Top 9 Forgotten Pop/Rock Gems from the 1970s

70s Pop Rock Gems article image

About a year ago, we did a Top 9 List of Forgotten Gems of the 1980s, which was very popular among music fans. Today we step back to the 1970s for a similar list of forgotten pop/rock gems from that decade.

#9. “Love Is Like Oxygen” by Sweet, 1978

Love Is Like Oygen song image

Sweet was band with a respectable chain of glam-inspired hits in the early seventies. Later on in the decade, the group made a comeback with a whole new musical approach which heavily borrowed from contemporaries like ELO and Kansas. “Love Is Like Oxygen is at once accessible and complex.

Listen to “Love Is Like Oxygen”:

#8. “Sentimental Lady” by Bob Welch, 1977

Sentimental Lady song image

“Sentimental Lady” is the first of two songs on our countdown which features members of Fleetwood Mac on the recording. In fact, the song was originally written and recorded by the group in 1972 when Welch was the lead singer and guitarist of Fleetwood Mac. Five years later, Welch re-recorded the track for his debut solo album, French Kiss. Former bandmates Mick Fleetwood and Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac along with Welch’s replacement Lindsey Buckingham were all part of the latter recording, which became an international hit.

Listen to “Sentimental Lady”:

#7. “A Little More Love” by Olivia Newton-John, 1978

A Little More Love song image

John Farrar was one of the most successful composers of the mid to late seventies, working with Olivia Newton-John on most of her solo work as well as her highly successful soundtracks. Lost in the midst of all this success was the 1978 single “A Little More Love” from Olivia’s crossover album Totally Hot. The song was a Top 5 hit around the world and a perfect showcase for the singer’s incredible vocal range.

Listen to “A Little More Love”:

#6. “Lonely Boy” by Andrew Gold, 1976

Lonely Boy song image

“Lonely Boy” is a melancholy story-telling song performed to a strong rock arrangement and delivered with great melody. Released on Andrew Gold’s 1976 album What’s Wrong with This Picture?. A big hit in the US and Canada, the lyrics speak of a child’s isolation following the birth of a younger sibling, which Gold has long denied as being autobiographical.

Listen to “Lonely Boy”:

#5. “Magnet and Steel” by Walter Egan, 1978

Magnet and Steel image

“Magnet and Steel” is the second song on our countdown with a strong Fleetwood Mac affiliation. Walter Egan, who had previously worked with the band Buckingham-Nicks in the mid seventies, developed a slight infatuation with Stevie Nicks, upon which he wrote this song. A few years later when working on his album Not Shy, Egan was pleased to enlist Nicks and her bandmate Lindsey Buckingham as producers and backing vocalists for this track, bringing the story full circle.

Listen to “Magnet and Steel”:

Album review of Tommy by The Who

#4. “Silver, Blue and Gold” by Bad Company, 1976

Bad Company in 1976

After two phenomenal albums to start their career, Bad Company’s fame cooled a bit with their 1976 album Run With the Pack. However, this album contains the absolute gem “Silver, Blue and Gold”, which features beautiful lyrical analogies and a piano driven rhythm by Paul Rodgers and fantastic lead guitars by Mick Ralphs. Although (like most songs on this countdown) this track was not released as a single, the song is one of the group’s absolute best.

Listen to “Silver, Blue and Gold”:

#3. “We Just Disagree” by Dave Mason, 1977

We Just Disagree song image

From the opening, bright and clear 12-string guitar, “We Just Disagree” has a consistent vibe of clarifying resolve. The guitar is performed by the song’s composer Jim Krueger, who performed with Dave Mason when he went solo in the mid seventies. Released on the 1977 album Let It Flow, the ballad was just a moderate hit upon its release but has steadily grown in stature through the years.

Listen to “We Just Disagree”:

#2. “It Never Rains In Southern California” by Albert Hammond, 1972

It Never Rains In Southern California image

“It Never Rains in Southern California” is a song which offers the perfect analogy for star-studded dreams. Written by British singer Albert Hammond along with Mike Hazlewood, the song’s lyrics focus on the an unsuccessful actor who slowly loses hope and gives up. Musically, the instrumentation was provided by the famed Wrecking Crew, which adds a tremendous atmosphere to the otherwise somber folk song.

Listen to “It Never Rains In Southern California”:

#1. “Baker Street” by Gerry Rafferty, 1978

1. “Baker Street” – Gerry Rafferty, 1978

Gerry Rafferty spent years in legal limbo following the break up of his group Stealers Wheel. When his album City to City was finally released in 1978. Rafferty wrote the semi-autobiographical song during a period when he was frequently travelling between his disparate homes in the countryside of Scotland and bustle of London. Moody and magical, the real charm of this classic is the complex musical arrangement which features the brilliant sonics of bass, piano, organ, synths, acoustic and electric guitars, and the signature saxophone riff of Raphael Ravenscroft, the most indelible part of this top 1970s rock gem.

Listen to “Baker Street”:

Honorable Mentions

“Smoke from a Distant Fire” by Sanford Townsend Band, 1977
“Gold” by John Stewart, 1979
“Dancing In the Moonlight” by King Harvest, 1973
“The Things We Do For Love” by 10cc, 1977
“Jackie Blue” by Ozark Mountain Daredevils, 1974

With this subjective list we’ve doubtlessly left out scores of artists who may have deserved consideration for this list. Please give us your comments below and tell us where you agree and disagree.


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