A 1970s' artifact?: Records you simply couldn't hide from

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by Mark Saleski

Back in the 1970s, there were a handful of records you just couldn’t get away from. They were everywhere: on the radio, in your car’s 8-track player, on your best friend’s stereo.

This was a good thing if you liked the particular record. If not, well, you were kinda screwed … and god forbid your girlfriend/boyfriend had something on your “hate list” … bad scene there. Heck, I spent the better part of one year putting up with my girlfriend’s Shaun Cassidy album. Why? (C’mon, you know why!)

So, here are the records I remember being important. There’s no order … and I’m sure I left several out. It would be interesting to see if today’s kids have similar groups of recordings.

BOSTON – BOSTON (1976): Symphonies of guitars. Nothing else sounded like this. At the time it seemed almost revolutionary. Plus … “no synthesizers” … so cool. (Why we thought that was cool, I have no frickin’ idea.)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER (1977): This I did not “get.” Sometimes (if the music gods were against me … and my girlfriend wanted to torture me), I would get to hear this back-to-back with that Shaun Cassidy record. It’s too bad that the Bee Gees are linked so strongly to this album ’cause they really did put out quite a few great pop tunes before the disco era.

BILLY JOEL – THE STRANGER (1977): It had ballads that I didn’t know what to do with (“Just The Way You Are”), songs that sorta rocked (“Movin’ Out”) and sentiments that I was just too immature to deal with (“Everybody Has A Dream”). But it also had “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant” — and I ended up knowing a lot of Brenda and Eddies.

MEAT LOAF – BAT OUT OF HELL (1977): Man, oh man, did I ever hate “Paradise By The Dashboard Light.” “You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth”… icky. I bet I had a danged funny look on my face when I found out that Meat Loaf was the guy singing on my Ted Nugent record. Ironically, I went to one of his VH1-Storytellers shows a couple of years ago and kinda liked it.

CHEAP TRICK – LIVE AT BUDOKAN (1978): Silly multi-necked guitars, an accountant for a drummer … plus a sense of humor and a way with a hook. I’m pretty sure that some of the damage done to my hearing came from listening to “Surrender” cranked to obscene levels.

ERIC CLAPTON – SLOW HAND (1977): Everyone had this for “Cocaine” and “Laydown Sally.” Me, too. There was something cool about it, in a ’70s-burnout kind of way.

LED ZEPPELIN – LED ZEPPELIN IV (1971): Sure, “Stairway To Heaven” was the song (OK, overplayed as well). “Black Dog” and “Rock and Roll” also got tons of airplay. The rest of the record I really didn’t care for … I probably didn’t think it rocked hard enough or something. On second thought, I bet it was just too subtle for me … all those acoustic guitars and mysterious ramblings.

PINK FLOYD – DARK SIDE OF THE MOON (1973): OK, so this one is actually full of subtlety … but I liked it. Dark Side is a lot weirder than Led Zeppelin IV too. I’ve read a ton of stuff about the new reissues: about how it’s the perfect rock album. I dunno … I still don’t think that “Money” belongs on it.

THE WHO – WHO’S NEXT (1971): Just recently I pulled out my original Decca LP of Tommy … the one my sister gave me (or the one I swiped from her…can’t remember). It was the only Who record I owned when I first heard “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” It was late at night and the book I was reading fell to the floor as I sat up in bed and waited for the DJ to give me the particulars. I went straight for that Tommy record … dang, no “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” I bought it the next day. Now, this might be the perfect rock record.

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Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Mark Saleski
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