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Laurence Station's Top 10 Albums of the 1970s

1. The Rolling Stones: Exile On Main Street (Virgin, 1972)
Bluesy, drowsy, drug-addled and exhausted, the quintessential '70s-excess record. Not to mention the best album the Stones ever made.
 
2. Patti Smith: Horses (Arista, 1975)
Free-associative and defiantly individualistic, Horses is a landmark achievement from one of the most distinctive and vital voices of the decade.
3. Bob Dylan: Blood On The Tracks (Columbia, 1975)
The range of emotions, from coy to caustic, playful to self-pitying, reveals more sides of the enigmatic singer/songwriter than any album he ever released.
 
4. The Clash: London Calling (Epic, 1979)
Unleashed at the close of the decade, a groundbreaking album that works due to its stylistic, globally-inspired sounds, rather than strict adherence to formal structure.
5. Van Morrison: Moondance (Warner Bros., 1970)
A soulful, questing, restless, wonderstruck gem of a record. Even more so than the brilliant Astral Weeks, this one reveals the soul of the man and depth of the poet. Amazing.
 
6. Stevie Wonder: Songs in the Key of Life (Motown, 1976)
Innervisions may have been a tighter collection of tunes, but for sheer ambition and sonic artistry, Songs is the definitive album. Stevie's masterpiece.
7. Curtis Mayfield: Superfly (Curtom, 1972)
An urban, anti-drug cautionary work that never preaches, just offering harsh truths that, sadly, remain as relevant today as when the album was first released.
 
8. John Lennon: Plastic Ono Band (Capitol, 1970)
Angry and bitter, a seething rant against all who ever wronged or betrayed him. Lennon's most personal, affecting, and emotionally vulnerable work.
9. Sly & the Family Stone: There's A Riot Going On (Epic, 1971)
Harrowing and profoundly disillusioned, this is the backlash album to the death of the '60s peace, love and Everyday People dream. Also some of the flat out deepest funk ever committed to tape.
 
10. The Stooges: Fun House (Elektra, 1970)
Think of a chain reaction just before total apocalypse and you get an idea of the impact of Fun House. Easily the Stooges' finest moment.
 
The decade of album rock, punk rock, introspective folk rock, rock operas, Funkadelic, disco, et al. There was no shortage of material from the 1970s, a period when corporate America (for better or worse) redefined the music industry. Here's the long-winded "short" list of excellent albums that didn't make the final cut:
 
  • The Allman Brothers Band: Live at Fillmore East (Polydor, 1971)
  • The Allman Brothers Band: Eat a Peach (Polydor, 1972)
  • Big Star: Third/Sister Lovers (Aura, 1978)
  • David Bowie: “Heroes” (Virgin, 1977)
  • James Brown: Sex Machine (Polydor, 1970)
  • Tim Buckley: Starsailor (Rhino/Bizarre, 1970)
  • John Cale: Paris 1919 (Reprise, 1973)
  • Cheap Trick: Live at Budokan (Epic, 1979)
  • Elvis Costello: My Aim Is True (Rykodisc, 1977)
  • Miles Davis: Bitches Brew (Columbia, 1970)
  • Nick Drake: Pink Moon (Island, 1972)
  • Bob Dylan & The Band: Before The Flood (Columbia, 1974)
  • Brian Eno: Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy (EG, 1974)
  • Marvin Gaye: What's Going On (Motown, 1971)
  • Genesis: The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (Atco, 1974)
  • Al Green: Call Me (The Right, 1973)
  • George Harrison: All Things Must Pass (Capitol, 1970)
  • Richard Hell & the Voidoids: Blank Generation (Sire, 1977)
  • Elton John: Tumbleweed Connection (Rocket/Island, 1971)
  • Elton John: Honky Chateau (Rocket/Island, 1973)
  • Elton John: Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy (Rocket/Island, 1975)
  • Carole King: Tapestry (Epic/Legacy, 1971)
  • Led Zeppelin: Physical Graffiti (Atlantic, 1975)
  • Bob Marley & the Wailers: Catch A Fire (Tuff Gong, 1973)
  • Joni Mitchell: Court and Spark (Asylum, 1974)
  • Parliament: Mothership Connection (Casablanca, 1976)
  • Gram Parsons: Grievous Angel (Reprise, 1974)
  • Pere Ubu: Dub Housing (Rough Trade, 1978)
  • Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here (Capitol, 1975)
  • The Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers (Virgin, 1971)
  • The Sex Pistols: Never Mind the Bollocks Here's the Sex Pistols (Warner Bros., 1977)
  • Bruce Springsteen: Born to Run (Columbia, 1975)
  • The Stooges: Raw Power (Columbia, 1973)
  • Talking Heads: Talking Heads: 77 (Sire, 1977)
  • Television: Marquee Moon (Elektra, 1977)
  • The Who: Who's Next (MCA. 1971)
  • Wire: Pink Flag (Restless, 1977)
  • Stevie Wonder: Innervisions (Motown, 1973)
  • Neil Young: After the Gold Rush (Reprise, 1970)

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