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"And their gods sought out and conquered"- Yes (from the song "Ancient")

Holy Trinity of Rock? Who are these three rock bands which exist as one entity, enshrined in the holy temple of rock?

Wise men say the three most important rock bands that ever existed were all British, were part of the British Invasion and were called The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who. But then, I was never a wise man. I lack common sense; the senses I have are uncommon ;-) I agree that the three most important rock bands ever are all British, except that I disagree with the wise men on all three counts. The ones that I chose were all inspired by the three wise men choices in one way or the other but they took it to the next level.

The bands that followed the British Invasion were never as fashionable, socially relevant, accessible or likeable to the rock critics or the media. These bands did not sing catchy melodies and harmonies. They didn't play at the Woodstock. They weren't making any political statements. These bands did not care for the singles market. They didn't hog TV shows and magazines. These bands didn't want to make radio friendly songs - the radio played their songs, nevertheless. These bands didn't employ session musicians to play complicated parts. These bands were more talented and technically gifted. The only one thing they shared with the first wave of British Bands was they loved American rock n roll and roots music. However, they also loved other forms of music, music from other parts of the world or from other parts of world history. They learned from the bands that came before and also from each other; but in doing so they also invented new styles and stretched the limits of rock n roll in terms of volume, experimentation, bombast and flashiness. But first and foremost, their aim was to create something new and unheard of before, yet entertaining. Fame and fortune would follow but that would be just just-pay, but it wasn't something these bands were clamoring for. These bands were the SPINAL TAP of the 70s. Their pompousness, confidence and blatant disregard for what the rest of the world thought of them was very Spinal Tap-ish.

So who are these three bands I have been babbling on about without even revealing them? Though many bands could fit the description, only three I can think of would be a perfect fit. The bands coincidentally are also the three most visionary bands of the late 60s and 70s. They are Led Zeppelin, Yes and Pink Floyd - the three biggest rock bands of the 70's. The funny thing about them is that these three DID NOT sound remotely close to each other - or to any of the of their peers or predecessors. They weren't following the norms or trends out there, they were setting them. And those amazing albums they released during their peak - those were unforgettable and perfection personified! I have chosen their 12 best songs (in chronological order) and also listed their essential albums. In my opinion these are the only three bands to have at least 10 essential albums. Led Zeppelin has so far released only 12 albums and all of them made it to the essential album list. These three made high quality albums during their peak and were rightly recognized by the fans/critics/media during their time. These three also created music which would go on to influence several others later on.


Though due to drummer Bonham's premature death, the band lasted only 12 years, Led Zeppelin has left a lasting legacy. Their songs are still played on radio, even though they haven't made any new music for the last 30 years. They released just 8 albums during their short career, all of which are good. Led Zeppelin was among the first rock bands to primarily focus on albums and completely shun the singles market. They also were a word of mouth band which never gave interviews or got themselves into commercial whoring. In spite of this, they sold more records than any other band except The Beatles. That makes them even more fascinating! Plant had an amazing range, power and emotion in his voice and an ability to write songs covering a wide range of styles and moods. Page and Jones were multi-instrumentalist session musicians who had a lot of experience in arranging and producing songs even before joining the band. They knew how to make effective use of studio but could also effectively play all the studio effects live. Bonham was a wild untamed beast of a drummer with a subtle funk and jazz style. Led Zeppelin have made innumerable number of classic songs which are, plainly put unforgettable and will never be forgotten. In short, there will never be a band like this.


Yes' music was optimistic, creative and a sort of musical Nirvana. Yes at their absolute peak were nearly untouchable. They produced three amazing studio albums and one great triple live album in quite a short period. Just like their contemporaries Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, their music and live shows were extravagant. But Yes, on many occasions took the extravagance to the next level. Who could blame them though - they were the masters of creating epics. Anderson, the angelic singer and spiritual leader of the band, lead the band through many ups and downs, while writing down some of the most abstract lyrics of all time. His lyrics merely added color to all the already very colorful and other-worldly Yes compositions. Howe was a master of all types of guitars and added a very non-bluesy (unlike his peers) touch to Yes sound. Squire used his bass like a lead instrument (much like John Paul Jones did with Led Zeppelin) and provided the foundation to the Yes sound. Wakeman and Bruford were virtuoso instrumentalists who made major contributions to the band's music while they lasted. Yes have continued through all internal and external turmoil but their best period was undoubtedly for a short sweet period from 1971-74.


Pink Floyd's story is ridden with ironies. The biggest irony of all is probably that their initial name was The Pink Floyd Sound - this, for a band which never had a consistent sound. They started out as one of the most adventurous bands early on until they achieved fame and success. After that they would become formulaic and even more successful. On their first album, their guitarist, singer and songwriter, Barrett was a wild noisemaker who did not just experiment with music but also with his mind. Barrett would soon lose his mind and his place in his band. His replacement, Gilmour initially followed in his footsteps but developed his own ambient style. Their keyboardist Wright, who was perennially underrated, provided some of the spookiest Pink Floyd sounds on his keyboards. Their chief lyricist, Waters was a very good bassist who continues to be overrated as a songwriter but underrated as a bassist. And I thought he was always better at playing bass than anything! Drummer, Mason, perhaps the least important member, was nevertheless a valid fit for this band. The Pink Floyd story would become a sort of soap opera and a sellout joke in the 80s and 90s. But we still remember them not for their saga but for the insane but very memorable music they gave us in the late 60s and 70s.


33 Best Epic songs by Zeppelin, Yes and Pink Floyd
Rank Artist Song Album Description
1 Yes Close To The Edge Close To The Edge
18 minute pop song! Imagine yourself up in the clouds in the Heaven and exploring beautiful new worlds. This song evokes such memories, yet it is incredibly complex and not fruity in any sense in spite of being immensely optimistic. I sometimes think this song covers all kinds of sounds - starts with new age rainforest like sounds and then shifts gears to furious jazz fusionesque keyboards with violent heavy metal guitar and drums. Once the jazzy heavy metal section is over signalled by a short jazz drum solo, it transitions to a slower but melodic hard rock section dominated by guitar with chunky bass, soon keyboards lead the melody and vocals appear. The vocals are fast and delivered in a rap/hip hop fashion. Then the instrumentation becomes very exotic with guitar sounding evil and bass sounding even more prominent and the drums and keyboard tightly integrated. The rap section alternates with a with funky bass dominated instrumental sections and melodic guitar sections. The rap section slowly segues to a keyboard led cosmic section which has electric sitar and pedal steel and some cosmic synthesizers as well. This section is undescribably heavenly and sounds Indian classical. This section leads to the classic I Get Up Get Down section where Anderson harmonizes with Squire and Howe to create a positvely chanting spiritual section. This leads to another amazing gothic section which has probably the best pipe organ solos ever followed by a sci-fi sounding twist synth solo. Wakeman confirms his GOD status here. Then it leads to a rocking section where all instruments are solo with eventually Wakeman going on a long rocking mellotron solo with guitar, bass and drums ALL duelling him. Anderson starts rapping again and then the final coda where they bring all of it together to make it a thorougly effortless, seamless and relentlessly engaging sci-fi, funk, jazz, classical, new age, metal and rock epic. Very epic indeed.
2 Led Zeppelin Stairway To Heaven Untitled Album
Phew! one song and I already shit and wet my pants. And now I have to describe what is correctly considered the greatest rock epic ever, and then I have to describe 31 more songs. This is going to be fun. I said Close To The Edge is out of this world. I don't even considered it rock. It is just music. It transcends rock. Stairway to Heaven is firmly rock. But equally brilliant even though it is not as vast in scope as the #1 song on this list. In fact just like Close To The Edge it flows seamlessly from one section to another with every section deserving a different kind of "wow". The song starts of a slow acoustic intro with recorders soon joining in and functioning as a bass rhythm instrument (classic Zep - guitar first, bass later). Then Robert Plant sings the tender yet ominous vocals. Soon the tempo is with the introduction of electric guitar and bass guitar. The groove is slowly built with the verses rolling in. Drums make their make only around the middle of the song. The song slowly transforms into a rocker. It is still not heavy though. Things take a turn around the 5:45 minute mark where the old melody is kind of stopped and a new more aggressive melody led by guitar is introduced. Soon Plant changes his entire tone and starts scream singing the last verse and keyboards and guitars merge together to give a mystical sort of sound. The drums are fabulous towards the end and make the song a hard rocking monster towards the end. Quite a transition from soft folkish rock to heavy metal! The great thing about this song is that nothing is forced. It all sorta happens. Only the GODs can do such kind of stuff and make it look all too easy.
3 Led Zeppelin Ten Years Gone Physical Graffiti
Quite possibly the most deeply moving and melancholic sounding song ever epic recorded. This song continues to be underrated. But it is IMHO their second best song after Staiway To Heaven. This is one of their most layered songs. It begins the acoustic sounding electric guitar intro followed by a deep deep melancholic bass. Soon two different guitar solos duel with each other - the lead guitar solo is the melancholic melodic one and the background is the strong slightly angry solo. The bass sound soon deep you feel like you are hearing sounds of stones falling in a deep well. Soon the stronger bluesier guitar solo takes over and goes on a tear while Plant sings some deeply emotional verses. The guitar solos in the song is intensely beautiful and Plant does a great job of restraining himself in this song. Bonzo is very restrained as well. Its Page and Jones leading their way with their layered instrumentation. For such an emotional song, this song hardly sounds wimpy and is positively powerful. This song highlights the reasons why fans love the song arrangement skills of this band.
4 Pink Floyd Astronomy Domine The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
5 Led Zeppelin Babe Im Gonna Leave You Led Zeppelin
6 Pink Floyd Time The Dark Side Of The Moon
7 Yes And You And I Close To The Edge
8 Led Zeppelin Hey Hey What Can I Do single
9 Led Zeppelin Travelling Riverside Blues unreleased
10 Yes And You And I Close To The Edge
11 Led Zeppelin How Many More Times Led Zeppelin
12 Yes To Be Over Relayer
13 Led Zeppelin Misty Mountain Hop Untitled Album
14 Pink Floyd The Great Gig In The Sky The Dark Side Of The Moon
15 Led Zeppelin Gallows Pole Led Zeppelin III
16 Pink Floyd Us And Them/Any Colour You Like The Dark Side Of The Moon
17 Led Zeppelin Ramble On Led Zeppelin II
18 Led Zeppelin What Is And What Should Never Be Led Zeppelin II
19 Yes Starship Trooper The Yes Album
20 Yes Survival Yes
21 Yes Perpetual Change The Yes Album
22 Led Zeppelin No Quarter Houses Of The Holy
23 Led Zeppelin Close To The Edge Houses Of The Holy
24 Pink Floyd Interstellar Overdrive The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
25 Led Zeppelin Black Dog Untitled Album
26 Led Zeppelin Whole Lotta Love Led Zeppelin II
27 Yes Roundabout Fragile
28 Pink Floyd Shine On You Crazy Diamond Wish You Were Here
29 Pink Floyd Atom Heart Mother Atom Heart Mother
30 Pink Floyd Echoes Meddle
31 Led Zeppelin Kashmir Physical Graffiti
32 Led Zeppelin Achilles Last Stand Presence
33 Led Zeppelin Fool In The Rain In Through The Out Door