K-Dillie's Super Sounds of the 70s
There's no denying it -- I'm a child of the 1970s. I grew up in an era where rollerskating and mini-golf were almost a way of life. Back when video games were about 20 times the size of today's computers, with 1/100,000th of the memory capacity. A time when skateboards were just a little larger than the size of a large adult foot, and seatbelts in cars were a recommendation, not a requirement. Go ask your moms: people didn't have baby seats back then. . . they just laid their kids down in the back seat and hoped for the best.
While every era in music has its cheese, from the corny stuff in the '50s to the hippy-dippy shit in the 60s to the Candleboxian "grunge" of the '90s, I seem to have a soft spot for the 70s stuff. In my last post, when discussing Grand Funk Railroad, I mentioned my love for a certain brand of 70s semi-bloated funky rock. A few readers agreed, and one even jokingly told me to come up with a Grand Funk 100.
As I said then, I don't think I could come up with a Grand Funk 10. Like a good deal of the bands I'm posting tonight, I wouldn't even say I'm a fan. I will say that I believe that most bands can surprise you with one or two great songs. Obviously there are more exceptions to my rule than I'd like to admit, but sometimes I'm wary to laugh about a band that might seem cheesey because I know that there's the slightest chance that they could meet my Grand Funk Principle: even a shitty band can pull of a great song, if the moon is right.
The 70s produced a lot of bad music, don't get me wrong. I wouldn't even be afraid to say that some of tonight's music is, in some way, bad. I just don't care. This stuff isn't brain surgery. This is the 70s stuff that was custom made for a few specific activities. Drinking in your backyard. Lighting a shitload of fireworks. Watching, or participating in, a roller derby. Driving fast, especially in a Camaro.
So crack a beer, strap on your skates and hit Random on this playlist. Oh, and wear some sweet ass short shorts.
"Hey Big Brother"
"I Just Want to Celebrate" by RARE EARTH: I mentioned Rare Earth's "I Just Want to Celebrate" in my previous post, but I foolishly failed to post the song. I remember growing up liking this song, and then deciding it sucked after hearing it one too many car commercials. It was David O. Russell's film Three Kings which reminded me of how cool it was after being used in the movie's opening credits. Eventually I broke down and bought a Best Of Rare Earth CD, where I discovered "Hey Big Brother," which has all the elements of my 70s Porno-Rock fetish: funky heavy guitars, tons of multi-tracked backing vocals, and squiggly keyboards or organs.
"Rave 'n' Rock" by DADDY MAXFIELD: While this one is more T.REXian than the rest of tonight's playlist, it's still totally porno and totally 70s. I honestly couldn't make you a rollerskating jams tape without this song, which I discovered with the help of one of my favorite blogs, Bubblegum Machine. Check that super sweet guitar solo. More bands need to ape Marc Bolan. Anyone actually own a Daddy Maxfield album? I don't know a thing about the guy.
"You Could Have Been a Lady" by APRIL WINE: Now this is some corny 1970s shit! Even the band name, like NAZARETH or BLUE OYSTER CULT, reeks of the era's corniness. Still, it rocks. Clock that THIN LIZZY-style dual guitar solo in the middle of "Roller." I've been known to drop my vinyl copy of "You Could Have Been a Lady" into my DJ set, and not exclusively because I find it so hilariously Canadian for a Canadian band to use the word "lady" in a rock song.
"Me and Baby Brother" by WAR: While originally a collaborating (they were formerly called Nightshift)/vehicle for Eric Burdon, former vocalist for THE ANIMALS, War struck out on their own after Burdon quit the band, citing exhaustion. This track, from their 1973 album Deliver the Word is pretty much better than anything they did with Burdon, and yes, that includes "Spill the Wine."
"Mr. Blue Sky"
"Don't Bring Me Down" by ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA: If forced to make a definitive statement on the matter, I'd have to say that "Don't Bring Me Down" might be my #1 Roller Skating Jam of All Time. Jeff Lynne, the king of overproduction, really goes all on that one, throwing in sythesizers, hand claps, and a wall of vocals. "Telephone Line" is riddled with melodrama, but it remains a favorite 70s ballad. It's like a great soul song that grew up in a disco but was born for a bowling alley. But when it comes to "Mr. Blue Sky," my tounge is decidedly OUT of cheek. It sounds like an outtake from a George Harrison record (Lynne would later produce one or two bad Harrison records). A little trivia for fans of 60s psychedelic rock: ELO formed from the remains of THE MOVE.
"Nothing is the Same"
"Sin's a Good Man's Brother" by GRAND FUNK RAILROAD: And now for the band that motivated this whole 70s post tonight. While Grand Funk (the Railroad was optional after their third album) was responsible for some truly awful clunkers like "We're An American Band" (yes, even as an Omahan who recognizes that the band namechecked them in a song) and their cover of "The Loco-Motion," they still prove they can tear you a new asshole in songs like "Nothing is the Same" (which De La Soul would sample years later on Buhloone Mind State). The epic "Sin's a Good Man's Brother" also appeared on the same album as "Nothing," and it's the template for all good cock rock. "Shinin' On" is from a few years later and was produced by Todd Rundgren. A little more trivia: Frank Zappa produced a Grand Funk record, and the Butthole Surfers named the band dog, which toured everywhere with them, "Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad."
(PHOTO: Christian Patterson)