Only Rock ’n Roll 1975–1979 #1 Radio Hits

1995: OPCD-1686 JCI JCD-3150

  1. Feels Like the First Time


  2. Pick Up the Pieces

    The Average White Band

  3. Feel Like Makin’ Love

    Bad Company

  4. Black Water

    The Doobie Brothers

  5. Love Is Alive

    Gary Wright

  6. Only Women Bleed

    Alice Cooper

  7. Just What I Needed

    The Cars

  8. (Don’t Fear) The Reaper

    Blue Öyster Cult

  9. Don’t Stop

    Fleetwood Mac

  10. You Are the Woman


  11. My Eyes Adored You

    Frankie Valli

  12. Nights Are Forever

    England Dan & John Ford Coley

  13. You’re No Good

    Linda Ronstadt

  14. Lonely Boy

    Andrew Gold

  15. Let Your Love Flow

    The Bellamy Brothers

  16. They Just Can’t Stop It (Games People Play)

    The Spinners

  17. Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)


  18. Get Down Tonight

    KC & The Sunshine Band

  19. Let’s Do It Again

    The Staple Singers

  20. Thunder Island

    Jay Ferguson

I have a small bunch of “best-of-’70s-radio-hits” CDs in my collection, and this one’s a good opportunity for me to explain why that is.

There are two reasons, and the first is simple nostalgia: these are the songs I heard playing on the radio when I was a pre-teen, for the most part…they evoke memories of specific places and settings, and I find it interesting to revisit that territory sometimes, even if (and perhaps because) most of my pre-pubescent life is a distant blur to me now.

The second is similar but deeper: I sometimes like to travel through my memories’ backstreets and watch, as an outsider or time-traveller, what I heard then in the context of what I’ve heard and learned since those days. To recognize the music that I noticed at the time is an interesting experience: some of it’s crap (most, actually), but there are certain recordings that struck me at the time even though I didn’t know I was struck by them, I just took them for granted but enjoyed them in particular. When I ponder those latter songs now, I’m fascinated by both them and my then self, but mostly by the music.

Linda Ronstadt’s cover of “You’re No Good” is an excellent example. It was a radio hit because of its performer and its rock strength, but structurally it went about a minute beyond radio-hit territory and in its extended outro it left the realm of rock and strode enigmatically into the shadowland of doubt, a psychological darkness without resolution. I think this was probably what Helen Reddy was trying to do with the end of “Angie Baby,” but that track ended with too handy a pop-hook fadeout; “You’re No Good,” however, continues the drama of uncertainty and betrayal onto the threshhold of darker depths and leaves the listener profoundly unsettled and introspective. I love it.

On top of all that, “You’re No Good” is gorgeous, production-wise: the vocal harmonies are tragic-angelic, the throb of the wah-wah effects adds to the brooding tone, and of course there’s Ronstadt’s singularly fine delivery of the song’s lyrics and melody, ranging from contrite near-mumble to raging wail. I especially love the dark, thoughtful permutations of the electric piano in the outro, as the darkness of doubt and restless self-analysis climaxes and redoubles through to the end with nuances of regret conveyed by the murmured string lines….