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.