The Best Classic Psychedelic Rock Albums

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,

Here are the best psychedelic rock albums of all time, as voted on by the experts at Classic Rock magazine.

The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

The Beatles’ eighth studio album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, is the band’s defining statement and one of the most influential albums in rock history. Released in 1967, the album was a commercial and critical success, spending 27 weeks at the top of the UK charts and 15 weeks at number one in the US.

While many of The Beatles’ earlier albums had hints of psychedelia, Sgt. Pepper’s was their full-blown trip into mind-expanding territory. The album features songs like “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and “A Day in the Life” that are now considered classic examples of psychedelic rock.

The album’s iconic cover art, which features The Beatles dressed as Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band members surrounded by celebrities and historical figures, is also an important part of its legacy. The album won four Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, and is regularly included on lists of the greatest albums of all time.

The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds

There’s no doubting the power of The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds; it’s a genuine classic, and one of rock music’s most influential albums. It’s also an album that embraces the psychedelic sound and spirit in a way that few other records do.

The Beach Boys were always a band with one foot in the past and one in the future, and their love of 1950s rock & roll informed much of their early work. But by 1966, they were looking to branch out and explore new sounds and textures, something that producer Brian Wilson encouraged them to do. The result was an album that found them experimenting with studio techniques, like multitracking and using unconventional instruments, all in service of songs that were both personal and universal.

The album was not an immediate success – it was released to mixed reviews and lackluster sales – but over time, its reputation has only grown. Today, it’s rightfully considered one of the greatest albums ever made, and its influence can be heard in the work of everyone from The Beatles to Beck.

The Doors – The Doors

The Doors’ classic debut album, The Doors, is one of the most influential and important psychedelic rock albums ever made. Released in 1967, the album contains some of the band’s most well-known songs, including “Light My Fire”, “Break On Through (To the Other Side)”, and “The End”. The Doors’ unique mix of blues-based rock and roll, jazz, and classical influences made them one of the most original and groundbreaking bands of their era, and their debut album is a perfect showcase for their incredible talent. If you’re a fan of psychedelic rock, or simply want to experience one of the most important albums in rock history, then The Doors’ self-titled debut is a must-listen.

Pink Floyd – The Piper at the Gates of Dawn

One of the most influential and important psychedelic albums ever made, Pink Floyd’s debut is a landmark of the genre. Although Syd Barrett’s time with the band was short-lived, his influence on popular music was vast, and The Piper at the Gates of Dawn is a testament to his talent. From the eerie opener “Astronomy Domine” to the trippy “Interstellar Overdrive,” this is a classic album that every fan of psychedelic rock should own.

Jimi Hendrix – Are You Experienced

Are You Experienced is the debut studio album by American rock band the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Released in 1967, it was the first LP for Track and Reprise Records. The album peaked at number two on Billboard’s Pop Albums chart and has been widely regarded as one of the greatest debuts in the history of rock music. Are You Experienced includes Jimi Hendrix’s famous interpretations of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” and Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love”, as well as the self-penned classics “Purple Haze”, “Fire”, and “The Wind Cries Mary”.

The Rolling Stones – Their Satanic Majesties Request

The Rolling Stones were at the height of their powers when they released Their Satanic Majesties Request in 1967. A loose concept album about the spiritual quest for fulfilment, it was a heady mix of psychedelia, Indian music and good old fashioned rock’n’roll. Although it wasn’t as successful as its predecessor, Beggars Banquet, it’s since come to be seen as one of the Stones’ finest moments.

The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground & Nico

The Velvet Underground’s The Velvet Underground & Nico is one of the most important and influential rock albums ever made. It’s a record that is as uncompromising now as it was when it was first released in 1967, and it’s an album that changed the course of popular music. The Velvet Underground & Nico is a masterpiece of avant-garde rock, and it’s an album that deserves to be hailed as one of the greatest records of all time.

Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin

The debut album from Led Zeppelin created a new sound for rock music. Combining blues and folk with a heavy rock sound, the band created an original sound that would influence countless musicians in the years to come. The album features some of the band’s most iconic songs, including “Dazed and Confused” and “Communication Breakdown.”

The Grateful Dead – Anthem of the Sun

The Grateful Dead’s second album, Anthem of the Sun, was released in 1968. It was their first album to feature a more psychedelic sound, thanks in part to new keyboardist Tom Constanten. The album featured many of the band’s classic tunes, including “That’s It for the Other One” and “Alligator.”

Cream – Disraeli Gears

Recorded in just 11 days in May 1967 and released later that year, Cream’s second album Disraeli Gears introduced the world to the power trio’s heavy, guitar-driven sound and cemented them as one of the most important bands of the psychedelic era.

The album features some of the band’s most iconic songs, including “Strangebrew,” “Sunshine of Your Love,” and “Tales of Brave Ulysses,” all of which showcase the exceptional talent of each member – Eric Clapton on guitar, Jack Bruce on bass, and Ginger Baker on drums. Disraeli Gears is a perfect example of how psychedelic rock can be both hard-hitting and beautiful, and it remains one of the genre’s essential albums.

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