Our Greatest Albums Of The 70s, numbers 86-81
86) EQUINOX – Styx (A&M, 1975)
Was a Tommy Shaw-less Styx unthinkable? Pah! This album featured the guitarist’s predecessor, John Curulewski, and it was a masterful hybrid of fustian pomp and searing hard rock. From the splifftastic Light Up, via the emotion-packed Lorelei, to the buccaneering Born For Adventure, here Styx came of age, paving the way for more lauded classics such as 1977’s The Grand Illusion.
What they said at the time: “Pomp rock lives… run to the hills!” Sounds
85) GOOD SINGIN’ GOOD PLAYIN’ – Grand Funk Railroad (MCA, 1976)
The world rejoiced when Grand Funk Railroad – archetypal exponents of dullard American blue-collar hard rock – split in ’76. But then something totally unexpected happened. Frank Zappa persuaded them to re-form and make this LP, which bizarrely mixed avant-garde Freak Out! sensibilities with trademark GFR bludgeon. Zappa produced – and even played a scintillating guitar solo on Out To Get You. The Railroad never sounded so Funkin’ good.
What they said at the time: “For the first time on record you can hear Grand Funk Railroad… and they’re fantastic, f-a-a-a-ntastic, with an ‘F’ three times taller than you!” Frank Zappa
84) SUNBURST FINISH – Be-Bop Deluxe (Harvest, 1976)
Guitarist/vocalist Bill Nelson’s decision to bring in keyboard player Andy Clark for the band’s third LP was a bright move, resulting in a near-perfect balance of busy art-rock and proggy ambition. This hook-heavy collection produced a UK Top 30 hit with Ships In The Night.
What they said at the time: “The sci-fi fantasies of Bill Nelson translated into rock make a comfortable alternative to much of today’s drivel.” __ Melody Maker
83) NO DICE – Badfinger (Apple, 1970)
For just a heartbeat, Brit melodicists Badfinger seemed tailor-made to replace The Beatles, with the Pete Ham/Tom Evans partnership cranking out solid-gold pop-rock like No Matter What and Believe Me. The ubiquitous Without You endures – it’s been covered by over 180 artists – but the band’s tragic early demise probably stopped No Dice entering the pantheon.
What they said at the time: “It’s as if John, Paul, George and Ringo had been reincarnated as Joey, Pete, Tom and Mike of Badfinger.” Rolling Stone
82) DETECTIVE – Detective (Swan Song, 1977)
We agonised long and hard whether to include Silverhead or Detective in our list, both being fronted by decadent rock toff Michael Des Barres. The former band operated at the hooligan end of the glam-rock spectrum; the latter enjoyed the patronage of Led Zeppelin and purveyed a massive Kashmir-style sound. So Detective it is, then. If you’re unfamiliar with their work, investigate the track One More Heartache where Des Barres proved he had lungs as big as a brace of barrage balloons.
What they said at the time: “Echoes of Led Zeppelin rampage through the whole record.” NME
81) HOW DARE YOU! – 10cc (Mercury, 1975)
Uncompromised by predecessor The Original Soundtrack and its monster hit I’m Not In Love, 10cc’s fourth album – and last with Godley and Creme before they left to conduct their own musical experiments – was bursting with multi-faceted, degree-level compositions that left lesser bands eating their intellectual dust. Who else could craft a pop smash out of a plane crash (I’m Mandy Fly Me), knock out a breezy ode to dictatorship (I Wanna Rule The World), or turn frigidity into 20s tea-dance fun (Iceberg)? As complex and intriguing as the Hipgnosis sleeve that housed it.
What they said at the time: “Blazingly bright, brashly witty… trains of thought unimaginable for a rock’n’roll band.” Phonograph Record