The best of 1970 mix tape
Now that the 1980s are done and dusted, I decided to rewind a bit and go back to the momentous year 1970, aka, the year that yours truly entered the world. It doesn’t take long for you to realize (or remember) certain things about music at that time, namely that there was a LOT more music released then, mostly because artists released music more frequently. I think Credence alone released 32 albums in 1970. It’s kind of ridiculous actually.
Since I’m starting a new decade, I thought it a good idea to review the selection criteria I established for this project:
- The “mix tape” has to fit on an old school Maxell 60-minute cassette. The time limit makes me appreciate the fact that the 3-minute pop/rock song was still in vogue when the decade started. Some decisions will inevitably be made based on run time, so if I’m deciding between two songs, a shorter one might get the nod just because it is better fit (see Cecilia over The Boxer below for a prime example)
- Only one song from one artist per year (also known as the Michael Jackson Thriller rule)
- Songs chosen have to be on Spotify, so that rather famously eliminates The Beatles (and their solo incarnations) from consideration here
- There are certain genres of music that just aren’t my jam. In the 80s it was hair metal. In the 70s you will be find little to no “prog rock.” Sorry, Rush fan, thems the breaks
- No live albums. I added this for the 70s, since bands got into the habit of cranking out live albums (or, more horribly, double live albums). There’s only a handful of decent ones ever, so it’s just easier to eliminate them outright.
Enough with the ground rules, here’s the mix. 18 songs scientifically proven to rock your gypsy soul (*no scientists were harmed in the making of this mix.)
Get Up (I Feel Like Being A Sex Machine Part I&II) – James Brown
Starting you off with a monster tune. The Godfather of Soul at his funkiest and baddest self.
Cecilia – Simon and Garfunkel
I probably would have taken The Boxer here, as it is one of my two or three favorite S&G songs, but Cecilia fit the mix better and is a pretty great song in its own right, so there’s not much of a difference here in the end.
After The Gold Rush – Neil Young
One of my favorite songs of all time, and a shoe in for the final best of the 70s mix. Plus, it gave us one of my favorite covers ever by one of the few guys with the register to pull it off successfully.
Loose – The Stooges
Yes! The Stooges are all about the raw, and that just gets me fired up knowing that their punk ancestors are just around the corner, waiting to slay every bloated, FM radio beast in their path.
Into the Mystic – Van Morrison
“I wanna rock your gypsy soul, just like in the days of old.” Had he down nothing else in life Van’s legend would have been cemented with this tune and that one line.
25 or 6 to 4 – Chicago
What was I saying before about bloated, FM radio beasts? This is one of the biggest behemoths of the the bunch, but a great song is a great song, overly fussy arrangements and all.
Sweet Baby James – James Taylor
Ssshhh…I have a dirty secret. Behind my carefully crafted hipster dufus exterior I’m hiding a closet singer/songwriter enthusiast. I mean some of the creamiest of the 70s cheese – names like Dan Fogelberg and Gordon Lightfoot. And yes, even the occasional James Taylor song. Just don’t tell anybody, m’kay? Wait, is thing on? Doh!
ABC – The Jackson 5
You can’t fight the Jacksons. They were another act that put out approximately a dozen albums over the course of the year.
Nick Drake – Northern Sky
What a voice. A bolt of beauty every time you listen to it.
Immigrant Song – Led Zeppelin
Hammer of the gods. I have a complicated relationship with this song. In general I’m not a big Zeppelin guy, but I have managed to come to a begrudging respect for them. I’ve always loved this one though, mainly because it packs so much into less than 3 minutes. Another case where less is more when it comes to music. This one kicks off the mythical B side with vicious punch.
I Still Miss Someone – Johnny Cash
What a song, made only better here by the epic transition from the previous entry.
Who’ll Stop The Rain? – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Seriously, did John Fogarty sleep between 1968 and 1971. It seems like CCR has a million hits, and they kinda do, but pretty much everything they did came out within 2 or 3 years. It’s amazing to think about.
After Midnight – Eric Clapton
I’m not going to lie to you, I put this one in mainly so I didn’t have to try and make room for Layla, which I basically kind of hate ever since Clapton murdered it with that adult contemporary acoustic version some years back. *involuntary shiver*
Sweet Jane – The Velvet Underground
A toss up between this one and Rock n’ Roll. It was just razor thin hair from being the only song so far to appear twice on the best of mixes, as the Cowboy Junkies mellower take was a late cut from the Best of the 1988 mix.
Song to the Siren – Tim Buckley
How you describe Tim Buckley to somebody who hasn’t heard him before? One of the most unique voices (literally and figuratively) in the history of music.
Lola – The Kinks
Drinking champagne that tastes just like soda, dancing all night long, and your very own personal Crying Game scenario. What’s not to like?
Sugar Magnolia – The Grateful Dead
Another band that as a rule I don’t like all that much. No, I take that back, I actually like a lot of their songs, but what I don’t get is this insane, terminal devotion that they engender. Maybe it’s because I’d rather here the recorded, 3 and 1/2 version of this song than the 14,000 slightly different 27 minute live jam band versions they eventually released in some form or another.
Dark Globe – Syd Barrett
I’m also one of the handful of people that prefer Pink Floyd while Syd was sill around (Piper at the Gates of Dawn crushes Dark Side of the Moon down into thin, indefinable powder and scatters it into the wind to the four corners of the globe.) Only natural that I’d gravitate to some of his solo work.
A pretty good way to put a cap on the 60s and transition into the new decade, I think. The 70s get a lot of deserved heat for being a crap music decade, but just think, the best of Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, Big Star, Talking Heads, the Rolling Stones, and The Clash still await us. Can’t be too bad, can it? Here’s the Spotify playlist for your listening pleasure.
Which of your favorites did I leave out?