Devaluation of the Dollar - March 28, 2006

A friend of mine who shall remain nameless (name begins with D and ends with AN SMITH - that narrows it down to about two million) recently expressed to me that he wasn't so fond of the 1970s when it comes to rock n' roll. With several exceptions (namely Bowie), he felt that the decade was pretty much a wasteland. And so the myth goes: while the '60s were radical, the '80s were fun, the '90s remind us of our childhood, and the '00s have witnessed the merger of pop, hip hop, and electronica into one glorious genre of production virtuosity... the '70s, well, there were indulgent solos and there was disco.

Not true. Without even getting into any obscure bands, here is the best of what might be my favorite decade of ROCK.

TO BE LISTENED TO ON I-TUNES WITH CROSS-FADE ON -- assuming you can't find a way to listen to it on vinyl.

1. John Williams: "Jaws Theme" (Jaws) - 1975
What horror film composer these days would insert a Disney motif within his composition? Huh? Name me one!

2. Led Zeppelin: "Immigrant Song" (Led Zeppelin III) - 1970
...and the shark's name is Robert Plant. Fuck, metal just never got any better than this.

3. Elvis Costello: "(I Don't Want to Go to) Chelsea" (This Year's Model) - 1978
My dad says he found this and My Aim Is True in a sales bin in some record store in the late '70s and bought them without knowing anything about Elvis Costello except that he made sweet album covers.

4. Jackson 5: "I Wanna Be Where You Are" (In Japan!) - 1973
Simply the best song I've heard since that Amerie remix.

5. Devo: "Be Stiff [Stiff Version]" (Be Stiff EP) - 1978
This is my favorite Devo song; much better production than some of their more spare/gimmicky songs.

6. The Clash: "Hateful" (London Calling) - 1979
This could have been on the People Who Hate People mix. But it wasn't.

7. Neil Young: "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" (After the Gold Rush) - 1970
"When you were young and on your own/How did it feel to be alone?" Neil was 25 when this lyric debuted, which makes me think, "Well at least you had a record contract, asshole." But damn can this man sink and lift one's spirit simultaneously.

8. The Cure: "10:15 Saturday Night" (Three Imaginary Boys) - 1979
Admittedly, an early precursor to later greatness. But still hot.

9. Black Sabbath: "Paranoid" (Paranoid) - 1971
Okay, metal really got no better after this.

10. Brian Eno: "Sky Saw" (Another Green World) - 1975
I love the goth-industrial riff on this.

11. The Cars: "Dangerous Type" (Candy-O) - 1979
Similar opening to T-Rex's "Bang a Gong." Similar vocals to Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh. But better.

12. Electric Light Orchestra: "Showdown" (On the Third Day) - 1973
His voice makes me want to strip.

13. Prince: "Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?" (Prince) - 1979
Wow, I can't believe I wrote that last line there and not here.

14. Yes: "Long Distance Runaround" (Fragile) - 1972
The only prog rock band that can still make my ears swoon. Fuck Floyd.

15. Television: "Elevation" (Marquee Moon) - 1977
With back-and-forth guitar riffs that inspired one Interpol, this track rocks.

16. Gang of Four: "Natural's Not In It" (Entertainment!) - 1979
When I first heard this song, I was mistakenly under the impression that it was recorded in 1970, which blew my mind! I remember telling the person sitting next to me on an airplane to Chicago that this song was recorded the same year as "Let It Be" and then flipping out. I later found out that it was actually recorded in 1979: after the Stooges, Television, Patti Smith, the Ramones had already happened. But still, it slays.

17. Richard Hell & the Voidoids: "Blank Generation" (Blank Generation) - 1977
Check out Richard Hell as a version of himself in a great indie flick, Smithereens.

18. Patti Smith: "My Generation (Live)" (Horses) - 1975

19. The Carpenters: "We've Only Just Begun" (We've Only Just Begun) - 1970
I'M SO THIN, I'M SO GODDAMN THIN! Speaking of great indie flicks, download Todd Haynes's first film, Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, a biopic told exclusively with barbie dolls, here.

20. Iggy & the Stooges: "Gimme Danger" (Raw Power) - 1973
Best/most accurate album title of all time? Truly recorded at 11.

21. David Bowie: "Cracked Actor" (Aladdin Sane) - 1973
An underrated track from the '70s maestro.

22. The Inmates: "Mr. Unreliable" (First Offense) - 1979
I don't know much about these guys but this song sounds like it must have influenced every indie band of the '80s.

23. Al Green: "Have You Been Making Out O.K.?" (Call Me) - 1973

24. Lou Reed: "Perfect Day" (Transformer) - 1972
In the 10th grade, I used this song for the end credits of a short film about how George Lucas and Steven Spielberg ruined the movie business, reflecting the oft-told Peter Biskind narrative.

25. Jerry Goldsmith: "Chinatown Theme" (Chinatown) - 1974
The future, Mr. Gittes. The future.

(Next week: why the 1970s are OVERRATED when it comes to film. J/K. Sort of.)