What are the best concept albums of all time? That's what we asked Ultimate Guitar readers in our poll this week.
Concept albums take records to another level, where art and music almost combine with literature and storytelling to reach a whole new level of creativity. Sometimes it can seem indulgent, and other times it works with such mastery that you can't help but be wowed with the result.
This is list is full of examples of when a concept album really works to make a body of art that only works when you hear it from start to end. That's the mark of a great concept album: it survives as a whole, making the sum greater than its parts.
It's interesting to note which albums kept their place in the top 10, compared to the last time we ran this question in 2012 - the Who, QOTSA, Tool, Mastodon, Dream Theater and Pink Floyd all stayed up there. Let's see if they stand the test of time.
What's your personal favourite concept album ever? Let us know in the comments. Meanwhile, enjoy this incredible weekend playlist!
10. "Thick as a Brick" by Jethro Tull
With the album art packaged as a newspaper cover, "Thick as a Brick" is a single-track which spans the length of the full album. So really, this is the greatest concept single ever.
9. "The Amory Wars" by Coheed and Cambria
A story set in Heaven's Fence, a fictional galaxy where the characters Coheed and Cambria battle against the Archmage. The album tied in with a series of comics.
8. "Colors" by Between the Buried and Me
An ambitious concept album which glues wildly different genres together in what the band described as "adult contemporary progressive death metal." If you think that's original, just wait until you hit play.
7. "Lateralus" by Tool
A glorious reinterpretation of Fibonacci's famous Golden Ratio, where drum beats and guitar rhythms explore polyrhythms in harmony with lyrics that explore humanity's incredible awareness of the universe.
6. "Tommy" by The Who
The story of a boy who overcomes severe disabilities and hardships to become a Messiah-like figure with a love for pinball.
5. "Crack the Skye" by Mastodon
A deeply spiritual record which travels through the universe on an ethereal plane. Never has so much metal travelled through so many wormholes in time and space.
4. "The Downward Spiral" by Nine Inch Nails
The protagonist, loosely based on NIN frontman Trent Reznor, sees their life go on a downward spiral through all of lives vices, to a bitter end.
3. "Metropolis Pt.2: Scenes From a Memory" by Dream Theater
An ambitious sequel to a song which played part 1 to this story where a man goes into hypnosis, only to learn about a past life which leads towards a thrilling ending.
2. "Songs for the Deaf" by Queens of the Stone Age
This merry wagon of rock songs are glued together as songs that appear on a radio during a drive across America to see the Joshua tree. It's a loose connection, but qualifies the record as perfect driving material.
1. "The Wall" by Pink Floyd
Roger Waters' stunning live show started as an elaborate concept album based on the character Pink who gradually becomes locked away from society within a metaphorical wall. It's a remarkable record, and one that Waters continues to tour today with fantastic live effects.
Here's a live version as the original album isn't available for free streaming:
That's the end of our list of the top 10 concept albums. If you liked this list, let us know below, and hit "like" to share the page and give your friends a musical education. Enjoy the playlist over the weekend!