The 1970s produced some of the most classic and enduring albums in the history of music –albums created by bands who’ve stood the test of time. This was my era, man. The music created in the 70s shaped my songwriting and performing for life. There are lots of obvious great albums from the 70s. The first Boston album, Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours,” Bob Seger’s “Live Bullet,” and on and on. I could easily make a list of classic and enduring albums from this decade, but instead I want to focus on some great records I feel didn’t get all the recognition they deserve. These are some of the hidden gems I couldn’t get enough of. A lot of them I scoured record conventions to find. These albums still move me today.
Touch – The debut album by Touch was incredible. Keyboard-heavy rock with polish. It isn’t progressive, though. This is hard rock. Cuts like “Black Star,” “Don’t You Know What Love Is?” “Last Chance for Love,” and “When the Spirit moves You” anchor this album and still rock today. Honestly, this album sounds as good now as it ever did. Touch only did two albums, both of which you can find in a package called “The Complete Works” with bonus tracks. Worth picking up.
Ram Jam – This is a boogie rock classic full of nothing but good songs. “Too Bad on Your Birthday,” “Overloaded,” “Keep Your Hands on the Wheel,” “All for the Love of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” and the radio staple “Black Betty” make this album a must have. Good shit.
Barry Goudreau – Boston’s guitarist took a break from the band to record his first solo album. This is for sure overlooked. In an interview with Barry, he told me the label really didn’t promote the record, and that’s too bad. This is basically a Boston album without Scholz. The sound is there, Barry’s playing is there, Brad Delp is singing, and other guys from Boston lend their talents as well. Anchored by the awesome track “Dreams,” this record is full of songs that could have been instant classics.
Foghat Live – There were a lot of classic live records in the 70s. This one by the boogie rock group Foghat is short and sweet. There are just six tracks, but they are Fogat’s crown jewels, ranging from “Home in My Hand” and “Fool for the City” to the classics “I Just Wanna Make Love to You” and “Slow Ride.” Six live tracks that kick ass.
A Rock and Roll Alternative – This one by the Atlanta Rhythm Section was probably their biggest, right alongside the follow up, “Champagne Jam,” but despite the success of “So into You” from this album and “Not Gonna Let It Bother Me Tonight” and the title track from “Champagne Jam,” I don’t think ARS ever got the credit they deserve for being the fantastic band they are. Southern rock with a smoother, funkier edge. I was hooked as soon as I heard this album. It remains one of my all-time favorites today. Not a bad song here.
Fleetwood Mac (the White Album) – Released in 1975, this self-titled album, sometimes referred to as the “White Album,” was the first to feature Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckinham. As huge as the follow-up album “Rumours” was, this album gets overlooked. I believe it was timing that made “Rumours” the success it was, not to mention it was a damn good album, but if you look at the tracks on this album, it’s at least as good as “Rumours.” “Monday Morning,” Over My Head,” “Say You Love Me,” Rhiannon,” and “Landslide” all come off “Fleetwood Mac,” making it one of their finest, and certainly in the same league as “Rumours.”
Cornerstone – Styx certainly didn’t need any help in the 70s. This album is one of their best, with the huge hit “Babe” as the anchor. In addition to that killer song, however, the album is filled with great stuff. “Lights,” “Why Me,” “First Time,” “Love in the Midnight,” and two excellent lesser known tracks, “Never Say Never” and “Borrowed Time,” make “Cornerstone” my favorite Styx album.
Evolution – Like Styx, Journey really had no trouble with popularity in the 70s, but the album “Evolution,” while it was their best selling album at the time, has perhaps been forgotten in light of some of their other work. Gregg Rolie was still in the band, though he left shortly after this, and did a fantastic lead vocal on the song “Just the Same Way,” one of my favorite Journey songs. This album features songs like “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’,” “Sweet and Simple,” “Do You Recall,” and “Too Late.” It’s still everything I love about Journey.
Double Platinum – Okay, so nothing about KISS in the 70s was hidden, underrated, or overlooked. They were everywhere. Still, I want to include “Double Platinum” here because it was my first KISS album, and because it has just about everything you’d expect in a greatest hits package covering their first six studio albums. These songs are the classic KISS songs. A lot of people, including the band, didn’t like “Double Platinum” because it was remixed, in some cases very distinctly. That’s okay by me. I like the remixes, maybe because this is how I first heard the songs. It’s a great jam album by one of the least overlooked bands around.
Of course, there’s plenty of room for others on this list. “Nine Lives” by REO, “Beautiful Loser” by Bob Seger, and “Flat as a Pancake” by Head East are three right off the top of my head. So much great rock during that decade. These are just some of the lesser known works. I haven’t even talked about the giants yet. We’ll save that for another time.