Researched and written by Sharon Mawer

One of the biggest selling artists worldwide in the early 1970s also had the biggest selling album in the UK in 1974. With only one previous top 10 album behind them, The Carpenters released the Greatest Hits The Singles 1969-1973 and having enjoyed a good 1973 with two top 5 singles, the album proved a winner, spending 17 weeks at no.1 this year between February and July and a further 6 weeks at no.2. There were only twelve tracks on this compilation ranging from their first US hit, the ultra slow cover ballad version of Ticket To Ride and the first UK hit, They Long To Be Close To You, through to the two most recent hits, Yesterday Once More and Top Of The World.

Runner up album for the year was Band On The Run by Paul McCartney & Wings, his second no.1 album with his new band after 11 with The Beatles. Band On The Run spent 7 weeks at no.1 from July to September. It included the singles Helen Wheels which was released before the album and slotted onto the LP after it had become a hit, Jet and the title track which was many songs woven into one. It also included the Beatles like ballad Bluebird. At this point of Wings career, the band was a trio with Paul & Linda McCartney joined only by Denny Laine who recorded the album in Lagos, Nigeria.

Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells had first hit the top 10 in September 1973 and had charted as high as no.5 by February 1974. Although the main theme from the album was condensed into a single, it received more attention after being used in the film The Exorcist. Tubular Bells the album, rose to no.2 where it spent 8 weeks as runner up to Elton John's Caribou and Band On The Run. In the meantime, Mike Oldfield's follow up album, Hergest Ridge was ready and upon release in mid September, soared to number one, keeping Tubular Bells at bay for a further three weeks. Finally Tubular Bells had its one week of glory as the positions were reversed the first week of October. Mike Oldfield was born in Reading in 1953 and began his musical career in the late 1960s as part of a folk duo with his sister Sally. He could claim with a certain amount of truth that he was one of the original entrepreneurs who helped begin the Virgin empire as Richard Branson, who was running a mail order record business, believed in the Tubular Bells project and gave Oldfield some free studio time in which to record the album. A single piece of music on two sides of the LP, Tubular Bells featured Oldfield playing more than 30 instruments and side one concluded with Vivian Stanshall announcing each instrument at it's entrance. Hergest Ridge, the follow up album named after Oldfield's retreat in Herefordshire is a similar piece of music with multi tracks instruments, layered over each other to create one 40 minute long track.

Another progressive rock act, Yes were also enjoying their first number one album, Tales From Topographic Oceans which had entered the top 10 on the final week of 1973 and moved up to top the charts for the first two weeks in the new year. In the final week of 1974, the follow up, Relayer hit the charts and peaked at no.4, their third of seven chart albums to do so. Tales From Topographic Oceans was a double album based on the Shastric scriptures and Jon Anderson's fascination with religions of the Far East. Not all of Yes were happy with the album, Rick Wakeman leaving to be replaced by Patrick Moraz for the next album Relayer. It featured four tracks, one on each side of the original double album, The Revealing Science Of God - Dance Of The Dawn, The Remembering - High The Memory, The Ancient - Giants Under The Sun and Ritual - Nous Sommes Du Soleil, all written by Anderson and Howe with help from the other band members. Wakeman's main complaint was how little he had to do with the project, Tales relying on Steve Howe and Anderson who conceived the concept and played most of its parts, but also it was generally thought at the time that this was progressive rock going too far, without a cohesive theme and music that meandered for no particular reason. Relayer, the follow up album continued along the same lines, although this was a single album with a 22 minute track, one could not really call it a song, Gates Of Delirium on one side, inspired by Tolstoy's War And Peace and two nine minute tracks on the other, Sound Chaser and To Be Over.

After Rick Wakeman left the group, he also had a no.1 album in 1974 as Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, which concentrated on the epic storytelling of the Jules Verne tale and hit the top for one week at the end of May. David Hemmings narrates the story in between Wakeman's synthesizer playing and the London Symphony Orchestra providing the strings and percussion. If Tales From Topographic Oceans was progressive rock music at its most flamboyant, then Journey was prog rock at its most expensive causing Wakeman to nearly bankrupt himself in the process of recording it.

Yes' great rivals, Emerson Lake & Palmer had their second consecutive no.2 album with Brain Salad Surgery, runner up for two weeks behind Tales From Topographic Oceans and in August they hit no.5 with Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends - Ladies And Gentlemen Emerson Lake & Palmer. Brain Salad Surgery includes the tracks Jerusalem, Toccata (which bore no resemblance to the original Bach version at all), Benny The Bouncer, the Greg Lake ballad Still You Turn Me On, but it is dominated by the three part Karn Evil 9, broken into four parts because at 28 minutes long it was too long for one side of the original vinyl. This is the song which includes the line Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends, a line that was used for the title of the live album recorded during their world tour. Originally a triple album on six sides of vinyl, sides five and six taken up entirely by Karn Evil 9. Most of the favourites from the tour were on the album including Hoedown, Jerusalem, Toccata, Tarkus and Take A Pebble.

Despite not managing to get any higher than no.7 during 1974, albeit for five separate weeks between January and September, Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon ended the year as the fifth best selling album, only one place lower than its release year of 1973. Another great rival to Yes and ELP in the genre of prog rock were Genesis who took The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway to no.10 in December. The story of Rael, a Puerto Rican street kid living in New York who attempts to rescue his brother from the underground. Despite being a double album with 23 tracks, unlike their contemporaries, Yes, and ELP, only one track was longer than 8 minutes and most were under three minutes, although none could be released as singles out of the context of the album format.

Another album selling well enough to be included in the top sellers of the year for the second consecutive year was Perry Como's And I Love You So. A number three album during 1973 and his first top 10 album since a trio of titles in the late 1950s, And I Love You So, buoyed by the success of two top 10 singles, the title track and For the Good Times, continued selling in 1974 becoming the veteran crooner's first no.1 album on the final week of January and indeed was still in the top 10 the last week of December. Perry Como did not write his own material but a lot of the tracks on And I Love You So were very familiar cover versions including Killing Me Softly With her Song, Sing and Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Old Oak Tree. The title track was originally by Don McLean before his American Pie success and the other single taken from the album, For The Good Times was a Ray Price song. Andy Williams also began his chart career in the UK in the 1950s although he had had to wait until 1965 for his first hit album. In 1974 he took two albums into the top 10, Solitaire peaking at no.3 in February and The Way We Were, no.7 in June. Andy Williams like Perry Como was renowned for cover versions and both his 1974 albums were filled with them, Solitaire with hit songs previously recorded by Stevie Wonder-You Are The Sunshine Of My Life, Everly Brothers-Walk Right Back and Wings-My Love, while The Way We Were included Touch Me In The Morning, a vocal version of Love's Theme, Sunshine On My Shoulders, The Most Beautiful Girl, Seasons In The Sun and yet another recording of Killing Me Softly With Her Song.

Three further veteran male singers hitting the album charts in 1974 were Charles Aznavour, Jack Jones, and Charlie Rich, Charles Aznavour with Tapestry Of Dreams on the strength of the no.1 single, She, Jack Jones with his fourth top 10 album, Harbour and Charlie Rich with Behind Closed Doors.

Charles Aznavour was born in Paris in 1924 and was famous in France and French speaking countries but not a lot else. Surprisingly revered as a French cultural icon, despite him being born Shahnour Varenagh Aznavourian and embracing his Armenian roots. His brief taste of fame in Britain came when She became a no.1 hit in the summer of 1974 and was followed by the album Tapestry Of Dreams which featured mostly English language songs, From Today, Our Love My Love, You've Got To Learn, The I Love You Song, I Live For You and Yesterday When I Was Young. Jack Jones had hit the top 10 each year since 1972, twice in the first year and Harbour was his latest hit LP featuring the tracks Here's To Love, Do Me Wrong But Do Me, It Didn't Come Easy, All Cried Out and Would You Say I Love You.

Charlie Rich was a country singer, born in Arizona in 1932 and had been releasing albums since 1960 without any chart success. He began singing while in the US air force in the early 1950s and upon leaving, signed up with Judd Phillips, the brother of Sam who had turned him down for Sun records as too jazzy. He eventually worked as a session musician at the Sun studios, moving from label to label during the 1960s until eventually, the song Behind Closed Doors was released in the US and its follow up, The Most Beautiful Girl which finally broke him into the UK singles chart. The album, Behind Closed Doors, his fifteenth in total was more of a pop album than a country one although it most of the songs featured their fair share of steel guitar. It reached no.4 in the album charts at the end of May and also included both the hit singles, The Most Beautiful Girl and the title track.

Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road had peaked at no.1 on the final chart of 1973 and it continued in the top 10, spending 5 weeks as runner up to The Carpenters in April and May and ending the year as the seventh best selling album. In July, his follow up, Caribou became his third consecutive no.1 album and in November, he had his fourth as Elton John's Greatest Hits began an 11 week run at the top, lasting through until February 1975. Caribou included a variety of styles ranging from the ballads Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me and Pinky through to The Bitch Is Back and Grimsby. There were only eleven tracks on the Elton John Greatest Hits album, beginning with his early singles Your Song and Rocket Man and ending with his most recent hits, Bennie And The Jets, Candle In The Wind and Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me. It was already out of date at the time of release because Elton John singles were being released thick and fast at this time and the album did not include either The Bitch Is Back from Caribou, nor his top 10 single over Christmas 1974, a cover of Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.

David Bowie was also enjoying his third consecutive no.1 album when Diamond Dogs reached the top and remained there for four weeks in June. In November he released the live album David Live which peaked at no.2. Diamond Dogs was a concept album based very loosely on the George Orwell novel 1984 with the tracks Big Brother, 1984, Rebel Rebel. The cover featured Bowie as a half man-half dog originally showing all its genetalia until record shops complained and the cover was censored. The David Live album was recorded on the US leg of the Diamond Dogs tour in July and included several tracks from that album, Rebel Rebel, 1984, Big Brother, Sweet Thing as well as earlier tracks Aladdin Sane, Suffragette City, Changes, Jean Genie and the set ended with the final killing of the character Ziggy Stardust on Rock n Roll Suicide.

On his fourth consecutive no.1 album was Rod Stewart with Smiler, which spent two weeks at the top in October and November. Together with his band, The Faces, he also hit no.3 with their final top 10 album Overture and Beginners, a live album. Smiler came in for a lot of critisism for not being as good as his pervious albums. The only hit single was Farewell and it also included cover versions of Bring It On Home To Me, You Send Me, Girl From The North Country and You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Man (with the gender appropriately changed).

With six number one singles behind them, Slade-Sladest, featuring all six, returned for one final week at the top of the album charts in January, having been at no.1 for three weeks upon release the previous October. In March they spent their final week on top of the album charts with the follow up, Old New Borrowed And Blue and in December they hit no.6 with Slade In Flame, their final appearance in the top 10. Old New Borrowed And Blue was a more mellow album than Slade fans had come to expect with the single Everyday, the first time the band had attempted a ballad that you could sway to rather than stomp your feet along with. The previous year, another slower song, My Friend Stan had broken their run of number of number one singles and Everyday, released just after the album continued their relative failure, a big hit but Slade were used to being at the very top. Old New Borrowed And Blue spent just one week at no.1 at the beginning of March and included both the singles My Friend Stan and Everyday, the more melodic When The Lights Are Out, but Noddy Holder still screams on We're Really Gonna Raise The Roof, Do We Still Do It and Don't Blame Me. Slade In Flame broke the sequence of number one albums and was officially a soundtrack to the film of the same name. After the ballad Everyday on the previous album, Slade realised their sound could be just as effective with a slower paced song as a typically fast one and Slade In Flame opens with How Does It Feel which begins with a simple piano and Noddy's voice sounding quite melodic. Another ballad hit single, Far Far Away was joined by the new style of swaying power ballad Summer Song Wishing You Were Here and he could still belt them out with the tracks Them Kinda Monkeys Can't Swing, Standin On The Corner and OK Yesterday Was Yesterday.

Hitting it big in 1974 were The Bay City Rollers who had four top 10 singles and their debut album Rollin reached no.1 for four weeks in October and November, continually swapping places with Rod Stewart's Smiler. A relatively minor hit in 1971 called Keep On Dancing did not indicate just how big the Bay City Rollers would become in the mid 1970s, replacing The Osmonds and David Cassidy in many pre teen girls hearts and enjoying success in both the singles and albums market. The nucleus of the group were the Longmuir brothers, Derek and Alan. A line up with just these two plus Nobby Clarke and John Devine released the first single and after that had died down, Clarke and Devine left to be replaced by Eric Faulkner, Stuart Wood and finally lead singer Leslie McKeown. After several failed single releases, Remember Sha La La La finally broke into the top 10 and the band never looked back with hit single after hit single and a gimmick of tartan clothing which was easily copied by their fans. The first album, Rollin was perfect fodder for the kids who bought all the tartan merchandise, filled with recognisable hit singles, Shang A Lang, Remember Sha La La La, Summerlove Sensation and the single that amazingly took them to no.1 in the US, Saturday Night

Spending the final three weeks of the year at no.2 with his second album was David Essex with the album David Essex which included the no.1 single Gonna Make You A Star and the hits America and Stardust, the title of Essex's new film. New to the album charts this year and also peaking at no.2 was Leo Sayer with Silver Bird. In November, the follow up, Just A Boy hit no.4. Free had peaked at no.2 with their debut album Fire And Water and they did so again in March 1974 with the Greatest Hits The Free Story which included 19 tracks, all the hits up to 1973, All Right Now, My Brother Jake, Little Big Of Love and tracks from all their albums to date. Status Quo also hit no.2 in May with the album Quo, which was very much business as usual, every song a rocking boogie, guitar based track, even Lonely Man which starts out slower than the rest. It's Only Rock And Roll was the third album to peak in the runner up position and contained the rock tracks If You Can't Rock Me, Dance Little Sister Dance, ballads Till The Next Goodbye, Time Waits For No One, If You Really Want To Be My Friend, the old Temptations hit Aint Too Proud To Beg and the hit single title track.

Leo Sayer was born Gerard Sayer in Shoreham On Sea in 1948 and began by writing songs, notably Giving It All Away which was recorded by Roger Daltrey. He was also a singer in the band Patches who came to attention of Adam Faith who did not like the band but signed Sayer to a solo contract. His first appearance on TV was in full Pierot costume and make up singing his own composition, The Show Must Go On and this was quickly followed at the beginning of February by the debut album Silver Bird and in November by Just A Boy, a more sophisticated album with both the singles released in 1974, One Man Band and Long Tall Glasses I Can Dance, along with the tracks The Bells Of St Marys, Solo and his original version of the Roger Daltrey hit, Giving It All Away.

New to the charts in 1974 were the group Queen whose first eponymous album only reached no.24 and even that was after their second album Queen 2 was released, peaking at no.5 in April and by November, their third album, Sheer Heart Attack had also been released and this peaked at no.2 behind Elton John's Greatest Hits.

Roger Taylor and Brian May, originally members of the late 1960s psychedelic band, Smile, joined forces with Freddie Mercury and John Deacon and formed the rock band called Queen which went on to great success, lasting for decades, changing their style throughout the years. Queen relied heavily on May's guitar work and Mercury's flamboyant singing and theatrical fronting of the group. Their first album, Queen, although commercially not successful, was recorded over a long period of over a year. Queen 2 included the breakthrough hit Seven Seas Of Rhye which was included as a brief instrumental track on the first Queen album. Right from Queen 1, there were all the hallmarks of later albums, heavy rock tracks that would suddenly break into slow piano based ballads with harmonic singing and guitar playing. Queen 2 was ready for release almost immediately after Queen 1 but was delayed due to the worldwide oil crisis and shortage of vinyl late in 1973. It was less of a heavy rock album with a leaning lyrically towards prog rock with songs about Ogres, Fairies and both White and Black Queens. The third album, Sheer Heart Attack, an album with a mixture of styles, heavy rock on Brighton Rock with some very heavy guitar sounds, Flick Of The Wrist and Stone Cold Crazy, the short ballad Dear Friends, even ragtime with the track Bring Back That Leroy Brown, and the biggest hit single to date, Killer Queen.

When Paul Rodgers disbanded the group Free, he went on to form Bad Company with Simon Kirke, also of Free, Boz Burrell formerly of King Crimson and Mick Ralphs of Mott The Hoople, and they hit no.3 in June with their debut album, Bad Company which featured the tracks Movin On and the title track hit single. Another newcomer to the charts in 1974 with a number three album was John Denver. He had had three albums peak outside the top 10 in 1973 but his breakthrough came in October with the album Back Home Again. Even more successful in the USA, was his Greatest Hits which hit no.1 in March.

John Denver was born Henry John Deutschendorf in new Mexico in 1943 and began performing in local clubs, relocating to Los Angeles in the early 1960s to join The Chad Mitchell Trio. A country, folk singer songwriter, he brought to the band new songs which kept it going beyond the period when it would have died a natural death. Upon going solo in 1969, Denver released his debut album, Rhymes And Reasons which contained one of his songs, Leavin On A Jet Plane which would become a major hit single for Peter Paul & Mary at the end of the year. Several albums followed, none of which even came close to the charts, but his fifth album Poems Prayers and Promises he introduced another couple of classic songs, Sunshine On My Shoulders and Take Me Home Country Roads which finally got him noticed as a solo performer as well as a songwriter. Back Home Again was his ninth album release. This album was the one that included his only hit single under his own name in the UK, Annie's Song, a tribute to his wife. More ballads included were Matthew, Cool And Green And Shady and This Old Guitar. In a completely different style, it also included yet another US no.1 single Thank God I'm A Country Boy which was along with Grandma's Feather Bed one of the more uptempo banjo picking country songs.

Although he had appeared in the top 10 as part of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Cream and Blind Faith, Eric Clapton's first top 10 album chart entry under his own name was in 1974, 461 Ocean Boulevard. Beginning with the traditional blues song Motherless Children, the album includes tracks written by Eric Clapton, Give Me Strength, Get Ready and Let It Grow but its most famous track was the cover of the Bob Marley song, I Shot The Sheriff.

In the middle of a long string of top 10 albums were Cat Stevens with Buddha And The Chocolate Box which became his third no.3 album, Roxy Music with Country Life and Bob Dylan with Planet Waves, his second no.3 album and in July he had his second top 10 album of 1974 when Before The Flood peaked at no.8. Deep Purple also had two albums peak inside the top 10 this year, Burn in March and Stormbringer which reached no.6 in November. Roxy Music's front man and lead singer, Bryan Ferry also had his second solo album in 1974, Another Time Another Place which peaked at no.4.

Unlike his previous album, Foreigner which had one long piece of music on the first side of the LP, Cat Stevens returned to nine short songs on Buddha And The Chocolate Box, no hit singles and some tracks that are not played very much today, Ghost Town, Ready, King Of Trees, A Bad Penny and just one very recognisable track, Oh Very Young.

Roxy Music were also struggling in the singles market with just All I Want Is You taken from Country Life. This album featured their most risqu� cover art yet with two models that Bryan Ferry had met and persuaded to appear on the cover, Constanze Karoli, wearing a totally see through bikini top and Eveline Grunwald wearing nothing at all. As for the music, apart from All I Want Is You, the album included the tracks The Thrill Of It All, Out Of The Blue and a couple of relatively short experimental songs, Bitter Sweet and Triptych.

Bob Dylan had virtually given up with singles, indeed had not been in the top 10 of that chart during the 1970s and with Planet Waves, he again joined up with The Band on the tracks On A Night Like This, Forever Young, Going Going Gone, Tough Mama and even a track titled Dirge. He went on tour with The Band and released a live album from the tour, Before The Flood which included most of his hits from the 1960s, Lay Lady Lay, Rainy Day Women, Like A Rolling Stone and Blowin In The Wind along with some of his more recent tracks, Knockin On Heaven's Door, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down and the hit by The Band, The Weight.

Deep Purple had to survive the departure of their lead singer, Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover on their albums Burn and Stormbringer, they recruited vocalist David Coverdale and bassist Glenn Hughes, formally of the band Trapeze. Needing to show the band had regained their early 1970s form, Burn began with the title track with a memorable guitar riff and most of the tracks carried on at the same pace including Lay Down Stay Down, You Fool No-one, What's Goin On Here. The follow up album, Stormbringer continued where Burn left off with heavy rock tracks, Stormbringer, Lady Double Dealer and High Ball Shooter, but some slower blues based tracks, Love Don't Mean A Thing, Holy Man and the power ballad Soldier Of Fortune

Bryan Ferry's Another Time Another Place ended with an original Ferry song but apart from this title track, the album was filled with cover versions including The In Crowd, It Aint Me Babe, Help Me Make It Through The Night, What A Wonderful World and oldies from way back in time, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes and You Are My Sunshine.

With considerably shorter chart careers consisting of just one top 10 album were Millican & Nesbitt with their eponymous album which included both their hit singles Vaya Con Dios and For Old Times Sake, although the follow up, Everybody Knows Millican & Nesbitt did hit no.23. Hardly surprisingly it was the only chart entry for The Scotland World Cup Squad with Scotland Scotland, which actually did better than the England LP four years ago at the previous world cup. With Millican & Nesbitt, the big winners of Opportunity Knocks hitting no.3, eyes were also focused on the career of last year's big winners, Peters & Lee who had begun their chart career with a number one single and album. This year they hit the top 10 with two further albums, By Your Side at no.9 and Rainbow which hit no.6. Another big star from the program was Lena Zavaroni who peaked at no.8 with her only top 10 album, Ma.

One place lower at no.9 was Showaddywaddy, a very different sort of act, discovered on the rival TV talent show New Faces. Peters & Lee By Your Side included the tracks The Old Fashioned Way, If, All I Ever Need Is You, Raining In My Heart, Until It's Time For You To Go and United We Stand, while Rainbow featured Vincent, Seasons In The Sun, You Belong To Me, Send In The Clowns and their second biggest hit single, Don't Stay Away Too Long.

One of the youngest performers to reach the top 10 albums was Lena Zavaroni, born in 1963 on the Isle Of Bute. Discovered by record producer Tommy Scott who encouraged her to go onto Hughie Green's talent show which she won for five weeks running. Ideal for appearances on all the TV music shows around the mid 1970s, a child star who could really belt out any song given to her, she was booked on The Morecambe And Wise Show, The Royal Varierty Show and even appeared at the White House singing for Gerald Ford. The album Ma included oldies ranging from Rock A Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody, Pennies From Heaven through to more recent tracks The End Of The World, River Deep Mountain High, Take Me Home Country Roads and the single Ma He's Making Eyes At Me. The rival show to Opportunity Knocks was New Faces complete with a panel of experts to pass judgement on each act, but even they could find nothing scathing to say about Showaddywaddy, a retro Rock n Roll band who specialised in cover versions of original 1950s hits. They formed in Leicester after two local pub groups, The Choice and The Hammers merged and became one group with no less than eight members including two bassists, two drummers , two guitarists and two vocalists, a hangover from the days before the merger when each band needed one. After the first single Hey Rock And Roll was a big hit, they released the self titled album which included 1950s and early 1960s oldies Three Steps To Heaven, Temptation and Bony Maronie.

Newcomers to the chart in 1974 with a lot of help from hit singles included Barry White and Alvin Stardust, both peaking at no.4 with Can't Get Enough and The Untouchable respectively. Barry White had already charted two albums outside the top 10 in 1974 but it was Alvin Stardust's first appearance in the album charts. Another new artist hitting no.4 with their debut release was Sparks with Kimono My House and by November they were back in the top 10 with the follow up Propaganda.

Barry White, born in Texas in 1944, began singing gospel songs with his mother and moved to Los Angeles where he learned the piano and joined a group called the Upfronts. Originally declining the potential to become a fully fledged recording artist in his own right, he preferred to work behind the scenes as the A&R; man responsible for a group of labels run by Bob Keane. He worked with several artists in their early stages including The Fifth Dimension and Viola Wills and as an independent producer after the demise of Keane's labels, he signed Felice Taylor and put her with a female group which he called Love Unlimited. After falling out with the Uni label, he retained the Love Unlimited name and put out an instrumental album using the name Love Unlimited Orchestra including the track Love's Theme which became a major hit single. Barry White by now also wanted to make music himself and with a distinctive growling bass voice, he cut several tracks, but it was with the third album, Can't Get Enough that he reached the top 10, an album that began and ended with the instrumental Mellow Mood and included You're The First The Last My Everything, Can't Get Enough Of Your Love Babe and a 10 minute track in the middle, I Can't Believe You Love Me.

Alvin Stardust had two distinctive careers in two different eras. Born Bernard William Jewry in London in 1942, he originally charted using the name Shane Fenton in the early 1960s with a couple of hit singles, I'm A Moody Guy and Cindy's Birthday. Then suddenly, in late 1973 after a meeting with Pete Shelley, a single called My Coo Ca Choo brought him back to the charts, this time as a very moody guy, Alvin Stardust, dressed in black leather and refusing to smile at the audience. A string of hit singles followed and in March the album, The Untouchable peaked at no.4, an album that included both the debut single, My Coo Ca Choo which didn't top the singles chart and the lesser remembered hit, Jealous Mind which did.

Sparks were brothers Ron & Russell Mael, who formed the band Halfnelson and signed to Bearsville records on the advice of Todd Rundgren and released an eponymous album in 1971. Changing their name to Sparks, the second album, also eponymous still failed to sell. The third LP, A Woofer In Tweeters Clothing, did not do much better although the band were beginning to develop a cult status. Relocating to London during a UK tour, the brothers recruited local musicians, Adrian Fisher, Martin Gordon and Norman Dinky Diamond and suddenly, an album, Kimono My House did sell on the back of the major hit This Town Aint Big Enough For Both Of Us. Helped by a distinctive image as well as sound, Russell with long permed hair, erratically bouncing around the stage and Ron with his hair slicked back and a toothbrush moustache, seated at the keyboard motionless, the band were visually and musically exciting for a couple of years in the mid 1970s. Kimono My House also included the single Amateur Hour and tracks with Russell performing vocal gymnastics Thank God Its Not Christmas, Hasta Manana Monsieur and Talent Is An Asset. Having discovered a style that worked, Sparks stuck with it for their fifth album, Propaganda and achieved their second top 10 album of the year. With newly recruited musicians Trevor White and Ian Hampton, they race through another 13 tracks with Russell Mael's trademark falsetto voice including BC, Don't Leave Me Alone With Her, Achoo, Who Don't Like Kids and the single Something For The Girl With Everything although they slow it all down slightly on the other single released from this album, Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth.

Also hitting the top 10 with two different albums was Stevie Wonder whose Innervisions no.8 in April and by August he was back with Fulfillingness First Finale. Innervisions originally charting in 1973 but peaking this year was followed quickly by only his second top 10 album which included more social observations and criticisms on 10 tracks including the singles Boogie On Reggae Woman and You Haven't Done Nothing which was another comment on Richard Nixon after the previous album's He's Misstra Know It All and also the ballads Too Shy To Say and They Wont Go When I Go.

The arrival of The Bay City Rollers rather overshadowed the teen and pre-teen stars from the early 1970s. The Osmonds signed off with the Greatest Hits Our Best To You which also featured solo hits from Donny, all three of his number one singles, Puppy Love, Twelve Of Never and Young Love, Marie with Paper Roses and Jimmy with Long Haired Lover From Liverpool. as well as the group hits, Crazy Horses, Goin Home and Let Me In. David Cassidy peaked at no.9 with Cassidy Live. Neither of these artists would hit the top 10 again until the release of further greatest hits collections for both in the 2000s. Also saying farewell to the top 10 for the final time was Gary Glitter with Remember Me This Way and Gilbert O Sullivan with Stranger In My Own Back Yard.

David Cassidy recorded his live LP while on tour during 1974 and the screaming that almost defeats every track is testament to the mania that surrounded him during the early 1970s, even if he was about to be replaced by The Bay City Rollers. He showed himself to be equally at home with ballads such as his hit singles How Can I Be Sure, I Am A Clown, and Some Kind Of Summer, as he was with uptempo tracks as he covered the Beatles Please Please Me and a medley of Blue Suede Shoes, Rock Around The Clock, Jailhouse Rock, Rock n Roll Music ending with his own Rock Me Baby.

Remember Me This Way was a feature film, shot from a couple of gigs Gary Glitter performed at The Rainbow in London in November 1973. The soundtrack was effectively a live greatest hits with seven top 5 singles among the 10 tracks on the album. He'd successfully attempted a ballad the previous year, as opposed to his usual thumping, excitable style, with I Love You Love Me Love, but the title track was as slow a track as you could get, complete with a brass band backing.

By 1974, Gilbert O Sullivan's appeal was waning and his final appearance in the top 10 of either the album or singles chart was the LP Stranger In My Own Backyard with 15 self penned tracks, but not one of them a hit. Listening to the chauvinistic A Woman's Place, this was hardly surprising, the only track released as a single and reaching a chart peak of 42.

1974 saw the only appearance in the top 10 for Alan Price with Between Today And Yesterday and Mick Ronson with Slaughter On Tenth Avenue, both peaking at no.9. Alan Price, born in 1942 in County Durham, was the organist in the original Animals line up, most famous for his part on House Of The Rising Sun and after he left in 1965, he began a solo career concentrating on the blues music that The Animals had mostly recorded. He enjoyed a couple of hit singles in the mid 1960s and collaborated with another British bluesman, Georgie Fame in the early 1970s. He also wrote the music and even appeared in the film O Lucky Man but further chart success eluded him until the single Jarrow Song and the album Between Today And Yesterday, a concept album about growing up in the North East of England, but without the pomp of prog rock which concept albums had become.

Mick Ronson was a guitarist, arranger and producer who teamed up with David Bowie during his glam rock and Ziggy Stardust period. He was born in Hull in 1946 and became rather a reluctant solo artist in the mid 1970s when Bowie's manager Tony DeFries needed a replacement as Bowie had announced his retirement, although he actually only meant the retirement of the character Ziggy. The album began with a very up to date 1970s version of Love Me Tender but the highlight was the instrumental title track with Mick Ronson's haunting guitar.

Although Diana Ross had hit the top 10 before, Marvin Gaye had not, until a collaboration between the two Motown stars on the single You Are Everything and the album Diana And Marvin. Marvin Pentz Gay was born in Washington in 1939 and added the E to his surname after his hero Sam Cooke. His father was the Reverend Marvin Gay and Marvin Jr began singing in church from the age of three years old. After a spell in the US air force, he took up singing professionally and won the interest of Berry Gordy who signed him in the very early 1960s to the Motown label. For almost the entire length of the 1960s, he failed to make much impact on the charts, preferring to sing soulful, romantic ballads while his label provided him with bland R&B; songs. His first major hit was in 1969 when he covered the Gladys Knight song I Heard It Through The Grapevine and took it all the way to the top. He was still however unable to find success in the album charts, even when like Stevie Wonder, he turned his attention to the political and social issues sweeping the world. The album What's Going On, a comment on race struggle, poverty, the environment and the Vietnam war, only just reached the top 40. Throughout the late 1960s he also became known for a series of duets with various female singers including Kim Weston and Tammi Terrell and in 1974 he teamed up with Diana Ross for the album Diana And Marvin. The two stars did not actually get on very well together, both appealing at that time to a very different market. Most of the album was recorded in separate studios especially when Marvin Gaye refused to stop smoking marijuana in the studio while Ross was pregnant. The hit single from the album was the stylistics song You Are Everything but this was a one off as subsequent single releases including Stop Look Listen To Your Heart failed to chart well.

Hitting the top 10 for the first time this year were Cockney Rebel with Psychomodo, 10cc with Sheet Music and Billy Connolly with Solo Concert. Cockney Rebel were led by Steve Harley, born Steven Nice in London in 1951. He formed a group with John Crocker, Stuart Elliott, Paul Jeffreys and Milton Reame James but these were all transient members and after the first single, Sebstian and the LP The Human Menagerie failed to chart, Cockney Rebel was effectively a vehicle for Steve Harley as a solo performer with guest musicians, as and when needed. It was a surprise when Judy Teen broke through as a hit single and the second album Psychomodo hit no.8 in September with the follow up single Mr Soft and the tracks Sweet Dreams, Ritz, Bed In The Corner and Tumbling Down.

The origins of 10cc lie in the coming together of Graham Gouldman, a songwriter who had written material for The Yardbirds, The Hollies and Hermans hermits, Eric Stewart a former member of The Mindbenders and Kevin Godley and Lol Cr�me. They recorded a single in 1970 under the name Hotlegs, Neanderthal Man which was a major hit, but never followed up the project until changing their name to 10cc on the advice of Jonathan King who signed them to his company UK records, part of Decca. The first few singles as 10cc were all retro 1950s style songs, Donna, Rubber Bullets and The Dean And I but the debut album titled 10cc was not a great success. When they released their second album, Sheet Music, the style had evolved and was more sophisticated with the tracks The Wall Street Shuffle, Silly Love, The Worst Band In The World and Somewhere In Hollywood.

Billy Connolly is one of Scotland's best known stand up comedians, referred to as The Big Yin owing to his height. He formed a folk band, The Humblebums in the late 1960s with Tam Harvey and Gerry Rafferty, but whilst they wanted to play folk music, Connolly was more interested in performing a stand up comedy routine between the numbers and the band split up leaving him on his own. He developed his solo routine, still performing in the folk clubs but became known for his comic versions of famous songs, changing the lyrics and also his take on life in the hardest parts of Glasgow.

The Who, Odds And Sods was a collection of out takes and rarities from their first ten years and was compiled by John Entwhistle. It includes songs going back as far as I'm The Face when The Who were still called The High Numbers, several favourites from the Live At Leeds album, and out takes from the Tommy, Quadrophenia and Who's Next LPs. A study of where The Who had come from and what musically they had become.

Glen Campbell released a greatest hits album but he would do much better with a similar compilation in the future. Either the timing for a collection of his hits was not right or the record company did not promote it as well as they could have done. One such album that was promoted well was the Elvis Presley double album, 40 Greatest Hits on the Arcade label. Despite ending the year as the fourth best selling album, it did not chart at all in 1974 in the main album charts, a victim of the ban on compilations and albums advertised on TV from entering the charts. In retrospect, it appears this ban was aimed mostly at the specialist record companies, K Tel, Ronco and Arcade who compiled albums with assorted themes, mostly compilations of various artists and advertised them on TV for a short while, but also some single artists greatest hits. One of the highest profile casualties to date had been the Soundtrack on Ronco to the film That'll Be The Day which had been ejected after seven weeks at no.1 in August 1973 when the new chart rules were introduced. And here was an album by Elvis Presley, one of the world's top artists, selling well enough to be no.1 for 15 weeks on the mid price and TV advertisted albums chart, but not appearing in the main charts at all. Indeed during December when the album was at its peak, it was outselling the Elton John Greatest Hits album and would have been the number one album throughout the Christmas period.

The mid price chart in 1974 discovered soul. Apart from the long running Elvis album, K Tel's Superbad spent 8 weeks at the top in the early summer, only to be bettered by the 11 weeks at no.1 by Ronco's Black Explosion from August to November. Both very similar albums, certainly appealing to the same audience, but only one track was included on both albums, New York City's I'm Doin Fine Now. The duplication of product was becoming more pronounced as one record company attempted to emulate the success of its rivals. Arcade released Alan Freeman's History Of Pop and K Tel copied it with The Story Of Pop and while K Tel took Dynamite and 22 Electrifying Hits to the top, Arcade replied with Listen To The Music-20 Smash Hits. One album that was on its own with no imitators was Joshua Rifkin's Scott Joplin Piano Rags as featured in the film The Sting which although it did not top the chart, spent 16 weeks as runner up and a further 9 weeks at no.3 throughout 1974.

Not doing as well as his former colleague in The Beatles, Paul McCartney, John Lennon peaked at no.6 in the UK with Walls And Bridges, although it did top the US charts. As did the Soundtrack to The Sting which reached no.7 in the UK but was no.1 for five weeks in the USA. Walls and bridges was the album recorded at the time when Lennon was separated from Yoko Ono and a lot of the songs reflect his bitter feelings about life during this time. It included the songs, Whatever Gets You Thru The Night, Going Down On Love, Steel And Glass and the dreamy ballads Number Nine Dream and Nobody Loves You When You're Down And Out. The film, The Sting, starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford was the film that re-united the duo after Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid and it became a major box office success. The soundtrack was also a big success, mainly due to Marvin Hamslisch's arrangements of the 70+ year old ragtime music written by Scott Joplin. Most tracks, one solo piano but others with full orchestral backing including Solace and The Entertainer which appear in both forms.

Other US number one albums not faring quite so well in the UK included Bachman Turner Overdrive-Not Fragile, Crosby Stills Nash & Young-So Far, Gordon Lightfoot-Sundown and Barbra Streisand-The Way We Were, peaking at nos. 12, 25, 45 and 49 respectively. And Jim Croce's You Don't Mess Around With Jim, Chicago VII, Beach Boys-Endless Summer, Olivia Newton John-If You Love Me Let Me Know and Carole King's Wrap Around Joy, all of which did not chart in the UK at all.

In fact, the divergence of the two countries was quite noticeable in 1974 with lots of titles making it big in America but not doing so well in the UK. Titles in the US top 5 not charting in the UK included Jim Croce's I Got A Name and Photographs And Memories His Greatest Hits, Maria Muldour, Love Unlimited Orchestra-Under The Influence Of, America-Holiday, Bachman Turner Overdrive II, Steve Miller Band-Joker, MFSB-Love Is The Message, Harry Chapin-Verities And Balderdash, Rufus-Rags To Rufus, Grand Funk-Shinin On, Loggins & Messina-On Stage and Cheech & Chong's Wedding album. Neil Diamond's Serenade hit no.11, Joni Mitchell-Court And Spark and Jethro Tull-War Child both no.14, Carly Simon-Hotcakes no.19 and Neil Diamond again with Jonathan Livingston Seagull no.35.

Of the artists with no.1 singles during 1974, in the album charts, The New Seekers peaked at no.12, The Three Degrees and George McCrae no.13, Abba at no.28, but showing the disparity between the album and singles market in 1974, there was no room in the album charts at all for Suzi Quatro, Paper Lace, Terry Jacks, The Rubettes, Ray Stevens, Carl Douglas, Sweet Sensation or Ken Boothe.


Top albums of 1974
1 Carpenters - The Singles 1969-1973
2 Paul McCartney & Wings - Band On The Run
3 Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells
4 Elvis Presley - 40 Greatest
5 Pink Floyd - The Dark Side Of The Moon
6 David Bowie - Diamond Dogs
7 Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
8 Perry Como - And I Love You So
9 Simon & Garfunkel - Greatest Hits
10 Elton John - Greatest Hits

(c) 2007 Text: Sharon Mawer / Contact: Sharon Mawer
(c) 2007 All chart information: The Official UK Charts Company

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