If you’re a classic rock fan, you’ve probably got one or two – or all – of these albums in your collection. Here is our list of the Top 10 Most Essential Classic Rock Albums of all time.
10 Revolver – The Beatles
Released on August 5, 1966, Revolver was the seventh studio album by The Beatles. Throughout the month prior, all 14 tracks from the album were released to radio stations in Britain, building anticipation for the release and what was going to be a radical new phase of the Beatles’ career. Revolver was a #1 album on the UK Albums Chart, the Billboard 200 Chart and the Australian Albums Chart. It continues to be heralded as one of the best albums of all time by media outlets worldwide.
09 Sounds of Silence – Simon & Garfunkel
The second album by Simon & Garfunkel, Sounds of Silence was released on January 17th, 1966. Recorded the month prior at CBS studios in Nashville and Los Angeles, some of the tracks were quickly re-recorded and re-dubbed in an effort to get something out immediately and take advantage of the surprising success of the single “The Sound of Silence.” Although the album peaked in 1966 at #13 on the UK Albums Chart and only #21 on the US Albums Chart, it was undoubtedly a breakthrough release for the duo and provides the listener an early glimpse at genius on the rise.
08 The Doors – The Doors
With sales-to-date at over 12.5 million copies, it’s no surprise that The Doors makes our list of the Top 10 Most Essential Classic Rock Albums. Released in January 1967, the self-titled album featured the breakthrough single “Light My Fire” and quickly climbed the charts, ultimately reaching #2 on the Billboard 200 Chart. In Europe, the band waited years for similar recognition; “Light My Fire” stalled at #49 on the UK singles chart and the album failed to chart at all. But in 1991, after the release of Oliver Stone’s film The Doors, a reissue of the song reached #7 on the singles chart and the album charted at #43. Despite its relative lack of early success in Europe, the album continually ranks on Greatest Albums lists worldwide by the likes of Rolling Stone, Q Magazine, and NME.
07 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles
Sgt. Pepper, released in June 1967, was an immediate critical and commercial success. The album spent 27 weeks at the top of the UK Albums Chart and 15 weeks at #1 on the Billboard 200. In 1968, it won 4 Grammy Awards. With an estimated 32 million copies sold to date, it is one of the best selling albums of all time. Widely considered one of the most influential and famous rock albums ever, it has continually been named the Greatest Album of all Time by various publications including Rolling Stone Magazine.
06 The Beatles White Album
The Beatles album, known more commonly as the “White Album”, was The Beatles’ 9th official album. In 1968, the album was released to mixed critical reviews, who claimed its songs were unimportant and apolitical amid a turbulent political and social climate. Yet it reached #1 on both the UK and US charts, has sold over 20 million copies to-date and has since been viewed critically as one of the greatest albums of all time.
05 Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin
As Led Zeppelin’s debut release, this self-titled album attracted a large and devoted fan base for Zeppelin. Despite being a huge commercial success, the album initially received negative critical reaction. Rolling Stone Magazine’s initial review stated that the band offered “little that its twin, the Jeff Beck Group, didn’t say as well or better three months ago… It would seem that if they are to fill the void created by the demise of Cream, they will have to find a producer, editor and some material worthy of their collective talents.” But within two months of its release, the album was in the Billboard Top 10 and stayed on the chart for 73 weeks. By 1975, the album had grossed $7,000,000 and in 2004, was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
04 The Jimi Hendrix Experience – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
The Jimi Hendrix Experience is the only compilation album to make our list of the Top 10 Most Essential Classic Rock Albums. Released in September 2000, 30 years after the death of Jimi Hendrix, the box set consists of four discs containing alternate recordings, live performances, rarities and some previously unreleased material. The material was originally recorded between 1966, when The Jimi Hendrix Experience formed, and 1970, upon Hendrix’s death. During that time, The Jimi Hendrix Experience released 3 studio albums, all of which are listed in the top 100 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
03 Rumours – Fleetwood Mac
Despite the band’s interpersonal turmoil and strife at the time of its recording, Rumours is Fleetwood Mac’s most successful album. It reached the top of the US Billboard chart and the UK Albums Chart and, in 1978, received the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. To date, Rumours has sold over 40 million copies worldwide, receiving diamond certifications in the US, Canada, and Australia. Mick Fleetwood has called the album “the most important album we ever made,” because the success it garnered allowed the group to continue recording for years to come. You voted it as #3 on our list of the Most Essential Classic Rock Albums.
02 Born To Run – Bruce Springsteen
Released in August 1975, Born to Run was Bruce Springsteen’s third album and undoubtedly his breakthrough release. A critical and commercial success in the US, it broke the top 10 in its second week and peaked at #3 on the Billboard 200 chart. Born to Run made two subsequent returns to the Billboard chart; once in 1980 after the release of The River and again after the success of Born in the U.S.A. in 1985. It is frequently listed as one of the greatest albums of all time, and comes in at #2 on our list of the Top 10 Most Essential Classic Rock Albums.
01 The Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd
It’s hardly surprising that The Dark Side of the Moon tops our list of the Most Essential Classic Rock Albums; it is frequently listed as one of the greatest albums of all time and is one of Pink Floyd’s most popular albums among fans and critics alike. An immediate success, the album topped the Billboard chart and remained in the charts for 741 weeks, from 1973 to 1988. It is Pink Floyd’s most commercially successful album, and with an estimated 50 million copies sold, is one of the best-selling albums of all time.