Join me, if you will, on a journey back in time. Earlier in the year I compiled and published my Top 50 albums of the Seventies for Twitter (along with a lot of other Twitter users). I've been meaning to do a blog post to capture that ever since. A while back I did this for Nineties albums but the Seventies took even longer. I listened to a lot of albums and then spent another few weeks trying to work out what order to put them in. I like doing this sort of thing but even so this was quite a struggle. Rather than hit you with the top 50 in one go I figured I'd go year by year first (if you're not a fan of seventies music you might want to give this blog a miss for a few weeks and come back when I'm finished) and build up to the spectacular conclusion (drag this out as long as I can in other words).
1. Aretha Franklin "Spirit In The Dark" - This is probably the best album she made in the seventies, one of my favourite Aretha albums ever and possibly the last great album she made.
2. The Stooges "Funhouse" - A ferocious LP that predates punk by several years, it grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go. I saw them play this live in full (at a 2005 reunion show with Mike Watt on Bass) and was stunned by how tight they sounded.
3. Black Sabbath "Paranoid" - The first 4 or 5 (or maybe 6) Sabbath albums are all outstanding but Paranoid edges it for me. It's got War Pigs on for a start, and that's a corker of a tune. Like the Stooges I saw Sabbath live at the Birmingham NEC during their '97 reunion shows. We were at the back of a pretty huge arena but I was blown away by how great they were. I knew Iommi was a great Guitarist but I had no appreciation of how good the rest of the band were. Bill Ward was a mighty fine drummer and Geezer Butler one the best bassists I've ever seen. Ozzy was incredible too, he might spent most of the gig pacing side to side and screaming (occasionally dunking his head in a bucket of water) but he was a thrilling front man.
4. Jethro Tull "Benefit" - Benefit is currently my 3rd favourite Tull album though there have been times when it's been my number one. It still hints at the progressive blues sound Tull made their name with but begins the move into the more classic prog sound on the seventies. I first discovered Tull supporting Marillion at Milton Keynes in '86. They were fantastically different from anyone I'd seen at that point and probably since. They're more than Living In The Past and a funny looking man playing flute and standing on one leg.
5. Led Zeppelin "Led Zeppelin III" - As a teen metal head I was really into Led Zepplin but I have to admit I struggle with them now. It's all a bit loud and overbearing at times. Led Zep III is described on Wikipedia as Folk Rock, Hard Rock, Blues and Heavy Metal which might be pushing things a little but gives a hint as to why I still like it. There's a bit of everything in here which gives it more light and shade than some of their other LPs. It's also got that awesome "interactive" cover, which is almost enough to give it a place on its own. Gallows Pole & Immigrant Song are two of my favourite Zep tracks though I also love the quieter moments like Tangerine and Hats Off to (Roy) Harper.
There were a few near misses worth mentioning. Deep Purple In Rock, Nick Drake Bryter Layter & Genesis Trespass were all in the running. Black Sabbath were so good back then they managed two incredible albums in 1970, debut LP Black Sabbath was probably the closest to knocking Led Zep out of contention.
Reading other peoples' top fifties also gave me a huge list of new albums to try and listen to. These include; Neil Young After The Goldrush (I've never really clicked with Neil but must give him another shot), Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Deja Vu, Creedence Clearwater Revival Cosmo's Factory and The Groundhogs Thank Christ For The Bomb. I'm going to be time travelling musically for quite a while I think.