Personal Top 20 Favourites of 1975 to 1979

By chrisspurr chrisspurr
updated 2 months ago

An ordered list of my favourite albums from 1975 to 1979, accompanied by an explanation as to why consisting of content from reviews published by various sources.

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/user/4ao37ks2t7onp38z5tftsritf/playlist/15DBomxzYTvQ88areAu8hI?si=boGP-Gb2RH-GurD0SlgyOw

  1. Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here

    Release Date: September 12, 1975
    Genre: Psychedelic Rock/Progressive Rock
    Favourite Track: Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V)

    After the unexpected wild success of Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd were flush, exhausted, and unsure exactly what to do next. One major creative difficulty the band had to face after Dark Side of the Moon was whether to follow their smash success up with another concept album, the favored approach of Rogers Waters or, instead, to create a less confined collection of songs, which David Gilmour preferred. This difference probably stemmed from the fact that Waters was so lyric-driven, whereas Gilmour believed that Dark Side of the Moon focused too much on lyrics at the expense of the musical side. Waters approach ultimately won out; the concept around which he wanted to build their ninth studio album was that of absence. Hence, the title of the album came to be Wish You Were Here – precisely because somebody was not there. On one level, the album and that specific song were certainly about Pink Floyd’s founding singer and guitarist, Syd Barrett, who was famously lost to the band due to his acid use, but Waters was also referring to something more general about humanity, and to the band that was such an important part of his life. He was referring to people who were physically there in body but not present emotionally. Waters came to feel that, to some extent, the members of Pink Floyd were not truly and fully present to each other. He also felt that way about his relationship with his wife, which was in the process of deteriorating. Thus preoccupied by feelings of alienation and disillusionment, the members of the group cobbled together a set of songs built around absence, starting with the withdrawal of their friend Barrett and spilling over into the creeping disappointment they'd found with one another and in the industry they'd enriched with Dark Side of the Moon.

  2. The Rolling Stones - Some Girls

    Release Date: June 9, 1978
    Genre: Classic Rock
    Favourite Track: Some Girls

    Pinned in by disco on one side and punk on the other, stuck in a creative rut that led some critics to proclaim they were yesterday's news, and facing the loss of guitarist Keith Richards to an extended prison sentence, the Rolling Stones entered 1978 in need of a rebound. Some Girls found the band reinvigorating their sound by drawing on popular trends of the day without losing their own identity in the process. While the record incorporated elements familiar to long time Stones fans, it infused the group's staid sonic aesthetic with disco rhythms and a dash of jagged punk aggression. Also adding to the band's revitalized sound was the full-time addition of guitarist Ron Wood, marking his first album as a Stone after officially replacing the departed Mick Taylor in 1976. An adept slide player, Wood added an extra texture to the Some Girls sessions – as it happened, Wood's interplay with Richards became one of the record's highlights, but things could have turned out very differently. As the band geared up to record Some Girls, Richards found himself at the center of a legal drama stemming from his 1977 arrest in Canada for heroin possession. Although he ultimately received a suspended sentence, accepting a deal that required him to play a pair of benefit shows, the threat of imprisonment weighed heavily during the sessions. Fortunately, this inspired much of the album’s character; overloaded with the sex-fueled swagger that they’d built their sound around from the beginning and showcasing new influences, the record was both a staggering return to form and an inspired leap forward for a band generally thought to be in their twilight years of creativity.

  3. Led Zeppelin - Physical Graffiti

    Release Date: February 24, 1975
    Genre: Classic Rock/Hard Rock
    Favourite Track: Down by the Seaside

    As Led Zeppelin wrapped up their 1973 US tour, cracks had begun rippling through the band’s foundation. This was not entirely surprising; Zeppelin had released their first five albums – all platinum sellers – and toured the States nine times between 1969 and 1973. They were the biggest band on the planet, but it came at a cost. Moreover, the progressive rock gyrations and obtuse lyricism of their fifth album, Houses of the Holy, had confounded many fans and fuelled the scorn of petty critics all too ready to write off the band’s posturing as pseudo-cerebral cock rock. After a brief hiatus, Zeppelin regrouped in the spring of 1974 and convened at a remote estate in Headley Grange, where they dove headlong into a verdant song writing frenzy that would yield Physical Graffiti. During the creative boom of the last four years enough songs for two records had been stockpiled and they elected to use them all. Since the band were now filled with a sense of their own importance, this much was inevitable: the double album was then perceived as being a defining artistic statement. They worked fast, cutting the majority of the songs in one or two takes. Fifteen tracks in all, eight dating as far back as the spring of 1970 and the rest written in recent months, Physical Graffiti is one of Led Zeppelin’s best albums, and the last widely praised record they would release before the band’s dissolution in 1980.

  4. Fleetwood Mac - Rumours

    Release Date: February 4, 1977
    Genre: Classic Rock
    Favourite Track: Never Going Back

    Greatness can sometimes come from extreme duress, and if that sounds unlikely, take Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours as an example. Fleetwood Mac were never destined to succeed; on the contrary, by 1976, they were an incompetent joke. Over the years members had variously lost their minds to LSD, joined religious cults or, in one case, casually shacked up with their bandmate’s wife during a decade of only mild success. For the five members that had survived this revolving door band, Rumours was their last chance. Unfortunately at the time everyone in the band was in gut-wrenching, heartbroken agony. Drummer Mick Fleetwood may have been the one cuckolded by his ex-colleague, guitarist Bob Weston, but frankly, he was the lucky one. Bassist John McVie and singer Christine McVie entered the recording studio in California at the point of divorce – a situation not helped when Christine started dating the band’s lighting director. The McVies handled their enmity in stubborn silence, staunchly avoiding contact or conversation. While the McVies displayed English reserve, Americans Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks dealt with their relationship’s demise by arguing loudly. The windowless studio became a madhouse, and time soon vanished. Alcohol and drugs became the norm; such was the band’s consumption of cocaine that many colourful myths emerged – ranging from a demand that their dealer be credited on the album sleeve to a suggestion that Nicks preferred a sphincter-based administering of the powder. It took a year of this grim lunacy to record Rumours: bright treble sing-alongs, slick production, and campaign theme songs on the surface, but cocaine hangovers and bitter, broken love underneath. Volatile emotions, a desire to break the band’s curse, and a dedication to music proved that, sometimes, a special kind of magic is born out of adversity.

  5. Pink Floyd - Animals

    Release Date: January 21, 1977
    Genre: Psychedelic Rock/Progressive Rock
    Favourite Track: Sheep

    Pink Floyd reached a career crossroads with Animals, a hard-eyed rebuke of greed and the power structure driven by Roger Waters' quickly awakening muse. David Gilmour had only one co-writing credit, while Richard Wright receded almost completely into the background. Waters also took a more dominant role at the mic, as he dove into a savage theme straight out of George Orwell's Animal Farm. Gone were the glacial musical explorations that had dominated albums like 1975's Wish You Were Here, or the shared vocals by Gilmour and Wright that propelled the band to new heights on 1973's The Dark Side of the Moon. Instead, Animals arrived in 1977 as Pink Floyd's hardest-rocking and most visceral project. Perceived at the time as a push back against the emerging punk ethos, Animals actually grew out of two pieces that had been part of the Pink Floyd repertoire for some time. Waters completed the album by refashioning these existing songs into an agreed-upon new theme pairing dark human emotions with everyday animals and then creating companion pieces to round out the project. Animals helped Pink Floyd again reach the U.S. and U.K. Top 5, and again, they went multi-platinum, but the band's delicate alchemy had changed. This is the album where tensions began to emerge within the group that would ultimately lead to Wright’s departure from the band in the years following.

  6. Bob Dylan - Blood On The Tracks

    Release Date: January 17, 1975
    Genre: Folk
    Favourite Track: Meet Me in the Morning

    Blood On the Tracks, Bob Dylan’s 15th studio album, marked a return to form for an artist thought to be on the creative decline by the mid-seventies. After a bumpy start, in which the original band hired to back Dylan on the sessions was replaced by a group of studio musicians, things seemingly went well enough over the ten days the songs were recorded that Dylan's record company made up some test pressings of the album and put the mostly acoustic record on the schedule for release before Christmas 1974. However, to the studio’s displeasure, after Dylan played the album for his brother, who insisted it needed more electric instruments, he returned to a Minneapolis studio with session musicians picked by his brother and re-recorded five of the songs in the days immediately after Christmas. By mid-January, the album was back on the label's schedule and, shortly afterward, on store shelves, rush-released to make up for missing the big holiday season. A landmark record by an artist who refused to stay stuck in the sixties, Dylan has said that Blood On the Tracks isn't personal, but most of the record's ten songs belie that claim. It's hard not to read elements of Dylan's life in the songs. His decade-long marriage to wife Sara Lownds had hit major turbulence and was coming to an end in the middle part of the seventies. Most of the cuts unfold as a cycle of songs about a relationship skidding toward a crash. It’s an album about the withering thrills of early romance, and it lashes out against it. As the children of the sixties grew into adulthood and the cold realities of life piled up, the voice of that generation was once again echoing back to them what they already felt. Blood On the Tracks is what happens when hope and optimism turn to pain and confusion.

  7. Joni Mitchell - Hejira

    Release Date: November 1976
    Genre: Folk/Jazz
    Favourite Track: Hejira

    Following her romantic split with jazz drummer John Guerin, Mitchell took a head-clearing road trip and began writing the album that would be called Hejira. Tellingly, its Arabic-derived title translates to a verb meaning "to run away honorably" or, more specifically, referencing Mohammad’s flight from the danger of Mecca, where he was to be assassinated, to the safety of Medina. This bold and brilliant album daringly re-contextualizes disparate elements – jazz, poetry, ambient, folk – in real time. Accompanied by legendary bassist Jaco Pastorius, who’s visceral, melodic lines purr at each high-wire vocal melody, lending these songs of escape and insignificance both their counterpoint and their crucial tension. It’s telling that though Pastorius appears on only four of Hejira’s nine songs, his presence is felt even during those on which he does not appear. No wonder Pastorius, who played by ear rather than using charts, spoiled Mitchell for other bassists: on the evidence of Hejira, the two were born to play together Hejira’s songs may appear, at first, to lack structure, but in fact it is only Mitchell’s disregard for conventional structure that allows these carefully constructed modal meditations to exist. Everything is by design; like Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica, Hejira’s greatest success is its ability to sound like improvisation when it is anything but. These are songs that prove that solitude needn’t succumb to isolation; that aloneness does not always mean loneliness. As with Blue, to reduce Hejira to a mere collection of songs defeats its purpose. If there’s ever been an album that demanded to be heard as a complete work of art on its own terms, it is Hejira.

  8. Eagles - Hotel California

    Release Date: December 8, 1976
    Genre: Classic Rock
    Favourite Track: Hotel California

    Eagles were considered one of the top country-rock bands practically from the day the group came together. Extensive touring ensued after their immediate initial success, in the midst of which founding member Bernie Leadon quit and the more rock-oriented Joe Walsh took his place after having opened for Eagles on tour in 1974. Unlike their first few albums, the reconstituted quintet took its time recording its fifth album. Their eponymous debut had been laid down in two weeks; Hotel California took eight months. A transitional period for the band in both terms of personnel and musical styling, Hotel California saw the band move away from their country styling towards a more mainstream rock sound. Conceptually, Hotel California is about each member of Eagles’ initial entry into the strange, bizarre world that was California; about how they lived regular innocent lives previously, but then when they came to California, the big time in the music industry, there was no more innocence or normality. The songs each loosely share the themes of paradise lost or squandered and the album is bookmarked by geographical locations of such. On a grander scale, the album is also a metaphor for the perceived decline of America. The band’s lead singer, songwriter, and drummer Don Henley said that because it was the bicentennial year and the eagle is the symbol of their country, they felt obliged to make some kind of artistic statement, using California as a microcosm of the whole United States. Commenting on the nature of success and the attraction of excess in America, Hotel California went on to win the 1977 Grammy for record of the year, justifiably so.

  9. Bob Dylan & The Band - The Basement Tapes

    Release Date: June 26, 1975
    Genre: Folk
    Favourite Track: Tears of Rage

    Just a few weeks after Bob Dylan released the final album in one of rock's greatest runs, he almost ended his life. On July 29, 1966, the singer-songwriter was riding his beloved 1964 Triumph T100 motorcycle on the back roads of Woodstock, N.Y., when he lost control and crashed; or so he claims. It's one of rock 'n' roll's greatest stories, and one that may or may not be a myth made up by Dylan to give the proficient and burned-out artist a much-needed break from the spotlight. Like the man and his music, that motorcycle accident is shrouded in mystery. Either way, it got him off the road and away from the questions, nagging, and demands that had become commonplace by mid 1966. Dylan retreated to his Woodstock home and stayed there, secluded, for the remainder of the year going into 1967. By the following summer, he was ready to make music again, so he recruited the backing group from his 1966 U.K. tour, which later renamed itself The Band, and recorded more than 100 songs in his house and the nearby home the other musicians were sharing. These recordings would go on to form countless bootlegs both before and after their official release as The Basement Tapes in 1975. From a cultural perspective, The Basement Tapes offer no less than a condensed history of 20th century popular music. Dylan – along with Garth Hudson, Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel and, for some of the sessions, Levon Helm – make their way through a catalog of standards, obscurities, and hits that range from spirituals to old folk numbers to radio hits from the fifties. Though the music wouldn't be officially released until 1975, the period kicked off a new era for Dylan – one that included albums as diverse, and as divisive, as John Wesley Harding, Nashville Skyline and Self Portrait. Each was marked by a shift in Dylan's playing, writing style and, most notably, vocal tones.

  10. Led Zeppelin - Presence

    Release Date: March 31, 1976
    Genre: Classic Rock/Hard Rock
    Favourite Track: Hots On for Nowhere

    Best described as a moment when Led Zeppelin stopped for a longing look back, Presence found the band in the midst of a slow descent while also returning to their blues roots. A drug-fueled decadence had set in as a wheelchair-bound Robert Plant worked to recover from a serious auto accident. With touring temporarily off the table, Plant insisted they record an album and so they directed everything into studio work. They finished Presence – recording and mixing – in less than 20 days, the fastest any project had come together since Led Zeppelin's self-titled debut, an album that shares this set's hard-blues sensibility. When Presence arrived in 1976, it became clear that this telescoped time frame hadn't kept Led Zeppelin from trying some new things, even though a return to bluesier sounds could have led to safe nostalgia with any other band. Presence pushed back hard – against their fading glory and against the personal issues that surrounded Led Zeppelin.

  11. Eagles - The Long Run

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    Release Date: September 24, 1979
    Genre: Classic Rock
    Favourite Track: The Long Run

    After honing their harmonies and polishing their country-rock grooves for half a decade, Eagles scored a career-defining smash with 1976's Hotel California. Although they entered the studio in 1977 to start working on what they initially envisioned as a double album, the results didn't arrive in stores until late into 1979. The product of cocaine-fuelled perfectionism that led inexorably to the band’s implosion in 1980, Hotel California was such a hard act to follow that Eagles spent two years making The Long Run. The pressure of following up a chart-topping, Grammy-winning, multiplatinum-selling record like Hotel California – an album whose protracted recording process and subsequent tour had already frayed the bonds between band members – proved to take a toll on the band. Few traces of Eagles’ country roots remained here, but it’s still a great record. It was the last number one album of the 70s – a fitting way for Eagles’ imperial phase to end and for rock ‘n’ roll as a whole to fade into the background for the decade to come.

  12. Pink Floyd - The Wall

    Release Date: November 30, 1979
    Genre: Psychedelic Rock/Progressive Rock
    Favourite Track: Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2

    Roger Waters was already starting to live the life of an isolated rock star by the time he began working on Pink Floyd's The Wall in 1978. The band's last tour, in support of 1977's Animals, was pretty much a catastrophe as Waters saw it, with unruly and disruptive audiences more concerned with setting off firecrackers and chatting rather than listening to the group onstage. So by the time he started working on the follow-up to Animals, it had become increasingly clear that he didn't want to be the sacrificial rock star he had turned into. Night after night during Floyd's In the Flesh tour in 1977, Waters coped by imagining a wall between himself and the audience. It became the central theme of the band's next record, another concept album – this one was about isolation, abandonment and the never-healing scars, both mental and physical, inflicted during childhood. The album follows rock star Pink, whom lost his dad in World War II and was raised by his smothering, overprotective mother. His school years were total hell, rife with beatings and emotional torture. By the time he becomes a huge star, a life of rampant drug use, mistrust and isolation is already set in place. His total collapse results in an onstage breakdown and, eventually, the tearing down of the protective wall he built around himself. While the album was a hit among fans and widely considered a classic, behind the scenes, Waters took control of the project, and ended up damaging his already-fractured relationship with his bandmates in the process of its creation. The four members were rarely in the studio together and by the end of the months-long recording sessions, keyboardist Richard Wright was out of the band altogether.

  13. Muddy Waters - Hard Again

    Release Date: January 10, 1977
    Genre: Blues
    Favourite Track: I Can't Be Satisfied

    After a string of mediocre albums throughout most of the seventies, Blue Sky Records grabbed Muddy Waters just as Chess Records virtually put him out to pasture. For the first time in nearly 30 years, Muddy had new blood backing his recording ventures and the change showed. He sounds happy, energetic, and out for business. Fronting a band that includes such luminaries as James Cotton and Pine Top Perkins, Waters is not only at the top of his game, but is having the time of his life while he's at it. The bits of studio chatter throughout show him to be relaxed and obviously excited about the proceedings. Producer Johnny Winter opted for an extremely bare production style, clearly aiming to capture Waters in conversation with a band in what sounds like a single studio room. This means that sometimes the songs threaten to explode in chaos as two or three musicians begin soloing simultaneously. Such messiness is actually perfect in keeping with the raw nature of this music; you simply couldn't have it any other way. There is something so incredibly gratifying about hearing Waters shout out for different soloists, about the band missing hits or messing with the tempos. Hard Again amounts to great blues from one of the dominant voices of the genre and a solid return to form for a blues legend.

  14. Queen - A Night At The Opera

    Release Date: November 21, 1975
    Genre: Classic Rock/Progressive Rock
    Favourite Track: Bohemian Rhapsody

    Queen is a band that epitomized, lived, and breathed excess, with a gusto that no one ever has before and hasn’t since. Queen’s 1975 masterpiece, A Night at the Opera, a title taken from the Marx Brothers movie of the same name, was a revolutionary album in the realm of layering, mastering, and conceptualism, as well as instrumental quality, song writing, and the bombastic attitude that is often associated with rock music in the seventies. Using the multi-layered guitars of its predecessor as a foundation, A Night at the Opera encompasses metal, pop, campy British music hall, and prog rock. When A Night at the Opera was in the completed, Queen and EMI were able to boast the most expensive album ever made to the critics who assembled for an advance listening party at London's Roundhouse. Despite that grandeur of the musical influence and cost, no one in the band takes anything too seriously; the arrangements wouldn't be as ludicrously exaggerated as they are if they did. The appeal of A Night at the Opera is in its detailed, meticulous productions. It's prog rock with a sense of humor as well as dynamics, and Queen never bettered their approach anywhere else.

  15. Jim Morrison Music By The Doors - An American Prayer

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    Release Date: November 17, 1978
    Genre: Classic Rock/Progressive Rock
    Favourite Track: An American Prayer

    An American Prayer is the ninth and final studio album by The Doors. In 1978, seven years after lead singer Jim Morrison died and five years after the remaining members of the band broke up, Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger, and John Densmore reunited and recorded backing tracks over Morrison's poetry originally recorded in 1969 and 1970. Other pieces of music and spoken word recorded by The Doors and Morrison were also used in the audio collage, such as dialogue from Morrison's film HWY: An American Pastoral and snippets from jam sessions. Those familiar with the lyrics of The Doors will not be surprised by the album’s content, using crude imagery and unabashedly speaking about taboo topics such as sex and religion. The album demonstrates better than any in their discography how the other musicians in The Doors create a mood that breathes life into Morrison's dark, twisted visions. Despite managing a platinum certification, the album received mixed reviews and still divides critics. When the album was originally released, longtime Doors' producer Paul A. Rothchild labeled the album a rape of Jim Morrison. Rothchild claimed that he had heard all of the reels of master tapes from both the 1969 and the 1970 poetry sessions, insisting that the three remaining Doors failed to realize Morrison's original intent for an audio presentation of the poetry. However, John Haeny, who recorded the original session tapes with Morrison in 1970 and safeguarded them before the project was resurrected as An American Prayer, insisted that the album was made by those who knew Morrison dearly and created with the intent of honouring their late friend.

  16. Led Zeppelin - In Through The Out Door

    Release Date: August 15, 1979
    Genre: Classic Rock
    Favourite Track: Fool in the Rain

    On May 30, 1978, Led Zeppelin – which had been sidelined in recent years by personal issues, including the tragic death of singer Robert Plant’s young son Karac – reconvened in Stockholm to begin working on the band’s eighth album, In Through the Out Door. As the songs that would ultimately make up In Through the Out Door started to take shape, it was difficult not to notice the conspicuous absence of guitarist Jimmy Page, who took a far less active hand in shaping the music than he had on previous Zeppelin efforts. With Zeppelin mastermind Jimmy Page mired in a nasty heroin addiction and drummer John Bonham battling alcoholism, it was left to bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones and singer Plant to pilot the battered old airship through the album’s sessions. As such keyboards for the first time take a central role on the album while Page’s guitar work takes a notable backseat. While In Through the Out Door was still making its way to stores, manager Peter Grant turned to the issue of touring, which had become something of a sore spot since Karac's passing. Stuck in the U.S. while his son died, Plant was adamant about not wanting to tour the States again, and wasn't terribly eager to get out on a stage anywhere else, either. A brief European tour followed in the summer of 1980, with plans for the U.S. jaunt Plant had vowed he wouldn't agree to then scheduled for the fall. Sadly, the Knebworth Festival shows would prove to be Zeppelin's last U.K. performances with Bonham, who died in September of 1980. Although they'd release another album, 1982's contract-fulfilling odds-and-ends collection Coda, they'd already broken up; without all four members in the fold, Jones, Page, and Plant agreed that Led Zeppelin could not continue.

  17. Fleetwood Mac - Fleetwood Mac

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    Release Date: July 1975
    Genre: Classic Rock
    Favourite Track: Rhiannon

    Fleetwood Mac released their ninth album, Heroes Are Hard to Find, in the fall of 1974. Although it gave the band their first Top 40 hit in the U.S., it also led to yet another in the seemingly endless series of lineup changes that had dogged them since co-founding guitarist Peter Green quit in 1970. Guitarist Bob Welch departed after Heroes was released, leaving the band in a state of flux that was compounded by the fact that they'd been in the middle of a long legal struggle with ex-manager Clifford Davis, who claimed he owned the Fleetwood Mac name. Forced to find a replacement for Welch just as they settled things with Davis, the group ended up taking on two new members. While the new Fleetwood Mac clicked as a musical unit, the personal relationships between various members of the band were falling apart — Christine and John McVie's marriage was nearing its end, and Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks were close to breaking up before they joined the lineup. Over time, both couples' demise would form a key component of the group's legacy, but in the short term, that air of uncertainty fueled a number of future classics. Simply titled Fleetwood Mac to reflect the reinvigorated band's renewed sense of purpose, it would mark Fleetwood Mac’s first major commercial breakthrough.

  18. Bob Dylan - Desire

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    Release Date: January 5, 1976
    Genre: Folk
    Favourite Track: Hurricane

    Coming off the comeback success of the recently released Blood On the Tracks, Bob Dylan ushered a huge band into the studio to record its follow-up in July 1975. More than two dozen musicians were initially gathered – a violin player, an accordion and mandolin player, even Eric Clapton at one point – to work on Desire, but by the time it was released its scale had lessened by quite a bit. Even so, it’s still one of Dylan's most ambitious records, built around two sprawling narratives co-written with Jacques Levy, a New York-born psychologist who also was a theater director, in addition to being a lyricist. If that wasn't enough, Dylan framed three of the record's other songs around a screenplay based on a forgotten Joseph Conrad novella. After the highly personal Blood on the Tracks, Desire was a return to the type of songs he was writing back when he was building his legend more than a decade earlier. Like the two albums before it, Blood On the Tracks and Planet Waves, Desire hit No. 1. It would be his last chart-topping record until Modern Times reached the spot in 2006.

  19. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Exodus

    Release Date: June 3, 1977
    Genre: Reggae
    Favourite Track: Waiting in Vain

    In December 1976, Bob Marley was rehearsing for the Smile Jamaica concert, a politically charged venue sponsored by the People's National Party and their leader, Prime Minister Michael Manley. The concert was arranged by Manley in an attempt to ease political tensions between two warring parties; Marley knew that his performance could be seen as a political statement and was hesitant to perform, only agreeing to do so if there were no political overtones at the event. A few days before Marley's performance, gunshots riddled through his kitchen – his manager, Don Taylor, was shot four times in the groin; one of the bullets that missed Taylor ricocheted off a wall and hit Marley in the arm; his wife, Rita, was sitting outside in her yellow Beetle, and was hit by one of five bullets shot at her. Marley was treated and released, but both Taylor and Marley's friend Lewis Griffith were critically injured. The attempt on his life was thought to be politically motivated as many felt the concert would draw support for Manley, just as Marley initially feared. Defiantly, Marley and The Wailers still performed, offering words of peace to his country amid pre-election chaos, and then he disappeared and didn't return to Jamaica for fifteen months. While he was gone from his country of birth, he recorded Exodus. There are a number of reasons for the landmark success of Exodus: it focused on more mundane aspects of everyday life without moving too far away from Marley's earlier political music. It is possible that the underlying fear and the overwhelming passion of performing at a time when he was running for his life created the lyrical precision of the album. It seems clear that he knew he was living on borrowed time and he wanted to be sure he made his mark. Of the five albums he released before his death in 1981, only Uprising came closest to the complete beauty of Exodus.

  20. Stevie Wonder - Songs In The Key Of Life

    Release Date: September 26, 1976
    Genre: R&B
    Favourite Track: Sir Duke

    Songs in the Key of Life was the culmination of a historic period of creativity for Stevie Wonder. In 1971, a decade into an already-legendary career, Wonder celebrated his 21st birthday by allowing his contract with Motown Records to expire, holding out for a new deal which gave him a higher royalty rate and creative control over his work. Following this, Wonder released four legendary albums through 1971 to 1974, repeatedly pioneered new frontiers in music technology, and established himself as a leading voice of social protest. Despite this success, Wonder, expressing frustration with America in the aftermath of Watergate and the never-ending war in Vietnam, had started to talk about quitting the music industry and moving to Ghana to work with handicapped children. He got as far as starting to make plans for a farewell concert, but then in August of 1975, he signed a new contract with Motown. Though there were murmurs about an album release later that year, Wonder first took time off, then kept adding songs to the stockpile he had amassed, then decided there was more mixing and post-production required. Two years later came Songs in the Key of Life, Wonder’s sprawling double album designed to function as a counter-narrative to the distrust surrounding the government and country’s institutions at the time. Its ambition and scope were unprecedented, and sadly Wonder never approached its caliber or impact again.