Heavy Before Metal: Which Classic Hard Rock Albums Are Turning 40 In 2014?

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    [Photo: Island / Mercury]

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  • Deep-Purple-Stormbringer

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Last month we told you about 30 Classic Heavy Metal Albums That Are Turning 30 in 2014. Today we go deeper into the history of the loudest genre in music and count down 29 classic hard rock albums that are celebrating their 40th anniversary this year. In many ways 1974 was the first year of the ’70s proper. The peace and love aesthetic and musical experimentation of the 1960’s was a fading memory and a whole new generation of kids were ready to party down to the harder rocking sounds that would evolve into full-tilt heavy metal by decade’s end.

While proto-metal icons Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath sat the year out, fellow travelers Deep Purple came back with a bang. New recruits David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes cemented the Mach III lineup of the band and issued not one but two incendiary albums, Burn and Stormbringer, in less than a 12-month span. Other veteran bands making their mark in 1974 included Blue Oyster Cult, whose Secret Treaties continued their classic era, and Welsh riff-merchants Budgie, whose fourth album, In for the Kill, included the metal standard “Crash Course in Brain Surgery,” later covered by Metallica.

“Seasons Of Wither” off Aerosmith’s Get Your Wings album is just one of the classic hard rock songs the world first heard in 1974.

Deep Purple’s “Mach III” line-up issued two incendiary albums in 1974, ’Burn’ and ’Stormbringer.’

The real story of hard rock in 1974 however, wasn’t about already-established acts but about the hungry, new bands that were still making their bones and would shape the heavy metal genre in the years to come. Kiss, Rush, Judas Priest and Bad Company all issued their debut long players and while most would refine their sound on subsequent releases, each displayed a unique take on previous hard rock influences. Meanwhile, Aerosmith and The New York Dolls issued their sophomore efforts, but whereas the Boston boys moved from strength to strength, The Dolls record would be their last gasp. And while Thin Lizzy, Scorpions and UFO weren’t new bands, their albums from 1974 had an authority and codified personality previous records hadn’t which they would build upon on subsequent releases throughout the ’70s.

Kiss made their recording debut in 1974 with their self-titled album which featured the concert standard “Strutter.”

Heavy metal as we now know it might not have been fully formed in 1974 but the albums of that year had an undeniable influence on the genre’s future evolution. The theatricality and loud, bashed out chords of English groups like Slade and The Sweet would shape all future glam, and a hell of a lot of punk rock, to come. The sweaty cock rock of Bad Company and Montrose would provide the blueprint Van Halen would later use to build a multi-platinum career. Many of the guitar heroes of the 1980s, particularly those in the thrash metal scene, would spend countless hours copying the solos of UFO’s Michael Schenker and fellow German Uli Jon Roth of Scorpions. Check out 40 classic hard rock albums of 1974 that are celebrating their 40th anniversaries this year and do yourself a favor and pick these records up if you don’t already have them and catch a sheer heart attack from these hotter than hell rock jams.