This is the first post of a new kind. I’ll give you my top 10 favourite albums from a specific year!
Let’s start with the year of 1970.
This will be a personal, nostalgic and autobiographical list. However, I will also take the opportunity to try out albums I am curious about. It may be albums I missed when I grew up, or albums I have read or heard about since.
Of course the focus will be on old favourites, the “nostalgia” will be a strong factor. That will compete against the “freshness” of a recently found album that I still may have a “honey moon” affair with.
This will also be a rather current list. Even if I loved an album in the 80s, I must still like it now for it to make my list. Only to rely on old memories will not do. It’s the same as with old favourite movies, when you re-visit them they either stand the test of time and are nostalgic gold, or they fade away in dissapointments and embarressment.
I will also update the list if I fieel the need. The lists will probably not be updated frequently, but it may happen.
And of course this will be my personal, subjective opinion. I have my favourite artists, musical genres and styles. I have no intention to claim this to be objective at all. Maybe your favourite artist is missing, please list you favs in the comments and I will maybe give them a spin!
This is a list of ranked albums, not songs. I will focus on original studio albums and rank them by how I feel about them in my gut and heart. The full album is in focus here, as it were back in the days when we enjoyed vinyl albums.
How about compilations? Nope, unless they bring something unique to the table. Live albums? Sure, could be interesting if the live album has an individual id. Soundtracks? Welcomed! “Various artists” albums? Why on Earth would I include them? Bull aight, if the album is strong enough, let’s go.
So, what do we have on 1970? The end of the flower power era. The beginning of the classic 70s rock and progressive symphonic rock era. A good starting point of mine, don’t you think?
I had some 14-16 albums that I knew more or less well, with artists such as Pink Floyd, Bowie, Beatles, Genesis, Sabbath, Simon & Garfunkel and Neil Young. To that I added some 15 new candidates. Of the new ones, I was curious of Syd’s albums that I incredibly enough never had listened to before, Zeppelins third one, and a few classic progressive rocks albums, among others.
Enough with the chit-chat… Here are my ten picks.
Top 10 albums from 1970
10. Syd Barrett – Barrett
An album with an unique feeling. Odd songs elevated by Richard Wright’s fantastic organ play. Produced by David Gilmour gives this album that extra spice, but it is really Syd’s record. It is easy to buy in to the legend. He was a charismatic diamond. He burnt out, and faded away…
9. John Lennon – John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
Some extremely good songs on John’s first solo album proper. The treasure trove left over after The Beatles closed shop was big. Songs left to be re-used in the solo albums for years to come. This is a little uneven and it is not the more well known songs as “Mother” or “Working class hero” that are my favourites. I love “Love”, “Well well well” and “I found out”. The softest and the roughest stuff. “God” is high above all else on this record though.
8. David Bowie – The man who sold the world
The only artist that can compete with Neil Young and Pink Floyd for best of the 70s may be David Bowie. Of course it’s very hard to compare these three. Bowie is my first love, even thouh Floyd was right on his heels and Neil not far behind. I started to listen to these guys in the years between 1982 and 1985, and my musical foundation was set. “The man who sold the world” is an album of its era, when hard rock was forming, an early taste of grunge twenty years early. Bowie would soon turn a corner and embark on a fantastic run of albums. Do you love or hate “Width of a circle”? Best tracks are “The man who sold the world” and “All the madmen”.
7. Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath
Omnious and dark. This album is one of the foundations of future heavy metal as well as progressive metal. Ozzy’s voice is fantastic. He tells stories taken from grim fantasy worlds. I didn’t listen to Sabbath growing up. These guys I had to catch up to much later. But better late than never, was it maybe around the millenia? The band, the album and the first track are all the same – “Black Sabbath”. The track is so good, a clear favourite on a very strong first album by an artist/band.
6. Pink Floyd – Atom heart mother
On the brink of breaking through to their “real thing”, this album is the link between “Ummagumma” and “Meddle”. It can be seen as a sort of final rehearsal before “Meddle”. The title track is one piece that takes up one full side of the LP, one magnificent symphonic piece in six parts. It is an experience to sit through. On the second side of the LP we get four songs, one from each of the guys in the band. They are all interesting indeed. A great album but still a few steps away from the vinyl gold…
5. The Beatles – Let it be
Recorded early 1969 before the “Abbey Road” sessions, but still the last original album released by the fab four. Here they go back to their roots and still the feeling is very much different to their early stuff. I got to know this album when I started to hang out with Mr Magic in 1984. We listened to endless bootleg tapes of the “Let it be”-sessions. Listening to this album brings back those memories so clearly I can almost taste the dust in his room in the basement in that old house… I love “Get back”, “Let it be”, “One after 909”, “I’ve got a feeling” and all the rest.
4. Genesis – Trespass
This album is a great example where the album is even greater than the sum of its parts. Peter Gabriel and the guys in Genesis send me on a trip to a far away land, a land not here. The music is complex and rewarding to repeated listening. I love the atmospheric lyrics, the album cover, the dynamic complex music, the strange moods it gives me. The first side of the album is great, and the second side of the LP is also great. A great album! Love “Looking for someone”, “White Mountain” and the killer: “The Knife”.
3. Black Sabbath – Paranoid
This is my newest discovery in the top 5, but I have liked Sabbath at least 20 years now. They released two great albums in 1970, and this is the one slightly better. It is filled with classic heavy rock songs, from the opening track “War pigs” with the sirens, to their well known “Paranoid” to “Iron man” made immortal by Ozzy as well as Tony Stark. Such a strong record, great songs all the way to the last one “Fairies wears boots”. Ozzy’s singing is of course very important. The songs are well executed and produced. Clearly defined instruments, the guitar, the bass, the drumkin. It’s a riot.
2. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Déjà vu
It was actually really hard to rank spots 2-5. I went with the most “nostalgic” album in my ears for the runner up of 1970. Yeah, it was hard, but not hard. I mean, I have listened to this album so many times that the sounds live in my blood. Nostalgia over freshness. The first side of the LP is astonishing with Stills’ “Carry on”, Nash’s “Teach your children”, Crosby’s “Almost cut my hair” and Neil’s “Helpless”. All are magnificent. Then we have the eclectic live favourite “Déjà vu” by David Crosby on the second side., The album sets me in a special mood. I remember visits to the warm sun i Southern California, margartitas at the beach bar i San Diego, the circus at Venice Beach, the wind in my hair on HW1, my uncle in Sunnyvale and the great woods in the North.
1. Neil Young – After the gold rush
Was never any discussion about the number one spot for this year. One of Neil’s finest and an album I have played so many times that the songs might as well be tattooed into my brain. This album was the start of an impressive run of great to superb to majestical to creme de la creme of all time greatest albums. Neil’s seventies is something else. All tracks are fantastic. It is hard to even choose. “Southern man”, “After the gold rush”, “When you dance I can really love”, “Only love can break your heart”, “’Till the morning comes” and “I believe in you”. And then I even forgot “Tell me why”. The “scary” thing is that Neil has about 5-10 albums that are as good as this, or better… in the seventies alone.
My honorable mentions:
- James Taylor – Sweet baby James
A new acquaintance of mine. It’s a very, very nice album that I think I will play alot. It is too fresh and I haven’t had it in my head long enough to make it. Yet!
- Amon Düül II – Yeti
A great progressive rock album from Germany. A new discovery and what a trip this was! It’s a crazy bananas of an album, but a little uneven. Great songs: “Soap shop rock”-suite, “Yeti” and “Sandoz in the rain”.
- Bo Hansson- Sagan om ringen (The Lord of the Rings)
Another great progressive rock album. Inspired by the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, this is a very interesting album.
- Simon & Garfunkel – Bridge over troubled water
Some very strong and classic songs on this one like the crazy good “Bridge over troubled water”, and my childhood fav “The Boxer”…
- Syd Barrett – The madcap laughs
The crazy diamond shone one year. Strangely engaging, hard to put down, but still only the second best Barrett album of this year!
- Various artists – Woodstock
Of course a historically important document. The most famous concert ever was held back in the summer of ’69. And an album with live stuff by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young would always be highly interesting!
Other albums I considered:
The Doors – Morrison Hotel
George Harrison- All things must pass
Kris Kristofferson- Kristofferson
Led Zeppelin – III
Paul McCartney – McCartney
Deep Purple – In rock
Creedence Clearwater Revival – Cosmo’s factory
Stephen Stills – Stephen Stills
Bob Dylan – New morning
Soft machine – Third
King Crimson – Lizard
What now? No, I will not go cronological.
I think next year up will be… 1984!
Yes, 1984. How exciting! If you have any albums you want to make sure I don’t miss, feel free to write in the comments below.
Until next time – keep on rockin’.