20 Landmark Albums Turning 50 in 2023

Little did artists know then, but the year 1973 would give birth to some of modern day’s most influential works. It was a year that saw unprecedented amounts of experimental prog-rock releases, impressive debuts, unforgettable follow-ups, and overall landmark albums.

Videos by American Songwriter

Now, those albums are celebrating their golden anniversary. Here are 20 albums turning 50 in 2023.

1. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – Elton John

Released: October 1973

Elton John’s seventh album is widely regarded as his magnum opus. The 17-track Goodbye Yellow Brick Road contains nothing but hits, including the spine-tingling “Candle in the Wind,” the infectious “Bennie and the Jets,” and the raucous “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting.”

2. The Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd

Released: March 1973

Arguably Pink Floyd’s most famed album, The Dark Side of the Moon is one of their complex and heady concept albums that will always be a crowd pleaser. The work, as a whole, makes for a well-rounded listen, but also contains equally incredible standalone tracks like “Money” and “Breathe.”

3. Let’s Get it On – Marvin Gaye

Released: August 1973

With the title track, “Come Get to This,” and “You Sure Love to Ball,” Marvin Gaye’s sexually charged thirteenth album, Let’s Get it On, will forever be a classic. Artists have tried and tried again to mimic the smooth soul, irresistible funk, and untouchable cool that punctuate the album.

4. Band on the Run – Wings

Released: December 1973

The third studio album of Wings is a monster of an album that further cemented Paul McCartney’s talents outside of The Beatles. Containing classics like the title track, “Mamunia,” and “Jet,” Band on the Run was, and is still today, a triumph.

5. Aladdin Sane – David Bowie

Released: April 1973

With its tough, raunchy glam rock sound, Aladdin Sane introduced the world to another of David Bowie’s onstage personas and a plethora of off-the-wall hits, including “The Jean Genie,” “Panic in Detroit,” and a Bowie-fied rendition of The Rolling Stones’ “Let’s Spend the Night Together.”

6. Quadrophenia – The Who

Released: October 1973

The Who’s sixth album, and third rock opera, Quadrophenia, has a whirlwind of a narrative, but a killer tracklist over the course of the double album.

7. Aerosmith – Aerosmith

Released: January 1973

Aerosmith released their self-titled duet album 50 years ago. A heavy-hitting first for the band, Aerosmith features their iconic “Dream On,” but it was not an immediate success.

8. Houses of the Holy – Led Zeppelin

Released: March 1973

Led Zeppelin’s fifth studio album, Houses of the Holy, shows a more sophisticated style of the legendary British rockers. The hit-filled release includes “The Song Remains the Same,” “The Rain Song,” “No Quarter,” and “Over the Hills and Far Away.”

9. Raw Power – The Stooges

Released: February 1973

An album that has reportedly inspired the sounds of Johnny Marr, Kurt Cobain, and so many more rockers, The Stooges iconic Raw Power is reaching a milestone this year. While Raw Power harbors hits like the title track and “Search and Destroy,” the album was initially only revered as a cult success.

10. Piano Man – Billy Joel

Released: November 1973

A killer of a sophomore album, Billy Joel’s Piano Man is an album to build a legacy upon. It is a work best known for its irresistibly singable title track, but is also home to “Worse Comes to Worse,” “Travelin’ Prayer,” and “The Ballad of Billy the Kid.”

11. Closing Time – Tom Waits

Released: March 1973

Tom Waits’ Closing Time is a debut all other debuts should envy. The entire album is made up of hit after hit –”Ol’ ’55,” “I Hope That I Don’t Fall in Love with You,” “Old Shoes (& Picture Postcards),” and “Martha” to name a few.

12. Queen – Queen

Released: July 1973

“Keep Yourself Alive”, “The Night Comes Down”, “Great King Rat”, “Jesus”, and “Liar” make up just a few of the bombastic hits on another enviable debut. Queen’s self-titled first album was 38 minutes of pure rock ecstasy.

13. Desperado – Eagles

Released: April 1973

The Eagles’ sophomore release is one for the books. “Desperado” is not just the name of one of their most enduring songs, but it’s an album that harbors innumerable classics from “Doolin’ Dalton” to “Tequila Sunrise.”

14. Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. – Bruce Springsteen

Released: January 1973

Bruce Springsteen’s debut, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., is an impressive one. With hits like “Blinded by the Light” and “Spirit in the Night,” his first album intruded the world to Springsteen, and Springsteen to the world, in style.

15. New York Dolls – New York Dolls

Release: July 1973

The Todd Rundgren-produced New York Dolls was the debut of the glam rockers of the same name. It is an album that has inspired many disenfranchised youths with its nitty-gritty, hard-driving brand of rock.

16. The Joker – Steve Miller Band

Released: October 1973

The eighth studio album by Steve Miller Band, The Joker, is not the most popular, but it is still no joke of an album. A release that harbors bright, fun songs, The Joker is made most iconic by its title track, “The Lovin’ Cup,” and “Mary Lou.”

17. Tres Hombres – ZZ Top

Released: July 1973

An album hot with hell-raising southern rock sounds, ZZ Top’s third album, Tres Hombres, marked the band’s breakthrough. The release is a seamless one, housing classics like “La Grange,” “Waitin’ for the Bus,” and “Jesus Just Left Chicago.”

18. Ooh La La – Faces

Released: March 1973

An album made amid the tension of Rod Stewart’s solo successes, Ooh La La, was still a major win for Faces. Their fourth studio album is best known for its title track, but also contains some deep cuts and B-side bangers.

19. Berlin – Lou Reed

Released: October 1973

Lou Reed’s third solo studio album, Berlin, was originally declared a critical disaster, but look at it now. A concept album drenched in hard truths and bleak realism, Berlin is quintessentially Lou Reed.

20. For Your Pleasure – Roxy Music

Released: March 1973

The sophomore album of art rock band Roxy Music, For Your Pleasure received generally mixed reviews upon its release, but was deemed a masterpiece among other circles. Their last album to showcase Brian Eno’s synthetic stylings, For Your Pleasure is a momentous record for the band.

Photo by Doug McKenzie/Getty Images

One Comment

Leave a Reply
  1. Tragic that no women were releasing albums in 1973. I can’t recall… Was there a chromosome plague? This list is either tone deaf or “somethings never change”.

Leave a Reply

Paul McCartney, Elton John, Barbra Streisand, and More Pay Tribute to Barbara Walters