THOSE ’70s SHOWS
The Absolute Best Movie Music Ever – ’70s Edition
Article by Patrick Garland
I love the movies. I also love the music from movies. Original scores, the individuals songs, compilation albums, etc, etc, etc. Long story short, I’m all about the music that helps bring movies to life.
So I am now compelled to give my list of the best music from the movies. I’ve decided to divide it up by decade to make it just a little easier on all of us. Today I will reveal my picks for the best from the ’70s. I know this list will bring great debate from many of you out there. This is to be expected and is encouraged. But for now let’s get right to it.
TOP SOUNDTRACKS OF THE ’70S
5 – “Let It Be” (The Beatles), 1970
The Beatles were pretty much done by 1970. You had four egos that had just gotten too big to all fit in the same room. One can really see this when they watch the Film “Let it Be”, which isn’t easy. It has never been released on DVD because Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr feel it is too much of a downer. I was lucky enough to get a hold of a VHS copy from a video store about 20 years ago back in the days before YouTube. And even though the band pretty much couldn’t stand one another anymore, they sure could still make some sweet, sweet music. This may be one of their lesser albums but it still contains so many gems. Wonderful tracks like “Two of Us”, “Across the Universe” , “The Long and Winding Road”, “I’ve Got a Feeling”, “Get Back”, “One After 909”, and of course “Let It Be” make this one of the best soundtracks I’ve ever heard. The Academy agreed as well and The Beatles won the Oscar for Best Original Song Score for the songs in the film. The Beatles may not have been able to get back to where they once belonged but the soundtrack from the movie lives on as one of the best of the best.
4 – “Rocky” (Bill Conti), 1976
This one makes me want to punch somebody’s lights out. You know, in a positive, underdog, good sportsmanship, raw egg-eating kind of way. The theme from “Rocky”, “Gonna Fly Now” is iconic. It’s been used countless times in many other movies and parodies. Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale even used it as his campaign song in 1984. And even though he got KO’ed, the song never has. The soundtrack as a whole is great. Tracks such as “Going the Distance”, “Fanfare for Rocky”, and “Alone in the Ring” are fantastic pieces of music that reflect the emotion of the movie and take you right back to the 70s. My suggestion to anyone that gets a chance is to load this soundtrack into your IPod, travel to Philadelphia, and make a run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. That way if Apollo Creed comes calling for a rematch, you’ll be ready. Wait a minute…Apollo dies in “Rocky IV”. Ain’t gonna be no rematch, aint gonna be no rematch…Damn you Drago!!!!!!!!!!
3 – “Star Wars” (John Williams), 1977
Call it “Episode IV”, “A New Hope”, the original, or whatever you want. Back in 1977, it was just “Star Wars” and it changed the movies forever. It just happens to be one of the greatest movies ever made. The soundtrack isn’t half bad either. In fact, it is out of this world. Everyone knows this music. From the “Main Title” to “Cantina Band” to “The Throne Room/End Titles” this is the soundtrack that created the Fanboy. You know that the music really means something to people when you find out that folks have used the “The Throne Room” music for their weddings. Is that nerdy and a little weird? Maybe, but it also shows how important this movie and its music are to the legions of fans out there. This is flat out movie music at its finest. John Williams created a soundtrack that equaled what George Lucas put on film. That is not an easy thing to do. Long story short…these are the things I know for sure – John Williams is a genius, Lucas used to be a genius, Greedo shot first, Tarkin should have had his shuttle standing by, I’ll have plenty of time to buy power converters and waste time with my friends when this review is done, and I know that The Force will Be with You and with this soundtrack – Always.
2 – “Grease” (Various Artists), 1978
It doesn’t get much more fun than this. The music from “Grease” is entertaining, charming, touching, and like I already said – just plain fun. The title track performed by Frankie Valli is a great little piece of pop music that gets you bopping your head right away. I know that the movie takes place in the ’50s but many of the songs have a definite ’70s vibe going on. That’s not a bad thing and it really works on tracks such as “Hopelessly Devoted to You”, “Summer Nights”, and one of my all time favorite movie songs, “Sandy”. Maybe the soundtrack has a little too much Sha-Na-Na for its own good but that’s easily forgivable when you’re listening to great numbers like “You’re the One That I Want” and “Beauty School Dropout”. “Grease” reminds many in my age range of the innocence of childhood. Some who don’t remember it when it first came out may call the music found here kitschy, but to me it is an instant flashback to going to the movies with my mom. In my opinion, that alone would make it great.
1 – “Saturday Night Fever” (Various Artists), 1977
Is there any doubt? Talk about a movie and a soundtrack that defines a decade. Sure, disco was just a small part of the ’70s but it was the groovy polyester platform shoe-wearing part and that makes all the difference. This became the biggest selling record of all time when it was released and, although no longer number one, it is still one of the biggest. It is in my opinion one of the most danceable records ever. You’ve got great songs from the Bee Gees including “Stayin’ Alive” and “Night Fever”, but it’s not all about the Bee Gees here. You’ve also get awesome little numbers like “If I Can’t Have You” by Yvonne Elliman, “More Than a Woman” by Tavares, “Open Sesame” by Kool & the Gang, “Boogie Shoes“ by KC and the Sunshine Band and, of course, coming in at a far out ten minutes and fifty-one seconds, “Disco Inferno” by the Trammps. I’ve long debated with people why “Saturday Night Fever” is a great film. I’d be happy to go into its many merits some other time. But let’s leave it at this, this movie taught the youth of the ’70s how to dress, how to have perfect hair, and how to play chicken with New York area bridges. But the best thing is that the soundtrack let them know they should be dancing and taught everyone how to get down.
TOP SEVEN BEST INDIVIDUAL SONGS FROM ’70s MOVIES
7 – Duelling Banjos – Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandell (Deliverance) 1972
Hearing this makes me think of three things – Ned Beatty, toothless backwoods people, and squealing pigs. Yes, the movie “Deliverance” taught us the very important lesson of never going rafting in Georgia. This movie and the music that came with it still freaks us out. Whenever a group of people get lost one of them is sure to say “I sure hope this doesn’t turn into ‘Deliverance’.” That’s a movie with some staying power.
6-Night Fever – Bee Gees (Saturday Night Fever) 1977
“Stayin’ Alive” may be the best known song from the movie but this is the one that really gets you up and dancing. In fact, every Bee Gees song on the soundtrack is stellar. As I have said before, Barry Gibb is a musical genius. Don’t doubt me on this. It’s not up for debate. I’m right and you’re wrong.
5-The Way We Were – Barbara Streisand (The Way we Were) 1973
Sure, I just lost all of my man points, but this is a great song. I dare you to watch this movie, listen to this song and not choke up a little. It’ll get you every time.
4-Nobody Does it Better – Carly Simon (The Spy Who Loved Me) 1977
This is another great Bond theme song from the ’70s. It’s performed perfectly by Simon. Carly Simon. It’s a ballad that is equal parts sappy and sultry. I would have to say it’s the perfect number to have playing when there are going to be naked ladies jumping around in silhouette… Just lovely.
3-Tubular Bells – Mike Oldfield (The Exorcist) 1973
Even though the modern horror shock genre has probably taking the edge off of this movie, if you were around back in the day when it was first released, then this is one of the scariest movies of all time. When the music kicks in it completely adds to the spooky atmosphere. Just thinking about it right now is sending chills up my back. This is the kind of tune that makes a horror film a horror classic.
2-Live and Let Die – Paul McCartney and Wings (Live and Let Die) 1973
This is Paul McCartney at his best. It’s a rocking song that is shaken not stirred and is just unusual enough to transcend to greatness. It also happens to be one of the best songs I’ve ever seen played live. For my money, it’s the best Bond theme song ever. No offense to Duran Duran or Carly Simon who I just mentioned a few moments ago.
1-Theme from Shaft – Isaac Hayes (Shaft) 1971
Who is the man that would risk his neck for his brother man? SHAFT! Can you dig it? I can and you should too. It won an Oscar and a place in our hearts. They say this song is one bad mother..SHUT YOUR MOUTH…I’m talkin’ ‘bout Shaft.
And last but not least – THE MOST OVERRATED MOVIE SOUNDTRACK FROM THE ’70s
The Rocky Horror Picture Show – (Various Artists) 1975
I know I’ll get a lot of disagreement for this selection but I stand by my pick. These songs have been played and played and overplayed to the point of no end. Look, I don’t want to be a hater, but the fact is that I just don’t want to hear Meat Loaf sing anything ever again and I really don’t want to listen to a bunch of people in a bar sing “Time Warp” for the millionth time. Sorry.
Let the debate begin. And get ready for the 80s because that’s next. There is sure to be plenty of controversy coming from that list. At least that’s the way I hear it.