10 Best Albums of the 1970s

artist: misc date: 04/26/2013 category: ug news
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10 Best Albums of the 1970s
What are the best albums of the 1970s? That's what we asked UG readers in our poll this week, and after thousands of votes we have the results. The 1970s were a great decade for music. Recording technology had come on in leaps and bounds since bands like the Beatles started to experiment with the studio as an instrument in the '60s, and a generation of creative producers and engineers made their mark on music with some of the finest sounds ever recorded. Musicians were more ambitious than ever, and many had moved on from the '60s goal of releasing a selection of singles and instead writing concept albums to be consumed as a whole - or indeed, to challenge listeners with music that they had never heard before, as with the early metal albums. Whatever you think of the results this week, we reckon the include many of the best albums ever recorded. It's time to put your feet up, hit play, and experience the sound of the '70s. Enjoy!

10. Queen "A Night at the Opera" (1975)

The fourth album by Queen was the most expensive album ever recorded by the time of its release. It sounded expensive too. With songs like "Bohemian Rhapsody" and the magical opening chords to "You're My Best Friend," the album was full of surprises and delights that had never been heard before.

9. The Beatles "Let It Be" (1970)

"Let it Be" might have been the Beatles' final studio release, but most of it was recorded in early 1969 before the recording of "Abbey Road" which some purists think is their real final album. Regardless, it was unleashed upon the world in the 1970s and earns its place among the best of the decade.

8. Rush "2112" (1976)

A dystopian story set in the year 2112, in a world run by priests who control all of modern culture. It's often voted as one of the greatest prog albums of all time, and with a story and sound like this, you wouldn't be surprised.

7. Deep Purple "Machine Head" (1972)

One of the earliest albums to inspire the metal genre. It was a commercial hit for the band, no doubt thanks to its timeless classic "Smoke on the Water" which was inspired by a theatre fire which put their touring plans on hold. One interesting twist to the album recording was that they didn't always listen to their work because the mobile recording rig was too far to bother walking to. Their solution: keep playing until the performance felt right. It worked.

6. David Bowie "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars" (1972)

Bowie's most famous alter-ego Ziggy Stardust was supposed to be an alien messenger, and with the wonderful sounds and production on this record it may as well be true. One of its biggest songs "Starman" wasn't originally intended to appear on the album, but Bowie's performance of the track on British music programme Top of the Pops in 1972 helped secure its legacy in pop music culture.

5. The Doors "L.A. Woman" (1971)

Jim Morrison's last the Doors album before his death in the same year was a blues-infused joy. They played two shows shortly before its release, which would be their last as a band when Morrison had a breakdown on stage (and a proper one, not a tame Bille Joe Armstrong one).

4. AC/DC "Highway to Hell" (1979)

Another final album for a classic singer, this time Bon Scott who died from alcohol abuse the following year. They almost recorded with Jimi Hendrix producer Eddie Kramer, but he was fired before completing a single song. Instead they went to Robert Lange, and it was a good move because the album became their biggest hit yet.

3. Black Sabbath "Paranoid" (1970)

The Black Sabbath debut might be where the seeds of modern metal were sown, but the runaway success of "Paranoid" and the inclusion of some of Sabbath's greatest songs like "Iron Man," "War Pigs" and the title track could make this album more influential than any other in their canon.

2. Led Zeppelin "Led Zeppelin IV" (1971)

No-one knows the real name of this album, so fans simply presumed it continued the roman numeral naming trends of its predecessors. Some fans prefer to call it "Four Symbols" or "Untitled," but they're thinking too hard and should just turn up the music. It's too darn rocking to sit down and nit pick.

1. Pink Floyd "The Dark Side of the Moon" (1973)

Who else could have won? From start to end, every beat is carefully considered and composed to perfection. The songs would sound great if they were hammered out on a four-track tape recorder, but thankfully engineer Alan Parsons was on hand to make it one of the most beautiful recordings ever committed to tape. Perhaps the best. This wasn't the only Pink Floyd album that scored high in our poll this week - "Animals," "Wish You Were Here," "Atom Heart Mother," "Obscured By Clouds" and of course "The Wall" were also among the nominees this week. Come on then: hit play, close your eyes, and relax...
That's the end of our top 10 albums of the 1970s. What a shame we only have room for ten albums - there were tonnes of great nominations from our readers this week, including the jazz epic "Bitches Brew" by Miles Davis, classic self-titled albums by Van Halen and Boston, and Fleetwood Mac's excellent "Rumours." What do you think of the results? Does it hit the mark, or could you do better? Let us know your reaction and personal favorites from the '70s in the comments.
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