The very title “5 Best Rock Albums of All Time” is nothing more nor less than the equivalent of rhetorical gunpowder intended to set off an explosion between a limitless supply of opposing viewpoints. Let’s face it: you cannot possibly hope to win more friends than enemies by taking on such an appallingly subjective concept. So why waste any more time? Let’s set this bomb off.
Entertainment!: Gang of Four
Most assuredly not for every taste; if you consider the current batch of pop stars to have perfected the rock lyric, then the intricate Marxist political message of every song on Gang of Four’s first album, “Entertainment!” will leave you a slack-jawed yokel. If you prefer your rock lyrics subtle enough to glean some new facet or meaning the 40th time you hear them, then the real question is why you don’t already own “Entertainment!”
London Calling: The Clash
This spectacular two-disc album covers everything from the Spanish Civil War to the tragic end of actor Montgomery Clift. In between, the British punk icons experiment with everything from hardcore guitar-based garage rock to the soaring horns of ska to comment on subjects as disparate as drug addiction and consumerism.
The Wall: Pink Floyd
Interestingly, one of factors that stimulated the punk rock movement that reached its apex with the two bands previous mentioned were “concept albums” like Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.” You can look at this two-disc release that tells a unified story by linking the endings and beginnings of certain songs and coming back to present a different version of previous songs on the album as the ultimate in rock star indulgence. Or you can just stay cool and admit it’s pretty much a one of kind experience.
Closer: Joy Division
Whereas “Entertainment!” can make your head hurt from the sheer subtlety of the message that requires multiple listenings to piece together, “Closer” makes your heart hurt the very time you listen to it. Just before it’s official release, Joy Division’s lead singer Ian Curtis committed suicide. Listening to the songs on what would be both the band’s second and last album before regrouping as New Order, it seems impossible that nobody saw the hanging coming. “Closer” is an example of why rock can be breathtaking.
Elvis Presley: Elvis Presley
There is a very good reason why the album cover of “London Calling” strongly recalls the album cover of Elvis Presley’s first album. The self-titled debut album of the King of Rock & Roll set the stage for quite literally every rock album that you will ever find on a list of the Top 5 Rock Albums of All Time. The songs on “Elvis Presley” are almost an afterthought; it is the spirit of the rock and roll that Elvis ignites in those songs that really matter.
From the moment that Elvis belts out that it’s one for the money to the deadened ritualistic repetition of “where have they been” that closes out the brief but brilliant career of Ian Curtis and Joy Division, the one aspect tying all five of these candidates for best rock album ever together is passion. The passion can range from the fiery political stances of Gang of Four and The Clash to Pink Floyd’s career-defining experiment to see how far rock and roll can go before it transforms into an altogether different animal.