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1973

October 7, 2021

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[Albums 930 – 936 / 1001]

Of the ‘1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die,’ 30 are from the year 1973.

I’ve reviewed all but seven of them so far.

The last bunch of non-reviewed albums from 1973: David Bowie – Aladdin Sane, King Crimson – Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, Faust – Faust IV, Lou Reed – Berlin, John Cale – Paris 1919, Hawkwind – Space Ritual, Todd Rundgren – A Wizard, a True Star.

Which 1973 albums are the most essential to hear again?

Ranked by their essential-ness, here’s how I’d prioritize revisiting these 30 albums, enjoy!

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30. The Incredible Bongo Band – Bongo Rock. Not to be confused with the Incredible String Band (also on the list).

29. Waylon Jennings – Honky Tonk Heroes. Any album with tunes that remind me of a Refreshments / Pogues combo can’t be all that bad.

28. Faust – Faust IV.

27. Todd Rundgren – A Wizard, a True Star.

26. Lou Reed – Berlin.

25. John Cale – Paris 1919.

I can’t recall too many individual tracks from these four albums.

Perhaps that’s the sign of a consistent record, where the whole matters more than the parts?

Or perhaps I was a bit like my students last year during the ‘octomester’ format (where they had 1 class, all day, from 8:15-2:30). After a certain point, they just couldn’t absorb any more math / accounting / etc…and maybe I hit that point as I approached the end of the 1001 list.

For many of the final new-to-me albums, I was likely in checklist mode, hearing them the requisite number of times, but likely not listening all that closely.

24. John Martyn – Solid Air. I expected to like it & my expectations were exceeded.

23. Genesis – Selling England By The Pound. Their 1st of 2 on the list.

22. The Isley Brothers – 3+3. Math + Music, sign me up.

21. Lynyrd Skynyrd – Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd. Or as SuperNintendo Chalmers would say, Skinnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnner(d)!

20. Can – Future Days. 2nd of 2 Can albums on the list – and as luck would have it, there are no albums on the list by any artist named “Baby.” Therefore, with regard to albums on the 1001 list, Keanu’s immortal quote from Speed applies!

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19. Roxy Music – For Your Pleasure. Their 2nd of 3 on the list, though the final one with Brian Eno.

18. ZZ Top – Tres Hombres. Though I’m sure I’ll watch their Back To The Future III cameo again before too long.

17. The Sensational Alex Harvey Band – Next. Perhaps the least modest artist name on the list.

16. Hawkwind – Space Ritual.

15. King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues in Aspic.

According to my spreadsheets, Space Ritual was the last ‘new-to-me’ album that I listened to for the 1001 albums project.

And I’ll wager that it will be far from the last of the 1001 that I’ll eventually revisit.

Ditto for King Crimson – though I listened to it slightly before Hawkwind and I’ll probably revisit King Crimson slightly sooner as well.

14. Steely Dan – Countdown to Ecstasy. I think of this album (and band) as my musical broccoli: I didn’t have much use for it when I was younger, but I’m a big fan now!

13. Herbie Hancock – Head Hunters. Can’t argue with that kind of alliteration.

12. Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells. I’m not sure why it works, but it does!

11. New York Dolls – New York Dolls. A memorable debut.

10. Mott the Hoople – Mott. I like when groups find that optimal 70/30 balance, of 70% sounding like several other artists but still sounding 30% unique & original!

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9. Bob Marley & The Wailers – Catch a Fire. 1st of 3 on the list.

8. Alice Cooper – Billion Dollar Babies. Perhaps my favourite interviewee, always entertaining & articulate.

7. Paul McCartney & Wings – Band on the Run. McCartney’s final 1001 appearance.

6. Marvin Gaye – Let’s Get It On. The High Fidelity association only helps its cause.

5. Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon. Is there more iconic album art?

4. Iggy and The Stooges – Raw Power. With a couple more Iggy-solo albums still to come.

3. Stevie Wonder – Innervisions. Featuring my favourite track of the 1970s, Living for the City.

2. Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Especially the brilliant 11+ minute opener, Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding.

1. David Bowie – Aladdin Sane.

I’ve been trying to find the words to describe this album for years (as shown in the 3 failed draft attempts below).

But I’ve realized that when I’m so impressed with an album that I can’t find suitable descriptions to do it justice, it’s possible that being speechless (or typed-wordless?) is just about the highest praise there is.

I’d like to think that’s the case here as Aladdin Sane is just that impressive.

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Verbalize the Positive

If Alice Cooper is my favourite musical interviewee, the late great Norm MacDonald has to be my favourite interviewee period.

Too many amazing moments to count, but as I’ve since learned that the ‘Moth joke’ was basically a 20-second joke stretched into a 7-minute segment, it might be one of his best!

From → 1970s

15 Comments
  1. I think, and I’d have to sort by year to confirm, that there are more 1973 albums in the VC Collection than any other year. Though “Bongo Rock” is not one of them (I reckon they were taking the mickey with that one). So thanks for illustrating what a task I’ll be facing in a couple of years!

    Fascinated to see “Aladdin Sane” in pole position. I wonder where it would place in your TBA (Top Bowie albums)? As for the entire list, it sure is diverse. Suffice to say that five of your bottom ten would be very strong contenders for my top ten, while ten of those from the book would escape inclusion in the VC 1001 Albums To Hear Before Your Turntable Dies. So much music, so many lists. 🤪

    • The TBA acronym for Top Bowie Albums is apt – as it would be To Be Adjusted depending on mood!
      I think Aladdin Sane / Hunky Dory / Ziggy would be mainstays in the Top 5, but from time to time, Low or Heroes could surpass one or more of them.
      And I like that twist on the title, while the turntable survives, these are the essential albums to hear!

  2. I would say that you are probably right in having Bowie #1. Not being able to find words to describe is high praise. Because I find even if an album truly sucks, there is always a nasty descriptive to be used. When I see Alice tonight, I will let him know he is your favorite music interviewee. Now, I am about 20 rows back so he might not hear me.

    • Alice live! He’s on my to-see list, I imagine he put on a stellar show. Looking forward to hearing/reading about it soon, John!

      • It was awesome. Just finished writing the reviews. His show and Ace’s will be up Monday!!

  3. Man, that 4-5-6 sitting there… I’d struggle to order those, except maybe as 1-2-3.

    • I guess it’s like the ’93 Blue Jays Batting order “WHAMCO” – where you can’t miss anywhere in the 1-6 slots!

      • Exactly! Thought I never much cared for the A in that equation, I know he was a good player.

        The Stones from 1968-1974 were unbeatable… and yes, that’s including Goats Head Soup lol.

  4. My favourites are pretty low this week – Cale and Rundgren. Aladdin Sane is fine but I like Ziggy a lot more.

    • And ‘low’ on the list is misleading, as it’s not necessarily the others are note-for-note superior, I just find I’m unlikely to revisit.
      With Ziggy, it had the misfortune of being released in the ridiculously strong 1972, in another year it may have been a #1 too!

  5. The only album you need from 73 is Space Ritual, the other albums are nice to have but Space Ritual will fill all the gaps. I am not sure I really mean that but I said it. Aladdin Sane is incredible if for the name alone.

    • I’m happy to hear that, Neil – since Space Ritual was the last ‘new-to-me’ album that I listened to on the list, it sounds like it was the right note to end on!
      And with your line ‘I am not sure what I really mean’ I was reminded of Catcher in the Rye, I recall Holden said something along the lines of ‘I’m not sure what I mean by that but I really mean it’ – and that’s a favourable reference point!

  6. Some great albums on your list Geoff. ZZ…Macca…Coop. Those words for Bowie will come when you don’t expect it too.
    Three cheers for watching the stream last night. Thanks

    • I enjoyed the discussion – interesting hearing about the tracks that didn’t do much for you guys at the time have grown on you over the years.
      I’ve had that feeling with early 2000s radiohead as well – at the time, where are the guitars?! but now, I’ve become a big fan of those albums too

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