Best Classic Rock Albums of All Time: Mock Draft
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted Donovan, The Beastie Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Guns N’ Roses (Why is the apostrophe on the “N” like that?), along with several people you haven’t heard of, in 2012.
There are very few current bands I would consider “rock bands,” like Foo Fighters, Chili Peppers, Jack White, and maybe Linkin Park, The Strokes and a couple others I’m forgetting? But the days of listening to an entire album (vinyl or not) are long behind us.
I remember, from when I was about 10 years old, listening to dozens of records my older brothers Scott and Mike had gotten from Columbia House. Styx, Aerosmith, The Cars, Argent, Led Zeppelin. We’d sit in the room, listen to records, look at the album covers and read “Mad Magazine.” It was awesome! (Then they’d tell me to go ask my mom what “masturbate” meant. JERKS!)
Sure, being inducted into the R&R HOF might be a huge honor and all, but an even bigger honor would be having called one of the best classic rock albums chosen in the first two rounds of this mock draft. Just ask one of The Beatles!
- Only albums from before 1989 (which is when the major labels stopped producing vinyl records)
- Only one album per band (My rules.)
- Songs have to currently be played on Classic Rock stations
- A great album cover definitely has influence
- No live albums (sorry Frampton) and no greatest hits
Best Classic Rock Albums of All Time Mock Draft
1.01 Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin IV
A record with just eight songs tops the entire list!?! In all seriousness, name another stretch of songs that has the quality of this album, one through eight, with just two that are forgettable. 1-Black Dog, 2-Rock and Roll, 3-The Battle of Evermore, 4-Stairway to Heaven, 5-Misty Mountain Hop, 6-Four Sticks, 7-Going to California, 8-When the Levee Breaks. And let’s not forget it has one of the greatest rock ballads in history, with Stairway. Their first two albums were awesome, and the third one was just good. But the fourth was like an apology for the third. Houses of the Holy”\ was a pretty close second place. Houses and Physical Graffiti had the best album covers, too. And Physical Graffiti is also the best bang for your buck (cost of one album for 15 solid songs). This band’s biggest problem is also the biggest reason why their success means even more – only a few times does the title of a song have anything to do with the lyrics. Sounds silly, right? But try request a song from a DJ by explaining how it sounds, without the title. When has a band ever been as creative as this band has been with the name and the titles of their songs – yet completely unoriginal with most of their album titles?
1.02 The Beatles – Abbey Road
Obviously, this was the toughest decision to make. Picking one from a handful of awesome albums is like choosing just one great season from Jim Brown. Working against Sgt. Pepper was the fact I hate the song “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” as well as the song “Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite,” whereas Abbey Road has one of my all-time favorites in “She Came In Through the Bathroom Window,” and my brother Mark’s favorite Beatles song, “The End.” And it had two of the best George Harrison-sung ballads in “Something” and “Here Comes the Sun,” along with Paul McCartney’s “You Never Give Me Your Money” and “Golden Slumbers.” And we haven’t even mentioned “Come Together” and “Carry That Weight” yet. This album is the late ‘90s Rams of Fantasy studs. Rubber Soul, White Album, Sgt. Pepper and Revolver were just in a tough bracket. The barefoot album cover is just a classic Beatles photograph, as well, and it’s the last album they recorded together, interestingly enough.
1.03 The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers
Despite not having original guitarist Brian Jones on the album, I barely went with this one over Let It Bleed. Fingers boasts hard rock like “Brown Sugar,” “Bitch” and “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking,” but it also has “Wild Horses.” (If you pictured Markie Mark and Reese Witherspoon, I’m with ya. The song “You Gotta Move” isn’t widely known, but I can totally envision it being played in a movie as the camera pans over an old jail cell in early ‘50s Alabama, as our hero awakens from a drunken stupor, holding his head in his hands. And the working zipper on the album cover is just outstanding!
1.04 The Who – Who’s Next?
Growing up, I was never a big fan of The Who – they always seemed to be caught between trying too be The Stones and The Beatles. (I didn’t say it made sense.) But as an adult, I’ve definitely grown to appreciate them more. And any time you get five of a great band’s greatest songs on one album, like Who’s Next, then that ranks among the greats. “Baba O’Riley” (Teenage Wasteland sound more familiar?), “Bargain,” “Going Mobile,” “Behind Blue Eyes” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” all came from this album. It definitely has the feel of a Murderer’s Row lineup.
1.05 Pink Floyd – The Wall
No one did concept albums like Pink Floyd, and for my generation, growing up as a teenage in the ‘80s, The Wall was something to be experienced, as much as it was to be listened to. While The Dark Side of the Moon might be more groundbreaking, it’s not the story that The Wall was.
1.06 AC/DC – Back in Black
From Bon Scott (Highway to Hell) to Brian Johnson (Back in Black), the band rocked with brothers Angus and Malcom Young at the core. Black had hard rock classics like the title track, “Hell’s Bells,” “Shoot to Thrill,” “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution,” “Have a Drink On Me,” and the song with the longest radio legs, “You Shook Me All Night Long.” It is the highest selling rock album of all-time, and its black cover is an homage to Scott, who died just five months before its release.
1.07 Jimi Hendrix – Are You Experienced?
His short life and supernatural abilities on the guitar are well documented, and this album is so stocked, you’d think it was a compilation album. But in 1967, he unleashed a bluesy rock previously unheard from an American. This album had the title track, as well as “Purple Haze,” “Hey Joe,” “Manic Depression,” “The Wind Cries Mary,” “Fire,” “Stone Free” and “Foxey Lady.” Looking back, Jimi had an Ichiro Suzuki-like rookie year.
1.08 The Doors – The Doors
How great was 1967? Hendrix arrives with his band’s first album, and The Doors come through with another one of the greatest rock debuts ever. There are only a handful of other debut rock albums that can be spoken up in the same paragraph as these two, including Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, Nirvana and Guns N’ Roses. “Light My Fire,” “Break On Through,” “Back Door Man,” “20thCentury Fox” and “The End” make this album legendary. Four early years of dominance brings to mind the Fantasy Football career of Terrell Davis.
1.09 Van Halen – Van Halen
Three debut albums back-to-back-to-back!?! This has feel of when A-Rod, Nomar Garciaparra and Miguel Tejada were in the battle to see who could take more steroids at shortstop! This album introduced us to the most distinctive guitar player of my generation, Eddie Van Halen (“Eruption”), as well as to one of the greatest front men in rock history, David Lee Roth. Unfortunately, the soap opera that followed this band pushed them behind Hendrix and The Doors. And if this album had the “1984” album cover, it might have ranked in my top three.
1.10 Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run
I got to the Springsteen party a little late (I blame my brothers). And I was always a fan of the “Born in the USA” album, only because that was my prime radio listening days. I’ve since matured, I swear! This album has “Thunder Road,” “Born To Run,” “She’s the One,” “Jungleland,” and “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” – one of my all-time favorites. If this album had “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight),” it would leap up into the top six. Clarence Clemons’ death possibly marks the last time the saxophone is prominent in rock music.
1.11 Lynyrd Skynyrd
— (Pronounced ‘Leh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd)
Southern Rock’s kings works their way into the first round of this draft. Again, lots of blues influence in their music, as with most country music. This album is top-heavy with a handful of their best songs, including “Tuesday’s Gone,” “Simple Man,” and, of course, “Free Bird.” Find yourself getting forced to sing a karaoke song and you suck at singing? Go with my choice, “Gimme Three Steps” – fun and easy to sing. Crappy album cover nearly shoves them into the second round.
1.12 Elton John
– Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Yep, this is like when someone picks the first tight end in your draft. Totally unsettles everyone. Elton John’s style leans more toward pop (especially in the ‘80s and beyond). But there’s no question that songs from this album, including the title track, “Bennie and the Jets,” and “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting,” were played along the other rock albums in the ’70s. Fun note you should know: Sir Elton’s middle name is Hercules – and he was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight. That means he CHOSE to make his middle name Hercules … Enjoy.
BEST CLASSIC ROCK ALBUMS – ROUND TWO
2.01 Guns N’ Roses – Appetite For Destruction
2.02 Aerosmith – Toys In the Attic
2.03 Eagles – Hotel California
2.04 Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell
2.05 Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
2.06 U2 – The Joshua Tree
2.07 The Police – Synchronicity
2.08 Boston – Boston
2.09 Bob Dylan – Blonde on Blonde
2.10 Black Sabbath – Paranoid
2.11 Queen – Night at the Opera
2.12 Creedence Clearwater Revival – Green River
Am I missing what you think is one of the best classic rock albums?