DAVID BOWIE, “THE RISE AND FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS” (1972): Never mind the ’70s, this is one of the greatest albums of any decade. Granted, I was a tiny tot when it was released in summer 1972, but upon discovering it circa 1984, this is the record that made me a lifelong Bowie fan.

Bowie’s  androgynous, orange-haired  Ziggy Stardust takes the listener by the hand through the end of the world, a psychedelic daydream, fame, outer space and ultimately, his own  demise. He does this all brilliantly with songs like “Moonage Daydream,” “Starman” and “Hang Onto Yourself.” The Ziggy record also is home to two of rock’s most famous guitar riffs, courtesy of Mick Ronson. The opening  chords of “Ziggy Stardust” and “Suffragette City” are living, breathing entities in the rock ’n’ roll ether.

There isn’t a record that Bowie released during the ’70s that I don’t love. But “Ziggy Stardust” wins my prize for the best of the best, and  for sure, my favorite album of the decade. “Let the children use it, let the children lose it, let all the children boogie.”

– Aimsel Ponti, News Assistant

THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND, “AT FILLMORE EAST” (1971): It was 1971, the year I went off to college. I loved everything about “At Fillmore East,” from the grainy black-and-white cover photo of the boys, who looked like everything an 18-year-old guy thought a rock band should look like (hairy and rowdy and hooting it up) to the two vinyl records tucked inside, which I still have, scratched and stained from countless dorm parties. (I have since upgraded to CD, which has sustained countless more listenings.)

It was the music, though, that was a revelation – long, exhilarating, jazzy, bluesy jams by keyboardist Gregg Allman, drummers Butch Trucks and Jai Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson, bassist Barry Oakley and the great guitarists Dickie Betts and Dwayne Allman. Hearing Betts and Allman, whose virtuosic slide licks still make me, at 58, want to break out the air guitar, trade solos on “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” and “Whipping Post” and, my personal favorite, “Statesboro Blues”? To this day, priceless.


– John Willhoite, Designer

JACKSON BROWNE, “RUNNING ON EMPTY” (1977): I’m not sure if the Earth shifted when I dropped the needle on Jackson Browne’s “Running on Empty” for the first time. But something significant happened. The songs that crackled from my speakers changed how I listened to music and how I perceived the very concept of “good music.” From that point forward, the music that mattered most to me was all about lyrics and meaning. I liked songs that told stories and laden with lyrical narration.

The record caused a philosophical rift within my group of friends. A lot of my buddies were into hard rock and heavy metal, and I might have trended in that direction. But Browne caught me ear, and his music challenged me to think about the songs I liked and why.

It was a noteworthy record for many reasons. It was a live record, and includes tracks recorded on stage, backstage, on the tour bus (“rolling down 295 out of Portland, Maine”) and in hotel rooms. It represents not only a decade, but a personal awakening.

– Bob Keyes, Staff Writer

JOHN LENNON, “PLASTIC ONO BAND” (1970): The music of John Lennon and The Beatles has carried me throughout my life, providing an escape from an abusive childhood and giving comfort in times of failed relationships, bad career moves and self-doubt. Nothing has received more listens than “Plastic Ono Band.”


Sporting fresh wounds from The Beatles’ breakup, a high-profile drug bust and the public vilification of his second wife, Lennon used his first true solo album to unleash a lifetime worth of anguish and defiance in one 11-track package. Screaming one moment and whispering the next, he leaves nothing off limits, from his abandonment as a child on “Mother” and his disdain for obsessed fans in “I Found Out” to his own sense of insecurity on “Working Class Hero.”

And just in case listeners were uncertain about what lie ahead, he makes it clear in no uncertain terms on “God”: “I don’t believe in Beatles/ I just believe in me/ Yoko and me – that’s reality.” Like it or not, Lennon was going to forge his own path from now on, on his own terms, an example that has served me well over the past 25 years.

– Rod Harmon, GO Editor

VARIOUS ARTISTS, “RONCO PRESENTS IN CONCERT” (1975): The beauty of radio in the ’70s was that you could hear pop, disco, soul, rock and novelty tunes all on the same station, usually within a 10-minute span. That’s why I loved the Ronco and K-Tel “as seen on TV” albums that packaged a dozen or two radio hits together.

When I got “Ronco Presents In Concert” for Christmas in 1975 at age 12, I immediately slapped it on the turntable,  grabbed a tennis racquet (guitar) and a hair brush (microphone), and started singing all my favorite tunes of the day. I think I finally took it off the turntable sometime during the fall of ’77.

Consider the diversity and good-time grooviness of just the first four songs: “Rock The Boat” by The Hues Corporation, “I’m Leaving it All Up to You” by Donny and Marie Osmond, “Put Your Hands Together” by The O’Jays and “Takin’ Care of Business” by Bachman-Turner Overdrive. There were also corny novelty songs like “The Streak” by Ray Stevens and “Wildwood Weed” by Jim Stafford, danceable R&B tunes like “You Little Trustmaker” by Tymes and “Hang On In There Baby” by Johnny Bristol, as well as fun fluffy pieces like “The Night Chicago Died” by Paper Lace and “Life is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me)” by Reunion.


I like to think that album helped shape my musical worldview, helping me realize that as a music listener, one can have a lot more fun if one can forget about the restrictive idea of musical genres and just enjoy the music for what it is.

And what the music was in 1975 was all over the map.

– Ray Routhier, Staff Writer

VARIOUS ARTISTS, “SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER” (1977): I had a Dorothy Hamill hairdo and was at a junior-high slumber party when I listened to the soundtrack to a new movie called “Saturday Night Fever.” That was the first, but by no means the last time I ever heard the Bee Gees ah-ah-ah-ah “Stayin’ Alive,” Tavares singing “More Than a Woman” and Yvonne Elliman showing the boys how to belt one out with “If I Can’t Have You.”

The songs were everywhere, the movie was huge and, as is true of that kind of pop-culture phenomenon, everything from fashion to music and dance styles reflected the trend. Disco had been around for a while, but with “Saturday Night Fever,” it suddenly seemed like everyone, even in my sleepy little corner of upstate New York, had signed on for the ride.

Thankfully, I was a little too young to actually be going out in platform shoes and a nice polyester vest, blouse and flared trousers and publicly attempting disco moves. Not so my older sister, who was in high school when “SNF” hit.


And that brings me to one great thing about this LP: It’s a gift that keeps on giving. To this day, I can mock my sister with a fake falsetto, a few hip thrusts and some skyward finger points, and it annoys her almost as much as my mere existence did back in the day.

– Sally Tyrrell, Designer

VARIOUS ARTISTS, “FREE TO BE… YOU AND ME” (1972): Growing up on a back-to-the-land homestead in Maine in the 1970s, I quickly learned that gender equality was just as important as organic vegetables and raw goat’s milk.

Sure, my mother, a card-carrying member of NOW, had a lot to do with this, but where I most vividly remember learning the value of tolerance and individuality was from repeatedly listening to my one and only record: “Free to Be… You and Me.”

Here, I found catchy tunes that broke down gender stereotypes and encouraged all kids to go after their dreams. “Free to Be” described a world where boys could cry and own dolls, where girls could give up dresses and grow up to be engineers. As the title track proclaims, it’s “a land where the children are free.”

– Avery Yale Kamila, Staff Writer


When We Grow Up” performed by Roberta Flack and a teenage Michael Jackson in 1974

BAY CITY ROLLERS, “BAY CITY ROLLERS” (1975): The first time I heard the Bay City Rollers’s self-titled album was at my older cousin’s house when I was about 8 years old. My then-teenage cousin showed off the cover and commented on the “cute” guys while she sang the chorus to “Saturday Night.”

Being a few years younger and in dire need of some coolness (or so I thought), I decided to emulate her enthusiasm for the band, and quickly learned the words to the hit song. When I eventually reached my teen years, I found my own taste ran toward a bit more “new wave,” and U2 was part of my library of compilation cassette tapes.

Here’s an interesting and little-known fact: At U2’s very first show in 1977, the band played Bay City Roller songs, and Bono dressed like the Rollers’ lead singer.

– Wendy Almeida, Assistant News Editor

BILLY JOEL, “THE STRANGER” (1977): In my senior year of high school, just as I was about to sprout wings and fly away from the repressed Southern culture I had grown up in, I fell in love with the angry-young-man persona that came out of Billy Joel in “The Stranger.” I wanted to be Brenda riding around with Eddie, with the car top down and the radio on. I was more like Virginia, the Catholic school girl whose parents had built her a temple and locked her away. Just about everything I wanted to do was a sin.

Struggling to find my own identity, I moved from a private girls’ school in Memphis, where I spent most of my free time studying (“working too hard can give you a heart attack, ack, ack, ack, ack, ack…”), to college in Colorado, where I could backpack every weekend and learn to laugh with the sinners, not cry with the saints. In 1978, Joel followed up “The Stranger” with “52nd Street,” and the song “My Life” became my anthem. To this day, whenever anyone ticks me off or tries to tell me what to think, the lyrics to “My Life” go through my head: “I don’t care what you say anymore, this is my life/ Go ahead with your own life, LEAVE ME ALONE.”

– Meredith Goad, Staff Writer

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