Big things were happening in 1975. Jaws hit theaters leading to millions of deserted beaches, JVC introduced us to the VHS tape, and Margaret Thatcher became the leader for the opposition of the Conservative Party. Although the US had ended their war with Vietnam, in the US the effects of the war were just starting to settle in. The sentiments of the generation were perfectly captured in the array of music produced at the time. From Patti Smith’s, Horses and Neil Young’s, Tonight’s The Night, to Pink Floyd’s, Wish You Were Here and Parliament’s funky, Mothership Connection, 1975 spanned the gamut. Check out our list of the essential albums of 1975 and be sure to add any albums you think should be included in the comments. Enjoy!

Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd

Wish You Were Here is the ninth album from Pink Floyd, and their second album to feature a conceptual theme. The album was written entirely by Roger Waters and focused on the lack of camaraderie the band and its members were experiencing. A prime example is the album’s opening single “Shine On You Crazy Diamond“, which is partly a tribute to their founding member Syd Barrett, who suffered a mental breakdown 7 year previous causing his departure from the band. During the recording process, Barrett made an unannounced appearance at the studio, but the members of the bad initially could not recognize him. He was bald and had put on weight, but was eventually recognized, and had a profound effect on the band as they moved forward with the recording. Barrett later left the studio without saying goodbye, and the members never heard from him again. Wish You Were Here became Pink Floyd’s fastest selling album, selling over 900,000 pre-sale copies, propelling it to the top of the charts in just its second week. To date, the record has sold over 16 million copies, appears on Rolling Stones’ list of the 50 greatest Prog-Rock albums of all time, and is cited by members David Gilmour and Richard Wright as their favorite Pink Floyd album.

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Physical Graffiti – Led Zeppelin

Physical Graffiti is the Led Zeppelin’s ninth studio album. Zeppelin wrote eight new songs for the album which stretched beyond the normal amount of time for an LP, so instead of cutting a song out, they decided they might as well just release a double album. Pulling unused material from their previous albums, the band was able to scrounge up 7 more songs for us. According to Thomas Erlewin of All Music, “The highlights are when Zeppelin incorporate influences and stretch out into new stylistic territory, most notably on the tense, Eastern-influenced “Kashmir” “Trampled Underfoot,” with John Paul Jones’ galloping keyboard, is their best funk-metal workout, while “Houses of the Holy” is their best attempt at pop, and “Down by the Seaside” is the closest they’ve come to country. Even the heavier blues — the 11-minute “In My Time of Dying,” the tightly wound “Custard Pie,” and the monstrous epic “The Rover” — are louder and more extended and textured than their previous work.” Physical Graffiti went on to not only debut at #1 on the billboards, but it also became the first album to go platinum purely on pre-sale copies. It has since gone over 16 x platinum and is ranked 70 on Rolling Stones’ list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

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Blood on the Tracks – Bob Dylan

According to novelist Rick Moody, Blood on the Tracks is, “The truest, most honest account of a love affair from tip to stern ever put down on magnetic tape”. Originally receiving mixed results upon its release, Bob Dylan’s fifteenth studio album has since been regarded as one of his greatest albums ever. Blood on the Tracks brought Dylan back into the spotlight. Supported by the lead single “Tangled Up In Blue“, Blood on the Tracks reached the number 1 on the Billboards and received 2 x Platinum certification, becoming  Dylan’s best selling album ever, and in 2015 the album was inducted in to the Grammy Hall of Fame. “This is an album alternately bitter, sorrowful, regretful, and peaceful, easily the closest he ever came to wearing his emotions on his sleeve,” writes Thomas Erlewine, “That’s not to say that it’s an explicitly confessional record, since many songs are riddles or allegories, yet the warmth of the music makes it feel that way.” Though there is speculation that the album is autobiographical – a confessional of the failing relationship with his wife – Dylan has denied these rumors, hinting that it may an ode to the short stories of Anton Chekhov. 

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Tonight’s the Night – Neil Young

In the words of Pitchfork’s Mark Richardson, Neil Young’s Tonight’s The Night, “is a harrowing record about loss and death. Yet it often sounds like a raucous party thrown by a bunch of lovable knuckleheads having the time of their life.” The bulk of the album was written shortly after the deaths of Young’s friends Danny Whitten and Bruce Berry, and recorded in 1973.  The album was originally rejected by his label because of its dark content, so in its place, Young released On The Beach. Two years later Tonight’s The Night was finally released, and was well received peaking at #25 on the billboards. “The title track, performed twice, was a direct narrative about Berry: “Bruce Berry was a working man/He used to load that Econoline van.” Whitten was heard singing “Come On Baby Let’s Go Downtown,” a live track recorded years earlier.” Other notable songs from the album include “World on a String,” “Tired Eyes,” “Borrowed Tune“. Tonight’s The Night is not Neil Young’s best selling album, but that was never the point of the album. The notes within the liner even read “I’m sorry. You don’t know these people. This means nothing to you.” Tonight’s The Night is a beautiful “musical expression of grief, combined with his rejection of the stardom he had achieved” (AllMusic), and continues to be regarded as one of the best albums of all time.

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Another Green World – Brian Eno

Brian Eno’s third album marked a transition in his music, most realized in the ambient and minimalist records released in the late ’70s. Another Green World was different. The album was not commercially successful. It was different than music at that time. It steered away from traditional song structure, which kept it from much radio play and therefore keeping from being heard by millions, but critics hailed it unwaveringly. As Steve Huey of AllMusic explains, “Despite the stripped-down arrangements, the album’s sumptuous tone quality reflects Eno’s growing virtuosity at handling the recording studio as an instrument in itself (à la Brian Wilson). There are a few pop songs scattered here and there (“St. Elmo’s Fire,” “I’ll Come Running,” “Golden Hours“), but most of the album consists of deliberately paced instrumentals that, while often closer to ambient music than pop, are both melodic and rhythmic; many, like “Sky Saw,” “In Dark Trees,” and “Little Fishes,” are highly imagistic, like paintings done in sound that actually resemble their titles.” If you’ve never listened to Brian Eno before, please listen to this. This album is a journey that you will be happy you went on.

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Horses – Patti Smith

Horses is the debut album from poet/rocker Patti SmithSmith’s approach to songs were more free-form and flowing than most rock in the ’70s. Using her skills as a poet, Smith delivers her lyrics in a spoken word style over primitive garage/punk guitar and drums. The result is not always easy to listen to, but that what Smith intended to do. To be frank, half the album is about death, but not in a disheartening way. The inflection and changing rhythms of Smith’s voice are captivating. There’s much to be learned from the way she chooses to say, l what she says, and that’s what keeps you listening closer and closer. Her emotion is raw and blunt, like when she says, “I think it’s sad, it’s much too bad, that our friends can’t be with us today.” Upon it release the album received some mixed reviews. In the US critics found it hailed it, considering it a profound expression symbolic of a generation of marred by loss. In Britain, very mixed reviews, some critic liking it, and others feeling that it was “everything that is wrong with rock music.” Luckily for everyone, hindsight is 20-20. Horses is now considered by many to be one of the greatest, most influential albums of all time and is a partially responsible helping bring the punk movement into the spotlight, placing Smith in conversations with other New York Punk legends The Ramones, Blondie, and Talking Heads.

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Born To Run – Bruce Springsteen

Hard work pays off, and after Bruce Springsteen released his third album, Born to Run, all of his did pay off. Supported by the release of the two single “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” and title-track, “Born to Run“, the record was able to peak at #3 on the Billboard 200, and selling over 6 million copies. It remained so popular that it even returned to the charts in 1980 after the release of The River, and again in 1985 after the release of Born in the USASpringsteen calls Born to Run, “the album where I left behind my adolescent definitions of love and freedom—it was the dividing line.” “Layers of guitar, layers of echo on the vocals, lots of keyboards, thunderous drums — Born to Run had a big sound, and Springsteen wrote big songs to match it.” (AllMusicSpringsteen‘s career literally depended on the success of this album. The stakes were high, he went all in, and it paid off. In a later interview, Springsteen told Rolling Stone, “I wanted to make the greatest rock record that I’d ever heard, and I wanted it to sound enormous and I wanted it to grab you by your throat and insist that you take that ride, insist that you pay attention, not to just the music, but just to life, to feeling alive, to being alive.”

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Mothership Connection – Parliament

Parliament’s third album, Mothership Connectionwas their breakout album, and it most certainly brought the funk. Parliament’s first certified Gold contains the classics, “Give Up the Funk,” “Mothership Connection,”, and the albums opener “P-Funk“. Listeners are first met by the soothing voice of a radio DJ, warning listeners “Do not attempt to adjust your radio, there is nothing wrong/We have taken control as to bring you this special show/We will return it to you as soon as you are grooving/Welcome to station W-E-F-U-N-K, better known as We-Funk/Or deeper still, the Mothership Connection” After that warning you are immediately emersed into the groovy, funky stylings of one of the greatest funk albums of all time. “The musical lineup assembled for Mothership Connection is peerless: in addition to keyboard wizard Bernie Worrell; Bootsy Collins, who plays not only bass but also drums and guitar; the guitar trio of Gary Shider, Michael Hampton, and Glen Goins; and the Brecker Brothers (Michael and Randy) on horns; there are former J.B.’s Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker (also on horns), who were the latest additions to the P-Funk stable.” (AllMusic) With such an incredible lineup, the only result imaginable, was an unimaginably great album, and that’s what we got.

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