Treble’s Top 200 Songs of the ’70s

190. Gene Clark
No Other
(1974; Asylum)
Available on No Other
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Gene Clark’s career in the ’60s took him in quite a few different directions, from fronting the Byrds for two years to contributing to folk act The New Christy Minstrels. Yet his best material hadn’t been given a chance to come out until he went solo in the 1970s, which increasingly found his heartfelt country-rock songs steeped in rich, sumptuous production, none more thick and strangely psychedelic as the title track to his 1974 album No Other. At its heart, the gospel-tinged soul search of “No Other” has just as much country grit as anything off his mostly acoustic White Light album, but in practice sounds completely foreign. Heady and distorted organs, a chorus of female backing vocalists, a beat seemingly borrowed from a Stevie Wonder album — this may not be country like Hank or Patsy intended, but lord does it sound divine in all its indulgent glory. – Jeff Terich


189. Brian Eno
Everything Merges With the Night
(1975; Island)
Available on Another Green World

Making a bold departure from the experimental rock music he was becoming renowned for through Roxy Music and his solo work, Brian Eno ingeniously began merging pop melodies and atmospheric textures in a way no one had before. “Everything Merges with the Night” is one of his greatest successes in this mode. With its dreamy piano, elastic bass line and airy acoustic guitar, the piece seems to float weightlessly. And no slight to Robert Fripp, whose chops are very much appreciated on “St. Elmo’s Fire,” but Eno’s leads here are the most awesome sounds heard coming out of a guitar on all of Another Green World. – Chris Karman


188. Wire
The 15th
(1979; Harvest)
Available on 154

Singer/guitarist Colin Newman insists that this brilliant song from Wire’s 154 is about nothing. Maybe it’s my sensitive nature, but its melancholic aura adds to my idea of it as being about unrequited love: the crushing feeling of sensing reciprocated affection, believing it as fervently as mathematic principle, only to realize not only its complete and utter absence, but that even a lack of veneer that made one believe it in the first place. The guitars stutter through their fog of reverb, the drums almost hesitating at the beginning, plaintive tenors floating over the instruments while a synthesizer weeps in the background. If this song is truly about nothing, then nothing has rarely been more meaningful. – Nick Ulbrickson


187. The Slits
Typical Girls
(1979; Island)
Available on Cut

If advertising invented the typical girl as an inroad to selling women shit that they don’t need by making them try to live up to an image of themselves that could never be anything but an image of a naturally weaker sex, then, well, the typical girl had to die. Again and again. The Slits took aim and shot her down, as well as she can be shot down by a song, clothing barely restrained malice in an ironic litany of the typical girl’s attributes. Typical girls worry about natural smells, are cruel and bewitching, learn how to act shocked, don’t think clearly. Ari Up’s vocal gets more edgy and disturbed as the list grows longer, a theatre of masks staring back from the abyssal billboards implanted in the mind, dissolved in the dancing, dubby bassline and the echoing fissures of Viv Albertine’s guitar. – Tyler Parks


186. Black Sabbath
Supernaut
(1972; Warner Bros.)
Available on Vol. 4

The less doom-laden Sabbath was still incapable of being anything other than Sabbath. At their best they were the pioneers of all things heavy and foreboding; at their less best, though, they made classic rock tolerable. “Supernaut” is a mastery of the latter, stripping Zeppelin of its more bloated pretensions and replacing the lyrically fantastic with the hallucinogenic and nihilistic. – Chris Morgan


185. Kermit the Frog
Rainbow Connection
(1979; Atlantic)
Available on The Muppet Movie

Dear reader, put your cynicism away for just a moment. The ’70s are notable for having launched some of the most nihilistic sounds of the past century, and yet as the decade came to a close, a sympathetic little felt frog strummed out a ballad on his banjo that could restore any hope lost. “Why are there so many songs about rainbows,” Kermit sings, voiced by the late Jim Henson, at once acknowledging that dreams sometimes aren’t meant to come true, but remain worth chasing anyway. It’s perhaps a kind of magic, or maybe just a bit of childhood innocence that never goes away, that something so open-hearted and human could be articulated through a fuzzy amphibian. We all get old and jaded, but that all washes away with Kermit’s softly sung reassurance, “Someday we’ll find it/ the rainbow connection/ the lovers, the dreamers and me.” – Jeff Terich


184. Throbbing Gristle
Hamburger Lady
(1978; Industrial)
Available on D.o.A.: The Third and Final Report

Throbbing Gristle’s forté lay more in confrontation than in composition. Nevertheless they were occasionally able to put two and two together with truly skin-crawling but enthralling results. With “Hamburger Lady,” Genesis P-Orridge reads a description of a burn victim that is decipherable in all the right (read: wrong) places. Meanwhile his cohorts use their sound-fuckery to recreate a hospital atmosphere: a heartbeat, a vacuum cleaner, an ambulance siren — the entire scene unfolds dreamlike, as if the listener is right there in her room on Quaaludes, unable to move nor look away. – Chris Morgan


183. The Kinks
Strangers
(1970; Reprise)
Available on Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround (Part One)

“Strangers” was never nearly as big a hit as “Lola,” the quasi-title track off The Kinks’ Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One. But more recently, the song has taken on a second life with an appearance in Wes Anderson’s 2007 film, The Darjeeling Limited, as well as with a cover by Baltimore indie rockers Wye Oak. Its key lyric, “Strangers on this road we are on/ We are not we are one,” is an unabashed take on love, and trust that Dave Davies sings with all the certainty and confidence to swoon audiences for the long haul — and indeed, it’s still as affecting more than 40 years later. – Donny Giovannini


182. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Helpless
(1970; Atlantic)
Available on Déjà Vu

It’s sometimes the small and simple songs that harbor the most impenetrable fascination. The CSNY recording of “Helpless” is like that, flush with haiku grace, not just because of Neil Young’s economic lyrical evocation of a warm and almost hallucinatory Canadian childhood — blue blue windows behind the stars — although the effect of the song would be totally different without those images. Slow and tipsy with queasy tremolo guitar, it feels like a thousand-mile stare into the oblivion of the past, the vague threat of helplessness hanging about like an old friend to lean on while wandering home drunk across moonlit fields. – Tyler Parks


181. X-Ray Spex
Oh Bondage Up Yours!
(1977; Virgin)
Available on Germfree Adolescents/The Anthology

There should be an unwritten rule that any song which manages to fuse together the raucous essence of punk and the exotic beauty of the saxophone deserves an award. Supposing that this rule were already in place, then X-Ray Spex surely would have earned a dozen of them for Germfree Adolescents, an album filled with utterly bizarre and brilliant sax-infused noise. The best and most memorable of these is the band’s signature single, “Oh Bondage, Up Yours!”, which begins with frontwoman Poly Styrene chirping “some people say little girls should be seen and not heard…” before suddenly screeching out the name of the song. From there, the song becomes utter pandemonium, a mixture of shrill saxophone and the equally high pitched vocals of Poly Stryene. This song was a defining moment in ’70s cultural change — yes, women did kick ass, and no, they weren’t afraid to show it. – Grace Barber-Plentie

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