Friday, March 01, 2024

Retrospective Albums of the Year: 1974

I basically teased this idea in my Best Music of 2023 post. I've decided to retrospectively work on my top ten albums of years that preceded my annual list, which began in 1996. I'll be doing so by celebrating the 50th, 40th and 30th anniversaries of said albums. If I keep this up, I'll eventually be marking some 60th anniversaries as well, but since my 1964 list would be pretty weak, I'll be holding off on that for now.

For all of these lists, I'll allow for the benefit of hindsight, but for the years in which I actually listened to some of these albums, nostalgia will be a factor. 1974 was not one of those years.

10. Kiss - Kiss

My first favorite band's music hasn't aged really well, but their debut remains their best work, and evidence they know how to write melodic hard rock songs.

9. Tom Waits - The Heart of Saturday Night

This is actually the only Tom Waits album I've ever bought -- and I was turned on to it by Shawn Colvin's cover of the title track -- but it's a good one nonetheless.

8. Steely Dan - Pretzel Logic

My pal Lee once said you could arguably rank the first six Led Zeppelin albums in any order. I basically feel the same way about Steely Dan.

7. Gram Parsons - Grevious Angel

The Godfather of Country Rock's posthumously released final album was as great as everything that came before it.

6. Electric Light Orchestra - Eldorado

ELO is one of two bands in this top ten that I was a fan of in the '70s, Kiss being the other. But, I didn't discover the beauty of Eldorado until many years later, perhaps because "Can't Get it Out of My Head" is the only really big hit on this album. Obviously, I came around because I ranked it second in their discography back in 2010.

5. Big Star - Radio City

Not that you really have to choose one over the other, but I've always been an advocate that Chris Bell was the superior co-leader of this band. Considering this album was released after his departure, and is strictly an Alex Chilton affair, I probably don't have a leg to stand on there. Still, you should probably read this post about the Big Star documentary, and check out the film, to fully appreciate where I'm coming from.

4. Blue Öyster Cult - Secret Treaties

I became a BÖC fan in the early '80s. Their late '70s and early '80s output were my most frequent listens at the time, but when I decided to go back further, Secret Treaties was my first purchase. For a young fan, it was a bit of an acquired taste, but I now consider it the best album of their black-and-white era (so named for their first three album covers), and their second best overall.

3. Joni Mitchell - Court and Spark

For some reason, I kind of forgot how fantastic this album is. Probably my second favorite Joni album, which seems to be a recurring theme on this list.

2. Neil Young - On the Beach

I've never gotten around to completing my project ranking the entire Neil Young discography. It's pretty safe to say this one falls just outside of the top five, but easily makes the top ten.

1. King Crimson - Red

At the start of the pandemic, while I was working in my basement, I embarked on a project ranking my top 100 albums of all-time. For once, I actually saw it through to the end and in June of 2020, I completed the list but never posted about it. Nearly four years later, I'm sure the list needs some updating, so maybe you'll see it here eventually. Anyway, my point is Red is one of two King Crimson albums to make that list, and the only top 100 album from 1974.