Top 10 Classic Rock Concept Albums

Brilliant From Start to Finish

When we think of concept albums, we often associate them with two words – unforgettable and ambitious. It’s more than just throwing a bunch of unrelated tracks together. Here, artists get all their creative juices flowing to craft a story they can tell in the most majestic and out-of-the-box manner. It’s like someone just thought, “Hey! Why don’t we make an album with a single story or songs with a loose theme that ties them together?”

Then, voila, we were blessed with the following masterpieces.

10. Genesis – “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” (1974)

The story evolves around Rael, who lives in New York City, and his self-discovery after meeting other characters and experiencing several bizarre events.

9. The Who – “Quadrophenia” (1973)

Only Pete Townshend can manage to compose an entire album that’s as epic as this. The plot centers around Jimmy, a young working-class mod, who struggles to find his self-worth.

8. The Kinks – “The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society” (1968)

This is one of those concept albums where there’s not one story, instead, it has a loose theme that binds the songs together.

7. Frank Zappa – “Joe’s Garage” (1979)

This three-part rock opera from musical genius Frank Zappa is basically a “stupid little story about how the government is going to do away with music.”

6. The Beach Boys – “Pet Sounds” (1966)

This is often regarded as one of the first concept albums in rock.

5. Rush – “2112” (1976)

According to Alex Lifeson, Pete Townshend was a huge influence on them especially when it came to his strumming.

4. David Bowie – “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” (1972)

In this loose concept album, we finally meet Bowie’s legendary alter ego, Ziggy Stardust.

3. Pink Floyd – “The Wall” (1979)

One of the most easily recognizable concept records of all time, this rock opera tackles themes of abandonment and isolation.

2. The Who – “Tommy” (1969)

We don’t normally include two works from the same artist or band but for this masterpiece, we’d gladly make it an exception.

1. The Beatles – “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” (1967)

It was Paul McCartney who suggested that they record an entire album by a ‘fictional band’ so they can experiment freely. He further added, “I thought, let’s not be ourselves. Let’s develop alter egos.”