Spillyear 1975


The 1975

A band called The 1975 quit social media for a day, and have now come back. Apparently this counts as news. I’m not sure anyone born before 1975 cares. Or 1995, comes to that.

So yeah, anyway. 1975. Good year for music? I think so, though I wasn’t there.

1965 looks hard to beat – have we reached a high-water mark already? But let’s hear what things sounded like 10 years later. 

Listen to the playlist here

[it’s supposed to embed, but doesn’t seem to work – technical support welcome]

Add your top 3 here



86 thoughts on “Spillyear 1975

  1. My getting-in-there-with-the-obvious-choices top 3:

    Bob Dylan – Idiot Wind (link is to a 1974 bootleg, because Bob’s people don’t like YouTube)
    Patti Smith – Redondo Beach (should really be Land, but I think this one sounds better in a playlist)
    Joni Mitchell – Harry’s House/Centrepiece (2 for the price of 1 – a piece full of subtle drama, repressed emotion and memorable images)

  2. The year before British punk hit the headlines. Although there were next to no actual records to buy until 1977.
    When it comes to USA punk and related music, we got to hear a lot of stuff: Ramones, Television, Patti, Modern Lovers some time after their US releases I think.
    Off to check the stats………….

  3. This was the year I left primary school and went ‘up’ to grammar school, which meant leaving the Osmond fans behind with whom I’d studied the Top Twenty every week (we used to take it turns to write them down every Sunday evening) and being confronted by girls sporting tartan ribbons instead. I didn’t like the Osmonds and I thought the Bay City Rollers were pathetic. I liked 10cc.
    Steve Harley gets a look-in because he’d done a stint on our local paper (as a photographer?) and I remember my grandad coming to stay and moaning about this song. Quo because Quo…

    10cc – I’m Not In Love
    Status Quo – Down Down
    Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel – Come Up And See Me (Make Me Smile)

  4. Hm, let’s see… I was three, so none of these were being listened to by me back in the day:

    Donna Summer: Love to Love You Baby
    Glen Campbell: Rhinestone Cowboy
    Joan Baez: Diamonds and Rust

  5. ok – taking Rate Your Music (and Barbryn’s choices!) as my guide, here goes:

    Dylan – Simple Twist of Fate
    Patti Smith – Gloria
    Joni – The Jungle Line

  6. Earth Wind & Fire – Shining Star. My introduction to funk, and the sheer power and bigness of it blew me away. I’ve never lost my love for EW&F or funk

    Janis Ian – At Seventeen. Can’t say I was socially aware at 15, but I certainly knew teen and parental values didn’t always overlap 🙂

    Labelle – Lady Marmalade. More bigness, boldness and defiance.

    • EWF are great. As someone very dear to me once said, “A party’s not a party without Earth, Wind and Fire!”

  7. Led Zeppelin – Kashmir

    David Allen Coe – You Never Even Called Me By My Name

    Jimmy “Bo” Horne – Gimme Some

    Now there’s three tunes that would make one helluva stopset

  8. 1975, what a fantastic year for music. I was 19 and a student, living away from home and getting into all sorts of things. It was an exciting time. I saw Led Zeppelin at Earl’s Court, Pink Floyd at Knebworth and Dr Feelgood in various London pubs and lots of great albums were released.

    I can remember Dr Feelgood’s first album, Down by the Jetty, Dylan released Blood on the Tracks, John Martyn gave us Sunday’s Child, Led Zeppelin unleashed the magnificent Physical Graffiti , John Lennon produced the patchy but fun Rock ‘n’ Roll , Emmylou Harris released Pieces of the Sky, Soft Machine went jazz fusion with Bundles, Hatfield and The North released The Rotters’ Club, Steve Hillage took his work with Gong to another level with Fish Rising, Joan Baez hit the mainstream with Diamonds & Rust, King Crimson’s (then) posthumous USA came out, Spirit produced the huge Spirit of ’76, Bruce Springsteen became the future of rock ‘n’ roll with Born to Run, Pink Floyd commemorated Syd with Wish You Were Here, VDGG gave us Godbluff, Neil Young released Zuma, Little Feat sort of signed off with The Last Record Album, Burning Spear released Marcus Garvey and Emmylou produced a second album with Elite Hotel, but for me, the last three were 1976 albums, because I didn’t hear them until that year.

    Wonderful music.

    It is really tough deciding what to choose, but I will avoid the obvious things, so no Floyd, Zep or Springsteen, but I cannot resist some Bob.

    Anyway, my three are;

    Bob Dylan and “Tangled Up In Blue”
    Emmylou Harris and “Boulder To Birmingham”
    Joan Baez and “Diamonds and Rust”

  9. Slim pickings (for me):

    Can – Hunters & Collectors
    David Bowie – Golden Years
    Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel – Make Me Smile (Come Up & See Me)

  10. A very simple:

    Betty Davis – F.U.N.K.

    Betty Davis – Talkin’ Trash

    Betty Davis – Feeling

    Those three being todays choices – (I’d probably/definitely just sling on the Nasty Gal album).

  11. Another great year, I could pick a dozen from Dylan, Joni, Joan Baez, Floyd, et al but I know others will fill that bill. By ’75 I was heavily into reggae, I was buying everything that came out. Here’s my first list, I’ll have a hard time picking three.

    1. Country Boy – The Heptones

    2. Marcus Garvey – Burning Spear

    3. Right Time – The Mighty Diamonds

    4. Burni’ and Lootin’ – BMW

    5. Satta Massagana – The Abyssinians

    6. Country Road – Toots & the Maytals

    7. Hit the road Jack – Big Youth

    8. Eighteen with a Bullet – Derick Harriot

    9. King Tubby meets rockers uptown – Augustus Pablo

    10. Rock Away – Gregory Isaacs

    11. Dat – Pluto Shervington

    12. Runaway Girl – U. Roy

    OK, it’ll have to be these three, it could have been any three.
    1. Country Boy – The Heptones
    2. Country Road – Toots & the Maytals
    3. Eighteen with a Bullet – Derrick Harriot

  12. 1975. I was 16, still at school. Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” has to be the defining sound for me that year, sitting on the fire escape with friends and hearing it floating out from the 6th form common room or somewhere, hearing it now always takes me back to that summer day. I’ll go with “Shine on you Crazy Diamond”.

    Steve Hillage, Fish Rising – this may have been the year I saw him at Ashton Court, I’m not sure, because I saw him a few times. I even have his autograph – the only one I’ve ever collected! Anyway, very much part of my 16-year-old culture and makes me think of friends I knew then, my rainbow wooly hat which Young Munday now wears in the winter, pubs long gone and the joy of buying a new album. I’ll go with “Salmon Song”.

    Easter 1975 I got a holiday job at the Puffin Book exhibition in London. It was brave of my parents to let me go. I slept on someone’s floor and one night while she was out her landlord turned up and started yelling at me because he had no idea who I was (I was in a sleeping bag at the time, all a bit un-nerving at 16). Anyway, I managed to get a dreadful cold while I was there and had to take a day out and stay in the flat – one of the flatmates there was a doctor, who walked me along the river at East Putney and filled me full of whisky to counter the cold. I was a bit drunk and homesick by the time I got back and the only music I could find in the house that I liked was Dolly Parton (“Jolene”, which came out in 1974) and “Blood on the Tracks”, which is the only Dylan album I like – probably because it cheered me up at the time. I’ll go with “Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts”.

  13. I’d love to be able to lay claim to Physical Graffiti, or Straight Shooter, or Wish You Were Here, or Toys in The Attic, or UFO’s Force It, but the fact is I can’t; I was too young to yet be taking an interest in albums. For most of the year, I was ten years old. 1975 was my first experience of upheaval. Around Easter time we moved house – not far, Widnes to Runcorn, but far enough to put my previous school/friends/Cub Pack out of reach – and as I didn’t leave the house quite as much as before, I probably listened on Radio 1 more as slight compensation. Pop was my main focus, but if I were to pick three songs that I remember from then that are now still part of my playlist repertoire, they would be:

    Status Quo – Down Down, but Debby beat me to it, so
    1. Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody, which was ubiquitous by the year’s end;
    2. Bob Marley & The Wailers – No Woman, No Cry, which on its more successful chart release in 80?81? made me “remember” liking it in 1975; and strangely
    3. Tangerine Dream – Ricochet Part II, because a friend’s dad had the LP, and me and our Rich listened to it and pretended we understood what the hell was going on.

    Others worth a mention would include Nazareth’s version of Love Hurts, Bruce’s Born To Run, Sweet’s Fox On the Run, and … erm … Billy Connolly’s D.I.V.O.R.C.E.

  14. then:
    Roxy Music – Love is the drug
    Kiss – Rock’n’roll all nite
    Sailor – Sailor

    in retrospect:
    NEU! – the complete NEU! 75 album
    Bob Dylan – Tangled up in blue
    Burning Spear – Marcus Garvey

  15. I had just graduated middle school in ’74, and family had moved to New England and just started high school.

    donds for – Donna Summer, Patti Smith – Gloria, Tangled Up in Blue, No Woman No Cry, Diamonds and Rust, Pink Floyd, Shining Star. Didn’t know of Betty Davis at the time, but donds for her now.

    • I think i’m with Shoey here, looks like kind of a shit year.

      Funkadelic – Get Off Your Ass and Jam
      Fleetwood Mac – Landslide
      Grateful Dead – Sage and Spirit, which i didn’t know at the time – i probably first heard it from Chris.

      Honorable mentions for past-peak classic rock –

      Zep – Trampled Underfoot
      Bowie – Fame
      Aerosmith – Walk This Way (actually that was probably in their prime years.)

      also –

      War – Low Rider

      • Good lord Chris, and 80-disc boxed set? Good thing you didn’t splurge for those tickets, looks like you’ll be needing that cash for other things. Poor Casey.

      • No, I’m not biting. $700 plus shipping for a load of concerts I already have from the archive or don’t really want (i.e. most of 80-95) is a merchandising opportunity too far.

  16. David Bowie – Young Americans
    Al Green – L.O.V.E.
    Isley Brothers – Fight the Power (Part 1 and 2)


    • My Isley Brothers choice might have been influenced by a quick glance at the events in FIFA today, I’ll put War’s “Low Rider” in the list instead. Thanks, Amy.

      • It was kind of a crap year, but there was some decent funk anyway. donding Tempus’ AWB too, and Gratititude was a great album.

      • Just had a look at the 1975 charts for the US and UK. The UK one is sort of what I remember but the US has a lot of stuff I’ve caught up with over the years. Yes! Funk was the force that year. Just found a live performance of the Ohio Player’s “Fire” that is just ace. The shop that I worked in when I turned 12 had all their LPs as cutouts. Bought in at 25p and sold out at £1.99. Worth it just for the sleeves, if you were 12, male and smutty! The gatefold sleeve for Fire!!! Bet you could write a whole thesis by taking a retrospective look at the gender, race and politics issues on display in Ohio Players album sleeves.

        Ha! The US chart has The Rockford Files theme but in the UK we the stars of It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, a UK comedy that hasn’t aged well, to say the least, making Brits nostalagic. (Those were different times).


      • I did forget to add Love Rollercoaster to my runner up list, but a top three tune will have to wait for another year. I kind of like the idea that people bought Ohio Players albums for the sexy sleeves, but then were happily blown away by the world class funkmastery of the tunes. Tower of Power’s Urban Renewal was out that year too. And no one went for KC and the Sunshine Band? Can’t hate that.

        Was kind of a transition year though. Classic rock was kind of winding down, to clear the way for all the great punk and new wave and college rock tunes to come ’77. Donna Summer was about as great as disco was ever going to get. I never liked Brucie’s Born to Run album much, loathed Bowie’s Young Americans and Golden Years (sorry folks), and Physical Graffiti never did for me what the earlier Zep albums did. I don’t even know most of the UK tunes people posted on here – or at least didn’t at the time – they never made it over here. 10cc did, i think that one tune by them only.

        The Rockford files theme? ugh, so that’s where AM radio was here then. FM was probably sort of starting to shift into college radio here at the time.

      • I was wondering when KC and the Sunshine Band would get a mention, I like them – mature cheese. Lots of other fun singles around that still fill the floor: Hot chocolate, Bohannon, Van McCoy, Barry White. But lots of safe pop dross on both sides of the pond and I mean stuff that you’d need a hazardous materials suit on to touch.

        I had no idea about albums back then. Seems like the year punk reacted against. I’m sure I could find something great but Reggae and funk lead the way.


  17. I’d dond everything so far apart from Betty Davis, who will need to be researched. I was a 3rd year student at Thames Poly (as was) and so still on a student grant, most of which went on booze and the rest. Not much spare to buy albums. I’ve looked at the ’75 UK pop singles chart and it is universally horrible – Funky Moped anyone? Una Paloma Blanca, Happy to be on an Island in the Sun? I think we were all subconsciously waiting for punk to happen as there was so much dross around, at least on the pop front.

    Agreed, several majestic classic albums were spawned that year, and much loved they still are. Still, some of my faves for the year seem to come from elsewhere. Keith Jarrets’ Koln Concert was played non-stop, but it’s a bit big too long to include here (what the hell – I’ll post a bit on the playlist). Two heartbreakers first:

    Kate and Anna McGarrigle – Heart Like a Wheel
    Janis Ian – Water Colors

    And something a bit livelier:

    AWB – Pick up the Pieces

    I think I knew this from earlier, but it was in the charts in 1975. I saw The Average White Band in the Marquee that year.

  18. Well, well, what a coincidence! I didn’t know that much about them, and their music was quite a departure from much of what I was listening to at the time, but a flatmate was really into their stuff and he persuaded us all to come along. It was quite a trek for us to get uptown from Woolwich, but it was well worth it. It must have been if I can remember it 40 years on!

    • Small world! Small venue too!

      Yes, it was a great gig. I seem to remember Madeleine Bell (of Blue Mink fame) singing backing vocals too, and I think that Elton took lead vocals for a rendition of I Heard It Through The Grapevine

      1975 was the tail end of Pub Rock too, I think. What had started out promisingly enough a couple of years before deteriorated into a dull, beery scene full of not very good bands knocking out identikit R’n’B and rock ‘n’ roll. There was a recent (ish) documentary on BBC4 (I think it was on last year and repeated a few months ago) about the pub rock scene, which really showed up how bad many of the acts were. The people who were any good had already moved on to bigger and better things (Feelgoods, Nick Lowe, Ian Dury) and the rest were just dull. Some, naturally, jumped onto the punk bandwagon and tried to persuade the more gullible punters that they were really rebels by wearing skinny ties and drainpipe jeans and playing the same songs a bit faster.

  19. Okay, I was not really buying my own anything in that year as I was very little, but I do remember liking a couple of songs, so I am copying Tonnl and saying from then

    Steeleye Span – All Around My Hat
    David Essex – Hold Me Close
    The Goodies – The Funky Gibbon

    but choosing from where I am now:
    Roy Harper – When An Old Cricketer
    Hawkwind – Kings of Speed
    Led Zeppelin – Kashmir

  20. We weren’t exactly flush at that time, so few albums were justifiable. Blood On The Tracks was essential, as was Bob Marley Live! and Little Feat’s Last Record Album. I don’t believe I heard Blues For Allah until a bit later (the band were possibly at their end) and it wasn’t until One From The Vault that I heard those songs in their best light, i.e. live.

    So, nothing unexpected in my choices:
    Bob Dylan – Shelter From The Storm
    Little Feat – One Love Stand
    Grateful Dead – The Music Never Stopped

    • dond for Shelter, another great tune. Was possibly listening to it at the time, but the next year’s Desire was when i’m sure we started listening to Dylan in earnest again.

  21. Just a thought, but can we retrospectively make Blood On The Tracks The ‘Spill album Of The Year for 1975?

    • I really couldn’t choose between it and Horses. Both would make my top 10 albums of all time, most days.

      Interesting reactions so far. Sounds like this was a year of a few spectacular diamonds and a lot of rust. (But good funk and reggae.)

  22. One year before I was born! I have to say I’m struggling to find anything at all from my collection for 1975. I checked the UK charts too and it looks like a pretty terrible time! Thank God punk was just around the corner!

    Will go for:

    Bowie – TVC 15
    Bruce – Born to Run
    Far East Family Band – The Cave Down to the Earth (excellent Japanese experimental prog)

    • A few weeks ago, I bought three boxloads of 7″s from outside a record shop, figuring that – at a fiver a pop – they were bound to be worth it, whatever dross was inside. Well, they pretty much were, as they contained a fair few nuggets. But the vast majority of the 600 or so records were mid-70s chartpop things, often recorded by the Chinnichap team. And they were – pretty much without exception – AWFUL. It was actually really depressing listening through them to decide what, if anything, was worth not binning.

    • I know my pop narratives, and could write you an essay about how punk re-energised music… but have to confess I don’t really know much about the period that preceded it.

      • The funny thing about the charts is that people who are really interested in music tend to remember the occasional great songs and the OK stuff, but forget the huge ocean of slurry in which these small islands of happiness were set.

        I am pretty sure that unless you were listening to late night Radio One, you weren’t hearing much of the good stuff at the time. Also,if you weren’t reading the NME or maybe Melody Maker, you weren’t really getting many hints about what was happening outside of the rock mainstream.

        I can remember in the 1974-76 period, before punk emerged, a lot of the underground/counterculture people I knew and mixed with were listening to (apart from the obvious big names) a lot of stuff like Can (who were huge with the serious heads), Hawkwind, Kevin Coyne, Gong, Steve Hillage and Todd Rundgren and the other big thing was that whole West Coast, Laurel Canyon, country-rock, blissed-out thing, people like Emmylou Harris, The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Grateful Dead, NRPS, LIttle Feat and CSN&Y (either as a unit or separately), and the Eagles and Joe Walsh were pretty popular too. There was a lot of soft country-rock dross around, though. Anyone remember the Souther Hillman Furay Band? Perfectly good musicians with a lot of pedigree that managed to make two really crap bland albums.

        I knew plenty of people who were living in run-down squats either pretending it was still 1970 and being spaced-out heads or who were living in a kind of imaginary West Coast with The Furry Freak Brothers as their best mates. (I’ll own up to be a bit of both stereotypes).

        I also knew a lot of people who had gone down the route of people like Big Star, The Stooges, Nils Lofgren and later on Cheap Trick, The Flaming Groovies and Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers.

      • I’m sure it’s not really fair/accurate, but I always get the impression there were lots of huge, rather bizarre one-hit wonders during that period. Like this one. But there probably weren’t any more then than there have ever been!

      • Can’t reply to Carol’s comment directly but if you were living on London, the radio show with the best music was Nicky Horne on Capital radio. Two hours every week night. Blood on the Tracks was the listeners’ album of the year.

  23. Seventy-five was a pivotal year musically for me.

    To quote Squeeze, up to that point I got my music from “the charts and Top of the Pops”

    Thursday and Sunday evenings were taken up with listening to chart music but as noted by DsD something monumental happened in October of this year: the release of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody that ‘conquered’ the charts for nine weeks and quite simply put me on the road to rock music and more importantly albums.

    So, 1975 was the last year that I solely listened to chart music and therefore my top three are influenced by what was ‘in’ vogue.

    David Essex – Hold Me Close, Bowie – Space Oddity, Hot Chocolate – You Sexy Thing, Pilot – January, Showaddywaddy – Three Steps to Heaven, The Carpenters – Please Mr. Postman, ABBA – SOS, Sweet – Fox on the Run

    I’ll go with:

    Sweet and Ballroom Blitz
    10cc and I’m Not In Love
    Bowie – Fame

    What I should have been listening to was:
    Thunder Road

  24. I forget just how good a year this was for music if you were of the funk/soul/jazz persuasion. For me 1975 meant mixing it up with a lot of the chart tunes mentioned above; as I have elder brothers who ran a mobile disco, coupled with a brother who was seriously into the funk (JB & The JB’s, Fatback Band, Parliament etc.) :- I usually was able to spin tunes at family parties and felt like a pig in clabber – yes!

    ‘Changin’ – Brass Construction
    ‘Disco Stomp’ – Hamilton Bohannon
    ‘Caribbean Festival’ – Kool & The Gang

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