Welcome to part three of My Favorite Albums of 1975. If you missed part one, click HERE. If you skipped part two, please click HERE. We got all the way thru the letter F in our oddly alphabetical countdown last time around so we begin with the letter G...
How cool would little nine-year-old me be if I was into Gary Wright's album back in 1975? Pretty dang cool, the fifty-year-old me imagines. But I really wasn't into his music back then. Sure, "Dream Weaver" got lots of spins on WLS and that dreamy intro and mid-song interlude used to sound pretty cool on AM radio but it wasn't really my thing. "Love Is Alive" got fewer plays on WLS and I really didn't get into it until I picked up a copy of the album in 1986. The album has since become one of my late-night chill-out go-to's.
You know how critics and fans alike say that AC/DC has been perpetually recording and releasing the same album and same songs throughout their whole career? I'd argue that to a lesser extent that is what KC & the Sunshine Band did for their first six albums from 1974-1979. And like the music of AC/DC, I would also argue that is a wonderful thing! The many radio hits, later included on various K-tel albums, were the best but listening to any of the group's albums from that half-decade yields the same positive results: high energy music, performed enthusiastically and designed with only one goal in mind - to make you dance! And that's the way uh-huh uh-huh I like it.
It seems funny now to look back and see how afraid parents were of their kids liking the music of KISS! My own folks were a little more lenient than the other parents I knew but it helped that my Dad was a first-generation rock and roll fan whose own parents couldn't have cared less what he was listening to alone in his room at night. KISS were by design larger than life, hyped to the max and that was their appeal. Their music was under-produced, sounded damn near perfect blaring from a tinny AM radio speaker and scared your folks - what more could you ask for from your rock gods? In 1975 and 1976, I pleaded and bargained to attend a KISS show to no avail. Then I got Alive! and it was like I was there even though I was safe in my room.
I've previously mentioned that fateful day in 1980 when I was riding my orange 10-speed bike home across the abandoned flight-lines on Chanute AFB when I came across three albums just sitting there with no one in sight, coming or going. I picked them up and awkwardly carried them home on my handlebars, having never heard of any of the bands. One of those albums was Kraftwerk's Radio-Activity, an album unlike any I had ever heard, then or now. We've been happy together ever since though, in all fairness, I did eventually upgrade to a new vinyl copy that didn't have bicycle tire marks or gravel pits on it. From there, I've upgraded through three CDs so yeah it's serious. (P.S. Those other two albums were Squeeze's East Side Story and Ultravox's self-titled debut album.)
Ever feel you were destined to like certain genres of music more than others because of your genealogy or upbringing? Hell, I was conceived on the sandy shore of the muddy Brazos River while the hit music of the Summer of 1965 played quietly on the car radio while the two teens who became my parents, the beautiful young dark-haired Hillbilly girl headed off to Blinn College that fall and the ruggedly-handsome Redneck high school dropout about to enlist in the Air Force, wrassled and tussled. Being 50% Hillbilly and 50% Redneck by birth, how could I not love Southern Rock? The eponymous Outlaws debut album was another Uncle Sam rocker though my Dad also later picked up the 8-track as well. They may have purchased them at the same time as far as I know but I was spending the Summer of 1975 with my Texas Grandma and my Uncle Sam was home from college after his sophomore year at Sam Houston State. He worked hard and he paid me well for my help at odd jobs like painting, fence building and sandblasting all day and though he partied every single night, he rarely stayed out late. He'd come home and since we shared a room, I'd listen to what he was listening to and one night he slammed in The Outlaws tape and I heard "There Goes Another Love Song" and then, three presses of the Program button later, we'd jump right into the "Free Bird"-esque epicness of "Green Grass And High Tides". Each song is a vital part of the fabric of my Texan soul.
As far back as I can remember, Dad had always had Simon & Garfunkel 8-tracks or vinyl albums including Bridge Over Troubled Water in both formats. He naturally followed Simon's career as he broke away from Art with his own self-titled 1972 album. And 1973's follow-up There Goes Rhymin' Simon probably ranks as one of Dad's three most played 8-tracks ever. While I love songs from the three albums I mentioned, at the age of nine none of them had a hold on me the way that "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover" did. And now that I'm old so much older both the album's title track and the quietly disturbing reunion with Garfunkel that is "My Little Town" (which bizarrely appeared twice, with but one song between, on the 8-track for some reason) strike even deeper chords within me and keep me buying whatever Simon is selling.
While I'd be willing to bet my Uncle Sam had gone through his copy of Pink Floyd's The Dark Side Of The Moon as a college freshman, I do not recall him ever listening to Pink Floyd unless "Money" came on the radio. I came to Wish You Were Here in the Eighties after The Wall and The Dark Side Of The Moon when I had the good fortune to hear "the middle part" in Loco Records one night. The speaker placement, the store's acoustics, and the ambient volume all coalesced one night and I made it my mission to secure my own copy after borrowing my friend Steve's copy more than once. I still maintain the lengthy album opening and closing "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" suites are Floyd at their jazziest and the middle three are a headphone wearer's dream.
Dad snagged the "Bohemian Rhapsody" 45 up as soon as he figured out the name of the song but he resisted buying the album despite my urging. I snuck that 45 out of the wire rack he kept it in quite often until one day, I somehow grabbed it wrong or it slipped and I ended up scratching it badly. He didn't realize it until a few days later and as he explained, I needed to learn to follow the rules (there was an explicit "leave my stereo and records alone" rule) and be accountable for my actions (he said he would have gone easier on me if I had told him what had happened but the fact that I kept it hidden was only the first in a long line of wrong choices I would probably make) and so he marched upstairs and the belt came off and I received my last disciplinary spanking. Through my own tears, it was also the first time I ever saw my Dad cry. I like to think I learned several lessons that day; one of them being to always take great care with my records as well as those of others. Another lesson learned was to never strike my own children, if and when I had any. At nine years old, I still wasn't sure how that all worked but I was sure I never wanted to hit them. Or anyone else. Despite that harrowing memory, I've come to appreciate A Night At The Opera over the years.
The Staple Singers were relatively unknown to me in 1975 and probably 1976 as well but at some point, Dad got the Let's Do It Again soundtrack album and that voice, Ms. Mavis Staples, spoke to a pre-teen me in exciting, confusing and mysterious ways. One of the best things I have ever done as a music fan - as a human being - is to acquaint myself with nearly all of The Staple Singers recorded works including those of Mavis and Pops out on their own.
Uncle Sam had this 8-track which, like many albums of the day, had a slightly different running order than its vinyl counterpart. He bought the band's Greatest Hits 8-track in 1976 so he could have "Cisco Kid" which was the song he bought Why Can't We Be Friends for only to find out it wasn't on there. If it hadn't been for him, I probably wouldn't listen to this album as much as I have. And the offshoot of listening to the Greatest Hits album more than a few times was that I heard "Summer" for the first time and it has been a favorite of mine ever since.
The most viewed blog post I have ever written has nearly four thousand page views. And it is HERE on another blog! The post is for the K-tel compilation album Music Express, which was one of maybe half a dozen K-tel or Ronco albums my Dad had. I loved the album because it had many of my favorite songs as a nine-year-old with all but two of the twenty tracks being Top 15 hits on my "own" station, WLS. Heck, three of the first four tracks on Music Express are from other albums right here on the list of My Favorite Albums from 1975. I eventually got my first K-tel album for Christmas 1976, a little record called Hit Machine.
Please feel free to let me know in the comments what your favorite 1975 albums are, were or will be.