5 Great Albums Released 50 Years Ago This Month

The year 1974 proved to be a pretty massive time in rock and pop music history in general. But May of that year deserves special acclaim for all the classic albums that emerged in that month. For whatever reason, the collective creative juices of the music world were truly flowing at that time.

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The following are five killer albums released in May 1974. Read on and prepare to be amazed at the musical greatness of 50 years ago this month.

Diamond Dogs by David Bowie

This album can sometimes get overlooked in the Bowie catalog, perhaps because it didn’t come attached to a broader concept or arrive at one of those distinctive periods in his career (like the Berlin trilogy). But then you listen to Diamond Dogs and you realize there’s hardly a moment on the album that’s anything less than captivating. It’s wild to hear Bowie toggle between moods on this record. The title track and “Rebel Rebel” are as energetic and fun as anything in his catalog, but they’re sharply contrasted by the dark declarations of “1984” and “Big Brother.”

Bad Company by Bad Company

Led Zeppelin scored a vanity label in the ‘70s, and then mostly neglected it while they tended to their own business. But they did manage to sign up Bad Company, so the whole enterprise was more than worth it. A supergroup of sorts, this quartet hit the ground running with their debut. Look through the list of songs on this album and you’ll find several classic-rock evergreens: “Can’t Get Enough,” “Rock Steady,” “Ready for Love,” “Bad Company,” and “Movin’ On.” Considering there are only eight songs on the record, that’s a mighty impressive batting average.

Too Much Too Soon by New York Dolls

The album title proved prophetic, as it wasn’t all that long after this album arrived that this legendary but short-lived band imploded. Too Much Too Soon goes down as their masterpiece in their short time together with the original lineup. Some might favor the debut, which was punkier and messier. But Too Much Too Soon adds just enough polish to let all the elements be heard in clearer relief. Whether taking on one of their bratty, innuendo-laced originals or putting a stamp on an older chestnut, the Dolls make a gloriously messy noise.

Mr. Natural by the Bee Gees

We don’t really think of the Brothers Gibb as album artists; instead, their LPs are judged based on the singles contained on them. Maybe that’s why Mr. Natural is somewhat forgotten, as there weren’t any smash hits on it. That’s more a byproduct of the Bee Gees being at an ebb in their popularity at the time rather than having anything to do with the quality of the material. In actuality, the music here is strong, often influenced by the Philly Soul sounds of the era. Dive deep into this one and prepare to be entranced by the lush pop of songs like the title track and “Had a Lot of Love Last Night.”

Sheet Music by 10cc

These Brits were blessed with four excellent songwriters, and Sheet Music was the first album where those writers weren’t sequestered into their usual duos. That helped the band stave off the doldrums and deliver one of the finest albums in their catalog. As usual, they weren’t afraid to display their sense of humor, such as on “The Worst Band in the World.” But these guys also had a knack for melody that set them apart from many of their peers, and they often deployed those melodies to deliver pointed messages, as on “The Wall Street Shuffle.”

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