While the 8-Track was mighty popular for a time, it turned out to be one great way to pick up albums on the cheap. I remember around 1980 or so being able to buy relatively new albums on 8-Track for a dollar, in the discount bin at the local Two Guys department store! Of course, I no longer have those tapes, while the vinyl I paid a few dollars more for sits in my basement in brand new bins I just bought for them, so even if I never get around to listening to vinyl anymore, I can scan through my collection like I'm in a record store of old!
Chances are you re-bought these on CD at some point and now are being asked to put them away and join the download age where everything once again sounds worse! Yahoo! Progress!
Since everything modern pretty much rots, we'll take another stroll down memory lane to a time when bands had to practice and get signed to a record label and it didn't much matter if you had a trust fund to afford all the best publicists to promote your terrible, terrible music. Believe it or not, Screaming Lord Sutch was the exception!
25) Electric Light Orchestra -- Out of the Blue: This was an album for the big boys, y'know, the kids with jobs who could afford a double album. I didn't get around to it, since by the time I accumulated the dough necessary, I was on to picking up Wings Over America, three entire albums of music! Friday afternoons in school were absolute torture, waiting for the bell to ring so I could hop in my mom's car and ask politely to be taken to the record store to make the weekend even more awesome. Who needed friends? I had records! Though, much to my dismay, I can't friend those albums on FaceBook!
24) Iggy Pop -- The Idiot, Lust For Life: How many of us bought these albums because we couldn't find the original Stooges albums and then wondered what all the fuss was about? These are decent records, but in no way as life-changing as Pop's earlier work. And there is a certain amount of residual goodwill when evaluating these albums. You can hear the traces of Pop's wild side. Nowadays, with everything in print, it's near impossible to screw up your advanced studies.
23) Iggy Pop & James Williamson -- Kill City: This album wasn't an option for kids who shopped in department stores for their records. A good thing, since there's no reason to get involved here without knowing what you're getting yourself into. This is music for people who like records, who don't mind shoddy sound and can dig the wildness. Recorded in 1975 as demos for a potential record contract, Kill City received a remix in 2010 that will likely annoy hardcore fans as much as hearing Raw Power in higher fidelity. I don't blame them. Memories are sacred.
22) Kansas -- Point of Know Return: For us or for them?
21) The Rolling Stones -- Love You Live: Double-live album that's as live as they want it to be. The highlight is Andy Warhol's artwork and supposedly the blues covers on the El Mocambo side that are said to be heavily overdubbed. Really? Blues covers in the mid-70s? To prove they still had roots?
20) Foreigner -- Foreigner: Multi-track recording ensured that everyone would want to work on "their" part to the exclusion of all else. While the stereo separation could thrill an audiophile, it didn't guarantee results for anyone who wanted to rock. "Long Long Way From Home" sounds like it means it, but elsewhere it sounds like musicians guarding their territory. Who can leave things to chance when you have a million bucks riding on the outcome?
19) Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes -- This Time It's For Real: It's really not a good idea to call your second album This Time It's For Real. So, your first album sucks and no one should buy it? That's not the case here. The band never got over the public perception that they were minor leaguers in the shadow of their major league neighbors in Springsteen and the E Street Band. But that's what happens when all the original material is written by the Boss and Little "Miami" Steven Silvio Dante. These are fine records that ache for an era that ain't coming back, no matter how preferable it would be to the alternatives. That Southside sure can sing.
18) John Martyn -- One World: While the Nick Drake cult exhausts itself, it would only be right if they picked up on the less-than-raw genius of his contemporary, John Martyn, the one who didn't die tragically young, but who hung around to leave a worse-looking corpse. Don't let that dissuade you from digging deep into his catalog. Those fingers could play and that voice carried a thousand ghosts.
17) Joni Mitchell -- Don Juan's Reckless Daughter: This seems to be the point where most people wander off and do something else with their time. Joni's greatness isn't in doubt, however, her evaluation of her talents is. From here she makes interesting records that hardcore fans and record collectors can spend their extra time figuring out. The people who made her a star feel a little jilted. Maybe you can hum these songs, but who tries?
16) Ted Nugent -- Cat Scratch Fever: If you remove "Cat Scratch Fever" and "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang," and maybe "Death By Misadventure," you're left with an album that could be any number of subsequent Nugent records. Who would think ol' Ted would make a better singles artist?
15) Millie Jackson -- Feelin' Bitchy: Millie Jackson made a career out of taking the romantic tropes of love and getting it down to the nuts and bolts of the game. Her free use of profanity and off-color humor made her infamous, but take away the novelty and there are still fine soul tunes and a genuine singer. Besides, who says love ain't nothing but a sandwich with a hole in it?
14) Grateful Dead -- Terrapin Station: I don't know that there's ever a reason for the Dead to perform old soul numbers. "Dancing In the Street"? Really? Not when they could be applying themselves to the space jams that their audience loves them for. Fans swear by side two and its side-long exploration. That was then, this is now, though, and the massive reissue program delivers enough live shows to help even the most out-of-the-tape-trader-loop fan get with the program. Maybe some fans like the soul covers?
13) Judas Priest -- Sin After Sin: Sad Wings of Destiny began their march to the top of the heavy metal field. Sin After Sin took another step in the right direction, being the band's first release on a major label and the one that features a song by that metal priestess herself, Joan Baez. Joanie likely never imagined "Diamonds and Rust," her letter to Bob Dylan, to be a huge hit with the whips and chains crowd, but I guess some people like the sound of being whipped.
12) The Saints -- (I'm) Stranded: Further proof that we're a global village, in 1977 The Saints, an Australian band from Australia, released this debut album and it was a response to the emerging punk movement! That's not a lot of lag time to get with the program, considering the amount of time it takes to get down under. Chris Bailey and Ed Kuepper turned out to be real songwriters who didn't even need gratuitous haircuts or anything to keep on chooglin'.
11) Wire -- Pink Flag: Who doesn't love an album where nothing lasts long enough to get bored of it? Unless you find the near-four minutes of "Strange" too much to take. In that case, don't go see jam bands, it will ruin your life. Or buy any music after 1964 for that matter.
10) Dennis Wilson -- Pacific Ocean Blue: One benefit of an entire generation being grown to accept free music without packaging is that record labels that specialize in packaging must raid their vaults for anything the older generation will buy. So, why not release a 30th Anniversary Edition of an album best known to readers of articles and books about great "lost" albums and other esoterica? I anxiously await an entire album of Brian Wilson snoring! Though, truth told, this is worth reissuing and Wilson's snoring…someone awaits it!
9) Townes Van Zandt -- Live at the Old Quarter, Houston Texas: The performances are from July 1973, recorded in a club that comfortably held 60 people, but could jam together 100. Considering that Van Zandt's studio albums often sounded mannered and that he was an old school saloon country singer, this live album is the best way to appreciate him. There are numerous live albums all featuring close to the same songs, yet each is special in its own way. There's a depressed lonesome quality to his music and a dark humor that's pure humanity. Play this at your next party!
8) Rod Stewart -- Foot Loose & Fancy Free: While a sizable amount of music people denigrate later Rod Stewart as creampuff, I'm just fine about stuff like "Hot Legs," especially if it means we get an "I Was Only Joking" out of the bargain. I suppose he could've had an artistically meaningful career had he discovered mining and whaling songs and continued to pay respects to Sam Cooke for all eternity. But then his singles would've been less interesting and he'd never be able to buy his own island. You think he wants to live next door to you? Or me?
7) Chic -- Chic: The next album would be the mainstream monster, but the debut got the clubs moving and made the old guard R&B artists even more nervous. "Dance Dance Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)" got them a top ten hit and laid the groundwork for Nile Rodgers as household name in households that hire musical people to fashion their next project. "Everybody Dance" further pushed forth the point that this group was a ploy to encourage dancing. Bernard Edwards' purpose was to make you give up your dreams of being a bass player.
6) The Clash -- The Clash: This is the British version of the album, since the American release was still two years away, since, of course, the best way to promote music is to not release it. It became a best-selling import and set the stage for CBS Records to change their tune and promote them as "The Only Band That Matters." Don't let the hype scare you. This is a very good album in any form. Americans may feel more comfortable with the U.S. release much in the same way we feel better if Rubber Soul begins with "I've Just Seen A Face."
5) The Runaways -- Queens of Noise, Waitin' For The Night: Add the Runaways to the pile of bands who were unable to make it past the AOR block of terrible bands that made FM radio what it was by the late 1970s. Even if you're a nattering nabob of negativity, you gotta admit these young ladies were more fun to watch than the Doobie Brothers or Boston.
4) Steely Dan -- Aja: You can not buy a superior soundsystem without also purchasing this album as a test disc. Considered in serious audio circles to be the greatest album ever made, Aja is the sound of Donald Fagen and Walter Becker listening to the voices in their head and then forcing everyone else involved to figure out what those voices were saying. A tad bloodless compared to their previous albums, Aja still kicks a major amount of cynical butt. Look on the bright side, at least we didn't suddenly get 10,000 terrible bands on account of it. Except maybe over at Berklee.
2) Steve Miller Band -- Book of Dreams: I'll take Really Good Classic FM Radio Rock of the 1970s for $1000, Alex. "This former psychedelic blues band found favor with a tight rhythmic sound that highlighted the smooth vocal stylings of its leader." The Steve Miller Band???!!!! I'm sorry, you must phrase your answer in the form of a question. The correct response is "Who are the Steve Miller Band?" Freddy, pick again.