Ten Albums that Rocked My Teenaged World
Circa 1969 - 1974
I was a child of the 70’s (technically, still am!), which doesn’t mean I was born in the 70’s, but became cognizant in the 70’s. Having gained a deeper awareness of the world around me, I was no longer a child, and this newfound awareness was very much rooted in popular culture. As far back as I can remember, music had an effect on me that was almost preternatural. Of course, I didn’t recognize it as such until I got a little older, not quite of age yet, but certainly in the process of becoming, and I was starting to see the world through different eyes. So it only stands to reason that these albums came out at such a critical time in my life. They were truly my “wonder years”, as so much was taking place, both in my own little world, and the world at large.
Point of clarification: these are not necessarily my favorite albums of all time, although they are near and dear to my heart. Rather, they hold a deeper meaning for me, not just because of the associated memories, but because they caused a shift in perception for me, and I would never be the same after hearing them. Besides, realistically there’s no way I could limit my favorite albums to only ten. Because ten would easily become twenty, and twenty would turn into 200, and so on and so on. Narrowing this list down to only 10 was a challenge in itself. Without any further adieu, here they are (in chrono order by release date, because like your children, how can you favor one over the others?):
1. Led Zeppelin (1969)
This is the groundbreaking album that started it all for me. Favorite tracks: “You Shook Me” & “Dazed & Confused” – granted, I was WAY too young to grasp the lyrics’ meaning, but what did I care? I just liked the sound, and loved rockin’ out to this album with my brothers and cousins. Of course, the entire album grew on me in time as its lyrics made more sense to me. The album ranked #29 in 2003 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. Check out this little gem and see for yourselves how legends are born:
Led Zeppelin-Dazed and Confused Live (Danmarks Radio)
2. Tommy, The Who (1969)
Introduced to my 8th grade class by our chorus teacher, this album literally blew my tiny mind! Masterpiece hardly begins to describe the impression this album made on me. Besides “Pinball Wizard”, my favorite tracks are “Acid Queen” and “Overture”, which made me fall in love with orchestral music for the first time. The album was ranked #96 by Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 Top Albums of All Time. Here they are performing "Overture" live – just awesome!:
3. Eric Burdon Declares "War" (1970)
I first heard Eric Burdon & War’s hit single “Spill the Wine” while watching the “Rate a Record” segment on American Bandstand one Saturday when I was only 12. My immediate thoughts ran along the lines of “what a great story, what a great song, what a unique sound, who are these guys?” On a scale of 35 to 98, I give it a hundred for its funkalicious danceability, catchy hook, and utter originality! Little did I realize that War would quickly become such icons in the rock-Latin jazz-funk-soul fusion arena, and rightfully so, having hailed from such humble beginnings, in a town not far from my own backyard in Southern California. And talk about staying power, let me tell you, War (with or without E.B) has been there at just about every significant milestone in my generation’s formative years, from prom to graduation, weddings to funerals, and every outdoor picnic and family reunion since. It’s seems none of these gatherings would be complete without them. I wouldn’t doubt if their music were present even during some romantic encounters, subsequent conceptions and births! What a great group indeed, regardless of the individual members coming and going over the years. The only remaining original player, keyboardist extraordinaire Leroy “Lonnie” Jordan, is THE MAN, in my book! I was fortunate enough to attend a live concert some years ago, what a blast that was. I urge you, dear reader, if you haven’t already, and the opportunity presents itself, do yourself a favor and go see them. I promise, you won’t regret it! Enjoy this lovely live performance by these musical titans, headed up by the young and still beautiful Eric Burdon:
4. Tea for the Tillerman, Cat Stevens (1970)
This is the first album I ever owned, and to think it was entirely by default that it fell into my hands. An older cousin of mine had purchased it, and get this, DIDN’T LIKE IT! She then gave it to my step mom. She in turn also didn’t care much for it, and asked me if I’d like it. I was completely blown away as my pre-teen ears took in the title cut. My favorite tracks from the album are “Hard-Headed Woman” and“Wild World” (which Mr. Stevens wrote after breaking up with his girlfriend, actress Patti D’Arbanville). In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine ranked “Tea for the Tillerman” #206 in its list of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Here the Cat performs with fellow Brit Alun Davies:
Ziggy Stardust Album Cover
5. Space Oddity and 6. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust (1972)
I decided to group the “Space Oddity”and “Ziggy Stardust” albums together, because as it turns out, both were technically released in the same year. Interestingly enough, “Space Oddity” was a track originally on Bowie’s self-titled first studio album in 1969, and proved to be his first successful single. After his next albums peaked in the UK, RCA re-released his first album, with the title changed from “David Bowie” to “Space Oddity”. At the time, I had absolutely no clue as to what Bowie was all about, of course he was like nothing I’d ever seen before, and I could not even begin to explain the impact he had on me. Every time I hear the opening line "Ground control to Major Tom", I still shudder. The combination of his innovative music, those beautiful, haunting, multi-ranged vocals, the theatrical performances, his chameleon-like stage persona, his strangely intriguing facial features - he was simply other-worldly and a category unto himself, and I was completely and forever hooked! Though many have tried and failed, there will never be another quite like him. It’s as though he didn’t really die, but rather returned to his true home. Here’s a compilation showcasing his amazing range:
Footage taken from BBC 4's documentary, The Story of Ziggy Stardust
7. Something/Anything, Todd Rundgren (1972)
I am a self-admitted “Todd-head”, which means that I belong to this man’s cult following, and anyone outside of it just wouldn’t understand. Trust me when I say that his music haunts me with its amazing compositions, poignant lyrics, and soul-stirring melodies. He’s an artist who paints vivid sound images like no one else. Sheer genius! If my fairy godmother were to wave her magic wand over my head and grant me audience with one person in the whole world, that one person would no doubt be Todd Rundgren, the Weird, the Wonderful, the Wizard. My favorite tracks are “I Saw the Light” and “Hello, It’s Me” (which, along with his later “Can We Still Be Friends?” sparks a special memory of a lost love, and instantly sends me into an emotional tailspin, which basically means I cannot listen to these songs without shedding tears). The album is ranked number 173 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. Here’s his performance on Midnight Special from 1973 – sweet, sad, beautiful, and just dig that crazy get-up!:
8. Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd (March 1973)
The entire album will always have a special place in my heart, right alongside my high school sweetheart, who introduced it to me in the first place. I actually commissioned an artist to paint the album cover’s light-beam/prism/rainbow rays on my locker, that’s how much I loved it! Favorite cut: hell, all of them! If I had to narrow it down, I’d say it’s “Money”, and “Time”, because both money and time are such precious commodities in our society, and there never seems to be enough of either. But the one track that pierces my heart to the core is “Great Gig in the Sky” – the searing vocals bring tears to my eyes every time - positively orgasmic! In my opinion, no rock collection would be complete without “Dark Side of The Moon”. The album is ranked #43 on RS’ “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”.
9. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Elton John (October, 1973)
I was a freshman in high school when my good buddy Greg turned me onto this album. Much like my idol Todd Rundgren, I thought Elton John was a one-of-a-kind phenom, whose range of talent was limitless. Oftentimes, Greg would give me a ride to school in the mornings or drop me off after school. I have fond memories of Greg and I singing along to the chorus of “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” (“Sat-ah-day, Sat-ah-day, Sat-ah-day, Sat-ah-day, Sat-ah-day, Sat-ah-day, Sat-ah-day, Sat-ah-day, Sat-ah-day night’s alright”… "alright, alright, alright, alright wooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh!”). My other favorite track was "Bennie & The Jets" (which of course Greg and I sang together, with Greg taking the bass on “Buh, buh, buh, Bennie and the Jetsssss”. The album is ranked number 91 on Rolling Stone’s magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. Take a little trip down memory lane and try not to get too misty when you watch this stripped down live performance:
Elton John - Candle In The Wind (1973) stereo
10. Bridge of Sighs, Robin Trower (1974)
This album takes me back to the days of head shops and free love like no other! The first time I heard it, I had a visceral reaction. The hard-driving, scorching licks by British guitar god Robin Trower shook me to my core. They just don’t make guitar rock the way they used to. Good ole’ times, oh how I miss them! “The Fool & Me” and “Too Rolling Stoned”, need I say more? If you’ve never heard this album before, take it from a boomer chick who knows a thing or two about the classic rock era. Incidentally, bassist James Dewar has since left this earthly plane, leaving behind a legacy not only of a hugely talented musician, but a deep-resonating blues voice that ranks amongst the best in rock 'n' roll history. I was pleasantly surprised to find that as of this publishing, Robin Trower is still touring, and still shredding his Stratocaster, at age 71! Here's a live TV performance where this power trio leaves it all on the stage:
ROBIN TROWER - Bridge Of Sighs (1974 UK TV Appearance)
Well, that wraps up my little labor of love (wipes the sweat off her furrowed brow) - I sincerely hope you've enjoyed my bumpy, twisting trip backwards through time, and please feel free to share your thoughts with me - and keep on rockin'!
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