What was the Greatest Year in Music? That’s the question at the center of this year’s installment of XPN’s annual countdown. This morning, Sleepy Hollow’s Keith Kelleher puts forth his case for 1971. Give us your thoughts in the comments, on Facebook, or across social media with #XPNGreatestYear and get your vote ready.

Why is 1971 the best year in Music? As someone said to me, “Well, it has to have the Beatles and Dylan in it…!” Not so! Even though the contributions of said artists are important, we had solo contributions from three of the four Beatles instead and there was even more going on in all genres like folk, country, jazz, singer-songwriter and of course rock.

Landmark albums for such important groups like the Rolling Stones, The Who and Led Zeppelin, along with the swan song of the Doors, put 1971 right in the forefront of great musical years. We had classic soul from Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers and The Stylistics. Gil Scott-Heron blazed The Revolution Will Not Be Televised to the distraught masses. Carole King and Joni Mitchell created the singer-songwriter genre with Tapestry and Blue, respectively. Isaac Hayes’s masterpiece Shaft and Earth, Wind & Fire’s debut got us funkin’ to the 70’s. The birth of glam was just starting with Bowie’s Hunky Dory and T. Rex’s Electric Warrior.

The “live album” concept became a cherished find with The Allman Bros at Filmore East and Aretha Live at Filmore West. Debuts by ZZ Top, The Doobie Bros, Little Feat, America, Nazareth, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Steve Winwood and Bonnie Raitt made it an epic year for new bands. The 70s erupted in 1971, giving the people of the era many ways to find meaning, love and purpose. Here are is a list of just some of the best picks of 1971:


Brown Sugar – The Rolling Stones
Won’t Get Fooled Again – The Who
Stairway To Heaven – Led Zeppelin
Changes – Bowie
Roundabout – Yes
Maggie May – Rod Stewart
Get It On – T. Rex
My Sweet Lord – George Harrison
Imagine – John Lennon
Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey – Paul McCartney
Family Affair – Sly/Family Stone
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised – Gil Scott-Heron
Me & Bobby McGee – Janis Joplin
What’s Going On? – Marvin Gaye
It’s Too Late – Carole King
Peace Train – Cat Stevens


Sticky Fingers – The Rolling Stones
Who’s Next – The Who
Led Zeppelin IV – Led Zeppelin
L.A. Woman – Doors
Imagine – John Lennon
Ram – Paul McCartney
Electric Warrior – T. Rex
What’s Going On? – Marvin Gaye
Tapestry – Carole King
Blue – Joni Mitchell
Shaft – Isaac Hayes
The London Howlin’ Wolf Sessions – Howlin’ Wolf
Houndog Taylor and the HouseRockers – Houndog Taylor
Van Morrison – Tupelo Honey
The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys – Traffic
Madman Across The Water – Elton John
Coat Of Many Colors – Dolly Parton
Aereo – Plain-John Hartford