10. THRILLER- Michael Jackson
The top selling album of all time starts us off on the list. It spent 37 weeks at number one and includes some of the King of Pop's biggest hits including- Beat It, Billie Jean, Wanna Be Starting Something, and of course, Thriller. Jackson would have other great albums as well, but none would ever come close to this seminal work.
9. GRACELAND- Paul Simon
This may seem like kind of an odd choice, but I think it is one of the most complete albums ever made. From start to finish, Graceland is great. All of the songs on it are listenable, which I feel is the ultimate test a great album must pass. Paul Simon used a liberal dose of South African music and musicians on the album, as well as the talents of Linda Ronstadt and the Everly Brothers on select tracks. It won the Grammy for best album, and gave us classics like You Can Call Me Al, Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes and Gumboots.
8. WHO'S NEXT- The Who
Who's Next is a hugely important rock album because of its use of the synthesizer and advances in sound engineering, and also its list of many fabulous tracks. A bit of a departure for the group, this album is marked by the variety of sounds and styles- going from loud rock anthems like Won't Get Fooled Again to quieter, introspective songs like Behind Blue Eyes. In addition to these songs, Who's Next includes some of the group's most well known hits like, Baba O'Riley, Going Mobile and Bargain. Well done, lads.
7. SGT. PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND- The Beatles
The Beatles sixth studio album is arguably the most influential one ever made in the history of rock and roll. As the first true concept album, it raised the bar for what rock bands could do with instrumentation and song writing. The songs on the album are not the best the group ever produced, but this record signaled the beginning of the 'Summer of Love' and was the epitome of hippie culture. This album is less about the music and more about the message, but there are still amazing cuts on it, including A Day in the Life, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and Lovely Rita.
6. BACK IN BLACK- AC/DC
Written as a tribute to fallen lead singer Bon Scott, Back in Black is the best hard rock album ever. Taking over for the late Scott, new singer and lyricist Brian Johnson gave it to audiences with both barrels by teaming with the brothers Young to create some of the band's most memorable songs. Every song on this album kicks ass, and lets you know AC/DC is still out to rock as hard as they can. I could list any song on this album as a classic, but the best ones are Back in Black, You Shook Me All Night Long, Shoot to Thrill and Hells Bells.
5. ABBEY ROAD- The Beatles
Not only is the cover iconic, so is the music. The last album recorded by the Beatles, Abbey Road boasts perhaps the best collaboration by the band since their early days. Each Beatle is given room to shine, and does so in impressive form. Unlike Sgt. Pepper, Abbey Road is a complete record, wowing the listener from start to finish. George Harrison also emerges as a songwriting equal with Lennon and McCartney on this album with his hits- Something and Here Comes the Sun. The Beatles sure knew how to make an exit.
4. LED ZEPPELIN II- Led Zeppelin
Many point to Zoso as the band's best album, but Stairway to Heaven does not an album make. The group's second album is its best, being the most complete throughout. Led Zeppelin II is devoid of one truly great song, but is rife with very good ones. In fact, the album's most recognizable song, Whole Lotta Love, might be one of the weaker ones. I really like Living Loving Maid, Heartbreaker and Bring it on Home the best, but let's also not forget the fabulous instrumental Moby Dick. Don't feel the need to skip songs here- you'll miss something awesome if you do.
3. LET IT BLEED- The Rolling Stones
This 1969 effort from the Stones marked an era of change for the band, as they infused their music with a larger variety of styles. Let it Bleed was also the last album to feature founding member Brian Jones. It can be said that any of four albums from the late '60's and early '70's is the group's best, but this really captures a great mix of sounds, as well as some of the Stones' biggest hits. I think I like this album best also, because it signaled a shift in the mentality of society- away from the flower power sixties toward the darker, edgier seventies. The songs Midnight Rambler, Monkey Man and Gimme Shelter indicate this shift best.
2. PET SOUNDS- The Beach Boys
Just like Sgt. Pepper, Pet Sounds changed the game for rock and roll. The work that Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys put in on this album made not only Sgt. Pepper possible, but many other future works as well. Using new technology and sounds, Wilson tried to copy and one-up the famous wall of sound, created by Phil Spector. It was not common to use so many orchestral elements and multi-tracking on rock records until Pet Sounds came along, and it ushered in a new age where anything was possible in rock and roll. The best cuts are Sloop John B, Wouldn't it Be Nice and the classic ballad, God Only Knows. Listening to this album is like hearing history.
1. REVOLVER- The Beatles
Prior to Sgt. Pepper, but after the release of Pet Sounds, The Beatles came out with the best album on this list. Revolver is more innovative and experimental than anything the group ever did, and there is not a bad song on the album. Drug culture, social commentary, existential thought, Eastern philosophy and children's imagery are the basis for the tracks on Revolver, showing the world that there was more to rock than just songs about teenage love. This album marks a growth in sophistication for the medium of rock music, and it is beautiful to behold. John, Paul, George and Ringo's masterpiece together is Revolver. Taxman, Eleanor Rigby, Dr. Robert, Got to Get You Into My Life and Tomorrow Never Knows are highlights, but to be fair- every song is a highlight.