1974 in Music

My music reviews for music originally released in 1974.

 

1. Genesis: The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (10/10)

The best rock opera ever, in my mind. Avant and still (somewhat) accessible. It (get it?) doesn’t make any sense, but my theory is that’s the point. It’s pomo. Let’s not forget Eno.

 

2. King Crimson: Red (10/10)

Their best album, I would argue. How did they get better as they unraveled? “Starless” is mind-boggling. One of only two songs that have ever given me stomach cramps.

 

3. Neil Young: On the Beach (10/10)

 

4. King Crimson: Starless and Bible Black (10/10)

 

5. Brian Eno: Here Come the Warm Jets (10/10)

 

5. Brian Eno: Taking Tiger Mountain (by Strategy) (10/10)

 

7. Gram Parsons: Grievous Angel (10/10)

 

8. Joni Mitchell: Court and Spark (10/10)

 

9. Richard Thompson and Linda Thompson: I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight (10/10)

 

10. Philip Glass: Music in Changing Parts (9/10)

This is as impenetrable as Glass gets, I think. Though Einstein on the Beach is hard to get into if you don’t have the patience, this makes that “opera” downright accessible. As others have noted, your enjoyment of this will entirely depend on your willingness to not just sit through it – that in itself is hard enough if you don’t like this style of music – but to actually listen to it. What at first sounds like mindless repetition is actually extraordinarily full of (minute) variety. I want to call this one of the subtlest pieces of music I ever heard, only I can’t say anything this long is, well, subtle. It sort of hits you over the head with its subtlety, making it entirely unsubtle.
Anyway, if you have the patience (and time) for it, this is one of Glass’ most remarkable works and a landmark of the genre. I’m not sure it’s a masterpiece, but it’s close.

 

11. The Who: Odds and Sods (9/10)

 

12. Rory Gallagher: Irish Tour (9/10)

 

13. Ry Cooder: Paradise and Lunch (9/10)

 

14. Keith Jarret: Death and the Flower (8/10)

 

15. Keith Jarrett: Treasure Island (8/10)

 

16. Big Star: Radio City (8/10)

 

17. Frank Zappa: Apostrophe (8/10)

 

18. New York Dolls: Too Much, Too Soon (8/10)

 

19. Little Feat: Feats Don’t Fail Me Now (8/10)

 

20. Keith Jarrett: Backhand (8/10)

 

21. Tangerine Dream: Phaedra (8/10)

 

22. Introducing The Eleventh House With Larry Coryell (8/10)

A little too imitative of Mahavishnu Orchestra. Read the review.

 

23. Roy Harper: Flashes from the Archives of Oblivion  (8/10)

It’s mostly a great live album, except when he gets carried away with the pedals.

 

 

24. Peter Hammill: The Silent Corner and the Empty Stage (7/10)

A weird mixture of Hammill’s solo stuff and Van Der Graaf Generator. But I still like it. Read the review.

 

25. Cluster: Zuckerzeit (7/10)

 

26. Bob Dylan and the Band: Before the Flood (7/10)

 

Not Ranked: New Jersey Percussion Ensemble: Percussion Music: Works by Varese, Colgrass, Saperstein, Cowell, Wuorinen (8/10)

This is a fine selection of modern “art music” attempts to break out of western traditions by making percussive music. Not really knowing a ton about any of the composers save Varese that’s tough for me to say, but it seems a fair sample. Colgrass’s piece in particular is a highlight.

It’s nice to see that there was an orchestra dedicated to this kind of music back in the ’70s, a time when one would thing there would be a least some empathy between rock musicians trying to expand their horizons and “art” composers and ensembles trying to expand theirs. Not having the ears I’d like to have, I can’t tell you exactly why this is so neat, just that it is.

 

Singles

James Brown: “Funky President (People It’s Bad)” (??/10)

James Brown: “My Thang” (??/10)

James Brown: “Papa Don’t Take No Mess” (??/10)

James Brown: “The Payback” (??/10)