Stevie Nicks arriving for the 2011 Glamour Awards

Stevie Nicks arriving for the 2011 Glamour Awards, Berkeley Square, London. 07/06/2011 Picture by: Alexandra Glen / Featureflash (Photo by Featureflash Photo Agency on Shutterstock)

Dust off your record player and get ready to dive into the grooviest decade of music history! The 1970s were a golden era for vinyl, with iconic albums that defined genres and revolutionized the soundscape. Whether you’re a seasoned audiophile or a newbie looking to start your collection, there’s nothing quite like the warm, rich sound of a classic ’70s record spinning under the needle. From rock anthems and disco hits to soulful ballads and punk provocations, these are the must-have albums that will make your vinyl collection a retro masterpiece. To find out what albums stood the test of time versus others, we at StudyFinds have researched across eight expert sources to bring you today’s ranking of the top seven best 1970s vinyl albums to own! Don’t agree with our list or feel we missed out on a good suggestion? No worries! We would love to hear from you in the comments below. Now, onto the list!

The List

1. “The Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd (1973)

“The Dark Side of the Moon” – Pink Floyd (1973)

The first album that is a must-have in our vinyl collection is Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon.” Described by Dig! as a “prog-rock masterpiece,” this album is nothing short of a classic. From the hauntingly beautiful lyrics to the mesmerizing instrumentals, each track on this album takes the listener on a journey through the depths of the human experience. The iconic album cover alone is enough to make it a standout piece in any collection. “Dark Side of the Moon” is truly a timeless masterpiece that deserves a place on every music lover’s turntable.

What HiFi adds that “Dark Side of the Moon” is a “remarkable piece of work” by one of the best groups to ever step foot in a studio. With its seamless blend of rock, psychedelic, and progressive elements, Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” continues to captivate audiences worldwide decades after its release. The album’s themes of madness, mortality, and existentialism resonate with listeners on a deep level, making it more than just a collection of songs but a profound artistic statement.

Of course, owning this album also comes with the fun of listening to it over the classic film “The Wizard of Oz.” Fashion Magazine reports that the listening and viewing experience is truly a “defining moment” for any music and film enthusiast. The synchronicity between the album and the movie creates a unique and immersive experience that fans of both art forms can appreciate. Overall, there are endless reasons this record should be added to your collection, making it an easy number-one pick. 

2. “Rumours” by Fleetwood Mac (1977) 

“Rumours” – Fleetwood Mac (1977) 

Second up on our list is “Rumours” by none other than Fleetwood Mac. Reported by Vacation Vinyl to be the “fastest-selling LP of all time upon its release,” the effect that “Rumours” had on the world is undeniable. With hit songs like “Go Your Own Way” and “Dreams,” the album solidified Fleetwood Mac as one of the greatest bands of all time.

The raw emotion and vulnerability in each track resonated with listeners on a deep level, making it a timeless classic that continues to be celebrated decades later. Music Grotto notes “Rumours” as being hands down the band’s “most iconic album.” The album’s success was not only due to its commercial appeal but also because of the personal turmoil and relationships within the band that inspired the lyrics and melodies. Each song on “Rumours” tells a story of love, heartbreak, and resilience, drawing in listeners with its raw authenticity. It’s no wonder that the album has stood the test of time and remains a staple in music history, with its impact still being felt in the industry today.

Fleetwood Mac truly “summoned magic” when making this 1977 masterpiece, according to Dig! The interplay of vocals and instrumentals creates a rich tapestry of sound that has the power to transport listeners to a place of vulnerability and catharsis. “Rumours” continues to be a source of inspiration for musicians and fans alike. The legacy of Fleetwood Mac and their iconic album “Rumours” has undoubtedly shaped the landscape of music and will continue for years to come.

3. “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye (1971)

“What’s Going On” – Marvin Gaye (1971)

“What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye is the next vinyl to take up rank on our list. Described by Vacation Vinyl as “one of the most politically charged” records to come out of the era, this album is a timeless masterpiece that still resonates today. The soulful vocals and socially conscious lyrics make it a standout in Gaye’s discography. The album’s seamless blend of R&B, soul, and jazz creates a rich tapestry of sound that captivates listeners from start to finish.

Paste Magazine describes “What’s Going On” as “one of the greatest albums,” not just from the 1970s, but all time. The album’s title track is a poignant reflection on the state of the world, with themes of war, poverty, and environmental destruction. Gaye’s smooth voice and emotive delivery bring a sense of urgency to the lyrics, making it a powerful anthem for social change. The lush instrumentals and intricate arrangements further elevate the album, creating a rich and immersive listening experience that continues to captivate audiences decades later.

What HiFi states that this album deserves a place in “any record collection.” The innovative production techniques used on “What’s Going On” also set it apart from other albums of its time, with Gaye incorporating elements of jazz and gospel to create a unique sound that still feels fresh and relevant today. In an era of political and social turmoil, “What’s Going On” remains a poignant reminder of the power of music to inspire change and unite people in a common cause.

4. “London Calling” by The Clash (1979) 

“London Calling” – The Clash (1979) 

The next vinyl that should be added to your collection is The Clash’s “London Calling.” Said to cover “a variety of themes” by Cleveland, this iconic album is a must-have for any music enthusiast. From the title track’s urgent call to action to the haunting ballad “Train in Vain,” this album is a timeless classic that is enhanced on vinyl.

Music Grotto goes on to describe how “London Calling” was truly “a departure from their previous punk-rock style,” instead opting to explore other genres like reggae. This experimentation with different sounds and genres is what sets “London Calling” apart and solidifies its status as a groundbreaking album. This album is not only a reflection of the band’s musical evolution but also serves as a snapshot of the political and social climate of the time.

Pitchfork writes that “London Calling” was the band’s “ultimate expression” at the time, capturing the raw energy and urgency of the era. With its diverse range of influences and themes, “London Calling” remains a timeless classic that continues to inspire and influence musicians across generations. Its impact on music history cannot be overstated, solidifying The Clash’s place as one of the most important and influential bands of their time.

5. “Led Zeppelin IV” by Led Zeppelin (1971)

"Led Zeppelin IV" by Led Zeppelin (1971)
“Led Zeppelin IV” by Led Zeppelin (1971)

The next album up is Led Zeppelin’s officially untitled album, lovingly named “Led Zeppelin IV” by fans. Released in 1971, Pitchfork writes that there’s truly “nothing bigger” than this vinyl. The album features iconic tracks such as “Stairway to Heaven” and “Black Dog,” which only solidified Led Zeppelin’s place in rock history.

Dig! explains that with this record, Led Zeppelin “defined the sound of what would evolve into heavy metal.” The iconic cover art, featuring the mysterious Hermit, adds to the mystique and allure of “Led Zeppelin IV,” drawing listeners in with its enigmatic imagery. Overall, the album’s lasting impact and enduring popularity serve as a testament to Led Zeppelin’s unparalleled talent and creativity in the realm of rock music.

6. “Bitches Brew” by Miles Davis (1970)

“Bitches Brew” – Miles Davis (1970)

“Bitches Brew” by Miles Davis is the next vinyl we will be talking about today, and as What HiFi describes, this record was “revolutionary,” changing the face of jazz as we knew it. The album is a fusion of jazz, rock, and funk, with Davis experimenting with electric instruments. The result is a complex and innovative sound that pushes the boundaries of traditional jazz.

Music Grotto adds that though “Bitches Brew” wasn’t a must-have upon its release, with time, it has become one of “the most important albums” in terms of the shifting musical styles in the 1970s. The album’s experimental nature and bold departure from traditional jazz norms have solidified its place as a groundbreaking masterpiece that paved the way for future generations of musicians. Its raw energy and boundary-pushing compositions continue to captivate listeners to this day, showcasing Davis’s unparalleled talent and vision.

Paste Magazine reports that even years after its release, it is still “one of the most aggressive, confrontational, and downright beautiful albums ever recorded.” The album’s impact on the music industry cannot be overstated, as it pushed boundaries and challenged listeners to expand their understanding of what jazz music could be. It is a testament to his genius and creativity that “Bitches Brew” continues to inspire and influence musicians across all genres to this day.

7. “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen (1975)

"Born to Run" by Bruce Springsteen (1975)
“Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen (1975)

Last but certainly not least, and a must-own, is “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen. Described by Vacation Vinyl as being a “blue-collar love story,” “The Boss” truly made history with this record. From the anthemic title track to the heartfelt ballads like “Thunder Road,” Springsteen’s songwriting shines throughout the entire record. This album solidified Springsteen’s status as a rock legend and remains a timeless classic that continues to inspire generations of fans.

Paste Magazine writes that “Born to Run” is near “perfect” in just eight tracks. The album’s production, done by Jon Landau and Springsteen himself, was groundbreaking for its time and has been praised for its cinematic quality. The E Street Band’s dynamic and energetic performances on tracks like “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” and “Jungleland” further showcase the band’s incredible musicianship.

Explained as a “coming-of-age tale” created by one of “the most gifted songwriters” of all time, according to Cleveland, “Born to Run” remains a cornerstone of Bruce Springsteen’s illustrious career. The album’s themes of escape, freedom, and longing resonate with listeners of all ages, making it a timeless and universal work of art. Springsteen’s raw and emotive vocals, paired with the E Street Band’s powerful instrumentation, create a sonic experience that is both exhilarating and deeply moving. “Born to Run” is not just an album but a cultural touchstone that captures the spirit and essence of American rock ‘n’ roll.

Sources that helped us form this consensus list

Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links in which we receive a commission if you make a purchase.

About Jilly Hite

Janelle is a freelance writer from New York. Her writing focuses on parenting, tech, business, interior design, education, and telling people’s inspiring stories. Janelle has written for Mustela and Newton Baby and has bylines in Pregnant Chicken, Syracuse Woman Magazine, the Baldwinsville Messenger, and Family Times Magazine. She holds a master’s degree in literacy from the State University of New York at Oswego.

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StudyFinds publishes digestible, agenda-free, transparent research summaries that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. We do not agree nor disagree with any of the studies we post, rather, we encourage our readers to debate the veracity of the findings themselves. All articles published on StudyFinds are vetted by our editors prior to publication and include links back to the source or corresponding journal article, if possible.

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57 Comments

  1. Ramon Cruz says:

    Robin Trower – Bridge of Sighs, vastly underrated. James Dewar’s Scottish Soul vocals, Robin Trower’s liquid smooth guitar, one of the best of the 70’s.

  2. Lamont Jonus says:

    Typical modern article by a no talent writer. These days scroll half way through the article to get to the main topic.
    And the best vinyl is best determined by the individual.

  3. timothy justin gilbert says:

    It’s music, it’s all good as long as it’s not!

  4. Michael says:

    No no no. And your all wrong.
    ELECTRIC LADYLAND by The Jimi Hendrix Experience
    After that you can really just stop!

    1. Kirk Moore says:

      Electric Ladyland came out in 1968…
      .

    2. Jeff Greenfield says:

      Yup… let your freak flag fly!!!

  5. Eddie B says:

    London Calling was NOT the first album where The Clash “experimented” with reggae. And since when is “Train in Vain” a BALLAD?? 😆😆😆

  6. Jim Dailey says:

    Respighi, Fountains of Rome, Pines of Rome. Ormandy, Philadelphia Orchestra

  7. Alten Treece says:

    KISS Destroyer
    Alice Cooper Welcome to my Nightmare
    Black Sabbath Master of Reality
    Judas Priest Sad Wings of Destiny
    AC/DC Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
    Van Halen Van Halen
    Blondie Parallel Lines
    Nazareth Hair of the Dog
    Meat Loaf Bat out of Hell

  8. Alice says:

    The Clash’s “Train in Vain” is a haunting ballad? That’s gotta be AI at work.

  9. TT says:

    Kind of in agreement with others that this is pretty subjective and the choices are pretty heavily produced. Content? Genre? Sound? Recording quality? Top 5? Hmm, I’d go with some very different picks, and haha lived the 70’s. Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here, Supertramp Crime of the Century, Grateful Dead American Beauty, Paul Simon There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, CSNY So Far.

  10. Zoran petrovic says:

    It is crazy to list your own favourite albums requesting their place on a list like this. nobody can deny that these albums are the pillars that rock in its most impactful decade is resting on. I agree with all the choices but one and several of these are not my own favourites for those authors while one or two of these authors are not in my collection. I am certainly not happy that my favourite 70s band the Roxy Musuc is not in but i understand. My objection is that Bruce Springsteen had such high peak of several amazing albums that the selection of Born to run is rarher arbitrary with artisticly more acomplished Nebraska in the mix and also darkness and river up there only being guilty of having more catchy songs as if that is the crime. My theory is that everybodys favourite Bruce S muziq comes from the albums when their own growing up allowed it to become the soundtrack of their youth. And it is usually their second BS album (no pun intended just got tired).

  11. Ric Tam says:

    No rocker in the 70’s owned a Marvin G album or M. Davis. Both outstanding but not top rock music. We listened to rock, not jazz or soul music. Jeff Beck, Allman Bros, G Dead was the closest to jazz for rockers. Where’s the heavy rock? Sabbath, Blue oyster cult, judas priest, Ramones, UFO, ACDC. No N Young, no Skynard, no Dylan, no CSN. This list is ..

    1. Jeff Greenfield says:

      That’s a joke! It’s sad that your musical interests weren’t more varied. You settled for adolescent, head-banging drek.

    2. Jeff Greenfield says:

      But, at least you expanded your tastes to include the Dead, Allmans and CSN. It’s not too late to peruse “What’s Going On.” Do yourself a favor!

  12. Ric Tam says:

    Great choices, add UFO.

  13. Roc Rizzo says:

    What, no Steely Dan? I’m outraged!

  14. Dan says:

    Aja

  15. Garvin Lewis says:

    I too am flabbergasted by this 7, but at the end of the day if it’s just a matter of personal taste, then okkkk. I believe Live at the Lyceum by Bob Marley and the Wailers should have made the cut, but hey, any of the band’s records during that period would have satisfied me. Not just a reggae lover though, just Marley’s music.

  16. Jan Grebin says:

    Nope, you gave it a good try but you missed. It’s probably impossible to pick out so few, when there were so many fantastic ones. BTW any legit list would include David Bowie imo.

  17. Don says:

    Difference the albums mentioned are all well worth having

  18. Don says:

    the albums mentioned are all well worth having I feel as though the writer to this column was looking for popularity and not artistic emotions.
    Emotions is what makes music beautiful. There’s so many more albums that may not be so popular. This should have been on this list and the list is much larger. Just an opinion

  19. Dennis C. says:

    A Night At The Opera, Silk Degrees, Aja? Are you serious?

  20. Robert Lee says:

    Why no Deep Purple? No Doors, No Janis Joplin or Savoy Brown, or Van Halen. You can pick rock for nothing. I could go on and on and not come up with Marvin Gay.