Take a look back and note some of the biggest gems of 1973, from Bruce Springsteen to The Who, from Diana Ross to David Bowie. Words: Ryan Daly
The first couple of years of the decade are usually not filled with epoch—defining music – perhaps because we are still moving from one period to another. But by the third year, the juices are flowing, revolutions are gaining momentum and classic albums are coming out.
This was certainly the case in 1973, a year filled with records that would stand the test of time 50 years later, whether it was The Who improving rock opera on “Quadrophenia”, Stevie Wonder creating a socially conscious pearl of the soul on “Innervisions”. ‘, or cult heroine Judy Sill, who shares her latest album in ‘Heart Food’. Remind yourself of these and other legendary albums, which are 50 years old this year.
Bruce Springsteen – “Greetings from Asbury Park, New Jersey”.
It’s hard to imagine a time when Bruce Springsteen wasn’t thundering around the world with his three-hour live performance of workers’ anthems. But at the very beginning of 1973, the New Jersey icon was relatively unknown compared to his current status – until he released his debut album, Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J., which gradually attracted attention until the end of the year. and earn him comparisons with Bob Dylan for his poetic stories of the everyman.
What happened next: he launched the cult career of The Boss, setting the tone for his anthems of a man of the people, and subsequently it became considered one of the best debut albums of all time.
Elton John — “Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road”
Elton John’s second album of 1973 turned out to be one of the most popular. At first, it was planned that “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” would be recorded in Jamaica, partly inspired by The Rolling Stones and Cat Stevens, who escaped to the village to cook “Goats Head Soup” and “Foreigner”, respectively. However, the sessions were quickly cancelled after the arrival of John and his band due to the political situation at the time, resulting in the musicians being sent back to the French castle, where his two previous recordings were made. Changes in plans accelerated the process (the songs were mostly written on the day of recording), but did not worsen the quality — many tracks here are considered among John’s best.
What happened next: It spawned many hits, including “Candle In The Wind”, which would later be reworked to pay homage to Princess Diana after her death two decades later. The album also stayed at number one on the charts for two months, which further boosted John’s superstar status.
Iggy and The Stooges – “Brute Force”
The third album of The Stooges was created in random conditions. Technically, the band broke up, but when Iggy Pop signed a solo deal with Columbia, they eventually got back together to record “Raw Power” in London. Iggy, bassist Ron Asheton and drummer Scott Asheton were joined by new guitarist James Williamson, who brought a new, rougher sound to the band, which will have a great influence on the coming generation of punks.
What happened next: “Raw Power” may be considered a classic now, but it definitely wasn’t popular at the time. His poor commercial performance forced Columbia to abandon the band, and they disbanded again in 1974, which gave Iggy the opportunity to eventually rise from the ashes and begin his solo career two years later.
Pink Floyd – “The Dark Side of the Moon”
Pink Floyd’s album “The Dark Side Of The Moon” was groundbreaking both in terms of sound quality and content. Conceived as a concept album about “things that drive people crazy,” it was one of the first albums — and certainly one of the most commercially successful — to discuss mental health, touching on the struggles of former member Syd Barrett. Meanwhile, the quality of its production was so high that it quickly became known as a record for audiophiles, and the smooth transition of the track list created an “immersive experience” long before this phrase became a cliche.
What happened next: The album became one of the most influential albums in the alternative and experimental fields, inspiring everyone from Tame Impala to Radiohead and many others.
Led Zeppelin — “Houses of Saints”
“Houses Of The Holy” was Led Zeppelin’s first album with the right name, and this turn was not the only change in style that the record represented for the band. As for the sound, the rock legends also changed the situation, bringing a more experimental touch to the songs and adding hints of everything from reggae to folk to the material. Despite the fact that it did not receive the overwhelming majority of positive critical reviews upon release, over the past decades it has been overestimated and recognized as a classic in the work of Zeppelin.
What happened next: Led Zep’s stratospheric rise continued — the North American “Houses Of The Holy” tour broke attendance records at that time, including the one set by the infamous Beatles concert at Shea Stadium.
Faces – “Oh-la-la”
A storm was brewing in the world of The Faces when they recorded their latest studio album, “Ooh La La”. Frontman Rod Stewart has already started his solo career, attracting considerable attention, and the public has begun to view his bandmates as their support group. According to reports, Stewart did not contribute to the mood among himself and his bandmates by missing the first two weeks of recording and not caring about the album at all. After its release, he regularly criticized it in the press, calling it a “bloody mess” — which few seemed to agree with, as it topped the UK charts and became one of the best albums of the year.
What happened next: things didn’t improve at Camp Faces — rather the opposite. Lane left the band in June 1975, and a few months later the whole band broke up. Stewart continued his successful solo career, while Ronnie Wood permanently joined The Rolling Stones, and the rest of the band reformed Small Faces.
David Bowie — “Aladdin Sein”
“Aladdin Sane” was the first album David Bowie released after the huge success of “The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars” in 1972, but it was not strictly a continuation of the story of Ziggy’s alter ego. Instead, its creator viewed “Aladdin Sane” as a “pale imitation of Ziggy”, capturing the image during a trip to America. Whatever it was, the songs — from “Jean Genie” to “Cracked Actor” — did not seem to be a pale imitation of Bowie’s genius, which replenished his arsenal.
What happened next: Bowie announced the departure of Ziggy Stardust’s character on the Hammersmith Odeon stage in July 1973 and continued to work on another album with Spiders From Mars in the album of covers “Pin Ups”.
Dolls of New York – “Dolls of New York”
For their self—titled debut album, the New York Dolls teamed up with Todd Rundgren as producer – an interesting choice, given that he considered the band simply “competent”. But this combination gave excellent results, as a result of which “New York Dolls” sounded like a theatrical live show of the band, and the content of the record became a harbinger of androgynous, social observations of the punk explosion, which was not far off. Although the album divided fans, it received rave reviews from critics and has since been considered a classic of the 70s.
What happened next: They released another cult classic album in 1974, “Too Much Too Soon”, before tensions between the bands and problems with alcohol abuse began to tear the band apart.
Marvin Gaye – “Let’s Get Started”
Two years after the release of his seminal classic book, “What’s Going On,” Marvin Gaye has slightly changed tactics. Instead of writing on topics of public consciousness, he took up sex and love, becoming a pioneer of slow jam in the process. However, there was depth in the songs beyond their sensual nature — Gay used the lyrics to position sex as a form of healing, both on a personal level and as in “Keep Gettin’ It On”, at the social level.
What happened next: The success of “Let’s Get It On” led to Gay gaining more creative control, and his three singles hitting the Billboard charts served as proof that he knew exactly how to make a hit.
Who is “Quadrophenia”
By 1973, The Who were well versed in how to make a rock opera, having already completed the “mini-operas” track “A Quick One, While He’s Away” and the cult record “Tommy”. For “Quadrophenia” Pete Townshend took the reins in his own hands and came up with a story about a fashionista trying to find his way in life. It was perhaps the most ambitious of The Who’s many visionary albums, earning its place on many lists of the greatest albums due to its storyline, musicality and coherence.
What happened next: the tour version of “Quadrophenia” performed worse than the album, due to problems related to backing tracks that tried to replace some instruments on the album. It was removed from the tour in 1974, but two decades later it was returned in a new format.
Paul McCartney and Wings — “Band On The Run”
After The Beatles disbanded in 1970, public opinion of Paul McCartney was low due to the fact that he and Wings presented an ambiguous picture in “Wild Life” and “Red Rose Speedway”. So he and his new band went to Nigeria to record their third album, believing it would be a relaxing and exotic place to record. They soon discovered that this was far from the case, but these ideas merged into songs, raising themes of liberation, especially in the two hits generated by the album — “Jet” and the title track.
What happened next: The record rejuvenated Macca’s reputation, which had fallen from the two previous Wings releases. In 1974, it became the best-selling album in the UK, and the band’s next album, “Venus And Mars” in 1975, became a number one hit in the US, UK and other countries of the world.
John Cale – “Paris 1919”
For his third solo album, former Velvet Underground member John Cale put aside his trademark experimenter and decided to do something more acceptable to a wide audience. He brought an orchestra to the sessions to add a touch of rich warmth to the songs, which also added to them the feeling of a strong reversal compared to the niche he had previously singled out for himself.
What happened next: Having made something accessible, Cale returned to his next albums and created sharper and more sinister works in 1974’s “Fear” and 1975’s “Slow Dazzle”.
Roxy Music – “For Your Pleasure”
Although the art rock of Roxy Music passed by some people, “For Your Pleasure” still achieved commercial success, taking fourth place in the UK albums chart. Consider this a reward for a band that continues to advance their craft, from frontman Bryan Ferry honing his lyricism to a band adopting increasingly progressive production methods.
What happened next: Brian Eno left the band shortly after the end of the “For Your Pleasure” tour, which made this album his last with the band. Since then, Roxy Music has become more collaborative: Andy McKay and Phil Manzanera contributed more to the songwriting previously under Ferry’s control.
Judy Sill — “Food for the Heart”
Cult singer-songwriter Judy Sill was honored to be the first to sign a contract with David Geffen’s Asylum label in 1971, and “Heart Food” became her second and last release on this imprint. On the record, she took on more control than in her self-titled debut album, especially in the album arrangements, with some songs being more pop than her folk-style predecessor. Beloved by artists as diverse as Clairo and XTC, Sill’s moment in the spotlight may have been brief, but “Heart Food” immortalized her talent forever.
What happened next: Sill started writing and recording demos for her third album, but lost control of her heroin addiction and quit working on music. She died of an overdose in 1979.
Bob Marley and The Wailers — “Catch A Fire”
“Catch A Fire” marked the big international breakthrough of Bob Marley and The Wailers at a time when interest in reggae was growing worldwide thanks to films such as “The Harder They Come”. It has since been considered one of the greatest reggae albums of all time, and the contributions of members such as Wailers member Peter Tosh show that the band was not just about Marley.
What happened next: Marley became a global icon, although not without drama. As the fame of the Wailers grew, Tosh and Bunny Wailer left the band, unhappy with the attitude of Island Records boss Chris Blackwell towards the other members compared to Marley.
Diana Ross – “Touch Me in the Morning”
After losing the Oscar to Liza Minnelli, promising movie star and former Supremes soloist Diana Ross returned to what she knew best — stunning music. “Touch Me In The Morning” was the first album she released after that loss, and it had new strings, including the ballad from the title track. It was also a record that put her on the path of diva and influenced some of the strongest female voices in pop music.
What happened next: Ross collaborated with Marvin Gaye on the hit collaborative album “Diana And Marvin”, while she continued to expand her acting career and become an icon of solo pop music.
Stevie Wonder — “Inner Vision”
For his 16th studio album, Stevie Wonder has largely left behind the love ballads of previous albums and moved into much more socially conscious territory. Written almost entirely by himself, the tracks on “Innervisions” artfully dealt with everything from criticism of US President Richard Nixon, who was in power at the time, to systemic racism. This showed that the already beloved musician was more than just a romantic soul, and brought important issues to the forefront of his music.
What happened next: Three days after the release of the album, Wonder was in a car accident, as a result of which he lay in a coma for 10 days. Coming out of it, the musician was worried that he would no longer be able to play – fortunately, as we know, he did it, continuing his legendary career.
Lou Reed — “Berlin”
The story behind “Berlin” centers around a couple struggling with addiction and abuse, and highlights, among other topics, domestic violence, mental health and drug use. Although over the decades it has been overrated and added to many lists of classic albums, at the time it was widely rejected by both critics and fans, although British listeners gave Lou Reed his album with the highest position in the charts.
What happened next: “Berlin” can now be considered a classic, but in order to save face after a commercial failure at that time, Reed resorted to the next release of the Velvet Underground’s live album of songs “Rock’n’ROLL Animal”. It became his best-selling solo album.
Black Sabbath – “Bloody Saturday”
Black Sabbath had already started mixing their sound even before the release of “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” in 1973 and continued to refresh the recordings. Synthesizers and strings were added to the tracks, while Tony Iommi tried – and failed – to become proficient enough in playing the sitar and bagpipes to make things even newer. Despite these unconventional ideas, “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” still makes noise and is often considered one of the heaviest albums of all time.
What happened next: Black Sabbath returned to their roots with the album “Sabotage” in 1975, but it could not save the classic line-up of the band. In 1977, Ozzy Osbourne left and was replaced by Dave Walker, who returned to the band only in 1978, and was fired a year later.
Gladys Knight and Pepys — “Imagination”
Unable to negotiate a better contract with Motown, Gladys Knight And The Pips left the iconic label and instead started anew with Buddah Records. Their first release on the label was “Imagination”, which allowed them to show new creativity, moving away on some tracks from the sound they were known for, into the territory of pop music and R&B. They made this change, too, quickly selling a million copies of the record.
What happened next: Although “Imagination” was a successful start on Buddah Records, it didn’t last long, and by the end of the decade the band left the label and quit Columbia Records.
Tom Waits — “Closing Time”
Although the world did not immediately understand Tom Waits’ debut album “Closing Time”, as soon as he did, the record quickly became a cult. The star recorded the album after David Geffen discovered him at The Troubadour in Los Angeles, and his songs introduced him as a poetic songwriter rooted in jazz, from which he departed when he entered the 80s.
What happened next: Although Waits did not achieve much commercial success, he nevertheless became a symbol of musically revered people and a source of inspiration for those interested in writing songs about unsuccessful characters.
Roberta Flack – “Kill Me Gently”
North Carolina singer Roberta Flack’s fifth studio album “Killing Me Softly” was far from her first forays into recording, when she recorded dozens of demos in a few hours. Instead, the star spent 18 months working on “Kill Me Softly,” and her time paid off. One of her best albums, it won Record of the Year at the 1974 Grammy Awards and could have been Album of the year if not for Wonder’s Innervisions.
What happened next: Flack took third and last place on Billboard with the 1974 single “Feel Like Makin’ Love”, but she continued to record and perform until earlier this year, when she was forced to retire after being diagnosed with amyotrophic syndrome. lateral sclerosis.