Top 5 Albums Released In 1971

#5. The Who – Who’s Next


I’ve always held the middle ground when it came to either attacking or defending the whole Lifehouse project. On one hand, however ambitious and over-the-top the plot may have been (oh boy, and it definitely was), the music Pete was writing at the time was still top-notch, and in the end, that’s what matters the most, doesn’t it? But on the other hand, how could I really complain, when ‘Who’s Next’ – the “shortened” version of ‘Lifehouse’ that got released instead – is in itself a nearly perfect record? And a rather smartly sequenced one, as well.

#4. Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin IV


Besides having the obvious over-played, radio-friendly hits, I can certainly see why some consider this to be Zeppelin’s best record ever. First of all, it takes a bit from every previous album, therefore incorporating the blues-rooted despondency of the first, the riff-generated heaviness that shook up the second and the heavenly folk acoustic melodies that gave the third its flavour. Then, it adds a new element here and there to keep the listener alert and aware that they are still trying new things. If someone would ask me to recommend a Zeppelin album for them to begin with, I’d pick this one with no hesitation. Not because it’s necessarily their best (though it comes darn close to being so), but because it’s their absolute most representative.

#3. Paul McCartney – Ram


Yeah, the lyrics are mostly nonsense. So what? Who cares about that, when this here guy gives us a set of 12 tuneful, diverse, catchy, atmospheric, Beatles-quality songs? McCartney assumes in turns the roles of the rocker, the clown, the incurable romantic, the sing-along-inviting folkie or the screaming lunatic, with some stunning results. Truly one of his most ambitious and fulfilled projects, without losing one single bit of that “homemade” charm.

#2. The Kinks – Muswell Hillbillies


While many may see ‘Muswell Hillbillies’ as a first slip into the music oblivion, a territory in which Kinks spent a good deal of time, I consider this to be the exact opposite: an unexpected rise in quality and originality that the band won’t ever get to achieve again. A new style is impeccably incorporated along the way and Ray’s sense of melody, lyrical charm and wit are as good as ever. What a fantastic run did the Kinks have – too bad it would end in no more than a year.

#1. The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers

The Rolling Stones - Sticky Fingers [Front]

This is it for me. Right here, right now, Stones at their absolute ballsiest, most aggressive, most inventive and therefore, best. ‘Sticky Fingers’ puts together both the music and attitude that the band were chasing ever since they started out in ’64. The riffs are jaw-dropping, the ballads tear-inducing and the members all seem to have come in their prime, including Mick Taylor, whose role in the band seems to have become essential. Were I a religious person, I’d say this is what God put the Stones on Earth to do.


Categories: Tops

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11 replies

  1. Great write-up on 5 perfect albums that definitely belong at the top of the list for ’71. What an embarrassment of riches that year, with brilliant releases by Yes, Miles Davis, Jethro Tull, Caravan, Stevie Wonder, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Joni Mitchell, The Moody Blues, The Allman Brothers Band, Mahavishnu Orchestra, John Lennon, Pink Floyd, Cat Stevens, Van Morrison, Genesis, Faces, Rod Stewart, Harry Nilsson, Traffic, David Bowie and Alice Cooper. And that only scratches the surface. College courses could probably be taught about nothing but rock albums released in 1971. Thanks for highlighting 5 of the best (or “the 5 best”).


    • Thanks and I wholeheartedly agree with you: ’twas a fantastic year. I’d be interested to know your choices, if you’re willing to pick 5 favourites.


      • Not sure I could narrow it down to just 5. I do know that The Who, The Stones & Zeppelin would be there (with Zeppelin at the top). For the other two slots, it would be between Yes (“The Yes Album” &/or “Fragile”…both released the same year), Genesis (“Nursery Cryme”), David Bowie (“Hunky Dory”), Jethro Tull (“Aqualung”) and Pink Floyd (“Meddle”).


        • Nice choices and interesting to see 5 progressive albums – a genre that I’m not extremely familiar with – among them. I was just thinking, while glancing through “Best of 71” lists, that prog rock was kind of at its peak during that time, wasn’t it? Perhaps I should’ve delved into the genre more before making this list.


  2. Great list – glad to see Ram make the cut. His solo stuff hasn’t necessarily been consistent, but that record’s often unfairly overlooked!


    • Thanks for the comment. I’ve loved ‘Ram’ ever since I first heard it. I agree that McCartney isn’t always consistent and thorough, but when he is at the top of his game and he truly puts a lot of effort into his work, he’s just brilliant.


  3. Got a chance to check your site today and have scrolled down through a lot of great posts and stopped here to check in. Love all 5 of these choices but as others have pointed out you could go on and on with the great albums from this year. If anything beats 1973 in my mind it would be 1971. Esp. glad to see “Muswell Hillbillies” from my favorite band here.


    • Thanks for dropping by. Interesting to find out that Kinks are your favourite band. In my case, they’re definitely in the top 5. What’s in your opinion their best album?


      • That’s always a tough one, to pick out a favorite from that late Sixties-early Seventies golden era you mentioned. So I just split the difference and say “Kink Kronikles” which is a great overview of the ’66 to ’70 period. But if I had to pick a non-comp I’d probably go with “Village Green”


  4. All good albums. ‘Who’s Next” Muswell Hillbillies’ I wore them out. Some good reminders on Kamer’s post above. Can slap on any of these records today and they sound good. OB keep up the good listening. CB

    Liked by 1 person

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