10 greatest albums of the 1970s

The best of an amazing decade.

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No. 8 - Nick Drake - Pink Moon (1972)

11 songs in 28 minutes? Sounds like it would be much too short for any kind of real work, right? Instead, any longer songs might have made the structure of this record fall apart. There is not a lot of happiness on this album, however. Most might sound rushed to get through the collection and the entire album was recorded in just two nights, but Drake was obviously just full of inspiration and a need to get the songs recorded.

Drake dealt with depression most of his life and the album is not easy to listen to, but the talent and songwriting ability are without question. The record did not sell well and did not fit in with what was being played on the radio at the time. Drake also refused to promote it. Each track is excellent, however, and the short album must be listened to as a whole.

No. 7 - Rolling Stones - Exile on Main Street (1972)

Bluesy and country-infected, the Rolling Stones perhaps made the most American-sounding album of any non-American group. Instead of borrowing, they stole, and they perfected. The Stones did not try to reinvent the wheel as they used the wheel for fodder as well. They were also still in a period of time where they did not overproduce anything so the rough edges of the songs were as they were meant to be.

The record does not contain a lot of independent singles with filler. There are almost literally no tracks that one might list among their top-ten favorite Stones songs. But the group simply made a record they wanted to make by the sounds they were influenced by at the time and we should be thankful for the unintentional masterpiece.

No. 6 - Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin IV (1971)

The record is almost so perfect that one wants to find a reason to not like it much anymore. But many of the standard hard rock and metal tropes we know now come directly from Led Zeppelin IV. Only eight songs long, one might accidentally run across the album in a record store and think it's part of a greatest hits collection. It isn't. This was just four guys coming together and making music in a way no one had ever heard before - or likely ever will again.

From the bombast of "Black Dog," the pre-punk of "Rock and Roll, to the grandeur of "Stairway to Heaven," this is a beast of an album that will grab you and smile. Plus, the best song Led Zeppelin might have ever created, "When the Levee Breaks," is the ender. Don't worry, though; you will just want to immediately flip back over to side one and listen to the album all over again.