Songfactors Choice: Top Albums of the '70s

The fashion was questionable and some people take points away for disco, but the '70s gave us some of the greatest albums ever released at a time when the format was thriving. As selected by the Songfacts community, these are the Top 10 albums of the '70s.
10. Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen
1975

Key Tracks:
Born To Run (in video)

Thunder Road

Jungleland

Bruce's breakthrough. He appeared on the covers of both Time and Newsweek that year, and actually lived up to the hype.
Nominated by Pinkstones

9. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars - David Bowie
1972

Key Tracks:
Ziggy Stardust

Suffragette City

Starman

Unlike lame future efforts like the Garth Brooks/Chris Gaines identity swap, Bowie became a believable Ziggy Stardust, the ultimate Rock Star destroyed by the fanaticism he created.
Nominated by RonJonSurfer

8. (pronounced 'leh-'nerd 'skin-'nérd) - Lynyrd Skynyrd
1973

Key Tracks:
Free Bird (in video)

Gimme Three Steps

Simple Man

Skynyrd's debut, with a handy pronunciation guide for a title and the amazing "Free Bird" to close it out.
Nominated by Laurie

7. London Calling - The Clash
1979

Key Tracks:
Train in Vain (Stand By Me)

London Calling

The Guns Of Brixton (in video)

The Clash at their anti-establishment best. Joe Strummer read a lot of news reports, which provided lots of material.
Nominated by MC_Kenne

6. Rumours - Fleetwood Mac
1977

Key Tracks:
Go Your Own Way

Dreams

The Chain (in video)

Breakup can be a great song starter (like Phil Collins' Face Value), and Fleetwood Mac had 3 going on - The McVies, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, and Mick Fleetwood and his wife was all on the splits when they recorded this tumultuous album.
Nominated by Lea

5. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road - Elton John
1973

Key Tracks:
Candle In The Wind

Bennie And The Jets (in video)

Funeral For A Friend / Love Lies Bleeding

Bernie Taupin provided lots of lyrical variety with songs about hitting the clubs, a glam goddess, and troubled young girls. But it might be Elton's instrumental "Funeral For a Friend" that is the most chilling.
Nominated by Jenny

4. Who's Next - The Who
1971

Key Tracks:
Baba O'Riley (in video)

Won't Get Fooled Again

Behind Blue Eyes

Peak musicianship (just try to play this stuff on Rock Band), and plenty to say, The Who created a masterpiece.
Nominated by BlueAngel

3. Led Zeppelin IV - Led Zeppelin
1971

Key Tracks:
Stairway To Heaven

Rock And Roll

Black Dog

Written at an old house in a remote part of England with great acoustics but no electricity (they used the Rolling Stones mobile studio to record), Led Zeppelin rocked harder than ever, creating a classic album.
Nominated by Lucky

2. The Dark Side of the Moon - Pink Floyd
1973

Key Tracks:
Time

Money

Us And Them

It's too bad kids today will never know what it's like to plug a big set of headphones into a turntable, put on Dark Side of the Moon, and let it blow your mind.
Nominated by Pinkstones

1. Sticky Fingers - The Rolling Stones
1971

Key Tracks:
Brown Sugar

Wild Horses (in video)

Can't You Hear Me Knocking?

This album earned points for the packaging, which was designed by Andy Warhol and featured a real zipper with the first appearance of the lips logo. The songs weren't bad either.
Nominated by Lucky

August 17, 2010
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Comments: 49

  • Pamela Sophia from Ranchno. not agreeing with this. but whatever. lol Pink Floyd #1 or Zep cuz of Stairway! Stones 1 a joke, right?, hahaha nope. and sorry y'all on H. Calif. nope either. the Clash and Bowie ? lol nope. really ?
  • Brent from Denair, CaHotel California...where is it? The 70's music scene does not exist without this album. Bowie and the Clash can go bye-bye!
  • Alanwhere is Hot August Night?
  • from Cincinnati, OhDark Side should definitely be #1
  • Al Neri from Reno, NvThere are so many great albums for this ere that it may be impossible to create a definitive top 10 list. But Joni Mitchell's Court & Spark would be the only non negotiable inclusion on my list.
  • Jessica from Fort Worth, TxI love that Rumours an Dark Side of the Moon made the list, but it is INCOMPLETE without Hotel California! Period.
  • Retromodern from Canadaexile on main street , honestly even a subjective list HAS to have the greatest rock album ever as a top 10 from the 70's ...
  • Al from TampaVan Halen - Van Halen
  • Gabriella from St. LouisWhere is Heart, Boston, Journey, Yes, Styxx, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, and Kansas?
  • David Sabol from Cincinnati, OhNo Rush 2112.... a little disappointing
  • Johannes from Würzburg, GermanyWhat's goin on? "What's going on" (Marvin Gaye, 1971) is definitively missing!
  • Vertti from Helsinki, FinlandWhere is A Night At The Opera by Queen?
  • Harry from Leeds..englandBRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER
    OFF THE WALL
    No 1 IN HEAVEN
    FLESH & BLOOD
    RISE & FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST
    OOH LA LA
    NEWS OF THE WORLD
    10cc
    SILK DEGREES
    RUMOURS
    THE PLEASURE PRINCIPLE
    TRAVELOGUE
  • Linus Kasten from Oldenburg, GermanyThis is my top ten list (subject to change within the next 30 minutes!)

    1 Aja - Steely Dan
    2 Innervisions - Stevie Wonder
    3 Court And Spark - Joni Mitchell
    4 52nd Street - Billy Joel
    5 Little Criminals - Randy Newman
    6 Dark Side Of The Moon - Pink Floyd
    7 What's Going On - Marvin Gaye
    8 Hunky Dory - David Bowie
    9 There Goes Rhymin' Simon - Paul Simon
    10 Off The Wall - Michael Jackson

    ... I also agree with nearly everything written before this, and there's STILL no Marley, Mayfield, Costello, Roxy Music, Queen, Sparks, 10cc ... how about a top 100 list???
  • Adam from Liverpoolgreat list!
    here's mine in no paticular order:
    On the beach - neil young
    rumors - fleetwood mac
    blood on the tracks - bob dylan
    Frampton Comes Alive! - peter frampton
    moondance - van morrison
    caribou - elton john
    whats going on - marvin gaye
    parellel lines - blondie
    led zeppelin IV - led zeppelin
    dark side of the moon - pink floyd
  • BomberMy top 10 No particular order.

    Let it Bleed/Stones

    Dark Side of the Moon/Pink Floyd

    After the Goldrush/Neil Young

    Physical Grafitti/Led Zeppelin

    Machine Head?Deep Purple

    Pretenders/Pretenders

    Innervisions/Stevie Wonder

    Who's Next/The Who

    Hotel California/Eagles

    London Calling/Clash


  • John Mcaulay from Glasgow ScotlandDefinately 'never mind the bollocks' as it was original and musically it was a master piece Apart from punk -hunky dory (bowie) a new world record (ELO) and the brilliant madcap laughs (syd barrett.They are 4 classics from the 70s for me
  • Acg from Floridaunlike some other lists you've made i honestly agree with most of these. However in my own humble opinion i would nominate let it be 1970, quadropenia 1973, physical graffiti 1975, the wall 1979, and hotel california 1976.
  • Chelsea from AtlantaSome indisputable choices, BUT: I'd take "Hunky Dory" over "Ziggy Stardust"; scratch Lynyrd Skynyrd; ditto Elton John; replace "Sticky Fingers" with "Exile on Main Street"; insert Yes' "Close to the Edge" and Neil Young's "Tonight's the Night". And "Never Mind the Bollocks" has to be on there, maybe replacing "Rumours," which is nevertheless a great record.
  • Reg from Kemptville, On, -These may be the 'top' albums, depending on your requirements. I agree with many.
    For me the greatest albums from the 1970s were (almost) all 'progressive rock', especially from England. I would put 'Selling England by the Pound', for example, in the list.
  • Dino Musso from Newport Beach CaSomebody forget Harvest?
  • Bart Brammer from Middle TennesseeRemember the Rolling Stones Magazine "Top 100 in the last 20 years" circa 1980 picked bunches from the 70's - good stuff for us old farts!
  • Steve from Western AustraliaThey're all indisputably great albums in your list, but - since we're talking albums and consistent brilliance should be the measure - I'd drop London Calling and Lynyrd Skynyrd and add Dylan's Blood on the Tracks and Marvin Gaye's What's Going On.
  • Linda Carter from Vancouver, Bc CanadaI agree with Lorne as far as 'The Doors' goes!
  • Dale from Zushi, JapanImpossible to please everyone, but here are a few certified classics to improve the top 10. George Harrison - All Things Must Pass (1970), Jethro Tull - Aqualung (1971), Bob Marley - Burnin' (1973), Bob Dylan - Blood on the Tracks (1974), Queen - A Night at the Opera (1975), The Eagles - Hotel California (1976), Bob Marley - Exodus (1977), Sex Pistols - Never Mind the Bollocks (1977), Elvis Costello - This Year's Model (1978), and Pink Floyd - The Wall (1979).
  • Ralph from OhioSome really great choices, but I think E.L.O.'s Face The Music from 1975, or A New World Record from 1976 should be rated.
  • Manny from Dallas/austinVan Halen? Fleetwood Mac? Gross! The REAL Fleetwood Mac is only up to 'Bare Trees'. Ok, the top ten lists you guys have are lame, here's a real list for you in no special order: Patti Smith, New York Dolls, Hawkwind, Can, Ramones, Iggy Pop & the Stooges, The Slits, Kraftwerk, James Brown, and Curtis Mayfield. Now that's a list!
  • Tj from SfThis might be from the BBC ratings. Great albums, yes, but only 2 of 10 from this side of the pond. Wasn't Abbey Road technically from 1970?
  • Chet Kelley from Buffalo NyLooking at chart history and pure songwriting quality, it would be nice to see Bridge Over Troubled Water and Tapestry on the list, though some may consider these a bit soft. I don't agree that Sticky Fingers should be number one, but there are many great albums in your list. It is tough to narrow it down to only 10, isn't it!
  • Lorne from ColumbusPretty good list overall. Although technically London Calling is a 70s album - released late December 79 - it could be considered an 80s album. Additional considerations: Every Picture Tells a Story - Stewart; L.A. Woman - The Doors; Mott - Mott the Hoople; You're Never Alone with a Schizophrenic - Ian Hunter; Low Budget - The Kinks.
  • Greg from KnoxvilleNo female-dominated groups? Listen to Rumours again. I'd put Fleetwood Mac's McVie and Nicks on top (and what man wouldn't?)
  • Anonymousmaybe the 70s has too many great albums to make a top ten without argument, it should be like a top 30 :P
  • Thurston from SeattleShouldn't Never Mind the Bollocks be somewhere here too?
  • Trevor from UtahWhere is Black Sabbath and the Eagles? The ONLY one that I completely agree with is Pink Floyd
  • Victor from New JerseyIt may not have sold as many albums as those listed but it is almost impossible to think that Close to the Edge from Yes isnt one of the most complex and well written album of that era
  • Elmo from Southeast Missouri, MoLike most of these lists, I disagree with 2-3 of the selections, especially Bowie & The Clash. Five that I feel could easily be included, based on historical significance, record sales, etc: Allman Brothers Band - Live at the Fillmore East (1971); Derek & the Dominoes - Layla (1970; Frampton Comes Alive (1976); Van Halen (1978); The Eagles - Hotel California (1976). Layla for sure belongs - two of the top five guitarists in the Rock era: Allman and Clapton. By the way, it is the late, great Duane Allman who picks the opening notes to "Layla", not E.C. Rest in peace Sky Dog!
  • Roger from AustinAlice Cooper's 'Billion Dollar Babies' key songs Billion Dollar Babies, Elected, No More Mr. Nice Guy. Alice gets no respect.
  • Raddman from Miami, FloridaDark Side of the Moon at number 2?! No way
  • J from BostonReally anonymous? Fleetwood mac? If that's not a female frounted group idk what is. Sexism does not have anything to do with music. Those are the ten greatest albums of the 70s in their opinion. Gosh feminists are annoying.
  • Bomber from Winthrop,mass9,8,7,5,1, all great but not top ten
    Songs in the Key of Life- Stevie Wonder should be in the top ten3
  • Shawn from MinnesotaDrop David Bowie, and add LA Women
  • Josep from DubrovnikWhy aren't Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on the list? What is the music world coming too...
  • Dave from HoustonSomeone actually thinks The Clash tops The Eagles' "Hotel California"? I'd put that one at #2 right after "Dark Side Of The Moon".
  • David from BostonI'm pumped the Stones made it onto the list, but "Exile" is better than Sticky Fingers, despite not having a hilarious cover and title. And can a brother get some "Morrison Hotel" please?
  • Steventake the clash and fleetwood mac off, God save the Kinks!
  • AnonymousSad to say, once again this is all male-based picks and not one female dominated group in the bunch. Sad, sad, sad.
  • Crim from AlbuquerqueSome truly great albums on here.
  • Dave from KentuckyQUEEN "Night At The Opera" should be on this list
  • Kenne from Phoenix10 truly great classics and there are so many more from the 70's that I want to give an honorable mention to.
see more comments

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