13 genre-defining, influential albums you’ve probably never heard

1 – The Moody Blues – Days of Future Passed (1967)

Much more than being the first, embryonic ‘progressive rock’ record, “Days of Future Passed” was the first non-classical release to be put out in stereo. Decca originally sent The Moody Blues into the studio to record a ‘rock opus’ version of Dvořák’s 9th symphony. Instead, we got “Nights in White Satin”.
Without this, no Genesis, Yes or Jethro Tull.

2 – Nick Drake – Five Leaves Left (1969)

Back in the day, no one really knew who Nick Drake was. No one really knew what to label his music as, and no one bought his records. After Drake’s tragic death in 1974, he became an icon of romantic melancholy, and his ethereal, poetic music inspired a generation of young musicians.
Without this, no Kate Bush, The Cure or Damien Rice.

3 – Eric B & Rakim – Paid in Full (1987)

Thanks to Rakim’s confident, powerful delivery and Eric B’s sample-heavy production, “Paid In Full” is considered the benchmark of modern Hip-Hop by pretty much everyone in the industry. Echoes of this record ring out in practically every modern rap record.
Without this, no Jay Z, Wu-Tang Clan or 50 Cent.

4 – Robert Johnson – King Of The Delta Blues Singers (1961)

Owned by practically every early blues rocker during the 60’s, but practically forgotten about since. Johnson’s incredibly expressive, lilting vocal and hot finger-picked guitar style has influenced thousands upon thousands of recording artists.
Without this, no Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton or Rolling Stones

5 – Refused – The Shape of Punk to Come (1998)

A lesson in artistic over-production, “The Shape of Punk to Come” certainly did what it said on the tin. Single-handedly creating the ‘post hardcore’ genre, this record perfectly combines cutting riffs, super-tight, energetic performance with electronic elements and screamed vocals.
Without this, no 65daysofstatic, At The Drive-In, Rise Against or Converge

6 – Pixies – Surfer Rosa (1988)

The patented quiet/loud dynamic, art-school lyrics and raw, engaging performance inspired a whole army of musicians to start bands. Future members of Radiohead, Blur and Pulp and attended their first ever show in the UK.
Without this, no Nirvana, Radiohead or Weezer

7 – Yellow Magic Orchestra – Yellow Magic Orchestra (1978)

Aside from being solely responsible for the rise of “technopop” in Japan (as culturally important as blues was to the USA), their pioneering use of electronic instruments, synthesizers and drum machines paved the way for pretty much all Western electronic pop music.
Without this, no pop-era Ultravox, Depeche Mode or Gary Numan

8 – Meshuggah – Contradictions Collapse (1991)

More than two decades ago, Meshuggah’s jerky, violent sprawl of brutal instrumentation in quirky time signatures interspersed with ethereal, ominous mellow sections spawned the entire ‘djent’ genre.
Without this, no Periphery, Animals As Leaders or TesseracT

9 – Iggy & The Stooges – Raw Power (1973)

Who’d have thought that punk rock was invented by that bloke from those car insurance adverts being produced by David Bowie? Well, it was.
Without this, no Black Flag, Sex Pistols or White Stripes

10 – Fingers, Inc. – Another Side (1988)

Urban-flavoured, cinematic and hypnotic, Fingers, Inc. – the union of legendary DJ Mr Fingers and some guest vocalists – laid the foundations for the Motown-influenced Chicago House scene.
Without this, no House music. Period.

11 – Atomic Rooster – Death Walks Behind You (1970)

Doomy, gloomy, dark & dirty. Aside from having one of the worst names in rock history, Atomic Rooster also created probably the most influential heavy metal albums ever.
Without this, no Black Sabbath, Cathedral or Judas Priest

12 – Catherine Wheel – Ferment (1992)

Emotion-soaked, bombastic and introverted, the Catherine Wheel came and went without leaving much of a dent in the charts, but their legacy has touched pretty much everyone who hasn’t been living under a rock for the past two decades.
Without this, no Coldplay, Kings of Leon or Snow Patrol

13 – Popol Vuh – Affenstunde (1970)

It would be pretty ridiculous to imply that ambient music wouldn’t exist without German avant-garde act Popul Vuh, but it certainly wouldn’t be as defined or accessible without their influential touch.
Without this, no Boards of Canada, Jean-Michelle Jarre or The Orb

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Guy Perchard

Digital editor & recording specialist at Red Dog Music
As well as being the marketing man-about-town at Red Dog Music, Guy is a busy, award winning record producer and mixing engineer. He is also partial to a chorizo stromboli for elevenses.

6 Responses to “13 genre-defining, influential albums you’ve probably never heard”

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  1. Paul Burns says:

    Interesting choices, they are all on my shelf.

  2. Guy Perchard says:

    A man of fine taste! 🙂

  3. This list isn't bad but contains a glaring omission: the '69 album Whitenoise, An Electric Storm.This is the album that redefined the limits of what could be done with synthesisers, sequencers, tape loops and FX; it directly influenced the development of the Fairlight which in turn redefined the way music was written and produced and indeed what people expected to be able to include in production. Without this, not just no Aphex Twin, KLF, Orb, Boards of Canada, Orbital or for that matter the people who influenced them – but none of the genres they belonged to! This is the album that these people quote as having "changed the way I listen to music" !

    • Dan says:

      You sir are a man of taste and refinement. White Noise is notable for at least three other things: musical comedy, electronically enhanced orgasm and to my ears the greatest ever drum solo. This regularly fails to appear on any list of psychedelic albums, yet it must be in the top five. Regarding the rest of the list, very good choices but surely Pixies need to be replaced with Cardiacs. And did Kate Bush really need Nick Drake’s influence to write Wuthering Heights?

  4. Dan Johnson says:

    Own 5, three on vinyl, heard another two. Will get on the Spotithing and check out the rest. Nick Drake was great but genre defining? Sandy, Martin, Richard, etc. had already redefined the boundaries of folk. I always got the feeling Nick Drake was trying to write 'Who Knows' but not quite getting there. Only my aging opinion, tho'.

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