Our list of 1972's Best Rock Albums illustrates just how fickle fates often are. Some bands were in ascension, while others found themselves at the end of stirring runs. Some were experiencing career pinnacles, even as others completely fell apart. Yet, over the course of a strikingly diverse 12-month period, each somehow hit upon just the right mixture of creativity, gumption and timing.

There were the Rolling Stones, who completed a four-album streak that stands as one of the most amazing in rock history. Elsewhere, groups like the Allman Brothers Band, Yes and the Beach Boys saw their lineups begin to change dramatically. Each one uniformly led to career-shifting studio projects. Paul Simon, Steely Dan and Roxy Music officially began their well-regarded careers, while acts like Pete Townshend and Dr. John took loving looks back. Neil Young put out a signature album as the Jeff Beck Group disintegrated.

For others, 1972 brought subtler, though no less significant, changes. Pink Floyd continued their transitional journey toward The Dark Side of the Moon, and Ted Templeman began work with both Little Feat and Captain Beefheart (no kidding). Chicago finally issued a single-disc release – on their fifth try – while Funkadelic opted to put out a double album for the first time.

John Lennon got political, Black Sabbath got stoned and David Bowie got glammed up. But which one topped our list of 1972's Best Rock Albums? Click through the above gallery to find out.