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History's Best Year For Music Came Not in 1969, But Ten Years Later

Updated on August 4, 2019

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Much attention has been given to the fiftieth anniversary of some of the best music ever released, as folks look back on 1969 albums released by Crosby, Stills and Nash, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, and even two by Neil Young. The Beatles themselves released two new records, Yellow Submarine and Abbey Road, while experiencing the eve of their breakup.

The end of the next decade, however, might have witnessed an even better year in music, when some of the most highly esteemed albums were released. New Wave was the hottest genre as not only did we get the magnificent Joe Jackson debut Look Sharp, but also his sophomore album I'm The Man.

Here are fifteen more of the best albums that turn forty this year.

1. Armed Forces by Elvis Costello

After two exhilarating albums that ushered in the New Wave of punk, hits such as "Oliver's Army", "Accidents Will Happen" and "What So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding" made this third album his best ever.

2. The Wall by Pink Floyd

The autobiographical rock opera was ubiquitous forty years ago, when everybody was chanting "We Don't Need No Education." The smash album soon became a film, which has endured as a cult classic.

3. Cool For Cats by Squeeze

Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook really improved their songwriting skills, which were high quality to begin with on their self-titled debut. By this sophomore record they were really jining, as heard on tracks like "Slap and Tickle", "Up the Junction" and "Goodbye Girl."

4. Breakfast In America by Supertramp

Turn on any oldies station today and you will still hear nearly half of the hits from this album, gems like "Take the Long way Home" or "Goodbye Stranger" or "The Logical Song."

5. Self-titled by George Harrison

In addition to the three singles Harrison showcases clever songwriting on deeper cuts like "Soft-Hearted Hana" and "Not Guilty."

6. Squeezing Out Sparks by Graham Parker and the Rumour

It was highlighted by Parker's advice not to bother with the local girls, but there is not even one dud among the ten songs on the record.

7. Monolith by Kansas

"People of the South Wind" and "Reason To Be" both hit the Top Forty, a list that should have also included album mates "Glimpse of Home"and "On the Other Side."

8. Get the Knack by the Knack

Sharona was not the only girl addressed on this debut, since Doug Feiger and his band also lusted for Tara, Melissa and even the "Good Girls (Who) Don't."

9. Labour of Lust by Nick Lowe

After years playing with Brinsley Scwhartz and promoting Elvis Costello, Lowe finally broke through himself with the leading track "CruelTo Be Kind."

10. Fine Art of Surfacing by the Boomtown Rats

Bob Geldof wrote with horror about the first school shooting on "I Don't Like Mondays", but here forth year later we know that his message fell on deaf ears in Washington DC. On the same record, however, he also gave us "Diamond Smiles" and "Everybody's Looking At You."

11. Cornerstone by Styx

The prog rock quintet was at its peak on this album, a year before Paradise Theater and the even more regrettable Kilroy Was Here. Before he arrived we were treated to Tommy Shaw's "Boat on the River", Dennis Deyoung's "Why Me" and the pair's rocking "Borrowed Time."

12. The Raven by the Stranglers

Guilford's gang of punk rockers were hitting on all cylinders on this record, as evidenced by "Duchess", "Vietnamerica" and "Bear Cage."

13. Phoenix by Dan Fogelberg

Three Mile Island inspired "Face the Fire", the second best song after the title track. It is kind of unfortunate that the sappy "Longer" turned out to be the biggest hit from such a strong record.

14. A Different Kind of Tension by the Buzzcocks

Pete Shelley was among the best punk songwriters of the age, penning gems like "You Say You Don't Love Me" and "Ever Fallen In Love With Someone."

15. Damn the Torpedoes by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Be it "Refugee" or "Don't Do Me Like That" or "There Goes My Girl" or "Even the Losers", you are certain to still hear a hit from this album from forty years ago. You could say that there not a "Shadow of a Doubt."


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