The 25 best Classic Rock albums of 1970

11 June 2024, 15:09 | Updated: 11 June 2024, 16:01

Some of the most memorable albums of 1970 from Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd
Some of the most memorable albums of 1970 from Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd. Picture: Press

Looking back at the dawn of the 70s with Morrison Hotel, Atom Heart Mother, Paranoid, Deep Purple In Rock and many more.

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  1. Syd Barrett - The Madcap Laughs: release date 2nd January 1970

    The former Pink Floyd frontman had been ousted from the group after his unreliability had become too much of a problem and he only finished two full solo albums before he effectively retired. The sole single to be taken from the album was the quirky Octopus.

    Syd Barrett - The Madcap Laughs cover art
    Syd Barrett - The Madcap Laughs cover art. Picture: Press
  2. The Doors - Morrison Hotel: release date 9th February 1970

    The fifth album from the LA psychedelic rockers included the singles You Make Me Real and Roadhouse Blues plus the funky Peace Frog.

    The Doors - Morrison Hotel cover art
    The Doors - Morrison Hotel cover art. Picture: Press
  3. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - Déjà Vu: release date 11th March 1970

    The folk rock supergroup expanded their line-up with the addition of Neil Young and and this second outing included the hippy hit Woodstock, plus Teach Your Children, Our House and Carry On.

    Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - Déjà Vu cover art
    Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - Déjà Vu cover art. Picture: Press
  4. Jimi Hendrix – Band Of Gypsys: release date 25th March 1970

    The guitar legend's final full-length album before his untimely death in September 1970 was a live show recorded at the Fillmore East in New York and included Machine Gun, Who Knows and Changes.

    Jimi Hendrix – Band Of Gypsys album artwork
    Jimi Hendrix – Band Of Gypsys album artwork. Picture: Alamy
  5. Paul McCartney - McCartney: release date 17th April 1970

    Macca's first solo album was overshadowed somewhat by the accompanying press release which effectively ended The Beatles. Paul had claimed he'd left the band and recorded this first outing mainly at home. Tracks included That Would Be Something, Every Night, a couple of unused Beatles-era tunes in Junk and Teddy Boy and the epic Maybe I'm Amazed.

    Paul McCartney - McCartney cover art
    Paul McCartney - McCartney cover art. Picture: Press
  6. The Beatles - Let It Be: release date 8th May 1970

    The final album from the Fab Four was issued a month after the news broke that the band had split. Compiled of material recorded over a year earlier and put together by producer Phil Spector, the album included the classic title track, Get Back, Across The Universe and McCartney's superb ballad The Long And Winding Road.

    The Beatles - Let It Be cover art
    The Beatles - Let It Be cover art. Picture: Press
  7. The Who - Live At Leeds: release date 11th May 1970

    Recorded at Leeds University on 14th February that year, The Who's first live LP is a classic of the genre and includes their monumental take on the Eddie Cochran tune Summertime Blues, plus a mammoth version of their own My Generation that lasts 15 minutes.

    The Who - Live At Leeds cover art
    The Who - Live At Leeds cover art. Picture: Press
  8. King Crimson – In The Wake Of Poseidon: release date 15th May 1970

    The second studio album from the British prog rock group featuring Robert Fripp, Greg Lake and Pete Sinfield featured the single Cat Food, Cadence And Cascade and the three-part epic The Devil's Triangle.

    King Crimson – In The Wake Of Poseidon cover artwork
    King Crimson – In The Wake Of Poseidon cover artwork. Picture: Press
  9. Deep Purple - In Rock: release date 5th June 1970

    The fourth album from the British heavy rock outfit featured the classic line-up of Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Jon Lord and Ian Paice. Tracks included the hit Black Night and Speed King.

    Deep Purple - In Rock cover art
    Deep Purple - In Rock cover art. Picture: Press
  10. Grateful Dead - American Beauty: release date 14th June 1970

    The pioneering psychedelic band's fifth studio album was their biggest hit in the UK and included the tracks Truckin' and Ripple.

    Grateful Dead - American Beauty album artwork
    Grateful Dead - American Beauty album artwork. Picture: Alamy
  11. Free - Fire And Water: release date 26th June 1970

    The third studio album from the British rock band was their big breakthrough moment, and included their most famous song All Right Now.

    Free - Fire And Water cover art
    Free - Fire And Water cover art. Picture: Press
  12. The Stooges - Fun House: release date 7th July 1970

    Iggy Pop and his pioneering proto-punk cohorts released their second album, which included the tracks TV Eye, Dirt and the incendiary 1970.

    The Stooges - Fun House cover art
    The Stooges - Fun House cover art. Picture: Press
  13. Creedence Clearwater Revival - Cosmo's Factory: release date 8th July 1970

    The sixth album from John Fogerty's swamp rock legends and included the singles Travellin' Band, Up Around The Bend, Lookin' Out My Back Door and their cover of Marvin Gaye's I Heard It Through The Grapevine.

    Creedence Clearwater Revival - Cosmo's Factory album artwork
    Creedence Clearwater Revival - Cosmo's Factory album artwork. Picture: Alamy
  14. The Moody Blues – A Question of Balance: release date 7th August 1970

    The Moodies' seventh studio album topped the charts in the UK and included their live favourite Question.

    The Moody Blues – A Question of Balance album cover
    The Moody Blues – A Question of Balance album cover. Picture: Alamy
  15. The Mothers Of Invention – Weasels Ripped My Flesh: released 10th August 1970

    The second of two albums of unreleased recordings from the Mothers Of Invention years (the other was Burnt Weeny Sandwich), this collection included a couple of tracks recorded at the Royal Festival Hall in October 1968 and My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama.

    Frank Zappa & The Mothers Of Invention - Weasels Ripped My Flesh album artwork
    Frank Zappa & The Mothers Of Invention - Weasels Ripped My Flesh album artwork. Picture: Alamy
  16. Neil Young - After The Gold Rush: released in September 1970

    The third solo album by the singer-songwriter was one of his

    best-known releases and featured the songs Southern Man, When You Dance I Can Really Love and Only Love Can Break Your Heart.

    Neil Young - After The Gold Rush cover art
    Neil Young - After The Gold Rush cover art. Picture: Press
  17. Black Sabbath - Paranoid: release date 18th September 1970

    Sabbath's first, ground-breaking self-titled album was released in February of 1970, but it was the follow-up later in the year that gave birth to their most famous song: Paranoid. The single made No 4 in the UK charts, while the parent album made the top spot. Also included were the tracks War Pigs, Iron Man and the chilled-out Planet Caravan.

    Black Sabbath - Paranoid: release date cover art
    Black Sabbath - Paranoid: release date cover art. Picture: Press
  18. Santana – Abraxas: release date 23rd September 1970

    The second album by Carlos Santana and co included the hit Black Magic Woman and Oye Cómo Va.

    Santana – Abraxas album artwork
    Santana – Abraxas album artwork. Picture: Alamy
  19. Pink Floyd - Atom Heart Mother: release date 2nd October 1970

    The prog band's fifth album included an ambitious orchestral piece as the title track plus the songs Summer '68, Fat Old Sun and the wacky sound collage Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast.

    Pink Floyd - Atom Heart Mother cover art
    Pink Floyd - Atom Heart Mother cover art. Picture: Press
  20. Led Zeppelin - III: release date 5th October 1970

    Zeppelin's third self-titled album came complete with a rotating card wheel attached to the cover for some visual fun, plus the classic tracks Immigrant Song, Celebration Day and Since I've Been Loving You.

    Led Zeppelin - III cover art
    Led Zeppelin - III cover art. Picture: Press
  21. David Bowie - The Man Who Sold The World: release date 4th November 1970

    Bowie made the transformation from acoustic hippy to would-be rock god with this progressive album that paved the way for Ziggy Stardust. Key tracks include The Width Of A Circle, All The Madmen and the classic title track, later give a new audience by Nirvana at their 1993 MTV Unplugged session.

    David Bowie - The Man Who Sold The World cover art
    David Bowie - The Man Who Sold The World cover art. Picture: Press
  22. Derek & The Dominos - Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs: release date 9th November 1970

    The only album from Eric Clapton's blue rock collective was a double set that included the classic title track, plus Bell Bottom Blues and Tell The Truth, plus a cover of the Jimi Hendrix tune Little Wing.

    Derek & The Dominos - Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs cover art
    Derek & The Dominos - Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs cover art. Picture: Press
  23. The Velvet Underground - Loaded: release date 15th November 1970

    The final album to feature founding member Lou Reed included the singles Sweet Jane, Who Loves The Sun and Head Held High. The band issued one more album, 1973's Squeeze, which didn't feature any of the original members.

    The Velvet Underground - Loaded cover art
    The Velvet Underground - Loaded cover art. Picture: Press
  24. George Harrison - All Things Must Pass: release date 27th November 1970

    The "Quiet One" amazed the world with his first solo effort, which was a triple album that featured a lot of songs that had been rejected by The Beatles. Tracks included the Bob Dylan co-written I'd Have You Anytime, the hit My Sweet Lord and the epic Isn't It A Pity.

    George Harrison - All Things Must Pass cover art
    George Harrison - All Things Must Pass cover art. Picture: Press
  25. John Lennon - John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band: release date 11th December 1970

    Lennon's first real solo album after a series of experimental releases with wife and collaborator Yoko Ono was best known as the "primal scream" LP after the controversial therapy the couple had undergone earlier in the year. A pioneering example of confessional songwriting, Lennon confronted his childhood trauma head on with songs like Mother, the Beatles break-up on God and society in general on Working Class Hero.

    John Lennon - John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band cover art
    John Lennon - John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band cover art. Picture: Press