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70′s Records You Couldn’t Hide From

Back in the 70′s, there were a handful of records you just couldn’t get away from. They were everywhere: on the radio, in your car’s 8-track player, on your best friend’s stereo.

This was a good thing if you liked the particular record. If not, well, you were kinda screwed…and god forbid your girlfriend/boyfriend had something on your “hate list”…bad scene there. Heck, I spent the better part of one year putting up with my girlfriend’s Shaun Cassidy album. Why? (C’mon, you know why!)

So here are the records I remember being important to us. There’s no order…and I’m sure I left several out. It would be interesting to see if today’s kids have similar groups of recordings.

Led ZeppelinLed Zeppelin IV

Sure, “Stairway To Heaven” was the song (ok, overplayed as well). “Black Dog” and “Rock and Roll” also got tons of airplay. The rest of the record I really didn’t care for…I probably didn’t think it rocked hard enough or something. On second thought, I bet it was just too subtle for me…all those acoustic guitars and mysterious ramblings.

Pink FloydDark Side Of The Moon

OK, so this one is actually full of subtlety…but I liked it. Dark Side is a lot weirder than Led Zeppelin IV too. I’ve read a ton of stuff about the 30th anniversary reissue (and gawd does the 180gram vinyl pressing sound gorgeous): about how it’s the perfect rock album. I dunno…I still don’t think that “Money” belongs on it.

Eric ClaptonSlow Hand

Everyone had this for “Cocaine” and “Laydown Sally”. Me Too. There was something cool about it in a 70′s burnout kind of way.

Meat LoafBat Out Of Hell

Man, oh man, did I ever hate “Paradise By The Dashboard Light”. “You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth”….icky. I bet I had a danged funny look on my face when I found out that Meat Loaf was the guy singing on my Ted Nugent record. Ironically, I went to one of his VH1-Storytellers shows a couple of years ago and kinda liked it.

Cheap TrickLive at Budokan

Silly multi-necked guitars, an accountant for a drummer…plus a sense of humor and a way with a hook. I’m pretty sure that some of the damage done to my hearing came from listening to “Surrender” cranked to obscene levels.

V/ASaturday Night Fever

This I did not “get”. Sometimes (if the music gods were against me..and my girlfriend wanted to torture me) I would get to hear this back-to-back with that Shaun Cassidy record. It’s too bad that the Bee Gee’s are linked so strongly to this album ’cause they really did put out quite a few great pop tunes before the disco era.

Billy JoelThe Stranger

It had ballads that I didn’t know what to do with (“Just The Way You Are”), songs that sorta rocked (“Movin’ Out”) and sentiments that I was just too immature to deal with (“Everybody Has A Dream”). But it also had “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant” – I ended up knowing a lot of Brenda & Eddie’s.


Symphonies of guitars. Nothing else sounded like this. At the time it seemed almost revolutionary. Plus…”no synthesizers”….so cool (why we thought that was cool….I have no fricken’ idea).

The WhoWho’s Next

Just recently I pulled out my original Decca LP of Tommy…the one my sister gave me (or the one I swiped from her…can’t remember). It was the only Who record I owned when I first heard “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. It was late at night and the book I was reading fell to the floor as I sat up in bed and waited for the DJ to give me the particulars. I went straight for that Tommy record…dang, no “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. I bought it the next day. Now this might be the perfect rock record.

(First posted on Mark Is Cranky)

About Mark Saleski

  • Rob Ferrara

    You left out Deep Purple’s Machine Head and Jethro Tull’s Aqualung.

  • Al Barger

    In my part of the country, you’d absolutely have to have some Skynyrd (perhaps the Gold and Platinum hits)and some Bob Seger, perhaps Live Bullet.

    Oh, and of course Rumours and the Eagles Hotel California cannot be neglected.

    And I probably shouldn’t even invoke the dreaded Frampton Comes Alive.

  • Dave

    The only ones on the list that I ever owned were LZ4 and Who’s Next.

    Seems to me that Steve Miller, Tom Petty and Bob Seger belong on that list somewhere.

    As for the suggestion of Machine Head, did that outsell Made In Japan? The ‘hit’ version of Smoke On The Water was the live one, no?

  • Mark Saleski

    neither Machine Head nor Aqualung were big in my circle of friends.

    Made In Japan does have the ‘hit’ version…great album too. all that heavy duty organ.

    Al, you are so right about Skynyrd. i did kinda wear out my copy of the live record.

    heh, the ‘dreaded’ Frampton Comes Alive…i hate to say this but i’m on the verge of getting that danged anniversary version.

  • Tyler

    Great list Mark, though I’d have to add “Damn the Torpedoes” and perhaps “Running on Empty” which was very popular with the ladies…

  • The Theory

    yowza. At only 19 years of age most of this is recognizable, though unfamiliar. However, I do enjoy Who’s Next… and I did find Skynyrd’s “Gold and Platinum” at goodwill last week on vinyl for .75 so picked it up.

    Haven’t listened to it yet for a lack of proper equiptment.


  • Mark Saleski

    good to hear that a 19-yr old is into vinyl.

    very cool.

  • andy

    we start em young here in Lancaster PA. I’m only 23 and my vinyl collection can rival most ha!

  • Eric Olsen

    Very nice A, love the vinyl. Though CD’s have probably passed by now, I still have close to an equal number of records and CDs.

    Say hi to the Amish for me.

  • The Theory

    we would… but they scare the bejezus outta us…


  • Eric Olsen

    I hear they are all possessed by the spirit of John J. Luddite

  • Al Barger

    Just to add some fear and loathing to these festivities, should I mention the Grease soundtrack?


  • Tim Hall

    Al, you realise we will now have to kill you….

  • Eric Olsen

    Constraining this list to “classic rock” as we have done, it’s hunky dory, oops, no Bowie? A crime, crime of the century – okay no Supertramp. Anyway, without polluting the waters further, I have to disagree about SNF: it’s one of the great albums of the ’70s and every Bee Gee’s song on it a classic. You must invest in your groove, Mr. Mark!

  • Al Barger

    Sorry Tim. Perhaps I can redeem myself by invoking the omnipresence of “You Light Up My Life.”

  • Natalie




  • Al Barger

    BOC weren’t that big in my neighborhood. Kenny Rogers, though. You couldn’t get away from him.

    You got to know when to hold ‘em
    Know when to fold ‘em

  • Natalie

    Oops. I, um, fear I hit “send” too soon. The album, of course, is Agents of Misfortune.

  • Eric Olsen

    “AOF” is great, so was the next one, “Spectres”

  • Al Barger

    Perhaps you have somehow forgotten the Carpenters Singles 1969-1974 hits album?

    Sing, sing a song
    Make it simple to last your whole life long
    Don’t worry that it’s not good enough for anyone else to hear

  • Rodney Welch

    Thoughts on ubiquitous 1970s LPs — the good, the bad, and the if-you-play-that-again-I-must-shoot-you.

    *Linda Ronstadt, Prisoner in Disguise, Hasten Down the Wind,Simple Dreams, Livin’ in the U.S.A., Mad Love This covers the chart-topping peak of her career.

    *Besides being one of the great albums of the decade, Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life also had “I Wish” and “Sir Duke,” both of which got tons of airplay.

    *Rolling Stones, Some Girls

    *Kansas Leftoverture had “Carry On My Wayward Son,” and the follow-up, Point of No Return had “Dust in the Wind.” No, I am not arguing for their greatness; merely pointing out that barely a week went by during the years 1977-78 when one or both wasn’t on the radio.

    *Styx, Grand Illusion. I know, it sucked. And it sucked right until it was worn completely out.

    *I’m tempted to add the title track from Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run, although in fact it’s harder to get away from that song now than it was then. The Boss didn’t actually become a household name until Born in the U.S.A.

    *The Cars and The Pretenders. Two perfectly stunning debuts, arguably hitting peaks these great bands never reached again.

    *Bob Dylan, Slow Train Coming.

    *Warren Zevon, Excitable Boy. Actually, I was the only one I knew who had this, but I played it exhaustively.

    *Neil Young, Decade and Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits are two best-ofs that stayed — and have continued to stay — remarkably current.

    *Rickie Lee Jones. A glorious debut that should have led to a stratospheric career.

  • Natalie

    Oh, Rodney, excellent list! Styx indeed sucked big time. And my LPs indeed sucked until the grooves in the vinyl had grooves of their own.

    Count me in as another listener who was — and still is — excitable for Warren Zevon. And for Neil Young… I am playing insomniac tonight, and I’m off to grab my well-worn copy of Decade the minute after I hit “post.”

    And thank you for mentioning Rickie Lee Jones’ stunning debut.

    But damn you — damn all of you, in fact — for reminding me how OLD I am. Perhaps I should skip the Neil and put on Avril instead.


  • Mark Saleski

    Grease!!! thanks Al….i do believe said girlfriend tortured me with that one too.

  • andy

    come on guys. You know it’s all about Chicago II

  • Eric Olsen

    Great list Rod, though I would say it lies largely outside the rather narrow original purview. The ’70s is an abyss that should I fall in would require far too much effort to extract myself.

  • Felix Hunger

    And then the Ramones came, and sent all of the above mentioned turgid crap packing. That is, atleast for those with the slightest modicum of taste.

  • Mark Saleski

    Gabba Gabba Hey!

    i think Joey would have frowned on the use of the word ‘modicum’ in the same paragraph as ‘Ramones’.

  • Eric Olsen

    The whole pre-punk, punk, new wave thing is the elephant to which I was referring.


    Dude, it would be cool if you did a list like this for the eighties also. So, c’mon already, get off of your arse’s and entertain me!

  • Natalie

    Thank god for the Ramones.

    To the ’80s…

    Hey, ho! let’s go!

  • Natalie

    12 Inescapable LPs from the ’80s (some for better, some not):

    Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, Born in the USA – Justifiably the Boss; much heard, much misunderstood

    Guns ‘n Roses, Appetite for Destruction – brought young America to its knees, knees; Axl still hasn’t recovered

    Police, Synchronicity – a sleep trance, a dream dance, a great LP

    Huey Lewis & the News, Sports – made “square” hip and too damned ubiquitous for a while

    Journey, Escape – there was none

    Bon Jovi, Slippery When Wet – Jon Bongiovi was no Boss, but they were fun

    Michael Jackson, Thriller – Remember this when he gets too freaky for you

    Def Leppard, Hysteria & Pyromania – Bad for your health, but like Oreo cookies, I couldn’t get enough

    Duran Duran, Rio – Loads of style, very little substance; the videos were pretty, and the music was as ever-present as the Nagel cover art became

    Rush, Moving Pictures – The Canadian masters; God, I love Neal Peart

    AC/DC, Back in Black – Everywhere, and kicking ass all the way; I miss Angus’ short pants

  • Chris

    How can you have an 80′s list w/o Joshua Tree?

  • Natalie

    Ouch! Mea maxima culpa! And I love U2…

  • Natalie

    Oh — before someone yells, The Cure, New Order, A Flock of Seagulls, Psychedelic Furs, Depeche Mode, Modern English, etc… Popular stuff, but not mainstream enough IMO to be rendered inescapable.

    I’m still angry with myself about the unintended U2 omission. :(