The year 1974 brought about a number of noteworthy debuts, shifts in creative direction, inspirations, reunifications and more.

It saw the introduction of bands like Kiss, Judas Priest and Bad Company, all of whom released their very first albums.

"We were bursting at the seams to get into the recording studio," Paul Rodgers of Bad Company would later say of making their first LP. "Led Zeppelin had a mobile studio together at Headley Grange all ready to go...We steamed in and put the entire album down. Headley Grange was very atmospheric."

There were also some welcome reunions: Bob Dylan teamed back up with the Band for not only a studio album, but a tour, too. "It wasn't tremendously different from what we did years before," Robbie Robertson explained to Rolling Stone in 2020. "There was an eight-year gap, and the passion in the music wasn't tremendously different. But now, we could play as hard as we wanted, and nobody could dare say anything."

Some releases — from seasoned veterans in the studio — were met with mixed criticism. John Lennon's fifth solo album, Walls and Bridges, did well on the charts but was relatively unimpressive to critics.

"Praise is never satisfactory unless you can be sure the person has actually listened to your work and knows it inside out," Lennon told NME that year. "I'm not saying people should spend their lives making in-depth appraisals of me albums – but praise, or the other thing, doesn't count for much unless they've take the time to understand what you're doing."

The possibilities were seemingly endless, but below we're taking a look at the Top 50 Albums of 1974, as voted by UCR staff.

Top 50 Albums of 1974

Artists like Kiss and Judas Priest made their grand entrances into the world, while experts like David Bowie and the Rolling Stones pushed onward. 

Gallery Credit: Allison Rapp

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