While 1969 was a revolutionary year for music, the year 1971 was a playground for the big boys to come out and perform. Almost every big name in music cranked the charts with an album and not just any ordinary album. By the start of the 70s, several genres which were looked upon as the future were beginning to dominate along with most of the great artists of the 60’s.
Heavy metal, the singer-songwriter boom, prog and art-rock, etc found shelf space alongside the ‘high on acid’ music trip. The year can boast of giving us classic albums from bands like the Rolling Stones, the Who, Pink Floyd, Jefferson Airplane, the Beach Boys, Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, Elton John, Billy Joel, the Electric Light Orchestra and I am just getting started.
While some albums do stand out individually, all of them share one aspect.
They all turn 50 this year!
Yeah it’s been 50 long years since “Brown Sugar”, “Echoes”, “Aqualung”, “What’s Going On”, “Riders On The Storm” and a whole bunch of others hit the air waves.
The Andy Warhol painting comes to life lookalike boys, The Rolling Stones, released ‘Sticky Fingers’. Their incessant touring meant that the band was now world citizens and narcotics, self loathe, depression and sense of despair formed the theme. The album is known for its downbeat tempo and is considered a return to basics for the Rolling Stones and could be called their peak.
With Jagger and his boys at their ‘musical high’ and the ruling boys The Beatles calling it splits, one classic album also turned out to be the last one for a legendary band. The Doors released ‘L.A. Woman’ their most raw yet simple album ever. It featured hits like “Love Her Madly”, “L.A. Woman”, “Riders On The Storm” which was Morrison’s last recorded song with the band after which he left for Paris and joined the Club of 27.
A 23 minute rock song!
In spite of the fact that these noisy boys were being well, noisy, four men with school teacher like aura released another masterpiece. The men fooled around in the studio and called the results “Nothings 1-24” which was then transformed into ‘Meddle’. One of Pink Floyd’s gems which saw their sound change course and mover closer towards the epic ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’. ‘Meddle’ will always be defined by its side two-encompassing closing track, the 23 minutes long “Echoes”.
Ensuring their kingdom remained unbreached were Led Zeppelin with the release of ‘Led Zeppelin IV’. The album with a mix of heavy metal, folk, pure rock & roll, and blues ensured that the giants would set the tone for heavy metal in the 70s too. Whether it is “Rock And Roll”, “Stairway To Heaven,” “Going To California”, “Misty Mountain Hop,” the ground shaking rhythms and layered dynamics prove why the masters remain inimitable!
When Ozzy lit one up!
The plants have magical values they say. While working on their third album, the Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne handed guitarist Tony Iommi a ‘spliff’ which made him cough. That’s all the inspiration that producer Rodger Bain needed. Bain looped the sound of the cough, added delay and used it as the intro to “Sweet Leaf,” a song about the inspirational qualities of weed and the cornerstone of the band’s third album ‘Master Of Reality’. The band’s heavy and unforgiving riffs, basslines and nasal, yearning vocals made Sabbath as an inspiration for millions of followers.
In between Ozzy’s yells and Jagger’s squeals, the peace man released his second personal studio album ‘Imagine’. John Lennon’s album peaked to number at both the UK and US Billboard charts inspite of its technical sloppiness.
Amidst a plethora of classic albums, released a rather underrated gem ‘Aqualung’ by Jethro Tull. An absolute monster of an album that does not get the recognition it deserves as one of the best records ever released. Listening to “Wind Up,” “Hymn 43,” “Aqualung,” “Cross-Eyed Mary,” and the classic “Locomotive Breath” is a stunning listening experience! Go plug it in or rather stream it up.
Happy 50th to them too!
While the ‘traditional’ rock boys stuck to their guns, bands like Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) started making their presence felt on the musical horizon. The band released a self-titled debut album in 1971 which was also called “No Answer” as it was known in the US thanks to the miscommunication when trying to contact the UK record label for the album’s title. Keeping their American funk and psychedelic soul groove on, Sly and the Family Stone released their fifth studio album ‘There’s a Riot Goin’ On’. Rod Stewart released his third studio album, Every Picture Tells a Story, which was a blend of hard rock, folk, and blues styles.
‘The Man Who Sold the World’ in the 1970 released his new album ‘Hunky Dory’. Many music critics and reviewers have agreed the album was the beginning of David Bowie’s artistic success. Unlike his earlier guitar-driven hard rock sound, the album has a warmer, more melodic piano-based pop rock and art pop style.
These are just a few of the epics celebrating their 50th this year. The year also celebrates Alice Cooper’s ‘Killer’, Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s ‘Tarkus’, ‘4 Way Street’ by Crosby, Stills and Nash, Marvin Gaye’s ‘Whats Going On’, and many more.
But there is one artist who celebrates triplets this year. Elton John. The ‘Rocket Man’ released three albums ‘Friends’, ‘17-11-70’ and ‘Madman Across The Water’ in the same year!
Go figure that out!
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