Most people who sit down with a hard rock album know what they are getting. Regardless of what kind of offshoot the genre is, chances are people play these songs looking for some meaty riffs with a nice helping of vocal acrobatics. On the other hand, many artists have gone above and beyond to give their audience something even more adventurous than headbanging.
These are the kind of records that have stopped fans dead in their tracks and demanded that you pay attention. Though these albums deserve to be heard on any medium, you don't really get the full experience of any of them unless you listen with headphones. While it might not be ideal for every single music listener, hearing these records without any added interruption helps you pick up on subtle things that you might not hear otherwise.
Not only are you able to hear the multiple layers of sound, but also the sheer amount of hours these bands put into their music to make them the greatest albums of all time. Whereas some bands would be more inclined to do nothing more than a basic performance on record, these artists went above and beyond to show just how transformative an album experience can be.
10. Who's Next - The Who
By the end of the 1960's, The Who had already shattered everyone's illusions with Tommy. The prototypical rock opera had smashed down the barriers of rock song structure and emphasized the power of rock that went beyond three chords. While the next record didn't necessarily equal Pete Townshend's initial vision, Who's Next is a gold mine for audiophiles.
Out of all the original hard rock bands, this was one of the first albums that featured a prominent synthesizer presence. Though you'd hear bands like Led Zeppelin flirting with synths in their music, this was the first album to combine the dirtiness of rock distortion with the eerie precision of sequencing. Just listening to something like "Baba O'Riley" will send you reeling in the headphones, with its opening tones sounding like absolute magic when heard for the first time.
On the other hand, this album is more than just its shiny new toy. In terms of other instruments, everything seems in its right place, with John Entwistle's bass fitting in perfectly with some of Townshend's nastiest guitar parts yet.
The record may have peaks and valleys in terms of sound, but it doesn't get any better than the end of "Won't Get Fooled Again," where every piece comes together under Roger Daltrey's ferocious howl. Earning fans from both the prog and punk waves, Who's Next is the one of the few records that struck the perfect balance between power and innovation.