6 Underrated Rock Albums Everyone Should Own

There are some albums everyone knows about—those must-have records like The White Album by the Beatles and Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd. These are LPs you could listen to over and over again, the definition of classic records. They’re need-to-own.

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But what about those other albums that might be need-to-own that are not household names like the above? For every Sticky Fingers by the Rolling Stones, there are other albums just as important, just as satisfying, but for whatever reason may have flown beneath the pop culture radar.

Here are six such albums for your collection. These are six underrated rock albums everyone should own.

1. Desire, Bob Dylan

Released in 1976, Desire is lesser known compared to other favorites from the Bard, including Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde. But the album boasts a number of his biggest and most influential songs, including “Isis,” “Hurricane” and “One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below).” Simply “Isis” itself would allow for an entry here—the ultimate breakup song.

2. The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, the Kinks

The British-born band is itself somewhat underrated compared to others of its generation, like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and others. This is largely because the band was banned from touring in the United States for several years in the 1960s due to its awful behavior on the road, trashing hotel rooms. That aside, the Kinks are an incredible group and their 1968 concept album is one of many examples of why.

3. Bad Brains, Bad Brains

Released in 1982, Bad Brains—and the band itself—marked the early beginnings of hardcore punk rock. It was the debut record from the Washington, D.C.-born band, recorded in 1981 after the band had moved to New York City and become popular around clubs like CBGBs. The Beastie Boys Adam Yauch said the LP is “the best punk/hardcore album of all time.”

4. Pocket Full of Kryptonite, Spin Doctors

While Spin Doctors are known for their two hit songs, “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong” and “Two Princes,” Pocket Full of Kryptonite has more than just two singles. The Superman-themed “Jimmy Olsen’s Blues” is fun and so is the follow-up “What Times Is It?” which the band played on David Letterman’s late-night show in the early ’90s. It’s just an unexpectedly joyful album from a band that might not get enough credit.

5. Thunderbitch, Brittany Howard

A forgotten album in the catalog of the talented Brittany Howard. The frontwoman, of course, co-founded the phenomenal band Alabama Shakes. Since then, she also released a solo album in 2019 that garnered much acclaim, Jaime. But it was in 2015 when Howard released the sole Thunderbitch record. It is jammed packed with rock and blues-rock riffs. On it, Howard is releasing so much while also experimenting with and exploring so much, too. It’s a lovely artifact and time capsule of a time in her illustrious career.

6. Maggot Brain, Funkadelic

Released in 1971, Maggot Brain was released by George Clinton’s Funkadelic group. It opens with a mind-melting electric guitar solo, like a snake moaning. It continues with Earth-shattering rock and roll. A perfect album if there ever was one. Though somehow less talked about than the Who or AC/DC. Familiarize yourself with this and you’ll be grateful.

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