Top 10 - Rock and Roll Albums
10. Oasis - Definitely maybe
Quintessential track – Live Forever
The Gallagher brothers and co. make it onto our top 10 with their debut album ‘Definitely Maybe’. Through this album Noel quickly established himself as one of the greatest songwriters of his generation whilst Liam equally proved himself to be one of the greatest vocalists and front men in rock and roll history. You know what I mean?
Embracing their working-class credentials Oasis captured the hearts and the ears of the everyday man, proving everyone is in touching distance from stardom. As long as you have the tunes and the attitude to back it up.
‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Star’, ‘Shakermaker’, and ‘Live Forever’ are as good a way to open an album as you’ll find throughout music. The proceeding bangers‘Supersonic’ and ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’ make Definitely Maybe an album for belting out at full volume, any time of day. Mega.
9. The Rolling Stones - Let it Bleed
Quintessential track –Gimme Shelter
By the end of the 60s The Rolling Stones had begun to find their feet as the bad boys of rock and roll. On the brink of their most creative decade (often referred to as the ‘lost decade’ for reasons concerning bottles, needles and powders) they produce a masterpiece album suited for the bleak times in life. Making it probably the most 2020 album of 1969.
Let it Bleed is filled with great songs including: ‘You can’t always get what you want’ – the type of song The Stones have made a very long and illustrious career off, Midnight Rambler – a blues epic which is the most ‘Rolling Stones’ song ever written and Gimme Shelter – a fantastic song which alarmingly is just as culturally relevant now as it was over 50 years ago. No matter how many times you listen to it, Let It Bleed never stops laying down fresh chills and surprises.
8. The Clash - London Calling
Quintessential track – London Calling (obviously)
Often referred to as the best punk album in history, London Calling is much more than that. It’s a delightful blend of rockabilly, ska, reagge, rock, pop and punk created by a band at the height of their powers.
Packed with as many characters and incidents as a great novel, amongst names and phrases from the headlines of the day, it is a topical socio-political commentary. A true sign of the times, with songs including ‘Spanish bombs’, ‘Revolution rock’, ‘Train in vain’ of course the ever treasured ‘London Calling’.
This album elevated the Clash to become one of the best rock bands on the planet. Unfortunately, the rest of the punk movement got caught up smashing its head through windows and ultimately never lived up to its true potential.
7. The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Are you experienced?
Quintessential track –Purple Haze
Jimis first and best album ‘Are you Experienced’ blew a hole in the music industry when it was released in 1967. Marrying blues and psychedelia, one man and his Fender Stratocaster redefined a guitar's possibilities.
The opening chords on Purple Haze really set the scene for an album jam packed with face melting solos and a mind-boggling wall of sound. Jimis powerful voice and lyrical abilities also come through on the songs ‘Hey Joe’ and my personal favourite Hendrix song ‘The Wind cries Mary’. As well as the title song for the album when Jimi nonchalantly asks – ‘Are you experienced?’ Yes Jimi, Yes I am.
6. David Bowie - The rise and fall of Ziggy Stardust and the spiders from mars
Quintessential track - Ziggy stardust
Some say that half of what we see and hear in rock music comes from Bowie and the other half doesn’t matter, I have to say that I can’t disagree. Bowies 1972 concept album tells the fictional story of Ziggy Stardust (one of the musical chameleons alter-egos), a drug-using, bisexual human manifestation of an alien Rock and Roll star (yep you read that right). A unique fusion of hard rock and glam pop comes together in this album to create Bowies finest piece of work.
Themes of politics, sex and drugs intertwined with cosmic lyrics seen in songs such as ‘Moonage daydream’, ‘Star man’ and ‘Ziggy Stardust’ make for one of the most original albums of the century.
5. The Doors – The Doors
Quintessential track – The End
True rock and roll lives for danger and verges on the edge of madness - The Doors self-titled debut album certainly does this and much more. After striding to the top of Los Angeles scene in less than a year the band spent just a week recording the show that had gotten them there.
Lead singer Jim Morrison - is the self-proclaimed ‘Lizard King’ who’s lyricism is that of a mystical poet. Paired with his persona and on stage antics he quickly raised to legendary status.
Songs ‘Light My fire’ and ‘Break on through to the other side’ are justifiably the most successful songs on the album. Whereas the greatest song, the appropriately named finale album to the album ‘The End’, transforms a rock song into an epic performance piece, a shocking mixture of Greek tragedy and Freudian exorcism – proving The Doors to be one of the most inimitable bands in Rock and Roll history.
4. The Velvet underground and Nico
Quintessential track –Sunday Morning
In terms of musical influence, this album is arguably as big as it gets. When the Velvet Underground and Nico was released in 1965, rock and roll became an art form and never looked back.
The album starts with the hazy track ‘Sunday Morning’ which sounds like something you would hear in a dream. We’re then led through lead singer Lou Reed’s experiences and observations from the streets of 1960’s New York. Hence, controversial lyrics riddle throughout this album. Reeds no-nonsense lyrical style tackle themes ranging from drug abuse to prostitution in songs such as: ‘I’m waiting for my man’, ‘Heroin’ (surprising I know) and ‘Femme Fetale’.
The Velvet underground and Nico set the basis for many subgenres of rock music including punk, garage, shoegazing and indie. In 1982, musician Brian Eno stated that while the album initially only sold approximately 30,000 copies, "everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band.”
3. Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the moon
Quintessential track: Any Colour You Like
Everything about this album is epic, from its cover to its content, it was a band with the ambition of a space program, and the ability to pull it off. Pink Floyd’s ninth album is more of an extended piece of art, rather than a collection of songs.
The album deals primarily with the mortality and depravity of human life through songs ‘Time’, ‘Money’ and ‘Us and Them’. Whilst also giving us some mind-bending psychedelic experiences in the form of ‘Any Colour You Like’ and ‘The Great Gig In The Sky’ which transport you to a place never thought imaginable through music.
The Dark Side Of The Moon stayed on Billboard’s Top 200 for a ridiculous 17 years… truly a timeless classic.
2. The Rolling Stones - Exile on Main St
Quintessential track – Let it Loose
Who would’ve thought an album made by a bunch of strung out Brits on the run from their own country jamming away in the basement of a rented French villa could sound so good? Well it does. Exile is pure unadulterated rock and roll by the world greatest unadulterated rock stars. Often referred to as the Keith Richards album, recorded in his French Villa Nellcôte; its ragged, stoned, natural sound is quintessentially Keef.
A fusion of Blues, country, gospel and rock crossfire all across this illustrious double album. Which kicks off with the gritty opening track ‘Rocks off’ effortlessly running you through the motions until you’re out of the song and hooked on the album. An album filled with some of the best rock and roll songs ever recorded these include 'Tumbling dice', 'Torn and Frayed' and 'Happy' which makes you feel just that from start to finish.
‘Let it Loose’ is a beautiful song both lyrically and melodically. The mixture of a gospel chorus, laid back guitar licks and an incredible performance from Jagger makes it my personal favourite song from the album. Whoever’s voice appears on the outro accompanying Mick I’d like to kiss her right now; it’s that beautiful.
1. The Beatles - Abbey Road
Quintessential track – Come Together
Taking top spot on our list… what else? Iconic really doesn’t do this album justice. When the Beatles returned to Abbey Road studios in the summer of 1969, it wasn't clear how it would go. They weren't particularly getting along and their music interests continued to clash.
What they produced is an indisputable masterpiece, which saw each of the famous foursome at the peak of their abilities - giving us an album filled top to bottom with incredible songs written by Lennon, McCartney and Harrison including: ‘Come together’, ‘Something’, ‘Here comes the sun’, ‘Sun King’, ‘Golden Slumbers’, ‘The End’… the list goes on. Ringo even threw his hat in the ring with ‘Octopuses Garden’ (that must’ve been some good acid). The second half of the album features a 9 song medley of pure Beatles genius, ending with the line ‘The love you take is equal to the love you make’. A fitting curtain call to their incredible career together as the Beatles.
After listening to this Album near to 1000 times, I have no hesitation in naming it the greatest rock and roll album of all time - potentially the greatest album of all time (but we’ll save that debate for another day). Although this was the last record the Beatles ever recorded over 50 years ago, its content is sure to outlive us all.