Classic Albums

Sunday 10:00 PM on VH1 Premiered Apr 14, 1997 In Season


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Episode Guide

    • The Who: Who's Next
      The Who: Who's Next
      Season 6 - Episode 3
      Interviews with Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend, along with the late John Entwhistle, who reminisce about the failed attempt to present a rock musical stage show called Lifehouse, tell us how the project evolved into the 1971 classic, Who's Next. Some archival footage is presented, and we are shown by Pete how he developed the synthesized keyboard riffs that gave sonic charges to the album.moreless
    • Frank Zappa: Over-Nite Sensation
      Frank Zappa: Over-Nite Sensation
      Season 7 - Episode 1
      More accurately, "Frank Zappa & The Mothers Of Invention: Over-Nite Sensation/Apostrophe", as this rockumentary covers both releases. The rationale is that both were recorded about the same time, with the same musicians in the same style, and feature Zappa at his most accessible. Dweezil Zappa is at the studio console to peel off the many layers of tracks, and along with some live vintage concert footage we hear from Alice Cooper, Billy Bob Thornton, and members of the band, some of whom perform currently as Zappa Plays Zappa.moreless
    • The Band: The Band
      The Band: The Band
      Season 1 - Episode 4
      Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm, Rick Danko, and Garth Hudson discuss the making of their classic 1969 release. Each member explains how they achieved their distinct sound, with all of them often switching instruments. We hear from Eric Clapton and George Harrison on the influence the record had. Also included is a tribute to suicide victim Richard Manuel.moreless
    • Judas Priest: British Steel
      Judas Priest: British Steel
      Season 3 - Episode 4
      The metal classic 'British Steel' is examined here. The band, minus drummer Dave Holland, explain the songwriting process and lyrical ideas, interspersed with live footage of performances from that period. Producer Tom Allom demonstrates how the sound effects were achieved, and the two guitarists show how their 'trademark' twin guitar sound is generated.moreless
    • Iron Maiden: Number of the Beast
      Iron Maiden: Number of the Beast
      Season 3 - Episode 1
      Iron Maiden has been both criticized and praised for their unforgiving presentation of hard rock. This album took them to worldwide stardom, and awoke accusations of backward masking, subliminal messages, and Satanism. Producer Martin Birch dissects the master tapes with the five band members, who discuss the writing and recording of each song, while looking for the 'hidden' elements.moreless
    • Deep Purple: Machine Head
      Deep Purple: Machine Head
      Season 4 - Episode 3
      The 1972 early metal classic is examined here. After a brief recount of Deep Purple's history prior, all five members of the group from that time recount the making of the album, and Jon Lord, Richie Blackmore, and Roger Glover isolate some of their parts, and play along live. Engineer Martin Birch also lends a hand, describing how the instrumental sounds were produced.moreless
    • Def Leppard: Hysteria
      Def Leppard: Hysteria
      Season 4 - Episode 1
      Def Leppard labored for more than a year to record this, their follow-up to 'Pyromania'. Producer Mutt Lange and the group describe track by track what went into the writing, rehearsing, and recording. Layers are peeled away at the mixing board as we see and hear how their vocal sound, guitar effects, and drums are engineered. Also, they play acoustic versions of two of their biggest hits from the record. As a bonus, an early rendition of 'Love Bites', which thankfully was given a complete overhaul, is presented.moreless
    • Pink Floyd: Dark Side Of The Moon
      Pink Floyd: Dark Side Of The Moon
      Season 6 - Episode 2
      Engineers Chris Thomas and Alan Parsons peel layers off the master tapes from this 1973 masterpiece. The songs are dissected methodically, and Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Nick Mason, and Rick Wright are on hand, (though separately), to demonstrate how simplistic some of the writing was.
    • Queen: A Night At The Opera
      Queen: A Night At The Opera
      Season 6 - Episode 1
      The musicianship that went into one of rock's premier achievements is examined. Surviving members Brian May and Roger Taylor talk about Freddie Mercury's ontributions, and producer Roy Thomas Baker shows us some isolated channels from the master tapes. Also commentary from Joe Perry and Ian Hunter is included.
    • Lou Reed: Transformer
      Lou Reed: Transformer
      Season 3 - Episode 6
      Co-produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson, this 1972 landmark album took Lou Reed from cult idol to glam superstar status. Here Reed examines each track, discussing with engineer Ken Scott the creation process. Bassist Herbie Flowers shows us how the riff for 'Walk On The Wild Side', was recorded, and we see some archives of Lou's performances.moreless
    • Nirvana: Nevermind
      Nirvana: Nevermind
      Season 5 - Episode 2
      The Seattle grunge/alternative rock trio's breakthrough album is examined here. With this recording, Nirvana changed the direction of rock music in general, and made industry executives take notice, and rethink what type of music could be commercially viable. Surviving members Kris Novocelik and Dave Grohl take us through the tracks, along with producer Butch Vig. Included is a segment on Kurt Cobain's life and career.moreless
    • Motorhead: Ace Of Spades
      Motorhead: Ace Of Spades
      Season 5 - Episode 3
      This album, while not a huge seller in the US, was definitely a landmark in the annals of crushingly loud hard rock. Bassist/singer Lemmy and drummer Phil Taylor are in the studio reminiscing about the making of the music, and life while touring. Guitarist Fast Eddie Clark is interviewed separately, but all three discuss candidly what went into the making of the songs. Included are clips from live shows, and even one of Lemmy while with his earlier band, Hawkwind.moreless
    • Fleetwood Mac: Rumours
      Fleetwood Mac: Rumours
      Season 1 - Episode 6
      The band's Grammy-winning 1977 album is given the Classic Albums treatment. We hear from all the band members, and technicians who worked on the project. Each track is examined and the master tapes are analysed. Included is some archival performance footage, along with some home movies.
    • U2: Joshua Tree
      U2: Joshua Tree
      Season 2 - Episode 4
      'Joshua Tree' elevated U2 to superstar status internationally, and confirmed their position as one of rock's most influential and powerful forces. Here we examine the making of the album, with the four group members, along with producers Brian Eno, Steve Lillywhite, and Daniel Lanois. Elvis Costello is also on hand to lend friendly comments.moreless
    • Elton John: Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road
      Elton John, along with some of his past and present band members discuss the creation of his opus, 'Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road'. Producer Gus Dudgeon and engineer David Henschel pull up some of the original multi-tracks, and demonstrate how the music was played and sang. Bernie Taupin is also on hand to describe his lyric writing, and some rare footage of rehearsals, and photos shot in the studio, are presented.moreless
    • The Sex Pistols: Never Mind The Bollocks
      The Sex Pistols only released one album before breaking up, but it set off the punk movement, and turned the British music industry on its head. Featuring interviews with John Lydon (Johnny Rotten), Steve Jones and Paul Cook, plus original bassist Glen Matlock, along with producer Chris Thomas, Classic Albums looks at the way it was written and recorded. Also shown is some rare television footage from that time, and some concert performances by the groundbreaking band.moreless
    • Steely Dan: Aja
      Steely Dan: Aja
      Season 2 - Episode 5
      Donald Fagen and Walter Becker delve into the master tapes to discuss the year-long effort that went into this, their biggest album. Well known as perfectionists in the studio, this labor of love is dissected layer by layer. Producer Gary Katz and engineer Roger Nichols help explain the craft and detail that the Dan, along with Michael McDonald and some other session players, spent on the Grammy-winning jazz-rock classic.moreless
    • Metallica: Metallica (Black Album)
      Metallica's 12 million selling breakthrough album is examined in depth. Taped at One on One Studios, where it was recorded, Producer Bob Rock, along with all four band members, discuss the making of each song, and how they polished their sound to command a wider audience.
    • The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Electric Ladyland
      Jimi is recalled here with archival footage, and current interviews with Noel Redding, Mitch Mitchell, and engineer Eddie Kramer, explain the creative processes that went into the 1968 album. Jimi's manager, Chas Chandler, contributes some details, in what was to be his final interview.
    • Meat Loaf: Bat Out Of Hell
      Meat Loaf: Bat Out Of Hell
      Season 2 - Episode 2
      In 1977, Marvin Lee Aday, aka Meat Loaf, shocked the music world by releasing this 30 million-selling blockbuster. Previously little-known as an actor and singer , he hooked up with writer Jim Steinman, producer Todd Rundgren, and vocalists Ellen Foley and Carla Devito, to create one of the top five sellers of all time. Kasim Sultan and Max Weinberg, who also played on the album are heard from, and Todd isolates some of the masters to show how the sounds were created.moreless
    • Phil Collins: Face Value
      Phil Collins: Face Value
      Season 2 - Episode 1
      Phil's first solo album, which launched his career outside of Genesis, is examined here. Engineer Hugh Padgham peels the layers of sound back, and Phil explains how the lyrics to many of the songs wrote themselves, as he was going through a bitter divorce. Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, and Darrell Stuermer are on hand, and many of the studio musicians who contributed are seen as they describe working with Phil.moreless
    • Grateful Dead: American Beauty
      Grateful Dead: American Beauty
      Season 1 - Episode 2
      This 1970 release was an important step in the rise of the Grateful Dead to legend status. Mickey Hart, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, along with some interviews with Jerry Garcia, discuss what went into the writing and recording.
    • Stevie Wonder: Songs In The Key Of Life
      Stevie's 1976 double album is looked at here. Stevie had already released the smash album, Innervisions, but as Berry Gordy explains, he took the experimentation to a new level. Quincy Jones and Herbie Hancock are in the studio with Stevie, along with some other top musicians who contributed, as we examine the creation and recording process, of what many consider Stevie Wonder's finest hour.moreless
    • The Doors
      The Doors
      Season 8 - Episode 1
      The Doors' self-titled debut classic is examined layer by layer, with the band explaining how each song was constructed.
    • John Lennon: Plastic Ono Band
      John Lennon: Plastic Ono Band
      Season 8 - Episode 2
      Widely considered a socioal/political landmark in musical history, John's first post-Beatles release is examined, with help from Yoko Ono, Ringo, and others, who give insight into John's frame of mind at the time. Included are many scenes of he and his band performing live and his infamous Toronto bed-in.
    • Jay-Z: Reasonable Doubt
      Jay-Z: Reasonable Doubt
      Season 7 - Episode 2
      Jay-Z's initial release is examined, following the creative process behind one of the hardest-hitting and influential rap debuts in history.
    • Bob Marley & The Wailers: Catch A Fire
      Producer Chris Blackwell is the main focus of this episode, as he recounts bringing in some top American session men to the studio, in an attempt to break Bob Marley to the US audiences. Wailer Peter Tosh, and instrumentalists Wayne Perkins and Rabbit Bundrick are interviewed, and we see some rare clips of Bob himself.moreless
    • Paul Simon: Graceland
      Paul Simon: Graceland
      Season 1 - Episode 1
      This premiere episode spotlights Paul's 1986 Grammy-winning 'comeback' album. Introduced by Ringo Starr, each song is examined from the studio perspective. Paul considers the title track to be "The best I ever did". He describes how he came up with the musical and lyrical ideas, and we hear comments from the engineers and from prominent critics, and some of the South African musicians who contributed.moreless
    • Elvis Presley: Elvis Presley
      Elvis Presley: Elvis Presley
      Season 3 - Episode 5
      The debut album of the King is examined here. It was the first million-selling rock album, and the first million-selling popular music album for RCA. We hear from some of the producers and musicians who contributed, and each track is discussed in depth. Five of the songs were taken from Elvis' Sun Sessions, and Sam Phillips is on hand to discuss those sessions. Elvis' version of Carl Perkins' classic, 'Blue Suede Shoes' is dissected, and his first smash single, 'Heartbreak Hotel', is included, though not originally on the album.moreless
    • Simply Red: Stars
      Simply Red: Stars
      Season 5 - Episode 1
      Simply Red, the loosely based group of musicians led by Mick Hucknall, take us into the studio to examine the making of this album. While not as commercially successful in the US, it was the biggest selling album in the UK in 1991, and shipped 8.5 million copies worldwide. The musicians who were with the group at that time runite and take us through the tracks. Included is an interview with songwriting legend Lamont Dozier.moreless
    • Cream: Disraeli Gears
      Cream: Disraeli Gears
      Season 6 - Episode 4
      Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce, and Eric Clapton are interviewed in the studio for a track by track analysis of their 1967 classic. Each of them play acoustically, including Bruce on the piano, and some archival footage is presented. Lyricist Peter Brown discusses the creative process for 'Sunshine Of Your Love', among other things.moreless
    • Duran Duran: Rio
      Duran Duran: Rio
      Season 8 - Episode 3
      The band's breakthrough classic is examined, with all the original members (except Andy Taylor) discussing the concepts and creation of each song. Five of the songs were rerecorded live at a Boston radio station for the show.