Time to have some fun this week,
I know, I know…it’s hard to list only ten albums. However, every album on this list has had a life of their own. They are solid statements featuring some of the greatest musicians to ever live. These records have touched the lives of millions. They were recorded decades ago, but all have stood the test of time.
Without further ado, here are the 10 albums every guitar player should know (drumroll please…):
Are You Experienced – Jimi Hendrix
Nobody could match Jimi Hendrix’s combination of emotion, poise and sheer musicality. Are You Experienced is the album that made him well known, and is considered by many one of the greatest albums ever.
Released during a time when Hendrix was struggling financially as an unknown gigging musician, this album was a commercial and critical success. However, few knew that it would stand the test of time and be regarded as one of the greatest ever half a century later.
Led Zeppelin IV – Led Zeppelin
The most popular album by one of the most popular bands ever. Led Zeppelin IV contains the ultimate rock anthem: “Stairway to Heaven”. This album defined not only Led Zeppelin but 70’s rock as well.
Produced by guitarist Jimmy Page, Led Zeppelin IV is considered one of the greatest rock albums in history. It displays the legendary trademark sound of the band, with all of their members in top shape. A must-know for any guitar player.
Texas Flood – Stevie Ray Vaughan
Stevie Ray Vaughan picked up where the previous blues giants left off. In Texas Flood, he displays a higher level of technique and a command of the instrument that was usually uncommon for a Blues player at that time.
Vaughan had one of the most sought-after guitar tones and is still widely imitated today. Texas Flood is the first album from the blues master, and one of the most influential and sought after.
Friday Night in San Francisco – Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin, Paco De Lucía
An absolute display of virtuosity, Friday Night in San Francisco features three of the most accomplished guitar players ever. Flamenco legend Paco De Lucia, fusion powerhouse Al Di Meola, and jazz master John McLaughlin are in top shape in this guitar trio recording.
This album has been regarded by a few as a mere competition among the three players; an absurd display of technique and speed in the sacrifice of musicality. Even if there is some truth to that, Friday Night in San Francisco is a must listen for any guitar player.
Van Halen – Van Halen
The world was not ready for this mix of perfectly crafted songs with the virtuosity of Eddie Van Halen. The track “Eruption”, a solo that is almost two minutes long, made EVH an instant phenomenon. This record sold over ten million copies and made the band and its guitar player legendary.
Surfing With the Alien – Joe Satriani
There is a before and after for instrumental rock guitar albums: the release of Surfing with the Alien. This was Satriani’s second record and the one that established him as a modern guitar hero.
This album has it all: Satriani’s uncommon mix of musicality, technique, and emotion. Released in 1987, Surfing With the Alien is still one of Satriani’s most popular records and remains a staple among guitar players.
Back In Black – AC/DC
One of the bestselling albums ever, Back In Black took AC/DC and made them international superstars. The guitar work of Angus Young and his brother Malcolm Young make this album one of the best rock releases ever.
It came after lead singer Bon Scott had died, and new singer Brian Johnson stepped in. It features the rock classics “Back in Black”, “You Shook Me All Night Long”, and “Hells Bells”, with their respective blistering riffs and guitar solos.
Blow by Blow – Jeff Beck
Produced by legendary Beatles producer George Martin, Blow by Blow is one of Jeff Becks finest albums. It displays Beck’s incredible touch and musicality with his unparalleled tone. It was recorded right after the dissolution of his power trio and marked an important moment in his career.
This album has classics like “Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers” (a song Stevie Wonder wrote and gave to Beck) and “Scatterbrain”. It is a must-have album for guitar players and displays Jeff Beck’s superior ability with the instrument.
Appetite for Destruction – Guns N’ Roses
Recorded in a time when glam rock and guitar empty pyrotechnics were common, Appetite for Destruction established a new direction for melody and musicality for guitar players. It kickstarted Slash’s reputation as one of the greatest guitar heroes ever.
Many have tried to recreate the spectacular guitar tone on this album, but have failed. It is still Guns N’ Roses’ most popular album and provided a good chunk of the 80s soundtrack that still resonates today.
I Can See Your House from Here – Pat Metheny and John Scofield
Perhaps one of the most underrated albums ever, I Can See Your House from Here is a must listen. It features two of the most accomplished guitarists of the last 50 years: jazz virtuoso Pat Metheny and Fusion/Funk/Jazz- maestro John Scofield.
Everything from the compositions, to the interplay within the band and the incredibly musical solos, make this album a joy to listen to. Don’t miss out on it!
Wrapping it all up
There are many more albums to extend this list while keeping the same level of quality and awesomeness. Do yourself a favor and also check out other albums by the artists mentioned here, their influences, and what they are currently listening to. Immerse yourself in this world and go deep. Or go back in time to 80's and check out our top 10 ten picks from the 80's.
And most of all, listen carefully, absorb, and enjoy.
That’s it for this week. Stay tuned and…