Back in November of 1971, [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Led Zeppelin[/lastfm]’s record label, Atlantic, released a promotional single of “Stairway to Heaven” to radio stations. At 8 minutes long, it found occasional late-night play on AM radio. But, on FM, long was strong and the record was a “hit.”

With that as inspiration, we’ve compiled a list of the Top 10 Longest Rock Songs We Can Remember.

10. “Pirates”/[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Emerson Lake & Palmer[/lastfm] (13:20)

Abandoning the science-fiction themes of earlier lengthy numbers such as “Tarkus” and “Karn Evil 9,” “Pirates” is a swashbuckling tale of adventure on the high seas based almost entirely on pirate movies. Inspirational lyric line: “Fill the night with paradise/Bring me peach and peacock til I burst.” (JA)

9. “157 Riverside Avenue”/[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]REO Speedwagon[/lastfm] (12:27)

We pretty much barred live cuts from consideration  because we didn’t want a list of ten 65-minute [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Grateful Dead[/lastfm] songs. But, here’s the exception: Before they kept on lovin’ you, REO were one of the better boogie bands on the rock and roll circuit, witnessed here. (MV)

8. “Loan Me a Dime”/[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Boz Scaggs[/lastfm] (12:31)

Recorded in 1969 with a then-unknown [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Duane Allman[/lastfm] on lead guitar, “Loan Me a Dime” got Boz sued by blues singer Fenton Robinson, who claimed the right to a composer credit, which he received. Produced by Rolling Stone founder/publisher Jann Wenner. (JA)

7. “The Return of the Son of Monster Magnet”/[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]The Mothers of Invention[/lastfm] (12:22)

Freak Out! was the debut album by Zappa and the Mothers. One of the first “concept” albums, one of the first double albums and, supposedly, an influence on the [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Beatles[/lastfm]’ Sgt. Pepper, Freak Out! closed with this freak out, subtitled “Unfinished Ballet in Two Tableaux.” Like cheese, it was probably tastier at the time of its release but still stands up with age (though it takes courage to imbibe). (MV)

6. “Kuiama”/[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Electric Light Orchestra[/lastfm] (11:19)

From Electric Light Orchestra II, released in 1973, and the longest track ELO ever recorded. A remarkably depressing number about the experiences of a soldier and a war orphan he meets, presumably in Vietnam. (JA)

5. “Gypsy Woman”/[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Tim Buckley[/lastfm] (12:19)

Pure 1969, a song ripe with the sounds and smells of cross-legged hippies sitting around living rooms and communes, drinking sangria and grooving to the moment, baby. The album where it was found, Happy Sad, was far more experimental than his previous records; even some mellow back-then hippies got a little pissed about it all. (MV)

4. “Lady of the Lake”/[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Starcastle[/lastfm] (10:28)

Central Illinois prog rock that makes the flightiest [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Yes[/lastfm] lyric sound like Hemingway: “melting golden flesh is cracked and spilled in garden-circles grown of me.” An edited version bubbled under the Hot 100 singles chart in 1976. (JA)

3. “Sister Ray”/[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Velvet Underground[/lastfm] (17:27)

What is there to say about the consummate blend of punk, psychedelia and noise rock? At nearly 18 minutes, it’s like a rock that rolls down a long, steep hill before crashing full-speed into Andy Warhol’s Factory. (MV)

2. “Yours Is No Disgrace”/[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Yes[/lastfm] (9:36)

In which Yes puts the rock in prog rock as effectively as they ever did on anything this side of “Roundabout.” From The Yes Album, which contains another epic running nine minutes plus, “Starship Trooper.”

1. “The Ikon”/[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Todd Rundgren’s Utopia[/lastfm] (30:22)

Jazz fusion, spaced out country, Koln Concert piano improvisations, pure prog throughout…all in one 30-minute “song!” (MV)

Here’s Part 1:

More Top 10 picks!

Comments (3)
  1. Seattle49er says:

    For a classic Rock station, there are those that you should have included, Tubular Bells, Mike Oldfield, 25:39 – Thick as a Brick, Tull, 22;39 – Get Ready, Rare Earth, 21:32 – Nobody’s Fool, Poco, 18:25 – In-a-gadda-da-vida, Iron Butterfly, 17:10 – Shine On You Crazy Diamon, Pink Floyd, 13:39 – East West, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, 13:10, Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon, Chicago, 12:44 and can’t forget Time Has Come Today, Chamber’s Brothers, 11:02, None are live and all are still on vinyl. Probably all were hits before you were born or the copies you have at the station are the shorten am versions..

  2. Seattle49er says:

    The first “Classic Rock” song played on FM due to length was “Light My Fire” by the Doors, 7:08. AM stations were prohibited from playing it. However, there were other “Rock” songs that also extended past 3:30 that could only be played full length on FM – People by Striesand, 5:00 and MacArthur Park by Harris, 7:29. It made for an interesting playlist at times. From the archives of the first classic rock station, KMPX, 107.9, San Francisco

  3. James N. says:

    How about Ina-cada-da-vida by Iron Butterfly over 18 minutes. Get Ready by Rare Earth over 21 minutes.

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