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50 Classic Albums Celebrating Their 40th Anniversary in 2012

Nineteen hundred and seventy-two is one of those rare years -- like, say, 1967, 1969, 1971 and 1991 -- that saw the release of several seminal rock and modern-blues albums.

As we wrote last year in our 1971 roundup, "Even for a year that falls squarely in the heart of the 'classic rock' era, it was a particularly classic year."

It was the year of Exile On Main St., Thick As a Brick and Close To the Edge, albums that are so renowned that we don't have to name the bands that created them (But, just in case, it was The Rolling Stones, Jethro Tull and Yes). Tull actually outdid themselves that year, also releasing Living In the Past.

[[ Ziggy Stardust co-producer Ken Scott discusses creating the album with David Bowie and Mick Ronson. ]]

On the heavier side of things, while Led Zeppelin took the year off from vinyl, Deep Purple released what is perhaps the Deep Purple album, Machine Head, plus the live classic Made in Japan. Black Sabbath followed up 1971's Master of Reality with Vol. 4 -- and Scorpions, Wishbone Ash and Uriah Heep chimed in as well.

In the world of blues, all three ax-wielding Kings released albums -- Texas Cannonball by Freddie King, Guess Who by B.B. King and I'll Play the Blues For You by Albert King -- not to mention Eat A Peach by The Allman Brothers Band, Rio Grande Mud by ZZ Top, and Never Get Out Of These Blues Alive by John Lee Hooker.

With that in mind, below is our list of 50 classic albums celebrating their 40th anniversary in 2012. Remember: Life begins at 40!

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Damian is Editor-in-Chief of Guitar World magazine. In past lives, he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor, and his non-Pulitzer-Prize-winning stories have appeared in Guitar Aficionado, Vintage Guitar, Total Guitar and countless other publications, including 13.7 metric tons of daily newspapers. He's written liner notes for major-label releases, including Stevie Ray Vaughan's 'The Complete Epic Recordings Collection' (Sony Legacy) and has interviewed everyone from Yngwie Malmsteen to Kevin Bacon (with a few memorable Eric Clapton and Ty Tabor chats thrown into the mix). Damian, a former member of Brooklyn's The Gas House Gorillas (opens in new tab), was the sole guitarist in Mister Neutron (opens in new tab), a trio that toured the U.S. and released three albums (opens in new tab) (one of which appears in the 2015 Disney film 'Tomorrowland' starring George Clooney and Britt Robertson). He's in two NYC-area bands and plays Teles with four-way switches, B-benders and semi-snazzy aftermarket pickups. He quotes Terry-Thomas twice daily.