Top 10 EDM Albums From the 1970s

While the high-energy world of Electronic Dance Music (EDM) boomed in the 1980s, its origins can be traced back a decade earlier. The 1970s witnessed a surge of groundbreaking albums that laid the essential groundwork for this genre. 

From the icy synths of Kraftwerk to the pulsating rhythms of disco, these albums weren’t just dance music; they were sonic experiments that pushed boundaries and embraced new technology. 

This post delves into 10 influential albums from the 1970s that served as the blueprint for EDM, forever transforming the way we move and experience music.

1. Kraftwerk – Autobahn (1974)

Kraftwerk’s Autobahn stands as a monolith at the birth of electronic music. This German outfit ditched guitars and drums for a symphony of synthesizers, drum machines, and robotic vocals. 

Tracks like the title track, a sonic journey down a futuristic highway, showcased the potential of electronics to create entirely new sonic landscapes.  

Autobahn’s influence is undeniable; its minimalist melodies, infectious rhythms, and mechanical heart would echo through generations of EDM producers.

2. Giorgio Moroder – From Here to Eternity (1977)

Giorgio Moroder’s 1977 album, “From Here to Eternity,” wasn’t purely electronic, but its influence on EDM music is undeniable. Moroder, the “Father of Disco,” pioneered the use of synthesizers in dance music. 

“From Here to Eternity” wasn’t just about catchy tunes; it showcased the power of electronics to create a euphoric and futuristic soundscape that would become a hallmark of EDM.

3. Yellow Magic Orchestra – Yellow Magic Orchestra (1978)

Yellow Magic Orchestra’s self-titled 1978 debut emerged from Japan, a vibrant fusion of East and West. They weren’t afraid to blend disco, rock, and even traditional Japanese melodies with synthesizers and electronic percussion. 

Tracks like “Yellow Magic (Tong Poo)” pulsed with energy, marrying catchy synth hooks with driving rhythms. This genre-bending approach would become a defining characteristic of EDM, where artists fearlessly combine diverse influences to create new sonic experiences.  

4. Stevie Wonder – Songs in the Key of Life (1976)

While not purely electronic, Stevie Wonder’s 1976 masterpiece, “Songs in the Key of Life,” deserves a place on this list.

Wonder’s visionary use of synthesizers and electronic effects alongside traditional instrumentation blurred genre lines and hinted at the sonic possibilities to come. Tracks like “Sir Duke” showcased his innovative layering of synths, creating a funky and futuristic soundscape.  

“Songs in the Key of Life” wasn’t just about technical brilliance; it demonstrated how electronic music could be soulful and emotionally resonant, paving the way for EDM’s future exploration of melody and atmosphere.

5. David Bowie – Low (1977)

David Bowie’s 1977 album, “Low,” took a sharp turn from his glam rock roots, venturing into the cold, atmospheric world of electronic experimentation. 

Tracks like ” Warszawa” featured stark synth landscapes punctuated by industrial percussion, creating a mood that felt both futuristic and unsettling. 

“Low” wasn’t dance music in the traditional sense, but its embrace of synthesizers and unconventional song structures opened doors for future EDM artists who would explore darker, more introspective sounds. 

Bowie’s experimentation with electronics on “Low” helped pave the way for the genre’s future exploration of mood and atmosphere, proving dance music could be more than just lighthearted grooves.

6. Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon (1973)

Pink Floyd’s 1973 behemoth, “The Dark Side of the Moon,” may not be the first album that comes to mind when considering EDM’s origins. However, its influence is undeniable. The record’s extensive use of synthesizers and sound effects wasn’t just for sonic decoration. 

Tracks like “On the Run” created haunting, atmospheric soundscapes that built tension and anticipation, a technique later adopted by numerous EDM producers. 

The album also showcased the potential of electronics to create a cohesive listening experience, a concept that would become central to the development of electronic albums designed for extended DJ sets.

7. Sister Sledge – We Are Family (1979)

Sister Sledge’s 1979 disco masterpiece, “We Are Family,” wasn’t just about infectious grooves. Sure, tracks like the title song and “We Are Family” became anthems on dance floors worldwide, but they also showcased the power of electronics to elevate a song. 

Nile Rodgers, the band’s guitarist and producer, masterfully intertwined rhythm guitars with swirling synths, creating a dynamic and textured soundscape.  

“We Are Family” offered a blueprint for future EDM producers. It demonstrated how electronics could enhance traditional instrumentation, add depth and energy, and create a sound that was both irresistible and innovative. 

8. Gary Numan – The Pleasure Principle (1979)

Gary Numan’s 1979 album, “The Pleasure Principle,” stands as a pivotal moment in the evolution of electronic music. Numan, ditching guitars entirely, embraced synths as his primary weapon. 

Tracks like “Cars” and “Metal” pulsated with cold, robotic energy, driven by relentless synthesizer melodies and pounding electronic percussion. Numan’s signature vocals, detached and emotionless, added to the futuristic soundscape. 

“The Pleasure Principle” wasn’t just about sounds; it established a new aesthetic for electronic music – one that was dark, edgy, and undeniably catchy. 

This stark minimalism and focus on pure electronic sounds would become a defining characteristic of genres like synthpop and techno, forever shaping the future of EDM.

9. Kraftwerk – Trans-Europe Express (1977)

Kraftwerk’s 1977 album, “Trans-Europe Express,” was built upon the foundation laid by “Autobahn.” This sonic journey across Europe wasn’t just a concept; it infused the music itself. 

Tracks like the title song mimicked the rhythmic clatter of a train, layering robotic vocals and pulsating synths to create a sense of movement and energy. 

“Trans-Europe Express” further explored the rhythmic possibilities of electronics, introducing faster tempos and dancefloor-oriented grooves that would heavily influence techno music.  

10. Chic – C’est Chic (1978)

Chic’s 1978 album, “C’est Chic,” may seem like a disco outlier on this list, but its influence on EDM is undeniable.  Nile Rodgers, a pioneer of disco production, masterfully weaved together elements that would become hallmarks of EDM. 

Tracks like “Le Freak” and “I Want Your Love” showcased the power of rhythm guitars interlocked with tight, funky basslines.  But it was Rodgers’ innovative use of synths that truly connected the dots. He added washes of color and texture, accenting the grooves and creating a dynamic soundscape. 

“C’est Chic” demonstrated how electronic flourishes could elevate dance music without sacrificing infectious grooves or soulful vocals. This approach would be a blueprint for future house music producers, proving that EDM could be both sophisticated and dancefloor-friendly.