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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1. Abbey Road – The Beatles

The final album recorded by the Fab Four (but not the final one released) saw the group expand into the heaviest rock material they'd ever dabbled in with awe-inspiring results after they had already released the best album from 1964.

The opening track “Come Together” by John Lennon is a slinky, swampy, blues-inflected number with an unshakable bass line and fun, gibberish lyrics. That all-time classic gives way to “Something,” which is George Harrison's crowning achievement as a member of the Beatles. With an achingly beautiful melody backed up by some of Paul McCartney's finest-ever bass playing, this song features a guitar solo that is just as catchy (if not catchier) as the actual vocal melody itself.

Elsewhere on the album, you'll find a plethora of masterpieces such as “Here Comes the Sun,” “Oh! Darling” and “Octopus's Garden.” (Yes, I said it; this Ringo Starr-penned tune is truly an album highlight).

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Of course, the cornerstone of the album is "The Long One," which is an ambitious multi-track suite of songs held together by multiple musical motifs and containing some of the heaviest rocking the group ever did, especially on closing track "The End," which sees the three guitarists (McCartney, Lennon, and Harrison) swapping guitar solos back-to-back-to-back that perfectly represent their disparate styles. The song even has a Ringo Starr drum solo!

Abbey Road is an extremely emotional listen for a devoted Beatles fanatic due to it being their planned swan song, but the sheer depth, the sumptuous production from Sir George Martin, which has aged exquisitely, and the amazing volume of top-flight material (marred only by "Maxwell's Silver Hammer," which is still, honestly, a good time) makes this an easy choice as the best UK rock album of 1969 and one of The Beatles' - and the entirety of pop music's - crowning achievements. The definition of essential.

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