*Indicates highest Billboard chart position
1. Can't Get Enough - Bad Company
Music and lyrics by Mick Ralphs
Badco Music, Inc. ASCAP. Swan Song 70015. ® 1974 Swan Song Inc. Produced under license from Atlantic Recording Corp. No. 5*
2. Show and Tell - Al Wilson
Music and lyrics by Jerry Fuller.
Fullness Music Co. BMI. Rocky Road 30073. ® 1972 Rocky Road Records. Courtesy of Original Sound Entertainment. No. 7*
3. Come and Get Your Love - Redbone
Music and lyrics by Lolly Vegas
EMI Blackwood Music, Inc./ Novalene Music. BMI. Epic 11035. ® 1973 CBS Records Inc. Produced under license from CBS Special Products, a Service of CBS Inc, a Division of CBS Records, Inc. No. 5*
4. I Shot the Sheriff - Eric Clapton
Music and lyrics by Bob Marley
Cayman Music Inc. ASCAP. RSO 409. ® 1974 PolyGram Records, Inc. Courtesy of PolyGram Special Products, a Division of PolyGram Records, Inc. No. 1*
5. Help Me - Joni Mitchell
Music and lyrics by Joni Mitchell. Crazy Crow Music. BMI. Asylum 11034. ® 1974 Asylum Records. Produced under license from Elektra Entertainment. No. 7*
6. I Can Help - Billy Swan
Music and lyrics by Billy Swan.
Combine Music Corp. BMI. Monument 8621. ® 1974 CBS Records, Inc. Produced under license from CBS Special Products, a Service of CBS Records, a Division of CBS Records, Inc. No. 1*
7. Sha-La-La (Make Me Happy) - Al Green
Music and lyrics by Al Green. Irving Music, Inc/Al Green Music, Inc. BMI. Hi 2274. ® 1977 Hi Records. Courtesy of Hi Records. No. 7*
8. Rock the Boat - The Hues Corporation
Music and lyrics by Waldo Holmes. Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp./Jimi Lane Music. BMI. RCA 0232. ® 1973 BMG Music. Courtesy of the RCA Records label, under license from BMG Direct Marketing, Inc. No.1*
9. Bennie and the Jets - Elton John
Music and lyrics by Elton John and Bernie Taupin. Dick James Music Inc. BMI. MCA 40198. ® 1973 This Record Co. Limited. Courtesy of MCA Records, Inc. No. 7*
10. Midnight Rider - Gregg Allman
Music and lyrics by Gregg Allman. Unichappell Music/Elijah Blue Music. BMI. Capricorn 0035. Courtesy of PolyGram Special Products, a Division of PolyGram Records, Inc. No. 19*
11. Sweet Home Alabama - Lynyrd Skynyrd
Music and lyrics by Ronnie Van Zant, Edward King and Gary Rossington. Hustlers Inc/Duchess Music Corp. BMI/Leeds Music Corp. ASCAP. MCA 40258. ® 1974 MCA Records, Inc. Courtesy of MCA Records, Inc. No. 8*
12. The Loco-Motion - Grand Funk
Music and lyrics by Gerry Goffin and Carole King. Screen Gems-EMI Music, Inc. BMI. Capitol 3840. ® 1974 Capitol Records, Inc. Courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc, under license from CEMA Special Markets. No. 1*
13. Smokin' In The Boys' Room - Brownsville Station
Music and lyrics by Michael Lutz and Michael Kodo. Big Leaf Music (Adm. by Walden Music Inc.). ASCAP. Big Tree 16011. Produced under license from Atlantic Recording Corp. No. 3*
14. Rikki Don't Lose That Number - Steely Dan
Music and lyrics by Donald Fagen and Walter Becker. MCA Music. ASCAP. ABC 77439. ® 1974 ABC Records, Inc. Courtesy of MCA Records, Inc. No. 4*
15. Rock On - David Essex
Music and lyrics by David Essex. SBK April Music Inc. ASCAP. Columbia 45940. ® 1974 CBS Records, Inc. Produced under license from CBS Special Products, a Service of CBS Records, a Division of CBS Records, Inc. No. 5*
16. Midnight At The Oasis - Maria Muldaur
Music and lyrics by David Nichtern. Space Potato Music. ASCAP. Reprise 1183. ® 1973 Warner Bros. Records Inc. Produced under license from Warner Bros. Records Inc. No. 6*
17. Kung Fu Fighting - Carl Douglas
Music and lyrics by Carl Douglas. Chappell and Co, Inc. ASCAP. 20th Century 2140. ® 1974 20th Century Fox. Courtesy of Castle Communications Ltd. No. 1*
18. Keep On Smilin' - Wet Willie
Music and lyrics by Jack Hall, Jimmy Hall, Ricky Hirsch, John Anthony and Lewis Ross. No Exit Music. BMI. Capricorn 0043. ® 1974 Capricorn Records, Inc. Courtesy of PolyGram Special Products, a Division of PolyGram Records, Inc. No. 10*
19. Then Came You - Dionne Warwick and the Spinners
Music and lyrics by Sherman Marshall and Phillip Pugh. Mighty Three Music. BMI. Atlantic 3202. ® 1974 Atlantic Recording Corp. Produced under license from Atlantic Recording Corp. No. 1*
20. The Bitch Is Back - Elton John
Music and lyrics by Elton John and Bernie Taupin. Big Pig Music (Adm. by Intersong USA Inc.). ASCAP. MCA 40297. ® 1974 This Record Co. Limited. Courtesy of MCA Records, Inc. No. 4*
TIME LIFE MUSIC
President: Paul R. Stewart
Executive Vice President: John Hall
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
1974 was produced by Time-Life Music in cooperation with Warner Special Products. Digitally remastered at K-Disc, Hollywood, Calif.; 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 TimeLife Books Inc. AU rights reserved. Printed in U.S.A. TIME-LIFE is a trademark of Time Incorporated U.S.A.
Cover art by Enzo Messi and Urs Schmidt.
© 1990 Time-life Books Inc.
Picture credit: Back panel photo of Redbone 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
In the wake of the '60s boom, rock began moving from clubs, ballrooms and theaters into arenas and outdoor stadiums. At the same time, it was growing louder and harder, as if that were the only sound that could fill these venues. The emergence of Bad Company illustrates how powerful the impact of had become. Though not the first "supergroup" (that term was coined around 1968 to describe various Al Kooper projects as well as the group Blind Faith), this English quartet was arguably the first group put together with the arena in mind.
Lead singer Paul Rodgers came from Free, as did drummer Simon Kirke. Guitarist Mick Ralphs was the central player in Mott the Hoople, and bassist Boz Burrell was a King Crimson alumnus. They took their name from a 1972 Jeff Bridges film, and their debut album, cut in 10 days in Ronnie Lane's mobile studio, was a crunching simplification of Led Zeppelin's British bluesrock style. Not coincidentally, it was released on Led Zep's Swan Song label, and Bad Company was managed by Zep's head honcho, Peter Grant. Can't Get Enough helped make them the most successful new band of 1974. They were hardly alone, however. Grand Funk Railroad, one of the first bands popular enough to fill the stadiums, continued to penetrate the charts with remakes of proven oldies. In fact, their version of The Loco-Motion was the second song of the rock era to become No.1 twice; Little Eva, the babysitter of the song's writers, Gerry Goffin and Carole King, had taken it all the way to the top in 1962. (The other two-time chart topper, Go Away Little Girl, by Steve Lawrence in 1962 and Donny Osmond in 1971, was also written by Goffin and King.) During this period, Grand Funk used The Loco-Motion as its concert encore number, projecting film footage of a train collision behind them as they played the song.
Arena-rock took other forms, too. Elton John, for example, was no hard rocker, but his audience had grown to the point where he could fill huge venues anyway. Some of his triumphs were unlikely. The follow-up single to Goodbye Yellow Brick Road's title tune was supposed to be the Marilyn Monroe tribute Candle in the Wind, but a black Detroit DJ began playing Bennie and the Jets from the album. MCA then released the song stateside as the new single with Candle in the Wind as the B side: it became John's first soul hit as well as going No. 1. The Bitch Is Back, by John's standards, rocked harder and was perhaps even written with the arena in mind.
Eric Clapton's I Shot the Sheriff and the 467 Ocean Boulevard album were the product of his return to the studio for the first time in nearly four years, following a heroin addiction he conquered with the help of a new process called electro-acupuncture. The album was cut at Criteria Studios in Miami (its title is the address of the house where Clapton lived during the sessions). Studio guitarist George Terry suggested that Clapton cut Bob Marley's I Shot the Sheriff, a plausible move given that Miami and London (where Clapton was from) were two of the pop markets where reggae had some impact. According to Marley, the enigmatic lyrics meant "I shot wickedness." He wanted to use the word "police" instead of sheriff but feared government reprisal. "But it's still the same idea – justice!" he said. (He also revealed that it was the sheriff who shot the deputy because the latter was "a good guy.") Though Marley still had problems getting air play for his own music (even in Jamaica), Clapton's single helped popularize reggae worldwide.
The Allman Brothers, heretofore the Southern standard-bearers for arena-rock, were in the process of breaking up, though the world-weary Midnight Rider, from Gregg Allman's solo album, was a laid-back update of their sound.
The Allman Brothers' banner was picked up by Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Jacksonville, Florida, rockers whose first major exposure came when they opened gigs on the Who's Quadrophenia tour. Sweet Home Alabama was Skynyrd frontman Ronnie Van Zant's confused and soul-stirring response to Neil Young's chastising Southern Man. The irony is that the two men admired each other immensely; Van Zant was often spotted wearing Neil Young T-shirts, and Young wrote several tunes intended for Skynyrd (none were ever recorded). Wet Willie's Keep On Smilin', which proved to be that band's only hit, went back to the bars in representing the soul-oriented branch of Southern rock.
There were still a number of novelties, none bigger than Billy Swan's fluid, rockabilly-based groove I Can Help. When he was 16, Swan wrote a poem for English class called Lover Please that became a Clyde McPhatter hit in 1962. Swan made his way to Memphis and then Nashville, where he played guitar in the first edition of Kinky Friedman's Texas Jewboys and in Kris Kristofferson's band. (He also inherited. Kristofferson's job as custodian at the CBS studios on Music Row.) He composed I Can Help more or less on the spot after Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge gave him an organ as a wedding present, recording the tune in two takes (without overdubs).
Brownsville Station's Smokin' In the Boys' Room was writer-guitarist Cub Koda's tribute to his childhood practice of sneaking cigarettes on Friday nights at the Clinton Theater in Detroit. Rikki Don't Lose That Number made explicit the cerebral Steely Dan's debt to classic jazz. British teen heartthrob David Essex made his debut with Rock On, which exploited the nostalgia themes of his plays and his two movies, 1973's That'll Be the Day (with Ringo Starr and Keith Moon) and 1975's Stardust (with Ringo Starr and Dave Edmunds). The infectious Come and Get Your Love was the sole top-10 hit for Redbone, a band made up of American Indians (their name is a Cajun epithet for half-breed), who sometimes wore traditional native American garb onstage. The lascivious Midnight at the Oasis proved to be Maria Muldaur's only top-10 record; previously, she had been virtually unknown outside folk circles. And Help Me caught the reigning queen of folk, Joni Mitchell, switching to electric instruments to create a more sophisticated pop sound.
The year's biggest novelty in black music was Carl Douglas's Kung Fu Fighting. Douglas was born in Jamaica but educated in the U.S. and England. Indian-born producer Biddu hired him to sing a Larry Weiss tune for release as a British single because the pair had worked together a couple of years earlier on the sound track to Richard Roundtree's film Embassy. Stuck for a B side, they cut Kung Fu Fighting, which Douglas, long a judo fan, had written for the newest martial arts fad and its icon, Bruce Lee. It was the B side that broke through in British dance clubs and then hopped across the Atlantic to America.
During the summer, the Spinners opened a five-week theater tour, including some Las Vegas dates, for Dionne Warwick. That gave producer Thom Bell the idea of teaming them up for Then Came You, which gave each act its first No.1 pop record ever.
In October 1974, Al Green, then at the peak of his popularity, was taking a shower in his Memphis home when ex-girlfriend Mary Woodson burst in, threw hot grits on him and then shot herself to death. Green suffered second-degree burns. When he was ordained pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle Church in 1976, this event was cited as the turning point in his life. Although Green always maintained that his spiritual transformation was already well under way by then, Sha-La-La (Make Me Happy), released only a week after the tragedy, did turn out to be one of the last purely secular singles of his tumultuous career.
- John Morthland