A Basic Rock Listening Vocabulary

Records I think everyone in their right mind should listen to at least once, or you really don't know what you're talking about.

This is a list of records and artists I think everyone should hear once in their lives, separated by decade of recording. It is absolutely not, however, the best records of all time. I flat out hate some of the records and artists on this list. These albums defined the times in which they were released. These albums were bought, listened to, videoed, discussed, loved, played, and taken as influences by more people than any others. You might retitle this 'the biggest cliches in rock history', but hey...some may find this useful. You'll find a lot of singles collections and otherwise 'greatest hits' here, rather than albums that might not be good introductions to a group. No true music fan should let any of the albums or artists go neglected, some if only for documentary purposes. At least try something by them...you may just open your horizons.

Note: These are not necessarily listed in the order of importance. Items will be added as they pop into my head.

(2004 Update: This list is now wildly out of date, but probably 80% of it is still accurate.  You can skip buying that Sheryl Crow record I list down there, though.)


Presley, Elvis  - Elvis' Gold Records

Berry, Chuck - The Great Twenty Eight

Holly, Buddy - Buddy Holly's Greatest Hits

Something by Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Muddy Waters, Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra, the Everly Brothers, Bo Diddley, Hank Williams Sr., Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Les Paul



Beatles, The - Please Please Me, A Hard Day's Night, Beatles for Sale, Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles, Abbey Road

Rolling Stones, The - Now!, Aftermath, The London Singles Collection (or Hot Rocks vol. I and II), Beggar's Banquet, Let it Bleed

Animals, The - The Animals Greatest Hits

Dylan, Bob - Bob Dylan, Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, Bringing it All Back Home, Blonde on Blonde, Greatest Hits, John Wesley Harding

Who, The - Meaty, Beaty, Big, and Bouncy, Tommy

Kinks, The - Kink's Greatest Hits, Village Green Preservation Society, Arthur, Kink Kronicles

Beach Boys, The - Pet Sounds, Endless Summer

Doors, The - The Doors Greatest Hits

Brown, James - James Brown Live at the Apollo

Velvet Underground, The - Velvet Underground and Nico, The Velvet Underground

Jefferson Airplane, The - 2400 Fulton St.

Jimi Hendrix Experience, The - Are You Experienced (reissue)

Byrds, The - The Byrds Greatest Hits

Sly and the Family Stone - Greatest Hits

King Crimson - In the Court of the Crimson King

Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin I, II

Pink Floyd - Piper at the Gates of Dawn

Redding, Otis - 20 Greatest Hits

Simon and Garfunkel - Greatest Hits

Credence Clearwater Revival - Chronicle

Miles Davis - Bitches Brew


Something by Cream, the Yardbirds, the Grateful Dead, Marvin Gaye, the Supremes, the Temptations, the Four Tops, Van Morrison (with and without Them), John Coltrane, Ike and Tina Turner, Small Faces, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Frank Zappa, Dick Dale, The Ventures, Merle Haggard, Syd Barrett, the Lovin' Spoonful



Led Zeppelin - untitled, Houses of the Holy

Yes - The Yes Album, Fragile

Abba - Abba Gold

Deep Purple - In Rock, Deepest Purple (the Very Best of Deep Purple)

Black Sabbath - any album before 1973

Alice Cooper - Greatest Hits

Lennon, John - Plastic Ono Band, Shaved Fish

McCartney, Paul (and Wings) - All the Best

Harrison, George - All Things Must Pass

Rolling Stones, The - Sticky Fingers, Exile on Main St.

Stooges, The -  Fun House, Raw Power

Who, The - Live at Leeds (reissue), Who's Next

Dylan, Bob - Blood on the Tracks

Derek and the Dominoes - Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs

Bowie, David - Changesbowie

Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, The Wall

Queen - Queen's Greatest Hits

Original Soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever

Brown, James - Sex Machine

Clash, The - Clash (US Edition)

Sly and the Family Stone - There's a Riot Goin' On

Sex Pistols - Never Mind the Bullocks Here's The Sex Pistols

Ramones, The - All the Stuff and More (vols I and II)

Smith, Patty - Horses

Young, Neil - Decade

Fleetwood Mac - Rumours

Springsteen, Bruce - any 70's record but Greeting from Asbury Park, N.J.

Wonder, Stevie - Innervisions, Songs in the Key of Life

Van Halen - I, II

Cars, The - The Cars

Curtis Mayfield - Superfly

New York Dolls, The - New York Dolls

Stewart, Rod (with or without the Faces) - Anything recorded through 1972

John, Elton - Greatest Hits


Something by Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, Electric Light Orchestra, Parliament/Funkadelic, Eric Clapton solo, Roxy Music, Brian Eno, Kraftwerk, Can, Hawkwind, Blondie, King Crimson, the Doors, Talking Heads, Wire, the Damned, Television, Richard Hell, Aerosmith, AC/DC, Motorhead, ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Allman Brothers, Donna Summer, the Carpenters, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, The Jackson 5, Lou Reed, Eagles, Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, Willie Nelson, Iggy Pop, Paul Simon, Genesis, Isaac Hayes, the O'Jays, Diana Ross



Jackson, Michael - Off the Wall, Thriller

Springsteen, Bruce - Born in the USA

REM - Murmur, Document

U2 - War, The Joshua Tree

Yes - 90125

Black Flag - Damaged

Run DMC - Together Forever : The Best of Run DMC

Public Enemy - It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back

Husker Du - Zen Arcade

AC/DC - Back in Black

Clash, The - London Calling

Van Halen - 1984, 5150

ZZ Top - Eliminator

NWA - Straight Outta Compton

Lennon, John and Yoko - Double Fantasy

Prince - Purple Rain, The Hits (I and II)

Guns 'n' Roses - Appetite for Destruction

Beastie Boys - License to Ill, Paul's Boutique

Gabriel, Peter - So

Metallica - Ride the Lightning

Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation

Something By The Talking Heads, Madonna, the Flaming Lips, Def Leppard, Iron Maiden, Asia, Duran Duran, Butthole Surfers, Replacements, Ozzy Osbourne, Motley Crue, the Melvins, the Police, Sting, John Cougar Mellencamp, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Iggy Pop, Phil Collins (with or without Genesis), The Dead Kennedys, Jane's Addiction, the Minutemen, Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth



Nirvana - Nevermind, In Utero

Pearl Jam - Ten

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Blood Sugar Sex Magick

Soundgarden - Superunknown, Badmotorfinger

U2 - Achtung Baby

REM - Out of Time, Automatic for the People

Metallica - Metallica

Radiohead - The Bends, OK Computer

Cube, Ice - Amerikkka's Most Wanted

Dre, Dr. - The Chronic

Snoop Doggy Dogg - Doggystyle

Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness

Petty, Tom and the Heartbreakers - Greatest Hits

Oasis - (What's the Story) Morning Glory?

Orb, The - Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld

Chemical Brothers, The - Dig Your Own Hole

Wu Tang Clan, The - 36 Chambers

Aerosmith - Big Ones

My Bloody Valentine - Loveless


Something By the Flaming Lips, Beastie Boys, Garth Brooks, Living Colour, Madonna, Sheryl Crow, Primal Scream, Mercury Rev, Pavement, Sebadoh, Dinosaur Jr., 2Pac, Notorious B.I.G., Whitney Houston, Primus, Guns 'n' Roses, Eric Clapton, Spiritualized, Dave Matthews Band, Blur, Sepultura


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