1971’s Best Classic Rock Albums

1971's Best Classic Rock AlbumsOur 1971’s Best Classic Rock Albums article takes a look at one of the most spectacular years in classic rock history. Historic rock bands like Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones and The Who put out what many feel were the best albums of their careers. Thousands of great rock records were released with hundreds of them standing the test of time. It was extremely difficult to put together a top 25 list for the year 1971. There was absolutely no way we could just pick 25. In this article we have included our 25 favorites along with the best of the rest. We take a look at every month of the year in 1971 and choose the best and most legendary releases that came out in each particular month.

# 25 –Every Good Boy Deserves FavourThe Moody Blues

Every Good Boy Deserves Favour - The Moody Blues

# 24 – Meddle – Pink Floyd

Meddle - Pink Floyd

# 23 – Tupelo HoneyVan Morrison

Tupelo Honey - Van Morrison

# 22 – Leon Russell and the Shelter PeopleLeon Russell

Leon Russell and the Shelter People - Leon Russell

# 21 – Hunky DoryDavid Bowie

Hunky Dory - David Bowie

# 20 – Ram – Paul McCartney

Ram - Paul McCartney

# 19 – CahootsThe Band

Cahoots - The Band

# 18 – What’s Going OnMarvin Gaye

What's Going On - Marvin Gaye

# 17 – Every Picture Tells a Story Rod Stewart

Every Picture Tells a Story - Rod Stewart

# 16 – Master of RealityBlack Sabbath

Master of Reality - Black Sabbath

# 15 – Pictures at an ExhibitionEmerson, Lake & Palmer

Pictures at an Exhibition - Emerson, Lake & Palmer

# 14 – L.A. WomanThe Doors

L.A. Woman - The Doors

# 13 – The Yes Album – Yes

The Yes Album - Yes

# 12 – Electric WarriorT. Rex

Electric Warrior - T. Rex

# 11 – Tapestry – Carole King

Tapestry - Carole King

# 10 – Pearl – Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin’s posthumous release defines what a brilliant talent she was, and how much we all lost with her passing.

Pearl - Janis Joplin

#  9 – Aqualung – Jethro Tull

This legendary Jethro Tull album was an easy shoo-in for our top 10 section of our 1971’s Best Classic Rock Albums list. It was the band’s fourth album. Standout tracks included the title cut “Aqualung,” and the iconic song “Locomotive Breath.”

Aqualung - Jethro Tull

#  8 – Madman Across The Water – Elton John

Elton John’s landmark LP Madman Across The Water contained the songs “Levon,” and “Tiny Dancer.” For just those two alone it would have made this top 10. However, the rest of the album was just as brilliant.

Madman Across The Water - Elton John

#  7 – Blue – Joni Mitchell

Most Joni Mitchell fans claim the Blue album as her most wonderful work. We agree with that opinion. Joni Mitchell’s Blue has been cited by so many rock and jazz artists as one of the most inspirational albums ever released.

Blue - Joni Mitchell

#  6 – At Fillmore EastThe Allman Brothers Band

One of the greatest live albums of all time. Live At The Fillmore East has been re-released so many times because the performances the band put on at the Fillmore East are of legend.

At Fillmore East - The Allman Brothers Band

#  5 – Fragile – Yes

“Roundabout,” “Long Distance Runaround,” and so many more great tracks. Radio friendly progressive rock written and performed by talent off the charts. An incredible album from the incredible band Yes.

Fragile - Yes

#  4 – Imagine  – John Lennon

If there was ever one song written that could change the world it was John Lennon’s “Imagine.” His greatest solo song is taken from his greatest solo album entitled Imagine.

Imagine  - John Lennon

#  3 – Sticky Fingers – The Rolling Stones

Three of the greatest rock and roll bands of all time released what many people believe were their greatest albums ever released all in the same year. It’s tough to choose the best Rolling Stones album ever, but Sticky Fingers just may be it.

Sticky Fingers - The Rolling Stones

#  2 – Who’s Next – The Who

The Who released many great records throughout their career but there’s no doubt that Who’s Next was their finest work. The album presented rock fans with two of the greatest rock and roll songs ever recorded in “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” and “Baba O’ Riley.”

Who's Next - The Who

#  1 – Led Zeppelin IV – Led Zeppelin

There was no doubt that we would choose this legendary Led Zeppelin album for our number one spot on our 1971’s Best Classic Rock Albums list. We will give you eight amazing reasons why. Number 1. Black Dog, 2. Rock and Roll, 3. The Battle of Evermore, 4. Stairway To Heaven, 5. Misty Mountain Hop, 6. Four Sticks, 7. Going To California, 8. When the Levee Breaks. Need more reasons? Okay here’s four more. 1. Robert Plant, 2. Jimmy Page, 3. John Bonham. 4. John Paul Jones. I think we have made our point

Led Zeppelin IV - Led Zeppelin

More Fantastic Classic Rock Albums Released in 1971

These are listed in chronological order in which they came out throughout the year

Best Rock Albums – January 1971

Chicago IIIChicago

Hooker ‘n HeatJohn Lee Hooker and Canned Heat

Little Feat – Little Feat 

Nantucket Sleighride Mountain

You’re Not Alone – Dion

Best Rock Albums – February 1971

Carly Simon – Carly Simon

If I Could Only Remember My NameDavid Crosby

Crazy Horse – Crazy Horse

Long Player – Faces

Best Rock Albums – March 1971

Search and Nearness – The Rascals

Love It To Death – Alice Cooper

Mud Slide Slim and the Blue HorizonJames Taylor

Songs of Love and HateLeonard Cohen

Percy – The Kinks

Back to the Roots  – John Mayall

Black Oak ArkansasBlack Oak Arkansas

Rock On – Humble Pie

Wildlife – Mott the Hoople

Best Rock Albums – April 1971

4 Way StreetCrosby, Stills, Nash & Young

In the Land of Grey and PinkCaravan

Thin LizzyThin Lizzy

Bloodrock 3 – Bloodrock

The Doobie BrothersThe Doobie Brothers

Mirror ManCaptain Beefheart & his Magic Band

SurvivalGrand Funk Railroad

ThirdsJames Gang

Best Rock Albums – May 1971

Peaceful WorldThe Rascals

Smash Your Head Against the Wall – John Entwistle

Rory GallagherRory Gallagher

Summer Side of LifeGordon Lightfoot

Live Johnny Winter And Johnny Winter

Man in BlackJohnny Cash

Just as I AmBill Withers

Stephen Stills 2Stephen Stills 

Best Rock Albums – June 1971

TarkusEmerson, Lake & Palmer

Best Rock Albums – July 1971

High TimeMC5

Acquiring the TasteGentle Giant

FireballDeep Purple

Best Rock Albums – August 1971

Fillmore East – June 1971 – The Mothers of Invention

New Riders of the Purple SageNew Riders of the Purple Sage

A Space in TimeTen Years After

Best Rock Albums – September 1971

Future GamesFleetwood Mac

Second AlbumCurved Air

Harmony – Three Dog Night

Best Rock Albums – October 1971

Teaser and the FirecatCat Stevens

200 Motels Frank Zappa

Distant Light – The Hollies

In Search of SpaceHawkwind

American PieDon McLean

Chicago at Carnegie HallChicago

Rough and Ready – The Jeff Beck Group

Best Rock Albums – November 1971

Nursery CrymeGenesis

Gonna Take a MiracleLaura Nyro

There’s a Riot Goin’ OnSly & the Family Stone

Killer – Alice Cooper

Deuce – Rory Gallagher

All Day Music – War

AnticipationCarly Simon

Bonnie RaittBonnie Raitt

E Pluribus FunkGrand Funk Railroad

For Ladies OnlySteppenwolf

The Low Spark of High Heeled BoysTraffic

Nilsson SchmilssonHarry Nilsson

Best Rock Albums – December 1971

Islands – King Crimson

Wild LifeWings

Straight UpBadfinger

The Concert for BangladeshGeorge Harrison and Friends


The Electric Light OrchestraThe Electric Light Orchestra

This list is dedicated to one of our loyal readers Mr. Joe Tocci who graduated from High School in 1971 and then went on to serve his country by joining the Navy.

Updated May 8, 2023

1971’s Best Classic Rock Albums article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023

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