A Night on the Town -

Fueled by the chart-topping mega hit,
"Tonight's the Night," A Night on the
Town rocketed to #2 on the Billboard
album chart, and is the first Rod Stewart
record that I ever owned. At age 14, the
rather "adult" themes presented lyrically,
were rather eye-opening, to say the least.

- Night Moves -

Authentic, working man's rock and roll.
Live Bullet put Seger on the map, six
months later, Night Moves made him a star.

- Black and Blue -

Down and dirty, sweaty and a bit sticky.
Features the band's two all-time greatest
tracks — "Hot Stuff" and "Fool to Cry."

- Frampton Comes Alive -

The ULTIMATE live record ever!
Combines a great band and great songs,
with an energized, adoring audience,
PLUS an ever-kissable, iconic cover.

- Wings at the Speed of Sound -

McCartney at the top of his game. Songs
so incredible, I'd choose this slab over
Abbey Road any day. I said it. I meant it.
And I'll stand behind it.

- Fleetwood Mac -

Released in '75, this long-overdue,
multi platinum-selling breakout
record enjoyed its greatest success
in '76. Hence, it makes the list. If
Rumours had been just a little bit
stronger, it could have measured up
to this untouchable classic.

- Rocks -

The boys from Beantown faced a
completely unrealistic challenge in
1976 — following-up 1975's iconic
Toys in the Attic album with an even
more ferocious release. Simply put,
they succeeded with Rocks.

Destroyer -

In the old days, rock bands typically
punched-out new albums every nine
months — as was the case with this
pair of Top 20 classics. To attempt
separating them would be risky, and
require the skills of a world-class
neurosurgeon. As a result, I MUST
present them — conjoined!

So, whaddaya think? Care to share your own personal picks or stories? Feel free in the "Comment" section below. Thanks for stopping by — catch ya on the flip flop, good buddy!

-Christopher Long
(September 2016)

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