In 1973, the Eagles followed up their mega-successful self-titled debut (released a year earlier) with a concept album inspired by the Old West. Featuring a cover image of the band members in cowboy gear, Desperado must have seemed ripe for ridicule.
But with songwriters Don Henley and Glenn Frey taking center stage, penning eight of the album’s 11 tracks, the songs were just too good to dismiss. While the album failed to sell early on, it eventually reached double platinum status and is considered a seminal album in the country rock genre.
Last week I featured a song from Bruce Springsteen’s 1973 album The Wild, the Innocent and the E-Street Shuffle. That classic album was Bruce’s sophomore effort, and amazingly he had released his debut the very same year.
In January of 1973, Springsteen hit the scene with Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ, an ambitious collection of wordy Dylan-esque folk songs sped up and set to a beat. Right out of the gate, Springsteen cast himself as a sensitive poet for working class dreamers, a mantle he would carry for more than five decades.
Lynyrd Skynyrd is another band with which I am mostly unfamiliar. Sure, I know ‘Free Bird,’ mostly as a jokey thing to shout out at the end of a concert, but I’ve never heard one of their albums in full.
It appears the one to start with is, appropriately, their 1973 debut, helpfully titled Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd. This album, along with its follow-up Second Helping, are considered not just the band’s best work but among the best works of Southern Rock ever recorded.
My familiarity with Genesis is based almost entirely on the band’s output in the 80s, when drummer Phil Collins took over the reins from the departed Peter Gabriel and steered the band away from prog rock and into pop and soft rock.
Selling England by the Pound (1973) is a great example of what Genesis was before that happened, when Gabriel blended folk and prog elements into an ambitious, if slightly goofy, mix.
Continuing my look at the albums released in 1973, I’ll now cover records with which I’m either passingly or not at all familiar.
Initially, I expected to put The Who’s Quadrophenia in the latter category. I remember my high school friend’s were big Who fans, and this was an album they loved, but I never really got into the band. I loved ‘The Kids Are Alright‘ (still do) and the Who’s Next album, but the “rock operas” Tommy and Quadrophenia never stirred me a bit.
Elton John released Goodbye Yellow Brick Road in October of 1973, but just nine months earlier he dropped his first album of the year, Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player.
This album is best known for its opening track, ‘Daniel,’ and the rollicking ‘Crocodile Rock.’ During my recent Elton John deep dive, I wrote about two other highlights: the Rolling Stones-esque ‘Midnight Creeper‘ and closing track ‘High Flying Bird.’
I haven’t given Led Zeppelin much thought since I left high school. They are a rite of passage for high school kids (boys, in particular) and I was no exception.
Even back then, most of my focus was on Led Zeppelin IV, the classic 1971 album featuring ‘Stairway to Heaven,’ ‘Rock and Roll,’ ‘Black Dog,’ ‘Going to California’ and ‘When the Levee Breaks.’ What a motherlode of classic rock staples.