Few years can rival 1972 for the breadth of transcendent rock albums.
These releases have started careers, ended others, helped bands reach new heights, represented the final material before a line-up change, and even launched some acts into the superstar stratosphere. .
The Rolling Stones were at the top of their game, enjoying a four-album streak that was among the greatest in rock history. David Bowie has found new ways to push the boundaries of art by creating a character that is out of this world. Paul Simon, Peter Frampton and Pete Townshend released their first solo efforts, stepping away – permanently or briefly – from their respective bands.
Line-up changes marked the releases of Yes, The Doobie Brothers, REO Speedwagon, Fleetwood Mac and The Beach Boys. Meanwhile, the Eagles, Steely Dan, Roxy Music and Styx unveiled their debut albums, setting their respective careers in motion.
Politics framed John Lennon’s work, while tragedy hung sadly over the Allman Brothers Band. Captain Beefheart got slightly commercial, while Harry Nilsson veered further into weirdness.
The list of accomplishments continues to grow: Elton John began an impressive string of No. 1 albums, ZZ Top began to discover their sound, Alice Cooper released one of her most famous hits, Lou Reed’s transformed and Black Sabbath took artistic control (while losing control of themselves).
We’ve rounded up 50 of the biggest releases from this historic year in music and presented them in chronological order below. Whether chart-topping success stories or simply stepping stones to something even greater, each album has played an important role for the artist who created it.
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