Big Albums from April 1973: Beatles! Bowie! Marley! More!

The Beatles 1962-1966 and 1967-1970 aka "Red" and "Blue" Albums

The release of these two-LP compilations not only scratched a nostalgic itch for first-wave Beatles fans, but helped spawn a second generation of listeners who fell in love with the group and its music, including yours truly. 

I was just a toddler during most of the Beatles' career. Their music and influence was very much in the air, and I'm sure I heard plenty of their songs at the time via the radio and being in public spaces, but my parents, being from pre-rock era, didn't own any Beatles music, nor have any interest it. But I turned 8 at the end of the 1973, and I remember friends' older siblings owning and playing these records and coming to think that the Beatles must be cool.

 I never owned either of these comps, but starting getting Beatles albums a few years later, when I had allowance and lawn-mowing money to spend on things. Still, without this early- to mid-70s resurgence of the Beatles' music, which carried over to interest in the group members' various solo LPs, who knows what might happened? Maybe the torch wouldn't have been passed so successfully.

Bob Marley and the Wailers - Catch a Fire

Rated one of the best Marley, and reggae, albums ever, this was the band's first on the Island Records label and the one featuring "Stir it Up." Not sure what they were hinting at with the Zippo-like cover, which opened up light a real lighter...

Eagles - Desperado

The one with, um, "Desperado" on it. Interestingly, though, the song wasn't a hit at the time. Linda Ronstadt's cover of it on her "Don't Cry Now" LP released later in the year helped draw attention to it, and it's now ranked among the Eagles' best, if you like the Eagles, which I don't.

Roger Daltrey - Daltrey

The Who vocalist's first foray outside the fold did better than some might have expected, given that he was singing tunes not written by Pete Townshend. It hit the top 50 and single, "Giving it All Away," hit the UK Top 5. Daltrey co-wrote most of the songs with Leo Sayer, who hadn't yet made a name for himself.  Fun fact, portions of the album were recorded and mixed at Apple Studios, and Roger sang the vocals to "One Man Band" on the roof, where the Beatles had recorded portions of Let it Be.

David Bowie - Aladdin Sane

The follow-up to The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars continue in the same vein, which isn't a bad thing at all. Features the hit "Jean Genie" and Bowie's cover of the Rolling Stones' "Let's Spend the Night Together."

Paul McCartney and Wings - Red Rose Speedway

Wings follow-up to tossed-off debut is a more ambitious affair, although still wildly uneven. Single "My Love," of course, became a McCartney standard, but casual listeners would be hard-pressed to name any other tunes off the album, although some of them -- "Big Barn Bed," "Little Lamb Dragonfly" -- aren't bad. It would take until their next LP for Wings to finally hit their stride.