Big Albums from January 1973: Bruce! Elton! Yoko! Beach Boys! More!

Here's a look at some of the big albums released 50 years ago this month. Click the links to order them from Amazon.

The debut album from the Boss, which leads off with his first big single, "Blinded By the Light" and featuring E-Street Band mainstay Clarence Clemons on sax.

Yoko (sort of) goes pop on a double LP on the Apple label. Co-produced by John Lennon (who also is credited as Joel Nohn for guitar and backing vocals) and featuring Mick Jagger(!) on guitar on "Winter is Here to Stay."

Celebrated in last year's excellent Sail On Sailor - 1972 box set, this one saw the band recording in the title-named nation for a change of scenery and, perhaps, new inspiration. Carl takes the lead producing, singing and writing, but Brian is spotlighted on the accompanying Mount Vernon and Fairway EP with all of his melodic charms and charming eccentricity on display. Drummer (and future Rutle!) Ricky Fataar and guitarist Blondie Chaplin from the great South African band the Flames are added as members and contribute their co-written tune, "Leaving this Town." Highlights include that song, the multi-part "California Saga," Brian's grooving "Funky Pretty" and, of course, "Sail On Sailor."

This also could be called the Great Lost Compilation Album, since it became hard to find once Ray Davies learned of its existence and RCA took it out of circulation. He'd had no notice the album was being assembled or released. I only managed to hear it back in the late 80s via a friend lucky enough to own a copy, which I duly copied onto a cassette. Until some of these obscurities started turning up as CD bonus tracks, it was the only way hear worthy tunes such as "Plastic Man," "Lavender Hill," "When I Turn Out the Living Room Light," "Mr. Songbird, "Where Did the Spring Go" and brother Dave's great "This Man He Weeps Tonight."

The first of two 1973 releases by Elton (the second is Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Maybe you've heard of it?) is highlighted by big singles "Daniel" and "Crocodile Rock," building on the huge success achieved by previous LP Honky Chateau. I remember being a kid in the early 1970s and Elton-mania. Seems like he, and his music, was everywhere.

Gram's first solo outing is one of those LPs that is likely far more influential now than it was upon release. Certainly this, and Parsons' work with the countrified Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers, informed and inspired the country rock sounds of the 70s, but his music remains an important touchstone to today's indy country musicians such as Margo Price and Sturgill Simpson. This is a beautiful recording, full of sweeping ballads and singing pedal steel guitars, plus, Emmylou Harris' incomparable harmony singing. Highlights include "She," "We'll Sweep the Ashes Out in the Morning" and "How Much I've Lied."

Any favorites? What were you listening to 50 years ago (if you were alive then!)? Please weigh in!

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