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- 1+ 21- 4Wish You Were Here is the ninth studio album by English progressive rock group Pink Floyd, released in September 1975. It explores themes of absence, the music business and former band-mate Syd Barrett's mental decline. Inspired by material the band composed while performing across Europe, Wish You Were Here was recorded in numerous sessions at London's Abbey Road Studios. Although some of these sessions were problematic, it was lead writer Roger Waters' idea to split the centrepiece track "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" in two and join each half with three new compositions. "Shine On" was a tribute to Barrett, who, coincidentally, made an impromptu visit to the studio while it was being recorded.
As with their previous album, The Dark Side of the Moon, the band made use of studio effects and synthesisers. Roy Harper provided the lead vocals on "Have a Cigar". The album's packaging, designed by Storm Thorgerson, featured an opaque black sleeve which hid the album artwork. Wish You Were Here was an instant success and record company EMI was unable to print enough copies to satisfy demand. Although it initially received mixed reviews, the album has since been acclaimed by critics and appears on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Band members Richard Wright and David Gilmour have each declared Wish You Were Here their favourite Pink Floyd album.
- 2+ 20- 8Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (often referred to simply as Sgt. Pepper) is the eighth studio album by the English rock band The Beatles. Released in June 1967, Rolling Stone called it "the most important rock & roll album ever made ... by the greatest rock & roll group of all time." The LP included songs such as "With a Little Help from My Friends", "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", and "A Day in the Life".
During the Sgt. Pepper sessions, the group improved upon the quality of their music's production while exploring experimental recording techniques. Producer George Martin's innovative approach included the use of an orchestra. The songs on the album range from music hall, rock and roll and pop to traditional Indian music. Widely acclaimed and imitated, the album cover's inspiration came from a sketch by Paul McCartney that depicted the band posing in front of a collage of some of their favourite celebrities. It later served as the basis for the design by English pop artists Peter Blake and Jann Haworth.
Sgt. Pepper was a worldwide critical and commercial success, spending a total of 27 weeks at the top of the UK Album Chart and 15 weeks at number one on the US Billboard 200. A seminal work in the emerging psychedelic rock style, the album was critically acclaimed upon release and won four Grammy Awards in 1968. In 1994, it was ranked number one in the book All Time Top 1000 Albums. In 2005, the album was placed at number one on Rolling Stone magazine's list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Sgt. Pepper is one of the world's best selling albums, with 11 million RIAA certified copies sold in the US as of 2012.
- 3+ 16- 5Physical Graffiti is the sixth studio album by the English rock band Led Zeppelin, released on 24 February 1975 as a double album. Recording sessions for the album were initially disrupted when bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones considered leaving the band. After reuniting at Headley Grange, the band wrote and recorded eight songs, the combined length of which stretched the album beyond the typical length of an LP. This prompted the band to make Physical Graffiti a double album by including previously unreleased tracks from earlier recording sessions.
Physical Graffiti was commercially and critically successful; the album went 16x platinum (though this signifies shipping of eight million copies, as it is a double album) in the US alone.
- 4+ 14- 4Paranoid is the second studio album by English heavy metal band Black Sabbath. Released in September 1970, the album was the only one by the band to top the UK Albums Chart, and as a result is commonly identified as the band's magnum opus. Paranoid has been certified four times platinum by the RIAA and contains some of the band's best-known signature songs, including the title track, "Iron Man" and "War Pigs".
- 5+ 12- 3The Soft Parade is the fourth studio album by The Doors, released in 1969.
The album met with some controversy among fans and critics due to its inclusion of brass and string instrument arrangements, as opposed to the more stripped-down sound of their earlier recordings. Fans also complained that The Soft Parade followed the lyrical formulas of previous albums, and thus was not very innovative. In reviewing the 40th anniversary remix (for the August 2007 issue of Downbeat Magazine) correspondent Dan Ouellette thought otherwise, declaring it to be "the apex" of the band's creativity.
Due to Jim Morrison's increasing alcoholism and interest in poetry, guitarist Robby Krieger has a stronger presence on The Soft Parade than on any other Doors album from the Morrison era, contributing around half the material, including sharing the lead vocal on the song Runnin' Blue.
- 6+ 16- 7The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (often shortened to Ziggy Stardust) is a 1972 concept album by English musician David Bowie, which is loosely based on a story of a fictional rock star named Ziggy Stardust. It peaked at number five in the United Kingdom and number 75 in the United States on the Billboard Music Charts. A concert film of the same name directed by D.A. Pennebaker was released in 1973.
The album presents, albeit vaguely, the story of a rock and roll character called "Ziggy Stardust". Ziggy is the human manifestation of an alien being who is attempting to present humanity with a message of hope in the last five years of its existence. Ziggy Stardust is the definitive rock star: sexually promiscuous, wild in drug intake and with a message, ultimately, of peace and love; but he is destroyed both by his own excesses of drugs and sex, and by the fans he inspired.