Take 5: April 1973

In 1973, rock was at its commercial zenith; a good case can be made that it was near its creative peak as well. A look at Billboard’s tally of album sales for the week of April 15, 1973 shows that rock music exerted a strong (but not total) domination upon the charts. Every one of the albums topping that chart featured a hit single, too. Here are notable tracks from albums that you would have heard most everywhere in mid-April a half century ago.

Alice Cooper – “Elected” from Billion Dollar Babies
The sixth album from Alice Cooper would be the biggest-selling record for the group to that point, earning the Platinum designation. The band’s tour in support of Billion Dollar Babies broke all manner of records as well, selling more tickets than the Rolling Stones, then at a commercial peak as well. In addition to the sardonic and topical “Elected,” the album would spawn three more singles – “Hello Hooray,” the title track and the classic “No More Mr. Nice Guy.”

Diana Ross – “Good Morning Heartache” from Lady Sings the Blues
Having established her fame as the most prominent member of Motown vocal powerhouse The Supremes, Diana Ross set out on a solo career in 1970. Ms. Ross also ventured into films. Her first foray onto celluloid was Lady Sings the Blues, a drama based (somewhat loosely) upon the life and career of jazz great Billie Holiday. Ross earned an Academy Award nomination for her silver screen debut. The movie’s soundtrack was a smash hit, too, breaking rock’s total lock on the top of the album charts.

Pink Floyd – “Money” from The Dark Side of the Moon
At this point, Pink Floyd’s eighth album was enjoying its sixth week on the album charts, a distinction it would maintain for a staggering 978 weeks (nearly 19 years!), helping propel it to its status as the fourth-biggest selling album in the history of recorded music. The odd time-signatures of the album’s “Money” didn’t keep it from making the singles charts, either.

Elvis Presley – “Steamroller Blues” from Aloha from Hawaii Via Satellite
After years of making films and courting a middle-of-the-road audience, Elvis Presley took several years off from performing live. After his triumphant comeback in 1968, he once again embarked upon tours. With renewed confidence and a top-notch band behind him, Elvis scheduled a concert in Honolulu, Hawaii, arranging to have the show broadcast around the globe in real time. As it happened, owing to network scheduling, the concert was only beamed live to audiences in the Pacific Rim and Australia. U.S. viewers got their belated chance to see a re-broadcast in April, by which time the 22-song soundtrack album – also available in quadraphonic – was already in stores and on the charts. Released as a single, this is an uncharacteristic composition from James Taylor.

War – “The Cisco Kid” from The World is a Ghetto
Another album released in the quad format (albeit only on 8-track tape), The World is a Ghetto represented the musical pinnacle of the Long Beach, California psychedelic soul ensemble. War’s fifth long-player was a massive crossover success, earning airplay on rock radio stations thanks in part to its leadoff track, released as a million-selling single and soaring to the #2 spot on Billboard’s singles chart. The World is a Ghetto has earned a distinction as one of the era’s finest and most significant albums; it was assigned a place on Rolling Stone‘s 2003 list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.