Entertainment Friday, 05/15/20

Ten Influential Albums 1959 to 1973

They only way we used to listen to recorded music.
Peter, Paul and Mary — “Peter, Paul and Mary” album cover

#1. Peter, Paul and Mary — Peter, Paul and Mary — 1961.

The beginning. For me, the songs on this album are pre-memory. My mom played and sang to this record constantly. My affinity for every folk artist who I heard after leads back to them. I did not know until now that the group was formed by audition. Lucky us it was such good casting!

Simon and Garfunkel “Sounds of Silence” album cover

#2. Sounds of Silence — Simon and Garfunkel — 1969

“Hello Darkness, My Old Friend…” What the heck does a kid 10 years old know about befriending darkness and being a rock? And yet…

“Jesus Christ Superstar “original album cover

#3. Jesus Christ, Superstar — 1970.

Musically and culturally this was a huge deal since my father was a minister. My grandmother got this for him for Christmas 1970 when it first came out in stores because she worked at the Penn bookstore.

Beatles “Let It Be” album cover

#4. Let It Be — The Beatles — 1970

I was 11 years old when this record came out. And they broke up! It was a HUUUUUGE deal. I hated Yoko Ono for years. But I was now of an age where I started to explore the rest of the Beatles catalogue. Abby Road. Magical Mystery Tour. I buried Paul…

Neil Young “Harvest” album cover

#5. Harvest — Neil Young — 1971

The first album I owned personally. It was the top-selling album of that year. Guest artists include the London Symphony Orchestra on two tracks and vocals by David Crosby, Graham Nash, Linda Ronstadt, Stephen Stills, and James Taylor.

The Who “Tommy” original album cover

#6. Tommy — The Who — 1972

My musical tastes expanded with this album. I heard excepts on the radio, but mostly at Eastern Hills Mall in suburban Buffalo, NY from the record store where they were playing it non-stop. I was drawn like a magnet every time I heard a selection. It was a huge purchase.

Derek and the Dominos “Layla and other love songs” album cover

#7. Layla and other love songs — Derek and the Dominos — 1970 (heard in ’73)

This is the one I listed in order of when I heard it (1973), not when it was released three years earlier. I was introduced to this album by a hippie cook on an organic farm where we lived that summer (an entire story there), who referred to Eric Clapton as G0d. And then there was this guy named Duane Allman. I leaned much later about the musical “competition” between Clapton and Allman while making this record. It crackles.

Led Zeppelin “Houses of the Holy” album cover

#8. Houses of the Holy — Led Zeppelin — 1973

Of course, this wasn’t my introduction to Led Zeppelin. It was just the first of their albums I owned. I remember getting it around the same as Billy Joel’s Piano Man. Even at the time, I was struck by my increasingly eclectic tastes. Piano Man was a nice album and I liked to sing along. But THIS continued opening up my perspective to new directions in music and made me a lifelong fan, especially the more I explored their roots.

  1. Stairway to Heaven was one of the few so-called slow dances consistently played at every school dance. My question then, as now: “Who decided this was a good song for a slow dance?!?” It has what must be the most awkward mid-song change in slow dance history. Add awkward pre-teens and teens just learning to dance in contact with the other gender, and you have a recipe for an awkwardness disaster. Ok, finally got THAT off my chest. Who’s with me?
  2. On a completely different note, under the category Great Memories from Parenthood, comes this. My son Ethan comes rushing home from Middle School one day SO excited.
Pink Floyd “Dark Side of the Moon” album cover

#9. Dark Side of the Moon — Pink Floyd — 1973

There isn’t a whole lot to say here. Clichés become clichés for a reason. I, like many of my cohort were BLOWN AWAY by this album.

Yes “Yessongs” album cover

#10. Yessongs — Yes — 1973

This triple live album is a way of cheating, I suppose, as it keeps me from having to choose a single Yes album. But as a proud “YesFreak” it is also appropriate. It’s also my final choice. Please indulge me.

Album cover art by Roger Dean
Album interior art by Roger Dean

Honorable Mention

I had a much better time doing this than I anticipated. Though I intended to go to 1977, I only ended up making it to 1973! I’ll have to do another list of 1974–1981 sometime (high school through college) that would expand into classical and jazz.

  • The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars — David Bowie — 1972 — The ONLY reason this album isn’t on my list is because I didn’t actually hear it until later. Otherwise, Bowie is a major influence. There isn’t a false step or a bad song on this record, and it sounds as fresh today as ever.
  • Eat A Peach — Allman Brothers Band — 1972: Before there was any other southern rock, there were the Allman Brothers. Last album before Duane died. Includes “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More,” “Melissa,” “Mountain Jam” (live from Filmore East) “One Way Out,” “Little Martha.”
  • Selling England by the Pound — Genesis (with Peter Gabriel) — 1973: It was difficult not to pick this album, because after I heard it I went back and bought, then practically wore out, everything Genesis had done up till that point. I then followed everything Peter Gabriel did for the rest of his career. If this was a list of most influential musicians, he would definitely be on it. The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway also deserves mention.
  • Goodbye Yellow Brick Road — Elton John — 1973: I don’t know what more to say other than that this is one of the best albums ever recorded in terms of the quality of each song: “Candle in the Wind,” “Bennie and the Jets,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting,” “Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding.”

That was FUN! Those are my choices. What’s on your list?

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Wynn Hausser

Professional Communicator, Change Agent & Nonprofit Specialist. “COVID CHRONICLES” documents life under pandemic. Also write on sports, politics and life.