The 101 Most Influential Albums In Rock n’ Roll History…

  • Save

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

  • Save

1. The Beatles, Please Please Me

2. Bob Dylan, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan

3. The Rolling Stones, The Rolling Stones

4. Bob Dylan, Another Side of Bob Dylan

5. Davy Graham, Folk Blues & Beyond…

6. Them, Angry Young Them

7. The Byrds, Mr. Tambourine Man

8. Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited

9. The Who, My Generation

10. Simon & Garfunkel, Sounds of Silence

11. The Rolling Stones, Aftermath

12. The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds

13. Bob Dylan, Blonde On Blonde

14. The Mothers of Invention, Freak Out!

15. Yardbirds, Yardbirds

16. John Mayall with Eric Clapton, Blues Breakers

17. The Butterfield Blues Band, East West

18. The Beatles, Revolver

19. Jefferson Airplane, Takes Off

20. The Kinks, Face to Face

21. The 13th Floor Elevators, The Psychedelic Sounds Of

22. Laura Nyro, More Than A New Discovery

23. The Doors, The Doors

24. Jefferson Airplane, Surrealistic Pillow

25. The Velvet Underground & Nico, The Velvet Underground

26. Grateful Dead, Grateful Dead

27. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced?

28. The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

29. Moby Grape, Moby Grape

30. Tim Buckley, Goodbye and Hello

31. Pink Floyd, The Piper At The Gates of Dawn

32. Buffalo Springfield, Again

33. Love, Forever Changes

34. Cream, Disraeli Gears

35. Traffic, Mr. Fantasy

36. The Who, The Who Sell Out

37. Leonard Cohen, Songs of Leonard Cohen

38. The Velvet Underground, White Light/White Heat

39. Fleetwood Mac, Fleetwood Mac

40. The Incredible String Band, The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter

41. The Zombies, Odessey & Oracle

42. Small Faces, Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake

43. The Band, Music From The Big Pink

44. Grateful Dead, Anthem of the Sun

45. Jeff Beck, Truth

46. Big Brother & The Holding Company, Cheap Thrills

47. The Byrds, Sweetheart of the Rodeo

48. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Electric Ladyland

49. Van Morrison, Astral Weeks

50. The Beatles, The Beatles (White Album)

51. The Pretty Things, S.F. Sorrow

52. The Pentangle, Sweet Child

53. The Soft Machine, The Soft Machine

54. Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bayou Country

55. Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin

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

57. MC5, Kick Out The Jams

58. Sly And The Family Stone, Stand!

59. Neil Young With Crazy Horse, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere

60. Alexander Spence, Oar

61. The Who, Tommy

62. Crosby, Stills & Nash, Crosby, Stills & Nash

63. Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band, Trout Mask Replica

64. Blind Faith, Blind Faith

65. Jethro Tull, Stand Up

66. The Stooges, The Stooges

67. Nick Drake, Five Leaves Left

68. King Crimson, In The Court of The Crimson King

69. Vashti Bunyan, Just Another Diamond Day

70. Fairport Convention, Liege & Leaf

71. The Move, Shazam

72. James Taylor, Sweet Baby James

73. Black Sabbath, Black Sabbath

74. Emerson Lake & Palmer, Emerson Lake & Palmer

75. David Bowie, The Man Who Sold The World

76. Cat Stevens, Tea For The Tillerman

77. Carole King, Tapestry

78. Can, Tago Mago

79. Yes, The Yes Album

80. Joni Mitchell, Blue

81. The Allman Brothers Band, At Fillmore East

82. Genesis, Nursery Cryme

83. Faust, Faust

84. The Rolling Stones, Exile On Main St.

85. David Bowie, The Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars

86. Pink Floyd, The Dark Side of the Moon

87. Roxy Music, For Your Pleasure

88. Iggy And The Stooges, Raw Power

89. New York Dolls, New York Dolls

90. Big Star, #1 Record

91. Kraftwerk, Autobahn

92. Bruce Springsteen, Born To Run

93. Patti Smith, Horses

94. Ramones, Ramones

95. The Modern Lovers, The Modern Lovers

96. AC/DC, Dirty Deeds Done Cheap

97. Fleetwood Mac, Rumors

98. The Damned, The Damned

99. The Clash, The Clash

100. Talking Heads, Talking Heads: 77

101. Sex Pistols, Never Mind The Bullocks Here’s The Sex Pistols



55 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.

    • Xman

      Beatles were great..but overrated. Many of their songs on Revolver – Abby Road where ripoffs of great mid-60’s American bands…..

  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. HMJetsfan

    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.

    • Steve

      It’s really very simple. Something’s influence on you has absolutely zero to do with its overall influence on the world. That’s determined by its influence on those who matter.

  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.

  27. Jean Paul heck

    As musicjournalist I can say this is a rediculous list. Of no importcance

  28. Andy

    I think it’s a great list, very cool, non biased. Well done Jeff.

  29. Art

    Jeff was born in 56, it’s clear this is the list of records that had the biggest impact on him. It’s very era specific…..misses such important bands like Kiss (yes, I’m serious), Van Halen, Nirvana, Prince…..I could go in. This list is really about the 60’s and early 70’s