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.