The Top 100 Albums Ever, a definitive and unarguable list

Sorry, this one’s more than unusually self-indulgent…see, the thing is I used to be fatally attracted towards pointless lists of the best songs/films/makes of carpet cleaner etc but I have managed to wean myself off them in recent years, helped largely by a form of passive aversion therapy: these days you can’t open a music magazine without a new and vital list of things you must hear before you die assailing you and I’m at the stage where I could quite happily never think of the words Astral Weeks or Pet Sounds or Exile On Main Street ever again, let alone wade through a rehashed twenty page feature on the making of them.

However…someone on The Afterword forum (the unofficial successor to that of the much mourned Word magazine) yesterday launched a poll to establish The Best Albums Ever, whereby participants were asked to submit a list of their favourites, the kicker being that said list was required to contain not three, or five, or even ten cherished classics but a full hundred. This is such an insane and ambitious undertaking that I felt honour bound to come out of list-retirement and contribute.

So, here’s the list, slightly amended from the one I submitted yesterday due to me inevitably remembering a handful of choice items that really should have been on there. I’ve limited myself to no more than one entry per artist to avoid clogging the thing up with Mountain Goats and Robyn Hitchcock records, but have allowed Greatest Hits and multi-artist compilations in order to correct the bias against great stuff that works better as singles than it does as albums. This was a totally ludicrous exercise, but I had fun doing it and thought it was worth sticking somewhere I could find it later on, and I promise I won’t be making a habit of this kind of thing. Anyway:

1 Big Star: Radio City (1974)

2 Elvis Costello and the Attractions: Get Happy!! (1980)

3 The Mountain Goats: All Hail West Texas (2002)

4 REM: Murmur (1983)

5 The Clash: The Clash (1977)

6 Patti Smith: Horses (1975)

7 Diana Ross and the Supremes: 20 Golden Greats (or any Supremes compilation really) (1977)

8 Robyn Hitchcock: I Often Dream Of Trains (1984)

9 Pixies: Doolittle (1989)

10 Wire: Pink Flag (1977)

11 Joy Division: Closer (1980)

12 Tom Waits: Rain Dogs (1985)

13 Half Man Half Biscuit: Cammell Laird Social Club (2002)

14 Neutral Milk Hotel: In The Aeroplane Over The Sea (1998)

15 Bob Dylan: Highway 61 Revisited (1965)

16 X Ray Spex: Germfree Adolescents (1978)

17 Sex Pistols: Never Mind The Bollocks (1977)

18 The Decemberists: The Crane Wife (2006)

19 David Bowie: Hunky Dory (1971)

20 Blondie: Parallel Lines (1978)

21 Gang Of Four: Entertainment! (1979)

22 The Modern Lovers: The Modern Lovers (1976)

23 Pere Ubu: The Modern Dance (1978)

24 Public Image Limited: Metal Box (1979)

25 Buzzcocks: Singles Going Steady (1979)

26 The Smiths: The Queen Is Dead (1986)

27 The Beatles: Rubber Soul (1965)

28 The Jam: Snap! (is this still available? Better than the Greatest Hits cos of the album tracks and B-sides) (1983)

29 Television: Marquee Moon (1977)

30 Young Marble Giants: Colossal Youth (1980)

31 Wussy: Funeral Dress (2005)

32 Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band: Trout Mask Replica (1969)

33 The B52s: The B52s (1979)

34 Billy Bragg: Life’s A Riot With Spy Vs Spy (1983)

35 The New Pornographers: Twin Cinema (2005)

36 Talking Heads: More Songs About Buildings And Food (1978)

37 Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Abattoir Blues/The Lyre Of Orpheus (2004)

38 Neko Case: Fox Confessor Brings The Flood (2006)

39 The Vibrators: Pure Mania (1978)

40 The Only Ones: Peel Sessions (1989)

41 Laura Cantrell: When The Roses Bloom Again (2002)

42 Joni Mitchell: For The Roses (1972)

43 Roddy Frame: Surf (2002)

44 The Go! Team: Thunder, Lightning, Strike (2004)

45 Graham Parker: Heat Treatment (1976)

46 Ian Dury and the Blockheads: Sex And Drugs And Rock And Roll (or any half-decent compilation) (1987)

47 The Human League: Dare (1981)

48 The Velvet Underground and Nico: The Velvet Underground and Nico (1967)

49 Eno: Another Green World (1975)

50 Roxy Music: Roxy Music (1972)

51 The Violent Femmes: The Violent Femmes (1983)

52 Chumbawamba: Anarchy (1994)

53 Husker Du: Flip Your Wig (1985)

54 The Soft Boys: Live At The Portland Arms (1978)

55 John Cale: Paris 1919 (1973)

56 Chic: Les Plus Grands Succes De Chic (1979)

57 Love: Forever Changes (1968)

58 John Grant: Queen Of Denmark (2010)

59 Madness: Divine Madness (1992)

60 Aimee Mann: Magnolia (soundtrack) (1999)

61 Sly and the Family Stone: There’s A Riot Goin’ On (1971)

62 The Fall: This Nation’s Saving Grace (1985)

63 Michael Hurley, The Unholy Modal Rounders and Jeffrey Frederick & The Clamtones: Have Moicy! (1976)

64 The Wedding Present: George Best (1987)

65 Throwing Muses: Throwing Muses (1986)

66 Iggy Pop: Lust For Life (1977)

67 The Stooges: Fun House (1970)

68 The Monochrome Set: Strange Boutique (1980)

69 The Magnetic Fields: 69 Love Songs (1999)

70 Various Artists: Up All Night! (30 track Northern Soul compilation) (1990)

71 Antony and the Johnsons: I Am A Bird Now (2005)

72 Camper van Beethoven: Key Lime Pie (1989)

73 Ramones: Ramones (1976)

74 10,000 Maniacs: In My Tribe (1987)

75 Lou Reed: Berlin (1973)

76 Felt: Me And A Monkey On The Moon (1989)

77 The National: Boxer (2007)

78 PJ Harvey: Let England Shake (2011)

79 Arcade Fire: Funeral (2004)

80 The Arctic Monkeys: Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (2006)

81 XTC: Black Sea (1980)

82 Richard and Linda Thompson: I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight (1973)

83 The Cure: Boys Don’t Cry (1979)

84 Various Artists: Atlantic Soul Classics (1985)

85 Pulp: Different Class 91995)

86 Various Artists: Motown Chartbusters volume 3 (this is the one with This Old Heart Of Mine and Heard It Through The Grapevine on) (1969)

87 The Strokes: Is This It? (2001)

88 Syd Barrett: The Madcap Laughs (1970)

89 The Undertones: The Undertones (1979)

90 Doors: Strange Days (1967)

91 New York Dolls: New York Dolls (1973)

92 New Order: Substance (1987)

93 Jimmy Cliff: The Harder They Come (soundtrack) (1972)

94 Robert Wyatt: Old Rottenhat (1985)

95 Morrissey: You Are The Quarry (2004)

96 Orange Juice: The Glasgow School (2005)

97 Dexy’s Midnight Runners: Searching For The Young Soul Rebels (1980)

98 Nic Jones: Penguin Eggs (1981)

99 Alex Chilton: High Priest (1987)

100 Adam and Joe: Song Wars volume 1 (2008)

Hmm. Lots of quite old, a fair amount of quite new, not much in between. Anyone got any tips for 90s stuff I might like?

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3 responses to “The Top 100 Albums Ever, a definitive and unarguable list

  1. I’ve got four of those.

  2. Good list. Some overlap with mine, for historical reasons. Vibrators ? I’ll have to give that one another spin. Yer man John Grant has a very catchy single on heavy rotation on 6 – Black Belt in BS.

    90s records. A poser. Well, Haines and The Auteurs for a start. Other stuff I really really love and still play would include The High Llamas and The Cardigans. Even The Bluetones and Catatonia. First albums, and the first Oasis record is a laugh. Radiohead. Christ, you got me making lists now …

    • I remembered Kirsty MacColl’s Kite as soon as I’d posted this which really deserves a place somewhere. You’re never gonna win with these things…

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