Top 50 Rock Albums of All-time
31st December 2003
(Subject to change without notice)
This list features only official albums which I own. So no bootlegs or wish lists, also no compilations or box sets. My list of favourite artists also includes the Beatles, the Eagles, U2, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton for example, but my favourite albums of these artists are actually compilations, box sets or bootlegs, so I've left them off. There are also some great pop albums from Neil Diamond ('Hot August Night'), Chris de Burgh ('Spanish Train'), Billy Joel, Elton John and others that I really enjoy, but they failed to meet my strict criteria for this list.
All reasonable comments are welcome, but anything about my "poor judgement", "lack of taste" or "limited range" will be totally ignored!
So here's my current all-time Top 10 arranged alphabetically, then the rest of my Top 50, also alphabetically.
My Top 10:
1. Piet Botha - 'n Suitcase Vol Winter (1997)
I first heard 'Sien Jou Weer' on radio KFM in Cape Town and I became an instant fan. I bought this album the same day. 'Suitcase' opened up a whole new genre for me: Afrikaans Rock, and I've never been the same since!
I was so in awe of this album, of Piet Botha the artist and of songs like 'Goeienag Generaal', that I set up a small fan website for Piet and Jack Hammer (his English hard rocking alter ego). This website has now become the official Piet Botha website! Please visit: PietBotha.com
2. David Bowie - The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars (1972)
We wore our hair like Ziggy, we bought the platform shoes, we tried to play guitar. Bowie was Ziggy and Ziggy was Bowie and he sang: "let all the children boogie"... and we did.
There is a whole website dedicated to just this one album at:
3. Deep Purple - Made In Japan (1973)
THE classic live album from a classic rock band. "What a rip-off!", I thought to myself when I first saw this album, "a double album with only 7 tracks on it!". And then the energy in those 7 songs (the shortest being about 7 minutes) blew my mind, melted my speakers and drove my Methodist church organist father nuts. This album was my first introduction to Deep Purple and I was hooked for life. And they are still around, much to my father's surprise, and possibly their own as well. Deep Purple - Masters Of Rock
In September 2001 a 4CD box set was released titled 'On The Road', which chronicles Deep Purple on stage across the years and around the world from 1969-1993. Full track list and review at: Deep Purple On The Road
4. Genesis - Selling England By The Pound (1973)
"Can you tell me where your country lies, said the Unifaun to his true love's eyes" sang the plaintive voice of Peter Gabriel to open this album. I still have no idea what he was on about (or what he was on), but this pastoral, gentle progressive rock album captured my ears and my heart and will always be a favourite. Also contains the hit single "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe"). This was back in the days when Phil Collins was just a drummer...
5. Golden Earring - Hearing Earring (1973)
This album was a compilation of tracks from 2 previous European-only releases: 'Seven Tears' (1971) and 'Together' (1972). As far as I know 'Hearing Earring' has never been released on CD, but it is one of my all-time favourite rock albums, so I eventually bought the CDs of 'Seven Tears' and 'Together' just to have all these great tracks.
'Jangalene' is a classic rock song with its long acoustic intro and then thundering full-tilt climax. This album goes from light to dark, soft to loud in an instant and is very comparable to the Deep Purple or Zeppelin stuff from the same era.
6. Jethro Tull - Aqualung (1971)
"Sitting on a park bench watching all the pretty panties run". No wonder our parents hated it. Jethro Tull at their hardest and rockiest. Before the self-indulgence of 'Thick As A Brick' and 'A Passion Play', this was the spirit of early 70s rock captured on one album. And 'Locomotive Breath' is on it... worth the price of admission alone.
7. Pink Floyd - The Dark Side Of The Moon (1973)
I remember hearing this album when it was just another new release, "the new Pink Floyd album", nothing more. Who would have guessed the impact it would have on future generations? Well my friends and I did, for one. We knew this was nothing like we had ever heard before: sound effects, spoken words, hidden messages, cool cover, a swearword (this was South Africa in 1973, remember?), songs flowing one into the other... and David Gilmour's guitar, oh that guitar sound...
Pink Floyd is still one of my all-time favourite bands and I have a fan site for them at: Pink Floyd
8. Ramases - Space Hymns (1971)
A Sheffield central heating saleman thinks he is re-incarnated as an Egyptian God. He gets his wife to sing with him, the fledging 10cc to play with him, and Roger Dean to paint the LP cover for him and produces a stunning work.
From acoustic love songs with gentle flutes to sitars and rock guitars this album explores the themes of alienation, loneliness and searching with a particular "other-world" feel. Hard to find but well worth the search.
9. Rodriguez - Cold Fact (recorded in 1969, first released in South Africa in 1971)
If you've heard of Rodriguez (and amazingly most of the world hasn't), then you probably love this album like I do, so you don't need me to tell you how good it is.
In 2002 I was asked for my input for a re-issue CD, and Terry Fairweather from PT
Music and Bill Robb from Robb Graphics allowed me the freedom to fix many
mistakes with lyrics, track listings, etc, as well as including one of my personal concert photographs from the 2001 South African tour. 'Cold Fact' album producer, Mike Theodore, provided some valuable info, as did Gary Harvey, co-composer of 2 songs on the album. And Rodriguez, the original Sugarman, supplied a quote or 2 and a signature. Sugarman.org
10. Rick Wakeman With The London Symphony Orchestra - Journey To The Centre Of The Earth (1974)
Majestic sounds, choirs, synthesizers, the London Symphony Orchestra, narration of the Jules Verne classic by David Hemmings... this album was the ultimate fusion of rock and orchestra pioneered by Jon Lord (with Deep Purple) and Keith Emerson (first with The Nice and then ELP). Rick Wakeman - keyboard wizard? Oh yeah!
The Rest Of My Top 50:
- Bachman Turner Overdrive - Not Fragile
- Black Sabbath - Paranoid
- Bon Jovi - Keep The Faith
- David Bowie - Aladdin Sane
- Deep Purple - In Rock
- Deep Purple - Machine Head
- Dire Straits - Brothers In Arms
- The Doors - L.A. Woman
- Emerson, Lake And Palmer - Brain Salad Surgery
- Fleetwood Mac - Rumours
- Golden Earring - Moontan (European version)
- Grand Funk Railroad - We're An American Band
- The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Are You Experienced
(30th Anniversary re-issue)
- Jethro Tull - Thick As A Brick
- Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin
- Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin IV
- Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill
- Paul McCartney And Wings - Band On The Run
- Meat Loaf - Bat Out Of Hell
- Gary Moore - Still Got The Blues
- Jim Morrison: Music By The Doors - An American Prayer
- Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells
- Pink Floyd - Animals
- Pink Floyd - The Wall
- Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here
- Queen - A Night At The Opera
- Ramases - Glass Top Coffin
- Rare Earth - Ma
- Falling Mirror - Johnny Calls The Chemist
- Bruce Springsteen - Born In The USA
- Bruce Springsteen - The River
- Jim Steinman - Bad For Good
- Strawbs - Bursting At The Seams
An album of contrasts… a fantastic slice of folk-rock at its best. A classic.
- Strawbs - Hero And Heroine
- Sweet Smoke - Just A Poke
I first heard the album 'Just A Poke' sometime in the late 70s and fell in love with its progressive, well-produced and experimental sound. After years of fruitless search for the CD or any more info on this obscure band, I eventually found both (and much, much more) thanks to the Internet and the band members themselves!
- Thin Lizzy - Vagabonds Of The Western World
- Uriah Heep - Demons And Wizards
- Uriah Heep - The Magician's Birthday
- The Who - Tommy
- Yes - Fragile
And yes, the years 1971 to 1974 were probably some of the best years of my life, and thanks to music, the net, my children and friends I am still very much in touch with my inner teenager. "Too old To Rock and Roll" - never! "Too young to die" - damn right...