“Presence is the good Led Zeppelin heroin album (as my friend Mark once put it), the mostly sh** one being In Through The Out Door (Jimmy Page being too f***ed up to care). Either way, the Zeppelin’s days of full-on world dominance and glory were slipping past them by 1976, which didn’t exactly stop them from laying down some of the evilest blues mankind has ever known. Even if, in this case, it was a song about taking personal responsibility for the mess you’re in, which, when you think about it, is very mature behavior.” (Philip Random)
The cool kids were confused. What the hell was Neil Diamond doing at The Last Waltz, The Band’s farewell concert (still considered by many to be one of the greatest concerts in rock and roll history)? What he was doing was delivering the goods (in leisure suit, shades, freshly coiffed hair), destroying all notions of cool and uncool with a song that told the fierce and sad truth about what time does to us all. It removes us completely, but maybe if we cut the bullsh** at least some of the time, our songs remain.
“Rising was Rainbow‘s second album, and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t the cover that grabbed me: God’s (or perhaps Lucifer’s) own hand thrusting from the waves of a boiling storm, grabbing a rainbow straight out of the sky. And the music’s mostly up to it (even if, like me, you were never that much of a metal fan), particularly something like A Light in the Black that storms so fiercely for your heart and soul, you tend to forget your biases. All hail the dark and mysterious power of Ritchie Blackmore‘s guitar, and the rest of the band for that matter.” (Philip Random)
Gentle Giant were weird even for a so-called prog rock band, determined to push every envelope available, and then some. Philip Random recalls discovering them on TV late one night. “One of those live concert shows. 1976, I’m pretty sure, because I was still in high school. They immediately reminded me of Jethro Tull, except they just took everything further in a wigged out medieval sort of way – tooting recorders, plunking harpsichords, tutting strange harmonies. And then things got to rocking and and heads were most definitely lost.”
Sometimes the true genius of Bob Dylan is revealed not via some high reaching paradox infused poetry of chaos and apocalypse (or whatever), but when he’s just casually tossing something off, like this little ditty about grooving away in exotic Mozambique, found on 1976’s Desire, his last truly necessary album of the decade, unless you had a hunger for fire and brimstone and long trains slowly coming.
Nifty jam from April Wine, one of those Canadian rock outfits that didn’t get heard much around the world, but got piles of national radio airplay through the 1970s, only some of it bureaucratically mandated. But they never played We Can Be More Than We Are. You had to actually had to own the Canadian pressing of the album for that one (or find a copy of the Gimmie Love 7-inch and flip it to the b-side). Cool groove, hot licks and then a phone call, some stoner on the line, looking for an easy break into the record biz, but all he gets is some free advice. “You can be more than you are.”
“A Thin Lizzy rocker that neither boogies nor woogies. It’s just heavy and strong and full of threat, though of what I’m not quite sure, maybe something lurking in the deep Irish night. Found on 1976’s Johnny The Fox, which is one of those albums that nails its place in time. Not punk, not metal, just rock, good and hard.” (Philip Random)
The post Brian Eno, pre valiumized Roxy Music captured in full live force, taking an okay sort of half-country experiment from their first album and pumping it full of all kinds of delirious drama. Stick with it through the violin solo, the conclusion is as big and rich and mercurial as love itself. From 1976’s Viva! which was in fact recorded on Roxy’s 1974 tour.
“If you were there at the time (1976), the first you heard of Klaatu likely came in the form of rumour. They were the Beatles secretly reunited, with the clues all there if you just did a little digging. It was all bullshit, of course, and thank God, because the album really wasn’t that good. Rather like what you would’ve gotten if Paul McCartney had rediscovered LSD and tried to do another Sergeant Pepper’s, but all alone this time, and maybe drinking copious amounts of vodka spiked Cream Soda on the side. But the last track was a keeper, something to do with split atoms, I think, and the wrath of gods thus unleashed.” (Philip Random)