Rock music has been around since the inception of electric guitars into the music work, allowing for a greater range and type of sound. But electric guitars were just the beginning. Coupled with war and tragedy, rock music was the people’s response to feeling helpless.
For some people, it’s easy to brush off rock music as just noise, but the way that the rock and roll genre changed the face of music is still present and tangible today. Of course, some were better than others. And some were the absolute best of their times, and the best that the genre has ever had to offer.
From various bands and artists, here are the best rock albums to ever have been produced, taking in consideration of their impact, legacy and - of course - sales.
1. The Beatles - Revolver
Revolver came out in 1966, and while it’s almost impossible to pick the very best of the Beatles’ albums, this is the one that really deserves the spotlight.
Revolver is packed full of all the classic songs that people go to when they think of the Beatles, showing the longevity of the album itself.
Not only that, but the quality of the album itself all comes together through the sound, the lyrics and the performance. It’s truly the best of the Beatles.
2. The Doors - The Doors
The self-titled album released in 1967 that introduced the entire world to Jim Morrison is undoubtedly the best album that the Doors have ever produced. As a frontman, Morrison’s poetic style and lyrics really captured what the Doors were all about.
Not only that, but they were so different from the music that was being made around them that everything about the style, sound and lyrics of the Doors’ album was able to set them apart .
3. The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Are You Experienced
Released in 1967, Are You Experienced is probably one of the greatest debut albums to ever come out of the rock and roll era. Jimi Hendrix changed the face of rock and roll, absolutely, but he did so with his very first album.
Not only does Are You Experienced surpass expectations with songwriting and lyrical ability, but it also shows off Hendrix’s phenomenal vocal range. All in all, Jimi Hendrix brought a range of new sounds and experiences to rock and roll with the album Are You Experienced.
4. The Band - Music From Big Pink
While this 1968 record can’t be entirely classified as rock and roll, it absolutely has those classic and exciting rock elements, rolled up with country, folk, classical and even soul.
It’s true that Music From Big Pink was something that hadn’t been heard before after the Band struck out on their own, part from being Bob Dylan’s backing band. Still, they reached out to Dylan for help on the songs, of which he co-wrote five.
Everything else, however, was all them - and it absolutely shows. Music From Big Pink was even an influence on Pink Floyd.
5. Jeff Beck - Truth
Jeff Beck’s 1968 album Truth actually had an entire host of artists, including Jimmy Page, Keith Moon and Rod Stewart. Perhaps that’s what made the album so irresistible, and so life-changing for the face of rock and roll.
The sound of Truth was a mix between hard rock and blues, an obvious nod to B.B King and others like him. All in all, Truth is a classic album that has been influential to musicians for ages, and still will be for years to come.
6. The Beatles - Abbey Road
Is it fair to put the Beatles on here twice? Really, when it comes to Abbey Road, it absolutely seems fair. Their 1969 album was the last of their music recorded with Sir George Martin, and it was notably created during the tumultuous time with John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
Despite the drama within the band, Abbey Road stands up to the tests of time, full of Beatles classics and some of George Harrison’s best songs.
7. Creedence Clearwater Revival - Green River
Those who listened through The Band’s album Music From Big Pink will recognize the influence and sound in Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 1969 album Green River.
This album had a lot of sound in common with The Band’s album, including the blues-sounding country rock. The songwriting, however, was phenomenal and something all it’s own, with a mix of storytelling and childhood memories.
8. The Who - Who’s Next
Released in 1971, Who’s Next is really a classic when it comes to The Who. The album was released as a response to the band’s almost-split and turmoil from the failed concept piece by Pete Townsend.
Unfortunately, audiences wanted nothing to do with it, and as a result the band was hit with issues. However, Who’s Next came as a nine-track, straight rock record that really brought them all back together - literally, and musically.
There isn’t one track on Who’s Next that doesn’t do the job of making The Who sounds like The Who.
9. Led Zeppelin - (IV)
Of course, you can’t name great rock albums without bringing Led Zeppelin to the table. Of course, picking the album will also be difficult, but their 1971 album IV is what sets them apart.
This was most definitely Led Zeppelin’s magnum opus, with all of the sound and lyrical quality that made them who they were. And of course: Stairway to Heaven is Led Zeppelin’s most famous song, with a guitar solo that stands up the rests of time.
10. Rod Stewart - Every Picture Tells a Story
Another name in the genre of rock and roll that can never be forgotten, Rod Stewart’s 1961 album is one that really showcases the power of his rock and roll skills.
Every Picture Tells a Story is Rod Stewart’s third solo album, though it welcomed appearances from his fellow members of The Faces, which made the album absolutely irresistible in terms of sound.
All in all, one of the greatest rock albums to ever grace the scene.
11. The Rolling Stones - Exile on Main
How can you pick one of the best Rolling Stones albums? Even though Mick Jagger has nothing nice to say about the band’s 1972 album, Exile on Main has some of the best Rolling Stones classics that still stand up today.
This double album really encapsulates The Rolling Stones at their best, filled to the brim with the sound of blues, folk music and rock and roll.
While there are no smash hits to be found on Exile on Main, it’s still an amazing album that really speaks to what kind of music The Rolling Stones could produce.
12. David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars
David Bowie’s 1972 album was something that came entirely out of left field. No one was prepared for it, but the album made its way into people’s hearts and lodged there until the ends of time.
This album had everything that rock and roll was about: politics, sex and drugs. The lyrics and sound redefined the face of rock, and Bowie more than delivered. No one could have expected this album, which makes it one of the greats.
13. Pink Floyd - The Dark Side of the Moon
After their first album, Pink Floyd struggled to find their footing through the next six that followed. There were some hits, but nothing compared to the absolute success that their 1973 album, The Dark Side of the Moon, would produce.
This album was something that had never been done before, and something that everyone wanted more of. In fact, after it’s release, the album stayed on the Billboard charts from 1973 to 1988 - that’s 741 weeks!
14. Alice Cooper - Billion Dollar Babies
Alice Cooper had already been made famous before the release of their 1973 album Billion Dollar Babies. The album itself was a testament to all of the horrific things that people do, and that no one talks about.
What better way to explore those themes than with rock and roll? Billion Dollar Babies was provocative in a new way, with song lyrics that unabashedly covered everything from necrophilia to the fear of dentists.
15. Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
This 1973 album was Elton John at his best. His 7th album in four years, Elton John wrote the music for almost all 17 songs in just three days. Truly, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was Elton John at the peak of his rock and roll days. Even the audience knew that this was something special, because it would go on to become his best selling album.
16. Aerosmith - Toys in the Attic
Though it may seem hard to pick an Aerosmith album that deserves recognition above the others, their 1975 release of Toys in the Attic was Aerosmith’s real commercial success.
Truly, Toys in the Attic was rock and roll at it’s very best, with a mix of sound inspired by the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. Although Aerosmith had two good albums before this one, Toys in the Attic was what really launched them off to be well known, and is undoubtedly one of the best rock albums ever.
17. Queen - A Night at the Opera
Queen’s 1975 album A Night at the Opera was a follow up to their already spectacularly successful album Sheer Heart Attack - and what a follow up it was.
A Night at the Opera was nothing less than a monumental success, with songs that were written by all four members, sung by three, and styles and sounds that had never been touched on before.
Of course, A Night at the Opera contains the classic Bohemian Rhapsody.
18. Bruce Springsteen - Born to Run
Honestly, a list of the greatest rock albums ever couldn’t exist without including Bruce Springsteen - and nothing less than his breakthrough album, Born to Run, in 1975 could compare.
Even though Born to Run took a staggering 14 months to record, it was well worth the wait, considering that the songs, sounds and lyrics all resonated with it’s audience - and still do to this day.
19. The Eagles - Hotel California
In 1976, the Eagles recorded an album that would deal with the heavy theme of America’s decline into materialism and it’s neverending thirst for decadence.
And that theme struck a chord with audiences, and the title track became one of the most famous songs ever recorded. The album itself sold well over 32 million copies worldwide, and that number is still going up to this day.
20. Meat Loaf - Bat Out of Hell
This unique album took years to record and was rejected by label after label. When Meat Loaf was finally able to get someone to back the album in 1977, it was initially hated by audience and fans.
But still, something about Bat Out of Hell was entirely irresistible, considering that the album became a classic hit. The sound and lyrics are absolutely thrilling, and maybe that's why the album ended up selling over 43 million copies, despite the initial backlash and hatred.
21. Van Halen - Van Halen
This self-titled debut album in 1978 was what rocketed Van Halen onto the rock and roll scene. While David Lee Roth played his part with his lyrical genius and the sound of his voice, it would have been all for naught if it weren’t for Eddie Van Halen’s guitar playing that redefined what it meant to play rock and roll. Of course, the self-titled Van Halen album includes the infamous Eruption - a song that’s all solo, and all Eddie Van Halen.
22. AC/DC - Highway to Hell
Once more, a rock album list couldn’t exist without mentioning AC/DC’s 1979 album Highway to Hell. This album was the final act of former and original AC/DC singer Bon Scott.
It was a phenomenal album that still holds up today, with Highway to Hell being one of the most famous songs to hit rock music to this date. It really became their breakthrough record, with 10 tracks of pure rock and roll.
23. Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Rust Never Sleeps
Half electric and half acoustic, Neil Young & Crazy Horse’s 1979 album was recorded mostly live at the San Francisco’s Boarding House, as well a during a tour run.
Perhaps it’s the creation of the album that makes it so unforgettable. All the same, Neil Young hit his magnum opus with Rust Never Sleeps, and all nine songs showcase his lyrical genius, hands down.
24. Journey - Escape
Journey is a band that everyone loves to pretend that they hate, but when Don’t Stop Believin’ comes on from their 1981 album Escape, everyone knows the lyrics and can’t help but sing along.
That’s what makes this album one of the greats. Journey’s style and sound had changed a lot by the time they got to Escape, their eighth album, but it was well worth the wait to get to this type of sound.
25. Dire Straits - Brothers in Arms
Some folks might dismiss Dire Straits as not quite rock and roll enough. However, their 1985 album Brothers in Arms made an entirely new statement for them.
After all, this album sold well over 30 million copies. Brothers in Arms was a mix of rock and roll and pop sound that resonated with audiences everywhere.
26. Heart - Heart
Finally, a feminine touch to the list. Rock and roll has a serious problem with being overpowered by male voice and male sound, but Heart came onto the scene to prove that women were capable of rocking just as hard.
Heart’s 1985 self-titled album was their eighth, and it contained at least five hit singles that make it one of the greatest rock albums, ever.
27. Bon Jovi - Slippery When Wet
How could we not talk about Bon Jovi and his 1986 album Slippery When Wet? His first two albums really rocked the scene, but with Slippery When Wet, Bon Jovi went for an entirely new rock and roll sound that really became an international hit right away.
After all, this album contained some of his most well-known hits, including Livin’ On a Prayer and Dead or Alive.
28. Whitesnake - Whitesnake
The 1980s self-titled album from Whitesnake was a true powerhouse when it came to changing the game for rock and roll. Whitesnake is truly a wild ride from start to finish, including fantastic vocals, unforgettable lyrics, and top-chart hits like Here I Go Again and the unforgettable power ballad, Is This Love.
29. Def Leppard - Hysteria
Def Leppard’s 1987 album Hysteria is a triumph for a number of reasons, one of which being that the drummer, Rick Allen, was in a car accident and lost his arm before recording began - and after he recovered, Def Leppard went on to record, arguably, their biggest and most successful album. Hysteria is filled to the brim with exciting, heart pumping rock anthems that still stand the test of time today.
30. Green Day - American Idiot
Fastforwarding to the early 2000s, Green Day was already had 20 years of success under their belt before the Bush war-era album American Idiot debuted in 2004.
It was what catapulted Green Day into the mainstreet, despite their already successful albums.
American Idiot was a rock opera that spoke to a generation of war-torn young adults in ways that rock music hadn’t quite reached before.