My final album of 1970 (which on the whole was an excellent year for music, I’ve discovered) is Harry Nilsson’s Nilsson Sings Newman. This record is a collaboration between Nilsson and one of my favorite songwriters and performers of all time, Randy Newman.
Newman didn’t just write the ten tracks on this album but played piano on them as well. And while I can’t imagine anybody topping Newman’s readings of his own songs, Nilsson’s sweet vocals are a nice match for the masterfully simple tunes on this album. I think I need to buy this thing pronto.
Our next 1970 album is Abraxas, the sophomore effort by Santana. Barring catastrophe, next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the group fronted by Carlos Santana, and the band has had about that many members over that span.
My only association with Abraxas comes form the Coen Brothers movie A Serious Man, in which the beleaguered main character, Larry Gopnik, hears from the Columbia Record Club that — by doing nothing — he has purchased Santana Abraxas.
“I didn’t ask for Santana Abraxas, I didn’t listen to Santana Abraxas, I didn’t do anything!” Larry exclaims, exasperated.
The 1970 album Runt is widely considered Todd Rundgren’s solo debut, though technically it was recorded by a band also called Runt. That band was essentially a Rundgren solo project, though, so it’s all semantics.
I only recently stopped confusing Todd Rundgren with Ted Nugent, so I’m very much in the dark about the man’s career. But everything of his I’ve heard suggests I should be a fan.
Black Sabbath released both their debut and sophomore albums in 1970, and are pretty much credited with giving birth to heavy metal. Credited or blamed, depending on your musical taste.
Paranoid was the second of those albums, and widely considered their best work. Tracks such as ‘War Pigs,’ ‘Iron Man’ and the title track became instant metal classics.
During my final week looking at 1970, I’ll feature albums and bands with which I have very little familiarity. I’ve heard the names, but I’ve pretty much never heard the music.
First up are The Stooges, whose sophomore album Funhouse served as a loud, obnoxious rebuttal to the melodic pop of the 60s.