I doubt that anyone could have missed the news this week that, 40 years ago, Bruce Springsteen released his Born to Run album. Somebody somewhere was working hard behind the scenes, getting the word out. Stories popped up all over major television networks and cable channels, national magazines, local newspapers and morning shows, trade publications, websites, social media, and blogs. There were the usual suspects like Rolling Stone and Billboard magazines, as well as the unexpected mentions at Fox Sports and the Absolute Punk website.
I was 23 in 1975, and living in Philadelphia, which was close enough to Freehold and Asbury Park that we considered Springsteen a local boy. His first two albums were played in heavy rotation on our FM radio stations. He performed often in the area, up and down the mid-Atlantic coast. And in February of that year he and the band delivered a spellbinding set at Bryn Mawr’s famed folk club, The Main Point. It was broadcast live on WMMR, was instantly bootlegged, and, remarkably, is still readily available in both the US and UK on a large internet marketplace that begins with the letter A. And you can stream it on the ‘Tube.
If you’ve never gotten into Springsteen’s music, nor the larger than life “Stadium Bruce,” skip Born to Run and go straight to this one. This clip was shot later that same year in London and capture the band in their prime.
Although my long-term memory is usually laser sharp, when it comes to the mid-’70s, I admit to having a musically blank slate. I suppose we can just chalk it up to high times and one too many Dead concerts, but today I refreshed my brain by scanning all the releases from 1975. I also looked at the singles and album charts and read back issues of the industry trades. It took a little time of sifting through the mud to spot the gems.
The first release of that year was from Elvis Presley and the last in December was from the Bay City Rollers. The number one song was “Love Will Keep Us Together” by The Captain and Tennille (backed by The Wrecking Crew — catch the fabulous documentary film of the same name). At the bottom of the Top 100 for the year was … wait a sec.
On a rootsier musical tip, a few artists released not just one, but two albums. Dylan had Blood on the Tracks and also The Basement Tapes with The Band. Emmylou Harris brought out Elite Hotel and Pieces of the Sky. Richard and Linda Thompson offered Hokey Pokey and Pour Down Like Silver. Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, Chip Taylor, and Joan Baez each delivered their highest charted albums. There were solo albums from Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, John Fogerty, Stephen Stills, and two from Neil Young.
John Prine, Phil Ochs, Tom Paxton, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Leonard Cohen, Judy Collins, Steve Goodman, Fairport Convention, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, The Strawbs, Steeleye Span. Pete Seeger, and Arlo Guthrie all released albums that year. So did Patti Smith, Tom Waits, Burning Spear, Bob Marley, Jimmy Buffett, Hot Tuna, Little Feat, and Guy Clark. Johnny Cash, Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, Charlie Daniels, Waylon Jennings, Stanley Brothers, Statler Brothers, Roy Clark, Conway Twitty, Dolly Parton, Porter Wagoner, Kris Kristofferson, and Chris LeDoux released new albums and Willie Nelson’s Red Headed Stranger entered the world. All things considered, not a bad year at all.
Now if any of you out there remember Sir Monti Rock III, congratulations. You’ve managed to maintain your brain cells much better than I. Sitting at the bottom of the Top 100 was his band, Disco Tex and The Sex-O-Lettes. I share this video for educational purposes only, and please be advised of momentary nudity with Saturday Night Fever flashbacks.
This was originally published as an Easy Ed’s Broadside column at No Depression: The Roots Music Journal.