Sunday, March 27, 2011

5 Albums to Love: The Sounds of 76

Karen: For me, there's a certain year that always brings up a very specific group of albums when I think of it. The year was 1976, the bicentennial, and for a variety of reasons, it was a year that generated a lot of strong memories for me, particularly about music. I turned 12 that year, and was becoming much more interested in music and different artists. For the first time, I was really aware of what was popular. There were certain albums and artists that just seemed to be constantly played on the radio (no MTV yet!) and they define that year for me more than any other. Let me say that these are not necessarily albums I love -in some cases, I don't even like them! But they evoke a warm fuzzy feeling for me because they are associated with a particularly good time in my life. In no particular order, and in keeping with our 'five' rule, here they are.

1. Fleetwood Mac, by Fleetwood Mac. Yes, this album did come out the year before, 1975, but it hit number one on the charts in 1976, and you could not escape it anywhere! Rihannon, Over My Head, and Say You Love Me were huge hits. Personally, I always preferred Christie McVie's singing over self-absorbed flower-child Stevie Nicks, but I thought Nicks' song Landslide was actually the best song on this album.

2. Frampton Comes Alive, by Peter Frampton. Holy cow, was this huge! I had no idea who Frampton was, where he had come from, but just about everyone owned this album. I can specifically recall a summer night cruising around with my older brother and his friends, and this album playing. It's amazing that a live performance from a little-known English guitarist could take off the way it did. It probably didn't hurt that Frampton was a pretty boy either. I saw him on TV recently, and sadly, he has lost his long curly blond locks. But he's still playing guitar.

3. Rocks, by Aerosmith. One of the first albums I ever bought myself, back from when Aerosmith was actually good, and not just cranking out drippy power ballads. Last Child seemed to be on constant rotation on the radio for months, and Back in the Saddle and Sick as a Dog really kicked some a** too. The band really seemed like they were the the American answer to the Rolling Stones back in 1976. Too bad they wouldn't be able to maintain it.

4. Fly Like An Eagle, by the Steve Miller Band. OK, not a fan here at
all, but damn if Fly Like An Eagle and Take The Money and Run weren't catchy tunes. Another couple of songs that were simply inescapable that year.

5. Boston, by Boston. OK, here's an album I really have no interest in, but I swear, every
time I hear More Than A Feeling, I'm swept up in a huge wave of nostalgia. Although this came out late in 1976, when it hit, it hit big. For the most part, its success did (and still does) elude me. It just doesn't do a lot for me. But again, it was everywhere that year, with "Peace of Mind" also playing all the time it seemed.

Now I can hear you saying: where's Hotel California? Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers? The Pretender? Well, those all came out pretty late in '76, so they're not tied to that year for me. Another album that I listened to in 1976 was Presence by Led Zeppelin, but sadly, Presence had little presence, although I love Achilles' Last Stand. Albums from 76 that I discovered later in life include the Ramones' debut album, and AC/DC's Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. But when I think back to this year, the albums above instantly come to mind.


Redartz said...

That's a pretty good selection of the 'Sounds of 76'! You're right about music evoking a time period. Fleetwood Mac seemed to be on the radio constantly.

For me, 1976 meant Paul McCartney and "Wings Over America". It was the first 8-track ( yes, 8-track) I bought and it was playing in my car all summer...

david_b said...

Yep, "Wings Over America" seemed like THE album.. It's funny that Wings poster's always shown right behind Eric Foreman in his basement on '70s Show'.

A 3-disk live concert..? I heard Paul really worked his band on the post-production overdubs to insure it had most of the polish of his studio tracks.

Just reading another interview with Frampton about his 'Alive' album yesterday.. In retrospect, he wishes he would have spent more time after it's release to really focus on his music more, but when all that uproar hit, how can a kid like him not be swept up.. It was QUITE a phenomena.

Edo Bosnar said...

Those are some good picks for signature sounds of that time: I'm a few years younger than you, but I still remember how often you could hear songs like "Fly Like an Eagle" or "Say You Love Me" - at the time, I didn't even know the names of the bands, but knew all the words to those songs.
I also remember how insanely popular Frampton was - and how he basically became the butt of jokes just 2-3 years later when he couldn't follow up that album (which is too bad, he's actually a really good guitar player).

giantsizegeek said...

Great post--I listened to all of these. Fleetwood Mac and Steve Miller were two of my favorites. After Rumours came out, I bought the 75 album you have here and even some of the previous albums before Nicks and Buckingham joined.

Steve Miller, Boston, Aerosmith, etc., all stuff that was popular on the radio. I get nostalgic thinking about FM radio in those days. The DJs were awesome, really into the music and had some great commentary. There were radio programs with live concert recordings, too.

Heart's Dreamboat Annie, the album from 1976, is another one I would add.

Doug said...

I'm pretty sure at the beginning of '76 I was still listening to Destroyer and by the end of the year I had my head to the speaker for Rock and Roll Over. I was a little narrowly-focused...

Frampton was huge that year, though, huh? And Boston... You think if they hadn't take 3-4 years to do a follow-up that they'd have become huge, too?

I love the Dreamboat Annie album, too, by the way -- great suggestion! And the Wings Over America concert video is wonderful, especially during "Live and Let Die!" with all the laser lights.


Anonymous said...

I received a blues album from a piano player in Cincinnati for review a couple of years ago, and on two tracks, his guitarist was Peter Frampton....pretty cool and he really did a great job on it.


Steve Does Comics said...

The only albums from 1976 that I can remember ever owning are "Wings at the Speed of Sound" which was, sadly, not their greatest forty minutes, and "A New World Record" by ELO, which probably is ELO's greatest forty minutes.

For some reason, I've never got round to buying "Wings Over America" although I have the single release of "Maybe I'm Amazed" from it, which is great.

giantsizegeek said...

Steve: New World Record by ELO in 76 was one of their highlights. But I also liked 1977's Out of this World by ELO. First song on that whopper is Turn To Stone, which always makes me imagine The Flash.

Karen said...

Regarding McCartney/Wings: I remember him more from 1973. I can recall going to Shakee's Pizza and putting money in the juke box to play "Live and Let Die" over and over. I still love that song!


Fred W. Hill said...

The two songs I most associate with 1976 are Paul McCartney & Wings' "Let 'Em In" and "Silly Love Songs" which seemed to be in constant roatation, particular during the long drives my family took that summer, from San Francisco to a small town in central Texas for a cousin's wedding and then to Lemoore, in central CA, where I began high school. Otherwise, the major hits off of Hotel California and Fly Like an Eagle dominated late '76 and much of '77. I got those two, along with Fleetwood Mac, but I never bothered to get Frampton Comes Alive, and likewise I didn't get Saturday Night Fever, probably the two biggest selling albums of my high school years.

Anonymous said...

Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks are both talented singer-songwriters. I like both. I do like Stevie a little more, mainly because she's cute and hot. So, sue me.

cease ill said...

What a fun blog! I am presently working on an Elton John two-set show to play on his birthday...though it's mostly early Elton. I had the first four of these albums over a decade later and jammed out to all this mentioned as a teen. Frampton, however, makes me think of my young wife and I rolling a doobie-doobie wah in the Corolla we basically lived out of when working doubles, on break from our job waiting tables at Po Folks (!) We passed the afternoons and evenings in back road bliss.

How in the World do you get so many hits? I love the Feedjit, btw!

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