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The Ultimate Guide

5 essential rock discs

Here are five discs our pop music critic Jeff Miers says are essential to your collection. Read more

Revolver / The Beatles / 1966

If we’re discussing the album – as opposed to a collection of non-associated singles – then this is where we have to start. “Revolver” marked the Beatles’ full blossoming as masters of the recording studio, the album-as-artifact, and the marriage of myriad styles beneath the umbrella of rock.

Something Else by the Kinks / The Kinks / 1967

The Kinks are widely regaled as the inventors of the mighty rock riff, a la “You Really Got Me,” “All Day and All of the Night,” but it was this release that marked the apotheosis of principal songwriter Ray Davies in his quest to marry the traditions of English music hall, psychedelia, pop and primal rock ’n’ roll into something startlingly fresh and, even by today’s standards, remarkably sophisticated.

Sticky Fingers / The Rolling Stones / 1971

This marks the moment the Rolling Stones moved beyond its obvious indebtedness to African-American blues and Chuck Berry’s swampy rock ’n’ roll, into the decidedly more dangerous and sexy world embodied by “Brown Sugar,” “Sway” and “Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’ ”. The assimilation of country music influences can be heard in “Dead Flowers” and “Wild Horses,” too. Pound for pound, this is the Stones’ finest.

Physical Graffiti / Led Zeppelin / 1975

What the Beatles were to the 1960s, Led Zeppelin was to the ‘70s – the clear leaders when it came to pushing the envelope in terms of what rock music might encapsulate. Zeppelin, as perfectly encapsulated by the fourth album, wore a coat of many colors, among them blues-fusion, progressive rock, folk and classical. This album is timeless, and not just because of “Stairway to Heaven,” either – there’s not a millisecond of dead weight here.

OK Computer / Radiohead / 1997

“OK Computer” is the masterpiece of the modern idiom. It’s an album marked by brilliance, and thematically, it predicts the dehumanizing effects that would be part and parcel of the then-nascent internet age and the explosion of social media. It’s a depressing album, but so inventive and soulful as to be somehow simultaneously uplifting.

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  • 1Fordson

    "This album is timeless, and not just because of “Stairway to Heaven,” either – there’s not a millisecond of dead weight here."

    Um, "Stairway To Heaven" is not ON "Physical Graffiti," Einstein.

    WHOOPS.