8 Most Influential Albums in Rock History

Music can be nice, like a catchy tune we sing under the shower. Or a favourite melody we learn to play on our first guitar. But it can be much more than that. Sometimes, music makes us question the way we see, feel and think about the world. And really good music changes everything. Here is a list of the Most Influential Albums in Rock History. It includes works made by some of the most innovative musicians ever to walk this planet, and who created something so utterly timeless, they forever changed the way music sounds.  Remember, we're focussing specifically on innovative albums, so you won't find artists like Elvis, Chuck Berry or Buddy Holly, as they were more famous for their singles rather than their albums.

#8 Nevermind—Nirvana—1991

If glam rock was still cool in the 90's, it was only because this early grunge album hadn't arrived yet. There's no way Kurt Cobain and his Nirvana bandmates could have predicted the social impact of Nevermind, but their sobering and thrashing style proved to be a musical magnet that reached a whole new generation of rockers fed up with the state of music at the time. The initial reception may have been lukewarm, but that didn't stop Nevermind from exploding across America faster than glam rockers could say leather pants and hairspray. As a result, alternative rock reached the masses and Kurt Cobain became the unwilling king of the Seattle grunge scene.

 

#7 London Calling—The Clash—1979

In the mid to late 70's punk rock was on fire, partially due to the release of the Ramones' self-titled album in 1976. And although that album is seen as a staple of punk rock, it was The Clash's London Calling that would have a greater influence on the genre. Incorporating countless rock, reggae and jazz influences along with socially conscious lyrics, London Calling acknowledged the shift from rebellion to a post-punk awakening. To top it all off, the immensely popular album cover put a stamp on the package as the Clash launched to the US to spread their message and eclectic sound.

 

#6 Black Sabbath—Black Sabbath—1970

Originally garnering extremely negative reviews, this pivotal record has now become identified with the birth of heavy metal. While Led Zeppelin and Jeff Beck were already blowing minds in the early 70's, a misfit group of Birmingham musicians rolled into a studio and knocked out a classic in a single day. Featuring influences from blues rock, the album has also been credited with giving birth to the stoner and goth rock genres. Black Sabbath wasn't cute or contrived; it was pure rock with a visit from some kind of musical devil.

 

#5 Highway 61 Revisited—Bob Dylan—1965

Never trust someone who doesn't like Bob Dylan. This revolutionary album marked the shift from acoustic to electric, and followed up the equally iconic album—Bringing It All Back Home. Even before the release of Highway 61 Revisited, fans voraciously expressed their disdain with the change in sound, which was documented at Dylan's infamous Newport Folk Festival appearance. But like all innovative minds, Dylan had introduced something new with even his album title referencing his musical journey from folk roots to his fresh, blues-inspired sound. Highway 61 Revisited combines sensational lyrics with music from some of the best musicians Dylan could find, and in so doing created a musical trip for the ages.

 

#4 OK Computer—Radiohead—1997

Just as Britpop slowly drifted away and the new, digital age opened the door to a brave new world, Radiohead released an album that explored the themes of fear, melancholy, and insanity. While critics have praised the technical aspects of OK Computer, the visceral experience of the album affected millions of those anticipating a new way of life and still others who simply needed something to identify with. Call it what you want, Radiohead's iconic album, along with their 2000's follow-up—Kid A—waved goodbye to the 20th century and ushered in a style that would transform alternative rock.

 

#3 The Dark Side of the Moon—Pink Floyd—1973

While bands like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin inspired headbanging in the early 70's, the introspective lyrics and exquisite sound design of Dark Side of the Moon led a lot of stoners to spark one up, turn off the lights and lose themselves for 45 minutes. Despite the departure of Syd Barret, Pink Floyd managed to put together a progressive masterpiece with ingenious sound mixing and a little bit of patience. Most importantly, the themes of human detachment instantly connected with listeners. But this wasn't the only influential album from Pink Floyd, as the band produced another progressive rock classic with the 1979 release of The Wall.

 

#2 Pet Sounds—The Beach Boys—1966

Before there was psychedelic rock, there was Pet Sounds. Written entirely bt Brian Wilson, this melodic production has often been recognised as one of rock's first concept albums and changed how people listen to music. The title came from the strange (yet brilliant) sound design, while the lyrical content documented a man's journey through all the trials and tribulations of a relationship. Pet Sounds changed pop music forever, and many of today artists, such as Radiohead and Animal Collective, cite the album as a major influence.

 

#1 Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band—The Beatles—1967

As soon as Paul McCartney heard Pet Sounds, he knew the next Beatles album had to be something special. As a result, Sgt. Pepper's became one of the first 'art rock' albums. By taking on alter egos for the production, the Beatles were free to explore unknown territory, experiment with sound design and, simply have fun. The final product stunned critics, and the lyrical double entendres were perfect for the blossoming counterculture that was taking over the UK and America. The White Album and Abbey Road would come later, but this creative dynamo changed music more than any other piece of music.

 

So, there you have it. Our list of the 8 Most Influential Albums in Rock History. But we can't finish up without at least a few honourable mentions like, in no particular order: Master of Puppets—Metallica—1986, Rage Against the Machine—Rage Against the Machine—1992, Appetite for Destruction—Guns N' Roses—1987, Exile on Main Street—The Rolling Stones—1972, Horses—Patti Smith, and Born to Run—Bruce Springsteen—both from 1975.

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