Photo by Thin Lizzy: Courtesy of Everett Collection
20 underrated rock songs from the 70s
Somehow, somewhere along the way, phones got sexier than guitars. Thank goodness for the 70s. Back then rock music was still a huge social force and releasing that music was big business. So many songs from so many bands. You sometimes get the impression that between 1970 and 1979 it would have been difficult to throw a bang out the window without hitting at least three rock groups. The result is more than a decade of great rock music. And an incredibly crowded field. Colossi who run the stadiums like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Eagles, Queen and Aerosmith cast a huge shadow. And for many other bands in the decade, classic rock radio feels like it’s only playing one or two tracks, if it does. Here’s a look at 20 rock songs from the 70s that seem underrated today. Do you have a soft spot for other obscure (or at least somewhat obscure) rock tunes from the 70s? Let us know the song and artist in the comments section below. Through Matt wake
“The six teens”
An ultra-chorus precursor to those Freddies layered on Queen’s 1975 epic “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Casual fans are much more likely to know the mellow tracks like “Fox on the Run” and “Ballroom Blitz”, but “The Six Teens “is also a good song.
Classic rock radio promotes “The Boys Are Back in Town” and, to a lesser extent, “Jailbreak”. For good reason. Hardcore Thin Lizzy aficionados lean more to the Irish band’s LP “Bad Reputation”, and the title track exudes the dark charisma of frontman Phil Lynott.
“All the way to Memphis”
Mott the hoop
David Bowie gave Mott The Hoople the fantastic song “All The Young Dudes”. And for “All the Way from Memphis” Ian Hunter and co. wrote their own Ziggy-esque rocker.
“Can the can”
The future Leather Tuscadero of “Happy Days” reigns over this fiery single.
“One way or another”
Wicked riffs that a young Eddie Van Halen learned while still playing Pasadena bar parties in the backyard.
A hot remake of a song by Ike and Tine Turner, with the voice of Steve Marriott’s dirty gospel reaching the Promised Land. Humble Pie’s “30 Days in the Hole” remains their calling card, of course.
Grand Funk Railway
Groovy production courtesy of Todd Rundgren and on this “We’re An American Band” Grand Funk entry.
“Make things easier”
Raspberry chunks like “Go All The Way” and “Tonight” are killer and better known. But “Making It Easy”, with the band’s characteristic dichotomy between grainy guitars and melodic vocals, is also power-pop gold.
“Cold, cold, cold”
The bass drum sounds like rhino sex. Then there’s Lowell George’s slide guitar smears and surreal blues songwriting, enhanced by female horns and choirs here. Although “Cold, Cold, Cold” might not be quite the melody of Little Feat’s “Dixie Chicken” or “Willin ‘”, it’s still a very legitimate track.
“Lust for Life” and “Passenger” are Iggy Pop’s solo tracks. Proto-punk superfans also revere “Success”, with its bluesy lyrics and “Chinese rug” lyrics.
“Gudbuy T ‘Jane”
Good moments Glitter-boogie. From the band that brought you “Cum on Feel the Noize” and “Mama Weer All Crazee Now”, which Quiet Riot recycled into Spandex for ’80s hits.
“White punks on dope”
Sneer meets Smooth on this excellent Tubes track.
The next time you take the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame seriously, remember that Paul Rodgers, perhaps the best pure singer in rock history, still isn’t on it. “All Right Now” made Free a hit for the ages. The catalog of British blues-rockers, including “Remember”, deserves to be deepened.
“Never say die”
Perhaps the only Black Sabbath song you could choreograph a cheerleading routine on.
The surly and sexy “Cherry Bomb” is the signature song of the Runaways. “Thunder” deals with similar kicks from Valley-chicks-that-you-will-drink-under-the-table.
“Ricoche of the space ball”
TV commercials featuring “The Slider” and “20th Century Boy” ultimately familiarized American audiences with T. Rex songs beyond “Get It On (Bang a Gong)”. “Spaceball Ricochet” finds T. Rex hottie Marc Bolan exploring starry melancholy: “With my Les Paul, I know I’m small, but I like to live anyway”.
Prior to his solo career in “I Can’t Drive 55” and the hits of Van Halen 2.0, Sammy Hagar roared in California band Montrose. Guitarist Ronnie Montrose’s intro “Bad Motor Scooter” will sound extremely familiar to anyone who has heard Motley Crue’s “Kickstart My Heart”.
“Dancing Madly Backwards (On A Sea Of Air)”
Ask most people under 40 if they’ve heard of Captain Beyond and they’ll think you’re learning about a superhero. However, musicians who came of age in the ’70s tend to hold this jammy rock band in high regard because, well, they used to get high and listen to songs like “Dancing Madly Backwards ( On A Sea Of Air) “.
“Last orders please”
Classic rock radio listeners are familiar with Faces’ beautiful theme, “Stay With Me,” although many mistakenly believe it to be a Rod Stewart solo track. The nostalgic “Oh La La” (sung by Faces guitarist and current Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood) rose to prominence thanks to the “Rushmore” soundtrack. Faces have a ton of other fun, boozy songs, though. Including “Last orders please.”
“Black Country Rock”
Bowie will forever be known as a form-changing artist. One of the lesser-known nuances he ever tried was Zeppelin-style hard-rock, for Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold The World” album.