1970 Revisited

One would have thought our coronavirus spring would have yielded more time for this ongoing, intermittent personal project, where I relisten to my entire music collection and catch up on some things I missed along the way.

But with work unabated, parenting demands increased and the existential fatigue felt by all of us lucky enough to continue existing, that has not been the case. 

So, some quick notes and then the list:

1970: A new decade.

Decades are arbitrary, but in retrospect, if not at the time, this year has a transitional feel. 

The Beatles went caput, with John Lennon immediately releasing what would remain the greatest of the group’s solo offshoots. (1969’s Abbey Road is the true swan song; the recorded earlier but released later Let it Be is a near-miss here and the singles comp Hey Jude not considered.) The Stones took a break amid an historic four-albums-in-five-years peak run and Bob Dylan reemerged in minor form with New Morning

Meanwhile, the best American bands of the Sixties (Velvet Underground, CCR) released their last great albums (and just last in the Velvets case). Four of the greatest solo artists of the Seventies — Neil Young, Van Morrison, Randy Newman, Al Green — opened the decade with major statements and, in the case of Morrison and Newman, perhaps still career peaks. 

That Newman record — a personal chart-topper in a year with lots of competition and no clear No. 1 — is quiet and short and weird and mean and perfect. 

With Spirit in the Dark, Aretha Franklin followed Isaac Hayes’ lead (via 1969’s Hot Buttered Soul) in the transition from singles-oriented Sixties soul to the more conscious album-making of Seventies R&B, beating Marvin and Sly by a year and Stevie by a couple, though Curtis Mayfield’s Curtis also qualifies here. (Sly’s Greatest Hits, an avalanche of singles released in a tight tumble, makes the know-it-when-you-see-it cut as a compilation that functions as an album.)

Semi-popular music: The Stooges with the best American punk album before “punk” knew its name (and maybe still the best regardless). Delany & Bonnie (times two) and the Tracy Nelson-led Mother Earth with some roots lessons Americana should have better learned. Swamp Dogg with some idiosyncratic soul. The Insect Trust with a musical bohemia that unites Up North and Down South. 


  1. 12 Songs – Randy Newman
  2. Loaded – The Velvet Underground
  3. Fun House – The Stooges
  4. Plastic Ono Band – John Lennon
  5. Moondance – Van Morrison
  6. After the Gold Rush – Neil Young
  7. Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs – Derek & the Dominoes
  8. Greatest Hits – Sly & the Family Stone
  9. Spirit in the Dark – Aretha Franklin
  10. Cosmo’s Factory – Creedence Clearwater Revival
  11. To Bonnie From Delaney – Delany and Bonnie
  12. Total Destruction to Your Mind – Swamp Dogg
  13. Mother Earth Presents Tracy Nelson Country – Mother Earth
  14. Al Green Gets Next to You – Al Green
  15. Gasoline Alley – Rod Stewart
  16. Part Time Love – Ann Peebles
  17. His Band and Street Choir – Van Morrison
  18. Sex Machine – James Brown
  19. Curtis – Curtis Mayfield
  20. On Tour – Delaney and Bonnie
  21. Hoboken Saturday Night – Insect Trust
  22. New Morning – Bob Dylan
  23. Lola vs. Powerman and the Moneygoround – The Kinks
  24. Struttin’ – The Meters
  25. Bitches Brew – Miles Davis


  1. “Pressure Drop” – Toots & the Maytals
  2. “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” – Sly & the Family Stone
  3. “Don’t Play That Song’ – Aretha Franklin
  4. “Lookin’ Out My Backdoor” – Creedence Clearwater Revival
  5. “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine” – James Brown
  6. “Yes We Can” – Lee Dorsey
  7. “Ohio” – Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
  8. “Up Around the Bend” – Creedence Clearwater Revival
  9. “Help Me Make it Through the Night” – Sammi Smith
  10. “Vietnam” – Jimmy Cliff
  11. “Domino” – Van Morrison
  12. “Who’ll Stop the Rain” – Creedence Clearwater Revival
  13. “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” – Stevie Wonder
  14. “Band of Gold” – Freda Payne
  15. “ABC” – Jackson Five
  16. “I Can’t Get Next to You” – Al Green
  17. “I’ll Be There” – Jackson Five
  18. “Part Time Love” – Ann Peebles
  19. “Super Bad” – James Brown
  20. “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)” – The Delfonics
  21. “Daddy Come and Get Me” – Dolly Parton
  22. “Once More With Feeling” – Jerry Lee Lewis
  23. “Rivers of Babylon’ — The Melodians
  24. “Turn Back the Hands of Time” – Tyrone Davis
  25. “It’s a Shame” – The Spinners
  26. “Shocks of Mighty” – Dave Barker & the Upsetters
  27. “Run Through the Jungle” – Creedence Clearwater Revival
  28. “Stealing in the Name of the Lord” – Paul Kelly
  29. “Instant Karma (We All Shine On)” – John Lennon
  30. “Coal Miner’s Daughter” – Loretta Lynn
  31. “Cinnamon Girl” – Neil Young
  32. “All Right Now” – Free
  33. “Paranoid” – Black Sabbath
  34. “Patches” – Clarence Carter
  35. “Duppy Conqueror” – Bob Marley & the Wailers
  36. “A Good Year for the Roses” – George Jones
  37. “Wake the Town” – U.Roy
  38. “Give Me Just a Little More Time’ — Chairmen of the Board
  39. “Heaven Help Us All” — Stevie Wonder
  40. “Mama’s Baby, Daddy’s Maybe” — Swamp Dogg


Taking a pass at a movies list at the end of these — there’s no “rewatching” project — is always an exercise in realizing how many blind spots I still have. Oh, I still haven’t seen Claire’s Knee or Patton or Little Big Man or … . 

But here are some 1970 films I have seen that I think that I like, based on the memories of when I saw them, in rough order of preference, starting with an easy No. 1:

  • Five Easy Pieces (Bob Rafelson)
  • Woodstock (Michael Wadleigh)
  • Husbands (John Cassavetes)
  • M*A*S*H (Robert Altman) 
  • King: A Filmed Record … Montgomery to Memphis (Sidney Lumet)
  • Tristana (Luis Bunuel)
  • The Ballad of Cable Hogue (Sam Peckinpah)
  • Gimme Shelter (Albert and David Maysles)

4 thoughts on “1970 Revisited

  1. Movie lists are always appreciated….no matter how incomplete. No one has seen everything, but you’ve seen a lot more than me. Your contributions help build this:

    Music is a lesser passion of mine, but perusing the list always gives me a few things to check out. Keep ’em coming, whenever you find the time….


    1. Mostly, but not necessarily. Also using the exercise as an excuse to listen to stuff I’ve never gotten around to before, since most things are available to stream now. I do like to own physical copies of music I care about, so I’ve added some titles to my shopping list doing this.


      1. I do the same … owning physical copies still important to me. Good pickings in the used section given the mass shift to streaming. Incidentally … my 1970 list would have to include Davis’ Bitches Brew and Russell’s debut (studio lineup!!!!)


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