Eight epochal and enticing English rock albums from 1969

1969 was an incredible year for music, and particularly for the album format.
Led Zeppelin Performing in Concert
Led Zeppelin Performing in Concert / Jay Dickman/GettyImages
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5. Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin

An indelible debut album from one of the premier rock acts of the late ‘60s and throughout the 1970s (and all time, for that matter). Featuring one of the best opening tracks from a debut album in the 1960s, Led Zep’s debut album provided the template that the band would continue to work in and expand upon for the rest of its career: taking blues riffs, melodies and solos and mutating them into a burly, proto-heavy metal style of music that was wildly influential and has aged wonderfully 55 years after its release.

Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham shared an almost telepathic bond when it came to performing. This album is a bit tame compared to their live shows or some of their heavier and more experimental work down the line, it still perfectly encapsulates the group’s influences (which included then-contemporary folk artists) and provides multiple examples of the wide breadth of their talents.

The folky banger “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You,” the bass-heavy and psychedelic “Dazed and Confused,” the proto-punk of “Communication Breakdown” and the straight-up blues workout “You Shook Me" are all winners.

4. Let It Bleed – The Rolling Stones

One of the Stones’ finest albums, just imagine how much better the album would be if the throwaway filler track "Country Honk" was replaced with the single that preceded it, the masterful, catchy "Honky Tonk Women," which stands as one of the Stones' best-ever songs.

Thankfully, that poor country pastiche is washed away by the sexy stomp of "Live With Me," which features the debut appearance of future Stones member Mick Taylor with the group as well as contributions from longtime collaborator Bobby Keys on saxophone as well as two session wizards, Leon Russell and Nicky Hopkins, on piano. 

Of course, the opening song, “Gimme Shelter,” and the closing number, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” are certainly the best-known songs here, and both hold up incredibly well 55 years after they were released.