Kicking-off today, Gulf News will take you on a journey through the musical stratosphere with discussions, anecdotes and trivia based on what is referred to as Classic albums, records that every collector, or music lover, should listen to, or own.
Some of them are old, some are new, but they have all decisively defined the careers of the artist and feature some of the greatest anthems ever written.
So hop on and enjoy the ride.
Our Top 5 Rock Albums from the 70s
Rumours - Fleetwood Mac
Released: February, 1977
Album duration: 39:03 minutes
This soft-rock masterpiece by the British band that takes its name from founding member Mick Fleetwood is an absolute gem. Having relocated to California in the mid-70s, the band welcomed guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks to the fold and instantly found their niche when they recorded 'Rumours', which became one of the biggest-selling albums of all time generating Top Ten singles such as 'Go Your Own Way', 'Dreams', 'Don’t Stop' and 'You Make Loving Fun'.
However, what makes 'Rumours' such an outstanding album is that it best encapsulates the spirit of its era while giving voice to the romantic upheavals amongst its members who were romantically distraught and rumoured to be splitting up. Hence the title.
Against this tumultuous background the band would pen some of the most beautiful and melodic rock songs ever recorded. 'Go Your Own Way', resonates even to this day and touches every nerve of the listener.
It's an undeniably compelling album that is still a hot-seller in all formats – be it Spotify, compact disc or Vinyl.
Album Highlight: 'Dreams' written on her emotional engagement by vocalist Stevie Nicks. The song features some standout percussion by Mick Fleetwood.
Dark Side of the Moon = Pink Floyd
Released: March, 1973
Duration: 47:58 blissful minutes
Perhaps no other album sums up what was called ‘progressive rock’ better than this giant of a record by the pioneering British rockers who took their name from two Blues men that founding member Syd Barret liked, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.
'Dark Side' is a triumphant leap into the future of rock music that would inspire a whole generation of forward-thinking musicians.
It is a career-defining album that I like more and more every time I listen to it, even though its over 40 years old. The songs still resonate and make me wonder at the sheer genius of Floyd’s ethereal sound, something that had never been done. Or attempted during the era.
There is so much to like about the simplicity of the songs or themes for that matter, which are not radical, but on the contrary mundane subjects - money, time, breathing, brain damage, etc.
But it’s the gentleness and textures of the music and the atmospherics that Floyd perpetuate and score with that makes Dark Side a seminal album for the ages. The production is par excellence and is carefully engineered.
It’s hard not to fall in love with this record and treasure it for life.
Album Highlight: Written in tandem by David Gilmour, Roger Waters and Richard Wright, 'Breathe' (In The Air) is a masterful structure of rock instrumentation and vocals. Soak in it like you were sitting in a bathtub of warm water.
Darkness on the Edge of Town – Bruce Springsteen
Released: June, 1978
Duration: 42.58 minutes
Arguably the best record that ‘The Boss’ has ever made. The overall theme of the album maybe dark, retrospective and a stark reminder of the pitfalls in life, but the songs have the power to lift you up and leave you craving for more.
Springsteen is an American icon and this albums tells you just why he is held in the highest regard by millions of followers.
I first heard him on 'Born To Run', which I owned as a cassette tape, and instantly took to his sound of his rasping voice and the passion that he exuded. Darkness took over from its predecessors and blew my mind, as I’m sure it will blow yours.
The songs are strong, stark and personal, as is most of his writing. This is sharp-sounding guitar rock at its very best.
Springsteen was reported going though legal battles when he recorded 'Darkness' and that explains the angst and honesty of his writing on songs like 'Factory', 'Badlands', 'Adam Deserved A Cake', 'Something in the Night' and 'Candy’s Room'.
He would go on to make many more brilliant albums in the years to come, like 'The River' and 'Nebraska', but this was his coming-pf-age album and my all-time favourite.
New listeners to Springsteen will probably agree.
Album Highlight: The lyrics on ‘Badlands' - “Let the broken hearts stand/ As the price you’ve gotta pay/Keep pushin’ ‘til it’s understood/ And these badlands start treating us good."
Déjà vu – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Released: March, 1979
Duration: 36:34 minutes.
This sophomore album by CSNY was my favourite folk-rock record when growing up. Each member of the band brought something special to the table and the diversity of their singing, phrasing and leanings continued making what was one of the best albums of the time.
Déjà vu was a labor of love, it reportedly took them over 700 hours to record and although that translates to just over a month, it was a lot of time spent in the studios to perfect what has become an iconic album.
The addition of Neil Young to the fold appeared to enhance the virtuoso of David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash as evidence on songs like 'Carry On', 'Teach Your Children', 'Woodstock', 'I Almost Cut My Hair' and 'Our House'.
Young’s falsetto also raised the bar for the CSNY’s vocal range and brought more melody to the singing with Nash leading the way against the cushion provided by Crosby and Stills.
What I particularly liked about Déjà vu was the four-part harmonies, which was something rare at the rime, but also represented a folk-rock choir.
The album was recorded at the height of the hippie era in the lead up to music’s iconic Woodstock festival at Max Yasgur’s Farm in New York, which attracted over 400,000 fans.and was an expansion of the sound created by the legendary Byrds.
If you like your harmonies crisp but edgy, then you will absolutely dig 'Déjà vu'.
Album Highlight: The exquisite harmonies on 'Helpless' which took many hours in the making as the band tried to find the perfect tempo, which at the end is spot on.
Aja – Steely Dan
Duration: 39.68 minutes
Steely Dan, who were die-hard fans of controversial American writer and visual artist William Burroughs have been one of my all-time favourite bands not simply because their sound is unique but also because its impossible to define their music which is parts of rock, jazz, blues and whatever else that musicians can come up with.
Donald Fagen and the late Walter Becker were like-minded, forward-thinking musicians who clearly fed off each other’s talents.
Recorded three years after the boys' 'Pretzel Logic', which featured the hit 'Rikki Don’t’ Lose that Number', Aja realised Fagen and Becker’s yearning for a sonic sound and sublime musical textures. Fagen admitted to being heavily influenced by legendary jazz artists like Sonny Rollins, Charles Mingus, Miles Davis, who he borrows subtly from when writing, but does not allow it to become bigger than the song.
'Aja' is a storehouse of lush melodies and virtuosi jazz riffs best illustrated by the bouncy pop 'Peg' ,'Decon Blue' and the album opener 'Black Cow', are sophisticated just as they are simple melodic songs.
What I like about Steely Dan, and 'Aja' in particular is that the album is that’s it intricate sounds and singing are executed with maximum ease - a trademark of the band.
Get your hands on 'Aja' and you won’t regret it. It has the potential to expand your musical tastes and proved hours of entertainment.
Album Highlight: Fagen’s jazzy vocals on Peg and the layers of lush harmonies. Cool as cool can be.