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Top 10 Hard Rock Albums

5. The Who – Who’s Next (Track Records, 1971) 

The Who - Who's Next

Released in August 1971, Who’s Next is the fifth studio album by English rock band The Who, and it was an immediate success. Today the LP is regarded as The Who’s best record and one of the greatest albums ever recorded. In 2007, the LP was inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame for “lasting qualitative or historical significance”. Colin Larkin said it raised the standards for both hard rock and The Who, whose “sense of dynamics” was highlighted by the contrast between their powerful playing and a counterpoint produced at times from acoustic guitars and synthesizer obbligatos. Who’s Next contains “Baba O’Riley”, “Behind Blue Eyes” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” some of the band’s most iconic tracks.

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4. Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin II (Atlantic Records, 1969) 

Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin II

Released in October 1969, Led Zeppelin II is the second studio album by English rock band Led Zeppelin, their first LP to reach number one in the UK and in the US. The album was certified 12 x Platinum by the RIAA, and is often cited as one of the greatest and most influential rock albums of all time. Production was credited to lead guitarist and songwriter Jimmy Page, and recording lasted from January to August 1969, taking place in several locations in the UK and US. Led Zeppelin II reflects the band’s evolving musical style of blues-derived material and their guitar and riff-based sound, being considered the band’s heaviest album. Some of Led Zeppelin’s most famous songs are on the LP, “Whole Lotta Love”, “Heartbreaker”, and “Moby Dick”.

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3. Deep Purple – Machine Head (Warner Bros. Records, 1972) 

Deep Purple - Machine Head

Released in March 1972, Machine Head is the sixth studio album by the English hard rock band Deep Purple, and it reached number one in the UK and number seven in the US. It is Deep Purple’s most successful album, All Music considering Machine Head “one of the essential hard rock albums of all time”. Ozzy Osbourne chose Machine Head as one of his ten favourite British records of all time. “Highway Star”, “Space Truckin’” and “Smoke On The Water” are definitely the highlights of this album.

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2. AC/DC – Back In Black (Atlantic Records, 1980) 

ACDC - Back in Black

Released in July 1980, Back In Black is the seventh studio album by Australian rock band AC/DC, and it was a massive commercial success selling an estimated 50 million copies worldwide, the LP being the second-highest-selling album in history. It was the first album to feature lead singer Brian Johnson. The title track, “Hells Bells”, “Shoot To Thrill”, “You Shook Me All Night Long”, and “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution” all became fan favourites and an essential part in the band’s live setlist. Overall Back In Black is not only AC/DC’s best selling album, it is also their most critically acclaimed one.

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1. Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin IV (Atlantic Records, 1971)

Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin IV

Released in November 1971, the untitled fourth studio album by the English rock band Led Zeppelin, commonly known as Led Zeppelin IV, was a huge commercial and critical success, selling over 37 million copies worldwide, certified 23 x Platinum by the RIAA. The album represented the band’s peak in playing and songwriting, with Robert Christgau calling it a “genre masterpiece”. The LP was recorded between December 1970 and March 1971, and it was produced by the band’s guitarist Jimmy Page, who after the lukewarm reviews received by Led Zeppelin III, decided the fourth album would be untitled, and the original cover featured no band name, as the group wished to be anonymous in order to avoid easy pigeonholing by the press. Led Zeppelin IV is the band’s best selling album in their catalogue, their most impressive critical success and the best hard rock album ever recorded. After all, it’s the album with “Stairway To Heaven”, need we say more?

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  • Gary Simpson

    Good choices. Like to see the top 50. ZZ Top Tres Hombres and Robin Trower Bridge of Sighs has to be in there

    • Guitar Optics

      Thanks! It’s always hard to do a Top 10, because there are so many great bands! More to come soon!

  • ChiKan

    Considering that this is a very subjective endeavor, it’s not a bad list. There are a couple I may not include, but it’s hard to argue against any of those picked.