*Indicates highest Billboard chart position
1. Loves Me Like a Rock - Paul Simon
Music and lyrics by Paul Simon. Paul Simon. BMI. Columbia 45907. ® 1973 Paul Simon. Produced under license from Warner Bros. Records Inc. No. 2*
2. Superfly - Curtis Mayfield
Music and lyrics by Curtis Mayfield. Warner-Tamerlane Pub. Corp. BMI. Curtom 1978. Courtesy of Curtom Records of Atlanta Inc. No. 8*
3. We're an American Band - Grand Funk Railroad
Music and lyrics by Don Brewer. Brew Music Co. BMI. Capitol 3660. ® 1973 Capitol Records. Inc. Courtesy of Capitol Records. Inc, under license from CEMA Special Markets. No.1*
4. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road - Elton John
Music and lyrics by Elton John and Bernie Taupin
Dick James Music. Inc. BMI. MCA 40148. ® 1973 This Record Co. Limited. Courtesy of MCA Records. Inc. No. 2"
5. Could It Be I'm Falling In Love - The Spinners
Music and lyrics by Melvin Steals and Mervin Steals.
Bellboy Music. BMI. Atlantic 2927. ® 1973 Atlantic Recording Corp. Produced under license from Atlantic Recording Corp. No. 4*
6. Love Train - The O'Jays
Music and lyrics by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. Assorted Music. BMI. Philadelphia International 3524. ® 1972 CBS Records. Inc. Produced under license from CBS Special Products, a Service of CBS Records, a Division of CBS Records. Inc. No. 1*
7. Brother Louie - Stories
Music and lyrics by Errol Brown and Anthony Wilson
Finchley Music Corp. ASCAP. Kama Sutra 577. Courtesy of Buddah Records, a Division of Essex Entertainment, Inc. No. 1*
8. Long Train Runnin' - The Doobie Brothers
Music and lyrics by Tom Johnston. Warner-Tamerlane Pub. Corp. BMI. Warner 7698. ® 1973 Warner Bros. Records Inc. Produced under license from Warner Bros. Records Inc. No. 8*
9. Ain't No Woman (Like the One I Got) - The Four Tops
Music and lyrics by Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter
Duchess Music (MCA). BMI. Dunhill 4339. Courtesy of MCA Records. Inc. No. 4*
10. Midnight Train to Georgia - Gladys Knight and the Pips
Music and lyrics by Jim Weatherly
T.B. Harms Co. ASCAP. Buddah 383. Courtesy of Buddah Records, a Division of Essex Entertainment. Inc. No. 1*
11. Right Place, Wrong Time - Dr. John
Music and lyrics by Mac Rebennack. Walden Music Inc/Cauldron Music/Woodstove Music Inc. ASCAP. Atco 6974. ® 1973 Atlantic Recording Corp. Produced under license from Atlantic Recording Corp. No. 9*
12. The Cisco Kid - War
Music and lyrics by Sylvester Allen, Harold R. Brown, Morris Dickerson, Leroy "Lonnie" Jordan, Charles W. Miller, Lee Oscar Levitin and Howard Scott. Far Out Music/TMC Music. ASCAP. United Artists 763. ® 1972 Ave. Inc/Far Out Productions. Courtesy of LAX Records c/o Original Sound Entertainment. No. 2*
13. Hello It's Me - Todd Rundgren
Music and lyrics by Todd Rundgren
Screen Gems-EMI Music. Inc. BMI. Bearsville 0009. @ 1972 Bearsville Records. Inc. Issued under license from Bearsville Records. Inc/ Rhino Records. Inc. No. 5*
14. Diamond Girl - Seals and Crofts
Music and lyrics by James Seals and Dash Crofts. Dawnbreaker Music. BMI. Warner 7708. ® 1973 Warner Bros. Records Inc. Produced under license from Warner Bros. Records Inc. No. 6*
15. Stuck In the Middle With You - Stealers Wheel
Music and lyrics by Joe Egan and Gerry Rafferty
Hudson Bay Music Co. BMI. A&M 1416. Courtesy of A&M Records. Inc. No. 6*
16. Smoke on the Water - Deep Purple
Music and lyrics by Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Jon Lord and Ian Paice. HEC Music. PRS. Warner 7710. @ 1972 Warner Bros. Records Inc. Produced under license from Warner Bros. Records Inc. No. 4*
17. Ramblln' Man - The Allman Brothers Band
Music and lyrics by Richard Betts. Unichappell Music, Inc/Forrest Richard Betts Music. BMI. Capricorn 0027. @ 1973 PolyGram Records. Inc. Courtesy of PolyGram Special Products. a Division of PolyGram Records. Inc. No. 2*
18. Let's Get It On - Marvin Gaye
Music and lyrics by Marvin Gaye and Edward Townsend. Jobete Music Co., Inc. ASCAP/Cherritown Music Publishing Co. BMI. Tamla 54234. @ 1973 Motown Record Company, L.P. Courtesy of Motown Record Company. L.P. No. 1*
19. Walk on the Wild Side - Lou Reed
Music and lyrics by Lou Reed. Dunbar Music Inc./Oakfield Avenue Music. BMI. RCA 0887. ® 1972 BMG Music. Courtesy of RCA Records label. under license from BMG Direct Marketing. Inc. No. 16*
TIME LIFE MUSIC
President: Paul R. Stewart
Executive Producer: Charles McCardell
Executive Committee: Eric R. Eaton, Marla Hoskins, Fernando Pargas
Recording Producer: Bill Inglot
Series Consultant: Joe Sasfy
Art Director: Robin Bray
Associate Producer: Robert Hull
Art Studio: Nina Bridges
Production Manager: Karen Hill
1973 was produced by Time-Life Music In cooperation with Warner Special Products. Digitally remastered at A & M; Ken Perry, engineer.
The Author: John Morthland has been an associate editor for Rolling Stone and Creem. He has freelanced for virtually every rock magazine published during the last 20 years.
Time-Life wishes to thank William L. Schurk of the Music Library and Sound Recordings Archives, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, for providing valuable reference material.
TIME-LIFE MUSIC is a division of Time-Life Books Inc. © 1990 Time-Life Books Inc. All rights reserved. Printed In U.S.A. TIME-LIFE is a trademark of Time Incorporated U.S.A.
Cover art by Dennis Ziemienski.
© 1990 Time-life Books Inc.
Picture credit: Back panel photo of The O'Jays courtesy Michael Ochs Archives, Venice, Calif.
Manufactured for Time-Life Music by Warner Special Products, a Warner Communications Company.
© 1990 Warner Special Products
WARNER SPECIAL PRODUCTS
While the years between 1972 and 1976-77 (the advent of punk) are considered to be rock's dog days, interesting music did emerge during this supposedly fallow period, When old standbys fail to deliver, room opens up for new bands, for one-hit wonders and for hit singles from unlikely veterans, In other words, there is novelty, which has always been essential to rock 'n' roll's survival. Novelty visited 1973, time and time again.
Consider Stories, whose Brother Louie was the most unlikely No, 1 song of 1973, This tale of a black man in love with a white girl (which included in its hook a bow to the frat-rock anthem Louie, Louie) was written and originally recorded by Hot Chocolate, an interracial British soul band, Hot Chocolate took their song to No, 7 on the charts in England early in 1973. Michael Brown, the leader of Stories, was once a member of the '60s pop band the Left Banke, who had hit with Pretty Ballerina and Walk Away Renee. Brown had his group cut Brother Louie for their second album with lead vocals by Ian Lloyd.
(Brown and Lloyd had & been introduced to each other by their fathers, who were violinists working the same session.)
Brown quit the group before the second album was even finished, and Brother Louie proved to be Stories’ only Top-40 single.
Lou Reed, founding father of the Velvet Underground (the first rock group to sing openly of heroin, sadomasochism and homosexuality), bitterly parted ways with his band in 1970. He retreated to England the next year to work on a solo career and soon came under the spell of David Bowie, who had made androgyny and other themes of the Velvets fashionable to the general public. Transformer, Reed's second solo album, was produced by Bowie and his guitarist Mick Ronson and included Walk on the Wild Side. The song was Reed's ode to Andy Warhol and the bohemian New York crowd to whose lives the Velvets had supplied a sound track.
Some bands prospered without hit singles. The Allman Brothers, with their fluid, dual-guitar jams that borrowed from blues and country, had personified Southern rock since their 1969 debut album. In 1971 leader Duane Allman, the finest guitarist in the South (if not the world), died in a motorcycle accident. Almost exactly a year later, bassist Berry Oakley died in a similar spill just three blocks away. The survivors regrouped under the leadership of Dickey Betts and Gregg Allman (Duane's brother). Betts had a softer approach to guitar than Duane, and he wrote the band's first chart single, Ramblin' Man, which echoed a traditional Southern theme. Brothers and Sisters, the No. 1 album that included the hit was dedicated to Oakley.
Deep Purple surfaced in 1968 as a pseudoclassical pop band and then evolved into a heavy-metal guitar outfit (fronted by Ritchie Blackmore). By the mid-70s, the Guinness Book of World Records had listed them as the loudest band. Smoke on the Water, which was about a fire that interrupted a live recording session in Montreux, Switzerland, was their first Top-40 record since their two singles in 1968, Hush and Kentucky Woman. The song actually appeared in four different versions – long and short studio takes, and long and short live takes.
Grand Funk Railroad was the era's reigning arena-rock band. They were conceived in 1969 as a crude, bruising power trio named after the Grand Trunk Railroad in their native Flint, Michigan. In 1970, they sold out Shea Stadium in New York City quicker than the Beatles had. Grand Funk Railroad scored five gold albums in two years in America while remaining unknown overseas. Then in 1972, they dumped their Svengalian manager-producer Terry Knight and added a keyboard player. They took on clever popmeister Todd Rundgren as producer and cleaned up and tightened their sound for the singles market.
We're An American Band was written by drummer Don Brewer after a besotted late-night argument with tourmates Humble Pie, in a bar in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The song touched off a string of successful collaborations with Rundgren, although it was the only No.1 single for Grand Funk, as they now called themselves. The references to all-night poker, hotel-wrecking and dalliances with a Little Rock groupie just about summed up the early '70s ethos of these rock marauders. (Rundgren, meanwhile, had a left-field hit of his own when he remade Hello It's Me, initially a hit in 1969 for Nazz, the Beatlesque Philadelphia harmony group he helped found.)
Dr. John had begun his career as a New Orleans session guitarist and pianist in the mid-'50s. He had released a few singles under his real name of Mac Rebennack before moving to Los Angeles in the mid-'60s. By the end of that decade, he had donned robes and a headdress to masquerade as "Dr. John the Night Tripper," who mixed mysterious musical textures with New Orleans voodoo lyrics to become an underground sensation. In 1972, he shelved the hokum and released a tribute to the classic Crescent City R & B sound of Fats Domino, Smiley Lewis and Professor Longhair. He came back the next year with In the Right Place, produced by Allen Toussaint. With the Meters as backup band, the album yielded a fluke hit, Right Place, Wrong Time.
In black music, the trends were toward seminal disco, middle-of-the-road soul and the topical song; sometimes those trends overlapped. After 1972's hard-edged Back Stabbers, the O'Jays seemed to be more forgiving on Love Train. The song actually contained a plea for unity in Third World trouble spots.
Gladys Knight and the Pips, who made their debut in 1961, scored their 25th chart entry and their first No.1 with the soft, silky Midnight Train to Georgia. Jim Weatherly, who wrote the song based on a conversation with a friend, had recorded it first as a country-pop ballad called Midnight Plane to Houston for an independent label. Atlanta producer Sonny Limbo rewrote the lyrics for Cissy Houston (mother of Whitney, first cousin to Dionne Warwick), whose version Gladys Knight, an Atlanta native herself, eclipsed.
The Spinners, who had been around (as the Detroit Spinners) since 1957, came to Atlantic Records courtesy of Aretha Franklin and quickly hooked up with producer Thom Bell. With Phillipe Wynne taking over leads, the group updated the traditional black harmony sound on their 1973 album, The Spinners, which spawned four hit singles, including Could It Be I'm Falling In Love. Their fellow Motown alumni, the Four Tops, were in the midst of updating their classic sound on such sides as Ain't No Woman. Curtis Mayfield, the lead voice and writer behind the Impressions from 1958 to 1970, contributed the title song to the "blaxploitation" flick Superfly, which glorified a dope dealer about whom Curtis was ambivalent.
And then there was Marvin Gaye. His Let's Get It On album was a celebration of eros that sought to reconcile his notion of perfect sex, and perfect love, with his strict Apostolic upbringing. As Gaye was recording co-producer Ed Townsend's title song, Townsend's friend Janis Hunter, the daughter of jazz hipster Slim Gaillard, visited the studio. At 16, Janis was 17 years younger than Gaye, then still enmeshed in a bad marriage with a woman (Anna Gordy, Motown president Berry Gordy's sister) 17 years his senior. But Gaye loved Janis at first sight and directed the song to her as a plea for transcendent sex and love. Marvin and Janis were soon inseparable, and they married in 1977.
- John Morthland