Content tagged '70s'
Bananamour (Album of the Day)
Kevin Ayers was the first member of legendary Canterbury group Soft Machine to launch a solo career, and his four albums for Harvest remain unheralded progressive rock gems. The last of these, BANANAMOUR, filters some of the singer-songwriter's most accessible material through his relentlessly diverse approach; the 1973 collection shifts effortlessly from psychedelia to glam to punchy R&B and beyond. Gong guitarist Steve Hillage and former bandmates Mike Ratledge and Robert Wyatt can all be heard here, while a couple of Ayers' other musical friends helped inspire songs: Syd Barrett (single “Oh! Wot A Dream”) and Nico (the ethereal epic “Decadence”). BANANAMOUR turns 45 this month, and ranks among the British eccentric's crowning achievements.
Double Vision (Expanded) (Album of the Day)
Though half the band was British (hence the name), America embraced Foreigner with open arms in the late 1970s. Founded by journeyman guitarist Mick Jones and powered by Lou Gramm's strong vocals, the group was an immediate smash, their debut album going multi-platinum. Foreigner's follow-up was even more successful; 1978's DOUBLE VISION ruled the U.S. Top Ten for half a year thanks to the hit singles “Hot Blooded,” “Blue Morning, Blue Day” and the title number. The Expanded Edition of this arena rock classic adds swaggering live versions of “Hot Blooded” and rare song “Love Maker” to the original 10 tracks. In honor of Gramm's birthday, we'll give DOUBLE VISION another spin today.
Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! (Album of the Day)
After seeing Devo's first New York show, David Bowie declared that “this is the band of the future,” and as usual, he was right. Produced by Brian Eno, the band's debut, Q: ARE WE NOT MEN? A: WE ARE DEVO!, was playfully subversive from the smiling image of pro golfer Chi Chi Rodriguez on its cover to the herky-jerky version of “(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction” in its grooves. Though the principles of de-evolution would be further described on future releases, the Ohio quintet lay the groundwork for their skewed vision of reality on such songs as “Mongoloid” and “Jocko Homo.” The critical stature of the 1978 Warner Bros. collection has only risen with time, and both Pitchfork and Rolling Stone have cited the set as one of the decade's greatest. Today we'll give the gold-certified Q: ARE WE NOT MEN? A: WE ARE DEVO! another spin to wish co-founder Mark Mothersbaugh a happy birthday.
We Are Family (Album of the Day)
Sister Sledge already had a couple of studio sets under their belts when they released WE ARE FAMILY, but it was on that Cotillion collection that the quartet truly hit it out of the park. Thanks partially to its use as the theme song to the Pittsburgh Pirates' successful World Series run, the title track became a No.2 hit; and opener “He's the Greatest Dancer” also reached the Top Ten; the album itself went platinum on this day in 1979. Philadelphia siblings Kathy, Debbie, Joni and Kim Sledge harmonize like angels and each gets a chance to sing lead, and the sisters get a huge assist from Chic's Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, who wrote and produced these 8 tracks. Rodgers once declared that “pound for pound, I think WE ARE FAMILY is our best album hands down,” and it stands as not just Sister Sledge's finest, but one of the greatest long-players of the disco era.
Space Ritual (Album of the Day)
Hawkwind had earned a reputation as one of the hardest-gigging bands in Britain by the time they played the December 1972 concerts heard on SPACE RITUAL. These performances were elaborate rock operas, and though you can't see the light show, dancers or Barney Bubbles-designed sets on this double album, the music is spectacular on its own. Drawn largely from previous studio collection DOREMI FASOL LATIDO, the songs tell a sci-fi tale of Starfarers traveling to Earth – a delightfully harebrained concept that, in the hands of the group's classic lineup (including a pre-Motorhead Lemmy on bass), inspired some thunderously heavy progressive rock. “Orgone Accumulator,” “Space Is Deep” and “Sonic Attack” have lost none of their mind-warping power, and SPACE RITUAL will take you on an audio trip across the cosmos.
Paradise And Lunch (Album of the Day)
Truly a musician's musician, guitarist Ry Cooder has been a bridge connecting contemporary audiences to a dizzying variety of traditional musics for almost half a century. His ongoing career includes a string of acclaimed albums for Reprise, of which PARADISE AND LUNCH was his fourth - and one of his best. Produced by Russ Titelman and Lenny Waronker, the 1974 collection touches on blues, gospel, jazz and folk, with Ry applying his distinctive stamp to such highlights as “Jesus on the Mainline,” “Tattler” and “Ditty Wah Ditty,” which features Earl “Fatha” Hines on piano. Though there are other stellar instrumentalists (including saxophonist Plas Johnson and drummer Jim Keltner) supporting the headliner's faultless fretwork, Cooder's down-home vocals are just as important to the set's soulful appeal, and PARADISE AND LUNCH is heaven for roots rock fans.
The Cars (Album of the Day)
A well-oiled hitmaking machine if ever there was one, The Cars worked their way up through Boston clubs but kept their ears open to music on rock's fringes. With one foot in the mainstream and one in new wave, the quintet (frontman Ric Ocasek, guitarist Elliot Easton, keyboardist Greg Hawkes, bassist Ben Orr and drummer Dave Robinson) delivered such high-powered singles as “Just What I Needed,” “My Best Friend's Girl” and “Good Times Roll,” driving their eponymous 1978 album to multi-platinum status. One of the all-time great debuts, THE CARS sounds just as exciting 40 years after its release, and we'll take it out for another spin now in honor of #nationalcarsday.
Everything is Everything (Mono) (Album of the Day)
Donny Hathaway had established a reputation as a talented session pianist and arranger before he got the chance to cut his own album in 1970 – and it turned out he had a wonderful voice, too. Hathaway had grown up singing gospel and spent time working for Curtis Mayfield, and EVERYTHING IS EVERYTHING displays both of those influences in Donny's moving performances and choice of material. The nine selections on the album are split between inspiring covers of songs like Nina Simone's “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” and such socially aware originals as “Tryin' Times” and “The Ghetto” (both co-written with Leroy Hutson, Mayfield's replacement in The Impressions). Donny Hathaway cut many fine records in his all-too-brief career, but this debut disc may well be his best.
SONG OF THE DAY - "Ziggy Stardust" (Album of the Day)
A student of mime and a fan of such stage/film composers as Anthony Newley, David Bowie had a taste for the theatrical, and that was never more apparent than on ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS. The pinnacle of the ever-evolving performer's glam rock phase is a concept album about a messianic sci-fi rock star – a role Bowie played to the hilt in concert with flamboyant costumes and bright red hair. Though the persona would prove limiting and was retired (in typically dramatic fashion) at a tour-ending London performance 45 years ago, “Ziggy Stardust” has been cited by both Rolling Stone and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of rock's 500 greatest anthems, and it's our Song Of The Day.
Soul Searching (Album of the Day)
Among the most unlikely exponents of funk in the 1970s, the Average White Band formed in Dundee, Scotland, and scored three Top 10 albums, the last of which was SOUL SEARCHING. The 1976 Atlantic set was produced by Arif Mardin, the label's master of sophisticated R&B, and features 11 originals including singles “Queen Of My Soul,” “A Love Of Your Own” and the title track. While none of them soared as high on the chart as “Pick Up The Pieces,” the collection is cited by many fans as their favorite, expanding on the group's trademark sound with some truly inspired improvisation. AWB co-founder Alan Gorrie celebrates a birthday today, and we'll wish him a happy one with SOUL SEARCHING.