5 Essential Guitar Albums You Should Know
Must-Haves In Your Record Collection
What constitutes a great guitar album? Is it the blistering, face-melting performance? Or the insane, mind-blowing solos? There are so many good stuffs out there and for the most part, it’s subjective and all about personal taste. So for this list, we won’t just pick what we like (and we can’t tell you enough just how tempting that is). Instead, we’ll go for those which every single guitar-loving person needs to listen to at least once in their lives.
Are you ready? We suggest putting down your axe because this is one wild, musical trip.
5. Pink Floyd – “Dark Side of the Moon”
You would have to be deaf to not appreciate David Gilmour’s stunning and hypnotic guitar work in Pink Floyd’s eighth studio album “Dark Side of the Moon.” It had dark, ominous and haunting themes and while we’re hesitant to call it their finest work, it was the definition of what rock music was in that era.
In fact, we’re at a loss for words as to the most accurate way of describing it. To say it’s “great” is an understatement – Gilmour’s playing alone deserves all the praises it can get. Every member of the band was at their peak.
“I try to approach things, given my limitations and strengths, from a more melodic standpoint and just work on it until it sounds … nice.” – David Gilmour
Gilmour doesn’t subscribe to “rules and regulations.” And perhaps that’s one of the things that made his guitar playing difficult to duplicate. There’s a certain magic about it that no one can recreate. Still, this album is proof that he was not your average axeslinger.
4. The Who – “Who’s Next”
Ever unafraid of starting and popularizing trends, The Who’s fifth studio album “Who’s Next?” had everyone, including critics, singing their praises. When the “Lifehouse” project was aborted and scrapped, Pete Townshend was deeply upset. But on the brighter side, he was left with a cache of epic masterpieces which became instant classics.
With Townshend and his obsession with synthesizers, the songs packed a lot of punch. And more than his guitar-smashing antics, Townshend’s axeslinging skills were put on full display.
“Your hand and the pick have to connect with the [expletive] strings. You don’t open your fingers up and just sort of slap. And you have to be able to do it in a downward direction as well as an upward direction.” – Pete Townshend
He may not do a lot of guitar solos but he clearly knows how to put everyone in a trance. If you still haven’t realized just how good he is at what he does, plug in this album. You’ll thank us later.
3. The Jimi Hendrix Experience – “Electric Ladyland”
A classic rock masterpiece, this album has it all. To be fair, you can just pick any record from Jimi Hendrix. After all, he’s a guitar god and if we’re honest, the man has no peers. From delicate to blistering jams, it’s almost hard to keep up.
It’s like an inside look into Hendrix’s head and well, who doesn’t want to see what’s going on in his brilliant, perfectionist mind?
“As an album this influential (and as far as influencing a generation of players and beyond, this was his ultimate statement for many), the highlights speak for themselves: “Crosstown Traffic,” his reinterpretation of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower,” “Burning of the Midnight Lamp,” the spacy “1983…(A Merman I Should Turn to Be),” and “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return),” a landmark in Hendrix’s playing.” – AllMusic’s Cub Koda
It was the pinnacle of psychedelic rock. And whether you’re a newbie or a pro at guitar playing, this album never fails to elicit one common reaction: awe. That’s Jimi Hendrix for you, ladies and gentlemen. He knew how to blow everyone away and it’s not surprising if anyone just finds their jaw on the floor after listening.
2. Led Zeppelin – “Led Zeppelin IV”
This needs no introduction. But if you still need some valid reasons why the record made it to this list, we have two – Jimmy Page and “Stairway to Heaven.” Also, this is perhaps the best way to handle critics – throw them a masterpiece to make them shut up.
It’s Led Zeppelin’s tour de force and while there are several underrated tracks which deserve more recognition, nothing beats “Stairway to Heaven” and how it basically defined the entire album.
“After all we had accomplished, the press was still calling us a hype. So that is why the fourth album was untitled.” – Jimmy Page
Everyone knows Jimmy Page is a legend even among guitar gods. Somehow, he makes playing look so easy… that is, until you try it yourself. There’s really nothing else to say about this record because you just have to listen to it to understand why it’s widely considered as one of their best works.
RUNNER-UP: Stevie Ray Vaughan “Live At The El Mocambo” (1991)
We know this isn’t exactly an album like the other ones but there’s absolutely no way we can leave out Stevie Ray Vaughan and his stellar live performance. It’s times like this when we’re not sure if he was even human because that power he displayed is almost otherworldly.
SRV earned the respect and influence the music of countless musicians, some of whom are legends in their own right – Jeff Beck, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton and Kirk Hammett.
“It’s difficult to emulate SRV’s tone because his hands and soul had so much to do with it.” – Kirk Hammett
He was just on another level and at his prime, he basically left everyone in the dust. You don’t need more evidence than this live video of him with his band Double Trouble. It was recorded on July 11, 1983 at the El Mocambo club in Toronto, Ontario during their Texas Flood tour.
1. The Beatles – “Revolver”
We can never ignore The Beatles’ influence when we talk about classic rock guitar. Not everyone’s a fan of The Fab Four but it doesn’t take much to appreciate their greatness.
The Rolling Stone magazine referred to “Revolver” as “the band’s biggest musical watershed.” They took their music to another level – the album was diverse, well-written and in many ways, it was the culmination of their creativity.
“There are sounds [on Revolver] that nobody else has done yet – I mean nobody … ever.” – Paul McCartney
The Beatles took a giant leap into the unknown but if there’s anything we know about them, it’s that they were always more than willing to take huge risks where music was concerned. And one of the key features of the album was the use of “artificial double tracking.”
Another thing is, George Harrison wasn’t the only one who showed off his guitar skills because Paul McCartney’s solo in “Taxman” went down in history as one of the greatest solos ever recorded.