1973 – The Albums Year In Music

Posted: January 1, 2023 in MUSIC

The year of 1973 kicked off with the United Kingdom entering the European Economic Community, later to become the European Union, and it went downhill rapidly from there. The FA Cup final was between Sunderland and Leeds, In a year that saw the release of Led Zeppelin’s “Houses Of The Holy”, Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side Of The Moon” and Alice Cooper’s “Billion Dollar Babies“. That would be one extremely big year for rock’n’roll music, for sure. “We had acid rock, baroque rock, country rock, dance, glam rock, hard rock, heavy metal, head music, hot-rod music, reggae, jazz, bubble-gum, funk and southern rock.”

The year began somewhat alarmingly with the release of Rick Wakeman’s mega-indulgent epic “The Six Wives Of Henry VIII”, and then “climaxed” with Yes’s “Tales From Topographic Oceans” in December. 

A little further down the scale, envisage a 12- month time-span that also saw Roxy’s Music’s “For Your Pleasure”, Bruce Springsteen’s “Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ , With his debut album, Bruce Springsteen gave a hint at his future direction, mixing solo cuts with full band performances. After the record was initially rejected by label president Clive Davis, who didn’t hear a viable single, Springsteen swiftly wrote two additional tracks, recording them on the same day: “Blinded by the Light” and “Spirit in the Night.”

Derek & The Dominoes’ “In Concert” hit the stores. 

Emerson, Lake & Palmer came up with an album with the unlikely title of “Brain Salad Surgery“, complete with a bizarre cover by HR Giger, who was later to find fame designing the evil ET in the Alien movies. No one batted an eyelid when Messrs Mercury, May, Deacon and Taylor decided to call themselves Queen and include a track called “My Fairy King” on their debut album. (These were also more innocent times, remember.) The Sweet – who admittedly had suffered from a fair degree of record company puppetry – broke free from their bubble-gum past and included all-out rockers such as “Hell Raiser” “Blockbuster” and “Done Me Wrong Alright” on their 1973 self-titled album. 

There were also some remarkable debut album’s in 1973. What we call classic rock these days originated in that year. We’ve mentioned Aerosmith, Queen, Skynyrd and the Dolls, but we shouldn’t ignore Camel “Camel”, The Scorpions “Lonesome Crow” or Cockney Rebel “The Human Menagerie” either. 

A look through a 365-day period during which the likes of The Doobie Brothers’ “The Captain & Me”, King Crimson “Larks’ Tongues In Aspic” and T.Rex’s “Tanx” additionally went on sale.  it was such a fabulous year Or, as Todd Rundgren put it in 1973, wizards and true stars.  . Prepare to step back in amazement, get set to open your peepers in surprise, because every single one of the above-mentioned albums – “Houses Of The Holy”, “Dark Side Of The Moon”, “Billion Dollar Babies” actually came out in a one single month in 1973. March, to be specific. It doesn’t stop there. The other 11 months of 1973 were pretty damn good as well.

An unknown called Mike Oldfield approached a bright-eyed young entrepreneur by the name of Richard Branson with an idea for an album called “Tubular Bells”, an ambitious 50-minute concept piece. Against the odds …“Tubular Bells” was a spectacular success, reaching No.1 in the UK, No.3 in the US, and providing the foundations for Branson’s now-sprawling Virgin empire. 

Solo stardom was in the bag for former Beatles George Harrison with his “Living In The Material World” album, John Lennon with “Mind Games” and Paul McCartney & Wings with “Red Rose Speedway”. Even Ringo had a hit single with “Photograph”.

Also in 1973 bands released singles that mattered. The following 1973 A-sides remain the stuff of legend: 10cc’s Rubber Bullets; Aerosmith’s Dream On; Alice Cooper’s No More Mr Nice Guy; Bruce Springsteen’s Blinded By The Light (later a hit by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, of course); Edgar Winter’s Frankenstein, Elton John’s Daniel, Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,  The Moody Blues’ “I’m Just A Singer In A Rock’N’Roll Band”, Mott The Hoople’s “Honaloochie Boogie” and All The Way From Memphis; Nazareth’s Broken Down Angel and Bad, Bad Boy; Queen’s Keep Yourself Alive and Liar; The Rolling Stones’ Angie; Status Quo’s Don’t Waste My Time, Paper Plane and Caroline; Slade’s Cum On Feel The Noize, Skweeze Me Pleeze Me and the all-time classic Yuletide song “Merry Xmas Everybody”.

Aerosmith wanted to look “like a rock band that would sell a million records” with their self-titled debut, as guitarist Joe Perry shared in the liner notes for the early demos collection 1971: The Road Starts Hear. It took a few years to accomplish that goal, but “Dream On” and the rest of Aerosmith would eventually help them get there.

“Who Do We Think We Are” was Deep Purple’s final album with vocalist Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover for over a decade (until 1984’s Perfect Strangers). Songs like “Woman From Tokyo” kept the band’s usual hard rock beat, but as a whole, the collection found them exploring more of a bluesy direction.

“Dixie Chicken” found Little Feat expanding their ranks, adding guitarist Paul Barrere and percussionist Sam Clayton. Guitarist Lowell George remained a heavy influence on the group’s sound and songwriting, also handling lead vocals on the bulk of the album’s tracks, including the signature “Fat Man in the Bathtub.”

Alice Cooper snared their best-selling album at the time with “Billion Dollar Babies”, which went to No. 1 in both the U.S. and U.K., eventually going platinum. The group’s sixth studio record spawned four hit singles, including the title track and “No More Mr. Nice Guy.”

Growing discord in the Faces ranks was evident in 1973, with Rod Stewart calling “Ooh La La “a bloody mess” during a promotional interview with Melody Maker. The tempestuous vocalist reportedly missed the first two weeks of recording and the album’s sessions were similarly chaotic. Guitarist Ronnie Wood sang the lead vocal on the title track, which remains one of the band’s best known songs.

The sessions for the album that became “The Captain and Me” found the Doobies leaning on a mix of jamming and revisiting older material that hadn’t been used. “Long Train Runnin,'” and “Without You” are two eventual fan favourites that made it to “The Captain and Me”, which went double platinum.

“Catch a Fire” helped to extend Bob Marley’s popularity to an international level. Boasting tracks like the ambling “Concrete Jungle,” the album’s success came at a cost, with Marley parting ways with core members of his band, the Wailers, after only one more album.

“Countdown to Ecstasy” was Steely Dan’s second studio album and the first to feature Donald Fagen exclusively as the lead vocalist.

Though it didn’t perform well commercially, it features well-known catalog tracks like “My Old School” and “Show Biz Kids.”

On the heels of their successful “Thick as a Brick” record, Jethro Tull continued to write conceptually for their sixth studio album, “A Passion Play”. Though “A Passion Play” faced harsh criticism upon release, the band still secured their second No. 1 album.

  • January gave us Free’s Heartbreaker, The Beach Boys released “Holland”, plus Little Feat bought us “Dixie Chicken”. Gram Parsons “GP”
  • February offered Deep Purple’s Who Do We Think We Are!, the final studio offering from the Mk II line-up (at least until the 1984 reunion) – The King Biscuit Flower Hour is first broadcast with performances by Blood, Sweat & Tears, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, and new artist Bruce Springsteen. Island Records released Traffic Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory and John Martyn’s classic album “Solid Air”.
  • March Electric Light Orchestra released their second album “ELO 2/Electric Light Orchestra II“. Singer songwriter Tom Waits has “Closing Time” . The Faces had “Oh La La” .The director of talent acquisition at Columbia Records, John H. Hammond, suffers a non-fatal heart attack following a performance by one of his most recent finds, Bruce Springsteen.
  • April brought us David Bowie’s “Aladdin Sane“,  Capitol Records releases two collections of The Beatles’ greatest hits, The Beatles 1962-1966 and The Beatles 1967-1970 (commonly referred to as the “Red Album” and the “Blue Album”, respectively) Country rock band The Eagles released “Desperado”
  • May set Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells” a-chimin’ and Hawkwind’s classic space rock album “Space Ritual” .Prog rock was huge with Yes live album “Yes Song’s”Nazareth release an all time fav’s rock albums “Razamanaz”.
  • June – another killer month, this – saw both Aerosmith’s “Aerosmith” and Iggy & The Stooges’ “Raw Power” go on sale, Ronnie Lane plays his last show with Faces at the Edmonton Sundown in London. Lane had informed the band three weeks earlier that he was quitting. Ian Gillan quits Deep Purple
  • July’s undoubted highlight was the release of Queen’s debut album, Queen, David Bowie ‘retires’ his stage persona Ziggy Stardust in front of a shocked audience at the Hammersmith Odeon at the end of his British tour. “A Passion Play” a sort of rock opera from Jethro Tull. Dylan had his time in the movies and soundtracked his Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid. Lou Reed released “Berlin”.
  • In August The New York Dolls’ self-titled debut hit the stores and The Rolling Stones bought out “Goats Head Soup”
  • September was no slouch with Status Quo’s “Hello!”, Lynyrd’s Skynyrd’s “Pronounced Leh-Nerd SkinHerd“, The Rolling Stones’ “Goats’ Head Soup” and Thin Lizzy’s “Vagabonds Of The Western World” fighting for shelf space. “The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle” came from Bruce Springsteen.It’s Only a Movie” is the seventh studio album by the British progressive rock band Family, their last original studio album before they disbanded that year.
  • Genesis were intent on Selling “England By The Pound” in October, Family play their last concert at De Montfort Hall at Leicester Polytechnic (now De Montfort University) before splitting up for good. A farewell party at a local Holiday Inn after the show ends in a good-natured melée, with people jumping in or pushed into the motel pool. “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” is the seventh studio album by English singer-songwriter Elton John, a double LP. The album has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide and is widely regarded as John’s magnum opus.
  • For Everyman” is the second album by American singer-songwriter Jackson Browne.
  • The Steve Miller Band  formed in 1966 in San Francisco, California. The band is led by Steve Miller on guitar and lead vocals. The group had a string of mid- to late-1970s hit singles that are staples of classic rock, as well as several earlier psychedelic rock albums released “The Joker”David Bowie‘s “Pin Ups” album Devised as a “stop-gap” album to appease his record label, it is a covers album, featuring songs by British bands from the 1960s that were influential to Bowie.
  •  The Who brought mods to the masses with “Quadrophenia” in November the sixth studio album by the rock band released as a double album on 26th October 1973 by Track Records. It is the group’s third rock opera, the two previous being “A Quick One, While He’s Away” and “Tommy”. Set in London and Brighton in 1965, the story follows a young mod named Jimmy and his search for self-worth and importance. “Quadrophenia” is the only Who album entirely composed by Pete Townshend. The Who opened their “Quadrophenia” US tour with a concert at San Francisco’s Cow Palace, but drummer Keith Moon passes out and has to be carried off the stage. 19-year old fan Scot Halpin is selected from the audience to finish the show.
  • December CBGB music club opens in Manhattan, and Black Sabbath’s “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” finished the year on the loudest of notes, “Stranded” the third album by English rock band Roxy Music, released by Island Records. “Stranded” was the first Roxy Music album on which Bryan Ferry was not the sole songwriter, with multi-instrumentalist Andy Mackay and guitarist Phil Manzanera also submitting songs. Billy Joel’s Piano Man” his second studio album by the American on Columbia Records. The album emerged from legal difficulties with Joel’s former label, Family Productions, and ultimately became his first breakthrough album. Brothers Malcolm and Angus Young perform under the name AC/DC at the former Sydney nightclub ‘Chequers’ for their New Year’s Eve party. “Band on the Run” from McCartneys Wings its commercial performance was aided by two hit singles – “Jet” and “Band on the Run”. “Tales from Topographic Oceans” the sixth studio album by English prog-rock band Yes, On Atlantic Records. Yes frontman Jon Anderson devised the concept album during the band’s 1973 Japanese tour.

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