My Most Influential Albums ~ Mostly 70s but a few others too!
Rock Music in the 70s and a few others - My Top Albums of All Time
Over the years I have accumulated thousands of albums but find myself coming back to these particular albums time and time again thus confirming their special appeal. I tried to make it top 10 or even top 20 but it was just impossible to force myself to omit albums just to make a nice round number. It may be the music or the associations or the combination of both but for whatever reason they will always be my music of choice and send a shiver up my spine whenever I hear them. My friends over the years will be able to confirm whether I have driven them mad with the constant playing of what are to me absolute classics. I hope you will take a chance, listen and enjoy.
In no particular order of preference:
David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
I had ‘discovered’ Bowie with the release of Hunky Dory in 1971 which also has some great tracks on it (Queen Bitch springs to mind) but Ziggy, released the following year, pulled it all together, it hardly left the turntable. A truly brilliant album.
Pink Floyd – Meddle
I am a lifelong Pink Floyd fan and would undoubtedly state that they are my favourite band. I was first introduced to them through Ummagumma (1969) and then Atom Heart Mother. I saw them play Echoes from Meddle at Earls Court in London and that memory will always stay with me.
Led Zeppelin – II
A 1969 release which drove my family up the wall in Christmas that year! I am sure they will never forget ‘Whole Lotta Love’! This led to a lifetime love of Led Zep although they petered out a bit at the end.
Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
Somehow Genesis seemed to pass me by with their earlier albums and, despite having seen them live at school (yes) during their Foxtrot era I didn’t really have them on my radar until the release of The Lamb in 1974. I like to listen to this double LP all the way through each time I play it, it is like a rock opera.
Hawkwind – Space Ritual
Released in 1973 from live recordings of concerts played in 1972 several of which were at Brixton Sundown which I had the privilege to attend. I recall that it was a standing only affair and that the ‘air’ inside the theatre was in fact mostly marijuana smoke.....Stacia dancing nude was a particular highlight. Favourite track – Orgone Accumulator.
Santana – Caravanserai
A 1972 release following on from the amazingly successful Abraxas but far less commercial. It is the otherworldliness of this album that really appeals to me and is a late night listening favourite, try it.
Caravan – For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night
I have never understood why Caravan never really made it big. They made several really excellent albums and this for me is the pick. I like listening to long tracks and side two on this LP fitted the bill perfectly.
Ten Years After – Cricklewood Green
Released in 1970 but only part of my repertoire from 1972. I was seduced by Love Like a Man, a 7 minute track, and Alvin Lee and friends have been with me ever since.
Supertramp – Crime of the Century
Another University discovery. Released in 1974 this could be heard everywhere around my campus. Sadly this marked the peak in their achievement for me although Crisis came close.
Steely Dan – Can’t Buy A Thrill
I am English and during my youth American bands basically passed me by and so a number of my favourite albums I came across long after they were released and this one is no exception. Originally released in 1972 I discovered Steely Dan sometime in 1976, introduced to me by a mature student.
Yes – Fragile
Yes have produced many albums over the years but their best era was the 70s and this for me is the pick. A late 1971 release but discovered by me several years later it added yet more LPs to my ever growing collection.
The Who – Quadrophenia
The Who seem to have been around forever. Very popular in the 60s and known now through the theme tune to CSI, this rock opera was released in 1973. It is gritty, funny and even poignant at times.
Roxy Music – Stranded
A late 1973 release. Roxy Music were a stand out band of their time. Their front man, Bryan Ferry, a pin up for many of the girls and seemingly still so today. Their music was somehow different from anything else at the time and yet popular. Their LPs had the necessary chart single, in this case ‘Street Life’, but the rest of the album contains some absolute gems.
Prefab Sprout – Jordan : The Comeback
A 1990 release and a slightly out of character choice you might think. However the whole album holds together remarkably well for listening in a single sitting and many of the tunes are unforgettable. In fact this was the album that introduced me to Prefab and it is still my favourite.
R.E.M. – Automatic For The People
I first heard R.E.M. on American Forces Radio in Japan where they were playing ‘The One I Love’ frequently in 1987. Automatic was a stand out simply because every single song is a winner.
John Lennon – Imagine
I love the Beatles, I really do, but for me albumwise nothing they put out, including Sgt. Peppers, comes close to this 1971 solo album release by Lennon or George Harrison’s ‘All Things Must Pass’ (see later). Aside from Imagine itself, Gimme some Truth is a stand out song, just listen to the lyrics.
Lou Reed – Transformer
I came across this album because of my fanatical worship of David Bowie back in the 70s. When Reed went solo after The Velvet Underground, his first effort, ‘Lou Reed’, flopped awfully and he called in Bowie (and Mick Ronson) to produce. The result is outstanding with‘Walk on the Wild Side’ and ‘Perfect Day’ the stand out songs.
King Crimson – In The Court Of The Crimson King
This is one of the oldest of my picks, a 1969 release. The music is exquisite but just listen to those lyrics. Sheer poetry, sadly missing in today’s music.
Neil Young – Harvest
Another 1972 release, obviously a seminal period for my taste in music. Young’s voice is not to everyone’s taste but every song on this album is a blinder, ‘The Needle and the Damage Done’ especially moving.
George Harrison – All Things Must Pass
It always seemed to me after first hearing this triple album, released in 1970, that old George had a whole heap of material just waiting to come out but kept out of the limelight by his erstwhile partners John and Paul in The Beatles. Great, great songs and even the jam sessions are rewarding. Particularly like ‘Isn’t it a Pity’ and ‘Beware of Darkness’.
Paul Kantner, Grace Slick & David Freiberg – Baron von Tollbooth & The Chrome Nun
Another West Coast album, with members of Jefferson Airplane collaborating with Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead to produce a memorable album. Released in 1973.
Curved Air – Air Conditioning
Released in 1970 this was a breakthrough album. The appeal for me was the extensive use of electric violin by Darryl Way. Outstanding. Vivaldi (full volume) is a highlight.
Deep Purple – Made in Japan
Another 1972 release. Live albums are always a slightly dodgy proposition as opposed to actually seeing a band live where you get caught up in the atmosphere, as in Hawkwind above, but this album really captures the essence of Deep Purple. I remember playing Highway Star full volume from the window in a friend’s flat in Barnes, London to the traffic below!
The Doors – Strange Days
My oldest pick, a 1967 release. I discovered The Doors late, I think around LA Woman, but this album tops my Doors output principally because of the prodigious ‘When the Music’s Over’ with its mesmerising guitar solo.