I've written about the year 1974 before in this space. It is, to my mind, the worst year in rock history, a year dominated by silly novelty songs and some truly cringe-worthy stuff. But let's not worry about "Seasons in the Sun" and "(You're) Having My Baby," or "Billy, Don't Be a Hero" or "The Streak." Let's turn our attention elsewhere.
Some of the best music that came out in 1974 shared two characteristics: the artists that performed the songs were either one-hit wonders or had limited success; and the acts were mostly comprised of minority groups. Here are five excellent examples:
Consider the first choice, a silky smooth ballad that might have come from Teddy Pendergrass or Lou Rawls, but instead was the only chart hit for Al Wilson:
Then there was this lilting number, which came from the same place as the highly successful K.C. and the Sunshine Band, but instead featured vocalist George McCrae:
Quick -- name a successful Native American rock band. For whatever reason, there haven't been many. These guys had a big, enduring hit in 1974 and pretty much disappeared after that, although I'm sure they enjoyed the royalties from the Alltel commercials that have rolled in recently. It's Redbone, performing on the Midnight Special, with:
Then there was this bouncy number, which was a one-timer for a trio called the Hues Corporation. Appearing on the British show Top of the Pops in weird camera angles, they perform:
And probably the best known selection this evening is this chestnut from the band that spawned Chaka Khan. They had a few hits after this one and Chaka herself sailed into the 1980s and beyond as a second-tier diva. Chaka knew where to get her music, though -- this number was written by Stevie Wonder. Again from the Midnight Special, with Chaka sporting a sequined halter top that I'm sure was highly comfortable to wear, Rufus asks us to:
As always, cast your vote for your favorite. Or if you have another jam from '74, tell me why it's better than the five I've chosen here.