In today's singles-only world, a list of the top 10 best rock albums of all time is a refresher. Spanning grunge, classic rock, metal and Britpop, these are 10 albums that shockingly sound good from beginning to end.
- “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Paul McCartney heard The Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds” and crapped his Beatle suit in jealousy. He threw together the concept of a fake band and the mop-toppers amped up the experimentation of “Revolver.” From vaudeville (“When I’m 64”) to psychedelia (“Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”) to pop on a grand scale (“A Day in The Life”), this is one of the best rock albums of all time.
- “Nevermind.” Nirvana channeled The Beatles and Black Sabbath in this mega-pop album based on a failed Kurt Cobain romance. The northwest trio does straight up punk (“Territorial Pissings”), arena-grunge (“In Bloom”), spooky acoustic (“Something in The Way”) and that one teen spirit song. It’s one of the best rock albums of all time from one of the last truly great rock bands.
- “Led Zeppelin II.” On “Led Zeppelin,” the British rock legends played some bluesy proto-metal and it was pretty good. The band became a monster with this mammoth album, filled to the brim with monstrous solos, Robert Plant’s wails and Jimmy Page’s made-for-Guitar Hero riffs.
- “Who’s Next.” Sure, “Won’t Get Fooled Again” is overplayed on classic rock radio, but it’s still a great song, as are all the others on this 1971 album (even the John Entwistle number “My Wife”), one of the best rock albums of all time. This album’s full of smashing rock songs: “Baba O’Riley,” “Bargain” and “Behind Blue Eyes,” to name a few.
- “Exile on Main St.” Coming off the heels of hit albums like “Let It Bleed” and “Sticky Fingers,” this sprawling LP was met with derision upon its release, but critics eventually wised up to its trashy goodness. The opening track “Rocks Off” has one of the best lines in pop history (“The sunshine bores the daylights out of me”) and songs like “Tumbling Dice” and “Rip This Joint” are exercises in true blues-based rock and roll.
- “London Calling.” Forget the “punk” thing. This is one of the best rock albums of all time from a great rock band bunched in with a bunch of media hype and hacks. It’s got rock ‘n roll covers (“Brand New Cadillac”), ska (“Rudy Can’t Fail”), and infectious pre-Beatles pop (“Train in Vain”) amongst its many other great and varied rock tunes.
- “Rumours.” This is not one of the best rock albums of all time because at the time it was recorded the members were all cheating on each other and going through buffet levels of coke. It’s one of the best rock albums of all time because it’s non-stop hit after hit, thanks to a band with multiple songwriting and vocal talent. Songs like “You Make Loving Fun” and “Secondhand News” sound great decades later, despite their radio ultra-pervasiveness.
- “Appetite for Destruction.” This is the sound of an era captured on one mean and sleazy album. Guns N’ Roses fused blues, punk, metal and hardrock into a new mutant baby and recorded songs the likes of which the world had never heard with “Welcome To The Jungle” and “Think About You” (an underappreciated Izzy Stradlin tune). It had hits, consistency, and fierce originality, making it one of the best rock albums of all time.
- “Purple Rain.” Channeling rock greats like Little Richard, Jimi Hendrix and James Brown, Prince released one of the best rock albums of all time with “Purple Rain.” Somehow this Minneapolis marvel managed to top his impressive album “1999” and crafted an pop/rock/blues/funk/R&B experience with hits like “When Doves Cry” and “I Would Die 4 U” and maddening rock and roll moments achieved via stunning solos and synths.
- “(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?” It took a band obsessed with The Beatles to achieve Beatles-like adoration. Oasis was Britain's biggest thing since The Smiths with the release of their debut “Definitely Maybe,” but this album took that album’s formula further. Classics (“Wonderwall”), fun sing-alongs (“Some Might Say”) and powerhouse rockers (“Morning Glory”) round out the best Britpop album ever.
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