1970s: 20 Rock Albums Rolling Stone Loved That You Never Heard - Rolling Stone
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20 Rock Albums Rolling Stone Loved in the 1970s That You Never Heard

We praised them 40 years ago — and you should listen to them today!

twiggy and the hudson brothers

Gems/Redferns/Getty; GAB Archive/Redferns/Getty

From 1970 to 1979, Rolling Stone printed over 250 issues, many of them with 20-plus record reviews. That means we reviewed somewhere in the neighborhood of 5,000 albums, so it’s not surprising that some of our favorites have gone unplayed recently. These are 20 rock albums that we loved in the Seventies — from Mitch Ryder to Twiggy, from Kate Hudson’s father to Paul McCartney’s brother — that have gone largely unheard in recent decades but still deserve to be played loud.

Louie and the Lovers

Louie and the Lovers, ‘Rise’

This pioneering Latin-American rock band hailed from the small agricultural town of Prunedale, California — when they were still in high school, they were discovered and produced by Doug Sahm of the Sir Douglas Quintet. Their debut album was "just plain incredible," in the sweet spot between Creedence Clearwater Revival and Ritchie Valens. They broke up after their second album got shelved, but leader Louie Ortega spent years gigging with Sahm.

What We Said Then: "Unlike many first albums these days, there's not a bum cut or a well-intentioned-but-failed experiment on the whole disc. These guys are stone professionals, and they know what they want. Each song flows with a self-assurance and unity that is sadly missing in these days of frantic get-to-the-top-and-stay-there musicianship. And the songs are so genuine: after meeting his girlfriend for the first time, Louie went and wrote 'I Just Met You.'" — Ed Ward, RS 67 (October 1st, 1970)

One Live Badger

Badger, ‘One Live Badger’

Tony Kaye, founding keyboardist with Yes, left the band (replaced by Rick Wakeman), and started this prog-rock outfit, who audaciously chose to release a live album as their debut. With the cosmic lyrics dialed down and the rock dialed up, they sounded more like the Allman Brothers than Yes. Kaye went on to play with David Bowie, and rejoined Yes in the Eighties for the successful 90125 era of the band.

What We Said Then: "It surges and drives and plots the perfect course between the opposing musical excesses of snobbish inaccessibility and mindless boogie. . .Also important is the fact that Badger's songs are of the perfect length. Five of the album's six tunes run between 7:00 and 7:12 — long enough for the group to get into high gear but short enough to keep the listener hungry for more." — Gordon Fletcher, RS 142 (August 30th, 1973)


Wilderness Road, ‘Wilderness Road’

This Chicago quartet combined hard rock, bluegrass, and improvisational theater with chaotic but thrilling results. Formed in the overlap between Second City comedy and the Yippies, they interrupted their own live shows with fake commercials. We declared that there "was no better music to be heard anywhere in the land," but Wilderness Road broke up not long after recording their second album (Sold for the Prevention of Disease Only).

What We Said Then: "They seemed like. . .the Who crossed with the Byrds, Jerry Lee Lewis spawning the Firesign Theater. . . the J. Geils unit all mixed up with the boys in the Band, two Eric Claptons playing dual (and dueling) lead guitars with the Carter Family while everybody goes crazy." — Paul Nelson, RS 106 (April 13th, 1972)

Frank MIller

Frankie Miller Band, ‘The Rock’

On his third album, the Scottish rock singer Frankie Miller worked with producer Elliot Mazer, who emphasized the soulful side of his music by calling in the Edwin Hawkins Singers and the Memphis Horns. The Rock, recorded in San Francisco, was named after Alcatraz, and had the excitement of a well-executed jailbreak. In 1994, Miller was working on a new band with Joe Walsh and Nicky Hopkins when he had a brain hemorrhage; he was in a coma for five months, but recovered.

What We Said Then: "Vocally, Miller's gruff but flexible voice and aggressive attack place him in the Otis Redding school. . .Miller's got better equipment and better moves than any rock vocalist to emerge in the last year–all this forceful, intelligent young writer/singer lacks is an audience. The Rock is bound to take care of that." — Bud Scoppa, RS 199 (November 6th, 1975)

Crack the Sky

Crack the Sky, ‘Crack the Sky’

This West Virginia prog-rock group incorporated rock, funk and string sections into a jagged album with "dazzling stylistic diversity," perfectly reflecting singer John Palumbo's lyrics about media-induced schizophrenia. The LP wasn't a smash hit, but Crack the Sky became popular in Baltimore and have continued a Maryland-centric career to this day, releasing well over 20 albums.

What We Said Then: "Like the first albums of Steely Dan, 10cc and the Tubes, Crack the Sky's debut introduces a group whose vision of mid-Seventies ennui is original, humorous and polished without seeming too arty. . .If Palumbo's lyrics are the latest in Seventies cynicism, their darkness is countered by the light-spiritedness of most of the music. Palumbo avoids conventional melodies, preferring to repeat a tuneful phrase and then abruptly break the mood he's established with something nearly opposite in spirit." — Stephen Holden, RS 203 (January 1st, 1976)


Detroit, ‘Detroit’

Mitch Ryder was only a few years past his Sixties hit singles with the Detroit Wheels, but that was enough time for his career to crash on the rocks and for him to head an ill-advised Vegas-style soul revue. This album was the comeback from his self-inflicted wounds: the forceful debut of a new rock band that showcased Ryder as "one of the primal blue-eyed shouters of our time." The LP was produced by a young Bob Ezrin, who would go on to work with Kiss and Pink Floyd; Ryder's reputation would be sustained over the following decades by Bruce Springsteen's frequent live rendition of his hits in the "Detroit Medley."

What We Said Then: "The drumming, without exception, is extremely forceful, and the bass playing — especially on Ray Davies' 'It Ain't Easy,' here captured in what must surely be its definitive version — is nothing short of incredible. . .as you might expect, the louder it gets the better it gets. But I think the thing I like most about Detroit, which would make them something a little special even if their album limped along like a stray dog, is the kind of moral commitment they bring to their music." — Lenny Kaye, RS 97 (December 9th, 1971)

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