- The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
- Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon
- The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Are You Experienced
- The Doors – The Doors
- The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground & Nico
- Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin IV
- The Rolling Stones – Beggars Banquet
- King Crimson – In the Court of the Crimson King
- Yes – Close to the Edge
- Genesis – Selling England by the Pound
A comprehensive list of the best psychedelic rock albums of all time, as decided by the experts.
The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
The Beatles’ eighth studio album, 1967’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, is not only the best psychedelic rock album of all time, but it is also widely considered one of the best albums ever made, period. It is a true masterpiece in every sense of the word, and its influence can still be heard in music today, 50 years later.
The album was a radical departure from anything The Beatles had done before, and it broke new ground in terms of both songwriting and production. The interface for Abbey Road Studios’ new 8-track tape recorder was used for the first time on Sgt. Pepper, and the result was a richer, more layered sound than anything that had come before. The songs were also some of The Beatles’ most inventive and emotionally resonant, with classics like “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “With a Little Help from My Friends,” and “A Day in the Life” taking the listener on a journey through the inner workings of the band’s creative minds.
While Sgt. Pepper is certainly The Beatles’ most psychedelic album, it is by no means their only excellent entry into the genre. Other standouts include 1966’s Revolver (which features the trippy “Tomorrow Never Knows”) and 1968’s The Beatles (aka The White Album), which contains the wonderfully hallucinatory “I Am the Walrus.” But for sheer innovation, creativity, and artistry, Sgt. Pepper remains unmatched.
Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon
Released in 1973, Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon is often cited as one of the greatest psychedelic rock albums of all time. The album’s concept is based on the struggles of human existence, and its lyrics explore themes such as mental illness, greed, aging, and death. Musically, The Dark Side of the Moon is marked by its use of synthesizers and experimental production techniques. The album was an instant commercial and critical success, spending 741 weeks on the Billboard 200 chart and earning Pink Floyd a Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Are You Experienced
Psychedelic rock is a style of rock music that is inspired or influenced by psychedelic culture and attempts to replicate and enhance the mind-altering experiences of psychedelic drugs. It emerged during the mid-1960s among folk rock and blues-rock bands in Britain and the United States and reached its height of mainstream popularity between 1966 and 1969.
The genre was pioneered by The Byrds, who began incorporating elements of psychedelic music into their country-influenced sound in 1965. The Beatles’ Revolver (1966) and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), both recorded with producer George Martin at Abbey Road Studios in London, are credited as watershed albums for their embrace of sonic experimentation that heavily referenced Indian classical music. Psychedelic rock reached its apogee in the last years of the decade with seminal works such as The Doors’ The Doors (1967), Pink Floyd’s The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967) and The Beatles’ double album The Beatles (1968), also known as “The White Album”.
The Doors – The Doors
The Doors’ self-titled debut album is not only one of the greatest psychedelic rock albums of all time, it is also one of the most important debut albums in the history of rock music. Released in 1967, The Doors’ debut album encapsulated the zeitgeist of the counterculture movement and introduced the world to the band’s unique blend of blues-influenced rock and dark, poetic lyrics. The album features some of the band’s most iconic tracks, including “Break On Through (To The Other Side),” “Light My Fire,” and “The End.”
The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground & Nico
In 1967, The Velvet Underground released their debut album, The Velvet Underground & Nico. The album is widely considered one of the most important and influential in the history of rock music, and it is certainly one of the most important Psychedelic Rock albums of all time.
The Velvet Underground was a band unlike any other at the time. They were avant-garde, experimental, and subversive. Their music was challenging and often uncomfortable to listen to. But it was also fascinating, hypnotic, and ultimately addicting.
The Velvet Underground & Nico is an album that must be experienced in its entirety. It is a challenging listen, but it rewards the listener with some of the most beautiful and haunting music ever recorded.
Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin IV
Led Zeppelin’s fourth album, commonly known as Led Zeppelin IV and released in 1971, is one of the greatest and most influential albums of all time. Featuring classics such as “Stairway to Heaven”, “Rock and Roll”, and “When the Levee Breaks”, the album topped charts worldwide and has been certified 23x platinum in the US. While Led Zeppelin IV is often thought of as a hard rock or heavy metal album, its psychedelic influences are undeniable, from the trippy artwork to the extended guitar solos. If you’re looking for a mind-bending listen, you can’t go wrong with Led Zeppelin IV.
The Rolling Stones – Beggars Banquet
This is one of the Stones’ best albums, and it’s also one of the defining moments of psychedelic rock. “Beggars Banquet” is a watershed album for the band, and it’s also one of the most important psychedelic rock albums ever made.
King Crimson – In the Court of the Crimson King
In the Court of the Crimson King is the debut album from the English rock band King Crimson, released on 10 October 1969 on Island Records in England and Atlantic Records in America. The album was recorded at Wessex Sound Studios in London between July and August 1969 and engineered by Robin Thompson. It was produced by Peter Sinfield, who also wrote lyrics for some of the tracks and created its psychedelic sleeve artwork.
Musically, In the Court of the Crimson King has been influential to progressive rock, hard rock, and heavy metal. It remains one of the band’s best-known works and is cited as an early example of progressive rock. The album was ranked number 4 on Guitar World magazine’s list of greatest progressive rock albums ever. VH1 placed it at number 46 on their “100 Greatest Albums of All Time” list. In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked it number 19 on their “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” list; in 2012, they ranked it number 87. In 2000 Q magazine readers voted In the Court of the Crimson King as the 51st greatest album ever; in 2001 Q placed it at number 36 in its list “The 100 Greatest British Albums”; and in 2002 they placed it at number 70 on their “100 Greatest Albums Ever” list.
Yes – Close to the Edge
Released in 1972, Close to the Edge is the fifth studio album by English progressive rock band Yes. The album was a commercial and critical success, reaching number 3 in the UK and number 4 in the US. It was certified Gold by the RIAA in 1973.
Close to the Edge features three tracks, all over 15 minutes long. The title track is one of the band’s most popular songs, and “And You and I” is considered one of their finest compositions. The album’s artwork was designed by Roger Dean, who would become synonymous with Yes’s visual identity.
In 2003, Close to the Edge was ranked number 275 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
Genesis – Selling England by the Pound
This 1973 album from the British progressive rock band Genesis is often cited as one of the greatest psychedelic albums of all time. The band was at the height of its powers when this album was recorded, and it shows in the intricate and well-crafted songs. From the soaring opener, “Dancing with the Moonlit Knight,” to the classic closer, “I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe),” this is an essential album for any fan of psychedelic rock.