1973’s Best Classic Rock Albums

1973's Best Classic Rock Albums

Photo credits at end of article

1973’s Best Classic Rock Albums list takes a look at what may be the greatest year in Classic Rock History. There are many that come close, especially 1971 and 1969, but no year before or after had the battle between The Who, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd like 1973 did. The year also saw the release of the album that had the longest run on the Billboard album charts in history. It also defined the debut albums by artists such a Aerosmith Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits, The Eagles, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Marshall Tucker Band and Queen. 1973’s rock album releases also presented rock fans with solo albums from all four Beatles. Fans also celebrated multiple album releases from such great artists as Yes, Elton John, Paul McCartney and David Bowie.

As members of the staff argued over which albums to include in the top 10, it became apparent that there was no way we could list just 10. There were just too many groundbreaking albums that have become all time classic rock records that had to be included. So for this year only, we expanded the top 10 to the top 40. Of course we have also included an additional list of all the great rock albums released in 1973 in chronological order.

Classic rock is defined by so many different genres of rock and roll music such as country rock, southern rock, hard rock, pop rock, progressive rock and all the other sub genres in between. The top 25 list below is represented by all those different styles. The diversity in musical tastes and the willingness of music fans to accept, celebrate, enjoy and purchase albums from all these different artists is what fueled the greatest decade of rock and roll music of all time.

# 40 – Wake of the FloodGrateful Dead

Wake of the Flood - Grateful Dead

# 39 – New York DollsNew York Dolls

New York Dolls debut album

# 38 – Berlin – Lou Reed

# 37 – Selling England by the PoundGenesis

Selling England by the Pound - Genesis

# 36 – A Passion PlayJethro Tull

A Passion Play - Jethro Tull

# 35 – Red Rose SpeedwayPaul McCartney and Wings

Red Rose Speedway - Paul McCartney and Wings

# 34 – There Goes Rhymin’ Simon – Paul Simon

There Goes Rhymin' Simon - Paul Simon

# 33 – For Your PleasureRoxy Music

For Your Pleasure - Roxy Music

# 32 – Larks’ Tongues in AspicKing Crimson

Larks' Tongues in Aspic - King Crimson

# 31 – Holland – The Beach Boys

Holland - The Beach Boys

# 30 – The Captain and MeThe Doobie Brothers

The Captain and Me - The Doobie Brothers

# 29 – DesperadoThe Eagles

Desperado - The Eagles

# 28 – YessongsYes

Yessongs - Yes

# 27 – Burnin’Bob Marley & The Wailers

Burnin' - Bob Marley & The Wailers

# 26 – InnervisionsStevie Wonder

Innervisions - Stevie Wonder

# 25 – Closing Time – Tom Waits

Closing Time - Tom Waits

# 24 – Bachman–Turner Overdrive II – Bachman–Turner Overdrive

Bachman–Turner Overdrive II - Bachman–Turner Overdrive

# 23 – Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano PlayerElton John

Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player - Elton John

# 22 – The Wild Innocent & The E Street Shuffle – Bruce Springsteen

The Wild Innocent & The E Street Shuffle - Bruce Springsteen

# 21 – Queen – Queen

Queen debut album

# 20 – Aladdin Sane  – David Bowie

Aladdin Sane  - David Bowie

# 19 – Living in the Material WorldGeorge Harrison

Living in the Material World - George Harrison

# 18 – (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd)Lynyrd Skynyrd

(Pronounced 'Lĕh-'nérd 'Skin-'nérd) - Lynyrd Skynyrd

# 17 – Billy Joel  – Billy Joel

Billy Joel debut album

# 16 – Raw PowerThe Stooges

Raw Power - The Stooges

# 15 – Countdown to Ecstasy  – Steely Dan

Countdown to Ecstasy  - Steely Dan

# 14 – Sabbath Bloody SabbathBlack Sabbath

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath - Black Sabbath

# 13 – Ringo – Ringo Starr

Ringo - Ringo Starr

# 12 – Goats Head SoupThe Rolling Stones

Goats Head Soup - The Rolling Stones

# 11 – Mind Games – John Lennon

Mind Games - John Lennon

# 10 – Aerosmith  – Aerosmith

Aerosmith’s great debut album was not much of a hit when it was first released. It was only after the success of Toys in the Attic that the public discovered this great record with the release of the single “Dream On.”

Aerosmith  debut album

#  9 – Brain Salad Surgery – Emerson Lake & Palmer

Welcome back my friends to one of the most smoking progressive rock albums ever released. Emerson Lake & Palmer tore it up on this classic record.

Brain Salad Surgery - Emerson Lake & Palmer

#  8 – We’re an American BandGrand Funk Railroad

There was a time when Grand Funk was the biggest band in the world. This album played a huge part in their popularity. Todd Rundgren’s brilliant production skills combined with the talents of this great band made for an album that became part of our daily lives in the 70s.

We're an American Band - Grand Funk Railroad

#  7 – Over-Nite SensationFrank Zappa

Put on the headphones and listen to this one. Frank Zappa’s brilliant album was a masterpiece in originality and genius. Just like almost any other Frank Zappa album.

Over-Nite Sensation - Frank Zappa

#  6 – Band On The Run – Paul McCartney & Wings

Paul McCartney’s greatest solo album was released in a year with fierce competition. Still, this one was almost never off our turntable in the 1970s.

Band On The Run - Paul McCartney & Wings

#  5 – Brothers and Sisters – The Allman Brothers Band

The first Allman Brothers Band album in the post Duane Allman period showcases Gregg Allman and Dickey Betts writing skills. The two men stepped up to the plate hitting how runs. Standout tracks included “Jessica, Rambling Man, Southbound and Wasted Words,”

Brothers and Sisters - The Allman Brothers Band

#  4 – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – Elton John

It’s hard to describe this Elton John album because it is so unbelievably good. This magical two record set was filled with huge hits and deep album tracks. Songs like “Bennie and the Jets, Candle In The Wind, Funeral For A Friend, Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting, Harmony, Grey Seal, Danny Bailey.”Unbelievable!

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road - Elton John

#  3 – QuadropheniaThe Who

This two record set stands as one of the best Who albums of all time. In our book its second to Who’s Next. The original album packaging with the huge booklet defined what the record buying experience was all about in the 1970s.

Quadrophenia - The Who

#  2 – Houses Of The Holy – Led Zeppelin

It’s tough not to list a Led Zeppelin album at number one, but a Dark Side of the Moon album only happens once in a lifetime. Nonetheless, Houses of the Holy has always been one of our favorite Led Zeppelin albums. You just don’t get tired of this one with songs like “Dancing Days, No Quarter, The Song Remains the Same, The Ocean, Over the Hills and Far Away, D’yer Mak’er and The Crunge.”

Houses Of The Holy - Led Zeppelin

#  1 – Dark Side Of The Moon – Pink Floyd

There was no doubt about this one. Pink Floyd’s legendary album Dark Side Of The Moon which stayed on the Billboard Top 100 album charts for fifteen straight years from 1973 to 1988. That’s a record that will never be broken.

Dark Side Of The Moon - Pink Floyd


More Fantastic Classic Rock Albums Released in 1973

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

Best Rock Albums – January 1973

Vagabonds of the Western WorldThin Lizzy

Fantasy – Carole King

The Six Wives of Henry VIIIRick Wakeman

GP – Gram Parsons

In ConcertDerek and the Dominos

Aquashow – Elliott Murphy

Best Rock Albums – February 1973

Tyranny and MutationBlue Öyster Cult

BlueprintRory Gallagher

For Real! – Ruben and the Jets

In the Right PlaceDr John

Camel – Camel

Shoot Out at the Fantasy FactoryTraffic

Best Rock Albums – March 1973

A Wizard, a True StarTodd Rundgren

Beck, Bogert & Appice – Beck, Bogert & Appice

Ooh La LaFaces

Looking Back – Leon Russell

PenguinFleetwood Mac

Raunch ‘N’ Roll Live – Black Oak Arkansas

Rock and Roll – Foghat

Rock On – David Essex

Still Alive and Well Johnny Winter

Best Rock Albums – April 1973

The Marshall Tucker BandThe Marshall Tucker Band

Diamond GirlSeals and Crofts

Best Rock Albums – May 1973

Space RitualHawkwind

Bachman–Turner OverdriveBachman Turner Overdrive

Flying TeapotGong


You Broke My Heart So I Busted Your Jaw – Spooky Tooth

Best Rock Albums – June 1973

The Smoker You Drink, the Player You GetJoe Walsh

Chicago VIChicago

Best Rock Albums – July 1973

Life and Times  – Jim Croce

Love Devotion Surrender – Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin

Tres Hombres –  ZZ Top

BerlinLou Reed

10cc – 10cc

Whatever Turns You On –  – West, Bruce and Laing

Best Rock Albums – August 197

Sing It Again RodRod Stewart

Future DaysCan

Maria MuldaurMaria Muldaur

Yeah!Brownsville Station

Best Rock Albums – September 1973

Eric Clapton’s Rainbow ConcertEric Clapton

High on the HogBlack Oak Arkansas

Don’t Cry NowLinda Ronstadt

Ten Years Are GoneJohn Mayall

Best Rock Albums – October 1973

For Girls Who Grow Plump in the NightCaravan

Moondog MatineeThe Band

Mystery to MeFleetwood Mac


Hat TrickAmerica

Frampton’s CamelPeter Frampton

The Adventures of Panama RedNew Riders of the Purple Sage

All American BoyRick Derringer

Ashes Are Burning Renaissance

For EverymanJackson Browne

Full SailLoggins and Messina

The JokerSteve Miller Band

Takin’ My TimeBonnie Raitt

Best Rock Albums – November 1973

StrandedRoxy Music

Ringo – Ringo Starr

Abandoned LuncheonetteHall & Oates

Welcome  – Santana

TattooRory Gallagher

Muscle of LoveAlice Cooper

Best Rock Albums – December 1973

I Got a Name Jim Croce

Short StoriesHarry Chapin

Tales from Topographic OceansYes

Ridin’ the Storm OutREO Speedwagon

Fantasy – Carole King

PHOTO CREDITS for feature photo

The Who – Jean-Luc [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]

Jimmy Page – Heinrich Klaffs [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]

Pink Floyd Members – Capitol Records [Public domain] Via Creative Commons

Updated May 8, 2023

1973’s Best Classic Rock Albums  article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023

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