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1973 - The Greatest Year In Rock ... and if so, where does this leave us 35 years on?

(it's an article from Classic Rock magazine)

Imagine a year that saw the release of Led Zeppelin's Houses Of The Holy, Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon and Alice Cooper's Billion Dollar Babies. That would be one extremely big year for rock'n'roll music, for sure.

A little further down the scale, envisage a 12-month time-span that also saw Roxy's Music's For Your Pleasure, Bruce Springsteen's Greeting From Asbury Park, NJ, and Derek & The Dominoes' In Concert hit the stores.

And, mounting a determined rearguard action, picture a 365-day period during which the likes of The Doobie Brothers' The Captain & Me, King Crimson's Lark's Tongues In Aspic and T.Rex's Tanx additionally went on sale.

One helluva year, we think you'll agree. And if you haven't worked it out by now, we're talking about nineteen hundred and seventy-three. Yep, it was such a fabulous year it deserves to be spelled out in full.

But here's the rub. Prepare to step back in amazement, get set to prod your peepers in surprise, because every single one of the abovementioned albums - Houses Of The Holy, Dark Side Of The Moon, Billion Dollar Babies et al - actually came out in a single month in 1973, March, to be specific.

It doesn't stop there. The other 11 months of 1973 were pretty damn good as well.

* January gave us Free's Heartbreaker.

* February offered Deep Purple's Who Do We Think We Are!, the final studio offering from the MkII lineup (at least until the 1984 reunion).

* April brought us David Bowie's Alladin Sane.

* May set Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells a-chimin'.

* June - another killer month, this - saw both Aerosmith's Aerosmith and Iggy & The Stooges Raw Power go on sale.

* July undoubted highlight was the release of Queen's first album, Queen.

* In August The New York Dolls' self-titled debut hit the stores.

* September was no slouch with Status Quo's Hello!, Lynyrd Skynyrd's Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd, The Rolling Stone's Goat's Head Soup and Thin Lizzy's Vagabonds Of The Western World fighting for shelf space.

* Genesis were intent on Selling England By The Pound in October.

* The Who brought mods to the masses with Quadrophenia in November.

* And Black Sabbath's Sabbath Bloody Sabbath finished the year on the loudest of notes.

Sheesh. No wonder we were so skint 35 years ago. We were all were spending our-hard-earned-money on a huge number of soon-to-be-legendary albums!

We admit there are more obvious candidates for The Greatest Year In Rock than 1973. For example :

1967 : for the Summer Of Love and all that.

1976 : for being the year when the punk rock revolution gobbed off.

1979 : for being when the New Wave Of Bristish Heavy Metal was born.

1987 : for being when hair metal reached its peak.

1991 : for being when Nirvana's Nevermind and Pearl Jam's Ten came out, forcing hundreds of hapless glam-rock bands to batten down their beauty parlours for all time (or at least until the Rocklahoma festival was introduced).

... And so on.

Bands and artists have also admitted to a particular affection for a specific year in the lyrics and titles of their albums and songs.

* Bryan Adams and Iggy & The Stooges decided to commemorate 1969.

* The Clash, unsurprisingly, professed a fondness for 1977.

* David Bowie was captivated by Orwell's mega-gloomy vision of life in 1984.

* Prince wanted to party like it was 1999.

* Going further back in time, Bob Dylan got all misty-eyed about the Days Of '49. The Who waxed lyrical about 1921, and Motorhead found themselves slam-bang in the middle of the Great War in 1916.

Hmm. Not much mention of 1973 so far. Not unless you include a song by Australians new wavers Mental As Anything, which contains the following winsome words :

'Now the story lights are humming

And we're filing out the door

I hope this kinds of nights keep running

'Cause I'll be coming back for more, and more

It was 1973, it was 1973, it was 1973 ...'

No, we don't remember what the hell it sounds like, either.

Anyhow, going back to those aforementioned office discussions, and regardless of those other years' claims of supremacy, 1973 has always had vociferous support as The Greatest Year In Rock among a strong Classic Rock contingent.

Then, just the other day, we received a reader's letter from Bill, who lives in the romantic-sounding location of Land O'Lakes, Florida, that really piqued our interest.

Bill (sorry, mate - we can't tell) what your surname is from your scribbled signature) wrote :

'With all the music and information available today, I am surprised no one has acknowledged 1973 as the best ever year in music.

'Now that's a mighty bold statement,' he continued, 'and one that would cause fists to fly and tempers rage out of control.

'But, before you burn an effigy that resembles you-know-who, hear me out. Then you can light your matches.'

In a lengthy diatribe that followed, Bill mounted a very convincing argument for 1973 to be regarded as a year like no other. The Greatest Year In Rock, in fact.

Let's face it, we needed something to cheer us up 35 years ago. The year 1973 kicked off with the United Kingdom entering the European Economic Community, later to become the European Union, and it went downhill rapidly from there. The FA Cup final was between Sunderland and Leeds, fer Chrissakes. You thought Euro 2008 was bad!

Meanwhile, over in The States - as our man Bill reports - 'it was the era of eight-track tape and leisure suits, paisley shirts and sideburns, platform shoes, wide ties and Skylab.

'We had acid rock, baroque rock, country rock, dance, glam rock, hard rock, heavy metal, head music, hot-rod music, reggae, jazz, bubblegum, funk and southern rock.'

In other words, it was a sizzling musical melting pot back in the day. Creativity was rife and artistic control was paramount. Bands and artists weren't dictated to by a record cmpanies. They were masters of their own destinies. If you were a mighty, muscle-flexing outfit such as Floyd, Zep or The Who, you delivered your albums to your labels as faits accompli. These epics pieces of work weren't the subject of marketing focus groups or reality TV shows like The X Factor or American Idol. No, they were the product of bold visionaries. Or, as Todd Rundgren put it in 1973, wizards and true stars.

Few people questioned Emerson, Lake & Palmer when they came up with an album with the unlikely title of Brain Salad Surgery, complete with a bizzare cover by HR Giger, who was later to find fame designing the evil ET in the Alien movies.

No one batted an eyelid when Messrs Mercury, May, Deacon and Taylor decided to call themselves Queen and include a track called My Fairy King on their debut album. (These were also more innocent and naive times, remember.)

The Sweet - who admittedly had suffered from a fair degree of record company puppetry - broke free from their bubblegum past, and included all-out rockers such as Hell Raiser, Blockbuster and Done Me Wrong Alright on their 1973 self-titled album.

The Beatles might have broken up but solo stardom was in the bag for George Harrison with his Living In The Material World album, and John Lennon with Mind Games and Paul McCartney & Wings with Red Rose Speedway. Even dear old Ringo had a hit single with Photograph. Affection for the mop tops was undiminished.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the scale, a shy unkown called Mike Oldfield approached a bright-eyed young entrepreneur by the name of Richard Branson with an idea for an album called Tubular Bells, an ambitious 50-minute concept piece. Against the odds ... Bells was a spectacular success, reaching No. 1 in the UK, No. 3 in the US, and providing the foundations for Dicky Branson's now-sprawling Virgin empire.

Led Zeppelin fans might disagree, but the album of 1973 was Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon. Strangely, Dark Side ... has never topped the chart in the UK (its highest position being No. 2) but over in the States it is not only made No. 1 but also holds the record of spreading the highest amount of time on the Billboards charts, staying there for more than 1,500 weeks (almost 29 years).

Let us not forget that in 1973 bands also released singles that mattered. They were pressed on tiny slabs of vinyl and payed on record players. How archaic that sounds today. Yet the following 1973 A-sides remain the stuff of legend: 10cc's Rubber Bullets; Aerosmith's Dream On, Alice Cooper's No More Mr. Nice Guy; Bruce Springsteen's Blinded By The Light (later a hit by Manfred Mann's Earth Band, of course); Edgar Winter's Frankenstein; Elton John's Daniel, Saturday's Night's Alright For Fighting, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and, er, Step Into Christmas; The Moody Blues' I'm Just A Singer In A Rock'N'Roll Band; Mott The Hoople's Honaloochie Boogie and All The Way From Memphis, Nazareth's Broken Down Angel and Bad, Bad, Boy; Queen's Keep Yourself Alive and Liar; The Rolling Stones' Angie; Status Quo's Don't Waste My Time, Paper Plane and Caroline; Slade's Cum On Feel The Noize, Skweeze Me Pleeze Me and Merry Xmas Everybody, the all-time classic Yuletide song ...

Ye gods. What a roll of honor. We know it's an entirely different musical environment these days, but you can you name just one single that's been released in 2008 that anywhere near approaches the stature of any of the above songs?

No. You can't, can you? It'a an impossible task.

Besides releasing a slew of singles, back in the 1970s many bands were intent on releasing not one but two albums every year. They didn't hang about, they just got on with it. Did the quality suffer? Nope. Not one iota.

They were also some remarkable debuts in 1973. A lot of what we call classic rock these days originated in that year. We've mentioned Aerosmith, Queen, Skynyrd and the Dolls, but we shouldn't ingnore Camel (Camel), The Scorpions (Lonesome Crow) or Cockney Rebel (The Human Menagerie) either.

Of course, it would be wrong for us to suggest that 1973 was similar to a stick of seaside rock, with greatness running through and through it. The year began somewhat alarmingly with the release of Rick Wakeman's mega-indulgent epic The Six Wives Of Henry VII, and then disappeared up its own arse with Yes's Tales From Topographic Oceans in December. But these were momentary lapses. Hell, no year is perfect.

(1973) would be even more essential had we been able to include Deep Purple's Made In Japan - out in the UK in December 1972, and April '73 in the USA.)

Regardless, 1973 was the high water mark of the explosion that started in the late 60s - the culmination of five years of classic rock music, boundary (and guitar) smashing - rock music's peak, if you will, with heights that would rarely be reached again, and certainly not as frequently.

We write this with reservations - bacause if 1973 was The Greatest Year In Rock, then where does that leave us today? With the record industry in crisis and CD sales in a tailspin, what the hell happens now? Is music just another one in a long list of failing world industries, doomed to recycle sounds, and promote endless reunion tours?

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1967.

Summer of Love

The Moterey International Pop Festival

Rolling Stone Magazine is launched

Launch of BBC Radio 1

Significant Album Launches:

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - The Beatles

Are You Experienced? - The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Disraeli Gears - Cream

The Doors - The Doors

Surrealistic Pillow - Jefferson Airplane

The U.K. Charts looked like this:

1. A Lighter Shade of Pale - Procol Harum

2. I'm a Believer - The Monkees

3. All You Need Is Love - The Beatles

4. Light My Fire - The Doors

5. Strawberry Fields Forever - The Beatles

Births of Future Artists:

Kurt Cobain - Nirvana

Billy Corgan - The Smashing Pumpkins

Noel Gallager - Oasis

Dave Matthews - The Dave Matthews Band

Scott Weiland - Stone Temple Pilots

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My Favorite Year for Rock was 75

Zep-Graffiti

ZZ-Top - Fandango

Bob Dylan - Desire

Alice Cooper - Welcome to my Nightmare

Eagles - One of these Nights

Foghat - Fool for the City

Lynyrd Skynyrd - Nuthin Fancy

Eric Clapton - EC was here

Black Sabbath - Sabotage

Peter Frampton - Frampton (the tour were Frampton live was recorded)

Fleetwood Mac - Fleetwood Mac - ( first lp with Buckingham and Nicks)

Kiss - Alive

Aerosmith - Toys in the Attic

J Giels Band - Hotline

Blue Oyster Cult - Live On Your Feet or on Your Knees

Jeff Beck - Blow by Blow

Blackmores Rainbow

Nazereth - Hair of the Dog

Ted Nugent - Ted Nugent

Marshall Tucker Band - Searching for a Rainbow

The Outlaws- The Outlaws

Pink Floyd - Wish You were Here

Queen - A Night at the Opera

Rush - Fly by Night

Roxy Music - Siren

Bob Seger - Beautiful Loser

Rod Stewart - Atlantic Crossing

Bruce Springsteen - Born to Run

Supertramp - Crisis what Crisis

Edgar Winter Group with Rick Derringer

The Who - By Numbers

Gary Wright - Dream Weaver

Thin Lizzy - Fighting

Robin Trower - Far Earth Below

UFO - Force It

Ten Years After - Cricklewood Green

Alvin LEE - Pump Iron

I am sure there were many more 72,73,74,76,77 were all good Years the best Music in My book came from the 70's

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Are we talking "Classic Rock" here? Because so far everyone's been incredibly biased.

I say 1998-1999 because of

The Flaming Lips' "The Soft Bulletin"

Opeth's "Still Life"

Neutral Milk Hotel's "In The Aeroplane Over The Sea"

Godspeed You! Black Emperor's "F♯A♯∞"

These are all in my opinion some of the greatest musical achievement's of the last century...

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1969, with no other option. Woodstock, first Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin albums, Cosmo's factory of CCR, The Who... there's only few of those things that happened that year!

'69 would probably be my second choice. I will readily admit to a strong bias toward '71 (I posted this list once before and I'm sure I am inadvertently omitting some great '71 music):

Led Zeppelin IV - LED ZEPPELIN

Sticky Fingers - The ROLLING STONES

L.A. Woman - The DOORS

At Fillmore East - The ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND

Imagine - John LENNON

Who's Next - The WHO

Pearl - Janis JOPLIN

Rough And Ready - Jeff BECK GROUP

Performance Rockin' The Fillmore - HUMBLE PIE

Master or Reality – BLACK SABBATH

Grateful Dead - GRATEFUL DEAD

Aqualung - JETHRO TULL

Free Live – Free

Meddle (and Relics) - PINK FLOYD

Fireball - DEEP PURPLE

A Nod Is As Good As Wink... To A Blind Horse - The FACES

Fragile - YES

Nantucket Sleighride - MOUNTAIN

Electric Warrior - T. REX

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'69 would probably be my second choice. I will readily admit to a strong bias toward '71 (I posted this list once before and I'm sure I am inadvertently omitting some great '71 music):

Led Zeppelin IV - LED ZEPPELIN

Sticky Fingers - The ROLLING STONES

L.A. Woman - The DOORS

At Fillmore East - The ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND

Imagine - John LENNON

Who's Next - The WHO

Pearl - Janis JOPLIN

Rough And Ready - Jeff BECK GROUP

Performance Rockin' The Fillmore - HUMBLE PIE

Master or Reality – BLACK SABBATH

Grateful Dead - GRATEFUL DEAD

Aqualung - JETHRO TULL

Free Live – Free

Meddle (and Relics) - PINK FLOYD

Fireball - DEEP PURPLE

A Nod Is As Good As Wink... To A Blind Horse - The FACES

Fragile - YES

Nantucket Sleighride - MOUNTAIN

Electric Warrior - T. REX

I've thought of this many times over the years and I have to agree that 71 was the best year by quite a bit. All of the ones you've listed and some more....

Cry Of Love...Jimi Hendrix

Kiln' House....Fleetwood Mac

Every Picture Tells A Story....Rod Stewart

Mad Man Across The Water....Elton John

Johnny Winter And....Johnny Winter

Four Way Street.....CSNY

Tapestry....Carol King

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Wow this is very tough! Even though I wasn't born yet, I'd say 1967 (Summer of Love & Monterey Pop Festival) and 1969 (Woodstock and Zep II was released, of course). Also I am very partial to the 70's and 80's and have some soft spots for some of the 90's. For me it is hard to narrow it down and pick one specific year though.

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Are we talking "Classic Rock" here? Because so far everyone's been incredibly biased.

I say 1998-1999 because of

The Flaming Lips' "The Soft Bulletin"

Opeth's "Still Life"

Neutral Milk Hotel's "In The Aeroplane Over The Sea"

Godspeed You! Black Emperor's "F♯A♯∞"

These are all in my opinion some of the greatest musical achievement's of the last century...

You may be right but four releases do not make a best ever year . I admit there is some good Music about now days but not nearly in the quanity of the 70's

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You may be right but four releases do not make a best ever year . I admit there is some good Music about now days but not nearly in the quanity of the 70's

There are not many well publicized. There's a lot of cool and groundbreaking stuff going on, except most of it is very underground. I hesitate to include them, however, because this is supposed to be strictly "Rock and Roll" that we're talking about, and to be perfectly honest, Rock is dead. I've moved on to other genres, and I don't really listen to anything that could be considered "Rock" and came out after 1999. Those four I listed are even borderline Rock (Godspeed is in fact Post-Rock). There is no such thing as good straightforward Rock and Roll anymore. So, if you like music there is a lot of different and cool stuff to listen to coming out these days, but if you just like Blues and Rock music there is next to nothing great, imo.

Some people will inevitably disagree (Jahfin, likely) but that's my opinion.

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I might go with 1991, better known for Nirvana and Pearl Jam but better remmber by me for the likes of...

Talk Talk - Laughing Stock

My Bloody Valentine - Loveless

Primal Scream - Screamadelica

Spacemen 3 - Recurring

Massive Attack - Blue Lines

Slit - Spiderland

Mercury Rev - Yerself Is Steam

The Pixies - Trompe le Monde

U2 - Acthung Baby

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I would think 1973 like a few people on the thread is a good one, Zep,Floyd,Yes,Purple etc releasing some classics. On a personal note I would like 1980 too as it was an exciting time for me as a teen, Maiden,ACDC,Motorhead,Saxon,Rainbow etc releasing some good rock albums

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Are we talking "Classic Rock" here? Because so far everyone's been incredibly biased.

I say 1998-1999 because of

The Flaming Lips' "The Soft Bulletin"

Opeth's "Still Life"

Neutral Milk Hotel's "In The Aeroplane Over The Sea"

Godspeed You! Black Emperor's "F♯A♯∞"

These are all in my opinion some of the greatest musical achievement's of the last century...

Did you say the last century? :hysterical::hysterical::hysterical::hysterical::hysterical::o

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My Favorite Year for Rock was 75

Zep-Graffiti

ZZ-Top - Fandango

Bob Dylan - Desire

Alice Cooper - Welcome to my Nightmare

Eagles - One of these Nights

Foghat - Fool for the City

Lynyrd Skynyrd - Nuthin Fancy

Eric Clapton - EC was here

Black Sabbath - Sabotage

Peter Frampton - Frampton (the tour were Frampton live was recorded)

Fleetwood Mac - Fleetwood Mac - ( first lp with Buckingham and Nicks)

Kiss - Alive

Aerosmith - Toys in the Attic

J Giels Band - Hotline

Blue Oyster Cult - Live On Your Feet or on Your Knees

Jeff Beck - Blow by Blow

Blackmores Rainbow

Nazereth - Hair of the Dog

Ted Nugent - Ted Nugent

Marshall Tucker Band - Searching for a Rainbow

The Outlaws- The Outlaws

Pink Floyd - Wish You were Here

Queen - A Night at the Opera

Rush - Fly by Night

Roxy Music - Siren

Bob Seger - Beautiful Loser

Rod Stewart - Atlantic Crossing

Bruce Springsteen - Born to Run

Supertramp - Crisis what Crisis

Edgar Winter Group with Rick Derringer

The Who - By Numbers

Gary Wright - Dream Weaver

Thin Lizzy - Fighting

Robin Trower - Far Earth Below

UFO - Force It

Ten Years After - Cricklewood Green

Alvin LEE - Pump Iron

I am sure there were many more 72,73,74,76,77 were all good Years the best Music in My book came from the 70's

Nice work Al! I second 1975.

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Did you say the last century? :hysterical::hysterical::hysterical::hysterical::hysterical::o

Yes, all music is complete and utter fucking garbage if no members of the band have wrinkles on their skin and white hair or are dead and in the grave. What's with all these youngins' playin' music everyone knows all this new shit is fucking trash.

Here are some real shitty artists that started up during the mid 80s and beyond, because everyone knows if you formed after music stopped being Classic Rock you're a complete shit band. In alphabetical order for ease of reading. And remember these are ARTIST, so they've been consistently releasing shit music for a while depending on the year they started (could be anywhere from 1980 to 2008)

3

Agalloch

Alice In Chains

Annie Lennox

Aphex Twin

Arcade Fire

Arch Enemy

Autechre

Beastie Boys

Beck

Black Crowes

Black Dice

Bloodbath

Canvas Solaris

Children of Bodom

Cryptopsy

Cynic

Dark Suns

Death From Above 1979

Deerhoof

Dethklok

Dimmu Borgir

DJ Shadow

Do Make Say Think

Dream Theater

Eddie Vedder

Emiliana Torrini

Explosions In The Sky

The Flaming Lips (really fucking awful band here)

Fly Pan AM

Foo Fighters

Godspeed You! Black Emperor (once again, fucking piece of shit band)

Gordian Knot

Gorillaz

Hermelin

I.E.M. (based off of Krautrock and Electronica, how shitty!)

Incubus

Joy Division

Kaki King

Karl Sanders

Kreator

Kyoto Jazz Massive

Losalios

Macaco Bong

The Mars Volta

Mastodon

Matthew Good Band

Matthew Robert Cooper (aka Eluvium)

Meshuggah

Mono

MUON

My Bloody Valentine

Nachtmystium

Necrophagist

Neutral Milk Hotel (especially awful piece of crap musicians, Jeff Mangum is a shit lyricist)

Nightwish

Nile

Nine Inch Nails

Nirvana

Northern Kings

Opeth (Another shit band)

Of Montreal

Pantera

Paul Gilbert

Pavement (awful garbage, didn't at all influence an entire generation of Indie Rockers)

Pearl Jam

Penumbra

Pigface (completely unprolific and uninteresting group here)

The Pillows (Japanese Pop music? How fucking shitty)

The Pixies (shitty shitty band)

Porcupine Tree

Portishead

Queens of The Stone Age

Radiohead

Rage Against The Machine

Rosetta

Rovo

Russian Circles

Slayer (What a piece of crap band this is)

Sloan

Slint

Smashing Pumpkins

Sonic Youth (They suck big time)

Squarepusher

Steak Number Eight

Super Furry Animals

Tegan & Sara

Temple of The Dog

Tool

Women

Venetian Snares

Xiu Xiu

On second thought, I lied, they all rule. And damn I need to listen to more modern music, its so damn awesome. I think I'll just stick to Classical, Flamenco, Jazz, Led Zeppelin, the few progressive rock bands from the 70s, and The Velvet Underground for before 1980.

Edited by Jarlaxle 56
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Yes, all music is complete and utter fucking garbage if no members of the band have wrinkles on their skin and white hair or are dead and in the grave. What's with all these youngins' playin' music everyone knows all this new shit is fucking trash.

Here are some real shitty artists that started up during the mid 80s and beyond, because everyone knows if you formed after music stopped being Classic Rock you're a complete shit band. In alphabetical order for ease of reading. And remember these are ARTIST, so they've been consistently releasing shit music for a while depending on the year they started (could be anywhere from 1980 to 2008)

On second thought, I lied, they all rule. And damn I need to listen to more modern music, its so damn awesome. I think I'll just stick to Classical, Flamenco, Jazz, Led Zeppelin, the few progressive rock bands from the 70s, and The Velvet Underground for before 1980.

:thumbsup:

sadly there are some close minded people on this board

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