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Everybody knows the classic albums of 1971: Imagine. Tapestry. Tea for the Tillerman. What's Going On. Shaft. It also featured a number of notable minor classics like Funkadelic's Maggot Brain, Sly and the Family Stone's There's a Riot Going On, and T. Rex's Electric Warrior, among others. There were albums by The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, James Taylor, Rod Stewart, Genesis, and Pink Floyd. In the annals of good music years, 1971 is clearly first-tier.

But 1971 also featured a number of albums that had almost no commercial success - and, for most, little critical acclaim - but have since been revisited and deemed lost great albums. Of course, no amount of polishing is going to revive A Partridge Family Christmas Card, but for other lost nuggets of the era, hope remains. The following list is by no means exhaustive, nor is it filled with obscure local artists and out-of-print arcana. Many of the bands listed here feature members who went on to #1 hits, platinum-selling bands, fame, and fortune. Others simply disappeared, their spirits crushed, and never living to see the reevaluation their creative output has received in the 30 years since its genesis.

So presented here now (in no particular order) are the 40 Albums That Should've Been Hits from 1971.

To-Day's Sound, by Piero Umiliani
Of the big four Italian movie composers of the 70s (Nascimbene, Morricone, and Ortolani, and Umiliani) Umiliani was the only one who also composed and arranged LP releases of non-film work consistently throughout his career. Best known for his 1968 movie theme "Mah Na Mah Na" (which later found fame on The Muppet Show and countless TV commercials) and his recent revival in the Steven Soderbergh Ocean's 11 series, Umiliani's To-Day's Sound is an eclectic mix of heavily synthesized instrumental pieces. Standout tracks are the short and punchy "Open Space" and "Caretera Panamericana", which is exactly as awesome as its title suggests. Modern Influences: Pizzicato Five, Tahiti 80, Momus
The Polite Force by Egg
Ahh for the days when albums had sides. Formed out of the ashes of Uriel, British prog rock band Egg's free-wheeling improvisational strengths are on full display on The Polite Force. The coup de grace of Side 1 is "Bolik", a 9 minute drone that would make Iron Butterfly and Tortoise proud. But Side 2 is a revelation: a long piece in four parts, it ranges from 100% noise freakout to mondo jazz to one of the catchiest organ riffs ever. For me, they are constantly invading new sonic territory while showing considerable restraint in a musical era marked by excess. Well, in so much as you can call 9 minute songs "restraint" ... Modern Influences Tortoise, Sonic Youth, Pinback
Rosemary Lane by Bert Jansch
Mostly known as the frontman for the iconic British folk band Pentangle, Bert Jansch's Rosemary Lane is a seminal work for a number of reasons. First, it is an excellent summation of the musical leanings of Jansch, who felt Pentangle should add more modern flourishes to their traditional repertoire of madrigals and minstrel fare. The virtuosity of his guitar and gentle lilt of his voice display a mastery of the intimate solo performance. Standout tracks include the title track for traditional and "Wayward Child", a nice folky take on the upbeat pop of Donovan and John Phillips. Modern Influences The Decemberists, Damien Jurado, Will Oldham
Science Fiction by Ornette Coleman
Anyone who has heard Ornette Coleman knows that every record is a chance for a strange trip down, around, and through the heart of jazz, but Science Fiction is the moment where that Texan saxophonist crossed over into the forbidden zone of jazz purists: electricity. With synthesizers and blippy feedback pulsing through half the tracks on the album, it's little wonder that its successor Skies of America is much more well-received in critical circles, with its orchestral "harmolodies" and filmic atmosphere sitting nicely on the record player for your typical monocle-wearing, whitebred jazzhead. But everyone knows it's Science Fiction's multidimenstionality and freedom that define Ornette's oeuvre: from the titular rack replete with a crying robot baby - yes, a crying robot baby - and Dadaist futurespeak from poet Dave Henderson, to the Indian-tinged vocals on "What Reason Could I Give", to the practically sublime "Law Years", now a common staple of a live Ornette show. You may not like jazz, and you may like free jazz even less, but Ornette Coleman is required reading for the 70s, the uber-experimenter from which all the experimental rock surrounding him flowed. Rock on, brother. Modern Influences Amps for Christ, John Zorn, John Hughes III
Galactic Zoo Dossier by Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come
In my head, Arthur Brown and the revolving group of Kingdom Come probably consider Frank Zappa to be fairly normal. Their debut album Galactic Zoo Dossier captures the strange vibe of the Grand Guignol in jam band form. The album is actually one continuous track broken up, with Brown offering a number of absurd, bluesy, and boozy spoken (er, shouted) word breakdowns in between some really boogie-tastic runs, and the backing band matches him note for note for strangeness, with free jazz floating intermittently throughout the entire proceeding. The first of a trilogy of albums designed to "display the full evolution of humankind", in Brown's words, there's no doubt that Galactic Zoo Dossier is a different creature altogether, but what really makes it great is the live atmosphere captured in the studio. Get your freak on. Modern Influences Acid Mothers Temple, Godspeed! You Black Emperor, Gov't Mule
From Inside by Poco
The timeline between The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Crosby Stills and Nash and The Eagles is so seamless that a number of great country rock acts of the late 60s and 70s simply get passed over for further inspection. A shame, too, because these aren't just solid albums - some of them are masterpieces. Poco's From Inside doesn't quite fit that bill (try Indian Summer instead) but it's really damn good in every respect, and has the added bonus of being a bit more bona fide country than some of the California janglers trying to take over Nashville's business. Featuring a future member of the Eagles and Jim Messina, the album's got everything: upbeat honky-tonk ("Railroad Days"), power pop disguised with a twang ("You Are The One"), and sweet slow soul ("Bad Weather"). Gorgeous harmonies, a sweet rhythm section, and some good old southern fried comfort. Amen. Modern Influences The Old 97's, Lambchop, The Legendary Shack Shakers
Liv by Livingston Taylor
Honestly, if I had to pick between the two Taylor brothers James and Livingston, you might not have ever heard of "Fire and Rain." Today, Taylor is a guitar teacher at the prestigious Berklee School of Music, and he still records some, but this is it, folks. He sounds a lot like his brother both in voice and style, but his music is both more accessible and more classic, evoking Pete Seeger, John Denver, and the ultimate folkie, Mr. Zimmerman himself, in his cool delivery and sentimental (but not sappy) lyricism. It also features one of the best versions of Mann & Weil's "On Broadway" ever put to tape. It spawned the minor hit "Get Out Of The Bed", but your best bet is the fadeout track, the simply perfect "I Just Can't Be Lonesome No More", with all of its cynical optimism and Nick Drake touches. Gorgeous. Modern Influences Damien Rice, Ron Sexsmith, Brendan Benson
London, London by Caetano Veloso
So, I must confess: I have a thing for the bossa nova. Ever since Astrud captured my ears and my heart way back in 1991, I've been looking for the good stuff - and Caetano Veloso is it. This album is unrepresentive of most of his material: he'd just been exiled from Brazil for speaking out against the government (his touring partner Elis Regina reconciled with the Silva dictatorship, but Veloso refused.) As a result, he decided to record his first English language album, and London, London is the result. The album is a great departure from the tropicalia standards of his heyday, invoking the whimsical touches of Donovan on the title track (check out the Cibelle cover and video featuring Devendra Banhart - Caetano must be proud!) and the stone-cold poetry of Dylan on ". But it's the only Portuguese standard, Gilberto Gil's "Asa Brancha", that confirms this album's place on this list, an international music adventure with a Latin flair. Modern Influences Shakira, Kahimi Karie, Mosquitos
First Utterance by Comus
Like so many of the other albums here, the off-kilter subject matter of First Utterance played a large part in its downfall: the first single, the portentous "Diana", is about a rape victim dealing with the aftermath in her head. Despite the all-acoustic arrangements and harp and violin flourishes, it's no doubt that Comus was an early mover in the heavy metal world, and First Utterance's macabre lyrics and moody, often squealing, music gives the album a dark and relentless tone. The real winner here is "The Prisoner", which features a partially aborted duel between singers as the two sides of an insane man's mind. The musical Jekyll and Hyde, ladies and gentleman. Modern Influences Consolidated, Opeth, In Flames
From The Witchwood by The Strawbs
Mostly known as Rick Wakeman's pre-Yes band, their evolution from their origins as Sandy Denny's backing band to prog rock wunderkinds was completed by From The Witchwood, prominently featuring Wakeman's organ and synthesizer work (much of it overdubbed as Wakeman spent most of his hours as a session man to pay the bills.) Luckily they put their folk rock skills to the task, creating cavernous harmonies, homespun lyrics, and just a touch of humility and looseness to a genre just begging for egomaniacs and perfectionists. The results: "In Amongst the Roses", "Witchwood", and the opening track "Glimpse of Heaven" mark some major landmarks in harmonious, intellectual pop. And then Wakeman left for Yes shortly thereafter, and The Strawbs did Grave New World, and Wakeman did ... White Rock. Sorry, Rick ... Modern Influences Built to Spill, Oh My God!, Liars
Time of the Last Persecution by Bill Fay
One of the more cult-driven listings here, primarily because when the album didn't sell well (it was his second bomb in two tries), the record label simply junked the unshipped copies. Also because the album is pretty frickin amazing from every angle. An emo album has interpreted by Cat Stevens, Traffic, and Wings. And yeah, if that lineup sounds as good to you as it does to me, you need to go get yourself some Bill Fay. A thinly-fleshed out concept album about dreams Fay had regarding the end of the world, it wraps some really bizarre and reverb-drenched minor key pop up in some straight up misanthropic lyrics, psychedelic touches, and one awesome hook on "Don't Let My Marigolds Die". I wonder why it didn't beat out The Carpenters at the record store ... Modern Influences Xiu Xiu, Daniel Johnston, Cat Power
A Whale of a Tale by Sour Mash
Who knew that the performers of "I'm Henry VIII I Am" would produce one of the best southern rock albums of the 70s? After Peter Noone went solo, the rest of Herman's Hermits hooked up with a brash young singer named Peter Cowap, decided to reform as Sour Mash (sometimes noted as Sourmash), and produce a real rock album. The result is amazing: the harmonious and tightly structured pop of the early Bee Gees and The Beach Boys, the groovy downhome jam rock of The Allman Brothers, and the Bakersfield country sound of Buck Owens and Gram Parsons all rolled into one. Standout tracks included the stellar porch song "Autumn Country", the so-funky-it-hurts "Prohibition", and the raucous "Morgan's Privateers." Modern Influences Big & Rich, Phish, Wilco
Medusa by Trapeze
By pedigree, Trapeze is the most influential band on this list: its members went on to join Deep Purple, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, and Whitesnake. And this British funk rock trio's music certainly fit right in with the burgeoning arena rock scene of the early 70s. But label troubles and band instability prevented them from really hitting the big time. Medusa is a standout example of early arena rock, reminiscent of Cream or Boston - and surprisingly straightforward, considering the bands' future appointments with bombast and attention-grabbing. Hot tracks include the Funkadelic spit-take "Wanna Make You Cry" and the delightfully sardonic "Love Is Just Alright". Modern Influences Sloan, Jet, The Greenhornes
White Light by Gene Clark
Gram Parsons has a monopoly on cowboy pity, but say a prayer for Gene Clark, too. Having spent his whole career writing songs for The Byrds and Dillard & Clark, his solo album finally saw the light of day in 1971. That angelic baritone comes through strong on some of the most melodic and warm acoustic songs ever put to tape. "Winter In", "Song For Spanish Guitar", and the achingly beautiful "Where My Love Lies Asleep" are all winners, but in the middle of the arena rock revival, these simple wonders are all beloved. White Light was a commercial failure, Clark's subsequent records didn't do much better, and just as there was a revival of interest in Clark and The Byrds' work through the Paisley Underground, Clark's alcoholism caught up with him and he died at the tender age of 46, 20 years to the month after the release of his masterpiece. Modern Influences REM, Tom Petty, Jens Lekman
La Question by Francoise Hardy
First, let's get it out of the way: Oo la la. Francoise Hardy may be one of the most beautiful French woman ever, and according to my sources, she's got some competition. And on top of that, La Question is a great Francophone record, right in line with the other seminal French release that year, Serge Gainsbourg's Histoire de Melodie Nelson. Mostly chamber pop and breathy string accompaniments, it's a great album for driving on sunny Sundays with no particlar place to go, or to spice up your home movie soundtracks. My particular favorite is the wilting acoustic daydream "Meme Sous La Pluie". There's also the sultry wannabe Bond theme "Chanson D'o", and the folky "Bati Mon Nid." Oh, did I mention I have no idea what she's saying because it's all in French? Oo la la, indeed. Modern Influences The High Llamas, Lavender Diamond, Stereolab
Fourth by Soft Machine
When you're named for a William S. Burroughs book, you're pretty much expected to be bleeding edge avant-garde, and the Soft Machine lived up to expectations, particularly on their two albums Third, released in 1970, and its sequential followup. Their first all-instrumental album, it displays lead songwriter Hugh Hopper's growing taste in both free jazz and electronic manipulation, and the band's move towards a more standard jazz rock lineup, with Hopper's bass and Mike Ratledge's organ taking a more dominant role in the proceedings. The major standouts are Ratledge's "Teeth" with its hopping piano lines, and third and fourth part of the side B-long track "Virtually", which feature the inevitable crescendos developed in the earlier parts. A great album for, uhh, other kinds of experimentation. If you know what I mean. PS I meant marijuana. Modern Influences Wayne Shorter, Brad Mehldau, Sun Ra
Delusions of Fury by Harry Partch
There really is no explanation for Harry Partch's idiosyncratic refusal to accept the common 12-tone language of modern music, but his variations were as interesting as they were ludicrous. Delusions of Fury is no exception, featuring exotic instrumentation, an almost claustrophic rhythm, and a plethora of surprising twists and turns. What's most surprising, however, is how accessible the album is in spite of its elitist and academic bent. It's certainly not radio fare, but the single track that governs it weaves a fairly constant yaw and pitch of urban junglism, minimalist electronic hum, musique concrete, and a paradoxically primitive space rock edge. Listen to it with an open mind and you may be more rewarded than you realize by the time it's over. And then for God's sake go put on some Lovin' Spoonful or something. Modern Influences Ghost, Liars, Matmos
The Real Thing by Taj Mahal
I didn't know until last year that the bandleader at the party scene of Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood was none other than Taj Mahal. It makes sense, though, because Taj Mahal is the modern-day Nat "King" Cole, not just a great musician but one hell of an entertainer, multi-faceted and as warm as the sunshine. The Real Thing is his definitive live album, catching him in the midst of a soul revolution, at the Fillmore, in 1971, with The Band's John Simon on piano and the immortal Howard Johnson on brass. The album has so many highlights, it's hard to know where to start, so I won't: just listen to it all and be amazed at them Mississippi roots come to bear. Trivia: Mahal's song "She Caught The Katy" is the first song Jake Blues sings in The Blues Brothers. Because it's just that great. Modern Influences Robert Randolph, The Delta 72, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Album II by Loudon Wainwright III
It's true: Rufus's dad can rock. From the opening track "Me and My Friend the Cat", this album posits itself as Loudon's breakout, but for some reason, it was a commercial dud. Who can say why? His evocative lyrics sound as relevant now as they ever did, his gorgeous guitar work on tracks like "Motel Blues" and "Saw Your Name In The Paper" is as catchy as it is intricate, and well - well, being a little depressing isn't a crime, damn it! At least it didn't kill his career: Loudon is still out there, putting out albums and performing. But that doesn't excuse everyone skipping this album the first time around. Tsk, tsk. Modern Influences Daniel Johnston, Adam Green, M. Ward
Construcao by Chico Buarque
Chico Buarque's career as a protesting Brazilian singer and playwright culminated in his 1970 MPB hit "Apesar de você", which was quickly repressed and banend by the government. But it was his 1971 album Construcao which set him apart from some of his more vocal associates such as Gilberto Gil, Elis Regina, and Caetano Veloso. The reason for this is clear: Buarque's subtle treachery of the government is impeccable on the album through and through. The music is, of course, excellent, building on his samba and soul leanings to create a living breathing testament to the rising power of tropicalia as more than just a trend, but as a whole new way of thinking about musical arrangement. But it's the lyrics on songs such as "Deus Ilhe Pague" and "Acalanto" and the longing for freedom and prosperity that pervades Buarque's voice that drive this record home. A beautiful production job, and a wonderful piece of Hispanic music. Modern Influences Broadcast, The Avalanches, Cornelius
The Baby Huey Story: The Living Legend by Baby Huey
When James "Baby Huey" Ramey was found in his hotel room October 28, 1970, dead of a heroin-induced heart attack at 26, his death was lumped in with the deaths earlier that fall of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. It's ironic, then, that Baby Huey's legacy has overshadowed both of those artists in the 21st century, as his funky repertoire has become a major sampling ground for some of today's biggest hip-hop stars, from The Neptunes to The Beastie Boys. The Baby Huey Story was released posthumously by Ramey's good friend and collaborator Curtis Mayfield, and it has all the ingredients of a great funk album. His cover of Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come" is a great showcase of his outrageous pipes, but it's the infectious live spirit of "Mighty, Mighty" that captures Ramey's vibe - positive, engaging, electrifying (his backing band The Babysitters are none too shabby, either.) Just hearing that laugh as the song fades out reminds you that the world lost another superstar that fall. Modern Influences The Beastie Boys, Jurassic 5, The Roots
Septober Energy by Centipede
If Keith Tippett could be faulted for anything, it wasn't lack of ambition. Following up quickly on his jazzy prog rock noodling albums of 1969 and 1970, he assembled what can be only considered the superest supergroup of all time to form Centipede - so named for the 100 feet of its 50 member ensemble! Featuring members of King Crimson, Traffic, The Nice, The Soft Machine, Iskra 1903, Nucleus, and others, Tippet's four part, 80 minute opus was critically laughed out of the room upon its release in 1970. And in truth, it's certainly not as good as Weather Report's debut that year or anything Miles Davis had a hand in at the time. But on its own merits, it's got some really high high points, a problem doubly accentuated by the unknowable nature of LPs in the day. The compact disc and now the MP3 has rendered that problem moot, and today Septober Energy can be appreciated in a more condensable and less sporadic form. To that end, if you can only listen to one part, try Part 2. There's a great oboe solo if you can find it. Modern Influences Fantomas, Philip Glass, Santana
Indelibly Stamped by Supertramp
The only band on this list to go on to major commercial acclaim, most people don't realize that Supertramp, purveyors of such 80s hits as "Breakfast in America", "Take The Long Way Home", and "Give A Little Bit", actually sprung up in 1970, but their first incarnation disbanded after disappointing sales of their debut album and Indelibly Stamped. Which is unfortunate, because this album is a worthy successor as the catchiest post-Beatles release of its day. From the lively dancehall stomp of "Coming Home To See You" to the Simon and Garfunkel-tinged gallows humor of "Rosie Had Everything Planned" to the piece de resistance, the funky garage shuffle "Remember", this album hits all the right notes, and serves as a precursor to the more melodic undercurrents that separated Supertramp from their prog pop peers Yes, America, and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer and propelled them to stardom - a decade after they had proven their pop chops. Modern Influences Widespread Panic, Belle and Sebastian, Jon Auer
Aereo-Plain by John Hartford
When I saw John Hartford would be recording tracks with T. Bone Burnett for the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, I knew that the Coen brothers were intent on making a Southern classic. To me, John Hartford is bluegrass, moreso even than the many pioneers of the music, including Bill Monroe, Doc Watson, and Earl Scruggs. Not because he was the best fiddler or banjoist, or the most original, but because he played bluegrass in 1971, when it was about as uncool as anything to be playing bluegrass. But Hartford made it cool, by displaying a firm grasp of jam band production values, and by letting the strong improvisational skills of his bandmates do most of the talking (and occasionally slipping into Memphis R&B - a nod to the roots of his musical genius.) Highlights: "Steamboat Whistle Blues", "Because of You", and "Steam-Powered Aereo-Plane", which is my favorite bluegrass song ever. Modern Influences Nickel Creek, Iron and Wine, Neil Finn
Budgie by Budgie
In college, I managed to turn my metalhead roommate (hi, Megiddo!) onto the wonders of Krautrock, post punk, and eventually synth pop slowly but surely. But he never returned the favor, and his love of early British heavy metal went more or less unnoticed by me. Fast forward a couple years and, running a little thin on musical excursions left to take, I revisited Saxon, Queensryche, and Budgie, his personal favorite. And I was floored! Not only was Budgie's debut album better than Sabbath Bloody Sabbath in my mind, it did a better job of linking The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, and The Talking Heads than I ever imagined possible. The opener and closers are fine tracks, but it's the strong middle - led by the trifecta of "The Author", "Nude Disintegrating Parachutist Woman", and "The Rape of the Locks" - that really accentuate the album. Recommended for fans of all stripes - blues, pop, rock, metal - as a starter course on how to meld your influences into a solid album. Modern Influences Metallica, Alice in Chains, The Music
Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse by Eugene McDaniels
Despite the scary title and the even scarier cover art, Eugene McDaniel's Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse is actually a sweet tour de force of 60s soul reinterpreted for the bitter comedown of early 70s racial politics. Practically pleading with his invisible audience to come together and be happy, the heavy funk and soul that runs through the gospel-tinged "The Lord Is Back" and "Headless Heroes" gives way to some serious organ work and brilliant vocals from McDaniels on the final two tracks, "Supermarket Blues" and the 9 minute epic "The Parasite (For Buffy)" which ends in an appropriately apocalyptic scream and cantankerous cacophony as the band refuses to die, and simply fades away. 35 years have passed, and the album seems as relevant as ever in both message and delivery: the eternal leitmotif of the Angry Young Black Man trying to make sense of a senseless world. Modern Influences Nas, Wyclef Jean, KRS One
Daddy Who? Daddy Cool by Daddy Cool
You might be asking "Daddy Who?" yourself at this point. That's the trouble of being a great throwback band in the 1970's - from Australia. Daddy Cool's debut record is equal parts pub rock and doo-wop. In truth, it's closer to #40 than to #1 on this list, but it's still a great album for three reasons. One, hellooo, it's doo wop, that stuff's great. Two, they had a guy wearing a propeller cap on stage. And three, "Eagle Rock", which may be the most popular Australian single of all time. It's so great, it hit #1 on the Australian charts in three different decades! (In case you didn't notice, this list is based on the premise that none of these albums hit it big in America. Wanna fight about it?) "Eagle Rock" also inspired a comeback song by Reginald Dwight aka Elton John, the much more famous "Crocodile Rock" - but you can take it from me, "Eagle Rock" is way better. The rest of the songs, including the blitzkrieg doo wop of "Bom Bom", the old R&B standard "Cherry Pie", and an awesome cover of Chuck Berry's "School Days", cemented the album's place in history. It's too bad their American tour was hit for six, or we might all still be hearing the praises of Daddy Cool .. Modern Influences Saturday Looks Good To Me, The Flaming Lips, Half-Handed Cloud
Jack-Knife Gypsy by Paul Siebel
Like Jimmy Webb, Randy Newman, and Townes van Zandt, Paul Siebel is more famous for having his songs performed by others than by his own work. However, unlike that triplet, Siebel never had any commercial success on his own. As a follow up to his well-received Woodworks and Oranges, Siebel recorded Jack-Knife Gypsy, and it's a revelation of strong songwriting and folk-rock atmosphere. The hushed timber of "Pinto Pony", "Chips are Down", and the title track reveal a confident songwriter - and yes, Siebel's voice is a weakness, but if there were justice, it would be that voice on the radio, and not the many artists who've covered his work since. Modern Influences Josh Ritter, Jose Gonzalez, Travis
Meditation by Toshiko Akiyoshi
Everybody needs to hear Toshiko Akiyoshi at least once. After Oscar Peterson discovered her in a Tokyo nightclub, she quickly moved up the ranks as one of the preeminent composing jazz pianists - period. Not just as an Asian, or a woman, her music is widely regarded as some of the bravest and most innovative out there today, even after nearly 50 years of performing. Meditation finds her in a (natch) meditative mode, and the songs are a bit subtler, a lot cooler, and tinged with melancholy. The highlights are her cover of "Stella by Starlight", which finds her breathing dissonance into one of jazz's most notable melodies, and her take on Herb Alpert's "What Now My Love", offering a lot of ingenuity while remaining faithful to the core of the original. A beautiful album, and a must for piano lovers. Modern Influences Junko Onishi, Mulgrew Miller, The Bad Plus
Faust by Faust
In pop culture's defense, it's all but impossible to take an album consisting of three 8 minute plus tracks with nonsense lyrics, unconventional instrumentation, cringeworthy feedback, and an almost complete lack of cohesion and sell it "to the kids." But to Faust's credit, they made a very bold (if imperfect) guess as to what the future of music might be: electronic, noisy, spacious, and highly experimental. Yeah, it's kind of primitive in its execution (and there are certainly better Faust albums), but I dare you not to listen to the cartoonish space pop of "Why Don't You Eat Your Carrots?" or the haunting drone at the end of "Meadow Meal" and not dream of the strange tomorrow that never was ... Modern Influences Autechre, Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada
Over Again by Harvest
Better known as Barclay James Harvest, this early album by the band captures them transitioning from a straight folk band to the progressive rock band they ended up as. That's good for them, as it gives them a nice lilting tone somewhere between The Moody Blues and Van Morrison. Their searing psych rock tropes "For No One" and "Song for the Dying" are worthy of Townshend and Daltrey and make the album worthwhile alone. The bonuses of the acoustic ballad "Vanessa Simmons" and their coup de grace, the prog reimagining of the old "Mocking Bird" nursery rhyme, which captures everything great about prog rock: a preposterously perfect tour de force of technique and self-importance. Priceless. Modern Influences Muse, Olivia Tremor Control, The Tyde
Fearless by Family
The only album by Family to chart in the US (it peaked at #177), Fearless is one more excellent representative of the folkier side of prog rock, a side often ignored when detractors of the genre begin to speak about it. The record's popularity is also a testament to the band's willingness to thematically cover a number of popular groups at the time in such a way that while Family's originality and creativity shine through, the subliminal message was "we can be just as good as these bands." Homages to Genesis, the Faces, The Who, and Caravan all show up on the album, but the highlight are the very unique tracks "Save Some For Thee", whose marching band ensemble predates Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk" by quite a few years, and "Children", a strangely soft ballad with a sad message about being unable to retain the innocence of childhood. All in all, a classic album, and all the more powerful for its populist approach to musical collaboration. Modern Influences Queens of the Stone Age, Oasis, Lenny Kravitz
Lost In The Ozone by Commander Cody
Punk and honky-tonk don't sound like bosom buddies, but Commander Cody would beg to differ. To him, it was a simple formula: take the classic country song about drinkin' away your troubles, replace the alcohol with "wacky tobacky", and presto change-o, the protopunk boogie song (you might want to take a second look at the title - but if you don't, the title track will spell it out for you.) The watershed song is "Seeds and Stems", about being so broke he can't afford any more marijuana. There's also some rock standards, like "Hot Rod Lincoln" and "Twenty Flight Rock", but it's the subversive double entendre of "Beat Me Daddy" (on its face it's about a drummer) that defines Commander Cody: taking the country song title joke and taking it for a spin through the counterculture. Modern Influences Reverend Horton Heat, The Refreshments, Little Texas
Tago Mago by Can
Most of the bands on this list are clearly artifacts of their time - influential and critically lauded, but rarely imitated directly in the modern era. Not so with Can, who of all the forgotten classics of 1971 sound like a record for today's time. Songs like "Halleluhwah" with its druggy hip hop beat and "Oh Yeah" with its backwards vocals wouldn't sound out of place on the next Thom Yorke or Thurston Moore album. But the true genius of Can is revealed on the opening track "Paperhouse", as the song evolves before your ears from a straightforward progressive blues song to Afro-funk to space rock to punk, then without missing a beat rolls right on to "Mushroom", which simultaneously predicts Nirvana, The Beta Band, TV on the Radio, and The White Stripes. How's that for being ahead of your time? Modern Influences Blonde Redhead, Radiohead, Deerhoof
Fool's Mate by Peter Hammill
When you're in a band called Van de Graaf Generator, you probably need a pop music break every now and then. Peter Hammill's solo debut album didn't win him any more fans than his angular proto-math rock band already had earned him, but it's a hell of a lot more fun than most of their early records. From the opening track, the raucous and ubersilly "Imperial Zeppelin" to the strange Queen-tinged medieval mellotron tango of "Happy", it's pretty obvious that Pete decided that he was less interested in making an important statement and more interested in making a record that would stand up as a timeless example of smart, accessible music, more Kinks than King Crimson. And really, what more can you ask for from your prog rock superstars? (I hope Phil Collins and Steve Winwood are still sending Pete residual checks for opening the door.) Modern Influences Badly Drawn Boy, John Vanderslice, Spoon
Jardim Electro by Os Mutantes
Like fellow list-maker Caetano Veloso, Os Mutantes is defined almost as much by the political scene they brushed against as their music. Minor cult legends of the MPB movement, Os Mutantes' debut album made a little splash in America, but then they "mutated" into an even more rock-oriented stance, and by 1971 they were marginalized by the smothering bossa-nova obsessed Brazilian music culture. As a result, their Jardim Electro wasn't well-received by Brazil, and didn't make it worldwide at all. A recent reappraisal of their music has given this album new light of day, and it's great, like Dylan plugging in at Royal Albert Hall great. Taking the MPB movement and giving it an electric edge is so startling brilliant, so sexually charged and confrontational, that there's no way to describe it that will give it justice. Just trust me: you'll cream your pants when Rita Lee tells you to. Modern Influences Beck, Dust Brothers, Yo La Tengo
Stackridge by Stackridge
Whatever merits Stackridge might have in today's world, we can at least give them credit for one thing: Dora the Explorer. Their debut album, an absolutely delightful pop album in the vein of early Queen, Bonzo Dog Music, and Badfinger (with a touch of Monty Python whimsy) featured "Dora the Female Explorer", a catchy ditty about the titular character, which apparently they had intended to accompany a children's book at some later date. It never happened, but fast forward to 2007, and clearly their influence has been known. The album's highlights include the highly Beatlesque "Marigold Junction", the hook-filled "Grande Piano", and a supertight proto punk number "West Mall", culminating in the 14 minute prog-folk epic "Slark". A great band, check 'em out. Modern Influences Of Montreal, They Might Be Giants, The Thermals
Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song Original Soundtrack
Featuring at an (at the time) unknown young band named Earth, Wind, & Fire, Melvin van Peebles' blaxploitation classic features one of the funkiest, "get up off of that thang", boogie-tastic scores ever written (I'm looking at you, Quincy) - and amazingly, it was all written by Van Peebles himself! Every song is pretty great as a slice of funk, but really, the only thing better than the music are the titles: the closing track is called "The Man Tries Running His Usual Game but Sweetback's Jones Is So Strong He Wastes the Hounds (Yeah! Yeah! and Besides That He Will Be Comin' Back Takin' Names and Collecting Dues)". Need I say more? Modern Influences Black Eyed Peas, Dr. Dre, Primus
McDonald and Giles by McDonald and Giles
When Ian McDonald and Michael Giles unceremoniously left King Crimson at the end of their 1969 tour, they decided that they would go in together to rent a studio and record material they had written prior to and during their stint with that rising prog rock wunderkind. The result was a really great progressive rock album in its own right; complex and challenging musically, it also displayed the immense musical talents possessed by McDonald (who later helped form Foreigner) and the thunderous percussion of Giles, whose solo on "Children of Today" is constantly finding its way into hip-hop sample master's repertoires everywhere. The guest appearance by Steve Winwood on "Turnham Green" is a well-played cameo, but the highlight is "Birdman Flies!" in the middle of the final track, the mini-rock opera "Birdman", a triumphant piece of jazzy pop that can only be described as brilliant. Modern Influences Jim O'Rourke, Martin Medeski and Wood, The Verve

Honorable Mention

Smash Your Head Against the Wall by John Entwistle, Weather Report by Weather Report, Deuce by Rory Gallagher, Gonna Take A Miracle by Laura Nyro, No Roses by Shirley Collins, and Agnetha by Agnetha Fältskog - which features everyone in ABBA before they were ABBA!

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