Wilson and Alroy's Record Reviews - We listen to the lousy records so you won't have to.

Year In Review: 1975

Apart from the first major disco records - ranging from moronic (Donna Summer) to mind-blowing (K.C. and the Sunshine Band) - 1975 was just another entertaining, unprogressive year for pop music. Most of the best stuff was funk and soul. Parliament finally caught up with its sister group Funkadelic. Veterans like The Isley Brothers and The Temptations had worked out successful funk formulas of their own, and newer funkateers like Earth, Wind & Fire, the Ohio Players and War had reached the peaks of their careers as well. Ray Charles' Renaissance deserved the title, while Smokey Robinson proved himself just as durable. And important lesser lights like the The Pointer Sisters and Rufus also were in the firmament. On the down side, Sly Stone's latest comeback effort died a death even while Graham Central Station prospered, and Stevie Wonder failed to put out a new album, which famously allowed Paul Simon to pick up a best album Grammy award.

But the biggest problem was the increasing ossification of rock music. Things were so dull that the most memorable development was the sudden onslaught of the chorus guitar effect. The best try was by Bob Dylan, whose Blood On The Tracks might have been the best record of any genre that year. Jeff Beck had figured out how to take the new jazz-rock fusion formula into the stratosphere. Janis Ian and Joni Mitchell both had apparent setbacks with what were actually among their best and most interestingly experimental records. Peter Frampton was proving himself to be the slickest of many pop-rock superstars, and metal bands like Black Sabbath had settled into a comfortable formula. The unnoticed and delayed release of the Modern Lovers only album and Patti Smith's breakthrough debut both heralded the arrival of punk and New Wave two years later. But most of the other rockers like Eric Clapton, Elton John, the Grateful Dead, and Steve Stills were just cruising along; Lou Reed came up with nothing, so his record company cashed in with a lousy live record; the bogus "Supremes" were trudging along pointlessly; weepy pop acts like Neil Sedaka, John Denver, Barry Manilow, and the Carpenters were all over the charts; and worst of all, pernicious corporate rock had emerged as a full force - some of it competent (Aerosmith) and most of it not (the Jefferson Starship). (JA)

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