The best of 1973 mix tape
Coming after the hit-spewing juggernaut that was 1972, just about any year in music would seem a little down, but 1973 seems particularly weak in comparison. For every Aladdin Sane or Innervisions there were ten albums by the likes of Argent or Uriah Heap, or maybe it just seems like it. Even the Rolling Stones followed the sprawling brilliance of Exile with the hot mess of Goats Head Soup and began their slow decline from the mountain top. Regardless, if you look up “reasons why punk was needed” on the Google, I’m pretty sure it just says “1973.”
Even in the midst of layers of garbage, the good and vital will continue to thrive, and there are more than enough nuggets to be found in the year to make a fine playlist and still leave a few choice cuts out. Big mea culpas to the New York Dolls and Iggy Pop and SC’s own Marshall Tucker Band for not finding room in the mix for them. No apologies at all to ZZ Top and Lynyrd Skynyrd for leaving the stomach churning La Grange and Free Bird on the scrap heap of classic rock radio.
Radar Love – Golden Earning
One of the best driving songs ever, and a stone classic. I picked the radio edit version just to make room for another song on the mix, but seek out the full six-minute album cut for maximum awesomeness.
Higher Ground – Stevie Wonder
You’re probably getting tired of me pimping out 70s Stevie Wonder, but I’ll never stop. The sheer volume of great music he produced (and wrote and sang and played basically instrument on) is pretty much unfathomable.
Dixie Chicken – Little Feat
There’s nothing about this song I don’t love unreservedly. Won’t you be my Dixie Chicken?
Brain Damage – Pink Floyd
I have a complicated relationship with Pink Floyd that has mellowed over the years, but I still generally dislike Dark Side of the Moon, especially Money, which I hate with a white hot fury. Brain Damage is a pretty great track though, so I won’t hold it against them here.
Midnight Train to Georgia – Gldys Knight & the Pips
If you can’t appreciate and find joy in the “whoo-whoo” part then your heart is clearly made of colder than ice alien goo and there’s no hope for happiness for you. Ever.
The Jean Genie – David Bowie
I like to imagine the early 70s as Stevie and Bowie playing tennis with killer albums. Serving Innervisions to you, Mr. Bowie. Here’s Aladdin Sane right back at you, Mr. Bowie.
Stir It Up – Bob Marley & The Wailers
The original album version kinda takes the version you hear on the radio sometimes back behind the woodshed and beats the stuffing out of it.
Caroline Says II – Lou Reed
Berlin is such a great, but thoroughly weird album. It’s worth all the weirdness for this truly amazing song.
Let’s Get It On – Marvin Gaye
Yes, it’s overplayed, but who cares. That shouldn’t stop you from recognizing greatness when it is laying there in front of you.
Honky Tonk Heroes – Waylon Jennings
A straight up great song, one of the best in music, let alone country music, history.
Dancing Days – Led Zeppelin
See what I said above about not letting stuff get in the way of appreciating greatness.
Here I Am (Come and Take Me) – Al Green
Is it any wonder that Al Green’s Greatest Hits is considered one of the best albums ever with songs like this all over it?
My Lovely Lady – Jimmy Buffett
Gather around children for a story. Long before Jimmy Buffett became the musical equivalent of Guy Fieri, he was a pretty great singer/songwriter with a unique spin on country music and a knack for telling compelling tales of misfortune and good-natured hedonism. His first handful of albums are great, and this is truly one of my favorite songs of the decade. Go back to this album (A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean) and listen to the Peanut Butter Conspiracy or The Death of an Unpopular Poet or He Went to Paris and tell me the man couldn’t write legit great music. There’s (or was, haven’t checked in a while) even a quasi-internet religion called The Church of Buffett, Orthodox (COBO) dedicated to promoting how great he was pre-Margaritaville and all of the resultant product endorsements and coconut-stuffed frozen shrimps.
Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) – Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
1973 was the first salvo of Springsteen’s unique genius (even if it hadn’t been perfected yet) with his first two albums hitting the shelves and book-ending the year in music. Rosalita was the pick of the bunch, capturing all the elements of a great Springsteen song, including the spirit of the joyous live performance, in one sprawling, seven-minute tour de force.
As always, here’s the Spotify playlist for your listening pleasure.
Go ahead and yell at me for dogging ZZ Top and Skynyrd. What other of your favorites did I leave out?