By Karen DeGroot Carter • January 25, 2021
With the Grammys right around the corner, there's no better time to revisit some classic albums — or discover killer collections of chart-topping hits from way back when. Ranging from folk to soul and from rock to rap, these would make great additions to any vinyl collection!
The career of legendary singer-songwriter Bob Dylan was effectively launched into the stratosphere by this 1963 album. Featuring timely anthems that were embraced by a generation, it not only cemented his reputation in the music industry but secured his place as a cultural icon. Classics include the haunting "Blowin' in the Wind" and "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall" as well as others considered among Dylan's best, including "Girl from the North Country" and "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right."
This 1969 Aretha Franklin "greatest hits" collection contains recordings of the Queen of Soul's numerous chart-topping hits from 1966 to 1968. Favorites include "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You);" "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man;" and "Baby, I Love You;" as well as "(You Make Me Feel) Like a Natural Woman" and "Respect."
Also released in 1969, Abbey Road is in the top five of Rolling Stone magazine's best albums of all time. It opens with the incredible duo of "Come Together" and "Something" and continues with "Maxwell's Silver Hammer;" "Oh! Darling;" "Octopus's Garden;" and "I Want You (She's So Heavy)." "Here Comes the Sun," one of George Harrison's first songwriting hits along with "Something," was reportedly written by Harrison in Eric Clapton's garden.
British rock band The Who successfully reinvigorated their loyal fan base and gained increased international acclaim with the 1971 release of this album, which is considered one of the best of all time. Huge hits include "Behind Blue Eyes" and "Won't Be Fooled Again" as well as "Baba O'Riley," which is best known by its famous refrain, "teenage wasteland."
Another leader of the phenomenon known as the British Invasion of the mid-1960s, the Rolling Stones had begun to lose ground against the forces of disco and punk rock by the mid-1970s. The 1978 release of Some Girls effectively reversed all that as it raced to top spots on the U.S. and British charts. Stones classics from this record include "Miss You," "Beast of Burden," and "Shattered."
Australian rock-and-roll phenomenon AC/DC exceeded expectations with Back in Black. An intense and highly successful international tour followed the album's 1980 release, which by all measures was also remarkably successful. Classic AC/DC hits featured include the raucous opening, "Hell's Bells," as well as "You Shook Me All Night Long" and "Back in Black."
It's hard to explain the impact Prince and his band the Revolution had on pop music in the mid-1980s, but when the album Purple Rain was released in 1984, suffice to say it was truly revolutionary. Chart toppers included in the original Purple Rain album include "Let's Go Crazy," "When Doves Cry," "I Would Die for You," and, of course, "Purple Rain."
From the late 1980s to the late 1990s, the Beastie Boys took the hip hop world by storm. This double-album compilation of the rappers' top releases has been lauded as the band's best greatest hits collection. Favorites range from "Intergalactic," "Hey Ladies," and "No Sleep till Brooklyn" to the mega-hit "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party!)." Released in 2020, Beastie Boys Music complements the popular Beastie Boys Story documentary and the #1 New York Times bestseller, the Beastie Boys Book.
Originally released in 1993, this compilation of the best of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers is a terrific find for any fan of the late rocker. One of the top artists to come out of the Southern California music scene, Tom Petty produced decades of hits, and this two-album collection contains many of his best, including "American Girl," "Breakdown," "Listen to Her Heart," "Refugee," "Don't Do Me Like That," "Here Comes My Girl," "You Got Lucky," "Don't Come Around Here No More," "I Won't Back Down," and "Free Fallin'."
When this Bon Jovi greatest hits album was released in 1994, just ten years after the band first became well known, the New Jersey band already had a slew of hits. In addition to favorites such as "Livin' on a Prayer," "Wanted Dead or Alive," and "You Give Love a Bad Name," Cross Road included a new track, "Always," that remained in Billboard's top 10 for months and ultimately became the band's bestselling song.
About the Author: Karen DeGroot Carter of Denver is the author of the novel ONE SISTER'S SONG. Her short fiction has been recognized in national competitions, and she's had fiction, poetry, and articles published in various print and online outlets. Visit http://karendegrootcarter.com for more.