1970s: 10 Singer-Songwriter Albums We Loved and You’ve Never Heard – Rolling Stone
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10 Singer-Songwriter Albums Rolling Stone Loved in the 1970s You’ve Never Heard

We praised them 40 years ago — and you should listen to them today!

Jesse Winchester and hoyt axton

Jesse Winchester and Hoyt Axton

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty; Jazz Archiv Hamburg/ullstein bild/Getty

The Seventies were the decade of the singer-songwriter: not just Bob Dylan, but Jackson Browne, Carole King, Randy Newman and the hundreds of poets and troubadours who wanted to achieve their status. Rolling Stone reviewed thousands of albums between 1970 and 1979, including some gems that never found the audience they deserved. We went through the archives to find 10 singer-songwriter albums that ruled our turntables in the Seventies but have been unfairly forgotten since then.

steven grossman

Steven Grossman, ‘Caravan Tonight’

This "poignant but not self-pitying" album, in the mode of a male Joni Mitchell, was groundbreaking because of its subject matter: Grossman was gay, and sang frankly about life as a homosexual man in New York City's West Village. Rolling Stone said it made him the first composer/performer on a major label to write about homosexuality "on the everyday level, rather than exploit it as chic decadence or futuristic fantasy." The review worried (presciently) that the subject matter would lead to the album being ignored by radio stations. Grossman died in 1991, age 39, of complications related to AIDS. Although there was a posthumous record (Something in the Moonlight), Caravan Tonight proved to be the only album Grossman released in his lifetime.

What We Said Then: "His vision is every bit as compelling as those of such brilliant mid-Atlantic provincials as Elliott Murphy and Bruce Springsteen. . . . Most important is the purity of Grossman's sensibility. His communication of intense compassion, honesty and tenderness so eclipses the imperfections inevitable in the work of such a young artist (he's only 22) that the ultimate emotional impact of his Caravan is staggering, its appeal to the finest human values universal." — Stephen Holden, RS 161 (May 23, 1974)

elliott murphy

Elliott Murphy, ‘Lost Generation’

Rolling Stone raved about the first two albums by the hyperverbal young New Yorker Elliott Murphy, initially predicting superstardom on the basis of his debut Aquashow and then lauding this follow-up album as "brilliant but extraordinarily difficult." Murphy ended up writing articles for Rolling Stone through the Eighties, including interviews with Tom Waits and Buster Poindexter; he also settled into cult status, recording dozens of albums, and now lives in France.

What We Said Then: "On Aquashow, Elliott Murphy had the audacity to merge Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby with Dylan's 'Like a Rolling Stone' to create a song called 'Like a Great Gatsby'; On Lost Generation, he invokes Hemingway's Paris in the Twenties, the magic of Hollywood and many more gods, then winds up tying Pound, Braun, and even Hitler to a rock & roll stake and setting the whole works on fire. . . . When he's on the street, the sun also rises on one of the best." — Paul Nelson, RS 191 (July 17, 1975)

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