Year In Review: 1974
1974 was a good year for established acts, but not for innovators. The Philly sound was hot and Abba had burst upon the European scene, but disco hadn't yet arrived and the P-Funk machine wasn't yet well-oiled. So just about the only really noteworthy R & B and funk records were by less-well-known acts like Ashford & Simpson, Rufus and Tower Of Power. Meanwhile, proto-punk acts like the New York Dolls and fine second-tier fusion acts like the Soft Machine toiled in obscurity, and aging survivors dominated rock music: David Bowie, who had his last great fling with the dying glam rock genre; Eric Clapton, who topped the charts with his mellow Bob Marley cover "I Shot The Sheriff"; Carole King, who had gone back to her usual soft-rock formulas; Stevie Wonder, who not only put out a fine album of his own but produced a marvelous one by Syreeta Wright; and Joni Mitchell, who not only reached the commercial peak of her career with Court And Spark, but also released the brilliant live double album Miles Of Aisles.
We've reviewed so many solid-but-not-so-great efforts from this year that I hardly know where to start. In the R & B, soul, and funk corner were James Brown, Earth, Wind & Fire, Funkadelic, the Ohio Players, and Minnie Riperton. In the rock corner the challengers included King Crimson, John Lennon, the Who, and the hugely popular Eagles.
Some of the worst efforts this year were overconfident live albums by David Bowie and the Faces; Bob Dylan's unwanted release of out-takes followed by an ill-considered reunion with the Band; and yet more rubbish by sell-outs like the Jefferson Starship, Poco, and the formerly gritty, but now just cheesy Rod Stewart. (JA)
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