If the turbulence of the 1960s opened up new cultural horizons, it was in the 1970s that these buds reached full bloom. Across the board, in fine arts and film, television, and design, youth-centric culture challenged all that had come before. Music, as it often does, led the way.
As we begin our search for five perfect albums from the 1970s, we are immediately struck by the extraordinary breadth of the decade. In 1970, the Beatles disbanded, but their counterparts – the Rolling Stones, the Who, and Led Zeppelin - were all riding the crest of their creative peak.
Every record label was looking for the new hot commodity – the singer-songwriter. Standard rock n’ roll was expanded in all directions – from folk rock to prog rock. Carole King’s Tapestry and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon shattered all records by taking up permanent residence on the Billboard charts.
Five of the best albums from the 1970s
In short, there’s a lot to choose from, even if we restrict ourselves to the first few years of the decade. As the ‘70s moved along, other less-mainstream forms of pop music gained traction. Black artists already had Motown, but in the ‘70s they began building on their legacy of blues-tinged rock. Funk and Soul grew more mainstream early in the decade, before ceding pop music to disco in the decade’s second half. In New York, an underground movement called Rap was popping up.
By the end of the ‘70s, some critics were declaring the death of rock ‘n roll. It had grown staid – or rather, it had grown stadium. There were new forces shaping it. In addition to Funk and Rap, the harder edges of punk and metal were coming of age at a pace that alarmed the flower children who only ten years prior were on the culture’s cutting edge.
All right, enough of the back story. Let’s get on to the albums, shall we? Here are five perfect albums that help capture the 1970s.