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1968’s Best Rock Albums

Nineteen-sixty-seven’s cultural shifts resonated straight into the next decade, but no year felt them more than 1968. It was a pivotal 12 months for rock ‘n’ roll, a period that rivaled 1967 as one of popular music’s very best. It was dominated by the artists who ruled the Summer of Love — the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix — as well as some familiar names coming into their own for the first time.

But it was also the era where rock music finally grew up, as you’ll see in our list of 1968’s best albums.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band gave everything a giant shove toward respectability the year before; in 1968, the best records carried that promise forward. Not that rock ‘n’ should ever be aiming to be respectable, but by transcending the fickle pop charts, it finally became art as well as a means of expression, revolution and statement of purpose.

All these years later, the best albums of 1968 still inspire artists and fans. How many White Album copycats can you name? Where would country-rock be without the ByrdsSweetheart of the Rodeo? And the Stones may never have gotten to three of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll albums ever made — Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main St. — without Beggars Banquet to set them straight.

The Ultimate Classic Rock staff compiled a list of all the rock albums that were released that year, and after much discussion and a final vote, we came up with the definitive list of 1968’s Best Rock Albums. Check it out above.

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