The 101 Most Influential Albums In Rock n’ Roll History

…as judged by Jeff Gold’s just-released coffee table tome, 101 Essential Rock Records.  Anything missing?

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1. The BeatlesPlease Please Me

2. Bob DylanThe Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan

3. The Rolling StonesThe Rolling Stones

4. Bob DylanAnother Side of Bob Dylan

5. Davy GrahamFolk Blues & Beyond…

6. ThemAngry Young Them

7. The ByrdsMr. Tambourine Man

8. Bob DylanHighway 61 Revisited

9. The WhoMy Generation

10. Simon & GarfunkelSounds of Silence

11. The Rolling StonesAftermath

12. The Beach BoysPet Sounds

13. Bob DylanBlonde On Blonde

14. The Mothers of InventionFreak Out!

15. YardbirdsYardbirds

16. John Mayall with Eric ClaptonBlues Breakers

17. The Butterfield Blues BandEast West

18. The BeatlesRevolver

19. Jefferson AirplaneTakes Off

20. The KinksFace to Face

21. The 13th Floor ElevatorsThe Psychedelic Sounds Of

22. Laura NyroMore Than A New Discovery

23. The DoorsThe Doors

24. Jefferson AirplaneSurrealistic Pillow

25. The Velvet Underground & NicoThe Velvet Underground

26. Grateful DeadGrateful Dead

27. The Jimi Hendrix ExperienceAre You Experienced?

28. The BeatlesSgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

29. Moby GrapeMoby Grape

30. Tim BuckleyGoodbye and Hello

31. Pink FloydThe Piper At The Gates of Dawn

32. Buffalo SpringfieldAgain

33. LoveForever Changes

34. CreamDisraeli Gears

35. TrafficMr. Fantasy

36. The WhoThe Who Sell Out

37. Leonard CohenSongs of Leonard Cohen

38. The Velvet UndergroundWhite Light/White Heat

39. Fleetwood MacFleetwood Mac

40. The Incredible String BandThe Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter

41. The ZombiesOdessey & Oracle

42. Small FacesOgden’s Nut Gone Flake

43. The BandMusic From The Big Pink

44. Grateful DeadAnthem of the Sun

45. Jeff BeckTruth

46. Big Brother & The Holding CompanyCheap Thrills

47. The ByrdsSweetheart of the Rodeo

48. The Jimi Hendrix ExperienceElectric Ladyland

49. Van MorrisonAstral Weeks

50. The BeatlesThe Beatles (White Album)

51. The Pretty ThingsS.F. Sorrow

52. The PentangleSweet Child

53. The Soft MachineThe Soft Machine

54. Creedence Clearwater RevivalBayou Country

55. Led ZeppelinLed Zeppelin

56. The Flying Burrito Bros.The Gilded Palace of Sin

57. MC5Kick Out The Jams

58. Sly And The Family StoneStand!

59. Neil Young With Crazy HorseEverybody Knows This Is Nowhere

60. Alexander Spence, Oar

61. The WhoTommy

62. Crosby, Stills & NashCrosby, Stills & Nash

63. Captain Beefheart & His Magic BandTrout Mask Replica

64. Blind FaithBlind Faith

65. Jethro TullStand Up

66. The StoogesThe Stooges

67. Nick DrakeFive Leaves Left

68. King CrimsonIn The Court of The Crimson King

69. Vashti BunyanJust Another Diamond Day

70. Fairport ConventionLiege & Leaf

71. The MoveShazam

72. James TaylorSweet Baby James

73. Black SabbathBlack Sabbath

74. Emerson Lake & PalmerEmerson Lake & Palmer

75. David BowieThe Man Who Sold The World

76. Cat StevensTea For The Tillerman

77. Carole KingTapestry

78. CanTago Mago

79. YesThe Yes Album

80. Joni MitchellBlue

81. The Allman Brothers BandAt Fillmore East

82. GenesisNursery Cryme

83. FaustFaust

84. The Rolling StonesExile On Main St.

85. David BowieThe Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars

86. Pink FloydThe Dark Side of the Moon

87. Roxy MusicFor Your Pleasure

88. Iggy And The StoogesRaw Power

89. New York DollsNew York Dolls

90. Big Star#1 Record

91. KraftwerkAutobahn

92. Bruce SpringsteenBorn To Run

93. Patti SmithHorses

94. RamonesRamones

95. The Modern LoversThe Modern Lovers

96. AC/DCDirty Deeds Done Cheap

97. Fleetwood MacRumors

98. The DamnedThe Damned

99. The ClashThe Clash

100. Talking HeadsTalking Heads: 77

101. Sex PistolsNever Mind The Bullocks Here’s The Sex Pistols

47 Responses

  1. Scott P.

    No Van Halen 1? Changed guitar forever. One of heavy rock’s great milestone albums. Everything that came after it was influenced one way or another. Defined the modern guitar hero for a decade or more.

    • THEODB

      yeah?!?!!!? No Van Halen ????????????????????? First album should be there without a doubt. sheeeesh!

  2. Tom M.

    Note that the subtitle of the book is “from The Beatles to The Sex Pistols.” So, basically, this is the author’s choice of the best 101 albums from ’63 to ’78.

  3. David Gitin

    Guess I must have slept on Vashti Bunyan. The others I know.

  4. Jim Kiernan

    Where’s Nevermind, American Beauty, John Barleycorn, Remain in Light,…? Love that Soft Machine made the list. Love Them but #6? Who’s that Davy at #5? Pet Sounds should be #3. Dark Side of the Moon, Are You Experienced should rate much higher. I’m sure I forgot something.

  5. Kramer

    This coffee table book sucks!

    Then again coffee table books suck in general and this list means nothing because nobody is going to read the entire list while waiting for the dentist!

  6. @mattadownes

    How is Dark Side of the Moon not in the top 10?

    Simon and Garfunkel behind The Who?


  7. Visitor

    The list appears to be chronilogical and not by importance.

  8. Les Cousins

    This is really quite amazing; Davy Graham’s album “Folk Blues and Beyond” is really that good but he was never that well known outside Soho in London, Buy it here on lovely limited edition vinyl:

    • wallow-T

      A list created by someone with an acquaintance with the British folk scene, no doubt; besides Davy Graham, the list includes Pentangle (52), Nick Drake (67), Vashti Bunyan (69) (mostly lost to history until her 2000’s rediscovery), and Fairport Convention (70)

  9. jw

    Yeah, this is certainly in chronological order.

    My list would probably include Dennis Wilson’s Pacific Ocean, T Rex’s Electric Warrior & the Slider (if rereleases are counted, I’d also include Tanx on the strength of 20th Century Boy alone), Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ self-titled, Elton John’s Tumbleweed Connection & Honky Chateau & Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, the Band’s self-titled, the Faces’ A Nod is as Good as a Wink, Television’s Marquee Moon, John Mayall’s A Hard Road, Fleetwood Mac’s the Pious Bird of Good Omen, Leon Russell’s Leon & the Shelter People and Carney, Freddie King’s Getting Ready…, the Guess Who’s American Woman, & a bunch of other stuff.

    It’s a great list, for sure, but mine would be considerably different.

    • Dan

      Yeah, The Band simply has to be on the list, or perhaps Music from ig Pink since they are listed rather chronologically. Who could argue against this.

      Also arguably the most influential artist worldwide has been Bob Marley, including in rock, reggae references showed up everywhere. Pick an album ofyour choice.

      No Elton John is a mistake unless we are really limiting this to “rock”, not that he didn’t rock – also hugely influential was Mahavishnu Orchestra, pick their first album. I suppose fusion is out but still…

    • LWG

      JW – Your list rocks. Just add a Chuck Berry record and ditch the folk music.

  10. Posh Bloke

    It’s “Never Mind The Bollocks…,” not “Bullocks.” Although I’m sure that’s a great album too.

  11. Londonmusicmapp

    Gratifying to see how many were recorded in London. Nearly half by our reckoning

  12. oof

    Everyone: IT IS A CHRONOLOGICAL LIST. And, yea, it looks like “The Golden Age of Vinyl” and “To the Sex Pistols” means it cuts off at 1977.

    I like that some lesser known albums and bands made the grade. Woot, Moby Grape.

    That said, I highly disagree with it in so many ways.

    1. The only Kinks album is “Face to Face”. For shame. A good album, but not of the caliber of “Village Green Preservation Society”, “Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)” and “Lola vs…” So, remove Face to Face (and two other albums of your choice) and throw up those other three!

    2. No Rolling Stones “Sticky Fingers” or “Let it Bleed”? No “Abbey Road”? Seems like he just wanted to avoid putting too many albums by popular bands on there, no matter how good.

    3. Really? Black Sabbath and Led Zep’s best albums are their first albums? Most would say “Paranoid” or “Masters of Reality” for Sab, and Led Zep again, deserves at least 3 albums on there. So again, penalization for popularity, so he can shove more lesser know folk and blues albums on there.

    4. Blind Faith is highly overrated. Remove it. Instead: Blue Oyster Cult: “Tyranny and Mutation”!

    5. I know, I know, its all opinion, and this dude is the one who did the work to get a book printed. Good job dude! You know a lot about music, but clearly don’t like heavy metal very much. Oh well!

  13. wallow-T

    Non-snarky question: did the author give a reason for cutting off at 1977? In 1977, all the energy from punk etc. was triggering a second wave for rock, and I believe the golden age for vinyl LPs continues at least until 1985, when CD sales start to spread into the mainstream.

    Snarky question: What would a list from the 15 years 1990-2005 look like, or 1995-2010? Would very many people care? 🙂


    Let me guess, this guy works for the psuedo music magazine “Rolling Stone”. This list is pretentious and pedantic, just like RS.

  15. Midiexpert

    I would prefer that Axis: Bold as Love be part of this, and especially Genesis’ Selling England by the Pound, which I believe is their best (and Lamb Lies Down 2nd place). Jethro Tulls’ Thick as a Brick or their first album I would guess are more influential, too.

    Still some great choices within the 100, some of my personal favorites. Prefer Stage Fright to Big Pink (although Chest Fever is on my all-time great rock songs list).

  16. Jeff Gold

    Hi Everyone, Jeff Gold here, author of the book. Just to clarify things, the book is titled 101 Essential Rock Records, The Golden Age of Vinyl From the Beatles to The Sex Pistols. The opening essay explains we’re covering the most seminal rock (not blues, not R&B, not straight-ahead folk) albums from the era where album sales dominated–from Beatlemania through the emergence of the Walkman and the dominance of the cassette. It’s arbitrary, but everything needs a beginning and end point and these are mine. Albums were chosen based on quality, originality and influence. As these criteria and what constitutes a rock album are completely subjective and I knew people would disagree, I’m just now finishing a website where people can argue with me and post their own lists. will be ready next week.

  17. john parikhal

    An attempt at generating controversy or just sloppy headline writing?

    Digital Music News changed ‘essential’ to ‘most influential’ and ADDED ‘In Rock ‘N Roll History’.

    It gives the impression these albums were the most ‘influential’ in rock ‘history’ when the TITLE of the book CLEARLY says ‘essential’ (not ‘most influential’) and even limits it to vinyl from the Beatles to the Sex Pistols – not Rock ‘N Roll History.

    Where was the copy editor?

  18. Paul Lanning

    This is a ridiculous list. Almost everybody’s white. Lame and pathetic goose vomit This is a book that somebody has spent $ to publish?

  19. canman

    there was this early Rock and Roller named Elvis, tho i guess he wasn’t that influential… Rush didn’t have any influence either, nor Van Halen, Elton John, The Guess Who, Nirvana, Rage Against the Machine…. could go on and on and on here.

  20. HMJestsfan

    Who the heck are: #5 – Davy Brown #60 – Alexander Spence, #67 Nick Drake, #69 – Vashti Bunyan #78 – Can, #83 Faust #90 – Big Star. If I have to look these people/groups up on Wikipedia and still don’t know who they are, how influential on the music scene can they be?

    As the the other artists that I do recognize the first Jimi Hendrix mention is listed at #27, Led Zeppelin at #55? Are there really so many other artists that are more influential these guys?

    Kudo’s to getting the book published but to be honest, I have a better music selection on my playlists.

  21. wordbabey

    man, no list sucks. there’s always music someone hasn’t heard of. and in reality, they’re always meant to be engaging not definitive. and i’m guessing the real problem with this list is that /paul misunderstood its purpose, and posted it too soon; or didn’t really bother to know exactly what it was.

    either way, i’ve found some new stuff, thanks!

  22. Jonathan Goldman

    This is an interesting list. We’ve all got our favorites. Most people would perceive that “Revolver” was a whole lot more influential than “Please Please Me” for example. But then influence is a matter of perspective too. I’d suggest that Jimi Hendrix changed the tonality of music more than anyone since the Beatles, introducing effects and what not that are pretty standard these days. But perhaps that’s not being influential to you. Nevertheless, I really have to take issue with some of your selections–not because they’re not influential, but simply because it’s hard for me to think of James Taylor (and some others) as being in the “rock” genre. Definitely in the “Golden Age of Vinyl”, but rock? I do seem to recall that the song “Sweet Baby James” was initially written as a lullaby. Well, I guess one person’s rock is another person’s roll.

  23. Chris Daniels

    Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan, Ry Cooder, Elvis, BUddy Guy, and women – my god you would think that only 10% of the world of rock is women instead of well over 50%

    • jw

      Well over 50% of the world of rock is women? Where on earth does that figure come from?

  24. minerva zuckerman

    not a bad list…

    but without ziggy stardust we are leaving out a decade of “changes” thanks to david bowies brilliance.

  25. Jeff Gold

    Author of the book here, I appreciate everyone’s comments, but Ziggy Stardust IS included. Feel free to complain or post your own list at

    at the forum I’ve set up for people’s

  26. Rockman

    The Zombies album Odysee and Oracle was released efter the group had split up. Much more interesting is the album She`s not there. That one sets a mile stone.

    And I have to say that all of Bob Dylans albums does not set a new standard.