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Top 50 Rock Albums of All Time

The Best and Most Influential Rock Albums of the Past 50 Years

A lot of excellent rock music has come out over the past fifty years on vinyl, CD, and various other formats. About 200 albums came right to mind, when we were asked to list the top 50 rock albums of all time.  We managed narrowed it down to the fifty best and most influential rock albums of our lives. Here is my list of top 50 Rock (& Pop-Rock) albums of all time. I hope you enjoy it.

50 - The Doors
The debut album by Jim Morrison & Co. kicks off and "breaks on through" to enter the 50 list.

49 - Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) - David Bowie In the 70s Bowie spawned Young Americans and Heroes, two of the top 100 songs of all time; but it was in 1980 that he scored the superlative LP: Scary Monsters. His follow-up "Let's Dance" was also a big #1 album.

48 - Bon Jovi Debut BJ's first album didn't sell as many copies as Slippery or NJ, but musically it was Bon Jovi's peak, and it still holds up. "Runaway" and "She don't know me" are classics.

47 - All Things Must Pass - George Harrison (speaks for itself)

46 - Nimrod (1997) Green Day One of the few 90s CDs on our list, Green Day gave us a lot to remember and the "time of your life."

45 - The River (1980) Bruce Springsteen Arguably the best of the Springsteen catalog.

44 - Are You Experienced? - Jimi Hendrix The winds cries Mary, and through a purple haze you can see a foxy lady on fire, just a highway chile on the third stone from the sun, married 51 years.

43 - Damn the Torpedoes - Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers.  Refugee , very memorable.

42 - "2112" by Rush A sci-fi tale I'd like to see made into a movie. The music and story here are ground-breaking and timeless.

41 - Spitfire by Jefferson Starship Slick and Balin are still the best duet singers. Excellent album cover , too. Winds of Change came later and ties in every way. Grace Slick is the boldest queen of rock.

40 - Avalon by Roxy Music. Bryan Ferry still at the lead, this final Roxy LP was their best.

39 - Peter Gabriel - Security - Peter's 4 th LP with Shock the Monkey introducing him to MTVs mass audience. The heavy drum style would later be copied by many artists. I especially like "Rhythm of the Heat."

38 - Billion Dollar Babies by Alice Cooper featuring the recurring Steven character, a follow-up to the mind-tickling theatrical LP Welcome to My Nightmare . No more Mr. Nice guy!

37 - Low Spark of High-heeled Boys by Traffic The title track is smooth prog-rock at its best. A long-haired Steve Winwood brought us psychedelic fun in 1971.

36 - Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness (1995) Smashing Pumpkins . A rare 90s act, in a decade lacking almost any musical talent, the Pumpkins came through for us!

37 - Bad Co - Bad Company debut album. "Rock Steady" sums it up well. Almost as good as its followup LP: Straight Shooter .

34 - Tea for the Tillerman - Cat Stevens. Probably the quietest album on the list; this is a series of beautiful acoustic songs that still endure today. "Where do the Children Play?" is more appropriate this year than ever.

33 - Back in Black - AC/DC . We go from the quietest to the loudest LP on the list. This album was a monster and it shook us all night long.

32 - The Roaring Silence by Manfred Mann's Earth Band. Along with its follow-up Watch LP, excellent psycho-trauma rock music.

31 - London Calling (1979) The Clash Tackling social issues, such as unemployment and racism in the UK, the Clash rocked the house on this one. (They rocked the casbah later).

30 - A Night at the Opera by Queen . There's more to this LP than the monster hit "Bohemian Rhapsody." All guitars, no synthesizers, Queen defied the laws of physics, and blew our minds.

29 - Desolation Boulevard by (the) Sweet Glam rock peaked with Fox on the Run , and took this album to the top. I always enjoy No You Don't and The 6-Teens, as well. This album was fast and unstoppable, and needs to be played again every summer.

28 - Aqualung - Jethro Tull The most prolific and long-lasting of all the bands on our list, J-Tull crashed into the US charts with Aqualung in 1971. It was the most-played album of rock-radio in the 70s. Cross-Eyed Mary and Locomotive Breath stand out.

27 - Dark Side of the Moon - Pink Floyd Spending 741 weeks on the Billboard top 200 charts, this was a monster LP for a decade of progressive rock. The album shot PF into the limelight and paved the way for more psycho-trauma to come.

26 - The White Album (1968) the Beatles There's not much to be said here, except: very cool, timeless tunes. The first double rock album to ever go to the top of the charts.

25 - Hysteria - Def Leppard. The highly influential band peaked in 1987 with Hysteria, and the title track, along with "Love Bites" and "Animal" were MTV mainstays.

24 - Beggar's Banquet - The Rolling Stones. Sympathy and Salt for the ages. "Street Fighting Man" is my favorite from this LP.

23 - Rio from Duran Duran. An album, and a band, that defined the 80s.

22 - The Grand Illusion -- Styx. Dennis DeYoung and Tommy Shaw penned a strong follow-up to Crystal Ball . "Come Sail Away" was the most played song on the radio that year, but "Castle Walls" got the most FM rock play. Regardless, the whole album was destined to be a classic.

21 - Frampton Comes Alive - Peter Frampton. This was owned by every suburban teen in the 70s. It was a requirement, I believe.

20 - Volunteers by Jefferson Airplane. An incredible arrangement of 60s music, this was the Airplane at their best. "Hey Fredrick" is an especially important track.

19 - Supertramp live in Paris. Intricate lyrics and heavy songs make up a perfect double album to start our charts. "Ayslum" and "Crime of the Century" move to the front.

18 - Out of the Blue -- ELO (Electric Light Orchestra) A double LP, rare for 1977, but its orchestral fusion paid off. All seventeen songs are fantastic. Nice spaceship cover, too.

17 - Strangers in the Night -- UFO. Following the success of Lights Out , the live album showcased the best songs from UFO, one of the top hard rock bands ever. "Doctor Doctor" and "Love to Love" are standouts.

16 - Boston -- Boston. The debut album from a band we thought would make it. They didn't, but their first album still lives on. A seminal rock LP for the eons.

15 - Close to the Edge by Yes. Progressive rock at its finest.

14 - Bat Out of Hell -- Meatloaf. Jim Steinman wrote the songs, Meat sang them, and we enjoyed them, immensely.

13 - Candy-O (1980) by The Cars . From "Let's Go" to "Dangerous Type" this album has no weak spots. Every track is strong. The Cars' unique sounds came together that year for an incredible upbeat album, a milestone in music history. This sound would go on to influence a whole decade of 80s music.

12 - High Infidelity -- REO Speedwagon.  Every track on HI got airplay, and it was hard not to like the tunes. "Take it on the Run" and "Keep on Loving You" were built for cruising after midnight. I'm partial to the rocker "Tough Guys."

11 - Band on the Run -- Paul McCartney & Wings. Right alongside Venus and Mars, this album was sharp as a tack. "Jet" stands out as my fave, along with the title track.

10 - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road - Elton John (1973) A string of big hits, including "Bennie & the Jets," and a hard-hitting sound, made this album a staple for a decade. It still deserves to be heard, again and again.

9 - Led Zeppelin IV (1971) From a later album, Kashmir is one of the greatest songs of all time, but the album that ranks highest in Zep history is the 4 th album, also called Zoso. With "Stairway to Heaven," "Rock and Roll," and "When the Levee Breaks," this albums rocks the casbah.

8 - Ziggy Stardust by David Bowie. A ground-breaking feast of music. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders of Mars. Moonage Daydream... ahhh

7 - A Farewell to Kings (1977) Rush . A hard rock masterpiece, a sci-fi tale told in perfectly fused songs. "Xanada" is a particular favorite, along with the timeless "Closer to the Heart."

6 - The Wall - Pink Floyd . Epic. "Comfortably Numb" might be the most famous guitar riff ever. I'm partial to "Hey You/Nobody Home".

5 - Rumours - Fleetwood Mac. Few albums have spun as many hits as the famous Rumours LP. The album has it all, from sweet ballads "Songbird" and "Gold Dust Woman" to hard rock "Chain," eerie "Dreams" and the pop rock anthem: "Go Your Own Way." Nothing is missing.

4 - Leftoverture (1976) Kansas. Some of the best songwriting in music history, this 4 th Kansas LP was a behemoth. It shot through our stereos with a multitude of instruments, including chimes, violin and heavy guitar work. "Miracles Out of Nowhere" is one of the all-time greatest songs. Kansas hit the top charts with "Carry On Wayward Son," which made it all the way to TV's Supernatural some 30 years later.

3 - Queen II (1974). The second album by Queen featured unique songwriting never heard before. Multiple songs were strung together without break: "Ogre Fight" to "March of the Black Queen." Few albums have melded such style, power and drive as Queen II.

2 - Thick as a Brick - Jethro Tull. While Aqualung and Songs from the Wood get as much attention, it's the prog-rock masterpiece Thick as a Brick that is the 2 nd top album in music. The genius Ian Anderson penned one of the most innovative musical arrangements of all time. The LP is one long song told in two acts. If you don't understand, just listen to it.

1 - Abbey Road - the Beatles
The top album of our time. Every song has real character and staying-power.
"Here Comes the Sun" is my favorite from the CD, and it still cheers me up. Will there ever be another album like this one, in our time?

No albums from 1999 to 2014? Place the blame on: Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, Eminem, Bieber ... or perhaps blame their millions of fans - and the record companies most of all. If we don't encourage good music, we won't get it.

Hope you enjoyed remembering the top 50 rock albums of all time here on Top2040, now go listen!

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