10 Best Country Rock Albums

Determining the 10 best country rock albums is a challenge because in its heyday, the genre attracted some of the world's best music artists. The fusion of rock and roll music and country and Western music often results in songs with country themes and a rock beat. Country rock has proven to be one of the most enduring styles of music as many popular rock musicians migrate to country music as their careers mature.

  1. “Heart Like a Wheel” by Linda Ronstadt. Ronstadt's first big album, it produced several chart-topping singles like “You're No Good” and “When Will I be Loved.” Many of the songs are covers, but Ronstadt's versions are often better than the original performances. The album still sells well today.

  2. “Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music” by Ray Charles. A tour de force that combines country, Western, soul and rock. Possibly the best album in the storied career of Ray Charles.

  3. “At San Quentin” by Johnny Cash. Yes, you can argue that At Folsom Prisonis the Cash album that belongs here, but with both “Folsom Prison Blues” and “I Walk the Line” on this album, it gets the spot.

  4. “The Gilded Palace of Sin” by The Flying Burrito Brothers. This is one of country rock's most influential albums and features some of Gram Parson's best work.

  5. “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and others. Many of the collaborators on this album were big-name traditional country stars such as Roy Acuff, Earle Scruggs, and Maybelle Carter. You can listen to the musicians discuss how to play the songs, since the chatter in the studio was recorded along with the music and included on the album.

  6. “Eagles” by the Eagles. The debut album of the group which features more of a country sound than some of the group's later music. Even “Desperado” is more of a Western rock fusion than a country rock effort.

  7. “Second Helping” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. Yes, they are a southern rock band. But, if you consider Southern rock as a subset of country rock, then the album belongs on this list since it's the first to feature the band's famous three guitar attack.

  8. “Elvis Country (I'm 10,000 Years Old)” by Elvis Presley. One of the few concept albums ever done by the King. Elvis is best known for his pioneering rock music, but this album is the culmination of his propensity to return to his country roots.

  9. “Raising Sand” by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. A really odd pairing of musicians that produces critically acclaimed results. The album sold well, too.

  10. “Trio” by Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, and Linda Ronstadt. A collaborative effort by three of the most successful female vocalists of the 1970s and 1980s. These three stars put aside their egos to produce a rock influenced blue grass sound with superior ensemble vocals.

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