25 Best Hard Rock Albums You’ve (Probably) Never Heard

These Hidden Masterpieces From Hard Rock’s Golden Decade (1967-1977) Can Make Today’s Chart Toppers Sound Like Kittens!

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Baker Gurvitz Army Elysian Encounter

Baker Gurvitz Army - Elysian Encounter

Formed by the brothers Gurvitz (ex-Gun and Three Man Army) and drum virtuoso Ginger Baker (ex-Cream and Blind Faith), Baker Gurvitz Army recorded some of the finest British Rock music of the ’70s. The recording of Elysian Encounter saw the band expanded with the addition of vocalist Mr. Snips (Steve Parsons) and keyboard player Peter Lemer. Arguably their finest work.

Josefus Dead man

Josefus - Dead Man

One of the great lost albums of Southern hard rock, Dead Man was the 1970 debut album of the Houston band, Josefus. Formed in 1969, Josefus soon garnered a huge live following, opening for acts like ZZ Top and Grand Funk Railroad. Unfortunately, their debut album, a heavy mix of Zeppelin-inspired acid rock with a Southern twist, was destined to obscurity, due largely to the fact that it was not released on a proper label (the band actually paid to have the album pressed and released on their own ‘Hookah’ label).

Amboy Dukes - Journey to the Center of the Mind

Amboy Dukes - Journey to the Center of the Mind

Detroit’s Amboy Dukes will always be remembered for this sensational 1968 acid-heavy-classic, as well as introducing the world to “the Motor City Madman”, guitarist Ted Nugent. Besides the homonymous hit single, Journey to the Center of the Mind is a prime example of raw, blues soaked rockers with surprisingly good songwriting skills. Though drug connotations are obvious, the notoriously anti-drug Nugent claimed to be unaware of them: “I thought, good idea, journey to the center of your mind…good idea, a person should always reflect.”

Leaf Hound ‎Growers Of Mushroom

Leaf Hound ‎- Growers Of Mushroom

One of the most talked about and sought after albums of ’70s, Growers Of Mushroom has been hailed by many critics as a Heavy Rock classic. Leaf Hound was put together by vocalist Peter French and guitarist Mick Halls who produced a mature sound, based on their previous experience with Black Cat Bones. The album was recorded in a London studio in an eleven hour session(!) that produced nine classic tracks with the archetypal howling vocals and razor sharp guitar found in early Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.

Sir Lord Baltimore Kingdom Come

Sir Lord Baltimore - Kingdom Come

Sir Lord Baltimore is a Long Island trio that could tremble the ground tread upon by Black Sabbath, heavier portions of Led Zeppelin, Uriah Heep, and In Rock-era Deep Purple and is probably the only reason SLB are uttered in the same breath as these immortals. You can hear ruthless riffs, amazing solos, aggressive and fast drumming and a very competent bass. Kingdom Come is arguably one of the heaviest albums of the 70’s. Sometimes is even hard to believe this was released in 1970, it sounds so ahead of its time.

armageddon 1975

Armageddon - Armageddon

A supergroup of sorts, albeit sadly very short-lived. The band was formed by bassist Loui Cennamo of Renaissance/Illusion fame, Bobby Caldwell on drums, from Johnny Winter and Captain Beyond, Martin Pugh, guitar, from Steamhammer and Keith Relf from The Yardbirds. Their sole, self-titled album Armageddon came out in 1975: a lost bridge between the more blues-attracted British hard rock and progressive. A kind of masterpiece and lost stoner record.

Frijid Pink Frijid Pink

Frijid Pink - Frijid Pink

Frijid Pink’s legendary debut Frijid Pink is a great lost Detroit Hard Rock cult classic that helds the utmost respect of many fans. Then-President Richard Nixon liked the band so much he invited them over to The White House for lunch. The legendary cover of The Animals anthemic House Of The Rising Sun makes the original pale in comparison and the whole album’s a prime example of fuzzed-out, smoky, Heavy Blues Rock. After the release of their second album ‘Defrosted’ -which failed the charts- the band broke up.

Dschinn Dschinn

Dschinn - Dschinn

Sole and rare 1972 release from this German band given the high quality Second Battle Treatment. The cover is a great Salvador Dali pastiche, whilst the music inside is powerful heavy rock with some excellent lead guitar riffs and classic hard rock vocals. Dschinn contains outtakes and a whole bunch of pre – Dschinn tracks. Heavy-pounding Rock that remains their sole legacy, apart from a track on the 1973 sampler Mama Rock & The Sons Of Rock’n’Roll. Not even a single was lifted from their eponymous album and the group disappeared without trace.

Pluto 1971

Pluto - Pluto

Pluto, although not necessarily one of those bands who spring immediately to mind as having been a seminal influence on the weaving of rock music”s tapestry, nevertheless remain an excellent, if little-known and much underrated band, whose only album Pluto (originally released on the Dawn label back in November 1971) has, during the latter half of the ”90s, become a much sought-after item in the ever-expanding underground/progressive sector of the record collectors” market. Conceived initially by guitarist Paul Gardner and taking their name from the Disney cartoon character, they were formed in North London in 1970. The key members were Gardner and Alan Warner, two highly experienced campaigners from widely disparate musical backgrounds.

Robin Trower Bridge Of Sighs

Robin Trower - Bridge Of Sighs

Throughout his long and winding solo career, guitarist Robin Trower has had to endure countless comparisons to Jimi Hendrix, due to his uncanny ability to channel Hendrix’s bluesy/psychedelic, Fender Strat-fueled playing style. Bridge Of Sighs is the musician’s finest-ever solo set. Teaming with soulful vocalist James Dewar, Trower employs an armada of effects pedals, wah-wah effects, and pure tones to deliver a truly ageless work. The UK’s Melody Maker mag said at the time of the album’s release that “Jimi Hendrix is alive and well and living in Robin Trower”.

Taste On The Boards

Taste - On The Boards

Before Rory Gallagher became a legendary solo Blues artist, he was starting to earn his chops as the guitarist and singer of the late ’60s Blues trio Taste. Modelling themselves after Cream, they played Heavy Blues Rock with a whiff of Jazz, Folk and Pop thrown in for good measure. On The Boards from 1970 is their second and last studio album, and it reflects their prowess as a live Blues band, recording the album as they would play their best pub & club shows. Some critics even call this album the highlight of his recording career.

Hurdy Gurdy Hurdy Gurdy

Hurdy Gurdy - Hurdy Gurdy

Hurdy Gurdy arose out of the Danish group Peter Belli & the B.B. Brothers in 1967. Three of the B.B. Brothers split from Belli to form a psychedelic-hard rock-oriented trio in England. It’s been reported that Donovan wanted to produce a version of the band covering “Hurdy Gurdy Man”. This, however, never happened and only this album by this incredible band remains. Hurdy Gurdy is a great example of prime psychedelia with Hendrix-influenced guitar.

Aphrodite's Child 666

Aphrodite's Child - 666

Aphrodite’s Child were a Greek Rock band formed in 1967 that consisted of Vangelis Papathanassiou (keyboards), Demis Roussos (bass guitar and vocals), Loukas Sideras (drums and vocals), and Anargyros Koulouris (guitar). 666 is a masterpiece of Heavy Rock and Psychedelia, a conceptual album based on a part of the New Testament and The Apocalypse of St. John. Through this musical interpretation, this ‘black/white musical mass’ will show you how multi-faceted, bizarre, avant-garde and leftfield it is. A record difficult to leave on the shelf, once you have discovered it.

dust hard attack

Dust - Hard Attack

Dust were formed at New York in 1970 by future-KISS producer Richie Wise, Kenny Aaronson and Marc Bell. The latter changed his surname to Ramone and became known as The Ramones‘  future drummer. Actually all three had impressive solo carreers- after all when Dust broke up they all were in their early 20’s. Their self-titled debut and Hard Attack still stand as the definitive cult Hard Rock classics.

Babe Ruth First Base

Babe Ruth - First Base

In 1972, Babe Ruth launched their first album, First Base. It is their biggest album, both commercially and in terms of musical content. This is rythm Hard Rock with progressive ascendants. The music has really simple rythmic section especially the bass wich more or less repeats itself all over the album. Pushed by a good guitar presence by writer Alan Shacklock and the the great vocals from lead singer Janita Haan, the album gives us one of the biggest hit of the ’70s, The Mexican. The definite highlight of the album, this song is so known I don’t really have to describe it. Another highlight is the remake of Frank Zappa‘s King Kong.

Mountain Climbing 1970

Mountain - Climbing!

Climbing! was the result of the combined forces between guitar powerhouse Leslie West and legendary producer Felix Pappalardi. A true devotee of Clapton, West even tried to achieve the exact same tone that Slowhand employed on Disraeli Gears, the album that changed West’s life. And despite the fact that he didn’t manage to hit it 100%, the gigantic guitarist came up with an incredibly hot tone that added personality to tracks like ‘Theme For An Imaginary Western’ and ‘Mississippi Queen’. Mountain lasted a few more albums after this one but with Climbing! they reached their peak.

Status Quo Ma Kelly's Greasy Spoon

Status Quo - Ma Kelly's Greasy Spoon

Forget the boring AOR of Status Quo the ’80s. This is a is a schizophrenic mix of straight blues boogies, early-Purple-gone-mad rockouts, bizarre cello arrangements on dreadful acoustic ballads, and one or two absolutely stunning tracks. The most obscure and definately the best of the many quo albums. It is rammed full of some of the best hard driven blues boogie ever recorded. From the opener, the footstomping ‘Spinning Wheel Blues’, through a belting version of ‘Lazy Poker Blues’ to the closing jam on ‘Is It Really Me’, Ma Kelly’s Greasy Spoon proves that the Rock and Roll granddads of today were once a great band.

Mariani Perpetuum Mobile

Mariani -Perpetuum Mobile

Ultra-rare album originally released as acetate only in 1970 by Austin based psychedelic rock-blues combo featuring a 16 year old Eric Johnson, Vince Mariani and Jay Podolnick. They are now known more as a springboard for Eric Johnson, than for their collective efforts as a band. Perpetuum Mobile was pressed for demo purposes in 1970 or 1971, and shopped to major labels. Sonobeat had used this rather innovative means to place Johnny Winter with Imperial Records. Musically they were very heavy with plenty of good guitar work but perhaps too much instrumentation. They won a good ‘live’ reputation but sadly broke up before Sonobeat concluded their negotiations with United Artists. Eric Johnson was a brilliant young guitarist who still has a considerable reputation as a guitarist in the 1980s with jazz/fusion instrumental band Electromagnetics.

Lucifer's Friend

Lucifer's Friend - Lucifer's Friend

A German outfit fronted by a British singer, Lucifer’s Friend first gained minor notoriety, and later major cult status, as both early practitioners of heavy metal and progressive rock. Formed in 1970 Hamburg, by former German Bonds members, Lucifer’s Friend has often been dubbed Germany’s twist on Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and Uriah Heep. Lyrics are unintelligible and the heavy-metal instrumentation strays little from a steady plodding noise barrage, but this seems to be the sound millions crave. Lucifer’s Friend maintains the frenetic page throughout.

Toad Toad

Toad - Toad

First Toad album, with a Toad on the cover, named Toad. Ex-members of Brainticket investigating the realms of skull crushing Heavy Rock! Certified savage guitar from Vic Vergeat! Heavily blues-based rock (à la Cream/Black Sabbath) was the major force behind Toad’s hard driving sound, with bassist Frohlich providing a mean (and meanderingly gutsy) counterpoint to Vergeat’s loose and greasy guitar licks. The record also has moments of Deep Purple-like propulsion, no doubt thanks to that band’s engineer Martin Birch, who manned the controls on this one as well.

Captain Beyond debut

Captain Beyond - Captain Beyond

One of the more overlooked super groups in the history of rock, Captain Beyond was formed by ex-Deep Purple singer Rod Evans, ex-Iron Butterfly guitarists Larry Reinhart and Lee Dorman, and ex Johnny Winter drummer Bobby Caldwell. In 1972 they released their debut album titled Captain Beyond, an outstanding Hard Rock album, combining the deep voice from Rod Evans, hard driven guitar riffs and sounds, dynamic changes that sometimes almost take the album to the more Progressive Rock world.

Tin House Tin House

Tin House - Tin House

Tin House was formed in 1969 by original members Floyd Radford, Mike Logan and Jeff Cole. Their debut album entitled Tin House was released on Epic Records in 1970. The album produced by Rick Derringer went on to win international acclaim. The opening chords of “I Want Your Body” gives you a very good idea of what to expect. The brash, energetic guitar might remind you of Edgar Winter Group, which would be entirely appropriate because guitarist Floyd Radford left this group to join that band just after this album was made. Edgar Winter himself has a cameo, playing a one-finger organ solo. Interesting as it may be to pick through influences, Tin House had their own sound, fusing Heavy Blues and Progressive Hard Rock with harmony vocals.

Cactus Cactus

Cactus - Cactus

Cactus may have never amounted to anything more than a half-hearted, last-minute improvised supergroup, but that don’t mean their 1970 debut Cactus didn’t rock like a mofo. The already quasi-legendary Vanilla Fudge rhythm section of Bogert and Appice may have provided the backbone of the band’s business cards, and soulful, ex-Amboy Dukes Rusty Day brought the voice, but it was arguably former Detroit Wheels guitarist Jim McCarty who was the true star in the Cactus galaxy, spraying notes and shredding solos all over album highlights. Too bad the illustrious members of Cactus would quickly lose interest in this band project and deliver increasingly mediocre efforts in the years that followed.

Elf Carolina County Ball

Elf - Carolina County Ball

Deep Purple bassist and ELF producer Roger Glover is a major influence in Carolina Country Ball -even more evident than their debut, resulting in a much more complex effort that brought together elements of hard rock, funk, jazz, blues, southern rock and a dose of boogie-woogie to boot. Those who would only come to know Dio through his work with Black Sabbath and his own eponymous band may find this sound shocking, even comical, but it was with this sound that Dio made his name, and things were about to get a lot more interesting.

Pink Fairies Never Never Land

Pink Fairies - Never Never Land

The Pink Fairies origins lay in the Pretty Things and journalist Mick Farren’s Social Deviants. Farren bestowed on them their name and indeed, it was his anarchist leanings that gave the Fairies their beginnings. Farren’s inspiration was New York’s Fugs. But strangely, for a band who spent six months in San Francisco’s communes, it was the White Panther rantings of John Sinclair and Detroit’s MC5 that fuelled their muse to mix Hard Rock, Progressive, and proto-punk imagery so youthfully. Beware, Never Never Land is a total blaster.