12 Albums We Can’t Believe Are Turning 50 This Year


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For human beings, turning 50 can be kind of rough. It’s the time when the human body really starts slowing down, and it’s also the time when people have to go to their gastroenterologists for invasive procedures.

 For albums, it’s completely different. When an album celebrates its 50th birthday, it’s an ideal time for re-appraisal, especially if the record in question wasn’t embraced by the public right away. 

But these records — all of which turn 50 in 2024 — are acknowledged as masterpieces, even the ones that didn’t quite hit the mark at first.

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1.‘Queen II’ by Queen

Release date: March 8, 1974

Queen was not fully artistically formed when they released their first few albums, and there’s material on them unlike anything else they ever recorded. That includes their second album, “Queen II,” which features no hits but is a very engaging hard rock album with progressive rock flourishes. They simplified their songwriting soon after, but this album more than holds up, even without a hit single to distinguish it.

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2. ‘Diamond Dogs’ by David Bowie

Release date: May 24, 1974

 In 1974, David Bowie had set aside his Ziggy Stardust persona and many fans were wondering what he could possibly come up with next. The answer was this dystopian semi-concept album, which manages to both get really weird and out-there, while at the same time featuring such irresistible singalong songs as “Rebel Rebel.”

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3. ‘Bad Company’ by Bad Company

Release date: May 10, 1974

 Paul Rodgers was and is one of the best singers in rock music, but other than the single “All Right Now,” his old band, Free, never became massively popular. After that band broke up, he formed Bad Company with members of Mott the Hoople and King Crimson and that band ended up on Led Zeppelin’s record label. The end result was a string of hit albums, such as their self-titled debut.

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4. ‘It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll’ by The Rolling Stones

Release date: October 18, 1974   

The Rolling Stones are said to have stumbled artistically after their 1972 “Exile on Main St.” album, which meant the albums released after it were given short shrift. That’s a shame because the next couple of albums, including “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll,” were strong in their own right and featured lots of great material. If you’re skeptical, put on the “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll” album and listen to “Time Waits for No One.” It’s brilliant.

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5. ‘Rush’ by Rush

Release date: March 18, 1974   

The debut album by this Canadian power trio doesn’t feature legendary drummer Neil Peart. Rather, the skins are pounded by one John Rutsey, who would part ways with the band after the debut album came out. But don’t worry, bassist Geddy Lee is front and center on the record, and his unmistakable vocals can be enjoyed by one and all. This record is also interesting because the band hadn’t gone fully progressive yet, and a lot of it sounds like a sort of Diet KISS.

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6. ‘Sheer Heart Attack’ by Queen

Release date: November 8, 1974   

In the olden days of rock ‘n’ roll, artists were expected to churn out an album, tour, churn out an album, tour, and keep going like that in perpetuity, which probably explains why cocaine was so popular at the time. This led to a situation wherein Queen, who had released “Queen II” earlier in 1974, released their “Sheer Heart Attack” album the same year. Between making those two records, guitarist Brian May fell ill with hepatitis while the band was still on the road. So the next time you hear a famous rock star complaining about workload and scheduling, just tell them the story of what Queen had to deal with in 1974.

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7. ‘Rocka Rolla’ by Judas Priest

Release date: September 6, 1974

Judas Priest took a few albums to become the metal gods they’re known as today, and their debut album, “Rocka Rolla,” sounds almost nothing like the band they would become. Frankly, it’s not that great – the band seems not to really know what they want, and they sound like they’re fumbling through different styles without much success. But while the record may not be all that great, it formed the foundation of what would come in the approaching decades.

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8. ‘On the Beach’ by Neil Young

Release date: July 19, 1974

“On the Beach” is part of what’s known as Neil Young’s “Ditch Trilogy.” He had made the massively popular “Harvest” album in 1972, and rather than keep making more music just like it, he made three albums in succession that were deeply depressing and alienated a lot of fans – “Time Fades Away,” “Tonight’s the Night,” and 1974’s “On the Beach.” None of them offered the mellow, folky acoustic music that had made him famous, but time has been kind to these records, and today, many fans say “On the Beach” is his best album.

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9. ‘Red’ by King Crimson

Release date: October 6, 1974

King Crimson always made difficult, challenging music, and “Red” was no exception. It doesn’t really sound like anyone else, so there are no simple comparison points to give an idea of what to expect from this album, but to a lot of fans, it was the best thing they ever did. The band broke up right before the record came out, but when you listen to it, it’s such a tour de force that nothing indicates any trouble was brewing.

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10. ‘Secret Treaties’ by Blue Öyster Cult

Released date: April 5, 1974

Blue Öyster Cult was one of the biggest hard rock bands of the 1970s, hitting the charts with “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” Before that happened, they made a few albums, like “Secret Treaties,” that were a little weird and differentiated them from the other Grand Funk Railroads and Nazareths of the era. “Secret Treaties” wasn’t their biggest hit, but the material is stellar, especially “Flaming Telepaths.”

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11. ‘Country Life’ by Roxy Music

Release date: November 15, 1974

Fans of Roxy Music albums like “Avalon” are often surprised to hear their earliest stuff, which featured Brian Eno at first. He left the band after their second album but didn’t take all the weirdness with him, and it was still in evidence on their fourth album, “Country Life.” The record contains both addictive pop songs and stuff that sounds like cabaret music from Berlin during the Weimar Republic. Fifty years later, there’s still nothing else like it.

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12. ‘Autobahn’ by Kraftwerk

Release date: November 1, 1974

Kraftwerk is normally associated with 1980s synthesizer music, but the truth is that they had started making records years earlier. “Autobahn,” released in 1974, was already their fourth album, and the title track goes on for over 20 minutes. This music is decidedly not for everybody, but if you listen to it and study the album jacket, it will help you understand one of the jokes in the highly overrated movie, “The Big Lebowski.”

This article was produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.

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