Wednesday, 13 April 2016

The Top 10 Albums Of The 70s

The Top 10 Albums Of The 70s

The Top 10 Albums Of The 70s: 11. John Lennon - Plastic Ono Band

11. John Lennon - Plastic Ono Band (1970)

Contemporary Folk Rock

As the 70s ushered in their dawn, the aura felt distinctly different without the pollen of the 60s spreading their affection everywhere, which can be probably best represented by this very album. Let’s start with The Beatles themselves. The leaders of the revolution. The epitome of the love love love generation. They were dead. The dream was over. And this debut solo album from John Lennon was the confirmation bullet to its forehead. Said bullet was delivered without the colourful psychedelia or catchy refrains that embraced us from before, but rather fired defensively via some stripped back guitarwork and a voice which wailed and snarled in agony about one single issue: the abandonment of his childhood self. The untimely death of his mother. The desertion of his father. The invisibility of any tangible God. The incessant desire to be admired because of this emptiness. All surfaced together in one ball of suffering, aggravated by a recent bout in primal scream therapy, guiding Lennon to present this introspective confession and exposing his long buried insecurities, now as a vulnerable man, bitter, scared, with no one but Yoko to lick the wounds clean. And it puts all other post-Beatles work to shame. Perhaps even some early-Beatles work too.

Selected Accolades:
#62 in Q’s list The 100 Greatest British Albums Ever.
#60 in Pitchfork Media's list of the 100 Top Albums of the 1970s.
#4 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 100 Best Albums of 1967 - 1987.
#22 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

The Top 10 Albums Of The 70s: 10. Kate Bush - The Kick Inside

10. Kate Bush - The Kick Inside (1978)

Art Pop

It’s difficult to listen to an album as progressive as The Kick Inside and not become fascinated by the lady herself, at times above even the music within. Such enchantments stand particularly firm on her debut due to her age at the time of its conception, released before our Kate was even 20 years old, with certain tracks written when she was as young as 13. Based on this information, a certain enigmatic quality magically glows from her character, would you not agree? An eerie expansion, magically exuberating beyond her maturity with quirky melodies so creative and abnormal that she grows more into a mythical creature rather than something as simple as a human. It's almost as if a certain romance allures you with its witchy spell, yet the temptation comes with a warning of thorns, threatening trespassers with an eccentric poison, one defence mechanism designed to only allow a select few to be embraced with love like a child in the womb. But it didn't even end there. As while Wuthering Heights may have become the first female-written UK number-one single ever, and while every other song on offer here stands just as tall during the fillerless journey, her discography continued to blossom for the next decade until she coiled back into her rotten candy-house and slept, now a recluse who only occasionally reappears to sell tickets at £100+ a pop.

Selected Accolades:
none, which is stupid.

The Top 10 Albums Of The 70s: 09. Ramones - Ramones

09. Ramones - Ramones (1976)

Punk Rock

During the 1970s, rock took an annoying turn. It had begun to feel important, serving itself by flaunting ‘profound’ themes whilst masturbating all over their instruments, declaring the act as ‘progressive’ or ‘arty’. Which was all fine, until it managed to crawl so far up its own ass that we couldn’t even hear the music anymore. Thank God, then, for the Ramones, who came along just in time to prove rock ‘n roll didn’t need to be taken seriously, and what’s more, you didn’t even need any talent to create it. Instead, we got a band who were more akin to the class underachiever, inebriated and rambling uneducated rubbish about Nazism or drug-use or prostitution in such utterly ridiculous and sloppy manners, that you couldn’t help but feel some sympathetic love for them within your own amusement. And then suddenly, before you had even realised what was happening, they accelerated the conversation, forming upbeat anthems which all sounded exactly the same and ended as fast as they began, yet were hammered into your head for a lifetime, indirectly jump-starting punk rock before it even had a name, and changing the history of music forever. And not a single rock record since has escaped its influence. I mean, just ask the Sex Pistols, who may wear the punk crown according to many, but blatantly ripped it right off the Ramones' heads, which simply isn't fair and a little bit rude.

Selected Accolades:
#4 in Mojo’s list The Best Punk Albums.
#74 in Q’s list The 100 Greatest Albums Ever.
Included in the National Recording Registry (2012).

The Top 10 Albums Of The 70s: 08. Queen - A Night at the Opera

08. Queen - A Night at the Opera (1975)

Hard Art Rock

There is nothing worse than a review which exclusively focuses on the frontman whilst the otherwise deadly proficient musicians get scribbled into the margins like annotations, and yet here we are again. My excuse is because A Night at the Opera is Freddy Mercury to the very core, the absolute finest example of the legend melted down like an iron statue and then converted into audio form for convenience sake (bar I'm in Love with My Car, but let’s not go there). The very arrogance of this album leaks delusions of grandeur at amounts so unnecessarily excessive that you can feel your own ego being mashed into an inferior wad of pulp, and yet decade after decade, it survives the weight of its own egomania. How? Simple! Its charm! Because while it will upstage you, it does so with such a cheeky flamboyance and cocky humour that you’ll discover yourself delighted rather than defeated, flattered by the flirtations, joyously clapping for the coats of harmonies and genres which offhandedly animate from one style to another as effortlessly as a wink. It’s only flaunting its pride to entertain you! So enthralling! And without a doubt the most impressive piece of work these stadium giants ever produced, including Brian May, who is also really good too.

Selected Accolades:
Debuted at No. 1 in the UK and No. 4 in the US.
#19 in Kerrang!’s poll the 100 Best British Rock Albums Ever.
#17 in Q’s poll the 50 Best British Albums Ever.
#25 in Classic Rock’s list the 100 Greatest Rock Albums Ever.
#231 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
#19 in NME’s poll the Greatest 100 Albums of All Time.
#13 in Channel 4’s poll the Greatest 100 Albums.
#9 in BBC’s poll the Top 100 Albums.

The Top 10 Albums Of The 70s: 07. Kraftwerk - Trans-Europe Express

07. Kraftwerk - Trans-Europe Express (1977)


As far as altering the modern world goes, no country can boast quite as much of an impact as Germany. Certainly, this hasn’t always exactly been a badge of honour, but in almost exclusive regards to Kraftwerk, this nation’s monumental influence on programmed music deserves unquestionable worship, incomparable to any other, to the degree of absurdity. Said development had already started a few years before Trans-Europe Express, as the outfit had pretty much single-handedly defined electronic music some albums previous, breaking into the history books by revolutionising the very concept of what organised sound could entail. But while various fanatics will draw blood over which Kraftwerk masterpiece warrants the highest approval, it’s their sixth record which is oft-considered the most accessible from their arsenal, depicting a lonely train ride over Europe, delivered by means of repetitive chugging rhythms and manipulated robotic vocals, perpetually progressing forward from the momentum of determined mechanics fighting their way through the winter cold. Even now, four decades later, its minimal textures and droning innards still sound like they are coming from the future, which is the very apotheosis of immortality, and so ahead of its time that it’s difficult to even consider this as a 70s album whatsoever.

Selected Accolades:
Deemed the Greatest Electronic Album of the 20th Century by Slant Magazine.
#6 in Pitchfork Media's list of the 100 Top Albums of the 1970s.
#253 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
#71 in Channel 4’s the 100 Greatest Albums.
#56 in VH1’s list of the 100 Greatest Albums (of Rock & Roll) of All Time.

The Top 10 Albums Of The 70s: 06. David Bowie - Low

06. David Bowie - Low (1977)

Experimental Art Rock

It was during the 1970s that art rock had finally begun to furiously flourish, and there still isn’t any figure better equipped to explain the movement than the King of Everything himself, David Bowie. All of his contributions to the entire decade were embarrassingly unrivaled, but retrospectively, it is often agreed upon that his experimental Berlin Trilogy was what truly entangled the public’s imagination, kicking off with arguably the most exciting of the lot, Low. What rose this specific record into such elevated regards, was that it's essentially two contradictory albums sold as a single package: side one of the vinyl performing as an eclectic sputtering of defective Nintendo pop, with short almost incomplete explosions of hyper-happiness and overstimulated joy; whilst side two birthed a primarily instrumental ambience, with lengthy atmospheres of dramatic foreboding and a somber exhaustion. Jolt this with the best drum sound in all of production history, and it’s no wonder that a large percentage of his die-hard fans vigorously defend this as Bowie’s greatest release—which is a pretty big deal when you consider there are 30 of them to choose from.

Selected Accolades:
#14 in Q’s list The 100 Greatest British Albums Ever.
#249 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Deemed the Top Album of the 1970s by Pitchfork Media.

The Top 10 Albums Of The 70s: 05. The Clash - London Calling

05. The Clash - London Calling (1979)

Punk Rock

"Phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust!" couldn’t have come from a more credible source. The youth of the late-70s were clogged to the brim by the artificial love and psychedelic drug era, and instead found themselves angry at everything, shouting aggressive obscenities at the British politicians in between gulps of beer, rebelling against unemployment, excessive consumerism, social displacement, and racial rivalry, if only they could find their way out of this damn supermarket. Which is why I ask: who better to lead this gang of misplaced reprobates than The Clash themselves? I mean, not only did this four piece harness the recommended amount of discontented attitude, but they also drove enough ambitious smarts to glue together over an hour of punk music which skittered around reggae and ska and rockabilly and R&B and jazz and pop and hard rock all together, stuttering and mumbling and marching itself right into our children's heads and festering there forever. I mean, those kids are all old now and didn’t really achieve shit, but at least this album did, standing as the greatest punk record ever made, by the greatest punk band that ever existed. Because, really, who else is there? The Sex Pistols? Fuck right off, mate.

Selected Accolades:
#4 in Q’s list The 100 Greatest British Albums Ever.
#22 in Mojo’s list The Top 50 Punk Albums.
#6 in NME's list of the Best Albums of the 1970s.
#2 in Pitchfork Media’s list of the Best Albums of the 1970s.
Deemed the Best Album of the 1980s by Rolling Stone Magazine (despite being released the decade before, which just shows how good it was).
#8 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

The Top 10 Albums Of The 60s: 04. Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin IV

04. Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin IV (1971)

Hard Rock

Like some polluted egg, the corrupt birth of heavy metal may have been laid near the end of the 1960s, but the final hatching definitely took place during the early 70s, irrevocably revealing the wicked demon salivating from within. And while people often (reasonably) credit Black Sabbath as the mother of this sound, even that villainous group had a lesser case of blasphemy than that of Zeppelin. This is because no other band in history had a higher value of talent fairly distributed between the members, each as preposterously on par with one another, never outshining nor obstructing their own separate paths of potent glory. It seems unlikely, then, that such a meet of artistry would happen by accident, which is why legend tells us that they acquired these skills from a deal made with the Devil himself. There is even evidence that they hid the Dark Lord within the reversed grooves of this very album, granting the music a power beyond our world, so consistent and timeless that it remains the epitome of hard rock’s capabilities until this very day. Which begged many to ask: what did such a trade cost the musicians of our rustic folktale? Well, nobody knows for sure, but it may have been the souls of John Bonham and Robert Plant’s son, which Lucifer stole a short time later.

Selected Accolades:
Remained in the UK charts for 90 weeks, entering at #10, rising to #1 the following week.
Became the highest selling US album ever to not top the charts (peaking at #2).
At one point, was one of the top five best-selling albums of all time.
#26 in Q’s list The Greatest British Albums.
#7 in Pitchfork Media’s Best Albums Of The 1970s.
#2 in Spin’s list of The Greatest Metal Albums Of All Time.
#69 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
#24 in Mojo’s The 100 Greatest Albums Ever Made.
#21 in Q’s list The 100 Best Albums Ever.
#4 in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of The Definitive 200: Top 200 Albums of All-Time.
Deemed the Greatest Rock Album Ever by Classic Rock.
Deemed the Greatest British Rock Album Ever by Classic Rock.
Inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

The Top 10 Albums Of The 70s: 03. Bob Dylan - Blood on the Tracks

03. Bob Dylan - Blood on the Tracks (1975)

Folk Rock

After an uninterrupted spree of masterpieces during the 1960s, Bob Dylan’s poetic genius had finally come to a crashing end. His early 70s work was condemned by critics and even his fans felt betrayed by what they perceived as their prophet’s laziness, brought on by a disinterest in his own former glory. What a tragedy. But just as everyone was about to permanently turn their backs in abandonment, fate smashed through our hero’s jaw whilst riding upon the most classic of inspiration trains: the agony of heartbreak. A divorce from his then-wife Sarah had shattered Dylan’s trademark cool, and he exposed himself in spates of articulate anger and sentimental depression, venting venomous confessions of a damaged man, as cryptic as always in their dramatic broadcastings, but more intimate than we could ever feel fully comfortable conversing with. Even the live quality of these folky recordings felt purposefully shoddy, as if this cathartic surrender was completely unplanned, spilling from his guts and out of his control. Which, in turn, brought the disciples rushing back, aggravated by their own dark memories of past lovers. The adolescent prodding. The romantic insanity. The infectious laughter. The inevitable fighting. The ultimate demise. Each step of the way scraping their markings into the dent of our hearts. And I miss you so much. Please come back home to me. I'm sorry about everything.

Selected Accolades:
Reached #4 in the UK charts.
Reached #1 in the Billboard 200 charts.
#5 in Pitchfork Media’s list The 50 Best Albums of the 70s.
#16 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

The Top 10 Albums Of The 70s: 02. Fleetwood Mac - Rumours

02. Fleetwood Mac - Rumours (1977)

Soft Pop Rock

Upon first listen, Rumours disguises itself as an upbeat, radio-friendly record where three romantic vocalists subtly weave their silky harmonies over crafty guitar pluckings, expanding onto a soft surface where you can sit and relax, nodding your head with a content little smile upon your face. But this charade does not last long. Unbeknownst to you, each time you listen to this impeccable collection of songs, you unintentionally pick away at the merry exterior to reveal one of the nastiest, most passionately distressed albums ever created. Mick was in the process of a divorce. Christine and John had recently separated after an 8 year marriage, refusing to even acknowledge one another. And the Lindsey/Stevie relationship was all but shattered, their only communication via deafening arguments. They all loved each other. They all hated each other. They wrote lyrics designed to hurt one another. They forced each other to sing along to those very words about themselves. And no matter how hard they tried to cover it up with all the free-love principles of the 70s, their tangled relationships spewed nothing but anger and hurt and sadness into their art. Which is what makes Rumours the emotional mammoth it is, as one of the most perfect, interpersonal, and untouchable recordings in history.

Selected Accolades:
Won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1978.
Remaining in the UK charts for 522 weeks.
Became the 14th best-selling album in UK history.
Became the 6th best-selling album in US history.
Sold over 40 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling albums of all time.
#3 in Q’s list The 50 Best Albums of the 70s.
#25 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
#23 in USA Today’s list The Top 40 Albums.
#16 in VH1’s countdown The 100 Greatest Albums.

The Top 10 Albums Of The 70s: 01. Joni Mitchell - Blue

01. Joni Mitchell - Blue (1971)

Contemporary Folk

If we’ve learned anything from history, it would be that heartbreak is one persuasive demon who has mastered the skill of encouraging powerful art that tears outwards from the soul. Ask yourself: is misery your favourite flavour? Do you relate deeply to the anguish of others? Then you need not look towards anything else in the world other than Joni Mitchell’s aptly titled Blue. After having her emotions gutted from her sternum by the abandonment of her lover, Joni was hollowed out, left empty of everything except for a weight of songs which required almost nothing but her naked angelic voice to carry out their devastation, a frailty of words resisted only by the strength of her delivery, exposing the final cry for help from a woman who had already lost all of her defences. She was lifeless. Defeated. Broken. And oh so fucking alone. Which is why I beg all of you newcomers: do not tackle this classic unless your heart is broken, otherwise you may never understand it. However, once you do grasp the severity of this record, it will never entirely let you go, as the sincerest, most grief-stricken, most cry-worthy album ever made—as well as the greatest record of all time, in my current opinion.

Selected Accolades:
#8 in Q’s list The Greatest Album of All-Time by a Female Artist.
#2 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of The 50 Greatest Female Albums Of All Time.
Deemed the Greatest Canadian Album of All Time by Chart.
#30 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (the highest female).
#14 in VH1’s list The 100 Greatest Albums of All Time (the highest female).
Inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

(sorry Pink Floyd)

But wait, there's more!

The Top 10 Albums Of The 60s
The Top 10 Albums Of The 80s

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