Ahh the 70’s man, what a decade! Probably rock n roll’s best decade for music.
I had to follow up my list of Top 10 Classic Rock Albums From The 60’s with a list of the greatest albums from the 70’s, I just had to. The 70’s were the follow up to the swinging 60’s and rock and roll had become part of mainstream society. It was everywhere, the music blaring out of speakers at every bar and club, the drugs, the sex and everything to go with rock n roll culture. There were concerts everywhere and bands from the 60’s had come out their shell and begun to find their feet or rather their rhythm guitars.
The 70’s were the blooming era of the seeds sown in the 60’s for rock n roll culture and especially for music with bands releasing some of their best work. Following up the 60’s music was certainly no easy task but bands managed to reach their peak and record their most appreciated work.
Anyway I have compiled this list strictly based on my musical knowledge and ear for good tunes so if I’ve missed out albums that you like, well then comment and let me know your top 10. Seriously, there were so many good albums that it was hard to compile a top 10 but I did it anyway.
Notable absentees include – The Eagles – Hotel California, Pink Floyd – Meddle, Pink Floyd- Wish You Were Here, The Rolling Stones(all their 70’s albums), Jim Hendrix – Band of Gypsys etc
Anyway here goes
10. Led Zeppelin – Houses Of The Holy (1973)
Who else to kick start this list other than the mighty Led Zeppelin. They had just begun to sink their teeth into the music scene in 1969 with their album – Led Zeppelin I – and what an album that was ! That was followed up by Led Zeppelin II and it hit number 1 on the charts. Anyway by the time the 70’s arrived they somehow managed to out do their previous two albums and produce their most coveted work. Houses Of The Holy is mild, artistic yet almost juvenile album with the playful exuberance of Robert Plant’s vocals and Jimmy Page delivering mesmerizing guitar riffs and face melting solos. Tracks like ‘The Song Remains The Same’ and ‘Dancing Days'(hear Jimmy Page on this one) aren’t their best work but definitely make good listening. Their slower songs on this albums, mainly ‘The Rain Song’ and ‘Over The Hills And Far Away’ are melancholic yet inspiring. ‘D’yer Mak’er’ is definitely a teenager’s wet dream, I don’t know if they ripped this song off of some pop song but it’s still a decent track, I don’t like it at all but whatever it’s worth listen. The highlight of the album is ‘No Quarter’ which is a dour, dark and unbelievably good, classic Led Zeppelin song which is builds up progressively to deliver the most psychedelic rock n roll experience. To end the album is the power packed song ‘The Ocean’ which ends the album on a high note.
Rating – 7/10
9. The Kinks – Lola Versus Powerman And The Money Go Round(1971)
At number 9 comes the Kinks with one of their best albums, at least I seem to think so. The Kinks have a plethora of styles up their sleeves and can change from a fully charged up, high tempo song to a slow strumming rock n roll ballad. This album is testament to that although it’s one that not many would list in a top 10, but it certainly sounds great. To kick start is the ‘The Contender’ which is a song that effortlessly shifts from a slow number to a typical kick ass kinks track, the guitars and drums kick in at exactly the right time delighting your ears. Songs like ‘This Time Tomorrow’, and ‘Top Of The Pops’ are The Kinks artistically painting a perfect picture of life in the 70’s as a rock and roll band. ‘Rats’ and ‘Apeman’ are funny songs and ‘A Long Way From Home’ is another a great slow song. But the highlight of the album is the hit single ‘Lola’ which is one of my all time favourite songs by The Kinks and if I’m not mistaken it hit number 1 in the UK. It’s a brilliant track and the whole album is a classic. Hit play and enjoy this one !
Rating – 8/10
8. The Ramones – Ramones(1976)
The kings of the US in the 70’s, the founders of punk and one of the most revered bands from the United States, at number 8, comes ‘The Ramones’ with their self-titled album ‘Ramones’. This one is the holy grail of punk and although this is a classic rock list I had to include this album because of the sheer brilliance of the Ramones, plus nobody else really invented a musical genre on this list ! It’s got some amazing songs and the bass lines and drums go so well together. I really love all the songs on the album so I suggest you just hit play and listen to all of them.
Rating – 9/10
7. Fleetwood Mac – Rumours (1976)
Fleetwood Mac are your quintessential British-American rock band. To have a woman sing some of the vocal parts is a welcome change and Lindsey Buckingham certainly has the most beautiful voice. Rumours was a great album which really redefined Fleetwood Mac and their musical style from their earlier albums from the 60’s. This record is a soothing, methodic rock n roll classic with foot-tapping tunes. I really enjoy listening to this album, however I don’t know all the songs too well but anyway it’s surely worth a listen.
Rating – 7/10
6. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Cosmo’s Factory(1970)
I love Creedence Clearwater Revival, I think their guitar work is perhaps one of the best out of all of the bands on this list. CCR is one of the most gifted bands out of the United States and on this album you can hear all those blues influences which make a compelling listen. They are so good sometimes, in parts, on their songs that you wonder why they aren’t regarded as one of the best bands out of America but course that title goes to The Doors, nonetheless CCR are right up there. CCR are very underrated and although they did sell a lot of albums they don’t come close to the heights reached by other American rival bands. All the songs on this album are amazing and it’s a classic rock n roll album that certainly remains one of their best. Be prepared to nod your head and tap your feet relentlessly.
Rating – 8/10
5. The Velvet Underground – Loaded(1970)
Lou Reed was one of the most talented musicians around and his work on this album makes it a highly coveted classic. After their initial success of typical drug – inspired music, ‘The Velvet Underground’ with Lou Reed and Doug Yule conjured up one of the most defining albums of the 70’s which was a stark contrast to their Andy Warhol days. The music is sheer quality, straight out of the top draw and will definitely inspire you. Lou Reed perhaps out did himself on this album and must’ve kicked himself for quitting the band before the release of ‘Loaded’. The album became a run away hit and firmly placed’The Velvet Underground’ as one of the greatest bands out of America. Again all the songs are brilliant so just hit play!
Rating – 9/10
4. The Who – Who’s Next (1971)
The Who are one of my favourite bands and in 1971, they released one of their most interesting albums of all- ‘Who’s Next’. The album was a runaway hit, it hit number 1 on the UK chart and number 4 on the US billboard chart. The first session of what would become ‘Who’s Next’, was recorded at Mick Jagger’s house! The album is fantastic with great tracks like ‘Bargain’, ‘Getting In Tune’ and ‘Love Ain’t For Keeping’. However, the highlight of the album and I think we all unanimously agree on this, is the number 1 hit ‘Baba O’Reily’ which is one of their most famous songs and it most certainly is their best song for me. ‘Behind Blue Eyes’ is another slow classic number which is a beautiful song, it’s the same song that was later covered by Limp Bizkit in the 90’s but the original by the Who is a much better version. So ‘Who’s Next’ to listen to this album?
3. Led Zeppelin – IV (1971)
The Zeppelin return on the list with arguably their best work, or perhaps it was their first album, I’m not too sure but this one is surely up there with their best. This album is a rock n roll timeless classic. Robert Plant nails the vocals on this album like the others but this one was perfectly recorded and mixed. Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and John Bonham all produced their most memorable sounds on this album and it hit number 1 in the UK in a week and stayed there for 90 weeks! So you can imagine what a reception this album had in ’71. The album starts off with the awesome tracks ‘Black Dog’ and ‘Rock n Roll’ which are really top class with Plant singing resoundingly and of course Page’s astute guitar work. Songs like ‘The Battle For Evermore’ really pissed off critics with the unnecessary J.R.R Tolkien inspired middle earth references and even I feel the same, they could have written something better. Slow numbers like ‘Going To California’ really delight the senses and make a great listen. Perhaps the most famous song off the album is the classic ‘Stairway To Heaven’ which is a rock ballad for the ages. My favourite song on the album is ‘When The Levee Breaks’ which is easily my favourite Led Zeppelin song and one that I played a lot at the college pub Deetee back in Manipal. All in all the album is gold.
Rating – 9/10
2. The Doors – L.A Woman(1971)
At number 2 comes my favourite band of all time – The Doors. Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, Robby Kreiger and John Densmore struggled to repeat their breakaway hit and self titled album – The Doors releasing a number of records which were good but really didn’t hit the heights of their first studio album, until L.A Woman. This album was what many called the return of the Doors back to the top. This album was not recorded in a studio after Jim and the boys refused to record in a studio atmosphere and the band shifted to their garage/recording room where they used to practice and somehow made a classic album straight out of a L.A garage. What an album ! I don’t even need to mention the tracks because they are all so good! Ok I will anyway, Jim starts off the album with the super awesome track ‘The Changeling’ which screamed out the change in Jim Morrison and the Doors it’s an amazing song which is full of energy. They had a tough time with Morrison’s antics on and off stage and had reached notoriety all accross the U.S but after getting their act together and recording, they produced one of their most unbelievable albums. The hit title track ‘ LA Woman’ hit number 1 as soon as it got out. Others like ‘Love Her Madly’, which was written by guitarist Robby Kreiger also hit number 1(it was released as the first single). Songs like the cover of the old blues number ‘Crawling King Snake’ and ‘Hyacinth House’ were the typical bluesy doors tracks. But the highlight is the hit ‘Riders On The Storm’ which is such a timeless piece of art that you can never get bored of it. Jim Morrison’s ghostly voice on the track served as a fitting goodbye before his untimely death in Paris. I wish he didn’t over do it i.e the booze and the drugs and went easy on it instead and perhaps ‘The Doors’ would have still recorded more songs with the iconic front man. What an album!
Rating – 10/10
1. Pink Floyd – Dark Side Of The Moon(1973)
Do I really need to write anything? This is only the greatest rock and roll album of all time. This album sold so many copies over the years that the amount of money that Floyd earned out of it is really mind boggling, it’s still selling to this day and that too in millions!
David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Rick Wright and Nick Mason finally produced a masterpiece after years of just about getting there. This album cemented the band in the rock n roll hall of fame and it is certainly a mighty album that has stood the test of time. ‘Breathe’, ‘Time’, ‘Money’, ‘Us and Them’, ‘Eclipse’ and ‘The Great Gig In The Sky’ are all number 1 hits even if they didn’t hit number 1 and I have literally heard this album on repeat for days through the years and it never gets old. Multi-platinum and the best album of cap off the list !
I’ll see you on the ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’.