Greatest Albums of All Time, Metafilter version
September 22, 2020 8:05 PM   Subscribe

As an antidote to the Rolling Stone list currently featuring on the blue, I propose to ask mefites: what are your picks for the Greatest Albums of All Time?

Rules: At least one album and no more than five. All genres fair game.
posted by bertran to Media & Arts (88 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
1. Elvis Costello, My Aim Is True
2. The Jam, Sound Affects
3. James Brown, Live At The Apollo
4. David Bowie, The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars
5. Husker Du, Warehouse: Songs And Stories
posted by pdb at 8:26 PM on September 22 [4 favorites]

Paul Simon's Graceland.
posted by mezzanayne at 8:38 PM on September 22 [7 favorites]

Dots and Loops by Stereolab.
posted by Carillon at 8:43 PM on September 22 [4 favorites]

Liz Phair, Exile in Guyville
posted by vunder at 8:45 PM on September 22 [8 favorites]

Miles Davis, Kind of Blue
posted by AugustWest at 8:48 PM on September 22 [9 favorites]

Bunny Wailer, Blackheart Man.
posted by alaaarm at 8:51 PM on September 22

Kind of Blue is the greatest album. There are many albums tied for second.
posted by kerf at 8:51 PM on September 22 [4 favorites]

Astral Weeks by Van Morrison

some runners-up that might not be on everyone else's list:

Fragments of a Rainy Season by John Cale
The Road to Ensenada by Lyle Lovett
Jesus Doesn't Live Here Anymore by Tom House
Mutations by Beck
posted by Redstart at 8:54 PM on September 22 [5 favorites]

I believe that nominations for the Greatest Album of All Time must specifically be albums that the largest amount of people will like the most of; and my personal nomination must be the album I know where the two factors of "How much do I like this album?" and "How many people could I recommend this to and be confident they would like it?" are at a dual maximum. This will remove cult albums and extreme genres from contention, so it would probably sit in the sphere of popular song. It should be rewarding to a surface listen and rewarding upon revisiting; it should have different possible interpretations based on your level of musical knowledge. It should be the highest number of things to the highest number of people.

My nomination is Love's Forever Changes. (I think the Beatles are uneven songwriters but understand why they sit so high, given these criteria; and Love are not too far musically from the Beatles.)
posted by solarion at 8:55 PM on September 22 [6 favorites]

Sticky Fingers, 2nd.
Nothing's Shocking, 2nd.
Abbey Road, 2nd.
Apologies to the Queen Mary, 2nd.
Under One Hour, 2nd.
Led Zeppelin III, 3rd.
posted by j_curiouser at 8:57 PM on September 22 [1 favorite]

I think 'coherence as unified work' is better criteria then 'a few Really Popular tracks' or 'this is my favorite band's best album'.
posted by j_curiouser at 9:00 PM on September 22 [1 favorite]

Actually, I'm changing my answer. Based on my own criteria, every Pink Floyd record is the second best record.
posted by j_curiouser at 9:05 PM on September 22 [3 favorites]

Violent Femmes self-titled album
posted by slidell at 9:10 PM on September 22 [7 favorites]

The Clash, London Calling
The Minutemen, Double Nickels on the Dime
posted by holborne at 9:23 PM on September 22 [10 favorites]

  • Genesis, Selling England By The Pound
  • Joni Mitchell, Hejira
  • Marvin Gaye, What's Goin' On?
  • Neil Young, Harvest
  • Elton John, Madman Across the Water

posted by Rash at 9:33 PM on September 22 [1 favorite]

In no particular order:
Jefferson Airplane - Surrealistic Pillow
The Beatles - Abbey Road
The Beatles - Rubber Soul
Paul Simon - There Goes Rhymin' Simon
posted by flowergrrrl at 9:34 PM on September 22

Disco and the Halfway to Discontent by Clinton is the album I find myself listening to the whole thing over and over.

That and Bee Thousand by Guided by Voices are the two albums I’ve downloaded on Spotify so that I can listen to them even offline.

I bought Loveless by My Bloody Valentine at the same time as the Clinton record, and I doubt it’s possible to have a better record-shopping day than that.

The first Ramones album.

If we’re counting compilations, Death to the Pixies. I can’t pick a favorite studio album of theirs, though.

In terms of mainstream rock, Houses of the Holy and Born in the USA. I think Tom Petty deserves a mention too, but like the Pixies I’m not sure which album I’d pick.

I maintain that the Strokes’ Room on Fire is the most consistent record I’ve ever heard. I go back and forth on how great I think it is, but if you like one song, you’ll like them all.
posted by kevinbelt at 10:01 PM on September 22 [1 favorite]

five isn't nearly enough and even if -- are they the five greatest albums I've ever known, or are they five that I actually feel like listening to right now?

These sort of satisfy both concerns for me, all at least two record sets mainly to help me narrow it down some. In alphabetical order.

Can - Tago Mago
Clash - Sandinista
Prince - Sign of the Times
Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation
Yes - Tales from Topographic Oceans
posted by philip-random at 10:03 PM on September 22 [3 favorites]

Gonna be interesting to see if any albums even show up on two lists!

Cardiacs - A Little Man and a House and the Whole World Window
Loud Family - Interbabe Concern
Nation of Ulysses - Plays Pretty for Baby
They Might Be Giants - Flood
Soft Boys - A Can of Bees
posted by equalpants at 10:07 PM on September 22 [3 favorites]


1) American Beauty Grateful Dead (pretty much just for Box of Rain as the Opener)
2) Deja Vu CSN&Y
3) Entertainment! Gang of Four

All I can rank right now
posted by Windopaene at 10:36 PM on September 22 [1 favorite]

Let’s go with:

David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust
Prince - Purple Rain
Outkast - Stankonia
Wilco - A Ghost is Born
Krallice - Years Past Matter

There’s some nice spacing here—one per decade from the 1970s onward (let’s count Stankonia for the 90s). I’m sure with further consideration other things might pop into the top 5 or 10 or 15 (something from Thelonius or Sonny Rollins or Coltrane or Miles, Enter the Wu-Tang, RTJ4, Born to Run, Marquee Moon all come to mind).
posted by Special Agent Dale Cooper at 10:46 PM on September 22

Music Has The Right To Children for me, it's almost flawless.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 11:10 PM on September 22 [6 favorites]

I am a person who has often been told, "your favorite band sucks," even so, I love:

Bob Marley Live
Derek and the Dominoes
Cat Stevens Tea For the Tillerman
Led Zeppelin I
Moody Blues On the Threshold of a Dream
posted by a humble nudibranch at 11:39 PM on September 22 [1 favorite]

Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon
Pink Floyd - The Wall
AC/DC - Highway to Hell
The White Panda - Bambooyah
posted by I shot a fox in Skyrim and it made me sad at 12:25 AM on September 23

1. Elvis Costello, King of America
2. Beach Boys, Pet Sounds
3. Gram Parsons, Return of the Grievous Angel
4. Bruce Springsteen, Nebraska
5. Yo La Tengo, Fakebook
posted by chavenet at 1:07 AM on September 23 [3 favorites]

A great album to me is one that improves my mood, no matter what. So even if I am on top of the world, I will be even more so after listening to a great album.

In no particular order:
Fine Young Cannibals: The Raw and the Cooked
Roy Orbison and Friends: A Black and White Night
Elton John: Sleeping with the Past
Phil Spector: A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector
Billy Joel: An Innocent Man
posted by Calvin and the Duplicators at 1:26 AM on September 23 [2 favorites]

Having said that, there is no Zappa on the Rolling Stone list. There should be some Zappa.
posted by chavenet at 1:26 AM on September 23 [4 favorites]

I've been listening to this on repeat for years: Bernice Johnson Reagon ‎– River of Life. The album as a project works perfectly. Every song is flawless. She does all the vocals and the results are mind-boggling. But it's accessible and easy to listen to. It's the best album.
posted by jebs at 1:28 AM on September 23 [2 favorites]

Kate Bush- The Whole Story
posted by Rufous-headed Towhee heehee at 1:43 AM on September 23 [3 favorites]

King Crimson - In the Court of the Crimson King
posted by fairmettle at 2:40 AM on September 23 [2 favorites]

Wow, there are some *terrible* suggestions here (I kid! I kid!) - those suggestions (and almost all of them made me nod and go, "yup" mean I can skip them)

In no particular order:
-Ah Um - Charles Mingus (Oh listen! It's the mid 20th century distilled, translated into music and recorded onto an album) (Similar but different are Louis Armstrong "Hot fives and Sevens" and "Paul's Boutique" by the Beasty Boys/ The Dust Brothers - music that shapes time and culture: defines, distills and moves forward a moment in time.)
-A Arte de Os Mutantes - Os Mutantes (Can goes here as well - best bands most people don't know but would love)
-VU - Velvet Underground (and other seminal punk rock albums could go here - Double Nickles London Calling Surfer Rosa)
-Blue - Joni Mitchell (if you slow down and listen to just this, only this, it is almost endlessly rewarding.)
-Exile on Main Street/ Talking Book/ Mermaid Avenue/ The Boatman's Call/ Miseducation of Lauren Hill/ Fear of Music/
Yeah, there's no way. There are so many great albums, so many I could and have spent months and years listening to, first one side, then flipping and then the B side.

And what about Nina Simone (her over of Cohen's "Suzanne?" Or Django Reinhardt? Or Frank Sinatra (Wee Small Hours of the Morning) or there's a great compilation of Dinah Washington singing Bacharach songs "Anyone Who had a Heart"

Spoiled for riches. (A bright spot in all the all chaos and misery of now)
posted by From Bklyn at 3:52 AM on September 23 [5 favorites]

If the criteria are "most people will like most of this", Willie Nelson's "Stardust". Seriously.

Byrds, "Sweetheart of the Rodeo"
Best album you've never heard: Calexico, "Feast of Wire".
posted by notsnot at 4:58 AM on September 23 [3 favorites]

I went through the 500 list and only found these acts which are not from native English speaking countries:

Daft Punk, Abba, Rosalía, Fela Kuti, Bjork, Kraftwerk, Can, King Sunny Adé, Manu Chao, Shakira (I am sure I missed some)

...that's about it. This list here, so far, is even more Anglo-American. I realise that MeFi and Rolling Stone readers are majority native English speakers, but it's pretty depressing.

With this in mind. Here is a short list of albums I believe could be greatest of all time, but are not from native English speakers. Two of these are already in the RS list:

- Tom Ze: Estudando o samba (1975)
- Bjork: Homogenic (1997)
- Gurrumul: Djarimirri - Child of the Rainbow (2018)
- Mariah: うたかたの日々 (1983)
- Daft Punk: Homework (1997)

I would LOVE a new top 500 with no American, British or Irish acts :)
posted by 0bvious at 5:18 AM on September 23 [9 favorites]

Los Lobos — Kiko, but I’m prepared to negotiate. (How Will the Wolf Survive? is already on the Rolling Stone list)

Rockpile — Seconds of Pleasure
posted by Songdog at 5:22 AM on September 23 [3 favorites]

I agree that Zappa should be there, but which album(s)?
posted by Songdog at 5:25 AM on September 23

I agree that Zappa should be there, but which album(s)?

Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar?

Or, maybe Guitar?
posted by Thorzdad at 5:29 AM on September 23 [1 favorite]

Talking Heads — More Songs About Buildings and Food (in addition to Remain in Light and Fear of Music, thank you very much)

A strong case could be made for Weather Report. Heavy Weather would be a good choice, but there are others.

Also hey, where’s Warren Zevon?
posted by Songdog at 5:31 AM on September 23 [4 favorites]

Stromae - Racine carrée
posted by Pendragon at 5:37 AM on September 23

A strong case could be made for Weather Report. Heavy Weather would be a good choice, but there are others.

Night Passage may possibly be my favorite. But maybe one of the early albums, or the transitional Black Market, ahs a claim.

I was thinking about Jaco's contribution to Heavy Weather. It is remarkable. Zawinul had a pretty big ego, you know? But he not only gave Pastorius two songs out of, I think seven, in a band where his partner was one of the best jazz composers of all time, he acknowledged his studio contributions with a co-producer credit. Not to mention his mandocello playing! Jaco was what, 24 years old then? 25?
posted by thelonius at 5:57 AM on September 23 [1 favorite]

Per Obvious’s comment - Top 5* from Canada:
  1. Sloan One Chord to Another
  2. Arcade Fire The Suburbs
  3. The Tragically Hip Fully Completely
  4. Spirit of the West Save this House
  5. Death From Above 1979 You're a Woman, I'm a Machine
  • Reaostatics Whale Music
*All white Anglo Boy rockers!!
posted by zenon at 6:55 AM on September 23 [1 favorite]

I did a list a few years ago of my top 100 favorite albums. It's outdated now - I'm not sure what I'd push off, but I'd probably add Khruangbin and Mavis Staples' If All I Was Was Black, a couple of others. The past ~3 years have been a huge shift for me in terms of finding new and interesting music, but I can't say objectively I'd call them greatest albums. Just ones that make an impact on me.

Two albums I would put on RS list: Hypocrisy is the Greatest Luxury by the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, and Jukebox the Ghost's Safe Travels. And Rollins Band's End of Silence. And the lack of Aimee Mann is criminal.
posted by jzb at 6:58 AM on September 23

Radiohead - OKC and Kid A
Michael Jackson - Dangerous
Talking Heads - Remain in Light
Led Zeppelin II (I know we hate Led Zeppelin)

All of these lists always omit basically any sort of classical music which I don't get. So I will nominate:

Steve Reich - Music for 18 Musicians
Arvo Part - Fratres
John Luther Adams - Become Desert

My super controversial pick:

Taylor Swift - 1989
posted by Lutoslawski at 6:59 AM on September 23 [5 favorites]

Brian Eno - Ambient 1: Music for Airports
Art of Noise - Who's Afraid of the Art of Noise?
The Postal Service - Give Up
Galaxie 500 - On Fire
Yo La Tengo - I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One
posted by niicholas at 7:53 AM on September 23 [5 favorites]

Sharon Van Etten - Are We There
Son Lux - Lanterns
Alt J - An Awesome Wave
Sunset Rubdown - Dragonslayer
Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here
posted by rcraniac at 8:10 AM on September 23

Astral Weeks
Rain Dogs
Fisherman's Blues
Giant Step/De Ole Folks At Home
And because I cannot put everything Peter Gabriel did in here I'll go with So because it was my gateway.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:13 AM on September 23

The National - Boxer
Big Thief - Masterpiece
John Prine - John Prine
Maggie Rogers - Heard It in a Past Life

1989 is only controversial because of sexism and how much our society hates anyone who is or used to be a teenage girl. It's an objectively great album.
posted by catoclock at 8:44 AM on September 23 [1 favorite]

sleater-kinney - dig me out
posted by lescour at 9:00 AM on September 23 [2 favorites]

A Night at the Opera- Queen
Houses of the Holy- Led Zep
The Wall- Pink Floyd
La La Land- Wax Fang
Thick as a Brick- Jethro Tull
Nothing's Shocking- Jane's Addiction
posted by Splunge at 9:12 AM on September 23 [1 favorite]

These kinds of lists are usually short on Jamaican musicians that aren't Bob Marley or the The Harder They Come soundtrack, so here's five of those:

The Congos - Heart of the Congos
Culture - Two Sevens Clash
Dadawah - Peace and Love
Scientist - Rids the World of the Evil Curse of the Vampires
Upsetters - 14 Dub Blackboard Jungle
posted by box at 9:18 AM on September 23 [3 favorites]

The following are the correct answer, for certain categories of my own invention:

Best album for slightly precocious young men:
Lloyd Cole & The Commotions, Rattlesnake

Best first album of any band, ever:
Roxy Music, Roxy Music

Best breakup album:
Everything But the Girl, Walking Wounded

Best album to lift weights to, mom's basement edition:
Elvis Costello, Get Happy!

Best album for a late night stoner sesh:
Tricky, Maxinquaye

(way back in '09, there was an Ask for 'skipless albums'; i.e., every track is good-to-great. Someone was kind enough to put it into a google sheet, if anyone's interested)
posted by Bron at 9:21 AM on September 23 [4 favorites]

77. Black Sea -- XTC

122. Just Can't Stop It -- The English Beat

211. -- Too Far to Care -- Old 97's

302. -- Billy Breathes -- Phish

444. -- Oh Inverted World -- The Shins
posted by OHenryPacey at 9:29 AM on September 23 [3 favorites]

Portishead - Dummy
Chemical Brothers - Dig Your Own Hole
Living Colour - Stain
posted by DarkForest at 10:12 AM on September 23

stooges/Fun House
Velvet Underground/White Light/White Heat
Minutemen/Double Nickels on the Dime
Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band/Trout Mask Replica
The Shaggs/Philosophy of the World
posted by AJaffe at 10:32 AM on September 23 [2 favorites]

Erasure- The Innocents
Lightning Seeds - Jollification
Pulp - Different Class
Leftfield - Leftism
Grandaddy - The Sophtware Slump
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:55 AM on September 23

Galaxie 500 Today
Sex Pistols Never Mind
Kinks Village Geeen
Coltrane Love Supreme
Silver Jews American Water
Pussy Galore Sugar Shit Sharp
Paper Cuts You Can Have What You Want
posted by PHINC at 11:05 AM on September 23

Best breakup album:

Bleu, Redhead
posted by thelonius at 11:14 AM on September 23

Temples - Sun Structures
Grizzly Bear - Veckatamist
Modern Jazz Quartet - Dedicated to Connie
Nancy Wilson - Ballad, Blues & Big Bands (3 disc set)
Miles Davis - Birth of the Cool (Kind of Blue was already mentioned many times, so...)
Man Man - Life Fantastic
Suede (aka The London Suede) - Dog Man Star
posted by ivanthenotsoterrible at 11:18 AM on September 23

Madvillain, Madvillainy
Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle
Nas, Illmatic
Wu Tang 36 Chambers (and 2-3 first generation solo albums
posted by kensington314 at 1:03 PM on September 23

Just now, off the top of my head (so ask me again in a month or a year and it might be different)

Portishead - Dummy
Mogwai - Happy Songs for Happy People
The KLF - The White Room
Africa Express Present -Terry Riley's In C
Burial - Rival Dealer
posted by deeker at 1:16 PM on September 23

If I had to go and live on a desert island and I could only bring one record it would be New Favorite by Alison Krauss & Union Station.
posted by night_train at 1:34 PM on September 23

i'm not going to call these the best, they're just ones i find myself returning to a lot

hawkwind - space ritual
jethro tull - benefit
grateful dead - aoxomoxoa - original mix!
laura nyro - eli and the 13th confession
amon duul ii - dance of the lemmings (although i often skip sides 3&4)
joni mitchell - hejira
yes - tales of topographic oceans
rolling stones - exile on main street
crazy horse - 1st album

i feel that many of my favorite genres - 60s motown-soul-r&b, 60's pop, MPB, 1980-now electronica, various african musics, swing band era are more meaningful as singles to me

there are many great great favorite rock artists but i can't just pick one album - or more often, just don't feel like listening to the whole thing

several of the albums i've listed have had a real influence on my music and they all have some kind of emotional resonance for me - i won't claim they're the best - in fact, i wouldn't even claim the jetrho tull, yes, grateful dead albums as their best ones
posted by pyramid termite at 2:01 PM on September 23 [2 favorites]

oh, god i forgot --

be good to yourself at least once a day - man

i listen to that several times a year
posted by pyramid termite at 2:04 PM on September 23 [1 favorite]

Replacements - Pleased to Meet Me ( or Let It Be or Tim or ...)
Husker Du - Zen Arcade
U2 - Joshua Tree
REM - Life's Rich Pageant
Prince - 1999
Guess when I was in college? Heh...
posted by Cris E at 2:47 PM on September 23 [2 favorites]

Board of Canada: The Campfire Headphase
Aphex Twin: Selected Ambient Works Volume II
posted by taltalim at 2:57 PM on September 23 [1 favorite]

Trentemøller: The Last Resort
Primal Scream: Screamadelica
Amiina: Animamina
Boards of Canada: In a Beautiful Place Out in the Country
Radiohead: OK Computer

Hmmm. As two of those are, effectively, EPs, I'm adding two more:

Amanda Bergman: Docks
Duran Duran: Rio
posted by Wordshore at 3:12 PM on September 23 [1 favorite]

Magnetic Fields -- Holiday
St. Vincent -- St. Vincent
Brian Eno/David Byrne -- My Life in the Bush of Ghosts
(I tried to pick things I thought were missing from the RS500 list)
posted by *s at 3:25 PM on September 23

yeah, I don't know if I can pick 5. Whenever this comes up on Facebook I do 20 or 30 until I get sick of it. And I have to have a big disclaimer about favorite vs best vs what do I like right now etc etc.

Others have picked a lot of my favorites (you all have excellent taste), but here's some things that are clearly Great:

Grateful Dead - American Beauty
Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention- Freak Out
Fucked Up - David Comes to Life
Guided By Voices - Bee Thousand
Negativland - Helter Stupid
Drive-by Truckers - The Dirty South
posted by chbrooks at 3:43 PM on September 23

Highway 61 Revisited - Dylan
Sunday in the Park with George - Sondheim
Boston - Boston
The Essential Leonard Cohen - Cohen
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 4:12 PM on September 23

Two that I expect no one else will mention.
Adam and the Ants - Prince Charming
Thin Lizzy - Bad Reputation
posted by wittgenstein at 4:27 PM on September 23

Achtung Baby, U2
Born in the USA, Bruce Springsteen
Revolver, The Beatles
Some Girls, The Rolling Stones (caveat: title song is very problematic)
Houses of the Holy, Led Zeppelin
posted by nayantara at 4:44 PM on September 23

If you ask me this question tomorrow it's entirely possible I'll give you five different answers...
posted by nayantara at 4:44 PM on September 23 [3 favorites]

I'm going to disagree with this list a half hour from now.

Television: Marquee Moon
Gang of Four: Land of the Free
Talking Heads: More Songs About Buildings and Food
XTC: Oranges and Lemons
Kraftwerk: Computer World
Stevie Wonder: Talking Book

OK, that's six, sorry. Also, I'm on board with Portishead: Dummy, above.
posted by The Half Language Plant at 4:48 PM on September 23 [1 favorite]

My favorite albums tend to fall into two categories :

Perfect Albums
The Beatles, Abbey Road
The Rolling Stones, Sticky Fingers
The Kinks, Arthur
Fleetwood Mac, Rumors
The Grateful Dead, Live/Dead
Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon
The Bees, Free the Bees
77:78, Jellies
King Crimson, Court of the Crimson King

Brilliant Messes
The Beatles, The White Album
The Rolling Stones, Exile on Main St.
The Kinks, Something Else
Fleetwood Mac, Tusk
The Grateful Dead, Live/Dead
Pink Floyd, The Early Years (all six volumes)
Stephen Stills, Manassas
posted by panama joe at 8:04 PM on September 23 [3 favorites]

Full Force Galesburg - the Mountain Goats
Ladysmith Black Mambazo & Friends
Elaine Stritch at Liberty (live recording of her one woman show)
Dagger Beach - John Vanderslice
Cuz I Love You - Lizzo
posted by fairlynearlyready at 12:01 AM on September 24 [1 favorite]

As my favoriting history in threads about music will attest, I love XTC, as in they are my favorite band ever, and I treasure all of their albums. It amazes when people choose something other Black Sea as their best, though. I appreciate The Soft Boys callout above, equalpants.

The greatest albums I listen to on a regular basis (that's the only way I can approach this question):

Black Sea - XTC
My Aim Is True - Elvis Costello
Workbook - Bob Mould
Doolittle - The Pixies
Maggot Brain - Funkadelic

I appreciate threads like this, they remind me there's a whole lot of music out there I should listen to.
posted by mollweide at 4:16 AM on September 24 [4 favorites]

I read a 1,000 Albums to Listen to Before You Die-type book once, and there was an interesting trend one could tease out of it: A few albums from the '50s, limited by the fact that the 33 1/3 LP wasn't the dominant format then. The '60s, though, are massive; most of the albums that appear in any "tops" list: Beatles, Beach Boys, Dylan, Stones, Hendrix, etc., etc. The '70s, again, huge, with Marvin, Stevie, P-Funk, Allmans, Pink Floyd, Joni, Fela, etc., etc. The '80s also good, as post-punk/synth/metal/hip-hop bands, Prince and others show up. The '90s, though...I mean, there are some classic albums in there, but really not so many. Then the book got to the '00s...and it was a wasteland. Like, Wild Honey would've kicked any of their asses. I mean, I like Mars Volta, but they were one of the few high points, and I would never put The Mars Volta on a hear-before-you-die list, so imagine what kept it company.

So, the takeaway from that is: Great popular music died in 1999. Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.

All that said, my five greatest albums?

Miles Davis - Bitches Brew
Eno/Byrne - My Life in the Bush of Ghosts
Fairport Convention - Liege & Lief
Parliament - Mothership Connection
Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon/Wish You Were Here (your choice)
posted by the sobsister at 11:37 AM on September 24

Five albums from after 1999 that aren't on the RS list, but should be:

Blackalicious - Nia
Songs: Ohia - Magnolia Electric Co.
Kamasi Washington - The Epic
Makaya McCraven - Universal Beings
Juliana Barwick - Healing is a Miracle
posted by box at 11:53 AM on September 24 [1 favorite]

Otis Blue
posted by AceRock at 11:54 AM on September 24

My post-2000 list would include:

Leonard Cohen - Ten New Songs
Nouvelle Vague - Nouvelle Vague
Elliot Smith - From a Basement on the Hill
posted by DarkForest at 3:08 PM on September 24

There are many perfect albums IMO, but the ones that come to mind to me today are:

Elliot Smith - XO
Tom Waits - Nighthawks at the Diner
The Decemberists - The Hazards of Love
Tori Amos - Under the Pink
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:38 PM on September 24

Anton Carlos Jobim - Stone Flower
Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Brian Eno - Music For Airports
Everything MF Doom ever did
Richard Bitch - The Really Really Jeff Hair People
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:37 AM on September 25

Best breakup album:

Moloko: Statues, which has the greatest breakup song on it: Over & Over.
posted by Pendragon at 8:48 AM on September 25

Brilliant Messes

I find I far prefer these choices to your perfect ones, which mostly leave me cold now, the perfection having calcified into something closer to what I'd call boredom, certainly predictability. There are no surprises left. Clare Torry's going to keep hitting those high notes on Great Gig In The Sky, Paul McCartney's voice is always going to be just raw enough on Oh Darling etc ...

Whereas there's something eternally compelling in brilliant talents reaching for something they can't quite grasp. A tension that demands one's attention.

and thanks for putting Live/Dead on both lists. Even if it's a mistake, it's accurate. A perfectly brilliant mess of a double live album.
posted by philip-random at 12:18 PM on September 25

  1. Jawbreaker - Bivouac
  2. Big Black - Atomizer
  3. Built To Spill - Perfect From Now On
  4. The Who - Tommy
  5. Boredoms - Vision Creation Newsun

posted by namewithoutwords at 12:20 PM on September 25

Sing To God - Cardiacs
加爾基 精液 栗ノ花 - 椎名 林檎
Tilt - Scott Walker
Blue Bell Knoll - Cocteau Twins
Grace - Jeff Buckley
Five Leaves Left - Nick Drake
Colossal Youth - Young Marble Giants

(And a lot of others, of course, that have already been mentioned. My King Crimson record would probably be Discipline.)
posted by Grangousier at 1:35 PM on September 26

Oh yeah, Nick Drake! I liked Pink Moon.
posted by slidell at 11:05 PM on September 27

1. If You're Feeling Sinister - Belle & Sebastian
2. either/or - Elliott Smith
3. OK Computer - Radiohead
4. Midnight Organ Fight - Frightened Rabbit
5. The Sunset Tree - The Mountain Goats
posted by cholstro at 9:30 AM on September 30

Somebody in the Blue post mentioned that Africa is underrepresented, so here are five six from that continent that don't appear on the RS list (conspicuous in his absence is Tony Allen, who, in addition to being the heart of Fela Kuti's rhythm section, continued to make challenging and vital music for decades afterward):

Segun Bucknor - Who Say I Tire
Juju - A Message from Mozambique
Orlando Julius and his Modern Aces - Super Afro Soul
Hugh Masakela - Home is Where the Music is
Mamman Sani - Taaritt
Tinariwen - Amassakoul
posted by box at 12:19 PM on September 30 [1 favorite]

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