=Kool= & The Gang is certainly deserving of a greatest hits album (or in this case, Greatest Hits!), an obvious statement for those in the know. Complete with hits like Jungle Boogie, Music is the Message, and Funky Stuff, you’re sure to enjoy the radio and charting hits in one, neatly packaged album, at a relatively reasonable asking price. Put some much-needed funk into your life, and start with Kool & The Gang’s Greatest Hits!
Think Southern Rock bluesiness of Brothers and Sisters (The Allman Brothers Band) coupled with that classic masterpiece of imaginative longing for a Southern-American lifestyle not experienced (Muswell Hillbillies by The Kinks), and you sort of get the gist of Stampede by The Doobie Brothers. The Doobies have (seemingly) always showcased the more up-beat, driving side of classic rock (like many, many others), while maintaining a funk not expected from a handful of country-based good ol’ boys. Stampede is undeniable Doobies… heartfelt lyrics, unquestionable harmonies, stellar electric guitar, and it also happens to be the band’s last album with Tom Johnston on lead vocals. He would later be replaced by Michael McDonald on 1976’s Takin’ It to the Streets. However you break it down, Stampede is a worthy spin.
My first exposure to Lawrence Welk was by means of the Lawrence Welk Show. This was a beloved entertainment hour by my grandparents which we’d watch almost nightly (though at the time, G.I. Joe or Heathcliff was more my speed). I purchased 200 Years of American Music, a double LP, in memory of my grandparents, and she acts as a pretty good reminder of that period of my life.
The long-awaited double LP soundtrack to (arguably) the greatest film of all time, Jaws, arrived just in time for some much-needed holiday cheer. Presented for the first time on wax, this “double vinyl set presents the entire Academy Award-winning score as composed and recorded for the actual film” (the Grammy-winning 1975 MCA Records release was simply a re-recording, mind you). Offered on majestic, ocean blue vinyl, and released by the greatest soundtrack distributors known to man, Mondo, this jaw(s)-dropping release ranks up there as one of the most anticipated of the year… especially since preorders went live back in early July, on Jaws’ Day, actually (7/3). Save up your holiday gift money if you’ve missed out, because this one is bar none, the definition of essential.
It’s hard not to get into the delightful goofiness of Dr. Demento’s 1975 comp, Dr. Demento’s Delights. Though missing the insta-classic Fish Heads (by Barnes & Barnes, 1980), this 12-track soundtrack to extreme lunacy features a few essentials in They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa! (Napoleon XIV), Friendly Neighborhood Narco Agent (Jef Jaisun), and Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh (Allan Sherman). It’s pretty solid smirk-music, and perfect for a day like this.
A few things I didn’t notice about Art Garfunkel’s 1975 Columbia records release, Breakaway. 1) Richard Perry produced it (Mr. Perry is famous for his work with Harry Nilsson), and 2) the track My Little Town has Paul Simon on it, making it a legitimate Simon & Garfunkel song. Their last? Of that I’m not sure, but it’s a good day to find out. Thank you, 42 year old hype sticker!
Let’s face it, ELO’s fifth studio album is a crusher. Containing two of the band’s most successful singles, Evil Woman and Strange Magic, 1975’s Face the Music often gets overshadowed by the two albums that would follow, 1976’s A New World Record and 1977’s Out of the Blue (both selling tens of millions of copies worldwide). If you’re feeling a bit adventurous but don’t want to stray too far away from home, give Face the Music a spin. You can never go wrong with the Electric Light Orchestra as far as I’m concerned.
I can’t rightfully imagine that many sealed copies of Arthur Lyman’s 1975 album, Puka Shells exist these days. Apart from it being the legend’s last studio album, Puka Shells also serves as an introduction to his talented daughter, Kapiolani Lyman. I’m torn between removing this virgin gem from its 42 year old crypt and keeping it preserved while I hunt down another to spin. The weight of this decision is a taxing one, and will take some time to figure out.
Here is a pristine poster from RCA’s 1975 compilation, Best of Dolly Parton. Featuring the same artwork / photo from the album’s cover, this poster has laid dormant for 40+ years and was just discovered the other day by yours truly. She’ll likely lay dormant for another 40+ years, or whenever the kids get their grubby little mitts on it.
This illusive little slithering snake has managed to outrun me for the last, conceivable time. Found this essential gem over the weekend for a cool $6.42 at my local brick & mortar. I’ve checked the country section for this album at that store every week for the past several years, and I finally walked away red handed. Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain, originally a track written for Roy Acuff by Fred Rose, has been covered in the studio over 8 times, includes renditions by both Conway Twitty and Hank Williams. I can’t say I’ve heard each and every version, but I’m confident in stating that none could be better than Willie Nelson’s soft-spoken, heartfelt version, track five on Columbia Records’ 1975 masterpiece, Red Headed Stranger.
Walter (or Wendy) Carlos performing Moog interpretations from of The Beatles, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Burt Bacharach, and Johann Sebastian Bach? Hell yes! Sign me up! Released in 1975 on Columbia Masterworks (and this truly is a masterwork), By Request is a great little novelty album perfect for lazy Friday afternoons with little-to-nothing to do. Enjoy your records responsibly, kids, and happy Friday!