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Way back in the early seventies, a genre emerged that would change the face of music forever. Spawned from the British Invasion of the sixties, hard rock music took a heavier, guitar-driven approach, a backbone of relentless drums, and a far more passionate vocal performance.
Check out Nazareth, Argent and more good rock music from the years 1970 to 1975. ~ Sunday Simmons
It was a time of guitar heroes and vocal powerhouses, and the hard rock heroes of the seventies were here to stay. I love the music of that era, and listening to tracks from bands such as Black Sabbath and Steppenwolf never fails to transport me back to what can only be described as the birth of a whole new genre.
Hard rock hasn’t changed much over the years; it’s all about the tight musicianship, electric guitars, and rocking your socks off!
Just check out a few of my ground-breaking favourites from the seventies!
Essential Track: ‘Evil’ (1971)
“That’s evil, evil’s goin’ on // And I’m just warnin’ you brother // You better watch your happy home.”
From the riff-laden, guitar-driven opening bars, you just know that you’ve stumbled across seventies hard rock heaven with Cactus’ phenomenal track, ‘Evil’. By the time Rusty Day’s gutsy vocals kick in, if you’re not entirely besotted by this awesome US rock band, then you will be when Jim McCarty’s lead guitar solo hits you!
Yes, this band is that good, and yes, this track is an absolute must-hear. In fact, the entire ‘Restrictions’ album is a must-hear, and ‘Evil’ is guaranteed to get you hooked. For anyone looking for some out and out relentless, seventies hard rock, then I can’t recommend Cactus highly enough.
If you’ve heard of ‘The American Led Zeppelin’, you’ll already know what I’m talking about, if not, remedy that today. Explosive, exciting, absolute high octane hard rock!
Essential Track: ‘Broken Down Angel’ (1963)
“Now she’s only a broken down angel // She’s only a bird that’s broke her wing // She’s only someone, someone who’s gone wrong // She’s only a child that’s lost her way.”
Scottish hard rock band Nazareth formed in 1968, but it wasn’t until a move to London and the release of their eponymously titled debut album in 1971 that the band actually gained the attention of the music world.
Today, we’re checking out the jangly, hard-rocking track ‘Broken Down Angel’, from the band’s 1973 album, ‘Razamanaz’, and what a glorious track it is! Dan McCafferty’s vocal is rock n’ roll perfection: gravelly, soulful, and more than a little sexy.
The entire ‘Razamanaz’ album is an early seventies must-hear, and I’m pretty confident that once you get your ears around ‘Broken Down Angel’, you’ll be left wanting more. Produced by Deep Purple’s Roger Glover, it was the band’s breakthrough album in the UK.
Whilst ‘Broken Down Angel’ is a stand-out track for me, it’s just one of many hard rock treats performed to perfection by one of the genres top notch bands!
Essential Track: ‘Liar’ (1970)
“You’ve taken my life, so take my soul // That’s what you said and I believed it all // I want to be with you long as you want me to // I won’t move away…”
British hard rock bands were really where it was at during the early seventies, and Argent was one of those bands that never quite got the credit it deserved. Founded by Rod Argent, ex-keyboardist with sixties band The Zombies, Argent released their eponymous debut album in 1970 to very little fanfare.
One of my favourite tracks from the album is ‘Liar’, penned by vocalist Russ Ballard. It failed to chart for Argent, which is shocking considering it did rather well a couple of years later for US rock band, Three Dog Night!
I love the slow burn intro to this song, and when the smoky vocal kicks in you just know you’ve got some bluesy hard rock on your hands. A gutsy track that just keeps on building, Argent’s ‘Liar’ is seventies rock with a relentless groove. Get it on your playlist today.
Essential Track: ‘Everybody’s Clown’ (1970)
“I don’t know where and I don’t care where I’m going // You tried so hard to bring me down // But I’m not simply everybody’s clown.”
With a dose of psychadelia and the absolute powerhouse that is vocalist John Lawton’s voice, ‘Everybody’s Clown’ from German hard rock band Lucifer’s Friend is another must-hear track.
Formed in Hamburg, Germany, Lucifer’s Friend released their eponymous debut in 1970. The album is my favourite from this band, with its dark, Black Sabbath style lyrics and guitar-driven sound. Indeed, it’s on the cusp of what would one day develop into heavy metal.
I love sharing hidden gems, and ‘Everybody’s Clown’ is a true gem I every sense of the word. A shining example of seventies hard rock at its best!
Essential Track: ‘Common Mortal Man’ (1973)
“I was walking down, down a rocky road and found // A noisy rising sun and a quietly burning moon // They were standing in line, standing in time…”
A hardworking, hard-rocking band, British hard rock band, Free, is probably best known for the anthemic ‘All Right Now’, and whilst it’s a fantastic track, it’s just one of many.
Today, I’d like to share one of my favourite tracks by this outstanding band – ‘Common Mortal Man’. Paul Rodgers’ bluesy vocals are nothing short of perfect on this song; I’ve always been a big fan of his voice, but on this track it’s just outstanding. Add to that some tight musicianship and a thought provoking lyric, and you’ve got something very special.
How many of us can relate to the lyric ‘I have made so many mistakes in my life, now I’m trying my best to make up for them, I never have had the easiest life, but I’m just doing what I can…’ Most of us, I suspect.
A fantastic song from a short-lived band, ‘Common Mortal Man’ deserves a place on any seventies hard rock playlist.
Essential Track: ‘Prima Donna’ (1975)
“You’re just another // Prima donna of rock’n roll // So please let me know // When you want me to go?”
I’m rounding off today with a quintessential seventies hard rock band, a pioneer in the genre and one of the forerunners of what would develop into heavy metal – Uriah Heep. This British rock band ticks every box and then some, with guitar-driven melodies, kick-ass vocals from David Byron, and a whole lot of rock n’ roll attitude.
‘Prima Donna’ from the band’s 1975 album ‘Return to Fantasy’ is an all-out rocking good track, with a surprising glam rock edge to it. Personally, I love ‘Return to Fantasy’, although the album did divide fans that were fonder of the band’s prog rock offerings.
‘Prima Donna’ is one of favourite tracks by this cult British band; it’s relentless hard rock at its finest, and I love the saxophone breakdown at the end of the track. Fantastic, fun song, great for getting people on their feet!
What a fantastic era the early seventies was for hard rock music. The genre was in its infancy but there was so much potential, and it burgeoned as the decade progressed. Many big names emerged during this time, and my honourable mention today goes to a band that helped pioneer hard rock music – Led Zeppelin.
The early heroes of hard rock, British band Led Zeppelin were forerunners in this new, heavy, guitar driven sound. Together with drummer John Bonham, bassist John Paul Jones and the perfect pairing of powerhouse vocalist Robert Plant and seminal rock guitarist Jimmy Page, Led Zeppelin changed the face of rock music forever.
I can’t recommend the band’s 1971 album ‘Stairway to Heaven’ enough. If you want to witness the birth of hard rock, that’s the place to start! But do you agree? And who would you add to this list?
Get commenting and let us know!
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