Liner Notes

The Year That Was: 1975

by Benjamin Ray

History probably remembers 1975 for the disco singles, the weenie pop anthems and Peter Frampton, which is unfair. Many classic artists released their best work in this year, other careers began, and a couple of major artists returned to the spotlight. Yes, there was "The Hustle," but there was also "Born To Run."

Bruce Springsteen's best record, Born To Run was his make-or-break attempt to write an anthem and make an album statement, and the record is a triumph. Pink Floyd, seeking to follow up Dark Side Of the Moon, offered the truly wonderful Wish You Were Here, which is simply perfection from beginning to end, the warm human side to Dark Side's aloof chill. Aerosmith's third album Toys In The Attic was solid balls-out rock front to back, with the songwriting, playing and production finally coalescing into one of the great hard-rock records of the decade. Led Zeppelin also offered the double album Physical Graffiti, which had a few duff tracks but was redeemed by the sheer ambition and confidence of tracks like "Trampled Underfoot" and "Kashmir."

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There were many strong classic rock releases in this fine year, from Neil Young's Tonight's The Night to Nazareth's Hair Of The Dog to Electric Light Orchestra's Face The Music to Black Sabbath's Sabotage. Bad Company had a hit with Straight Shooter, Elton John offered two albums and the single "Philadelphia Freedom," David Bowie switched gears to a more soul-oriented format and scored with "Young Americans" and "Fame," and the Doobie Brothers offered the strong Stampede. Other highlights include Queen's A Night At The Opera and "Bohemian Rhapsody," Styx's Equinox, John Lennon's homage Rock 'N’ Roll, Alice Cooper's solo Welcome To My Nightmare, and even the Eagles' One Of These Nights, which was tolerable.

The two biggest comebacks belonged to Bob Dylan, with the divorce-inspired Blood On The Tracks, and Fleetwood Mac, which picked up Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham and offered an eponymous album that became a smash ("Rhiannon" is the highlight, but the whole thing is strong). Peter Frampton, who had been toiling unnoticed for a while, released Frampton Comes Alive! and became a huge star, followed by glam-rockers Kiss with Alive! and Ted Nugent ("Stranglehold"). Also returning from oblivion was Jeff Beck, with his instrumental jazz-inspired Blow By Blow, the closest thing he ever came to a good front-to-back album.

In between these, rock radio also had Foghat ("Fool For The City," "Slow Ride"), Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Saturday Night Special," Steely Dan's underwhelming Katy Lied, Head East's "Never Been Any Reason," Rush's Fly By Night and Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow. The Who also offered The Who By Numbers, which downscaled their previous ambitions and was something of a disappointment, and Paul McCartney's Venus And Mars was the second and last good album he would make with Wings.

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Those pop singles, though, were everywhere, and they still are on "light rock" stations across the country. This was the year of "The Hustle," "Love Will Keep Us Together," "Lovin' You," "Mandy," ABBA, "December 1963 (Oh What a Night)," "I Can Help," "I'm Not in Love," "Jive Talkin'" and "Rhinestone Cowboy." At least "You're No Good," "Lady Marmalade" and the Isley Brothers' "Fight The Power" had some bite. Swirling around the disco and R&B scene were other hits like "Get Down Tonight," "That's the Way (I Like It)," "Rollercoaster Of Love," "Fire," "Shinin' Star," "Dazz" and Parliamen's Mothership Connection.

Three final releases of note: Bob Marley Live!, John William's ba-dump theme to the movie Jaws, and Kraftwerk's Autobahn, which was quite original and would prove to be very influential in the coming years.

And that, friends, is the Year That Was in music.




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