As part of a new series I am starting: Music in the eyes of young adult, I have decided to kick it off with my favorite albums from each year. This will be the first of many parts, offering my two favorite albums from each year and an explanation. A few years also have a honorable mention because of the hard decisions a list like this entails.
1. Led Zeppelin III – Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin III is the pinnacle of Led Zeppelin’s career. The songs on the album are mostly acoustic or softer in nature than the rest of Zep’s catalog, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t rock. The album starts with the famous “Immigrant Song” and the wails of Robert Plant, which has become one of the most recognizable Zeppelin songs. The album proceeds through the great “Friends” and eventually into “Out on the Tiles,” which is probably one of their better songs. The second half of the album gets interesting and shows Led Zeppelin’s musical diversity. The cover of the traditional song “Gallows Pole” is transformed into a Zep trademark with its catchy arrangement. “Tangerine” is one of my all time favorite songs and is also the first Led Zeppelin song I ever heard. The album then proceeds into “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp” which is the best song on the album. Its beat is easy to stomp or clap along to and the song just has a fun feel to it.
2. American Beauty – Grateful Dead
American Beauty is the best album the Grateful Dead ever put out during their long spanning career. Unlike many of its predecessors, the songs on American Beauty are easy to hum or sing along to and they are generally more upbeat than before. All of the songs share a similar formula that soft rock bands everywhere could die for. The album’s highlight would be “Ripple,” which is a song that really grew on me over the years, hearing my brother play it loud while burning Nag Champa in my old house’s basement while I was in elementary school.
1. IV (Led Zeppelin IV, Zoso) – Led Zeppelin
The most popular of Led Zeppelin’s catalog, IV remains one of the most influential albums of all time. Practically every song has become a hit over the years and I have heard all of them played on my local radio station in Seattle within the past three years. Why? The album is timeless. It is straightforward rock n roll at its finest. No song on the album could be considered filler. “Stairway to Heaven” is also probably the most recognizable song of the 1970s.
2. Pearl – Janis Joplin
This one might come as a bit of a surprise, especially coming from a 17 year-old. Janis Joplin was one of the most important female vocalists. As Steven Tyler of Aerosmith put it on FOX’s “American Idol,” “If you don’t got what Joplin had, then the only roots ya got are in your hair.” Pearl is fitting as the last album Janis Joplin put out before her death, because she went out with a bang and on top.
1. Machine Head – Deep Purple
Deep Purple’s Machine Head is through and through a great rock album. It also helped to form the basis of heavy metal. “Smoke on the Water” has become a song known world-wide and it is the most commonly played song on guitar. I will even admit that it is one of the only songs I can play on guitar because you can learn it so quickly. While “Smoke on the Water” may be the most memorable song on the album, it is certainly not the best. “Maybe I’m a Leo” has such a great rhythm you can’t help but try to mimic the guitar and keyboard noises or sing along.
2. Exile on Main Street – The Rolling Stones
I have always prefered the Stones music after Some Girls, but Exile on Main Street is such a strong album that not considering it as one of the best albums of 1972 would be a sin. “Tumbling Dice” is definitely a highlight of the Stones’ career and I can’t help but sing along to “All Down the Line” every time I hear it.
1. Houses of the Holy – Led Zeppelin
We aren’t quite done with Zep just yet. Houses of the Holy is a fitting follow-up album for 1971’s best-selling IV. It is the first album to move away from the traditional Led Zeppelin sound and start to move to a more vocal and keyboard driven rock, which is also repeated on Zep’s next album, Physical Graffiti. Many of these songs are still played on my local radio. “The Crunge” and “D’yer Mak’er” are definitely stand-out tracks.
2. Aerosmith – Aerosmith
Aerosmith’s debut album is definitely one of the greatest debuts in history. “Make It” starts off the album with that bluesy-hard rock feel that would become a staple of Aerosmith’s early sound. The album also includes the hit “Dream On,” which features Steven Tyler’s great piano playing and screaming, and the song “Mama Kin,” which is still a fan favorite today. Guns n Roses also covered the song two decades later.
1. Get Your Wings – Aerosmith
Get Your Wings follows the same sound as Aerosmith’s first album, but it also further progresses itself into hard rock. The album contains many concert staples such as “Same Old Song and Dance,” and “Train Kept-A-Rollin.”
2. Kiss – KISS
KISS’s debut album ranks as one of their best. It contains many fan favorites and concert staples such as “Strutter,” “Firehouse,” “Cold Gin,” and “Deuce.” The album showcases the vocal abilities of Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, while Peter Criss and Ace Frehley did not sing on many or any in the case of the latter.