Famous Albums

Led Zeppelin I

What started as an attempted reboot of groovy British Invasion rockers The Yardbirds ended as the stoping yowling debut that changed rock history--a defining document of heavy metal's first 24 months. Pyrotechnic Yardbirds guitarist Jimmy Page and three then-nobodies--teenage vocalist Robert Plant; explosive touring drummer for singer-songwriter Tim Rose, John Bonham;; and fleet-fingered session bassist John Paul Jones--joined forces in a London basement in the summer of 1968. Their combustible, virtuosic energy was on tape within weeks thanks to a self-funded, nine-day session. Atlantic Records eventually offered to release the finished album, giving the band the largest advance ever paid to a new rock group to thank point.

Abbey Road

Abbey Road uses a "less is more" approach to production throughout, giving "Come Together" a controlled intensity while the raw sound of Paul's voice on "Oh! Darling" is one of the album's highlights. The sound of a whole band working together flawlessly is heard most notably in the 8-title dramatic medley that made up the second side of the vinyl; finishing fittingly with "The End".

The Wall

Sweeping and epic, Roger Waters' wisionary rock opera tells the story of Pink, a rock star whose power has corrupted him. Pink Floyd told this parially autobiographical, partially metaphorical story with some of the most exhilarating art rock ever created. Powerhouse basslines, drumming both thunderous and restrained, and dreamy syth fills are matched with an orchestra, sound effects, song fragments, and David Gilmour's guitar solos.


After surviving membership changes and battles with addiction, the Red Hot Chili Peppers delivered Californication, and album that showed them to be both resilient and contemplative. The funk-fueled party rock that made their name slaps harder than ever on "Around the World" (which features Flea's bass at its wiggliest) and the furious "Get On Top," but the group spends much of the LP looking inward. On ballads such as "Savior" and "Porcelain," Anthony Kiedis and returning guitarist John Frusciante blend their vocals so delicately they could almost float away.


In 1993, alternative rock was still ruled by the brooding sounds of what we once called grunge: Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, et cetera. Released in February 1994, Green Day's third album--and first for a major label--was like a glass of cold water in the face. First off, it was catchy. Not in an oblique, theoretical way, but in a way that was vibrant, sweet, immediate--it wanted to please. Second, it understood the special process of combustion by which angest became humor.

A Night at the Opera

Upon its 1975 release, A Night at the Opera was, reportedly, the most expensive album ever recorded. Fortunately, Queen got their money's worth--and then some. Their crowning achievement, this fearlessly eclectic album takes equal inspiration from heavy metal and '20s music hall on tracks like "I'm in Love with My Car" and "Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon," respectively. And that's before the staggering hard rock operatta "Bohemian Rhapsody," a cracked masterpiece that no other band could've pulled off.


At the time, there were no clues that Ten would change rock forever. In 1990, Mother Love Bone's former guitarist, Stone Gossard, and bassist, Jeff Ament, along with a San Diego surfer named Eddie Vedder, formed the band mookie Blaylock--quickly renamed Pearl Jam. Their 1991 debut, Ten, contained so many now-classic riffs and melodies, it's hard to believe it took over a year to find that recognition. It was more dramatic and indebted to classic rock than the soon-to-be-define new genre of grunge would suggest, but had the kind of heartfelt gravitas that could mobilize both a generation and a city.