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Fifteen Albums That Turn Fifty This Year

Updated on February 11, 2020

Don McLean Followed American Pie With An Even Better Album


Older music fans will look back with sadness at what transpired exactly fifty years ago, when two prominent rock stars both passed away at age 27. It was on September 18 in 1970 when Jimi Hendrix died, and just several weeks later the world lost Janis Joplin.

Aside from those tragic demises, music fans should be grateful for 1970. Many excellent records were released that year, all which celebrate their Golden Anniversary at some point in 2020.

Here are the fifteen best, not including the plethora of self-titled debuts that came out.

1. The Madcap Laughs by Syd Barrett
David Gilmour and Roger Waters both helped their Pink Floyd co-founder on his debut record, highlighted by the single "Octopus."

2. Chicago II by Chicago
The Chicago Transit Authority lost its last two words, but it kept the beautiful blend of horns and rock found in hits such as "Make Me Smile" and "Colour My World."

3. American Woman by the Guess Who
This sophomore album almost reads like a Greatest Hits set, what with the title track, "No Time", "No Sugar Tonight " and "New Mother Nature."

4. Deja Vu by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
From the opening cut "Carry On" to "Teach Your Children" to "Woodstock" to "Our House", this disc improves upon the previous classic that was made sans Neil Young.

5. A Question of Balance by the Moody Blues
Even if we never got an answer while knocking at the door, we would still have received the treasure of tracks from this number one album.

6. After the Gold Rush by Neil Young
Neil was helpless on this solo effort, but he nevertheless created a beautiful record including the title track, "Tell Me Why" and "Southern Man."

7. II by Led Zeppelin
Building on their sterling first record, the quartet gave us "Heartbreaker " and "Whole Lotta Love" on this follow up.

8. New Morning by Bob Dylan
It was certainly refreshing to greet the dawn, especially after the nightmare that was Self-Portrait had been released just a few months earlier.

9. Tea for the Tillerman by Cat Stevens
Somehow on the heels of the wild world of the Sixties, these ten songs serve as a peaceful introduction to what everyone was hoping for a calmer decade.

10. Tumbleweed Connection by Elton John
None of the songs achieved the chart success of "Your Song", but this album makes for a better whole than its predecessor.

11. Plastic Ono Band by John Lennon
The former member of The Beatles shows off his versatility here, delightfully meddling in acoustic statements as well as flat out rock and catchy pop.

12. All Things Must Pass by George Harrison
As if "My Sweet Lord" and "What Is Life" were not enough to make a great album, the Quiet Beatle" even threw in a hit version of Bob Dylan's "If Not For You."

13. Beaucoup of Blues by Ringo Starr
George Martin's orchestra provided all the music for this collection of standards, which went virtually overlooked when Let It Be hit stores at the same time.

14. Tapestry by Don McLean
American Pie was devoured by the public, so McLean followed it with a much more acoustic and personal record. "General Store" and "Orphans of Wealth" are two of the most powerful statements McLean would ever make.

15. The Man Who Sold the World by David Bowie
The title track was a minor hit until it turned Gold when Nirvana covered it, but the album's center piece is no doubt the enigmatic "Width of a Circle."


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