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Twenty Turning Fifty in Twenty One

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Badfinger Became The Second Most Famous Band To Record For Apple


Turning the to the first page of a new calendar brought a sense of relief never felt before, considering all the lives lost to the pandemic. In the world of music alone, we lost such talents as John Prine, Mac Davis, Adam Schlessinger Joe Diffie and Charlie Daniles, to name just a few.

Music fans may have welcomed a new calendar with just as much relief back in 1971, relieved to bid goodbye to a year that had brought on the deaths of Jim Morrison of the Doors, Janis Joplin of Big Brother and the Holding Company, and guitar god Jimi Hendrix.

Those three comprise the most noteworthy, especially since each passed at just 27 years of age. Along with those deaths, the music world also lost Louis Armstrong at 69 and Duane Allman at 24.

Helping society to cope with those deaths, an abundance of new albums came out in 1971. The relatively new band Alice Cooper released two themselves, Love It To Death and Killer.

Here are twenty other notable albums turning fifty in 2021, most of them from artists who would eventually be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

1. Chicago III by Chicago

This double album would not produce anything nearly as enduring as “25 or Six to Four” from the previous record, but it does reveal an increasing comfort and confidence in the unique style of the septet.

2. Aqualung by Jethro Tull

“Sitting on a park bench” soon became a natural vocal image after the infectious guitar riff on the title track, which is almost as good as album mates “Locomotive Breath” and “Cross-Eyed Mary.”

3. Hunky Dory by David Bowie

Folk-rock is the genre for songs like “Changes” and “Kooks”, as well as two musical odes to Bob Dylan and Andy Warhol, while Ziggy Stardust was waiting in the wings with the Spiders from Mars.

4. Poems, Prayers, and Promises by John Denver

“Take Me Home, Country Roads” was the plea Denver turned into a gold record, while also scoring with album mate “Sunshine on My Shoulders.”

5. Sticky Fingers by the Rolling Stones

Female dogs, a helping of brown sugar, some wilted flowers and uncontrollable equines inspired some of the many hits from this album, almost as famous for its zipper cover as its tracks.

6. Ram by Paul McCartney

Mostly this album is remembered for its first single, “Admiral Halsey/Uncle Albert”, which unfortunately caused many radio stations to overlook the title track and the acoustic-based “Heart of the Country.”

7. Every Picture Tells a Story by Rod Stewart

Only eight tracks make up the entire record, but what an octet it is. “Maggie May” is of course its biggest hit, but along with it you can find “I'm Losing You” with the title track and a cover of Bob Dylan's “Tomorrow Is a Long Time.”

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8. Blue by Joni Mitchell

Anything but blue is how you feel when you hear this enduring album, containing “California”, “Carey” and “My Old Man.”

9. Stills 2 by Stephen Stills

Former Springfield guitarist revisits the band's “Bluebird” on his sophomore effort, which also spawns the catchy “Marianne” and the Dylanesque “Word Game.”

10. Every Good Boy Deserves Favour by the Moody Blues

Starting with the excellent “The Story in Your Eyes” this number one album moves flawlessly from track to track, hitting yet another peak with Ray Thomas's “Good To See You” on side two.

11. Who's Next by the Who

Not a single dud can be found on this eternal collection, beginning with “Baba O'Reilly”, ending with “Won't Get Fooled Again”, while packing in between “Behind Blue Eyes” and “Bargain.”

12. Imagine by John Lennon

“Crippled Inside” is a catchy political statement and “How Do You Sleep” is a dig at songwriting partner Paul McCartney, both of which are overshadowed by the beautiful title track.

13. Electric Warrior by T. Rex

Not only does this disc contain Marc Bolan's biggest single “Get It On”, but it also provides “Jeepster” and “Mambo Sun.”

14. Teaser and the Firecat by Cat Stevens

His follow up to Tea for the Tillerman gives us three huge hits, “Moonshadow”, “Morning Has Broken” and “Peace Train.”

15. American Pie by Don McLean

Aside from the epic title track, this record also charted with “Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)” and “Till Tomorrow.”

16. Meddle by Pink Floyd

Syd Barrett's influence was waning on this record, as the band can be heard preparing to develop the sound perfected on next release Dark Side of the Moon.

17. Madman Across the Water by Elton John

"Tiny Dancer" and "Levon" were the most enduring cuts on this album, whose title allegedly referred to U.S. President Richard Nixon.

18. Led Zeppelin IV by Led Zeppelin

Every track has become a rock classic, be it “Black Dog” or “Going to California” or “Rock and Roll”, but none is widely recognized as “Stairway To Heaven.”

19. Nilsson Schmilsson by Nilsson

“Without You” earned Nilsson his first Grammy Award, while other quality hits like “Coconut” and “Jump Into the Fire” represented the quirky and heavier sides of the talented tenor.

20. Straight Up by Badfinger

George Harrison and Todd Rundgren shared production credits for this second offering, so it is not surprising how good songs like “Baby Blue” and “Day After Day” sound.

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