happy birthday, neal!

friday random ten, 1975 edition

Mixing it up by revisiting the old Friday music tradition. My son had his 38th birthday yesterday, so I’ll choose 1975 for this week’s Random Ten. The links go to YouTube … times have changed some since I used to do these Random Tens, lots of people use YouTube as a jukebox nowadays. (For reference, here’s a link to the last time I did a 1975 Random Ten.)

1. Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, “Don’t Leave Me This Way”. Of course, despite the billing, it was Teddy Pendergrass who people remember from this group. And while this track went to #3 on the disco charts in 1975, I’ve linked to a video from Thelma Houston, later made the song her own, forever, hitting #1 in the process. Her version is probably my favorite disco record of all time, so, with respect to the Blue Notes and with the understanding that this is supposed to be 1975, Thelma gets the video.

2. Emmylou Harris, “If I Could Only Win Your Love”. It seemed like she’d been around forever, but this is from her major-label debut. It was her first single to make the Billboard charts. It’s a cover of a Louvin Brothers song; the album, Pieces of the Sky, also included covers of artists ranging from The Beatles to Dolly Parton to Merle Haggard. The link is to Emmylou singing with Charlie Louvin.

3. Bonnie Raitt, “Your Sweet and Shiny Eyes”. My favorite Bonnie Raitt song, from my favorite Bonnie Raitt album, Home Plate.

4. Eric Carmen, “All by Myself”. The Raspberries made the Top Five with one of their first singles, “Go All the Way”, but never returned to those heights, at least on the charts. In 1974, they gave us “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)”, a track that very much deserved what the title asked for. It only made #18. The band broke up in 1975; by the end of the year, Carmen had released his first solo album. The aptly-named “All by Myself” was as good as any of his Raspberries hits. I hope I’m forgiven for the video link, which features Jamie O’Neal rather than Carmen. Halle Berry was great and her win was historic, but I woulda voted for Renée Zellweger, anyway.

5. Led Zeppelin, “Kashmir”. Back when Physical Graffiti came out, I don’t remember that “Kashmir” was considered the album’s peak, although as always, my memory is suspect. I know I always loved “Trampled Under Foot”, and basically what was at the time the first two sides (the first record of the two-LP set) was my favorite in general. Whatever … over the years, it seems like “Kashmir” has become one of the most standard of Zep songs, perhaps best exemplified by Puffy’s “Come with Me” for the Godzilla soundtrack. And I know that it has always ranked among my top two or three Led Zep songs. (When I saw them in 1977, “Kashmir” kicked off the final, overpowering part of the show: “Kashmir,” “Trampled Under Foot,” “Achilles Last Stand,” “Stairway to Heaven,” “Whole Lotta Love,” and “Rock and Roll”.) No, I don’t know what Robert Plant is babbling about in this song, but that’s true for most of their songs.

6. War, “Why Can’t We Be Friends?”. War was a top act throughout the first half of the 70s, and the Why Can’t We Be Friends? album marked the peak of their work. The next year, they released their first greatest hits album (and they weren’t kidding, they were hits and they were great), and while they released several hits packages in later years, all of the vital stuff was on that first hits album.

7. Earth, Wind & Fire, “Shining Star”. George Clinton reportedly said they were earth, hot air, and no fire. He was unfair, but I’ve never been able to get that quote out of my head. This is one song that shows he wasn’t entirely correct.

8. Fleetwood Mac, “Say You Love Me”. I saw Fleetwood Mac at my second-ever rock concert, at the Fillmore West, on a bill that also included Ten Years After and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. That was the Peter Green version of the band, and I can still remember how nastily lecherous Jeremy Spencer was as he sang “Shake Your Moneymaker”. Those days were long gone by 1975 … there was the Bob Welch era, and Christine McVie had been around for awhile. But when Buckingham Nicks joined the band, the result was the Fleetwood Mac everyone remembers now. “Say You Love Me” is one of McVie’s best. (There are higher-quality, more recent videos of this one performed live, but I like this because it’s from 1977, and McVie still plays keyboards.)

9. Bob Dylan, “Shelter from the Storm”. I made a short film when our son was still a little tyke, carrying him around to various locations where his mom and I had done stuff in high school and beyond. I used this song as the soundtrack, taking the title as a message about how I felt about Robin: she gave me shelter. Of course, the song looks back after the end of a relationship; maybe I should have listened more closely.

10. Bruce Springsteen, “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)”. We saw Bruce for the first time in 1975.