Welcome to 1976, year 2 in my 40 years of music retrospective, where I’m sharing my favourite albums from each year.
Feel free to share your own favourites in the comments.
The Modern Lovers
John Cale produced Jonathan Richman’s band on this album, including the classics Roadrunner, and my favourite, Pablo Picasso, who apparently never got called an asshole.
Bob Dylan – Desire
Bob Dylan’s second great period (the first being Highway 61 Revisited, Bringing it all Back Home and Blonde on Blonde), featuring the blistering tracks Hurricane and Isis, but my favourite, One More Cup of Coffee
Lou Reed – Coney Island Baby
Transformer, Sally Can’t Dance, and Coney Island Baby are Lou Reed at his glammy best. The title track here is a must hear. Smoke ’em if you got ’em.
David Bowie – Station to Station
The Thin White Duke album. Dabbling in disco, R&B, etc.. I once thought I’d come up with a fantastic guitar riff. Turned out it was ‘Stay’. It is a great riff, it just isn’t mine, sadly.
Genesis – A Trick of the Tail
After Peter Gabriel left the band, Phil Collins took over, and for the first two albums, did his very best Peter Gabriel impression until he found his own voice. This is one of my favourite early Genesis tunes
Heart – Dreamboat Annie
If you were a woman in the ’70s, you were soft rock or folk. Not Ann and Nancy Wilson.
I saw the Decemberists cover this in an encore of the Hazards of Love tour. Blew my mind. What a great song.
Thin Lizzy – Jailbreak
I bet you think I’m gonna post The Boys are Back in Town.
Nah. That’s classic, but the title track’s simple grungy rhythm guitar always gets me. And Phil Lynott never sounded better.
Stevie Wonder – Songs in the Key of Life
I really felt like posting Pastime Paradise so everyone could see what a thief Coolio is, but instead, I’ll share Stevie’s ode to Duke Ellington.
Tom Waits – SMALL CHANGE
One of my very favourite Tom Waits albums. Just go listen to the whole thing, darlings, trust me. Here’s a great live version of Tom Traubert’s Blues
Frank Zappa – Zoot Allures
Frank Zappa’s slimiest, sleaziest grooves.
Bob Seger – Night Moves
Rock and Roll Never Forgets. I always think of guys like Bob Seger, or John Fogerty, or George Thoroughgood as the voice of American Blue Collar Rock and Roll. My tastes are broader than that, but are inclusive of it as well.
The Eagles – Hotel California
Speaking of American Rock and Roll — this classic was played near the end of the dances I used to go to as a teenager, followed up by Stairway to Heaven. Make out rock, I suppose you could call it. This particular track, popular as it was, has some of the darkest lyrics, thanks to Don Henley taking the forefront on this album. The entire album is a sort of dark paean to success and excess, using California as a metaphor for the trappings of fame.