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:
* Queen – Queen II and Sheer Heart Attack
* Steely Dan – Pretzel Logic
* Stevie Wonder – Fulfillingness’ First Finale
* KISS – KISS
* Genesis – The 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.