Throughout music history there have been albums that change the face of music, inspiring musicians for decades to come. These albums continue to resonate with listeners long after their original release. Several classic albums are celebrating major anniversaries in 2016, read on as we explore a few of our favorites.
Initially seen as a wild departure from the California surfer sound that made them famous, Pet Sounds was an ambitious magnum opus for Brian Wilson. Produced, arranged and almost entirely written by Wilson, he set out to create an album with no filler tracks and many would agree that he succeeded. At the time of its release the album was shunned by some fans and in many senses Pet Sounds was ahead of its time. With tracks like Wouldn’t It Be Nice and God Only Knows it’s hard to deny the sheer genius Wilson possessed. The album continues to influence musicians and producers to this day.
Beatlemania was at its peak in 1966, and the band began to move towards a new sound that would define their later years. Revolver was manifestation of this new sound and is considered by many to be a masterpiece. Featuring new production techniques like Artificial Double Tracking, the album sounded like nothing that came before it. With tracks like Eleanor Rigby, Yellow Submarine and I’m Only Sleeping the songwriting duo of Lennon/McCartney were at their zenith. Throughout the history of modern music are few bands more iconic and influential than the Beatles. With a catalog so revered, it’s easy to consider all of their major releases as classics but Revolver is in a class all its own.
After a decade of writing hits for other artists Carole King achieved success as a performer in 1971 with the release of her second album Tapestry. Stacked with hits, Tapestry is full of classics including I Feel the Earth Move and It’s Too Late. Over the last 45 years Tapestry has endured, with many of its iconic hits being covered by other artists. One of the most notable covers being James Taylor’s 1971 recording of You’ve Got A Friend, released while the album was still dominating the charts. Regarded as one of the most prolific songwriters of all time, Tapestry is a testament to King’s unparalleled talent.
Considered by many to be the greatest live album of all time, Frampton Comes Alive marked a breakthrough for Peter Frampton in 1976. A hit of epic proportions, it was the best selling album for all of 1976 and remains one of the best selling live records to date. Frampton Comes Alive skyrocketed Frampton to stardom overnight and took the industry by surprise.
In the early 1990s the Seattle Sound of Grunge took the music industry by storm. In a sea of flannel and loud guitars two albums brought Grunge into the mainstream – Pearl Jam’s Ten and Nirvana’s Nevermind. Within the span of a few years these two bands put an end to the era of hair metal and changed the face of mainstream music.
Nevermind’s breakout success was the result of the hit single Smells Like Teen Spirit. One of just three album’s released by the band, Nevermind had an undeniable impact on a generation of listeners. Penned by lead singer Kurt Cobain, the album featured a slew of popular singles including Lithium and Come as You Are.
Ten on the other hand kicked off a storied career for Pearl Jam that is still going strong. Marked with Eddie Vedder’s distinct vocals, the album delves into dark topics like depression and abuse. The album’s deep message still resonates with listeners, making this debut album a critical darling and fan favorite.
These albums have stood the test of time, inspiring listeners and new generations of musicians. What’s your favorite “classic” album? Tell us in the comments below or on Twitter @USAudioTechnica!