Albums That Changed the World
Published on 23 April 2021
When you look back on the history of music, there are certain milestones, significant years and moments throughout time that were just important. Two obvious examples would be the rise of Elvis and the Beatles who each had such a profound impact on the direction of popular music that like ‘em or not, you simply have to respect what they did. This doesn’t happen every day, in fact, you’re lucky if it happens every decade.
Today is the 45th anniversary of the Ramones debut album release and that got us thinking about other artists who released albums which altered the course of history. Read on to see what made our list...
Jimi Hendrix - Are You Experienced (1967)
We’re gonna just going to come out and say it… From a guitarist's point of view, no one has even come close to revolutionising the sound of the instrument like Jimi. The release of Are You Experienced changed the face of music forever, propelling Hendrix into public consciousness and causing players to stare at their instruments in disbelief.
Never before or since has a debut been quite so daring, provocative and downright different to anything that came before it. Not only was Jimi’s playing style unique and groundbreaking but his use of effects and even his songwriting style were essentially a blueprint for all guitar based rock to follow. If we could only include one album here, it would be this.
The Beatles - Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
When Sergeant Pepper’s was released, the Fab Four were already at the height of their fame with critics wondering where they could go next. Their previous two albums, Rubber Soul and Revolver had seen a shift from their early pop sound to something more experimental, psychedelic and progressive. However, the follow up was beyond anyone's expectations.
Building on their early pop sound and merging it with out of the box ideas, instrumentation and production techniques, the Beatles were able to prove once and for all that pop music didn’t need to be simple or straightforward. The album weaves unbelievable textures and composition with insightful lyrics to create a masterpiece that’s still fascinating to this day. Calling it their best album may cause a bit of debate but to call it their most iconic wouldn’t be a stretch by any means.
This album inspired fellow musicians to try something new, take risks and present their wildest, most creative ideas without worrying about lead singles or how the label would receive their music. In a world where there are 10 writers to every top 10 track, that just doesn’t happen enough anymore.
Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath (1970)
What a difference a few years can make. Far from the free love feel of the Beatles, Black Sabbath’s debut was every bit as important, although way more sinister. The roots of metal can be traced back to the release of this album which brought together horror themes and lyrics with slow, devastating rock which was more evil than anything ever laid on wax.
Terrifying and exhilarating to listeners who had never heard anything like it, Black Sabbath is quite possibly the most influential album ever. Who else can honestly say that they created a whole genre with their first release? From the first note you know you’re in for something special...
Van Halen - Van Halen (1978)
Oh to be alive and rocking in the ‘70s! Following on from the dark depths of Sabbath, Van Halen burst onto the scene with their unforgettable debut just 2 years later. If Hendrix destroyed the typical notion of what a guitar could do, Eddie obliterated it.
This is where everything started to get way more technical to an extent players at the time would never have thought remotely possible. The finger tapping fury of tracks like Eruption were at a level like no other but much like Hendrix before them, Halen weren’t just relying on guitar alone and had the tunes to back it up.
Masterfully crafted hooks worked in tandem with lightning fast licks, runs and riffs that made guitarists across the world take notice. If you could trace contemporary guitar technique back to one starting point, this may well be it.
Ramones - Ramones (1976)
Credited as early pioneers of punk, the Ramones debut took a kind of surf sound to a level nobody anticipated. By combining doo wop with power chords and sneering vocals, then of course, playing them as fast as physically possible, they created their own lane and ran with it.
Their tracks were totally unique, despite many imitators, giving the gritty side of New York City its own identity within modern music. Even among their contemporaries, the Ramones stood out in terms of style, lyrical content and sheer power. As explosive as they come, their music challenged the increasingly technical playing at the time and proved that sometimes raw energy is all you need.
The Stone Roses - The Stone Roses (1989)
The indie bands that emerged in the wake of punk’s carnage had left behind had a certain magic to them. Acts such as The Smiths and REM developed fascinating sounds that didn’t have to be heavy to carry a lot of weight and paved the way for the album that became something of an indie bible - the Stone Roses.
Bringing together the charm and charisma of polished pop, the groove of early dance music and undertones of ‘60s psychedelic rock, this album is as iconic as they come. From clever songwriting to epic guitar parts and fills, this had it all and has become nothing short of seminal.
It's not often Ian Brown gets points for his maturity but it's almost unbelievable the 4 piece came up with something so flawless at such a young age. Jangly, upbeat guitars give way to full on jam sessions and rhythmic breakdowns which cemented them as one of the most, if not the most influential indie bands of all time. Pretty good for one album eh? We’ll talk about the Second Coming another time…
My Bloody Valentine – Loveless (1991)
Has the overall sound of an album ever been quite so unforgettable as My Bloody Valentine’s cult classic Loveless? From the effects to the playing itself, this album has been so influential over the years, spawning a small army of shoegaze bands who went on to imitate its distinctive guitar sound and softly sung vocals.
Loveless created a space for those outside of the more mainstream pop and indie spectrum to thrive. However, far from just being an epic sounding record, it also had the clever writing and innovative composition to back it up. Following on from the shredding ‘80s, MBV helped to drive forward a style that was loud, powerful and immersive, without ever seeming too guitar heavy. Its impact may not be quite as obvious as other albums on this list but trust us, music would sound very different today if not for this record!
We could’ve kept going here but we thought we’d leave you guys to fill in the blanks! It’s amazing to reflect on these significant moments in music and wonder how things would’ve sounded without them. Without these incredible bursts of creativity, the music that we love today wouldn’t be the same and the artists that altered its course deserve all the credit. It takes confidence and passion to push forward a sound that doesn’t yet exist, as well as an almost unimaginable amount of self belief. To the pioneers of rock, punk and everything in between, we salute you!