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Top 10 British Albums That Changed Music Forever

Written by Andrea Buccino These records redefined popular music. Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 British Albums that Changed Music Forever. For this list, we’re ranking the greatest, game-changing records ever to have come out of Great Britain. Special thanks to our user RichardFB for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Top 10 British Albums that Changed Music Forever

These records redefined popular music. Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 British Albums that Changed Music Forever.

For this list, we’re ranking the greatest, game-changing records ever to have come out of Great Britain.

#10: “Definitely Maybe” (1994)

Before becoming a worldwide phenomenon and the figureheads of Britpop, Manchester’s Oasis had to break into the mainstream. Liam and Noel Gallagher arrived with “Definitely Maybe”, their first studio album and a record widely considered as one of the best of the ‘90s. The ballsy debut blends Beatles-esque influences with a raw energy which quickly became an Oasis trademark. Selling faster than any debut album before it, “Definitely Maybe” definitely put Britain back on the musical map.

#9: “A Night at the Opera” (1975)

Having tasted some success with previous albums, here’s where Queen came of age, bringing all their influences together for their now-unmistakable sound. Led by Freddie Mercury’s unique vocals, the band blends hard and prog rock with radio-friendly pop, for an album which develops into an extravagant and operatic rock masterpiece. While every element is meticulously fine-tuned “Bohemian Rhapsody” is an undisputed highlight - and still one of the greatest stadium anthems ever written.

#8: “The Queen is Dead” (1986)
The Smiths

[1]He may be one of music’s most controversial figures but alongside Johnny Marr, Morrissey was an all-out icon, fronting one of the most influential acts of the '80s. The Smith’s paved the way for alternative music trends, and “The Queen is Dead” became a blueprint for indie rock. Boasting a tracklist stacked with celebrated songs, from “Cemetery Gates” to “There is a Light that Never Goes Out”, this was an album quite unlike anything that came before.

#7: “Let it Bleed” (1969)
The Rolling Stones

There have been few more influential bands in the history of rock music, and “Let It Bleed” was the Rolling Stones at the absolute apex of their careers. Containing some of the Stones’ greatest songs, it stands as a tour de force of blues and rock. From the timeless “Gimme Shelter” to the anthemic “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”, it’s packed with euphoric instrumentals alongside Mick Jagger’s signature snarl. Plus, it’s the final Stones album to feature founding member, Brian Jones.

#6: “Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols” (1977)
The Sex Pistols

They’re punk pioneers, and this is their seminal album. The Sex Pistols barged into public consciousness with “Never Mind the Bollocks”, inciting controversy even before a single song was played. The album cover and title triggered a censorship row at the time of release, while the record’s raw and unrefined style proved the epitome of punk. With other punk outfits pitching punchy but more complex songs, the Pistols went for all-out anarchy. It’s not necessarily the best punk album out there, but “Never Mind the Bollocks” was a gut-busting game-changer.

#5: “Paranoid” (1970)
Black Sabbath

When four lads from Birmingham started a rock band in the late 60s, few could have predicted the impact that they’d have. But Black Sabbath became one of the most important groups in heavy metal history, revolutionising hard rock and becoming the true pioneers of their genre. We might easily have included their self-titled debut record on today’s list, but Sabbath’s follow up, “Paranoid” is arguably one of the greatest achievements in popular music, period. In just eight tracks, it set a brand new standard, becoming the first port of call for heavy metal fans.

#4: “Led Zeppelin IV” (1971)
Led Zeppelin

Any number of Led Zepp records might’ve featured today, with the iconic outfit responsible for a hugely influential body of work. But Zeppelin’s fourth album came at the height of their powers, becoming one of the best selling records of all time. And for good reason! Striking a perfect balance between hard, edgy rock and more melodic tunes, from “Black Dog” to “When The Levee Breaks” there’s not one track that’s out of step. And of course, “Stairway to Heaven” still stands as one of the best ever.

#3: “The Dark Side of the Moon” (1973)
Pink Floyd

A standout effort from one of Britain’s best, “The Dark Side of the Moon” is not only Pink Floyd’s most successful album, but one of the best-selling records of all time - placing in US charts for 741 consecutive weeks until 1988. It’s not so much remembered for a series of stonking singles, but rather as a collective, pristine example of how an album should sound. With a lasting influence on Floyd’s live shows as well, it’s required listening for rock music fans.

#2: “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” (1972)
David Bowie

As probably Bowie's best known album, “Ziggy Stardust” came after a series of successful records, including a self-titled second album. But here’s where Bowie truly establishes himself as a Glam Rock revolutionary and cultural icon, by developing his Stardust alter-ego to reflect on his own career and personality. Including classics like “Starman” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide”, not only did this album significantly shake things up when it was released, but these songs are still sung today.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are some honourable mentions:

“OK Computer” (1997)

“The Animals” (1964)
The Animals

“Making Movies” (1980)
Dire Straits

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

Often cited as the most influential British band ever, this is the Beatles’ at their boldest. With an instantly recognisable cover, “Sgt. Peppers” reshaped the rock music landscape, serving as a primary inspiration for most of the records featured on this very list. John, Paul, George and Ringo take us on a psychedelic, counterculture voyage, built on all that they’d achieved before but determined to push the boundaries further still. From open to close, it redefined the look, feel and sound of pop music, and still stands as the Fab Four’s finest hour.

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