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Old 05-24-2013, 03:03 PM   #291 (permalink)
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Albums that missed the cut.........
Other good albums worth checking out that were also released in 1975, but weren't quite good enough to make the top 10 and are listed below in no set order, so the best of the rest:

Kiss
Dressed to Kill 1975


The album which saw the band moving into a poppier more commercial sound, but luckily it still retained the feel of the first two albums. Dressed to Kill though wasn’t as exciting as either Kiss or Hotter Than Hell, but it’s still a big band favourite and has some well-known tracks and commercial success was just around the corner anyway.

Bad Company
Straight Shooter 1975


After the strength of their debut album, Paul Rodgers and company struggled to match it with their sophomore set. This album tends to be heavier than the debut and looks to be a meaty listen as well, but after several listens it’s apparent that it lacks in the songs department, but it’s still a decent album apart from that and it has the excellent “Deal with the Preacher”.

Dirty Tricks
Dirty Tricks 1975


The debut album from the British hard rock band who despite having a high-octane level, always struggled to match that live sound in the studio. Their debut album was certainly their best and they put out their second and third albums over the next couple of years.

Rush
Fly by Night 1975


The first album with Neil Peart on board, which also saw the band leaving their Led Zeppelin style hard rock sound for a fully pledged progressive rock sound. This album shows that transition, but still has enough hard rock on it for this list.

Scorpions
In Trance 1975


The Scorpion’s third album and also their best and most diverse to date, this is really an interesting album which is really highlighted by the guitar of Uli Roth and quite rightly regarded as one of the band’s more essential early listens.

Ted Nugent
Ted Nugent 1975


A testosterone fuelled hard rock debut from ‘The Detroit Madman’ who ushered in a basic fiery guitar based sound and showed that there was always a market for his style of meat and drink style of sound. His debut is also one of his stronger album sets in his discography.
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Old 05-26-2013, 07:37 AM   #292 (permalink)
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The Live Album Section 1975

Blue Oyster Cult On Your Feet or on Your Knees 1975 (Columbia)
Hard Rock


I thank my friends for this whip and I'll cherish it forever!

If 1974 had been starved of live albums when it came to the ‘heavy genre’ as a whole, 1975 brought them back with a vengeance and most came in the shape of cherished double albums. The Blue Oyster Cult after the excellence of their last studio album Secret Treaties had not released a studio album in 1975 and in its stead gave us the superbly named On Your Feet or on Your Knees live album. The album was recorded at various locations throughout their 1974 summer tour and these venues included New York, Portland, Seattle, Phoenix, Vancouver and Los Angeles. On Your Feet or on Your Knees is a highly regarded live album from some quarters for its time and tends to be one the favourite live releases of the BOC faithful as well. But if the truth be told it’s not a live album for everybody, because the tight focus of the band’s discography over their first three albums, now gives way to a far looser and elongated approach to these same songs. As the band now for the purpose of this live album, approach the whole thing as say a band like Grand Funk would and attempt to jam their way through the majority of its twelve songs. Jamming of course is nothing new for this rocking biker band at heart, but given that the band had made their reputation on both focused and tight material, listening to this album may therefore surprise some listeners, who could be expecting one of their live albums to be similiar in its approach to that of their studio material. The bulk of the material comes from the first three studio albums and there has often been criticism on the dropping of favourites such as “Transmaniacon MC” and “Stairway to the Stars” but isn’t that often the case for live albums anyway? The album features a number of unreleased tracks such as “Buck’s Boogie” “Maserati GT (I Ain’t Got You)” and a superb booming cover of “Born to Be Wild” which serves as the curtain closer for the concert. I’m also a big fan of the album cover as both the album cover and album name perfectly sum up the image and sound of the band, but then again most things apart from this live album tended to be focused and precise by the band anyway.

Eric Bloom- Guitar/Vocals
Donald ‘Buck Dharma’ Roeser- Guitar/Vocals
Allen Lainier- Rhythm/Keyboards
Joe Bouchard- Bass
Albert Bouchard- Drums

Production- Sandy Pearlman and Murray Krugman
Various US locations 1974

[/I]
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Old 05-26-2013, 08:44 AM   #293 (permalink)
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The Live Album Section 1975

Kiss Alive! 1975 (Casablanca)
Hard Rock

Babe….. now we’re even hotter than hell!

Three albums in and the four energetic face-paint wearing New Yorkers were already a major concert draw in their native USA, but as a commercial selling band their record sales were still falling far shorter than their ticket sales! It was no surprise then, that their record company Casablanca sought to harness their live concert appeal over four sides of vinyl and in the process usher in one of the great landmark live albums of any musical genre for the 1970s. In fact Alive! sold and worked so well, that over future years certain record companies mostly American ones at that, would use the same formula for breaking other bands in their native US, a future Cheap Trick would be another perfect example of this type of approach. Despite this knowledge of hindsight, Casablanca records were initially somewhat dubious of releasing a live double album of the band, as the label had already faced a flop from one of their fellow artists by the comedian Johnny Carson that same year, but luckily Casablanca soon convinced themselves that a live Kiss album would be a viable outlet to further enhance the band’s record sales and boost their own pockets. The material as with the BOC release, would be garnered from a multitude of US locations and it was commonly known that these locations were packed to the rafters with fanatical fans! The song selection could also hardly be faulted either, as the band probably harnessed their best song choices for their live cuts over four sides of vinyl. Despite this there has often been some controversy over the years, on how much the album was actually enhanced in the studio in regards to studio overdubs, but the band have always claimed that little corrective work was ever done in the studio anyway! The band have only ever stated, that the studio only really enhanced the sound of the crowd at the concerts, as the band felt that the crowd would be a vital component for the success of the album as a whole. The album name Alive! is also a play on the 1972 live release by glam rock band Slade and their Slade Alive album, one of the many bands to influence Kiss. The album is effectively seventy four minutes of unbridled youthful and feisty energy by the band, and not unsurprisingly the album also made the Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time List” On the strength of this live release, Kiss became one of the biggest selling bands in the US throughout the rest of the decade.

Paul Stanley- Rhythm/Vocals
Gene Simmons- Bass/Vocals
Ace Frehley- Guitar
Peter Criss- Drums/Vocals

Production- Eddie Kramer
Various US locations 1975

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Old 05-26-2013, 09:42 AM   #294 (permalink)
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Despite this knowledge of hindsight, Casablanca records were initially somewhat dubious of releasing a live double album of the band, as the label had already faced a flop from one of their fellow artists the comedian Johnny Carson that same year, but luckily Casablanca soon convinced themselves that a live Kiss album would be a viable outlet to further enhance the band’s record sales and boost their own pockets.
I agree - I'm still trying to go through the Carson album in total! I would call Kiss Alive the very album that caved Casablanca from going out of business. It should also be said around the time of the first Kiss album (and even the failure to get Marc Bolan another chance in The US as the T Rex compilation Light of Love flopped as well, trivia fans), he decided to stop Warner Brothers from distributing the label with a buy out. After that, the Carson album was unleashed and very quickly brought back to where it came from in a manner that would possibly make the infamous Bee Gees Sgt. Pepper Soundtrack fiasco look like a real hit. A hit had to happen, and this was it!
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Old 05-27-2013, 12:31 PM   #295 (permalink)
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I agree - I'm still trying to go through the Carson album in total! I would call Kiss Alive the very album that caved Casablanca from going out of business. It should also be said around the time of the first Kiss album (and even the failure to get Marc Bolan another chance in The US as the T Rex compilation Light of Love flopped as well, trivia fans), he decided to stop Warner Brothers from distributing the label with a buy out. After that, the Carson album was unleashed and very quickly brought back to where it came from in a manner that would possibly make the infamous Bee Gees Sgt. Pepper Soundtrack fiasco look like a real hit. A hit had to happen, and this was it!
I knew Kiss Alive! was important for the label but didn't realize that it saved them from going out of business. Yes Marc Bolan never did have much success stateside but I know The Slider album sold quite well there.
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Old 05-27-2013, 12:50 PM   #296 (permalink)
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The Live Album Section 1975

Grand Funk Caught in the Act 1975 (Capitol)
Hard Rock

Let's put that funky smell right up in the air.


Just two years ago the superb We’re An American Band along with a slight name change and a certain Todd Rundgren on board, had all helped to re-establish Grand Funk at the top-rung of commercial appeal within their native America. Their two albums since Shinin’ On and All the Girls in the World Beware!!! had also maintained them throughout 1974 and thus in 1975 they would give us their second live album Caught in the Act. This album came five years after their previous live album effort, the simply called Live Album back in 1970 and interestingly it was the first live album that I featured in this journal. First and foremost Grand Funk which they were of course now called, were a live band first and a studio band second, even though Todd Rundgren had addressed this to a degree on We’re An American Band. The previous Live Album had basically just been about a young band capturing their energetic sound in a live environment and original producer Terry Knight had done an admirable job regarding this. Caught in the Act though is a very different type of live album, in that it’s the work of a mature band and with current producer Jimmy Lenner who had taken over from Todd Rundgren, the band put out one of the best and also most calculated live double albums of the decade. It was calculated in that the band used production techniques and kept clarity of sound, whilst still keeping their barnstorming approach relatively intact, but the real strength of Caught in the Act surely lies in its song selection! Instead of using a lot of the better known and existing concert favourites, the band used a real mixed bag of material here and actually garnered a lot of material from some of their weaker studio albums, which in itself would be something of a risk. The end result though, saw a bunch of average studio songs boosted up with power, vitality and atmosphere, which in turn practically made these songs unrecognizable from their original studio versions! The band then combined these songs with some of their better material and then gave us an unforgettable live album. Caught in the Act doesn’t seem to get too much credit but believe me it’s one of the best live offerings of the decade and proof of how a live environment with a bit of polishing can make a band look a million dollars. The name Caught in the Act would also be used by Styx, for their own live double album that came out in the early 1980s.

Mark Farner- Guitar/Vocals
Don Brewer- Drums/Vocals
Mel Schacher- Bass
Craig Frost- Keyboards

Production- Jimmy Lenner
Various US locations 1975

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Old 05-27-2013, 01:53 PM   #297 (permalink)
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I knew Kiss Alive! was important for the label but didn't realize that it saved them from going out of business. Yes Marc Bolan never did have much success stateside but I know The Slider album sold quite well there.
I might have over-stated the Carson flop, as in the book And Party Every Day, Larry Harris stated that the Carson album "...generated enough money and prestige to keep (Casablanca) afloat" (p. 93), but looking at the success rate of the label, it was still on the brink of fading into history fast. The Carson album went Gold, but it was at a time when it counted shipments not sales, but thanks to some on-air promotion, there were some. Just before Alive gave the company their first justified Gold album thanks to the sales equaling the shipments, there was a bit of the old "The Check Is In the Mail" routine going on - the book details things a bit.

According to my research, Casablanca's ONLY consistent act before Donna Summer and Parliament broke through were Kiss, and that's only just surviving with the first three albums that at the time only sold at an OK level. Reading through Both Sides Now's Discography listing which adds in Billboard chart peaks, their only Pre-Alive Top 40 album was Dressed to Kill, and that took a couple of years to go Gold! That's a list of 29 albums through the course of about one and a half years - a lot of releases, promotion, and lost monies, with very few singles reaching the Top 100.

The financial situation did not allow for a professional producer for Dressed to Kill.

Dressed to Kill (album) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In my opinion, it was either Alive of Donna Summer's "Love to Love You Baby", but Kiss got there first, although Parliament might have done the trick as well of it were not for them. It established the label very well, and done with a lot going against it, making one of the best examples of Neil Bogart's take-a-chance attitude of the time. With no slight intended to the Summer/Moroder disco classic, thankfully it was an album that was their first major breakthrough - there were a couple of successful singles here and there in Casablanca's history, but as we all know that back then an album was a better way to establish a company and Alive's success meant more backup for both Summer and Parliament.

Consider what came before that did not make it chartwise - The Hudson Brothers with two flop albums and a small hit, Fanny with a Top 20 hit but no charting albums, Long John Baldry with a non-starting career at the label, Larry Santos having a good voice but no material to go up the charts with (He's a very familiar voice in Detroit in The 70's - Appearances on the Hot Fudge Show on WXYZ 7 and the classic "Welcome to your city" TV ads campaign for Detroit being best known), T Rex only stopping at #205 on the albums chart that was a big fall from the Top 20 position of The Slider when he was on Reprise in The US, and a host of others. Not even an album of Lenny Bruce routines (What I Was Arrested For) or Bill Conti's soundtrack to Harry and Tonto did anything, let alone the first albums by Parliament, although Chocolate City showed something of a breakthrough. It's safe to say an opinion that Alive gave life to the label after a shaky first year and a half, although you could say that maybe Parliament's Mothership Connection may also have been the album to do it if events were different.
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Old 05-29-2013, 03:20 PM   #298 (permalink)
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Hard, Heavy and a Classic 1975

Armageddon Armageddon 1975 (A&M)
Progressive Rock-Hard Rock

An extrapolation of excess to please any supergroup!


Armageddon were a very short lived supergroup that consisted of ex-Yardbirds vocalist Keith Relf, session guitarist Martin Pugh, bassist Louis Cennamo who had a been in a large amount of bands including progressive rock act Renaissance and Bobby Caldwell ex-Captain Beyond on drums. In their very short time as a band, Armageddon probably demonstrated how they were the perfect combination of a hard rock band and a progressive rock band all merged into one, with neither genre dominating the other. Their debut album just consisted of five songs and they’re certainly lengthy songs at that but contain a real level of quality to match the quality of the artists here. Music wise they sounded like a combination of Led Zeppelin and Captain Beyond (no surprise there of course with Bobby Caldwell on board) and any number of progressive rock acts from the decade, and the overall result was that Armageddon sounded distinctly unique, with nobody else really sounding anything like them! Like most supergroups we have four highly talented individuals on show here and I have to say the guitar work of Martin Pugh might be the pick of the bunch which is a tough choice as all are outstanding here, then there’s Keith Relf’s voice which might not be to everybody’s taste but personally I really dig it! Supergroups have often been clichéd as being self-indulgent and excessive, and Armageddon are no exception to this viewpoint and in fact this album is about as self-indulgent as anything else in the decade. Just listening to every track here from the album opener “Buzzard” to the album closer the multi-suite “Basking in the White of the Midnight Sun” all smacks of 1970s excess especially with its lengthy jamming sessions and punctuated guitar riffs.

In many ways Armageddon were a precursor for the progressive metal explosion of the 1990s and when I think of Armageddon I usually think of The Mars Volta, even though there is a much heavier Yes influence on the work of The Mars Volta, but the uniqueness and similarity of the two bands at times is quite startling. Armageddon as a band were destined not to work, this was largely due to the excessive drug intake of the band and the differences of opinion between its band members, and sadly the following year vocalist Keith Relf died accidently at home ending any possibility of a sophomore set for Armageddon. This album is very much a cult classic and should be dusted off as its a true treasure.

Keith Relf- Vocals
Martin Pugh- Guitar
Louis Cennamo- Bass
Bobby Caldwell- Drums

Production-Armageddon

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Pounding Decibels- A Hard and Heavy History

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Old 05-29-2013, 03:27 PM   #299 (permalink)
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I might have over-stated the Carson flop, as in the book And Party Every Day, Larry Harris stated that the Carson album "...generated enough money and prestige to keep (Casablanca) afloat" (p. 93), but looking at the success rate of the label, it was still on the brink of fading into history fast. The Carson album went Gold, but it was at a time when it counted shipments not sales, but thanks to some on-air promotion, there were some. Just before Alive gave the company their first justified Gold album thanks to the sales equaling the shipments, there was a bit of the old "The Check Is In the Mail" routine going on - the book details things a bit.

According to my research, Casablanca's ONLY consistent act before Donna Summer and Parliament broke through were Kiss, and that's only just surviving with the first three albums that at the time only sold at an OK level. Reading through Both Sides Now's Discography listing which adds in Billboard chart peaks, their only Pre-Alive Top 40 album was Dressed to Kill, and that took a couple of years to go Gold! That's a list of 29 albums through the course of about one and a half years - a lot of releases, promotion, and lost monies, with very few singles reaching the Top 100.

The financial situation did not allow for a professional producer for Dressed to Kill.

Dressed to Kill (album) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In my opinion, it was either Alive of Donna Summer's "Love to Love You Baby", but Kiss got there first, although Parliament might have done the trick as well of it were not for them. It established the label very well, and done with a lot going against it, making one of the best examples of Neil Bogart's take-a-chance attitude of the time. With no slight intended to the Summer/Moroder disco classic, thankfully it was an album that was their first major breakthrough - there were a couple of successful singles here and there in Casablanca's history, but as we all know that back then an album was a better way to establish a company and Alive's success meant more backup for both Summer and Parliament.

Consider what came before that did not make it chartwise - The Hudson Brothers with two flop albums and a small hit, Fanny with a Top 20 hit but no charting albums, Long John Baldry with a non-starting career at the label, Larry Santos having a good voice but no material to go up the charts with (He's a very familiar voice in Detroit in The 70's - Appearances on the Hot Fudge Show on WXYZ 7 and the classic "Welcome to your city" TV ads campaign for Detroit being best known), T Rex only stopping at #205 on the albums chart that was a big fall from the Top 20 position of The Slider when he was on Reprise in The US, and a host of others. Not even an album of Lenny Bruce routines (What I Was Arrested For) or Bill Conti's soundtrack to Harry and Tonto did anything, let alone the first albums by Parliament, although Chocolate City showed something of a breakthrough. It's safe to say an opinion that Alive gave life to the label after a shaky first year and a half, although you could say that maybe Parliament's Mothership Connection may also have been the album to do it if events were different.
Some good background there on the Casablanca label and yes I know that Donna Summer was the other big star of the label as well. I haven't read anything concerning my next opinion, but I'm guessing that her disco based sound may have influenced Kiss' flirtation with disco in their own sound at the end of the 1970s, as I know there are often links between artists that share the same label. And yes I did see that about the Dressed to Kill album before regarding a so-called budget producer.
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Hard, Heavy and Worth a Mention 1975

Uriah Heep Return to Fantasy 1975 (Warner Bros.)
Hard Rock


A return to fantasy by one of the decade's best bands.


It actually pained me to leave this album off my top 10 list for the year and I also thought that the album deserved more than being just mentioned in the “Albums that missed the cut ….….” section for the year as well. For the simple reason that Uriah Heep through the strength of the albums Look at Yourself, Demons and Wizards, The Magicians Birthday (all with full reviews already) and their first two albums …Very ‘Eavy and …Very ‘Umble and Salisbury had essentially made Uriah Heep one of the best and most pivotal bands of the ‘heavy genre’ for the first half of the 1970s, therefore deserving that the band went out on something of a high! Of course the band were not ending and would release a huge amount of albums right up to the present day, but this may well be the last chance that they get to feature in this journal….. but that of course will depend on what I think of the rest of their discography, when I either re-listen to it or listen to it for the first time.

The band had reached the zenith of their creative and commercial peak around the 1972 period, and like a lot of bands were starting to dry up creatively. To address this decline, the band on their sixth studio album Sweet Freedom decided a change of direction was in order. Uriah Heep now moved away from their core proggy hard rock sound that had constantly been fleshed out with both gothic sounds and mystical lyrics. The new direction of Sweet Freedom saw the band putting out a more even-keeled rock sound, which was then enhanced with more diverse rock elements along with writing more contemporary lyrics, all possibly in an attempt to impress new label Warner Bros. The overall result of Sweet Freedom, had been an album that promised much but actually offered the listener a middle of the road experience, despite its obvious penchant to try and impress. Wonderworld its follow up continued in much the same vein, but suffered from sounding like a tired effort, despite the fact that it had classics in “Suicidal Man” and “ I Won’t Mind” and most importantly it was the final album that featured what was regarded as the classic line-up, as after this bassist Gary Thain was sacked from the band for his heroin addiction, an addiction that would sadly kill him in 1975. With John Wetton now on board (ex-so many bands) but best known for his stint with Roxy Music and for the classic Red period of King Crimson. The band now decided to return to their Demons & Wizards era, whilst maintaining the sound of the last two albums. The end result was an album that encapsulated all the aspects of the band’s sound and despite not quite reaching the heights of their aforementioned three classic albums, Return to Fantasy still ranks as one of the band’s best albums and also one of their most diverse. Just listening to some of its tracks like the title “Return to Fantasy” and “Beautiful Dream” amongst others are evidence of this. Return to Fantasy should have been a kind of creative rebirth for the band, as the creative hunger seemed to be there again, but in the end it just proved to be a final flurry for the band, as they moved into mediocre territory for the rest of the decade. Just the following year two of the band’s key players Dave Byron and Ken Hensley would be at loggerheads thus continuing the band’s internal problems.

David Byron- Vocals
Mick Box- Guitar
John Wetton- Bass
Ken Hensley- Keyboards/Organ
Lee Kerslake- Drums

Production- Gerry Bron

I've also added two songs from the previous albums Sweet Freedom and Wonderworld because they are great songs.
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Pounding Decibels- A Hard and Heavy History

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