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When Albums Ruled the World

Documentary showing how the long-playing album changed popular music for ever between the mid-1960s and the late 1970s by allowing artists to express themselves as never before.

Between the mid-1960s and the late 1970s, the long-playing record and the albums that graced its grooves changed popular music for ever. For the first time, musicians could escape the confines of the three-minute pop single and express themselves as never before across the expanded artistic canvas of the album. The LP allowed popular music become an art form - from the glorious artwork adorning gatefold sleeves, to the ideas and concepts that bound the songs together, to the unforgettable music itself.

Built on stratospheric sales of albums, these were the years when the music industry exploded to become bigger than Hollywood. From pop to rock, from country to soul, from jazz to punk, all of music embraced what 'the album' could offer. But with the collapse of vinyl sales at the end of the 70s and the arrival of new technologies and formats, the golden era of the album couldn't last forever.

With contributions from Roger Taylor, Ray Manzarek, Noel Gallagher, Guy Garvey, Nile Rodgers, Grace Slick, Mike Oldfield, Slash and a host of others, this is the story of When Albums Ruled the World.

1 hour, 30 minutes

Last on

Sun 24 Sep 2017 23:15


Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • 00:01

    Led Zeppelin

    When The Levee Breaks

  • Pink Floyd

    Breathe (In The Air)

  • Frederick Loewe

    Overture (From My Fair Lady)

  • Little Richard

    Tutti Frutti

  • Elvis Presley

    (I'm) All Shook Up

  • Pete Seeger

    Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season)

  • Bob Dylan

    Man of Constant Sorrow

  • Bob Dylan

    A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall

  • Bob Dylan

    Masters of War

  • Bob Dylan

    Blowin' In The Wind

  • Bob Dylan

    Maggie's Farm

  • 00:10

    Bob Dylan

    Like A Rolling Stone

  • Big Brother & the Holding Company

    Ball and Chain

  • Jefferson Airplane

    High Flyin' Bird

  • The Supremes

    You Can't Hurry Love

  • Moby Grape


  • 00:12


    Strange Brew 

  • 00:15

    The Who

    I Can't Explain

  • The Beatles

    Good Morning Good Morning

  • The Beatles

    Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds

  • The Beach Boys

    Pet Sounds

  • 00:16

    The Beatles

    A Day In The Life

  • 00:18

    The Beatles

    Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

  • The Beatles

    With A Little Help From My Friends

  • The Rolling Stones

    She's a Rainbow

  • The Jimi Hendrix Experience


  • 00:22

    The Jimi Hendrix Experience

    All Along The Watchtower

  • The Jimi Hendrix Experience

    Voodoo Chile

  • The Jimi Hendrix Experience

    Nineteen EightyThree

  • The Jimi Hendrix Experience

    Crosstown Traffic

  • Frank Zappa

    Peaches En Regalia

  • The Who

    Pinball Wizard

  • The Rolling Stones

    (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction

  • The Rolling Stones

    Wild Horses

  • King Crimson

    21st Century Schizoid Man (incl. Mirrors)

  • Led Zeppelin

    Communication Breakdown

  • 00:29

    Led Zeppelin

    Whole Lotta Love

  • Led Zeppelin

    Moby Dick

  • Miles Davis

    Freddie Freeloader

  • Miles Davis

    So What

  • Miles Davis

    It's About That Time

  • Miles Davis


  • Miles Davis

    Spanish Key

  • Stevie Wonder

    Uptight (Everything's Alright)

  • 00:37

    Marvin Gaye

    I Heard It Through The Grapevine

  • Marvin Gaye

    What's Going On

  • 00:37

    Marvin Gaye

    Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)

  • Stevie Wonder

    Keep on Running

  • Jethro Tull


  • David Bowie


  • T. Rex

    Cosmic Dancer

  • 00:40

    David Bowie

    Ziggy Stardust

  • Joni Mitchell

    I Think I Understand

  • The Shirelles

    Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow

  • Carole King


  • Carole King


  • Carole King

    (You Make Me Feel Like) a Natural Woman

  • 00:47

    Elton John

    Rocket Man (Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park)

  • Yes

    Heart of The Sunrise

  • Funkadelic

    Cosmic Slop

  • Pink Floyd


  • 00:53

    Pink Floyd

    Breathe (In The Air)

  • 00:53

    Pink Floyd


  • Pink Floyd

    Us and Them

  • Pink Floyd

    Brain Damage

  • Mike Oldfield

    Tubular Bells

  • Elton John

    Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)

  • Queen

    Death on Two Legs

  • Queen

    The Prophet's Song

  • Queen


  • 01:02


    Bohemian Rhapsody

  • The Pointer Sisters

    Wang Dang Doodle

  • The Beach Boys

    Good Vibrations

  • Carpenters

    We’ve Only Just Begun

  • ABBA


  • Deep Purple

    Highway Star

  • Peter Frampton

    Show Me The Way

  • Iron Butterfly


  • Boston


  • Boston

    More Than a Feeling

  • Foreigner

    Feels Like The First Time

  • Styx

    Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)

  • 01:15


    Hotel California

  • Fleetwood Mac

    Don't Stop

  • Yes

    Yours Is No Disgrace

  • Sex Pistols

    Holidays in the Sun

  • Sex Pistols

    Pretty Vacant

  • Sex Pistols

    Anarchy in the UK

  • The Damned

    Neat Neat Neat

  • 01:21


    Heart Of Glass

  • 01:23

    Bee Gees

    Stayin' Alive

  • The Police

    Walking on The Moon

  • Madonna

    Lucky Star

  • Buggles

    Video Killed The Radio Star

  • Michael Jackson


  • Led Zeppelin

    Ramble On

  • Queen

    Bohemian Rhapsody

  • Led Zeppelin

    Whole Lotta Love

The Golden Age of the Album

The Golden Age of the Album

When Albums Ruled The World was part of a season of programmes celebrating the long player across BBC Four, BBC Radio 2 and BBC 6 Music.

  • Can today’s artists recreate The Beatles’ Please Please Me in just 12 hours?
  • 6 Music listeners reimagined classic album covers – take a look
  • Danny Baker was joined by great guests for his 3-part Great Album Showdown



Role Contributor
Producer Steve O'Hagan
Director Steve O'Hagan
Executive Producer Hamish Barbour


Featured in...

TV Blog: The LP's Golden Age

TV Blog: The LP's Golden Age

Producer/Director Steve O’Hagan reminisces about his love of the album.