Classic 70s Rock And Roll – This list of the 30 Best American Classic Rock Bands of the 70s shows just how much the music has grown over the past decade.
The advent of FM radio in the late 60s now gave a home to experimental music recordings, while AM remained the domain of pop. While a Top 40 hit was still a goal for many acts, it wasn’t the best since the dawn of the record industry; Rock artists with serious musical or lyrical concerns now had a place where they could be heard and thrive.
Classic 70s Rock And Roll
You can hear this new freedom in the long jams of the Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd, as well as the aggressive punk and New Wave sounds of the Ramones and Blondie.
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Similarly, R&B music also underwent its own evolution and was heavy with groups like Sly & the Family Stone and Funkadelic, whose lyrics were relevant to the growing black consciousness of the time, leading the way by mixing psychedelic rock with the hard rhythms of funk.
The list doesn’t include solo artists, so you won’t find 70s celebrities like Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Linda Ronstadt or Billy Joel. It also focuses on the years 1970-1979, so someone like Paul Simon gets an award just for working with Art Garfunkel during that period, not for the great solo records he put out.
A final note: The band must be all-American, so legendary acts like Fleetwood Mac, Foreigner and Crosby, Stills & Nash (with or without Canadian Neil Young) will not be considered. But that still left us with plenty of lights to choose from, as you can see below in our list of the 30 Best American Classic Rock Bands of the 70s. I had to follow up my list of the 10 best classic rock albums of the 60s with a list of the best albums of the 70s. The 70s were a continuation of the 60s, and rock and roll became part of mainstream society. It was everywhere, music blaring from the speakers in every bar and club, drugs, sex, and everything else that went along with rock and roll culture. There were gigs everywhere, and ’60s bands were coming out of their shells and starting to find their feet, or rather their rhythm guitars.
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The 70’s were the flowering of the seeds planted in the 60’s for the culture of rock and roll and especially for the music with bands producing some of their best work. Continuing the music of the 60s was certainly not an easy task, but the bands reached their peak and recorded some of their most beloved works.
Anyway, I’ve made this list based solely on my musical knowledge and ear for good tunes, so if I’ve missed any albums you like, please leave a comment and tell me your top 10 albums. Seriously, there were so many good albums it was hard to compile a top 10, but I did it anyway.
Notable absentees: The Eagles – Hotel California, Pink Floyd – Meddle, Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here, The Rolling Stones (all their 70s albums), Jim Hendrix – Gypsy Band, etc.
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Who better to start this list than the mighty Led Zeppelin. They first cut their teeth on the music scene in 1969 with their album Led Zeppelin I, and what an album it was! It was followed by Led Zeppelin II and it went to number 1 in the charts. However, when the 70s came around, they were able to build on their previous two albums and release their most sought-after work. Houses Of The Holy is a mellow, arty yet adolescent album with a playful wave of rocking guitar riffs and face-melting solos from Robert Plant and Jimmy Page. Tracks like “The Song Stays the Same” and “Dance Days” (listen to Jimmy Page on this one) aren’t their best work, but they’re certainly good listens. Their slower songs on this album, mainly ‘The Rain Song’ and ‘Over The Hills And Far Away’, are melancholic yet inspiring. ‘D’yer Mak’er’ is definitely a teenager’s wet dream, I don’t know if they ripped this song off a pop song but it’s still a good track, I don’t like it at all but it’s worth a listen. The highlight of the album is a gloomy, dark and incredibly good classic Led Zeppelin song that gradually builds to deliver the most psychedelic rock and roll experience. Rounding out the album is the powerful “The Ocean”, which ends the album on a high note.
At number 9, the Kinks release one of their best albums, at least I think so. The Kinks have many styles and can go from a fully charged up tempo song to a slow rock ‘n’ roll ballad. Although this is not a top ten album, it certainly sounds great. “The Contender” is a song that easily transitions from a slow track to a typical beat track with perfectly timed guitars and drums that will delight your ears. Songs like “This Time Tomorrow” and “Top Of The Pops” vividly paint the picture of life in the 70s as a rock ‘n’ roll band The Kinks. “Rats” and “Upman” are fun songs and “Long Way From Home” is another great slow song. But the highlight of the album is ‘Lola’, one of my favorite Kinks songs of all time, and if I’m not mistaken, the UK #1 hit single. It’s a great track and the whole album is a classic. Click play and enjoy this game!
The US kings of the 70’s, the founders of punk and one of the most respected US bands, The Ramones come in at number 8 with their album ‘Ramones’. It’s the holy grail of punk, and even though this is a classic rock list, I had to include this album because of the sheer brilliance of the Ramones, and no one else invented the musical genre for this list! It has great lyrics and the bass lines and drums are in harmony. I love all the songs on the album, so I recommend you hit play and listen to them all.
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Fleetwood Mac is your typical British-American rock band. Some of the vocal parts are welcome to be sung by a woman and Lindsay Buckingham’s voice is the most beautiful. Rumors was a great album that really redefined Fleetwood Mac and their musical style from their previous albums in the 60s. This record is a soothing, methodical rock ‘n’ roll classic with catchy melodies. I love listening to this album, but I don’t know all the songs very well, but it’s still worth a listen.
I love Creedence Clearwater Revival, I think their guitar work is probably one of the best of all the bands on this list. CCR is one of the most talented bands in the US and on this album you can hear all the blues influences that make it a compelling listen. They play their songs so well sometimes that you wonder why they aren’t considered one of the best bands in America, but of course that title goes to The Doors, although CCR is right up there. CCR is very underrated and although they sell a lot of albums, they don’t come close to the heights reached by other American rival groups. All the songs on this album are great and this classic rock ‘n’ roll album certainly remains one of their best. Get ready to nod your head and stomp your feet relentlessly.
Lou Reed was one of the most talented musicians ever and his work on this album makes it a highly sought after classic. After early success with their typically drug-inspired music, The Velvet Underground, along with Lou Reed and Doug Yule, produced one of the most defining albums of the ’70s, a stark contrast to their Andy Warhol days. The music is of pure quality, comes from above and inspires you. Lou Reed may have outdone himself on this album and must be kicking himself for leaving the band before the release of ‘Loaded’. The album became a hit and established The Velvet Underground as one of the biggest bands in America. Again, all the songs are great, so press play!
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The Who are one of my favorite bands and in 1971 they released one of their most exciting albums – ‘Who’s Next’. The album was a hit, reaching number 1 on the UK chart and number 4 on the US Billboard chart. The first session of “Who’s Next”
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