We’ve written an article in the past on this, entitled “5 Great 70s Albums to Listen to High”. As the 70s is semi-officially the greatest era of modern music added to the fact that we only covered the early 70s, we thought “Let’s make this list more complete.” Here are 5 more great 70s albums that you ought to listen to if you haven’t already, effectively making this pretty much 10 albums. Who knows? They might just lift your spirits up and help you carry on partying after a heavy midweek 4th of July!
Shakti (aka Remember Shakti) – A Handful of Beauty, 1977
John McLaughlin, Zakir Hussain, Vikku Vinayakram and Lakshminarayana Shankar all playing together on one album? No, this isn’t heaven – it’s Shakti’s A Handful of Beauty! We mentioned Alice Coltrane’s Journey in Satchidananda in our last piece on 70s music, and this makes a great companion album thanks to its similar “jazz-meets-Indian music” themes. Like Alice Coltrane’s album, this is one of those albums that makes you realize why the 70s was such an important time in music – awesome musicians of all sorts of genres played together, and in the process laid the foundations of contemporary music as we know it today.
Whether you listen to techno, Hip-Hop or jungle/Drum & Bass, you’ll hear funk, soul, blues, rock, dub/reggae and jazz samples, in particular from the music of the 50s, 60s and 70s. Indeed, if we get really rootsy, Latin, African, classical Indian and folk music of both Western and Eastern origin has played a massive role in much of contemporary music heard worldwide today. Albums like these help us hear it with more clarity.
Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band – Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller), 1978
After the groundbreaking Trout Mask Replica (1969) was released out into the world and changed many people’s perception of what music is or could be forever, it could be said that Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band had a bit of a rough time trying to recapture that creativity. Sure, there was Clear Spot and several flashes of awesomeness on several of their other albums, but there was something still missing.
Then along came Zappa again in 1975, and some discipline was injected into the freeform brilliance of Captain Beefheart. From the ashes of the fire that was Bongo Fury came this peach of an album, Shiny Beast. This wasn’t just any old Beefheart album, but a Beefheart album that could make you want to boogie, thanks to brilliantly brazen and surreal songs like “Floppy Boot Stomp” and “Tropical Hot Dog Night”. This is one of those avant-garde albums you could easily put on at a party and not alienate absolutely everyone in the room!
Johnny Hammond – Gears (1975)
This album is just over 30 minutes of pure jazz-funk bliss. Every track is a floorfiller, and it’s an album that will satisfy the muso-loving metaller and the dance-loving disco queen in equal measure. Play it at a post-4th July party, and you are guaranteed (well, maybe not guaranteed) to get people talking and socializing with one another. Superlative Rhodes piano solos and heavyweight production by the Mizell Brothers, who have worked with greats like Michael Jackson & The Jackson 5, Bobbi Humphrey, The Blackbyrds, Donald Byrd and Edwin Starr.
Death – For the World to See (2009)
Why is an album from 2009 on a list on music from the 70s? Well, it’s because this album is a collation of songs from the all-black, Detroit-based proto-punk band, Death, who wrote them between 1971 and their breakup in 1977. This a band several years ahead of its time, and Death could be seen as the pre-Bad Brains Bad Brains. This is one of the greatest collection-of-songs-made-into-an-albums ever. Oh, and they also share a band name with the great 80s death metal band featuring the late, great guitarist, Chuck Schuldiner, which is a big plus!
Taste featuring Rory Gallagher – In Concert, 1977
We have to feature at least one album from a non-US group or artist on these lists, lest we start thinking that America was the only place good music resided in the 70s, which we all know is not true! On this occasion, that honor goes to the great blues-rock guitarist, Rory Gallagher. Though he released some fantastic albums, it is hearing him live that really takes the breath away. This album was release in 1977, but was recorded in 1968. Oh, and Rory’s a multi-instrumentalist who can play mandolin, saxophone, banjo, dulcimer, dobro and the sitar, as well as his beat-up 1961 Sunburst Fender Stratocaster. A legend who, though he never really made it into the big time, became a musician’s musician and inspired many (e.g. Queen’s Brian May) for years to come.
This being the 70s, quite possibly one of the greatest eras of recorded music, we could go on forever with lists like these. We could mention the Aztecas, Chics and the Sly & the Family Stones of this world. The Black Sabbaths, Deep Purples and Aerosmiths. We are sure plenty of these vinyl covers were used as a mat to roll up many a joint in the 70s!
Will we go into some of the great music of the 80s, 80s and 2000s as well at some point in the future? And what about the 60s, when so much of the cannabis legalization movement we see today started? Quite possibly – you’ll just have to keep your eyes peeled on our blog to see if your favorite (and possibly lesser-known) albums make it onto our list!