While the growth of vinyl has been one of the biggest and most surprising trends within the music industry over the last decade, let’s be honest with ourselves: It’s a streaming world, and we’re all just living in it. CDs and downloads are quickly going the way of the dodo bird as more and more people turn to the likes of Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, Pandora, Amazon Music or half a dozen other online platforms to get hear their favorite tunes.
For most folks, streaming means playlists. Maybe you throw an album on every now and again, but there’s something to be said about hitting play on a 40 or 400-track list of songs and not having to worry about selecting what to throw on next. For those classic rock fans out there, those who need to get the lead out every now and again during that morning commute to work, at the gym, or just chilling at home, here are a few of the choicest playlists that Spotify has to offer.
Classic Rock Greatest Hits
This one is first up in the queue because it’s it exhaustive! Clocking in 2,604 songs totaling 186 hours of music, this so-called Greatest Hits playlist covers pretty much the whole entirety of the classic rock canon. From AC/DC to ZZ Top damn near anyone who was anyone who held a guitar and notched a single on the charts throughout the 1960s, ’70s or ’80s is represented here. This is the ultimate throw it on, hit shuffle and walk away playlist.
Bob Dylan: The Cutting Edge Experience
Bob Dylan has held down one of the longest and most prolific careers of any artist across the 20th and 21st century. That Nobel Prize was deeply earned. When most folks consider Dylan’s work however, they mostly concentrate on that especially fruitful period between 1965-1966 when he released the seminal triptych Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde On Blonde. This playlist takes you even deeper into that incredible time, offering a bevy of deep cuts and alternate takes of some of Dylan’s most cherished material.
British Invasion (’60s)
One of the most exciting times and places in rock history was London, England in the 1960s. You had the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Yardbirds, The Hollies and so many incredible groups all churning out era-defining singles at a breathtaking clip. This playlist combines some of the best tracks from the biggest bands from the British Invasion as well as some pretty spectacular deep cuts from relatively forgotten groups like The Fortunes, The Spencer Davis Group, and The Zephyrs.
Led Zeppelin Live
Led Zeppelin was one of the biggest bands of all-time, hands-down, no question. That being said, you don’t really get a full sense of the sheer power of Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and John Bonham until you’ve heard them live. This playlist assembles together much of the officially released live recordings that Zeppelin has put out through the years, and offers a different sonic dimension to the group that you may have missed out on before. The 20-plus minute version of “Whole Lotta Love,” with a full medley of ’50s rock hits thrown in the middle from How The West Was Won is certainly worth your time.
Laurel Canyon, LA 1966-1972 Approximately
The term “singer-songwriter” was practically birthed around the hills ringing Hollywood in the late 1960s. The sheer amount of talent all collaborating together during this vital time is frankly staggering and included the likes of Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, Gram Parsons, The Eagles, The Mamas And The Papas, The Doors, and on and on and on. This playlist collects some of the best that SoCal has to offer for a quaint and easy listening experience.
Hair Metal Heaven
From the soft vibes of Hollywood in the 1960s to the gritty and danger-ridden Sunset Strip of the 1980s. You can’t have a lineup of classic rock playlists without highlighting some of the most wild, eccentric, and perfectly coiffed hair metal bands of the 1980s. If you’ve got a lot of “Bad Love” for the likes of recent Rock Hall inductees Bon Jovi, or Guns ‘N’ Roses, Cinderella, Extreme, Warrant, Scorpions, Motley Crue, Skid Row or any of their ilk, you’re going to love this collection of bygone hits.
Magic: 70s Glam Rock Radio
Bust out the blood red lipstick and black mascara for this one. Glam Rock didn’t exactly have the longest half-life amongst classic rock sub-genres, but its impact can’t be discounted. David Bowie stands out as the prime Starchild of this widely over the top era — and rightfully so — but there’s so much more to be discovered. Whether you’re talking about Lou Reed’s post-Velvets solo career, the early beginnings of Sir Elton John, the heady highs of Marc Bolan’s band T Rex, or Brian Eno’s beginnings in Roxy Music, there’s a wealth of glittering rock and roll to be re-discovered and enjoyed.
Legendary Guitar Solos
One of the key features of some of the best tracks in classic rock history is an over-the-top, blistering guitar solo. If like me, you’re a fan of an extended six-string instrumental, then you are going to love this list of songs. Obviously Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven” and Lynynrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird” made the cut, but there’s a bevy of different offerings from some of the best players to ever hold a guitar, and include the likes of Steely Dan, Dire Straits, Joe Satriani, Van Halen and of course James Marshall Hendrix.
This Is Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton is something of special case in rock history. He’s the only musician to be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame on three different occasions — as a member of Cream, The Yardbirds and as a solo act — and the sheer breadth of his different musical collaborations and project through the years is simply staggering. This playlist collects together pretty much all of the highlights from his impressive five-decade-long career, from his time with John Mayall and The Bluesbreakers, Blind Faith, “Derek” in Derek And The Dominoes, right up to his Unplugged performance and beyond. If you’re down for a little Slowhand, this is the place to start.
Classic Rock ’70s, ’80s & ’90s
If you’re looking for a comprehensive playlist that doesn’t run into the quadruple-digits worth of entries, this is a good starting point. This playlist is followed by over half-a-million rock lovers on Spotify. It is the most well-followed classic rock playlist on Spotify and it’s pretty easy to see why. For one, outside of mega-bands like Guns ‘N’ Roses or The Rolling Stones there aren’t too many repeats, which gives you a pretty broad sweep of different groups and sounds and makes for a pretty interesting listening experience.