I couldn’t resist coming up with another list of classic albums from the 70s I feel aren’t given enough attention. The 70s was full of albums like this. Here are another nine albums that, while they aren’t necessarily unknown, are worthy of revisiting and remembering. Let’s start with three I mentioned in passing in the previous post.
Beautiful Loser – This is the Bob Seger record that came out just prior to “Live Bullet” breaking him nationally. Many of the songs that became classics on “Live Bullet” made their studio debut here, including the title track “Beautiful Loser,” “Jody Girl,” “Katmandu,” “Travelin’ Man,” and “Nutbush City Limits.” The songs sound quite a bit different here. Great album by a legendary songwriter and performer.
Nine Lives – “You Can Tune a Piano but You Can’t Tuna Fish” was a huge success for REO Speedwagon and I think it sort of overshadowed the follow-up, “Nine Lives.” There are some great tunes on “Nine Lives,” including “Only the Strong Survive,” “Easy Money,” and “Back on the Road Again.” Those were the big tracks, but the whole album is great. Overall, this is a harder album than its predecessor and the songs are just as good.
Flat as a Pancake – I grew up where these guys made their name before they got big. This album features a huge hit, “Never Been Any Reason,” and a lesser known hit, and probably my favorite track on the album, “Love Me Tonight.” There’s also a killer mid-tempo ballad called “Ticket back to Georgia” that’s impressive. These tunes, along with some other outstanding tracks, make this a great album for fans of homegrown Midwestern rock.
Mama Let Him Play – Besides the classic rock staple “Mama Let Him Play” single, this album by Jerry Doucette is a pretty good jam. It was an album I didn’t fully appreciate until a few years after the song “Mama Let Him Play” was big, and by then I ended up having to go to a record convention to find a copy on vinyl. Definitely worth a listen, and the song “Mama Let Him Play” still kicks some major ass.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Besides the highly singable blues-infused track “Breakdown” and the driving force of the catchy “American Girl,” the debut album by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers is filled with catchy rock ‘n’ roll. Songs like “Anything That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll,” “Rockin’ Arond (With You) and the largly overlooked “Strangered in the Night” make this not only a fantastic hidden gem from the 70s, but one of the best debut albums ever.
The Cars – These guys are widely known as a new wave band that made a big name for themselves in the 80s, and while that’s certainly partially the case, they can’t be overlooked as a decent rock band. This debut album is full of some of their best stuff. It opens with “Good Times Roll,” “My Best Friend’s Girl,” and “Just What I Needed,” making it one of the best triple threat openings on any album. Two other songs on the record really stand out — “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight” and “Bye Bye Love.” The rest of the tracks, while not as compelling as these, are still good songs. A fantastic debut album by a band that is often overlooked by rock fans because of their new wave reputation.
Equinox – It’s pretty clear that Styx really started having big success after Tommy Shaw joined the band, but they didn’t do bad before him either. There was the very fine ballad “Lady,” written by Dennis DeYoung and recorded for the second Styx album, so they were no strangers to a catchy hit. This album further illustrates this notion. “Equinox” was the album right before Tommy Shaw joined the band, and as good as it is, the albums made with Tommy in the group quickly overshadowed this one. “Light Up,” “Lorelei,” and “Suite Madame Blue,” three Styx mainstays, come from this album. There’s also a stand-out track called “Midnight Ride,” which sounds to me like early Ted Nugent. The rest of the songs on the album aren’t over-the-top good, but they add some texture to “Equinox.” I like “Cornerstone” and some of their later records better, but “Equinox” should not be overlooked as one of their best.
Alice Cooper Goes to Hell – Alice Cooper was certainly not overlooked in the 70s, but his album “Goes to Hell” might be a bit overlooked because of the success of its predecessor, “Welcome to My Nightmare,” which usually gets the glory. This album was a light concept piece about, yep, a journey to Hell. The songs dramatize this journey and illustrate the main character’s lack of concern for his destination. The excellent, and surprising ballad, “I Never Cry” comes from this album, along with my all-time favorite Alice Cooper song, “Guilty.” The rest of the songs are not as well known, but man, they are cool. This is a fun album with some stand-out work by the Master of the Macabre.
John Cougar – This album bears the name John Mellencamp has spent his entire career trying to get away from. “John Cougar” is an album full of songs John Mellencamp rarely, if ever, looks back on with any fond memories. That’s too bad. This is really good stuff. The song “I Need a Lover” (which appeared on an earlier release as well) garnered some big attention for him in the US, and the minor hit “A Little Night Dancin’,” one of my favorites, are two examples of the crafty songwriting here. “The Great Midwest,” Do You Think That’s Fair,” and “Sugar Marie” are three more standout tracks for me, but the rest of the songs are very good. John Mellencamp may have finally managed to shake the Cougar moniker (mostly), but it will forever live on as the title of this classic album.