–by Quincy Tejani, Music Connoisseur–
Read our 1960’s list here: Top 10 Song from the 1960’s You Might Not Know (But Definitely Should)
The turn of the decade brought with it the demise of the biggest band of all time and the end of the “hippie dream”. In place of the psychedelic tunes that spread messages of love and peace the 1970’s saw singer/songwriters, glam rockers, stadium rockers, reggae artists, punk rockers and of course, disco artists all have their time in the spotlight. In a decade filled with so many different types of popular music, a lot of great songs never received the praise they deserved. For this reason, this week we will list 10 of the best songs from the 70’s that ought to be remembered, but might not be.
10. John Cale | Paris 1919 | 1973
Although Cale previously split with Velvet Underground because of the pop direction the band was going in, John Cale’s record Paris 1919 is surprisingly pop oriented. Rolling Stone magazine referred to the record (and the title track) as a “masterpiece”.
9. Hawkwind | Master of the Universe | 1971
Hawkwind are one of the pioneers of what we now consider “spacerock”. “Master of the Universe” just happens to be the best thing that these guys ever did, and that is saying something.
8. Judee Sill | There’s a Rugged Road | 1973
The story of Judee Sill is a very sad one. Sidelined by car crashes and drug addictions, this prolific singer/songwriter ultimately died of a drug overdose. “There’s a Rugged Road” is a track that proves Sill to be as good as any of her contemporaries.
7. Fela Kuti | Expensive Shit | 1975
The legend of this song is that Kuti was about to get arrested for possession of drugs and instead of taking the fall, Kuti swallowed the substances and was quickly apprehended. The law enforcers were planning on waiting for Kuti to go “number 2” so they could test his fecal matter for containing illegal substances. Kuti worked his way out of the situation by paying for another inmate to give Kuti his poop to show the police and thus “Expensive Shit” was born. I really don’t know if this legend is true, but it’s certainly hilarious.
6. Yes | Roundabout | 1972
Now, Yes is often overlooked as one of the most important prog bands of the 1970’s. Their album Fragile which contains “Roundabout” was released to widespread critical acclaim in 1972. This song is perfect for those days when you feel like running naked through a field (ie. everyday).
5. Joe Henderson | Fire | 1973
The early 70’s was a time of exploration for many jazz musicians who felt like jazz was becoming less and less relevant in pop culture. Joe Henderson’s album Elements shows him branching out from the post-bop jazz that he was used to playing and into a more spiritual direction.
4. Syd Barrett | Terrapin | 1970
Isn’t that photo of Syd below just the greatest thing on this planet? “Terrapin” shows the best of what Syd could produce with a seriously drug rattled mind on his solo debut The Madcap Laughs. It’s pretty amazing.
3. Peter Tosh | I Am that I Am | 1977
After Peter Tosh left his band, The Wailers, in 1974 he began what would become a very lucrative solo career. I Am That I Am is one of the hidden gems on his second album Equal Rights, released in 1977.
2. Modern Lovers | Pablo Picasso | 1976
Mmm The Modern Lovers. The only “punk” track included on our list, I find “Pablo Picasso” to be hilarious and brilliant. Even though it is a rather silly song that could maybe be shortened by a full minute, the track shows off the brilliance of the one off band from Massachusetts.
1. Cymande | Dove | 1972
To me, Cymande represents what it means to be under-appreciated. The fact that their eponymous debut Lp goes unnoticed by music fans at large just shows that sometimes you have to get lucky to make it big.
Quincy Tejani is the co-founder of The Violet Wave and is also editor of music. When he’s not listening to or writing about music you can probably find him walking through the forests of Ontario or questioning the inner workings of the universe. He also never turns down a cold Pabst… never.
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