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Readers’ Poll: The 10 Best Metal/Hard Rock Albums of the 1970s

Picks include Black Sabbath’s ‘Master of Reality’ and Aerosmith’s ‘Rocks’

Jimmy Page Robert Plant Led Zeppelin

Jimmy Page Robert Plant Led Zeppelin

The 1970s was a good time to be a young rock fan. Every couple of months there was a new album by Aerosmith, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC or literally dozens of other huge hard rock and metal acts. Most groups averaged an album a year, and they toured like maniacs. It wasn't uncommon to see Blue Oyster Cult open for Kiss or Black Sabbath share a bill with a young Van Halen. This was before MTV, and fat, hairy guys with mustaches were still superstars. It's four decades past the Seventies now, but if you look at the schedule for most arenas you'd think it was still 1978. Black Sabbath, Kiss, AC/DC, Van Halen and others still dominate the touring industry. Their 1970s work left a huge impression, and classic rock radio has introduced their music to people too young to hear it the first time around. We asked our readers to vote on their favorite hard rock/metal albums of the Seventies. Click through to see the results. 

By Andy Greene

Black Sabbath, 'Paranoid'

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Records

3. Black Sabbath, ‘Paranoid’

Black Sabbath are on tour right now, and every night they open with "War Pigs" from Paranoid and close with the title track. In between, they play three other songs from their landmark 1970 disc. (They only break out three songs from their new album, 13.) Paranoid is their most popular album, perhaps making it the most popular album in metal history. They cut the LP in a matter of days in June of 1970, and just three months later it was on the shelves. It catapulted the band to huge fame, even though many snobbish critics tore it to pieces. This was the era of Carole King and James Taylor, and here were four guys from Birmingham, England with songs like "Rat Salad" and "Fairies Wear Boots." But Black Sabbath outlasted all their critics, and still draw huge crowds. 

Led Zeppelin, 'Physical Graffiti'

Courtesy of Swan Song Records

2. Led Zeppelin, ‘Physical Graffiti’

When Led Zeppelin were done recordings songs for Physical Graffiti they realized they had more music than would fit on a single LP. Unwilling to cut anything, they decided to make it a double album. They padded it out with outtakes from their previous few albums, but listening to it now it's impossible to tell what songs are from 1974 and which stem from other projects. Physical Graffiti was their sixth album in as many years, but the group was still churning out classics at a stunning speed. Songs like "Kashmir" and "Trampled Under Foot" have been classic rock radio staples for decades, while deeper cuts like "In the Light" and "In My Time of Dying" remain fan favorites. The group released two albums after Physical Graffiti, but they were relatively weak in comparison to everything that came before. Physical Graffiti is their last truly perfect album. 

Led Zeppelin, 'Led Zeppelin IV' 

Courtesy of Atlantic Records

1. Led Zeppelin, ‘Led Zeppelin IV’ 

Led Zeppelin's first LP came out in January of 1969, but by November of 1971 they were already on their fourth album. It was a stunning run. Each of the first tour discs are amazing in its own way, but most fans feel that IV stands alone above them, and it's not just for "Stairway to Heaven." There isn't a weak moment on the album, from the opening notes of "Black Dog" through the end of "When the Levee Breaks." "Going to California" is the finest ballad, and "Rock and Roll" is the group at their stadium-shaking best. Like Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon, this is an album that generation after generation of 15-year-olds discover, even if it's not on Spotify. 

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