Here we are, halfway through My 40 Favorite Albums from 1973. Throughout 2016, I will be featuring My Favorite Albums and Singles from each year in My Favorite Decade For Music. Which is not to be confused with My Favorite Decade For Movies 1978-1987, My Favorite Decade For TV Shows 1972-1981 or My Favorite Decade For Comic Books 1970-1979. They all differ somewhat but 1973-1982 is My Favorite Decade For Music. More so than the first half of the list, this half also represents my classic rock radio roots. Sure I was born and raised on Top 40 but have been living on Classic Rock dreams since the early Eighties. This list of My 40 Favorite Albums of 1973 is a combination of memories, actual play counts and my deeply held personal preferences opinions. Al Green, Funkadelic, Bruce Springsteen and others failed to make the cut. These are the albums I have grown up liking or have come to like after growing up. Seven year old ears are not the same as fifty year old ears. The same goes for the grey matter between those ears. (If you missed the first two parts, click 1973 Favorite Albums tag at end of this post to get caught up.)
Born and raised in Texas, my Southern roots run deep and I am drawn to songs and artists from the South. Marshall Tucker Band, with their cowboy hats and flute player put a slightly different twist on Southern Rock and their debut album has been a favorite since I was a teen. Lead single "Can't You See" wrecks me every time I hear it and I love listening to it. The song has been covered faithfully by many other Southern acts including Waylon Jennings, the Zac Brown Band, Hank Williams Jr, Alabama and the Charlie Daniels Band.
Bridge Over Troubled Water was one of Dad's favorite tapes - apparently he heard it a lot while serving in 'Nam - and though I don't remember him having Paul Simon's debut, he had this eight track and I loved singing "Momma don't take my Kodachrome™" and "Loves Me Like A Rock". As I got older, I came to more fully appreciate both Simon's musical innovations and his poetic lyrics. After acquiring most of Simon's back catalog (including all of his albums with Garfunkel) in pristine, high definition audiophile quality, I have come to appreciate his music even more.
Speaking of ultra high quality recordings, The Studio Albums 1972-1979 from the Eagles is a sparkling gem. Super sonics highlight the ample acoustic guitars and subtle vocals, bringing out all the details in the bluegrass boogie of "Twenty One", the tenderness of "Tequila Sunrise" and the quiet despair of "Desperado". Though their sound seems tailor-made for him, Dad didn't jump on the Eagles until 1975's One Of These Nights, the tour de force predecessor to their masterpiece Hotel California and the unintentional terminus of The Long Run.
You know that scene in High Fidelity where Barry (Jack Black) is leading a guy around the record store, putting albums in his arms and assuring him everything will be okay? I've been that guy at least a couple times but instead of being led around the record store, the clerk remained planted on his tipped stool, feet on the counter, cigarette in hand and quizzed me on my collection before barking out essential album titles and that's how I got Montrose one day in 1983. It's hard rocking, guitar heavy sound appealed to me just as I was getting into metal which makes sense cause this album has been called "America's first heavy metal album." The band's vocalist, one Sam Hagar in his recording debut, would later serve time as Van Halen's lead singer in between bouts of a solo career.
Heading back down South, we have the Allman Brothers Band and while most people choose the album's "Ramblin' Man" as their favorite track on the album, I like the instrumental jams of "Southbound" and "Jessica". Some will argue that the band was never the same after the tragic death of brother Duane, but to their credit, brother Gregg and the rest of the band soldiered on and continued to evolve their sound though there would be further casualties among its ranks.
As the Spinners and Isley Brothers had done before them, Gladys Knight & the Pips achieved bigger hits after leaving Motown's hit factory and Imagination was their first album after their tenure with Barry Gordy. Side one of this album is just about pop and soul perfection with three Top 4 Pop songs that all went to Number One on the Soul chart. "Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me" is a slow jam for the ages while "I've Got To Use My Imagination" is a defiant dance-floor whomper.
The title track single made a huge impression on me when I heard it on the radio - first I was intrigued by the harmonica and then years later by the detailed character vignettes. If you asked me, I would tell you there are only two common characteristics that run through all the women I've ever been involved with: 1)
huge boobs they fell for my shtick and 2) they all loved Billy Joel's music. I enjoyed hearing their favorite songs and why they liked some songs and not others even though the songs sounded the same to my not yet trained ears. Some girls liked his early, much less popular stuff likes Streetlife Serenade and Turnstiles while others thought his first album was 1980's Glass Houses. One girl swore the only two Billy Joel albums she needed were The Stranger and 52nd Street. The girl who became my wife loves all the albums from his entire career so you can see why she was the one for me. I never really appreciated what a good listen Piano Man was until Songs In The Attic came out in 1981 and I fell in love with Side Two of that live album and then went back to re-discover the original studio versions of the songs on Piano Man with the dark and depressing "Captain Jack" being a particular favorite of mine. Another creepy cover on this album - our man Billy looks like a possessed ghost on a horror movie poster.
As an admitted classic rock superfan who has on more than one occasion been paid cold hard cash for his opinions on the music being played on classic rock radio, it may surprise some folks that there are only Led Zeppelin studio albums I can listen to all the way through in a single sitting: the back to back goodness of their untitled fourth album from 1971 and it's less epic 1973 follow-up Houses of The Holy. No joke. Another weird cover pic on this one, too. I can make it through the first eight tracks of Led Zeppelin II but they lose me with album closer "Bring It On Home" and the same can be said for In Through The Out Door which loses me with its closer "I'm Gonna Crawl" though I like it more now than I used to.
More like 4 + 5 as in four funkdafied covers of recent hits by others and five Isley originals, one of which is a remake of an earlier song of their own. That remake is the radical recasting of 1964's "Who's That Lady?" as "That Lady, Pts. 1&2" with Ernie Isley's phased out guitar running circles around the tight brotherly harmonies. (The song is such a favorite of mine that it holds the distinction of being the song on my iPhone that I tested out the Fender sound system in The Blueberry when we first test drove it, much to the salesperson's delight as he sat in the backseat.) I truly enjoy all the songs on this album and think their cover choices are both inspired and well done, especially their take on "Summer Breeze". The album is definitely another essential Summertime listen.
This is one of those albums I grew up liking though as I matured I tended to focus on just three songs: "Photograph", "You're Sixteen You're Beautiful (And You're Mine)" and "Oh My My". (Ringo was one of Dad's favorites and I wrote about it HERE.) More so that just about any other track on any of the other albums I've listed here, "Photograph" seems to become more personal and poignant as I grow older but in a really good, positive way though I still serenade my lady love with "You're Sixteen" during inopportune times, almost always in public which is weird because I didn't lay my eyes on her until she was eighteen. Its going to take more than logic to dissuade my balladeering though. She makes my heart sing and sometimes the words come out of my mouth. Just can't help it.
|title||artist||Best Ever Albums 1973 Top Albums||Creem's 1973 Reader Poll Top 20||Robert Christgau Ratings|
|20||The Marshall Tucker Band||The Marhsall Tucker Band||387|
|19||There Goes Rhymin' Simon||Paul Simon||43||17||B+|
|16||Brothers and Sisters||Allman Brothers||48||7||A-|
|15||Imagination||Gladys Knight & the Pips||207||B|
|14||Piano Man||Billy Joel||66||C|
|13||Houses Of The Holy||Led Zeppelin||2||8||A-|
|12||3+3||The Isley Brothers||60||B+|
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