1974 – It was a very good year (for music)

According a recent piece on cnn.com, 1974 was a really bad year for music. Like, really bad. As some examples, the author cites the following examples of musical craptasticity: Terry Jacks’ “Seasons in the Sun,” Cher’s “Dark Lady,” Ray Stevens’ “The Streak,” Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods’ “Billy, Don’t Be a Hero,” John Denver’s “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” and “Annie’s Song,” Paper Lace’s “The Night Chicago Died,” Paul Anka’s “(You’re) Having My Baby,” Olivia Newton-John’s “I Honestly Love You” and Carl Douglas’ “Kung Fu Fighting.”

Looking at that list, I would be inclined to agree with the author’s assertion that 1974 was a dry, rocky place where the seeds of quality could find no purchase. But the problem with the article is this – there was PLENTY of great music being produced in 1974 that was ignored by the mainstream press and by mainstream music fans. I spent about 4 minutes looking for good music from 1974 (albums, not singles) and this is what I found:

* QueenQueen II and Sheer Heart Attack
* Steely DanPretzel Logic
* Stevie WonderFulfillingness’ First Finale
* GenesisThe Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
* Eric Clapton – 461 Ocean Boulevard
* Herbie Hancock – Head Hunters

That’s just albums, and that’s just a quick list off the top of my head (OK, I used Google a little bit). I could probably double this list without too much more effort. The point being, it’s really easy (and lazy) to dismiss the music of a certain year or generation just because the popular hits of the day are not so good in retrospect; although I have been guilty of this in the past. Some years, however, just require a little more digging to find the diamonds.

And besides, if you don’t like “Kung Fu Fighting,” you’ve just got no soul.

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  1. ” Ray Stevens’ “The Streak,” Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods’ “Billy, Don’t Be a Hero,” John Denver’s “Thank God I’m a Country Boy”” Paper Lace’s “The Night Chicago Died,” and Carl Douglas’ “Kung Fu Fighting” – nothing wrong with any of those (if you have any tolerance for Ray's brand of comedy, anyway).

    Here's Billboard's top 100 for the year:
    1. The Way We Were, Barbra Streisand
    2. Seasons In The Sun, Terry Jacks
    3. Love's Theme, Love Unlimited Orchestra
    4. Come and Get Your Love, Redbone
    5. Dancing Machine, Jackson 5
    6. The Loco-Motion, Grand Funk Railroad
    7. T.S.O.P. (The Sound of Philadelphia), MFSB
    8. The Streak, Ray Stevens
    9. Bennie and the Jets, Elton John
    10. One Hell of a Woman, Mac Davis
    11. Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do), Aretha Franklin
    12. Jungle Boogie, Kool and The Gang
    13. Midnight at the Oasis, Maria Muldaur
    14. You Make Me Feel Brand New, Stylistics
    15. Show and Tell, Al Wilson
    16. Spiders and Snakes, Jim Stafford
    17. Rock On, David Essex
    18. Sunshine On My Shoulder, John Denver
    19. Sideshow, Blue Magic
    20. Hooked On A Feeling, Blue Swede
    21. Billy, Don't Be a Hero, Bo Donaldson and The Heywoods
    22. Band On the Run, Paul McCartney and Wings
    23. The Most Beautiful Girl, Charlie Rich
    24. Time In a Bottle, Jim Croce
    25. Annie's Song, John Denver
    26. Let Me Be There, Olivia Newton-John
    27. Sundown, Gordon Lightfoot
    28. (You're) Having My Baby, Paul Anka
    29. Rock Me Gently, Andy Kim
    30. Boogie Down, Eddie Kendricks
    31. You're Sixteen, You're Beautiful and You're Mine, Ringo Starr
    32. If You Love Me (Let Me Know), Olivia Newton-John
    33. Dark Lady, Cher
    34. Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me, Gladys Knight and The Pips
    35. Feel Like Makin' Love, Roberta Flack
    36. Just Dont Want To Be Lonely, Main Ingredient
    37. Nothing from Nothing, Billy Preston
    38. Rock Your Baby, George McCrae
    39. Top of the World, Carpenters
    40. The Joker, Steve Miller Band
    41. I've Got to Use My Imagination, Gladys Knight and The Pips
    42. The Show Must Go On, Three Dog Night
    43. Rock the Boat, Hues Corporation
    44. Smokin' In The Boys Room, Brownsville Station
    45. Living for the City, Stevie Wonder
    46. The Night Chicago Died, Paper Lace
    47. Then Came You, Dionne Warwick and The Spinners
    48. The Entertainer, Marvin Hamlisch
    49. Waterloo, Abba
    50. The Air That I Breathe, Hollies
    51. Rikki Don't Lose That Number, Steely Dan
    52. Mockingbird, Carly Simon
    53. Help Me, Joni Mitchell
    54. You Won't See Me, Anne Murray
    55. Never, Never Gonna Give You Up, Barry White
    56. Tell Me Something Good, Rufus
    57. You and Me Against the World, Helen Reddy
    58. Rock & Roll Heaven, Righteous Brothers
    59. Hollywood Swinging, Kool and The Gang
    60. Be Thankful for What You Got, William Devaughn
    61. Hang On In There Baby, Johnny Bristol
    62. Eres Tu (Touch The Wind), Mocedades
    63. Takin' Care of Business, Bachman-Turner Overdrive
    64. Radar Love, Golden Earring
    65. Please Come to Boston, Dave Loggins
    66. Keep On Smilin', Wet Willie
    67. Lookin' for a Love, Bobby Womack
    68. Put Your Hands Together, O'Jays
    69. On and On, Gladys Knight and The Pips
    70. Oh Very Young, Cat Stevens
    71. Leave Me Alone (Ruby Red Dress), Helen Reddy
    72. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Elton John
    73. (I've Been) Searchin' So Long, Chicago
    74. Oh My My, Ringo Starr
    75. For the Love of Money, O'Jays
    76. I Shot The Sherrif, Eric Clapton
    77. Jet, Paul McCartney and Wings
    78. Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me, Elton John
    79. Tubular Bells, Mike Oldfield
    80. A Love Song, Anne Murray
    81. I'm Leaving It (All) Up to You, Donny and Marie Osmond
    82. Hello It's Me, Todd Rundgren
    83. I Love, Tom T. Hall
    84. Clap for the Wolfman, The Guess Who
    85. I'll Have to Say I Love You In a Song, Jim Croce
    85. The Lord's Prayer, Sister Janet Mead
    87. Trying To Hold On To My Woman, Lamont Dozier
    88. Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing, Stevie Wonder
    89. A Very Special Love Song, Charlie Rich
    90. My Girl Bill, Jim Stafford
    91. My Mistake (Was to Love You), Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye
    91. Helen Wheels, Paul McCartney and Wings
    93. Wildwood Weed, Jim Stafford
    94. Beach Baby, First Class
    95. Me and Baby Brother, War
    96. Rockin' Roll Baby, Stylistics
    97. I Honestly Love You, Olivia Newton-John
    98. Call On Me, Chicago
    99. Fancy, Fancy
    100. Mighty Love, Pt. 1, Spinners

    I count at least 45 in that list that I like a lot, and a couple (inc. Andy Kim, First Class) are probably in my top 500 all time.

  2. I had a K-tel record with every one of those songs on it. It was cool, because my little sister hated it.

  3. too bad i wasn’t born yet…lol. but me being the music junkie that i am, i love a lot of those joints, especially Herbie. he is & always will be so dope. i just did a similar post (sorta), remembering 1985.

  4. too bad i wasn’t born yet…lol. but me being the music junkie that i am, i love a lot of those joints, especially Herbie. he is & always will be so dope.

    i just did a similar post (sorta), remembering 1985.

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