60s And 70s Rock And Roll – The following list of the 200 greatest songs of the 70s covers a wide range of cornerstone bands.
Some were already leaving. But former members of The Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel have been creating solo gems for centuries. Meanwhile, the stalwart Rolling Stones showed they weren’t going anywhere – battling addiction to get right to the heart of the disco zeitgeist.
60s And 70s Rock And Roll
Bands such as Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Santana – all of whom began to gain momentum in the late ’60s – can be found building the foundations of their unrivaled legend in this new decade. But not all of them were famous figures of the initial era of classic rock either.
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Next-generation torchbearers like Aerosmith, Kiss, Steely Dan and Tom Petty expanded the reach of music in a variety of ways. Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers Band created a new Southern aesthetic, while the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac symbolized West Coast prospects – and risks. Then, towards the end of the decade, an exciting new edge crept into the music, represented by bands like the Clash, the Police, the Ramones and the Sex Pistols. But which of their songs made the list? Find out below as we present the 200 best songs of the 70s in alphabetical order. The list of the 30 Greatest American Classic Rock Bands of the 70s reflects how much the music has grown since the previous decade.
The rise of FM radio in the late ’60s became home to more experimental music, while AM remained the realm of pop music. Although a Top 40 hit was still a goal for many artists, it was no longer the be-all and end-all that it had been since the beginning of the recording industry; Rock artists who tackled more important musical or lyrical issues now had a place to be heard and thrive.
You can hear this new freedom in the long jams of the Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd, as well as in the aggressive punk and new wave sounds of the Ramones and Blondie.
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Similarly, R&B music underwent its own evolution and became heavier with groups like Sly & the Family Stone and Funkadelic leading the way, mixing psychedelic rock with harder funk beats as their lyrics dealt with the growing black consciousness of the time.
There are no solo artists on the list, so you won’t find 70s celebrities like Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Linda Ronstadt or Billy Joel. It also focuses specifically on the years 1970 to 1979, so someone like Paul Simon is only credited for his work with Art Garfunkel during this period, not for the great solo records he released.
One final note: Band lineups must be exclusively American, so legendary acts like Fleetwood Mac, Foreigner and Crosby, Stills & Nash (with or without Canadian Neil Young) are excluded from consideration. But that still left us with plenty of luminaries to choose from, which you’ll see below in our list of the 30 Best American Classic Rock Bands of the 70s, Ohio. You’d have to go pretty far down the list of greatest artists of the 1970s before you get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, snob.
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Of course, there are not many of them – be it Kraftwerk, Peter Frampton or War. But mostly, this decade features a who’s who of the greatest artists of all time at their creative peak.
It was the post-Beatles era, when the battle for the biggest group in the world was open, and several solo artists took creativity to new heights.
Here we rank the greatest Rock and Roll Hall of Famers of the 1970s. As the name suggests, we only work with Rock Hall artists.
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Also, we ONLY look at their resumes over a decade. So early classics by The Rolling Stones don’t count. Just like the first two Led Zeppelin albums or anything The Who made before 1970.
It made the process a bit more complicated, but it may have given us some amazing names at the top.
Key songs: “Tangled Up in Blue”, “I Shall Be Released”, “The Wheel’s on Fire”, “Simple Twist of Fate”, “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”, “Forever Young”, “Hurricane”
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Starting this countdown with Bob Dylan might seem like musical sacrilege. But the 1970s were not (by any measure) his most consistent decade. In fact, it started with possibly the worst album of Dylan’s career, Self-Portrait. Still, 1975’s Blood on the Trail makes up for it a lot. As is The Basement Tapes, a must for any true music collector. Dylan also released two very important live albums ‘Before the Flood’ and ‘Hard Rain’, as well as two multi-platinum greatest hits compilations and was a major figure in the ‘Concert for Bangladesh’.
Love them or hate them, KISS played a huge role in the 1970s. Many fans would argue that the band’s first three albums were the best studio work of its career. But you can conclude that ‘Destroyer’, ‘Rock and Roll Over’ and ‘Love Gun’ match them song for song. Of course, the decade ended on a disappointing note with 1979’s Dynasty. But in the middle of everything was “Alive!” one of the best live albums ever made.
Key songs: “Doctor My Eyes,” “Rock Me on the Water,” “Take It Easy,” “Here Comes That Tears Again,” “The Pretender,” “Running on Empty,” “Stay”
Defining Artists In ’70s Music
Jackson Browne had perhaps the best part of any folk artist of the 1970s, starting with the best debut album in 1972. “For Everyman” and “Late for the Sky” are undisputed classics, the latter being Brown’s masterpiece. And while ‘The Pretender’ was a bit of a step back for Brown, he bounced back in brilliant form on 1977’s ‘Running on Empty’. Indeed, Jackson wrote songs on a par with all the representatives of his generation.
Key songs: “Layla”, “Cocaine”, “Wonderful Tonight”, “I Shot the Sheriff”, “After Midnight”, “Bell Bottom Blues”, “Let It Rain”
This list allows us to cheat a little by considering projects an artist has worked on that were not considered for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Derek and Domino are not in the Rock Hall. But it’s impossible to consider Eric Clapton’s work in the 1970s without considering Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, one of the best albums of the decade and arguably the crowning achievement of Clapton’s career. Solo-wise, Clapton’s albums were somewhat hit or miss. but when he was, he really was, with the 1977 cult hit “Slow Hand.”
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Key songs: “Let’s Stay Together”, “Tired Of Being Alone”, “Look What You’ve Done For Me”, “I’m Still In Love With You”, “You Should Be With Me”, “Call Me”
It’s hard to imagine Al Green being underestimated. But his run in the 1970s is definitely underrated. Green made a name for himself in the 1960s, mostly singing cover versions of songs. But the next decade was dedicated to him. His three-album journey with “Let’s Stay Together,” “I’m Still in Love with You” and “Call Me” ranks as one of the greatest in R&B history. So it’s no surprise that Green’s beloved Greatest Hits compilation came out right in the middle of the decade. In the second half of the 1970s, he released solid albums, including the highly underrated “The Belle Album”, which is one of the most impressive works of Green’s career.
Key songs: “Hotel California”, “New Kid in Town”, “One of These Nights”, “Heartache Tonight”, “Best of My Love”, “Lying Eyes”, “Take it to the Limit”, “Take It » Easy, “Life in the Fast Lane”, “Witchy Woman”
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There may never have been a time, even in the 1970s, when the Eagles were truly
Connection in the world. But they always seemed to be fighting to be the biggest. The group was a hit from the start, going platinum with their self-titled 1972 debut. Multi-platinum hits followed, reaching the Eagles’ commercial and creative peak with “Hotel California.” This album remains one of the greatest in music history. The amazing thing is that the Eagles released their greatest hits album, the best-selling release (compilation album) of all time, before “Hotel California” even came out.
Key songs: “Crazy Love,” “Domino,” “Wild Night,” “Tupelo Honey,” “Come Running,” “Moondance,” “Jackie Wilson Said,” “Listen To The Lion”
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Your best album to come out is an achievement in itself. Indeed, in 1968, Van Morrison released his landmark album Astral Weeks. But the commercial breakthrough came with Moondance in the 1970s. Nothing Morrison released ever matched “Moondance” commercially. But he built one of the best album discographies of the decade, quietly releasing four (maybe five) albums that could be considered masterpieces in their own right.
Key songs: “Heart of Gold”, “Old Man”, “After the Gold Rush”, “Powderfinger”, “Cortez the Killer”, “Ohio”, “Helpless”, “Tonight’s the Night”, “Like a Hurricane, “Hey Hey My My (Into the Black)”
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