The 411 Music Top Five 07.24.12: The Top Five Acts of the 1970s
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 07.24.2012
From Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin to Queen, KISS, Black Sabbath and more, the 411 staff ranks their top 5 acts of the 1970s!
THE TOP 5 ARTISTS OF THE 1970s
KISS formed in 1973 and the songs they released in this decade remains some of their greatest hits and some of the most beloved rock songs of all time. Strutter, Rock and Roll All Night, Shout it Out Loud, Detroit Rock City, Beth and more. The hits just kept coming for the band. Add in the makeup, blood and fire, and they were also the biggest band in the world when it came to live concerts. When they put the makeup back on in the ‘90s, fans went nuts. That was because of what they built in the ‘70s.
Last week, Adam Hill listed Queen as one of the ‘80s biggest bands. However, I always considered them a product of the ‘70s. Yeah, they had some great stuff in the decade of hair, but in the ‘70s they gave us Bohemian Rhapsody, Somebody to Love, We are the Champions, We Will Rock You and Crazy Little Thing called love. I love every one of those songs and felt that Freddie Mercury was a product of the ‘70s and that is why I include them in this decade over any other.
3. The Doors
I love all the bands on my list but I hold a special place in my heart for The Doors. If this was a list of my favorite ‘70s bands, The Doors would be No. 1 but I am trying to be fair and the two listed ahead of them deserve the top two spots. However, Jim Morrison is a genius, a nut job, but a genius, and I could listen to the Doors any time.
2. The Eagles
The Eagles had five No. 1 singles and six Grammys and it is still hard to categorize exactly what musical genre they belong in. Even when they split up, they had three great solo careers ahead of them with Henley, Fry and Walsh. But, together, they were remarkable. They sold more albums than any other band in the ‘70s and were the best selling artists ever until Garth Brooks came around. From Desperado and Tequila Sunrise to Hotel California and Take it to the Limit, there were few bands better, regardless of genre.
1. Led Zeppelin
There is one band from the 1970s that signifies the entire decade and that is Led Zeppelin. I know there are a lot of haters out there who discount their originality but the band was great, I don't care where they got their inspiration. I admit I even hated them at one point because of overplay on a local radio station. However, I still give them all the credit in the world for what they accomplished. From Immigrant Song and Black Dog to Rock and Roll and Stairway to Heaven, they have some of the best hits of the 70s.
NOTE: I realize that I am leaving certain genres representative to the era off (read: disco), but I've never been into disco and I'm a huge rock fan, and there is some personal taste influencing these lists in even the most objective people. I'm not trying to pretend that disco didn't exist, I just wasn't big on it and have problems calling any disco band the best of anything. It is, as Steve Coom would say, what it is.
Honorable Mention: Heart, David Bowie, Queen, Marvin Gaye
5. Black Sabbath
The Godfathers of Heavy Metal deserve to be on this list without question. The second that I heard the first notes on Black Sabbath, I was hooked. These guys created and expanded an entire genre of music and their impact on rock is unquestionable. There is a very good reason that people are looking forward to these old guys getting back together; when they're together, its magic.
4. Fleetwood Mac
Not necessarily everyone's choice for this list, but you can't deny they deserve at least consideration. Rumours is possibly one of the greatest albums ever made, and their self-titled 1975 LP is nothing to sneeze at either. The configuration of this band that consisted of Mick Fleetwood, John and Christine McVie, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks made music that spoke to almost everyone who heard it. It didn't matter if you were a metal fan or a soft rock fan, a soul or R&B fan. You heard their music and you just connected. There is a very good reason why people think of these five among the several incarnations of the group; this is the set that sticks with you, no matter what.
3. Pink Floyd
How can you not think of the 1970s and not think of Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall? These are landmark albums of the decade and they are both creations of this revolutionary band. Oh, and let's not forget Wish You Were Here, Animals, Meddle and the rest to boot. Just on those first two albums, this band would earn its spot on this list. With the latter ones added in, it's actually difficult not to put them higher. Pink Floyd was the soundtrack for a generation in a way that many bands have tried and failed; the difference is that Floyd didn't strive to do so, they just did it.
2. John Lennon
John Lennon was not only part of the greatest band of the 1960s in the Beatles, he then transitioned into the greatest solo artist of the decade that followed. When the Fab Four broke up in 1970, Lennon went his own way and submerged himself in social activism, which pervaded his music. While not everything was a great success, most of it was so far and above a success that it made the failures barely noticeable. He was always controversial but never for the sake of sheer controversy, and an artist in every since of the word. The death of John Lennon was for many the death of the 1970s.
1. Led Zeppelin
When I think 1970s music, there is one band that comes to mind first, and that is Led Zeppelin. Zeppelin may not be my personal favorite of the era, but it's damn close and the group's influence absolutely cannot be denied. They not only influenced the metal scene heavily, they did the same in the more general hard rock genre and in the process created some of the most unforgettable songs of all time. We all know the "No Playing Stairway to Heaven" joke from Wayne's World, but there's a reason that exists, and it's because the song is one of the most famous and greatest in the history of rock music. And that's just one of many, many great musical works by the band. There's no question to me; when it comes to 1970's music, Zeppelin is the closest you'll come to distilling it into a pure form.
The Final Word
As always, the last thoughts come from you, the reader. We're merely unpaid monkeys with typewriters and Wikipedia. Here's what you need to do: List your Top Five for this week's topic on the comment section using the following format:
5. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it
4. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it
3. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it
2. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it
1. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it