Not to be confused with the Brit-winning band, this is a look at the year 1975; a year rated by the great Bob Stanley, author of Yeah Yeah Yeah, the definitive history of pop, as ‘objectively a bad year for pop’ and a ‘dead zone’ for new music. However, I have fonder memories of the year.
There was some wonderful music, and not just from Bowie who managed to record two masterpiece albums: Young Americans and Station to Station (released early in ’76). “Golden Years” is possibly his greatest single, “Young Americans” possibly the greatest opening to a ‘45 in the history of pop. I would also argue that Elton (“Philadelphia Freedom”) and McCartney (“Listen to What the Man Said”) gave us their best solo singles as did Roxy Music (“Both Ends Burning”). I suppose Queen would claim the same!
The year began with Elvis’ 40th birthday and Gloria Gaynor’s magnificent “Never Can Say Goodbye” climbing the chart.
Glam was dying – if not dead – but Soul was supreme. The classic Motown and Stax sounds of the 60s had diversified into the more lush and smooth orchestral ‘Philly’ sounds (Barry White, The Three Degrees, Van McCoy), Northern soul (“The Night”) and, in some cases, into a harder funkier groove (“Pick up the Pieces”, “Lady Marmalade”). Whichever way you look at it, disco was on its way. In fact, it was already there with KC and The Sunshine Band, Labelle, Linda Lewis, Hot Chocolate, and the Bee Gees’ new direction (“Jive Talkin”).
I’ve concentrated on the pop charts here; the big album sellers were adult-oriented rock bands and singer-songwriters (Dylan, Floyd, Zeppelin, Elton, Springsteen, Emmylou, Joni).
Reggae rhythms were also selling (Susan Cadogan, Syreeta, Johnny Nash) and it was the year that Bob Marley broke though worldwide. (A reissued “Israelites” was also a Summer hit).
Alongside Bowie, Barry White, and Labelle, we have Ray Stevens’ jolly version of the oldie “Misty” and the year’s big UK number 1’s (“January”, “I’m Not in Love”, “I Can’t Give You Anything” and “Bohemian Rhapsody”).
Perhaps my memories of this year are rose-tinted because it was a happy time for me – my last full year at primary school, a wonderful Summer holiday at the end of a long hot Summer, and I played a lot of football for my school team.
Although disco was on the rise and Abba were about to go stratospheric, no-one knew that punk was just around the corner and everything was about to change.