Elton John's Captain Fantasic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy.

Top Albums of the 1970s, Cohort #8

By Mark Abraham & Dom Sinacola · Jun 27, 2013

30. Can:
Ege Bamyasi

(United Artists; 1972)

Florence Johnston: “Ege Bamyasi is frayed. Maybe too frayed, really, to properly explain. Somehow it’s both the best krautrock album of the decade and the best psychedelic album and one of the best experimental albums and just a fucking rager on its own damn merits. Unlocking the secrets of Can’s music means playing it loud and giving yourself over. Give in. Blast this shit from the heavens. It sounds like tongues and clouds and angel wings anyways.”

29. X-Ray Spex:
Germfree Adolescents

(EMI; 1978)

Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzarelli: “Me and Polystyrene have a lot in common. We both hate poseurs and we both love being really fucking cool. I wish this was what I got to listen to instead of Richie’s stupid band. You know what? Every time I bang that goddamn jukebox ‘Warrior in Woolworths’ is what I’m hoping will play. It would deafen and destroy our mundane existence. Mrs. C. an Mr. C. would keel over from heart attacks and all of us kids would rule the world with bright eyes and flashy wardrobes.”

28. Elton John:
Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy

(DJM; 1975)

Shirley Feeney: “If you didn’t know that Bernie Taupin wrote the lyrics here, you’d assume John was cribbing directly from his own confessionals, or diary, or wedding vows, or fever dreams. This is John’s first album that sounds like it comes directly from his heart; like maybe even it’s just a picture of his heart, sensing how drugs and excess is actually slowly hollowing the decade and John’s body out. This is John naked, which given that that’s the exact opposite of how he normally is is pretty shocking..”

27. Minnie Riperton:
Perfect Angel

(Epic; 1974)

Phyllis Lindstrom: “Doesn’t everybody want to be Minnie Ripperton? This album is as cool as the ice cream she’s licking on the cover! I barely even listened at all before I was starting a fan club and buying t-shirts online and inventing the internet so I could talk about her more because that’s exactly how powerful this album is. It’s like setting off ring caps inside your frontal cortex.”

26. Emmylou Harris:
Pieces of the Sky

(Reprise; 1975)

Julio Fuentes: “I wish when my friends died I could write a gorgeous song like ‘Boulder to Birmingham’ and then surround it with the detritus of country’s past like a really thoughtful wreath. I’m not that crafty though, so normally I just buy some flowers and sing that song to myself under my breath and then later all the other songs which are happier but are all also kind of about death. It’s a pretty sad album.”

25. Robert Ashley:
In Sara, Mencken, Christ and Beethoven There Were Men and Women

(Cramps; 1974)

Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce: “The voices in my head sound like the voices in your heart sound like lips and curls and sweet confections. Ashley’s sound experiment captures the only sentience we’ve ever needed, dips it in blood and chocolate so everybody can taste it, moves forward and back and under and over and never stops. It is forever; it is a moment. Every time I slice somebody open, I am men and women, and I will recite the unrecitable.”

24. Fleetwood Mac:

(Warner Brothers; 1977)

Arthur Carlson: “These are big, beautiful children playing adult games. Or maybe they’re reluctant adults messing about with the toys of lust and self-actualization and their soul’s immolation as if these things are model fire trucks and miniature metal soldiers. If all of the rock and roll were this consumed with luscious vagary, I’d be tuckered out by 9 am. Which I am, so I should probably take a nap.”

23. Pop Group:

(Radar; 1979)

Rhonda Lee: “Well, I will say that I find this too scary to listen to with the lights off. Otherwise, though, this is pretty much the best music for any social occasion: parties, picnics, business lunches, school dances, birthdays, funerals. I like to pretend that I am a snowgirl, sometimes. It makes my heart grow 27 sizes. It beats like those guitars: jagged and free, unconcerned with your notions of ‘rhythm’ or ‘melody.’ Fuck that. Bu the end of the 1970s music didn’t need music anymore.”

22. Richard & Linda Thompson:
I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight

(Island; 1974)

Rhoda Morgenstern: “An effortless mixture of old-timer ideas and modern arrangements crafted by superior artisans, I often wish this album was my travel diary. Maybe not through space, but through time. I’d be in wood carved bars and around bonfires and in country weddings all at the same time. Awesome! I can’t even begin to explain how happy this album makes me. Giddy, even.”

21. Rolling Stones:
Exile on Main St.

(Rolling Stones; 1972)

George Jefferson: “There are plenty of albums on this list, higher and lower, that are amazing in their own right. If they did not exist, though? The world would move on. This one, though…this one’s more like a crucial cusp, a moment where humanity exhaled, an absent thought made whole. This is everybody’s favorite rock album by default. It’s too stupidly phenomenal for it not to be. Part of the reason is probably that by 1972 it was no longer possible to make an album on heroin that is mostly about heroin and still have it sound quite this joyous.”

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