In a decade of free love, a sexual revolution, and bell bottoms. The 70s was a good decade for rock n’ roll music. From the glam-rock of David Bowie, to the punk poetry of Patti Smith, the raw power of Iggy Pop, and the rock heroes who left us wanting more. Rock n’ Roll soared to great heights in the 70s.
10: Horses, Patti Smith 1975: “Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine,” sings punk rock poet Patti on Gloria. Released in December of 1975, the John Cale produced album turned Patti Smith into a superstar. The honesty in her lyrics and the angst in her voice made her an important voice of the 70s. Her song “Free Money” tells a story of wanting the good life, “Every night before I go to sleep, Find a ticket, Win a lottery, Scoop the pearls up from the sea, Cash them in and buy you all the things you need.”
9: Transformer, Lou Reed 1972: After splitting with the Velvet Underground, Lou Reed released a self-titled debut in 1972 but it was his sophomore effort Transformer released in winter 1972 that turned him into a household name in rock music. Produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson, Transformer spawned three hits including Walk on the Wild Side. The lyrics caused controversy referencing oral sex, drug use, trans sexuality, and male prostitution. Since his October death in 2013 Transformer reminded the importance of what this album had on rock music. So come and take a walk on the wild side with the King of NYC himself. You’ll be singing along Doo Doo Doo Doo.
8: Pearl, Janis Joplin 1971: Born in Port Arthur, Texas Janis Joplin became a celebrated voice in rock n’ roll due to the success of Big Brother & the Holding Company’s rendition of Piece of My Heart. While recording Pearl in 1970, Janis dealt with heroin and alcohol addiction and the insecurities she had. She never got to finish Pearl when she was found dead of a heroin overdose in a motel room. However, months after her death Pearl was released in 1971. It sold 4 million copies and spawned the No. 1 Me and Bobby McGee. Even though she is gone Pearl is proof her voice lives on.
7: L.A Woman, The Doors 1971: Released in the spring of 1971, L.A Woman was the last album Jim Morrison recorded with the Doors. L.A Woman became a huge hit due to the hit singles Riders of the Storm and Lover Her Madly. The album sold two million copies and the Doors continued to tour and release albums after Jim’s death, but this album shows it wasn’t the same without Morrison.
6: Diamond Dogs, David Bowie 1974: Prior to the release of Diamond Dogs, David Bowie had a made for himself with his eccentric music and outlandish fashion sense. The album caused a stir with its cover depicting Bowie as a naked half-man and half-dog. The hit’s Rebel Rebel, 1984, and its title track put the album on the map. With many great albums under his belt this album shows why he is a celebrated rock star because he dared to be himself.
5: Raw Power, The Stooges 1973: “I’m a streetwalking cheetah with a heart full of napalm,” sings Stooges frontman Iggy Pop on Search and Destroy. Produced by Iggy Pop and David Bowie, Raw Power turned the Stooges and Iggy Pop into stars. Raw power made rock n’ roll sexy and dangerous with Pop’s performances of slashing himself on stage. You can’t find an album that doesn’t live up to its title.
4: Toys in the Attic, Aerosmith 1975: Toys in the Attic was a huge commercial success for Aerosmith. With stadium rock guitars and a rock n’ roll attitude to match Toys in the Attic put their careers on the map to success. The singles Walk This Way and Sweet Emotion turned Steven Tyler and Joe Perry rock stars. With Steven’s growl and Perry’s guitar playing, Aerosmith is one of the most celebrated bands in rock.
3: Blood on the Tracks, Bob Dylan 1975: Bob Dylan was the voice of the 60s with his political anthems. Not blessed with best voice, it was his songwriting that spoke to a generation and continues to be validated. Blood on the Tracks is his honest album about his estrangement from then wife, Sara Dylan. Stephen Stills once said, ” He’s a good songwriter, but he’s no musician.” Regardless, Bob showed the importance of songwriting over singing the correct way. He shows that music is just a conversation. In the case of Dylan, it’s not so much how you sing, but what you say.
2: Tapestry, Carole King 1971: Carole King was a songwriter for other major music stars but she became a star in her own right with the diamond certified Grammy award-winning success of Tapestry. With I Feel the Earth Move and other hits Carole King became an important voice for female singer-songwritwers.
1: Rumours, Fleetwood Mac 1977: “Loving you isn’t the right thing to do” Lindsey Buckingham sings on the song that defined break-up songs, Go Your Own Way. Fleetwood Mac had major success with this album and responsible for the successful solo career of Stevie Nicks. The melodies and musical chemistry in the band is intense making it come alive. Rumours was the perfect ending gift for the 70s. If you ever endure a break-up, get in your car and blast Go Your Own Way and drive fast. You’ll be feeling the freedom of the 70s.