For this instalment of my top ten albums of the year I’m going back forty years to 1975. I was only 7 years old at the time, so the majority of this list has been discovered retrospectively once I started with my musical obsession at the start of the 80s…
1. Bruce Springsteen “Born To Run”
I first discovered Springsteen’s music through his mega-hit 1984 album “Born In The U.S.A.” and subsequent live box set “Live 1975-85”, and it on the latter that I first heard a good portion of his breakthrough third album “Born To Run”.
Whilst my favourite Springsteen albums are from his late 80s / early 90s period, this is still an undisputed classic album, and the indispensable tracks here include “Thunder Road”, “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out”, “Backstreets”, “Born To Run” and the epic “Jungleland”.
2. Eagles “One Of These Nights”
In the case of the Eagles it was through their greatest hits album that I was introduced to their music, with three of them coming from this, their fourth studio album.
“One Of These Nights” and “Take It To The Limit” are classic hits and “After The Thrill Is Gone” and the instrumental “Journey Of The Sorcerer” other high points, but the absolute highlight of this album is without doubt the near perfect hit song “Lyin’ Eyes” – great lyrics, perfect harmonies and always brilliant to sing along to.
3. Fleetwood Mac “Fleetwood Mac”
This album saw the band enter its third era following the initial Peter Green blues years and subsequent less revered period.
The first record to feature the now-classic line-up of Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Christine McVie and new recruits Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, this one was hugely successful and featured three hit singles in “Over My Head”, “Say You Love Me” and Nicks’ mystical “Rhiannon” as well as the beautiful and delicate “Landslide”.
4. Geoff Love & His Orchestra “Big Bond Movie Themes”
Now this is one that I did discover back in the 70s, though likely not for a few years after it first came out. Being a big fan of James Bond films for as long as I can remember I loved everything about this album – the music, the great arrangements and, of course, the brilliant 70s cover art.
I think it was the version of “Live And Let Die” that first struck a chord, but there really isn’t a duff track here. There are likely far more critically acclaimed and commercial successful album released in 1975, but this one will always have a place in my top ten of the year.
5. Led Zeppelin “Physical Graffiti”
Led Zeppelin’s sixth studio album, “Physical Graffiti” was originally intended to contain just 8 songs. However, once it became clear that they would not fit onto one vinyl record the band decided to add some tracks recorded during sessions for their previous three albums and make this a double record set containing 15 songs.
A mammoth album in every sense this is constantly jostling for position as number one Zeppelin album in my mind – fighting with “III” and “IV” for that honour. Musically all bases are covered from the epic “Kashmir” to the delicate “Bron-Yr-Aur” but every track here is essential!
6. Pink Floyd “Wish You Were Here”
Following up the much celebrated classic “Dark Side Of The Moon” can’t have been an easy task, but despite what they described as tortuous and difficult time Pink Floyd rose to the challenge with “Wish You Were Here”.
Bookended by a brilliant 25 minute epic split into two sections, “Shine On You Crazy Diamond Parts I-V” and “…Parts VI-IX”, were three other tracks – “Welcome To The Machine”, “Have A Cigar” and the superb title track. Classics all, making this one of the very best Floyd records.
7. Queen “A Night At The Opera”
Released at the tail end of the year, Queen’s fourth album was reputedly the most expensive album ever recorded at that point.
A critical and commercial success, the record contained two hit singles in “You’re My Best Friend” and the band’s most famous song “Bohemian Rhapsody”, together with the beautiful “Love Of My Life”, Roger Taylor’s “I’m In Love With My Car” and the vitriolic “Death On Two Legs (Dedicated To…)”.
8. Rainbow “Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow”
In late 1974 Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore started work on a planned solo album. Once the album “Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow” was finished he soon quit Purple and launched his new band which featured vocalist Ronnie James Dio.
Although not the best Rainbow album (surely that has to be the following year’s “Rising”?) this is still a great rock record and contains two stone cold classics amongst its 9 tracks – “Man On The Silver Mountain” and the longest and best track “Catch The Rainbow”.
9. Status Quo “On The Level”
The band’s eighth studio album, and featuring the classic frantic four line-up of Francis Rossi, Rick Parfitt, Alan Lancaster and John Coghlan, this is just one of a series of brilliant albums that contain no filler whatsoever.
Four of the ten tracks have featured fairly regularly in the group’s live set over the decades since – “Down Down”, “Bye Bye Johnny”, “Most Of The Time” and “Little Lady” – and of the rest the pick of the bunch for me would be “I Saw The Light”, “Nightride” and Parfitt’s ballad “Where I Am”.
10. Thin Lizzy “Fighting”
Although it would subsequently be overshadowed by the following album “Jailbreak”, Thin Lizzy’s fifth album “Fighting” nonetheless qualifies as one of the band’s best studio outings.
The second record to feature what many would call the classic line-up of Phil Lynott, Scott Gorham, Brian Robertson and Brian Downey, this was a definite step forward and highlights included “Wild One”, “King’s Vengeance” alongside bona-fide classics “Suicide” and Lizzy’s cover of Bob Seger’s song “Rosalie”.
So OK, I can’t claim to remember much of this music at the time, but have certainly grown to appreciate it over the subsequent years. But what of the events of 1975? Well, 7 year old me wouldn’t have been aware, I suspect, but the Prime Minister was Harold Wilson, Margaret Thatcher became leader of the Conservative party, Derby County won the old First Division, and top film releases included “Jaws”, “The Return Of The Pink Panther” and “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”.