Time Capsule: Where Were You In April 1976?

Top 8 Albums Released 40 Years Ago This Month

8. Todd Rundgren – Faithful

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A strange and largely forgotten little album, but interesting just the same. Side one consisted of “faithful” covers including “Good Vibrations”, “Strawberry Fields”, “Rain” and “If Six Was Nine” — faithful meaning note-for-note reproductions, which seems about as pointless as non-alcoholic wine. Too bad, because side two had a couple of really nice songs sounding a lot like Todd circa 1970.


7. John Sebastian – Welcome Back

One of my great Rock disappointments was that John Sebastian didn’t have a long, successful songwriting career after penning seven top 10 singles over a 15-month period in the mid-sixties. Those and other Spoonful songs were just so good, it’s hard to understand how Sebastian couldn’t build his brilliant catalog into the ‘70s and beyond. This ended up being his last hurrah, thanks to the funny-at-the-time TV show. Sebastian would go on to prefer the quiet life, writing soundtracks and kids’ music, and I heard Horshack went on to become a senior executive at Facebook.


6. Pat Travers – Pat Travers

One of the last of a line of “new guitar gods” that began in the mid-sixties with the anointment of Clapton, Travers is held in high esteem by other axemen like Alex Lifeson of Rush and Kirk Hammett of Metallica. He really was a fabulous guitar player, and he had his biggest hit in the ‘80s with “Snortin’ Whiskey”. This was his debut album, but he already seemed a little late to the party, since the concept of new guitar god was just about to disappear at this point in Rock history.


5. The Tubes – Young And Rich

From the Bonzo Dog Band to the Tubes to the Flaming Lips, thank god for talented bands who are consistently able to bring the laughs along with good music. This was the Tubes’ second album, and this track is still pretty funny. They don’t mug for the camera like Weird Al, they play it straight, even enlisting legendary Phil Spector protege Jack Nitzsche to get the wall-of-sound just right. The Tubes were way ahead of their time.


4. Bob Marley — Rastaman Vibration

This ended up being Bob Marley’s highest-charting original album in the U.S., even though subsequent albums Exodus and Uprising were seen as being more important records. Marley was a comforting constant throughout the ‘70s, providing as much relief from prog as he did from punk, and vice versa.


3. AC/DC – High Voltage

This was their debut album. I don’t know about you, but I never thought AC/DC was nearly as good without Bon Scott. He sounded a little unhinged and dangerous, and he gave the band a punky street energy and an unpredictable urgency that Brian Johnson couldn’t recapture. But would they have achieved their later mainstream success if Bon Scott had remained their vocalist? I’m not so sure.


2. Rush – 2112

It’s been called the definitive Rush album, and one of the most essential Prog albums of all time. 2112 represented the band’s commercial breakthrough, and firmly established Lee, Lifeson and Peart as three of the most dynamic and powerful musicians in Rock. Today, the lyrics about these weird space priests controlling our lives in some dystopian future seem like the ravings of a creative but troubled teenage boy, but at the time they were considered pretty far out.


1. Rolling Stones — Black And Blue

Typically the most underrated Stones album, it was a major turning point for the band, nestled in between It’s Only Rock & Roll and Some Girls. Mick Taylor was gone, they were auditioning new guitarists, and they wanted to show the world they weren’t gonna be the same old Stones anymore. There’s funk, reggae, jazz, synthesizers, and a couple of old-school Stones tracks, most of it raw and recorded off the floor. The first couple of notes on “Hey Negrita”, and the amazing interplay between Wood and Keef on that track, shows you why Woody was chosen over Rory Gallagher, Steve Marriott, Jeff Beck and Peter Frampton to become the next Stone. They were now a band willing and able to change with the times, and by the next album they were ready to take on disco and punk.


Other albums released in April 1976 include: America – Hideaway / Bob Seger – Live Bullet / J. Geils – Blow Your Face Out / Jethro Tull – Too Old To Rock’n’Roll / Elton John – Here And There


Photo credit: By Michael Conen [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0) or CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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