1976


Title: Couldn’t Get It Right

Artist: Climax Blues Band

Album: Gold Plated

Year Released: 1976

What It Is: A rather fluky hit from a generic, mainstream British rock band. By all accounts they were a pleasing, hard working band but this is the only thing anyone remembers by them (except for a schlocky ballad five years later). They were the epitome of a faceless band. Only diehards knew who they were, and then I bet half of those diehards couldn’t pick them out of a police lineup.

Riffage / Hookage: Faceless band, but a mega hooky riff and song. When you hear those guitar chimes with the deep bass you know exactly what song it is!

Cowbell?: And there’s so much cowbell, famous producer Bruce Dickinson (not the Iron Maiden singer) will need to change his underwear…

Words Of Wisdom: “New York City took me with the tide
And I nearly died from hospitality
Left me stranded, took away my pride
Just another no account fatality”

Mixology Report: Sure – it’ll fit almost anywhere.

Top Five Genius Results: Robert John – Sad Eyes
Jay Ferguson – Thunder Island (now, THERE’S an earworm fer ya…)
Exile – Kiss You All Over
Atlanta Rhythm Section – Imaginary Lover
Ozark Mountain Daredevils – Jackie Blue

For The Good Of The Order: I soft-pedaled it earlier, but in the summer of 1976 I couldn’t get enough of this song. In fact, I kept listening to WLS in Chicago in the hopes they’d play the song. And that’s how I know the names for all of the Chicago freeways and the landmarks thereof? I mean, how else would I know that it’s 34 minutes from Mannheim to the Post Office on the Eisenhower?

Well, even though they’re definitely ‘faceless’ – the band does exist – in YouTube.

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Title: Emerald

Artist: Thin Lizzy

Album: Jailbreak

Year Released: 1976

What It Is: A great album cut from a great album by a great band. It’s got it all – plunder, murder, mayhem and kick-ass guitar solos!

Riffage / Hookage: Fantastic riffing by Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson. Great guitar duel as well, with Robertson taking the end solo.

Cowbell?: Nah. Don’t need it with the epic guitaring!

Words Of Wisdom: “Down from the glen came the marching men
With their shields and their swords
To fight the fight they believed to be right
Overthrow the overlords

To the town where there was plenty
They brought plunder, swords and flame
When they left the town was empty
Children would never play again

From their graves I heard the fallen
Above the battle cry
By that bridge near the border
There were many more to die

Then onward over the mountain
And outward towards the sea
They had come to claim the emerald
Without it they could not leave”

Now, I’ve just been reading (almost done) with a book called “The Forge Of Christendom: The End Of Times & The Epic Rise Of The West” by Tom Holland, which is fascinating about the rise of the West in and around the year 1000 – full of plunder, looting, ribaldry, all in the name of the Church! Good stuff. They were very creative about their punishments and torture back in the day. For instance: someone who was carousing with the wrong woman was nailed to a tree by his scrotum, and then given a knife. He had two choices of what to do: lose the jewels, or kill himself. Yikes!

Mixology Report: Why deny people a chance to hear this?

Top Five Genius Results: Rapid Fire – Judas Priest
Am I Evil – Diamond Head
Doctor Doctor – UFO
Murders In The Rue Morgue – Iron Maiden
Pictures Of Home – Deep Purple

Genius, Thin Lizzy isn’t metal, but good tunes nonetheless.

For The Good Of The Order: All I have to say is Thin Lizzy may be the most underrated band in the history of rock and roll (in the USA, at least).

Here’s a live clip. Rock out, peeps!

Title: Combination

Artist: Aerosmith

Album: Rocks

Year Released: 1976

What It Is: A deep-cut album track from Aerosmith’s classic early era, before they were eaten alive by drugs and such (but not the sanitized clean and sober version post-1988). But being deep-cut Aerosmith, it kicks ass without being overplayed.

Riffage / Hookage: Joe Perry, the songwriter, must have come up with main riff, but Tom Hamilton’s bass line is menacing and rubbery. Brad Whitford no doubts contributes to the rockin’ riffs in his own way. (Yes, Perry wrote this one alone. Contrary to popular belief, Steven Tyler and Perry weren’t joined at the hip, nor were they the sole songwriters, as Whitford and Hamilton have some writing credits on classic songs.)

Cowbell?: I can’t hear any, but that doesn’t mean there’s not any. I hear a bell, but not a cowbell, more of a jangly one. Or it could be a very small cymbal.

Words Of Wisdom: “I forgot the name
I took a shot on the chin
I’m rearranging my game
Tell by the shape I’m in”

A shout out to Tyler, as he recuperates from a nasty fall he took off stage at a concert in Sturgis.

Mixology Report: I always advocate for the lesser known cut if you are torn between two songs.

Top Five Genius Results: Thus far Genius is unavailable for this track. Hmmmm…

For The Good Of The Order: Except for one or two stray tracks, I’m all for wiping Aerosmith post-1986 from the record books. Who’s with me? (OK, we’d miss a couple of hot videos, but still…)

No actual video (too early for that, really) or a live cut, but here’s the tune to enjoy!

Title: Peace Of Mind

Artist: Boston

Album:Boston

Year Released: 1976

What It Is: Famous, or infamous. While some critics at the time thought it was the death of civilization as we knew it (and totally against the prevailing Punk / DIY ethos of the time) what it turned out to be was very polished radio friendly rock and roll that used about 120,217 overdubs and the voice of Brad Delp (RIP) to perfection. You can be as stalwart as you want to be on alternative and indie, but damn this brings a smile to your face when you hear it.

Riffage / Hookage: It’s Boston, there are RIFFS galore, and hooks too. But it’s about the riffs here.

Cowbell?: Of the 129,244 overdubs (just heard a few more), I didn’t find any percussion based trickery.

Words Of Wisdom: “Now you’re climbin’ to the top of the company ladder
Hope it doesn’t take too long
Can’tcha see there’ll come a day when it won’t matter
Come a day when you’ll be gone”

Well, I’m to the top of the company ladder, but that’s easy when you’re self employed.

Mixology Report: This is good for party mixes and driving mixes! And for a game of ‘count the vocal layers by Brad Delp!”

For The Good Of The Order: As you may know, this album was basically recorded in Tom Scholz’ basement studio with Brad Delp on vocals. I think Sib Hashian played drums, but I don’t think the other two guys did much since Scholz is a megalomaniacal control freak. Scholz was a perfectionist, and almost sunk his career by waiting so long to release the group’s third record, which STUNK! The fact of the matter is that you can make the sound as great as possible, but without songs, in this genre, you have nothing. Scholz has written about seven good to great songs (and “Amanda is NOT one of them) and the other guys this close to bupkes (think of Orion The Hunter and Return To Zero for one, er, two). The fact of the matter is while the first record was a great debut album, there’s only a couple other songs by Boston that I would deign to listen to.

Ah, well, after that rant, enjoy this classic tune!

Title: The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald

Artist: Gordon Lightfoot

Album: Summertime Dream

Year Released: 1976

What It Is: In case you don’t know (young in’) this is a tale of a famous shipwreck in Lake Superior by the Edmund Fitzgerald in November 1975. The “Fitz” was the largest ship on the Great Lakes at the time, and even though it had trouble with “the gales of November” (you know, they came early and all), down she went without much warning in the big lake they call Gitchee Gumee.

Riffage / Hookage: I think the reason for its popularity is the guitar and slide guitar parts more than anything else. Terry Clements and Pee Wee Charles’ lines stick in your head for sure. I mean, you know the guitar riff after the verses by heart, don’t you?

Cowbell?: Nah. Just good ol’ MOR drummin’.

Words Of Wisdom: “When supper time came the old cook came on deck
Saying fellows it’s too rough to feed ya
At 7PM a main hatchway caved in
He said fellas it’s been good to know ya.”

I understand that Lightfoot was using poetic license, but you know, since everyone died on the boat, it is plausible that the cook came on deck and said, “HOLY SHIT! WE GONNA DIE!” and then binged on hard tack and grog. Yo ho ho!

Mixology Report:Well, it is rather a depresso song, but everyone KNOWS it, and those guitar parts, man, they stick with ya. So, use your judegement.

For The Good Of The Order: This is proof positive that the 70’s were just a weird decade. This song is 6:28, and it’s about a shipwreck and is a sad (poignant, moving, yes, but still…) sea shanty. This went to #2 on the Billboard charts as a single. Again, let me say this: #2! Not only did it have to sell a metric ton of copies, but Top 40 radio stations had to play it pretty regularly. Can you imagine your ‘hot hit’ radio station playing something like this NOW? (I wonder how Casey Kasem reacted to it, and if he had any issues with long distance dedications about dying dogs right after it…)

BTW, this was kept out of the top spot by “Tonight’s The Night” by Rod Stewart. Yeah…those songs are similar, right?

Here’s Gordon on the late great show Soundstage doing his thing (the band and good singer well seasoned) with some film of said Edmund Fitzgerald: