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Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Top 50 Songs of 1974

The year I was born was a crappy year for music.  The great bands from the 60s are non-existent, unless you count the Dead, but they weren’t a “great” 60s band to begin with, and their 1974 effort From the Mars Hotel was their first step back.  Queen is pretty good, but Aerosmith and Kiss?  That’s where we’re at right now.  Punk and New Age can't come soon enough, and I don't even like those genres!    

50.  #9 Dream – John Lennon (Pop Rock) – 1974
49.  Love’s Theme – Love Unlimited Orchestra (Disco) – 1974

This instrumental encompasses everything I don’t like about music, yet, it’s such a good "Late Afternoon Nap" song. 

48.  You’re the First, the Last, My Everything – Barry White (Disco) – 1974
47.  Lord of the Thighs – Aerosmith (Hard Rock) – 1974

To be considered hair rock, your songs need to A) use lots o' power chords; B) be about trashy women and C) come out in the 80s.  This has two of the three.  Winger, here we come! 

46.  U.S. Blues – Grateful Dead (Rock) – 1974

Though the first song on Mars Hotel may be a little disappointing, it's not nearly as disappointing as the majority of the album. 

45.  Winter In America – Gil Scott-Heron (Rhythm & Blues) – 1974
44.  Barracuda – John Cale (Rock) – 1974
43.  Lady Marmalade – Labelle (Disco) – 1974 

Yes … Yes I will. 

42.  If You Really Want to Be My Friend – Rolling Stones (Slow Rock) – 1974

It seems like a leftover from Exile, but whatever, it’s a great song, even though it’s a bit longer than it needs to be. 

41.  Papa Don’t Take No Mess – James Brown (Funk) – 1974
40.  Loose Lucy – Grateful Dead (Rock) – 1974
39.  How Long? – Ace (Smooth Rock) – 1974

I’m not sure about this one, but it gets me because these are some Brits doing some smooth shit.  This definitely paved the way for wuss rock. 

38.  Never Can Say Goodbye – Gloria Gaynor (Disco) – 1974

I made it until 1974 until I started accepting disco.  I don’t know if that’s because I’m really good at weeding out crap, or in a year or two I’m going to say, “Wow, this is a lot of disco songs, I should've waited longer!”

37.  The Payback – James Brown (Funk) – 1974
36.  The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway – Genesis (Progressive Rock) – 1974
35.  Free Man in Paris – Joni Mitchell (Folk Rock) – 1974

What I’m beginning to learn at age 36 is that Joni Mitchell is better than Janis Joplin. 

34.  Them Belly Full – Bob Marley (Reggae) – 1974
33.  You Haven’t Done Nothing – Stevie Wonder (Funk) – 1974
32.  Pick Up the Pieces – Average White Band (Funk) – 1974
31.  Piss Factory – Patti Smith (piano ballad) – 1974

So here’s Patti Smith, and it sounds much like Nina Simone.  Great job.   

30.  Fear Is A Man’s Best Friend – John Cale (Rock) – 1974
29.  Everything I Own – Ken Boothe (Reggae) – 1974
28.  Louisiana 1927 – Randy Newman (Slow Rock) – 1974

This is another one of those “Hurricane Katrina” soundtrack songs. 

27.  Rebel Rebel – David Bowie (Glam Rock) – 1974
26.  Jungle Boogie – Kool & The Gang (Funk) – 1974

This is one of those borderline funk/disco songs.  I’m going to side with funk because a) it’s funky and b) there are no lyrics, just jibberish.  It was a sad day when I realized the only lyrics to the song were “Get Down, Get Down” and “Jungle Boogie” and some guy sort of talking over it.  He doesn’t say much more though, just kind of cheers the song along.  It’s kind of funny when you think about it. 

25.  I Wanna See the Bright Lights Tonight – Richard and Linda Thompson (Folk) - 1974
24.  Chelsea Hotel #2 – Leonard Cohen (Folk) – 1974
23.  Down Down – Status Quo  (Rock) – 1974

This has a nice pre-Ramones pop sensibility. 

22.  Killer Queen – Queen (Glam Rock) – 1974
21.  Before the Deluge – Jackson Browne (Rock) – 1974 

Jackson Browne always confuses me because he seems like he’s an Eagle in disguise.

20.  No Woman No Cry – Bob Marley (Reggae) – 1974
19.  Steel and Glass – John Lennon (Folk Rock) – 1974

This is a rare song that the string section actually makes better. 

18.  It’s Only Rock and Roll – Rolling Stones (Rock) – 1974
17.  Black Diamond – Kiss (Hard Rock) – 1974 

Between Aerosmith and Kiss you have the beginning of hair rock.  Whatever the New York Dolls were teasing, Kiss brought it up a notch, and all they had to do was mask themselves in makeup.   The half-step at a time walk down at the end of this though is pure genius.  Yes, I just mentioned a Kiss song and the word “genius” in the same sentence. 

16.  Rikki Don’t Lose that Number – Steely Dan (Rock) – 1974

I’ve always loved the bass line that drives this song. 

15.  Same Old Song and Dance – Aerosmith (Hard Rock) – 1974
14.  Time Waits For No One – Rolling Stones (Rock) – 1974

I can’t believe I don’t know this song that well.  This is a great post Exile Stones song, and those are few and far between. 

13.  The Bottle – Gil Scott-Heron (Funk) – 1974

This is the guy that says “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.”  It’s nice to hear him in a song setting because he comes through quite well. 

12.  That Certain Female – Charlie Feathers (Rock ‘n Roll) – 1974

It’s not the purest form of rock ‘n roll, but it’s the rare song that stretches the genre. 

11.  Take Me to the River – Al Green (Rhythm & Blues) – 1974
10.  Can’t Get Enough of Your Love Babe – Barry White (Rhythm & Blues) – 1974

I love the sexy slither of a lady snake.  Oh baby. 

9.  The Calvary Cross – Richard & Linda Thompson (Slow Rock) – 1974

This is great “I’ve just lost the love of my life but I’m going to be okay” music.  No idea what the lyrics are though.  Next time I guess. 

8.  Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow – Frank Zappa (Progressive Rock) – 1974

What a weirdo.  I’ve loved this song for a long time though, so here we are. 

7.  Help Me – Joni Mitchell (Folk Rock) – 1974

Here’s my favorite Joni Mitchell song.  Suck it. 

6.  A Pirate Looks at Forty – Jimmy Buffett (Country) – 1974

The #1 sign you’ve lived in Florida for a long time:  Jimmy Buffett can really hit the mood sometimes. 

5.  Strutter – Kiss (Hard Rock) – 1974

In their earlier years, Kiss isn’t so bad.  It does seem as if Zeppelin tried to pass them the bolt of lightning that is hard rock, but they simply dropped it and instead of picking it up, put “cool” make-up on so nobody would notice that the bolt of lightning never got passed. 

4.  Bloody Mary Morning – Willie Nelson (Country) – 1974

I’m a big Willie Nelson fan so I don’t know too much about him (which is still probably more than most people).  He seems to be at his best in the mid-70s.  Is this indeed the case? 

3.  Stone Cold Crazy – Queen (Heavy Metal) – 1974

This reason why this doesn’t get THAT much heavy metal starter kit credit is because it’s so melodic.  Heavy Metal musicians didn’t really understand melody, and that’s why Queen doesn’t get the pub.  Queen was much better than heavy metal though, so it’s a fair trade off. 

2.  Scarlet Begonias – Grateful Dead (Rock) – 1974

This is one of my guitar bread and butter songs that I’ve loved since I was a 1990s hippie.  I love it as much today. 

1.  Boogie on Reggae Woman – Stevie Wonder (Rhythm & Blues) – 1974

You gotta love Funk-Reggae! 

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