Rock Flashback: Top Albums of 1971

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Detail From the Cover of "Jesus Christ Superstar"

Detail From the Cover of “Jesus Christ Superstar”

At the end of the year, many radio stations run a countdown show featuring the top songs of the year. Let’s spend a few Rock Flashback posts at the end of this year looking at the top albums of some years gone by, starting with 1971 — a remarkably solid year in rock.

With one exception (The Carpenters), nine of the top 10 albums of 1971 according to Cash Box magazine would have gotten airplay on rock stations. Leading the way was Jesus Christ Superstar, the controversial rock opera. [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Carole King[/lastfm]‘s Tapestry came second, with [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Cat Stevens[/lastfm]‘ breakthrough disc, Tea for the Tillerman, in third place.

Also in the top 10 for the entire year: [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]James Taylor[/lastfm], the [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Rolling Stones[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Janis Joplin[/lastfm]‘s final album, Pearl, [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Santana[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Paul and Linda McCartney[/lastfm] (with Ram) and [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Three Dog Night[/lastfm]. We consider TDN an oldies act today, but they were among the top-grossing rock concert acts of the early ’70s, outdoing the Stones at least once.

Outside the top 10 are other classic albums: [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Jethro Tull[/lastfm]‘s Aqualung at #14, [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Rod Stewart[/lastfm]‘s Every Picture Tells a Story at #16, and [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Black Sabbath[/lastfm]‘s Paranoid at #18. [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]George Harrison[/lastfm]‘s triple-disc All Things Must Pass ranked at #21 for the year, and the [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Doors[/lastfm]‘ album L.A. Woman was #24.

Other classics found among the top 100 of 1971: Who’s Next by [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]the Who[/lastfm] at #30, At Fillmore East by the [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Allman Brothers Band[/lastfm] at #69, and [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Led Zeppelin[/lastfm] III at #87.

The year’s top 10 albums produced only two of the year’s top 10 singles. Here’s a vintage live performance of one of them.

In our next installment: Five years later, styles and tastes had changed, but the year’s top albums were timeless.

Experience more Rock Flashbacks.


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