Top 10 Best Classic Rock Albums of All Time

These are simply the albums that have defined rock and roll. No frills. Here we go.
The Top Ten
1 Dark Side of the Moon - Pink Floyd

The archetypal Pink Floyd album; maybe not their best, but poetically, a summation of all that had gone before, and distillation of all that would come.

This really wasn't even a question. If we're talking about best album ever, Dark Side wins it no matter what. It flows so well, it could honestly be just one song. Every song is good in its own way, and I can't just listen to one tune off of this album, I have to listen to the whole thing. It is also really deep and very thought provoking. If you've never listened to this album, get some high-quality headphones, and just listen to the song in the dark. Nothing compares to it.

This album is unmatched in lyrical depth, musical excellence, imaginative instrumental innovation coupled with timeless relevance of its narrative. I know that ranking albums is a matter of personal taste. But I suspect that Dark Side of the Moon will be studied 500 years from now as Shakespeare's finest masterpieces are researched today. It is peerless from that perspective, a clear # 1 in my book.

This Album tells a story and it is definitely the most cohesive album of all time. It also has an answer for the major struggles people have in their life, from work to stress and money or war. Each song builds off the others and as a whole its Amazing! My only knock on the record also comes from this, take the songs individually and they aren't as strong as they are together.

2 Led Zeppelin IV - Led Zeppelin

Physical Graffiti might be Led Zeppelin's best, one of rock's highest high-water marks, but their Fourth Album concisely says it all; you can say its songs are a tighter grouping, spread over less vinyl.

I love Led Zeppelin so much, but no album comes close to Dark Side. Don't even try to convince me to put this above Dark Side. However... I love this album! Black Dog is a great hard rocker, and Rock and Roll goes back to rock music's roots. The Battle of Evermore is a great folk-rock song that is often overlooked because of the overplayed, overrated Stairway to Heaven. Misty Mountain Hop is really good, and then Four Sticks, which is OK. Going to California, the best song on the album, in my opinion comes next, followed by the finale, When The Levee Breaks, an incredible blues song.

This is seriously the best album of all time, 1 it has stairway to heaven. It's become very fashionable to knock Stairway, but the reason it's overplayed is because it's so GOOD Simply one of the epics of rock. and it also contains classics Black Dog, Rock an Roll, not to mention the other ones that are all so completely overlooked, Going to California, Misty Mountain Hop, When the Levee Breaks, etc. The Drums are incredible, especially on When the Levee Breaks, Four Sticks, and Black Dog. The variety is amazing too, going from heavy rock (black dog, four stix) to beautiful acoustic songs (going to California, the battle of evermore). John Bonham's powerful drumming, John Paul Jones's keyboards and thundering bass, Jimmy Page's incredible acoustic and electric guitar work, and Robert Plant's amazing vocals(going to California black dog and rock and roll are the best examples of Robert's singing) all come together into the best 8 songs ever stuck together and packaged. It's sold 38 ...more

While there are other albums that might be more consistently good all the way, IV/Zoso reaches such unbelievable highs that it's comparable with some of the Beatles' best work. It covers so many genres (blues, rock n' roll, folk, prog, stoner, math rock, and metal) but remains consistent and seamless all the way through. It's a gorgeous 40-minute journey through music. 7/8 of the tracks are the best songs I've ever heard, and that 1/8 is only great. There's at least something here everyone can enjoy, whether they're into rock or not. A 10/10 for sure.

3 Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band - The Beatles

This is generally considered to be the most famous rock album of all time. The other albums can make the claim, but most people think this is the one. Stand out track: A Day In the Life, which still sounds amazing after all this time.

While Rubber Soul and Revolver pointed to the path the Beatles were about to take, Sgt. Peppers moved music past the "moon in June" stage to something much larger. Everything beyond this album owes something to this album. It is singular in its importance to the music world.

With this album The Beatles proved that you can be famous by writing and recording whatever experimental music you want, if you do it talented you would succeed. The message of album for other bands was "come on guys, there ain't no need to write cheap 3 accorded songs to become famous, go on do whatever you like! " I see that most people voted for the Dark Side of The Moon, but in fact without Sgt Pepper that won't be Pink Floyd at all!

I agree Sgt. Peppers is the best of all time. Followed closely by Beach Boys Pet Sounds. Third Love Forever Changes is right up there. So is Velvet Underground Loaded. The Beatles Rubber Soul is also up there. That is my top 5. I have more but not now.

4 The Wall - Pink Floyd

This is the first album that I ever purchased and am proud of it! While other albums on this list are amazing, they lack the showmanship and thought provoking journey that The Wall takes the listener on. Add in the fact that the album made even more sense after the movie was made makes it a crowning achievement of proactive beauty. An album "ahead of its time" can't even begin to describe the genius of this work of art.

So the story is I was looking through my dads old record collection. I liked some really bad pop music back then. I found this album, hesitant to play it, I put it on, and as soon as the needle touched the record and I heard the first crackle, I cried for as long as I could. Quite embarrassing I know, and then I put on side 3, followed by side 4. I was then in a pool of tears. To this day I don't know why, but I listen to the record every night, right before I go to sleep. Sorry this was long by the way

That's the album that made Pink Floyd famous internationally. If you hear someone saying Pink Floyd, you immediately think of The Wall. Both, David and Roger, came out shining with great vocals in a way that we never thought we would ever hear from these two.
It should be number one Rock album of all time, period, in my opinion.

This album is the most commercially successful LP by Floyd, but yet one of my least favorites by them. Dark Side & Animals are much better in my opinion. It's hard to go by any "list" as everyone has different taste when it comes to music. Pick what you like and rate them according to your own standards.

5 Back in Black - AC/DC

Rock at its purest and most rauccous, Back in Black is AC/DC's most cohesive album, as well as maybe its most important, as it showed the world that the band has a future despite the tragic death of its legendary original lead singer, Bon Scott. Brian Johnson's pipes filled the part nicely, doing Scott plenty of justice and serving as the voice of the band's most famous song, this album's title track.

10 songs of pure rock and roll. Malcolm Young's rhythm is heavy and unmatched. I don't think anyone ever hit the strings harder than him in his day. Maybe the greatest riff guitarist of all time. Angus Young's leads are flawless and brilliant leaving you wanting more and more. Johnson's vocals are that of a confident front man in his prime which is stunning in itself as his 1st album with an already established band. This was in the prime years of AC/DC and every single track is instantly noticed after the 1st few notes. The drums and bass offer a rock steady backbone to the plethora of guitar brilliance. The tone both Angus and Malcolm have in the Back in Black track is enough alone to put them in the Rock Hall of Fame. Throw in the rest and it's a world class rock song. You shook me all night long is just a sexy song and displays amazing song writing front to back. Hells Bells is a bit darker than anything else on this album, but man is it killer or what? It's definitely adds some ...more

This should be #1, Back in Black is the 2nd best selling album of all time, basically everywhere you go you will hear a song from the back in black album. This album was the first with AC/DC's new frontman Brian Johnson, and the band has reached new heights with him. Nothing comes close to Back in Black, it's the greatest of all time.

I like a lot of different music, pop, some country, and some rock. This album was something monumental, in my opinion. Perhaps it's because I was a bit of a rebellious teen at the time of it's release. But I'm just short of 50 now, and this album still ROCKS>

6 Moving Pictures - Rush

Rush is my favorite band.

I first bought this album on vinyl, but later it was the second CD I ever bought (the first being U2's Joshua Tree). I had to hear YYZ on the latest technology of the day.

It's rare when you can listen to an entire album where every song is fantastic and half of them are masterpieces. This is one them.

I can't believe this album is so high but I couldn't be more pleased! This album and band are amazing. Tom Sawyer, Red Barchetta, YYZ, Limelight and Vital Signs are amazing. The Camera Eye and Witch Hunt are great too.

Inventive and groundbreaking, this album re-defined rock and created a genre of its own, stepping away from 70s prog and reaching the perfect mix between great songwriting and intricate and fabulous playing.

Rush simply redefines epic with just one album. çThe one reason this album is classic is because it's all killer, no filler. From Tom Sawyer to YYZ to Red Barchetta to CAMERA EYE, this is darn amazing. Must own.

7 Who's Next - The Who

Baba O'riley, Behind Blue eyes, Won't get fooled again, need I say more? This album represents one of the greatest rock groups at their best. It contains some of the greatest rock tunes and some of the greatest rock ballads as well. This album has every band member performing at their best and most rocking. It deserves top 3 for sure.

Roger Daltrey's scream marks the pinnacle of classic rock. Nothing before that moment had so well captured the essence of rock and roll, and nothing after it matched the primal nuance of rock's earlier days. Surrounding this singular moment is rock and roll at its very finest.

Roger Daltrey's scream at the end of the instrumental section in won't get fooled again is the moment rock music came of age (said someone). Everything since has been anticlimax.

The album bridged heavy classic rock guitar with a modernized use of synthesizers. Some of Townsends best writing. This is The Who matured beyond teenage angst. Not a bad song on the album.

8 A Night at the Opera - Queen

This album showed the world that damn near anything can be rock if you just do it right. Freddie was the greatest front man of all time, and what he and Brian and the rest of them did on this album completely changed not just rock, but everything that played on the radio because it showed that the world would listen to great music regardless of genre.

Not to mention commercial success, but musically, the album is considered one of the few historical records in Queen's history. It has a variety of genres like The Beatles' white album, and the quality of each song is very high. In particular, Bohemian Rhapsody, the highlight of the album, is considered one of the greatest masterpieces of all time.

Can't believe this one is so low! It's a Top 5 contender for sure! An eclectic album perfectly illustrating Queen's eclectic and diverse style. Something for everyone and this is pure raw talent at it's best. Also, goes without saying that the timeless 'Bohemian Rhapsody' is on this album too

The diversity on this album is incredible, featuring charleston (Seaside Rendevous, Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon) Metal, (Death on Two Legs, The prophets song) Folk ('39), opera/rock/whatever the hell you want to classify Bohemian Rhapsody as. Point is, this album does everything. If you're looking for an album suggestion, this is the one.

9 Paranoid - Black Sabbath

This album actually contained the blueprint of heavy metal. Beginning with wailing air-raid sirens, ozzy's demented howling, sweeping power chords of Iommi along with the crushingly heavy team of geezer butler and bill ward the band made this album worthy of the apocalypse. I am still stupefied by this Sabbath sound ever since I listened to this album 20 years ago ; although I feel it should not be classified here as it is a genre defining album... giving birth to the genre of heavy metal.

Why is this not top 3? Black Sabbath is the greatest metal band of all time and this album is better then The Who's, Rush's and AC/DC's! Also better then The Wall and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band...

Most unique sound out of all the above artists. This band has influenced all the heavier bands I listen to today. This should definitely be in the top of this list

Black Sabbath are very underrated. They are equally the best band of all time alongside band such as Zeppelin, Beatles etc.

10 Led Zeppelin II - Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin II is probably my favorite album out there. Individually, each track is strong, but not the best per say. But Led Zeppelin II is not album made to showcase any track in particular, and this becomes apparent when you listen to the whole album through. "Heartbreaker" is great, "Living Loving Maid" is great, but the way they sound back to back on a record just can't be beat. Led Zeppelin IV is great as well, but there are a few weaker tracks, thus putting II higher in my ranks

This was a very tough choice, but overall I think this the best Led Zep album, just barely beating Led Zeppelin IV. This album contains some of the best writing the band ever put forth, including maybe the best all around guitar work in rock history.

By far my favorite album of all time. I this this album is much better than IV even though I love every Led Zeppelin album to death. So many great songs though. Deserves top 10 definitely

THE BEST...right, very close but it edges IV by a notch...listen to the raw rock and you bang anything you body articulates...

The Contenders
11 Are You Experienced - The Jimi Hendrix Experience

The quintessential Hendrix album, a true trip in its own right; anyone who listens to it comes away enlightened. Anyone who HASN'T listened to this on acid is missing one of life's key musical experiences.

So many good songs on this album, from Purple Haze, Hey Joe, Foxy Lady, Manic Depression, Fire, and The Wind Cries Mary. The best of all time, no doubt. Never has an album had such a great list of songs!

An absolute classic that has stood the test of time. Perhaps "standing the test of time" should be a category. In my opinion, this should be in the top 2.

Come on. This album was recorded in 10 days. Some songs were recorded the same day that Redding and Mitchell first heard them. Just incredible.

12 Abbey Road - The Beatles

In my humble opinion this album is a masterpiece. No contemporary musical opus is perfect and sadly that's a fact. However, what makes a good album might be a single unforgettable track supported by a load of nearly but not quite tracks. What makes a great album is perhaps two or three awesome tracks. But with the exception of two pointless fillers, namely Octopus's Garden & Maxwell's Silver Hammer, this album is faultless musically, lyrically & production wise. A veritable tsunami of sound and harmony is there, timelessly set in stone, to engulf all fortunate past & future audiences emotions. It will forever be a mystery to me how four undereducated working class youths ever managed to conceive and deliver such a level of musical genius.

The Beatles are the band that every other band looks to as the archetype. They were the original classic rock band that all the other classic rock bands bow to. Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, the Doors, the Eagles, the Rolling Stones, etc, etc - they all looked to the Beatles as their idols.

To address a topic addressed by another comment - yes, back in the day they called them "pop" - but they also referred to the Rolling Stones, the Who, and Led Zeppelin as pop as well. Back then the word "pop" literally meant "popular" - and literally everybody from Frank Sinatra to Janis Joplin to James Brown were all considered "pop. " To say that the Beatles sounded more "pop" than Led Zeppelin makes no sense in the context of the time period...

The Beatles don't need to sound like Zeppelin because the Beatles pioneered the musical sounds that Led Zeppelin employed. The definition of "Classic Rock" is album oriented rock & roll music... Previously all rock & roll centered on singles - ...more

The Beatles are the best rock band ever, the comment below mine says they are pop comparing them to Led Zeppelin (ironically he didn't write correctly the band's name). Led Zeppelin is heavier than The Beatles, but than doesn't means that The Beatles aren't classic rock... this guys have many songs that were considered heavy and every song of them is rock!

Many people label them as pop. That's bad because they were the band that made better rock!

By the way, this album is perfect because all its songs rock!

I realize these lists are subjective, however I don't understand how anyone can be "sick of the Beatles" But you're correct, The Beatles are not "rock". Their music encompassed far too many styles to be labeled as just "rock". But they were a rock band and released many "rock" songs as well as ballads, Indian, big band, acoustic, folk, psychedelic, blues, etc...No other band even comes close to The Beatles influence and creativity and that includes Cream.

13 Machine Head - Deep Purple

This is the first album that really made me a rock aficionado. After listening to this album, I had to explore music that was like this. The music scene in the 60's and 70's was constantly exploding with albums that were masterpieces, and this is one of them.

Easily Deep Purple's best album, Machine Head features a wide variety of sounds, from the explosive Highway Star, to the surprisingly groovy Lazy, to the classic riff to rule all other riffs, Smoke on the Water.

Machine head is a milestone in the history and development of rock music & an album which has influenced countless groups and musicians for 42 years. There is no competitive album.
All the albums that are better for a position is just below the machine head

The mother of rock albums. Skip Smoke on the water and you got only good songs playd by kings.
Highway star, Myabe I'm a Leo, Pictures of Home and Never before is 4 of the best hard songs ever made, and here the are found on one rechord!

14 Hotel California - The Eagles

While the whole album is great, it must be said that the title track is one of the most incredible chapters in the history of rock, lyrically and instrumentally.

One of my favorite albums ever, many great rock songs. Joe Walsh and Don Felder on dual guitars, what more could you ask for.

I love every single song on that album it is amazing and it really shows how the band changed when Joe Walsh joined.

Couple of good songs but I never really thought it was that great. Overrated.

15 2112 - Rush

Why is Moving Pictures before 2112? That's like saying Justin Bieber could sing for Nirvana! Or saying that he could even sing in the first place!

Played so often on my turntable that is sounds like it has no highs left. Still amazing to listen to.

Rush at their best.

Rush's best album.

16 Boston - Boston

Always #1 in my opinion. Everyone's tastes are different, but all things considered, Delp's vocals, Scholz's genius, the songwriting the just nothing else better. Plus, it's timeless. Sounds just as modern today as it did almost 50 years ago.

For me... Boston is all about this album, and the follow up Don't Look Back. Like someone on this thread mentioned... Not a dud to be found... While the later albums are not bad at all, I felt that Tom Scholz chose to recycle a lot of riffs and melodic phrasings. Too many later songs of Boston sounded similar.

Anyway... I love this album and can never get bored of it.

This is simply the greatest album of all time, All eight songs are pure rock talent and I wish more people could appreciate the musical talent of Brad Delp and Tom Scholz.

Are you gonna hitch a ride on a smokin rock and roll band that will share their piece of mind to give you more than a Feeling. Take this record home tonight

17 Rumours - Fleetwood Mac

The only thing prettier than Stevie nicks is her voice, all the bands in 70s were so different, but the era was the same. In a sentence a bunch young people with 12 pack of beer a big old four finger bag of Colombian and a moutian top sunset listening to fleetwood Mac. Man how I miss the 1977to81 era!

When they been at their worst they did the best... Among my top three Albums!

For sure, one of the best! Every single song is awesome!

I agree, this is one of the best albums ever!

18 Appetite for Destruction - Guns N' Roses

How on earth did The Beatles have not one, but two albums ahead of this. I am a huge classic rock fan and this is at least top ten, deserves top five, and should probably be top three. And no hate towards Rush, Moving Pictures is amazing, but no way both Moving Pictures and 2112 are ahead of this.

Guns N' Roses released this album in 1987 and just brought back sex, drugs and rock n' roll back to the music scene. Definitely deserves top 5 or even top 3 number 1 in my opinion I am just a young kid but I know my music facts and right from the getco I've loved this album and just recently bought the CD Every song on this album is simply spectacular including the following Sweet Child O' Mine, Welcome To The Jungle, Paradise City, It's So Easy, Out Ta Get Me etc. But, To conclude it all this album influenced more than any other album has and is just perfect, perfect.

The Beatles above this? Not a chance. Even my 13 year old daughter agrees with this. When it comes to rock, no one exemplifies the total package more than early Guns N' Roses. Period. This is the greatest ever made.

Better then 99% of the albums on this list. Not a single bad song on the album. They all rock and still to this day this album owns its relevance even in the newest generation.

19 Revolver - The Beatles

While Abbey Road is better musically, and Sgt. Pepper is more influential, Revolver exemplifies everything that was so amazing about the Beatles. At the time, the Beatles were still on good terms and Lennon and McCartney were still writing songs together. This combination resulted in one of the greatest albums of all time (ask Rolling Stone, they have it ranked as the number 3 greatest album of all time). Revolver includes musical innovations like Eleanor Rigby and Tomorrow Never Knows and brilliant songwriting like Here, There and Everywhere and I'm Only Sleeping. While it's not the most recognized or the most influential, it is among the Beatles best albums, and should be high in the top ten.

The Beatles climbed a high mountain with this album, and found no one else at the top aside from Hendrix; by comparison, Sgt. Pepper's is only a documentary about the trip.

Why the heck isn't this top ten! This should be #1! But #95! What the hell! I was going to vote for Joshua Tree, thinking this would already be up there and Tree would need the vote a comment, but I see the Beatles best album and greatest of all time at 95. Shame. I don't like this list- mostly because of this albums poor placement.

Revolver is surprisingly underrated, "Taxman", "And Your Bird Can Sing", "Eleanor Rigby", and "Yellow Submarine" all come from this album, and are some of the greatest Beatles songs of all time, if not some of the greatest SONGS of all time.

20 Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd

This album should be higher up. From the epic Shine On You Crazy Diamond to songs like Wish You Were Here and Have a Cigar, this album is awesome in every way.

It should be number 2. Exceptional music. Outstanding in every aspect. Definitively has to be ranked higher, much higher.

The most touching and personal Pink Floyd album. Maybe not the best but definitely my favorite.

Beautiful, dramatic and incredibly deep. A masterpiece to never be forgotten.

21 Highway To Hell - AC/DC

This is better then Back In Black and every other album on this list (Other than the Queen ones)

This is AC/DC at their finest. BIB is a close second however, HTH just rocks more

22 In Rock - Deep Purple

This is a far better album than Machine Head. It's more intense and the songs are more daring. Not surprising considering in the line-up's first album together and they were still unknown so were more free to stamp the songs with whatever direction they wanted. Child In Time on its own would be worth the album price, but the whole thing is full to bursting with loud, intense raw power. By the time Purple came to do Machine Head, they were more cautious and had more pressure on them after the lackluster Fireball. Deep Purple In Rock showed what a band could do without any shackles.

I had been playing drums as a young guy (started pre-teens, about 10 years old)... I would turn 13 May of the year this came out - 1970, joined my first really good local Rock Band that winter as well... No other album (and all the above are amazing, and greatly influenced me as well), but, no other album, music, drummer, influenced my Hard Rock playing ability more than Deep Purple, Ian Paice, and this album... I had Heard "Hush" years earlier, great, great stuff, but this album and line-up just blew me away for years to come!... Long Live "DP"

The greatest heavy rock album of all time by in my opinion, the most underrated band in the last forty years. This album set the bar, never surpassed, rarely equalled.

Better than Machine Head? I think so as well. One of the most underrated albums of all time. A must listen if you like good music.

23 Nevermind - Nirvana

The album that finally put an end to hair metal and the prototype for a decade of music to follow. No Smashing Pumpkins on this list which is tragic, as they were contemporaries of Nirvana.

Since the Beatles and Led Zeppelin, nobody had such an enormous impact on music. This album didn't just kill hair metal, it made alternative metal popular, which has been 98% of rock for the last 25 years... rock will never be same after this

This obviously shouldn't be number 1, but it's just an amazinf album. This album, is almost the soundtrack of my life. But I have one question, how the hell is kurt cobain a genius? He killed himself... Dave grohl is the real genius

I think it is one of the best albums of all time. The 12 tracks match each other perfectly. If you are not shaken by Nirvana, boy... you are already dead...

24 Made In Japan - Deep Purple

Yes one of the best Live albums. The Drum solo on the Mule is like a roller coaster ride... and what a ride. Great drum solo.
Highway star is a great opener that really ROCKS.
We can't forget another great album... Humble Pie - Performance rocking' the Fillmore.

This and Live At Leeds by The Who are two of the greatest live recordings ever!

"The Mule"... Now tell me Ian Paice only has one Bass Drum here?!? Yup, that's right!

Best live album ever! Enough said!

25 Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap - AC/DC
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