1976-List

1976 Classic Rock Reviews
1976 Images
With the golden age of classic rock winding down and the advent of new styles such as punk and new wave, 1976 was a transitional year with much diversity in styles and forms. While the English rock bands that dominated the early seventies such as Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, and The Who were still around and going strong, a crop of new North American bands such as Aerosmith, Boston, Kiss, and Rush were fast establishing themselves at the forefront of rock.

We featured albums from the year 1976 during November and December 2011. During that 35th anniversary celebration of this music, we originally reviewed 16 albums:

* 1976 Album of the Year
+ Double album review

Below are further descriptions of each album, in the order that we reviewed.

November 2, 2011
Rocks by AerosmithThe fourth of four great albums by Aerosmith to launch their career, Rocks is a most aptly named effort with a pure, raw rock band. The album was a commercial success which would become a great influence on the prolific hard rock and heavy metal sound through the upcoming decade and a half.

Review of Rocks

November 9, 2011
A Trick Of the Tail and Wind & Wuthering by GenesisGenesis had a short and largely forgotten era between the departure of Peter Gabriel and their evolution into a hit-making pop band. The band put out two albums in 1976 with sounds that almost straddle both the past and future of this ever evolving band.

Review of A Trick Of the Tail and Wind & Wuthering

November 14, 2011
2112 by RushWith pressure from their record company to deliver a more commercially appealing rock album, Rush decided to double down and make the album that THEY wanted to make as a band. The result was both a commercial and artistic breakthrough with 2112.

Review of 2112

November 20, 2011
Turnstiles by Billy JoelTurnstiles was, in a lot of ways, a “growing up” album for Billy Joel as he returned to New York from his exile in California, formed a more permanent band, and took over as producer. The songs are all deeply reflective and somewhat nostalgic, yet very diverse and entertaining, making this album his most cohesive ever.

Review of Turnstiles

November 24, 2011
Presence by Led Zeppelin When vocalist Robert Plant was confined to a wheelchair following a serious car accident, Led Zeppelin decided to write and record a new “unplanned” album, resulting in Presence. Although it was the group’s least successful album commercially, it was one one of their most important internally and it still sounds great four decades later.

Review of Presence

November 30, 2011
A New World Record by ELOThe Electric Light Orchestra reached the pinnacle of their creative and commercial success with A New World Record in 1976. The album fused their classical music elements with solid and accessible pop rock to make a very memorable and enjoyable album.

Review of A New World Record

December 4, 2011
Night Moves by Bob SegerAfter a decade and a half of cutting his teeth with various groups and solo projects, Bob Seger finally made his commercial breakthrough after forming the Silver Bullet Band. Night Moves was the first of a string of blockbuster albums.

Review of Night Moves

December 9, 2011
The Pretender by Jackson BrowneFinding one’s way through darkness and heartbreak in life is the universal theme that gives The Pretender its staying power. This fourth album by Jackson Browne was written and produced in the wake of a personal tragedy of the highest degree.

Review of The Pretender

December 12, 2011
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap by AC/DC Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap hits a unique groove like no other work in the rock n roll era. Still, the AC/DC album was curiously not released in the U.S. until nearly five years after its production in 1976, and a year after the death of lead singer Bon Scott.

Review of Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

December 14, 2011
Hejira by Joni MitchellThe songs on Hejira were written by Joni Mitchell on a solo drive from Maine to her home in Los Angeles. The underlying theme of the album is set in the music itself, which capture the constant motion of the road and scenary. It is the languid occupation of the driver’s seat while all the “action” takes place within the mind.

Review of Hejira

December 17, 2011
Leftoverture by KansasAs I listened extensively to Leftoverture while preparing for this review, I came to appreciate just how talented the band Kansas was. But to read other popular critical reviews, you’d think they were inflated beyond their musical ability. Why?

Review of Leftoverture

December 19, 2011
Songs In the Key of Life by Stevie Wonder The incredibly long and ambitious Songs In the Key of Life became the tour-de-force of Stevie Wonder‘s prolific career. The songs are richly arranged and deel with a variety of subjects and the musical performances are considered some of the best of his career.

Review of Songs in the Key of Life

December 22, 2011
Dreamboat Annie by Heart At the time Dreamboat Annie was released in the mid 1970s, there were very few women who performed and recorded the assertive rock that Heart had developed. Lead by singer Ann Wilson and her younger sister, guitarist and songwriter Nancy Wilson, the band developed something unapologetically strong and original.

Review of Dreamboat Annie

December 23, 2011
Destroyer by KissOn the brink of mainstream success, Kiss set out to create a serious studio album by enlisting Alice Cooper’s producer Bob Ezrin for the band’s fourth album. The result was Destroyer, an album with richer production and instrumentation than the previous efforts, which were exlusively the base, party-rock sound.

Review of Destroyer

December 26, 2011
Hotel California by The Eagles Hotel California was a quasi-concept album by The Eagles, with the songs each loosely touching on the theme of paradise lost or squandered. This fifth album by the band was transitional in several ways and would go on to be their signature piece.

Review of Hotel California

December 29, 2011
Boston, 1976 Album of the Year
Originally, Boston was not so much a band as a solo project by engineer and multi-instrumentalist Tom Scholz along with vocalist Brad Delp. Over the course of seven years, Sholz made the demos at home which would ultimately be forged into one of the most impressive debut albums in rock history.

Review of Boston

March 26, 2016
Jailbreak by Thin LizzyThin Lizzy released their exceptional, breakthrough album in 1976 with Jailbreak. This record saw the full maturation of the group’s trademark twin-guitar attack, fueled by tight and excellent compositions.

Review of Jailbreak

May 25, 2016
Agents of Fortune by Blue Oyster CultThe best selling record by the band, Agents of Fortune is a solid record for Blue Oyster Cult, as it slightly pivots from the band’s earliest sound and towards a more modern sound driven by restless inspiration.

Review of Agents of Fortune

June 12, 2016
Fly Like an Eagle by Steve Miller BandThe commercially successful Fly Like An Eagle saw the full realization of the definitive space blues sound by the Steve Miller Band. With strong compositions and innovative, atmospheric production, Miller and the band forged a distinctive sound for the late seventies.

Review of Fly Like An Eagle

December 4, 2016
Rainbow RisingThe second release by Rainbow is considered by many to be their best overall album. Rising features a powerful new lineup, uniformly strong material and outstanding musical and vocal performances throughout.

Review of Rainbow Rising

December 23, 2016
Station to Station by David BowieOn Station to Station, David Bowie evolved his pop soul sound in a transitional album that begins his migration towards synth art-pop. The result is an impressive and exquisite sound which goes down as a high mark in a very substantive career.

Review of Station to Station

Final 1976 Poll Results
Q: What is the best album of 1976?

1 Rocks by Aerosmith 27.2%
2 Boston by Boston 23.7%
3 2112 by Rush 19.7%
4 Hotel California by The Eagles 17.1%
5 Songs In the Key of Life by
Stevie Wonder
12.3%

Conducted on our site, November-December, 2011

Other 1976 Albums of Note

1976 included many fine releases that we were unfortunately unable to review. These included Boz Scagg‘s Lowdown, the concept album Too old to Rock and Roll, Too Young to Die by Jethro Tull, Crystal Ball by Styx, Al Stewart‘s Year of the Cat and many more fine studio albums. 1976 was also a great year for live albums, as we profiled in our recent Special Feature on the Live Album.

Please check out some of these fine works and support Classic Rock Review by clicking through and purchasing any album you please.

Crystal Ball by Styx Lowdown by Boz Scaggs Too Old to Rock n Roll Too Young to Die by Jethro Tull Desire by Bob Dylan The Royal Scam by Steely Dan How Dare You by 10cc Run With the Pack by Bad Company Schoolboys in Disgrace by The Kinks Wings At the Speed of Sound Close Enough For Rock n Roll by Nazareth Rising by Rainbow Year of the Cat by Al Stewart A Day at the Races by Queen Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Alan Parsons Project Thirty Three and 1/3 by George Harrison The Roaring Silence by Manfred Mann's Earth Band
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