Treble’s Best Albums of the 70s: Part Two

Treble's Best Albums of the 70s: Part Two

1976

Bob Dylan - Desire 10. Bob Dylan — Desire (Columbia)

Already considered a legend in his own time, Bob Dylan had to come up with a follow-up to his most personal album to date, an album that will forever be in debate as to whether it is his best album ever. So, Dylan threw himself into the work, collaborating with lyrical specialist Jacques Levy, fresh off helping Roger McGuinn. An all-night tequila fueled recording session ensued creating not only one of Dylan’s most singularly different albums to date in what was to be Desire, but also some of his most original songs. — Terrance Terich

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Tom Waits - Small Change 9. Tom Waits — Small Change (Asylum)

Tom Waits’ fourth album is a mosaic masterpiece of the drunken romanticism of Tin Pan Alley. He may not have started out gravelly in Closing Time, but Waits could sand down a china hutch with his voice in Small Change. Drunks, bums, pirates and pitchmen pepper the aural landscape of Waits’ musical world. This is skid row, jazz and scat, beat poetry fusion at its best. It’s somewhat strange to put Tom Waits’ albums in a ‘Best of the ’70s’ list as his compositions seem more at home in the twenties. – Terrance Terich

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Flamin Groovies - Shake Some Action 8. Flamin’ Groovies – ShakeSomeAction (Sire)

When Roy Loney left The Flamin Groovies, the band returned with a new singer/guitarist Chris Wilson and a new name: The Flamin’ Groovies (note the important addition of that apostrophe). Sporting a more power pop influenced sound, remaining founder Cyril Jordan and Wilson crafted the best British invasion album released 10 years after those initial British song ships sailed to our shores. – Hubert Vigilla

Parliament - Mothership Connection 7. Parliament – Mothership Connection (Casablanca)

Funk was born in three stages. First came James Brown’s Live at The Apollo, then Curtis Mayfield’s Superfly and then Mothership Connection took it even further. The carnivalesque vibe makes this album the Pet Sounds or even a Sgt. Pepper’s to soul music as a whole. You’ve never really shaken your ass until you have taken a ride on the Mothership. — Chris Pacifico

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Lou Reed - Coney Island Baby 6. Lou Reed – Coney Island Baby (RCA)

Lou Reed makes a comeback of past sour solo recordings with this gorgeously understated record. The sparseness of Coney Island Baby is refreshing in an era of prog rock and masturbatory soloing and even in contrast to Reed’s own work after the legendary Velvet Underground. Uncomplicated songs and straightforward lyrics don’t dull Reed’s edge though. He sings of strippers, killers with a lust for murder, and that demon that hangs over the head of every man and woman: love. — Molly B. Eichel

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Blondie-Blondie 5. Blondie – Blondie (Chrysalis)

Blondie planted its roots in the all-American rock of yesteryear. Debbie Harry’s mellifluous lament on the intro to “X Offender” harkens back to the days when melodramatic teen dialogue opened songs like “Leader of the Pack.” Just listen to the twangy, surf-guitar solo, or Harry’s lilting sighs—this is what American Bandstand would have played if synthesizers were more popular in the mid ’60s and Dick Clark had taste. — Andrew Good

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Stevie Wonder - Songs in the Key of Life 4. Stevie Wonder – Songs in the Key of Life (Tamla – Motown)

Apart from being one of Wonder’s finest achievements as a pop star and, more so, an artist, Songs in the Key of Life achieves something far greater and more important: The ability to affirm life no matter what happens. Even as heartbreak takes hold, Wonder’s voice soars, lending sympathy to those in similar situations. Even as the inevitability of human drama presents itself, there’s hope in a horn blow or the promise of a new day. Even as the hates and troubles that life has in store can make you wish you were born in another time or place, love can conquer all whether it manifest itself in a man or woman, in memories or, in the case of the album, in music itself. – Hubert Vigilla

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David Bowie - Station to Station 3. David Bowie – Station to Station (RCA)

Driving that train, high on cocaine / David Jones you better watch your speed.” Okay, yes, these are Grateful Dead lyrics and they refer to Casey Jones not David Jones, later David Bowie, but they might as well be about the Thin White Duke. The opening of Station to Station begins with Bowie “driving that train,” and he was on cocaine most of the time. Instead of having “trouble ahead, trouble behind,” though, Bowie meditated on love, his and his wife Angela’s “Golden Years” and the existence of God. — Terrance Terich

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Modern Lovers - Modern Lovers 2. Modern Lovers – Modern Lovers (Berserkley)

Velvet Underground obsessed and dripping teen neurosis, Jonathan Richman leads the Modern Lovers on a rollicking rock and roll odyssey through the city, the suburbs and beyond. Ragged in all the right places and embarrassingly honest, this one just seems to get better and better as time passes. — Tyler Parks

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Ramones - Ramones 1. Ramones – Ramones (Sire)

The first band to do what they did, The Ramones inevitably turned heads, inspired other musicians, and even provided a new dictionary of terms: “hey ho let’s go,” “gabba gabba hey” and “punk,” even though they didn’t call themselves that. But they’re widely recognized as the first ones to do it, and this is their first recorded session of rebellious, silly and altogether fun “bubblegum” rock `n’ roll. — Jeff Terich

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Personal Best

Thin Lizzy - Jailbreak Thin Lizzy – Jailbreak (Mercury)

Whether writing about the prowess of The Warrior or the heartbroken tales of the one(s) that got away, Lynott spins yarns that are captivating and honest; fitting Henry Rollins’ assertion that the late Lynott was truly one hell of a songwriter. If you’re feeling great, there’s “Jailbreak” or, of course, “The Boys Are Back in Town.” When you’re feeling down, there’s “Running Back” and “Dancing in the Moonlight,” the latter of the two appearing on the band’s next album, Bad Reputation. Phil’s gonna be there for you, man, and he knows what it’s like and he’ll sing you a song and he’ll make you know that you are not alone. — Hubert Vigilla

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