And it feels like 1974
Waiting for the waves to come and crash on the shore
But you're far in land
You're in funky denim wonderland
You and David Crosby and a bloke with no hand
You've got hair in places
Most people haven't got brains
-Robyn Hitchcock "1974"
All Music Guide currently has a list of its critics' favorite albums from 1974. Off the top of my head, I probably would have said 1974 was a terrible year for rock music, perhaps for music in general. When I think of 1974, I think of The Doobie Brothers, Supertramp and Jethro Tull, and not to pick on them, but I just don't much care for their music. In my mind 1974 was a time when the innovations of the 60s had given way to the excesses of progressive rock or mellow tedium of singer songwriters. When I think of 1974, I tend to think of the kind of music punk rock was a reaction against.
But looking over the All Music critics' lists, I was surprised how many albums I really love were released in 1974: Brian Eno - Here Come the Warm Jets and Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy), Big Star - Radio City, Richard & Linda Thompson - I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight, Neil Young - On the Beach, Roxy Music - Country Life, Gene Clark - No Other, Shuggie Otis - Inspiration Information, John Cale - Fear, Elis Regina & Antonio Carlos Jobim - Elis & Tom, Betty Davis - They Say I’m Different, Merle Haggard - If We Make It Through December, George Jones - The Grand Tour, Funkadelic - Standing on the Verge of Getting It On, Parliament - Up for the Down Stroke, Stevie Wonder - Fulfillingness’ First Finale, Miles Davis - Get Up with It, Dark Magus and Big Fun, Herbie Hancock - Thrust and Head Hunters, The Residents - Meet the Residents, Electric Light Orchestra - Eldorado, Sweet - Desolation Boulevard.
And as far as I could tell none of All Music's critics even listed Gram Parsons' Grievous Angel (seriously?), Terry Callier's I Just Can't Help Myself, Van Morrison's Veedon Fleece (??), Sly Stone's Small Talk, Bob Dylan's Planet Waves, Al Green Explores Your Mind by Al Green, Ry Cooder's Paradise And Lunch, David Bowie's Diamond Dogs (okay, that one makes sense) or Love's under-rated Reel To Real (no surprise). And I don't doubt there are a bunch more albums from 1974 that haven't even crossed my mind. So upon further reflection, I have to admit 1974 was a great year for music, even if the best of it was bubbling under the surface of the pop charts.