10 Timeless Albums To Listen to All the Way Through

Led Zeppelin
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“No skips” has become shorthand for a great album, and it makes perfect sense. An album made of only great songs, each of which succeeds in its own right and as part of the larger cohesive whole, is special. As we continue to move further into playlists being one of the main ways that people enjoy music, one music lover takes to an online forum to ask which albums are best listened to in one go, front to back, without skips. There are a variety of answers, but here I’ll focus on rock, which offers diverse suggestions across decades and subgenres. 

1 – Pink Floyd – The Wall

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Several Pink Floyd albums are mentioned in the discussion. Some fans think Animals is the best album from the band to sit down and enjoy in a single sitting; others vote for Wish You Were Here, and, of course, their most famous album The Dark Side of the Moon. But one of their albums stands above the rest when it comes to questions of single sitting front-to-back listens, and that album is The Wall

The 1979 concept album includes a narrative story that can only be understood and emotionally impactful if you listen to the whole thing. It’s also one of the band’s most varied albums in different musical styles, including early heavy metal and disco. 

2 – The Beatles – Abbey Road

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The Beatles are another legendary band with multiple albums that fans think deserve the single-sitting treatment. Some say Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, others vote for Revolver or Rubber Soul. But the most agreed-upon Beatles album that deserves your attention for its entire runtime is Abbey Road. The album contains a famous medley of short songs that all but require single listening. But there are also simply no songs on the album that aren’t noteworthy, from the proto-metal songs “Come Together” and “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” to the jaunty fun of “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.” 

3 – Nirvana – MTV Unplugged in New York

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Some might push back and argue that live albums aren’t albums, but they can take that up with the long history of live recordings, including Johnny Cash’s iconic At Folsom Prison album. After that album, Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged in New York may be the essential live album. The band plays several of their own songs and a variety of covers from old folk songs to David Bowie, but throughout, they make each of them their own, and on “Where Did You Sleep Last Night,” you can hear the anguish in Kurt’s voice. 

4 – David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

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Speaking of David Bowie, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars receives several mentions as one of the greatest albums of all time and warrants an uninterrupted listen. Fans highlight the rawness of opener “Five Years” and closer “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide,” as well as the loose concept of an alien, bisexual rock star. One music lover says they only listened to the album recently and thought, “Where has this album been all my life?”

5 – Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti 

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As a lover of Led Zeppelin, I’m shocked that there isn’t more discussion of which of their albums should be listened to from start to finish; that said, I can’t choose because I love them all. Music lovers in the forum agreed, though, that Physical Graffiti is the Zeppelin album to listen to in its entirety for the way that it mixes various influences, its epic scope (the album is over an hour and twenty minutes long, much longer than any of their others), and iconic songs like “Kashmir” and “In My Time of Dying.” 

6 – Fleetwood Mac – Rumours

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On the softer side of classic rock, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours is recommended as one of the best albums to listen to all the way through. One fan says that when they were a child and first heard the album, they thought it was a Greatest Hits compilation because every song is so great. It’s easy to understand when songs like “Go Your Own Way” and “Dreams” are on the same album. 

7 – King Crimson – In the Court of the Crimson King 

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Prog rock fans are divided between Rush’s 2112, Dream Theater’s Scenes from a Memory, and King Crimson’s In the Court of the Crimson King. But the Crimson King remains King; it’s the first of these albums to be released, setting the stage for the other two, and its cultural impact is felt beyond prog rock and even rock, as Kanye West sampled “21st Century Schizoid Man” in his hit “Power” almost half a century after In the Court of the Crimson King was released. 

8 – The Clash – London Calling

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From prog to punk, every subgenre of rock has at least one album that warrants a full listen. The Clash has several excellent albums, but none are more iconic than London Calling. It’s an album that shows a band in transition as they incorporate several other styles of music into their original punk sound without ever losing anything of themselves or bastardizing the styles they’re drawing from. 

9 – Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures 

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From punk to post-punk, Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures is the first of the two albums that the band recorded before the death of their lead singer Ian Curtis. While both of the band’s albums are incredible, Unknown Pleasures takes the edge for songs like “She’s Lost Control” and its tremendous impact on everything from music to T-shirts. The production and driving percussion on the album created something new that almost single-handedly created a new genre. 

10 – The Cure – Disintegration 

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An album often associated with Unknown Pleasures as both are considered goth classics, The Cure’s Disintegration is far more atmospheric, with significant use of synthesizers to create lush, if gloomy, soundscapes. The album marked a return to darkness for the band after their pop breakthrough and showed that they were still just as good at moody music as they had been at the start of their career, if not better.

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Written by Kyle Logan

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