My 40 Favorite Albums from 1973 (Part 4 of 4)

To paraphrase Eighties Swedish Pop Metal band Europe, it's the final (part of the) countdown.  The Top 10 of My 40 Favorite Albums from 1973.  As I've stated previously, I did not own any of these albums as a seven year old in 1973 but I still had access to some of them and I listened passively, soaking them all in.  Still others came along at various points in my life and I have grown to love listening to these newer discoveries as much as those old favorites.  These are my favorite albums who share only one other common denominator - they were all released in the same year. Thanks for your eyeball time and your comments.  Hope you'll join me as My Favorite Decade For Music 1973-1982 continues soon with My 100 Favorite Songs from 1973.  (If you missed the first three parts of this list, click on the 1973 My Favorite Albums tag below to review.)

Dad owned several K-tel compilations from the late Sixties and early Seventies but he never owned this one. I didn't pick up Fantastic until twenty years after it came out but more than any other album of this whole list, it reminds me of what it was like to listen to the radio in 1973. Does it contain the biggest hits of 1973? Hardly. But what it does contain is a wonderfully diverse collection of twenty-two songs on a single vinyl album. Three or maybe four of these songs will show up again soon in My 100 Favorite Songs from 1973.

How cool would I have been to be a seven year old Stevie Wonder fan? The truth is I didn't take note of Stevie's wonderful music until I heard "Sir Duke" on WLS one day in 1976. Bought the 45 on first sight as well and have enjoyed all of his many musical gifts ever since including seeing him in concert on June 30, 1986 on his In Square Circle Tour. It wasn't until the late Eighties maybe even the early Nineties before I picked up Innervisions and I skipped directly to CD. The album is chock full of social and political commentary cleverly disguised as pop music (à la his friend and labelmate Marvin Gaye's What's Going On? from a couple of years earlierbut the song that leaped out at me from the speakers is the deliriously positive and playful "Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing" - definitely one of My Top 5 Stevie Wonder Tunes Of All-Time!

My memory of this album is not completely clear - Dad may or may not have returned home from Vietnam with both it and The Beatles 1967-1970 on eight-track or they might have been among his first purchases once he was back on American soil. Either way he had all four tapes and he played them often and thus my indoctrination into the music of the Beatles began. (I honestly do not recall hearing them on the radio until 1976 or so.) Knowing now what I didn't know then, my version of The Beatles 1962-1966 would have been slightly different - I would have beefed up each disc in the double album with about five tracks. Picked up my own copies of the Red and Blue albums on vinyl in 1982 or 1983 if I recall and then on CD in 1993 in red and blue double disc jewel cases which I foolishly tossed to squeeze the albums into single width jewel cases that could hold two discs each. Bought the CDs again when they were remastered and released in 2010 in those awful digipaks.

I said my peace about this album, filled with radio hits, back in 2013.  Not much has changed since then but my sense of perspective was altered somewhat as I worked my way through David Bowie's Five Years (1969-1973) box set which covered exactly the same time line as The Singles 1969-1973. That Bowie's wildly creative, innovative and influential songs were recorded and released alongside those of the Carpenters just blows my little mind, its like music from two different worlds.  What a great time to be alive.

Another Southern rock classic from 1973, maybe THE Southern rock classic album of all-time. Skynyrd amped the rock up like ZZ Top while retaining the bluesy groove of the Allman Brothers and the only song I knew of theirs before clandestinely borrowing this album from a friend's father in 1976 was "Sweet Home Alabama", the one I heard on the radio.  Dropping the needle on this album as it spun around on my newly acquired Soundesign all-in-one stereo system, I wasn't too impressed with the opener "I Ain't The One" but then "Tuesday's Gone" came on and like Marshall Tucker Band's "Can't You See", it guts me each time I hear it but it is a good gutting. And then after a rocking "Gimme Three Steps", "Simple Man" came on and I was lifted even higher. The next three songs were and still are of little consequence to me but then "Free Bird" hit my ears for the first time and I wanted to play guitar, to be able to endlessly riff like that as if I was merely the conduit and the music was being sent down by a higher power. It was probably the first guitar solo I heard that sent chills down my spine and it opened the door for many more.  I know for many "Free Bird" is a joke and a cliché but for me it is a truly transcendent track sent straight from the heavens above.

Great movie, one of Dad's favorites for sure, with a once in a lifetime soundtrack. Quick! Name another film with an on-screen soundtrack of 44 songs and an official album featuring 41 of those songs, fully cleared and licensed. Even though George Lucas was born almost two years before and 1400 miles away from my father's birthplace somehow Dad related to Lucas's romantic re-telling of his rowdy youth and he absolutely adored each and every song on the album. One of his favorite parts of the movie and the album is the inclusion of Wolfman Jack. Dad would often tell me how he used to tune in to the Wolfman's radio show as it was broadcast from a border station in Mexico.

Elton John seemingly released a dozen albums a year in the Seventies or at least that's what I thought as a youngster - he was just constantly on the radio. Turns out he merely released two albums in 1973 and both are regarded as among the finest albums ever released. But when making my final determination, I went with Goodbye Yellow Brick Road over Don't Shoot Me, I'm Only The Piano Player because it contains more of my favorite songs. Love the bold choice of album openers "Funeral For A Friend" / "Love Lies Bleeding" and then the murderer's row of hits that immediately follow: "Candle In The Wind", "Bennie And The Jets" and "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road". And further down the road, the pure pop of "Grey Seal" and the hard rockin' "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting" make it not only Elton and Bernie Taupin's masterpiece but one of the greatest albums of all-time. I've read that Taupin cranked out the lyrics to all the songs in two weeks and then John set them to music over a three day period.  Holy freakin' cow!

While the music of the Beatles wasn't getting much airplay on the radio stations my parents listened to in 1973, the music of the former Beatles members definitely was and in retrospect, they kinda sorta sounded like they did when they were Fab. "Band On The Run" wasn't released as a single until 1974 but the album came out for Christmas 1973. I didn't hear the album until later in the decade but I made up for lost time by listening to it a lot and I mean A LOT. While I like each song on the album, my favorite has grown to be the piano-driven "Nineteen Hundred and Eight Five" - love to have that one come on while I'm out on the open road.

If you don't know, I ain't gonna tell you.  The Soft Rock Kid shares his listening ritual HERE while others take a different route.

There are many many fine hits on The Beatles 1962-1966 but is their later offerings, represented on The Bealtes 1967-1970, that have colored my world ever since I first heard it via Dad's eight track tapes. Though both 1962-1966 and 1967-1970 were originally compiled by the band's manager Allen Klein, without any direction or input from the group, to combat the illegal Beatles hits compilations that were beginning to emerge, the album holds up quite well on its own. Supposedly, the early solo material that each Beatle had released on their own Apple label was considered for inclusion on 1967-1970 (conceivably pushing the title's timeline to 1972 or 1973) but ultimately those initial plans were scrapped possibly giving rise to the fan fiction of What If? Beatle compilations, imagining how their solo material would fit together on a group album. It fit together on the charts pretty well in 1973 with this album peaking at Number One for one week only to be dislodged by Paul McCartney & Wings earlier 1973 effort Red Rose Speedway (driven by the Number One single "My Love".) After that album spent four weeks at the top, it was bumped off by George Harrison's Living In The Material World and its own Number One single "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)" for a five week reign.  Though there were many challengers, the twenty-eight tracks from four years compilation The Beatles 1967-1970 is My Favorite Album from 1973.  What 1973 albums are your favorites?

titleartistBest Ever Albums 1973 Top AlbumsCreem's 1973 Reader Poll Top 20Robert Christgau Ratings
10Fantastic! [K-tel]various artists
9InnervisionsStevie Wonder4A
7The Singles 1969-1973Carpenters116C+
6(pronounced 'Lĕh-'nérd 'Skin-'nérd)Lynyrd Skynyrd10A
5American Graffitisoundtrack388
4Goodbye Yellow Brick RoadElton John63B
3Band On The RunPaul McCartney & Wings813C+
2The Dark Side Of The MoonPink Floyd16B



1 comment:

  1. I had both the Red and Blue on vinyl as well. I tended to like the Red a bit more as that was the Beatles I listened to as a toddler. I think we had that K-Tel record too.