The 25 best Classic Rock albums of 1976

31 May 2024, 19:00

Some of the greatest classic rock albums of 1976: Frampton Comes Alive, A Day At The Races,  Hotel California and Presence.
Some of the greatest classic rock albums of 1976: Frampton Comes Alive, A Day At The Races, Hotel California and Presence. Picture: Press/Alamy

The spirit of '76: incredible rock albums from Queen, Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy, Aerosmith and the year that Frampton came alive.

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  1. Bob Dylan - Desire: release date 5th January 1976

    Robert Zimmerman's seventeenth album saw him return to his protest roots with the song Hurricane - which concerned the conviction of former boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, who was imprisoned for murder in 1966.

    Bob Dylan - Desire cover art
    Bob Dylan - Desire cover art. Picture: Press
  2. Peter Frampton - Frampton Comes Alive! Released 6th January 1976

    One of the best selling live albums of all time includes the classic Show Me The Way and Baby I Love Your Way.

    Peter Frampton - Frampton Comes Alive! album artwork
    Peter Frampton - Frampton Comes Alive! album artwork. Picture: Alamy
  3. David Bowie - Station To Station: release date 23rd January 1976

    A ground-breaking album from Bowie, which followed up his "plastic soul" masterpiece Young Americans. The mammoth title track was a live favourite, plus the LP included the singles Golden Years, TVC15 and Stay. The "Berlin" era was just around the corner.

    David Bowie - Station To Station cover art
    David Bowie - Station To Station cover art. Picture: Press
  4. Genesis - A Trick Of The Tail: release date 13th February 1976

    Peter Gabriel exits, in comes drummer Phil Collins as vocalist. The title track and Ripples were both issued as singles.

    Genesis   -  A Trick Of The Tail  album artwork
    Genesis - A Trick Of The Tail album artwork. Picture: Alamy
  5. KISS - Destroyer: release date 25th March 1976

    The New York glam metal giants were at the height of their make-upped powers in '76, and this album was a huge seller, including the tracks Detroit Rock City and Beth.

    KISS - Destroyer cover art
    KISS - Destroyer cover art. Picture: Press
  6. Wings - Wings At The Speed Of Sound: release date 26th March 1976

    Paul McCartney's post-Beatles band issued their fifth album, which included the hits Silly Love Songs and Let 'Em In.

    Wings - Wings At The Speed Of Sound cover art
    Wings - Wings At The Speed Of Sound cover art. Picture: Press
  7. Judas Priest - Sad Wings Of Destiny: release date 26th March 1976

    Rob Halford's metal pioneers released their second album, which included one of their signature songs, The Ripper and the single Deceiver.

    Judas Priest - Sad Wings Of Destiny album artwork
    Judas Priest - Sad Wings Of Destiny album artwork. Picture: Alamy
  8. Thin Lizzy - Jailbreak: release date 26th March 1976

    The sixth album from Phil Lynott's hard rockers included the classic title track and the evergreen favourite The Boys Are Back In Town.

    Thin Lizzy - Jailbreak cover art
    Thin Lizzy - Jailbreak cover art. Picture: Press
  9. Led Zeppelin - Presence: release date 31st March 1976

    Not quite as big a seller as its predecessors Physical Graffiti and Led Zeppelin IV, the British rock band were still a huge live draw in the mid 1970s. Tracks on their seventh outing included Achilles' Last Stand and Nobody's Fault But Mine.

    Led Zeppelin - Presence cover art
    Led Zeppelin - Presence cover art. Picture: Press
  10. Rush – 2112: release date 1st April 1976

    The Canadian prog rock outfit saw a commercial breakthrough with this, their fourth album, which features the "2112 suite" as the whole of side 1. Two singles were issued: The Twilight Zone and The Temples Of Syrinx.

    Rush – 2112 cover art
    Rush – 2112 cover art. Picture: Press
  11. Ramones - Ramones: release date 23rd April 1976

    Here comes the new guard: the debut album from the New York "brothers" was one of the first signs of punk on vinyl from the USA and included the no-nonsense tunes Blitzkrieg Bop and I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend.

    Ramones - Ramones cover art
    Ramones - Ramones cover art. Picture: Press
  12. The Rolling Stones - Black & Blue: release date 23rd April 1976

    Following the departure of guitarist Mick Taylor in 1974, this Stones album served as an audition for a replacement (a role eventually filled permanently by Ronnie Wood). Tracks included Fool To Cry and Hot Stuff.

    The Rolling Stones - Black & Blue cover art
    The Rolling Stones - Black & Blue cover art. Picture: Press
  13. Aerosmith - Rocks: release date 3rd May 1976

    Artists as diverse as Slash, Kurt Cobain, Nikki Sixx of Mötley Crüe and James Hetfield of Metallica have all cited this album as an influence on their own music. The follow-up to 1975's Toys In The Attic, tunes included Back In The Saddle, Nobody's Fault and Last Child.

    Aerosmith - Rocks cover art
    Aerosmith - Rocks cover art. Picture: Press
  14. Rainbow - Rising: release date 17th May 1976

    The second album from the Ritchie Blackmore, Ronnie James Dio and Cozy Powell supergroup featured the tracks Starstruck and Tarot Woman.

    Rainbow - Rising album artwork
    Rainbow - Rising album artwork. Picture: Press
  15. Blue Öyster Cult - Agents Of Fortune: release date 21st May 1976

    The fourth album from the Long Island heavy rock outfit included their classic hit Don't Fear The Reaper.

    Blue Öyster Cult - Agents Of Fortune cover art
    Blue Öyster Cult - Agents Of Fortune cover art. Picture: Press
  16. Rod Stewart - A Night On The Town: release date 18th June 1976

    Rod's seventh studio album included the controversial Killing of Georgie, the huge hit The First Cut Is The Deepest and Tonight's The Night (Gonna Be Alright).

    Rod Stewart - A Night On The Town album cover
    Rod Stewart - A Night On The Town album cover. Picture: Alamy
  17. The Modern Lovers - The Modern Lovers: released August 1976

    Originally recorded as demos in 1972, Jonathan Richman's art rock escapades eventually found a release in the summer of '76, where they found an audience in the new wave of punk that was on the rise. Tracks included the hit Roadrunner and Pablo Picasso.

    The Modern Lovers - The Modern Lovers cover art
    The Modern Lovers - The Modern Lovers cover art. Picture: Press
  18. Boston - Boston: released 25th August 1976

    A classic rock debut, which includes Long Time, Peace Of Mind and the eternal favourite More Than A Feeling.

    Boston - Boston cover art
    Boston - Boston cover art. Picture: Press
  19. Kansas - Leftoverture: release date 21st October 1976

    The fourth album from the American rock band included their signature tune, Carry On Wayward Son.

    Kansas - Leftoverture album artwork
    Kansas - Leftoverture album artwork. Picture: Press
  20. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers: released 9th November 1976

    The Florida musician's debut album with the Heartbreakers included the hits American Girl and Breakdown

    Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers cover art
    Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers cover art. Picture: Press
  21. AC/DC - Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap: release date 12th November 1976 (UK release)

    The third album from the Aussie rockers includes Jailbreak and title track, which while not a hit in the UK, remains one of the band's classic tunes.

    AC/DC - Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap cover art
    AC/DC - Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap cover art. Picture: Press
  22. Electric Light Orchestra - A New World Record: release date 19th November 1976

    The sixth album from Jeff Lynne's orchestral rock band includes the hit singles Livin' Thing, Rockaria! and Telephone Line.

    Electric Light Orchestra - A New World Record cover art
    Electric Light Orchestra - A New World Record cover art. Picture: Press
  23. The Eagles – Hotel California: release date 8th December 1976

    The Californian rockers' fifth album gave the world their most famous hit in the title track. The album has sold over 30 million copies worldwide, making it one of the biggest of all time.

    The Eagles – Hotel California cover art
    The Eagles – Hotel California cover art. Picture: Press
  24. Queen - A Day At The Races: release date 10th December 1976

    Faced with following up the album A Night At The Opera and its huge hit Bohemian Rhapsody, the British band came up trumps with their fifth outing, which included the singles Somebody To Love, Tie Your Mother Down and Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy.

    Queen - A Day At The Races cover art
    Queen - A Day At The Races cover art. Picture: Press
  25. Blondie - Blondie: release date December 1976

    Issued at the tail end of 1976, the New York new wave band fronted by Debbie Harry included the singles X Offender, Rip Her To Shreds and In The Flesh.

    Blondie - Blondie cover art
    Blondie - Blondie cover art. Picture: Press