What makes an album legendary?
It’s a science that’s yet to be perfected, but that’s what makes truly legendary albums so special and so rare. But they have the formula: noteworthy lyrics, killer melodies, and a certain je ne sais quoi that’s helped them withstand the test of time. Gerard Zappa Wooster says this is especially true when it comes to rock music.
Many of the 10 albums on this list are strikingly different. A bulk of them written, not with the intent of being hits, but solely to spread the band’s unbridled love for music – spreading the messages they’ve deemed most important.
That common ground is what makes these albums truly iconic, and in no particular order, these iconic albums are discussed below:
Back in Black
There’s a reason why Back in Black is among the most best-selling rock albums of all time. The musical collection started out with just a couple of guitar riffs from mastermind founding member Malcolm Young, and grew to be one of the most deeply-personal albums the band created.
Born during a time of deeply woven hardship amongst band members, the creation of Rumours changed the music world indefinitely. The conception of the album was truly the storm before the calm, written while the members were undergoing the woes of scandals, heartache, addiction, and more.
Those hardships, though, were relieved by the album’s success. Considered to be a “no-skips” album – it’s no wonder why people come back time and time again for these timeless tunes.
The Dark Side of The Moon
The album cover for Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of The Moon are recognizable worldwide – but it isn’t the visuals that brought the band fame, but rather the psychedelic vibes the album emits.
To call the album intense would be an understatement, as the album’s lyrical content is nothing short of exhausting – but it’s that uninhibited understanding of the human condition that made the album go down in history.
Most artists find that their debut album isn’t the one that puts them on the map. However, for American rock band The Cars, this couldn’t be less true. Their 1978 self-titled album opened up with Good Times Roll, a tune with larger-than-life vocals that ruled the radio during it’s time of release.
Nowadays, the most famous song on this album is undoubtedly Just What I Needed, which is a coagulation of all the things that make rock music wonderful: an addicting melody, scream-able lyrics, and something that strikes you right in the heart.
In January 2022, the album Ask Rufus by musical legend Chaka Khan turned 45 years old. The powerhouse vocals of Khan are second to none – but when they’re crooning tunes like Tell Me Something Good alongside other hits, they’re nothing but legendary.
The last time that the members of The Beatles were in a recording studio together, they were working on the legendary album that is Abbey Road. Full of emotion and range, love songs and anthems, and a studio feel that was different than their past projects – this album was the greatest farewell letter this British-born boy band could’ve gifted the public.
Master of Puppets
Metallica’s discography is full of back-to-back legendary hits, and while they’re all incredible, none of them can hold a candle to the music genius that came with Master of Puppets. The album unexpectedly became the face of the thrash metal movement, and aided in the general public’s acknowledgment that metal is indeed worth a listen.
Pyromania gave us Def Leppard’s ‘Photograph’, and for that, the world is all the better. Prior to the album’s release, the band was dismissed as just another heavy metal band – but once people found themselves yearning for the almost anthemic lyrics that this album gifted us with, it didn’t take long for Def Leppard to become an overnight success.
Led Zeppelin IV
The feel of Led Zeppelin IV can be personified by a singular word: harmonious. A calculated blend of rock, blues, metal, and folk music, the band also took a chance in experimentation – trying out dynamic lyrical structure and recording techniques that made this album one for the books.
The Velvet Underground & Nico
The Velvet Underground
Many of the albums discussed above were immediate successes, but that wasn’t the case for The Velvet Underground’s debut musical collection. It was an economic failure – selling less than 50,000 albums in its first five years out on the market. However, the album influenced artists like David Bowie, the Sex Pistols, and endless more, making this album the album of legends.