Saturday, October 10, 2009

The ‘70s get a bad rap in traditional rock music histories, with good reason. Likewise, I always considered mid-decade to be the nadir of the rock era. 1973 through 76 a malaise settled over the great music unhappily branded “classic rock.” Great artists/bands of the 60s were dead or broken up (Hendrix, Joplin, Beatles) or in a period of decline (Dylan, Stones, Beach Boys, Kinks). Yet, the decline of one thing leads to the rise of another. By decade’s end a renaissance in the form of punk/post punk arose putting classic rock to shame, in every way but sales. Even during those supposedly dark dull middle years the proto-punk sounds of Mott the Hoople, Roxy Music, Brian Eno, the New York Dolls, the Dictators and many others kept music exciting. Certainly as early as 1971 there were very few signs of any decline of the empire. In fact, 1971 is a strong year for pop music. Some details of these “best of” posts I should have explained from the beginning. Better now than never. As I have said before, the records are in order of preference. Almost all of my choices are studio albums, but I am including a few truly outstanding “live albums”. I do not intend to include “greatest hits” type records or other similar reissues. But I am including favorite compilation albums good enough to compete. All albums are listed on their original release year, though there is much disagreement in “the historical record” about many of these dates. When there is a discrepancy I am unable to settle, I rely upon memory, gods help us. Lastly, perhaps obviously, the parenthetical words at the end of each listing are the original U.S. label. If a record was not originally issued stateside, I use the original international label.

Best LPs of 1971

1. Sly & the Family Stone: There’s A Riot Goin’ On (Epic)
2. Charles Mingus: Let My Children Hear Music (CBS)
3. David Bowie: Hunky Dory (RCA)
4. Pharoah Sanders: Black Unity (Impulse)
5. Ornette Coleman: Science Fiction (CBS)
6. Can: Tago Mago (United Artist)
7. Derek Bailey: Solo Guitar (Incus)
8. Mott the Hoople: Brain Capers (Atlantic)
9. Nico: Desertshore (Reprise)
10. Miles Davis: Tribute to Jack Johnson (CBS)
11. The Kinks: Muswell Hillbillies (RCA)
12. Marvin Gaye: What’s Going On (Motown)
13. John Cale & Terry Riley: Church of Anthrax (CBS)
14. T. Rex: Electric Warrior (Reprise)
15. The Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers (Rolling Stones)
16. Led Zepplin: 4 (Atlantic)
17. The Doors: LA Woman (Elektra)
18. Steve Lacy: Wordless (Futura, France)
19. Ornette Coleman: Twins (Atlantic)
20. Allman Brothers: At Fillmore East (Capricorn)
21. Derek & The Dominoes: Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs (Atco)
22. Pharoah Sanders: Live At the East (Impulse)
23. John Lennon: Imagine (Apple)
24. Joni Mitchell: Blue (Reprise)
25. Rod Stewart: Every Picture Tells A Story (Mercury)
26. Hampton Greese Band: Music To Eat (CBS)
27. Sam Rivers: Hues (Impulse)
28. Michael Hurley & Pals: Armchair Boogie (Warner Brothers)
29. Kevin Ayers: Shooting At the Moon (Harvest)
30. John Prine: John Prine (Atlantic)
31. Harry Nilsson: Nilsson Schmilsson (RCA)
32. Al Green: Get Next to You (Hi)
33. The Who: Who’s Next (Decca)
34. Mott the Hoople: Wild Life (Atlantic)
35. The Move: Message From the Contry (Capitol)
36. Van Morrison: Tupelo Honey (Warner Brothers)
37. Faust: Faust (Recommended)
38. The Faces: Long Player (Warner Brothers)
39. Amon Duul II: Tanz der Lemminge (United Artists)
40. Bonnie Rait: Bonnie Rait (Warner Brothers)
41. Isaac Hayes: Shaft (Enterprise)
42. The Mahavishnu Orchestra with John McLaughlin: The Inner Mounting Flame (CBS)
43. Soft Machine: 4th (CBS)
44. Leo Kottke: 6 and 12 String (Takoma)
45. Traffic: Low Spark of High Heeled Boys (Island)
46. Van Der Graaf Generator: Pawn Hearts (Charisma)
47. John Fahey: America (Takoma)
48. Captain Beefheart: Spotlight Kid (Reprise)
49. Bobby Womack: Communication (United Artists)
50. David Crosby: If I Could Only Remember My Name (Atlantic)
51. Anne Peebles: Part Time Love (Hi)
52. The Move: Message From the Country (Harvest)
53. Black Sabbath: Masters of Reality (Warner Brothers)
54. Alice Cooper: Killer (Warner Brothers)
55. Alice Cooper: Love it to Death (Warner Brothers)
56. Funkadelic: Maggot Brain (Westbound)
57. Pink Floyd: Meddle (Harvest)
58. Graham Nash: Songs for Beginners (Atlantic)
59. Kraftwerk: Kraftwerk 1 (Phillips)


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