When starting this piece on my top five favourite albums from the 1970’s I didn’t think it would be as difficult as it turned out to be. Three of the albums were a sure lock from the very beginning, the first three you’ll see below, but the last two needed some extra thinking.
Derek and the Dominos – Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs
My favourite album from the 1970’s was released right at the very start of the decade by Derek and the Dominos called Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs. The album in my opinion is also the pinnacle of rock and blues/rock music and the greatest album of all time, although some may say I could be biased because I’m writing a book on the band. But nevertheless it is a stunning album from start to finish with some of the best guitar playing you’ll ever hear from Eric Clapton and Duane Allman.
The album is a mixture of incredible originals and superbly executed covers including Key To The Highway, a song recorded as a jam in a single take. But the likes of Anyday, Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad?, Bell Bottom Blues and of course Layla really make this album perfect from start to finish. The whole band are on top form, with Carl Radle and Jim Gordon as the solid rhythm section, Bobby Whitlock with his strong vocals and organ/piano playing and Eric Clapton giving his best vocal performance up to that point. With the addition of Duane Allman on guitar for all but three of the songs, the outcome is my favourite album of all time and an album that is brimming with musical excellence.
The Rolling Stones – Exile On Main Street
I could have included an album from The Rolling Stones in my 1960’s article, but there was no chance of me leaving their incredible effort Exile On Main Street off of my 1970’s list. The album is fantastic and sees the band at their very best in terms of songwriting, sound and musicianship. Their previous album Sticky Fingers is great as well but Exile On Main Street really shows them at their peak, a place they wouldn’t get to ever again even though they released a number of albums after this one that are themselves very good.
The album contains so many great songs which sound more loose than ever before, a feeling I get all the time when I listen to the album. Getting away from England and recording in France definitely resulted in a surge of inspiration which they capitalised on perfectly. My favourite songs include Let It Loose, Happy, Tumbling Dice, Stop Breaking Down and Casino Boogie but realistically there isn’t a bad song on the album. They’re all great.
George Harrison – All Things Must Pass
George Harrison’s debut solo album after the breakup of The Beatles has long been one of my all-time favourite albums so it was always going to make my 1970’s list. The band sees Harrison on top form after The Beatles with essentially Derek and the Dominos as his studio band, with the addition of numerous others including Ringo Starr, Klaus Voorman, Billy Preston and Dave Mason to name only a few. With such a strong supporting cast behind him as his studio band the result is one hell of an album and arguably the best Beatles-solo album by a long shot, at least that’s my opinion.
The album consists of so many great songs that Harrison wrote during the later years of The Beatles and also songs he wrote during the breakup and the period immediately after. The end of the album is a collection of jams recorded during the album sessions and even though there are people who don’t like these compared to the traditional songs on the album, I absolutely love them.
Eric Clapton – 461 Ocean Boulevard
Released in 1974, 461 Ocean Boulevard by Eric Clapton is an exceptional album. Released four years after Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs by Derek and the Dominos, the album saw Clapton return to the studio after three years of drug induced isolation even though he would perform a few times in that period, but only a few times. The album is magnificent and even though the music is in a direction never heard before by Clapton, there are definitely similarities to the Layla album.
The album opens strongly with Motherless Children, a song he debuted with Derek and the Dominos on tour in 1970. The songs I Can’t Hold Out, Please Be With Me and Mainline Florida are other examples of Clapton’s brilliance on this album. The band behind Clapton also featured ex-Domino Carl Radle on bass, a member of the band who was instrumental in the sound of the album with his rock solid bass playing. It really is a great album with countless enjoyable moments which is why it has a place on my top five albums list from the 1970’s.
The Allman Brothers Band – Brother And Sisters
Yes, their At Fillmore East album is technically their best album from the 1970’s but as my articles are focusing only on studio albums I wasn’t able to include it. That left the great Brothers And Sisters from 1973, an album that is so enjoyable to listen to from start to finish. It was difficult to choose between this album and their previous studio album Eat A Peach but I went with Brothers And Sisters because the overall sound is perfect. That’s not say that Eat A Peach is bad though because it most certainly isn’t.
What I love about this album is the more earthy sound it contains, partly down to Dickey Betts writing the amount of songs he did. The band were beginning to break away from the blues/rock sound of the Duane era and include a more country and rock feel, basically, southern rock. The album only features seven songs but each one of them is fantastic in their own way with my favourite probably being Gregg Allman’s Come And Go Blues. A really good album and definitely one of my favourites from the decade.
The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers, Janis Joplin – Pearl, Bob Dylan – Blood On The Tracks, David Bowie – Station To Station, Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin IV.
Next week I will be sharing with you my top five favourite studio albums from the 1980’s.
In the mean time though, feel free to leave a comment specifying which albums YOU would have chosen from the 1970’s.