Greatest Rock Albums

by Brian on November 17, 2003

Matt Yglesias links to an appallingly boring list of the top 10 albums of all time, courtesy of (who else) Rolling Stone. Because I so love lists, and because I like flame wars, I decided to commemorate the occasion by pulling out my top 10 list, tinkering with it, and posting it.

These are in chronological order, because so many of the rankings would be completely arbitrary.

  • Blonde on Blonde (Bob Dylan)
  • Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (The Beatles)
  • Before Hollywood (The Go-Betweens)
  • Post (Paul Kelly)
  • The Queen is Dead (The Smiths)
  • Stone Roses (Stone Roses)
  • Parklife (Blur)
  • Hi Fi Way (You Am I)
  • If You’re Feeling Sinister (Belle and Sebastian)
  • Is This It (The Strokes)

As you see, it’s only slightly less conventional than Rolling Stone, so I really shouldn’t be throwing bricks their way. I used to be embarrassed about the presence of Parklife on the list, but now I think it’s cutely perverse. The appropriate version of Is This It is of course the UK release, rather than the watered down US release.



Jeremy Osner` 11.17.03 at 8:03 pm

The Poor Man has already written the book with regards to list-making. Everyone else should just give it up already.


Jeremy Osner` 11.17.03 at 8:05 pm

But OTOH, “Blonde on Blonde” is an excellent choice for the top spot. I guess you can stay in the list-making business.


PG 11.17.03 at 8:09 pm

Actually, what would be really interesting would be a list of “Top 10 Albums I’m Embarrassed to Own Yet Can’t Throw Away.” The Parklife doesn’t quite quality because you’re no longer embarrassed by it.

The stupidity/boringness of the Rolling Stone list derives from its obviousness. The Beatles, Dylan, Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, Clash’s London Calling … no duh, every one.

I’d be far more interested in the dirty little musical secrets of the Stone’s editors. Who has a heretofore unrevealed love of pop country, or punk bluegrass, or polka?

Really, anything would have been better than this.


Yuval Rubinstein 11.17.03 at 8:13 pm

Actually, I’m surprised you put “Before Hollywood” on the list. In my opinion, “16 Lovers Lane” is the GoB’s undisputed masterpiece, and even “Spring Hill Fair” rates ahead of BH.


Keith M Ellis 11.17.03 at 8:18 pm

Way too many recent albums on your list, Brian. In these sorts of things, I strongly feel you need at least a decade, possibly two, of aging before such judgments can reliably be made. And the latency necessarily goes up as the medium ages.

I have it on good authority that People Who Know would put Trout Mask Replica high on that list. Not that I would have a clue. Seems to me that one would need to have a personal record library like that of Cusack’s character in “High Fidelity” before one could even begin to be thought qualified to comment on the matter.

That’s not me. I’m content to be in the 98th percentile in this matter.


Ted Barlow 11.17.03 at 8:33 pm


You asked for a flame war:

There’s a billion and six albums to choose from, and you put the doggone Strokes in the top ten?

Bored vocals, insipid lyrics, chugging eight-note block chords in song after song, one setting on the metronome…

The Strokes sound like the guy who wrote the theme song to the old Batman TV show started a rock band. They’re so overpraised you’d think they were put out by Miramax.


Chris Bertram 11.17.03 at 8:48 pm

This Timberite would have

1. Dylan, Blonde on Blonde (agreed).
2. Elvis Costello, My Aim is True
3. Neil Young, Zuma
4. Clash, London Calling
5. The Velvet Underground & Nico
6. Hendrix, Electric Ladyland
7. Pulp, Different Class
8. Eno & Byrne, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts
9. Dylan, Blood on the Tracks
10. Springsteen, Born to Run.

The order is unstable and I toyed with including Led Zeppelin 2, but since I don’t own a copy that would have been cheating. The first Talking Heads album was also a contender.


Harry Tuttle 11.17.03 at 8:53 pm

Who doesn’t love punk bluegrass?

I remember catching the Bad Livers opening up for the Butthole Surfers. You ain’t heard bluegrass until you’ve heard the Livers cover Lust For Life.

Any top 10 album list that doesn’t have the Pixies’ Surfer Rosa on it is dead to me.


nermal 11.17.03 at 8:56 pm


remain in light is definitely the talking heads’ best album


Martial 11.17.03 at 8:59 pm

As the whole point of owning and spinning the disks is to gather some fleeting pleasure in this vale of tears, who cares what the “10 Greatest” are? Sitting at home today, sick unfortunately, I just looked over at my wall of music with an eye to the “ten-or-so” records that I’ve gotten the most pleasure from over the past twelve months.

Whattayaknow, Stone Roses makes the list and not one Beatles album does.


Ted Barlow 11.17.03 at 9:00 pm

Here’s my list off the top of my head, in no particular order:

– The Pixies, Doolittle
– PJ Harvey, To Bring You My Love
– The Sex Pistols, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols
– Radiohead, OK Computer
– Public Enemy, Apocalypse 91…The Enemy Strikes Black
– The Beatles, Abbey Road
– The Amazing Royal Crowns, The Amazing Royal Crowns
– Los Lobos, Kiko and the Lavender Moon
– Elvis Costello, My Aim is True
– Wilco, Being There

These sort of lists generally don’t allow best-of or box sets. If they did, I’d replace The Amazing Royal Crowns with Beg, Scream and SHOUT! The Big Box of 60’s Soul.


uh_clem 11.17.03 at 9:22 pm

Trout Mask Replica


No list (or collection) complete without it.


Brian Weatherson 11.17.03 at 9:41 pm

My list would have looked more like Chris’s if I’d gone to 15, because then Different Class and VU & Nico would have been in.

I toyed with having 16 Lovers Lane rather than BH, but I decided that Cattle & Cane alone is enough to make BH my preferred choice. But I can easily understand alternatives.

As for the Strokes war, that’s probably for another post. My rough position is that everything Ted says is right, but they’re still enough fun to warrant inclusion.


Henry 11.17.03 at 9:57 pm

And for another Timberite’s list (in no particular order). And this is Rawk – if it included electronic music, twould be a different list entirely.

My Bloody Valentine – Loveless
Wire – Pink Flag.
Spiritualized – Electric Mainline
Wilco – Being There
The Boo Radleys – Giant Steps
Bob Dylan – Blonde on Blonde (I sense a consensus forming here).
The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground and Nico
PJ Harvey – Rid of Me
Television – Marquee Moon
Mogwai – Mogwai Young Team

_Different Class_ is a near miss; definitely on my top 20. Harry – for punk bluegrass, nothing beats Uncle Tupelo’s cover of _I Wanna Be Your Dog_


carsick 11.17.03 at 10:28 pm

Not to be an ungracious guest but I like the lists posted in the thread (all of them) better than Rolling Stones and Brian’s.
I think I’m showing my age.
Although Wilco’s album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot seems to sneak onto my playlist more often than I would have guessed (still not an all time top ten though).


Joe 11.17.03 at 10:33 pm

Personally, I always go back and forth between:

1.) Whether Rubber Soul or Revolver is the best Beatles album.

2.) Whether Blonde on Blonde or Bringing It All Back Home is the better Dylan album.

Also, Ted? OK Computer? To paraphrase Jack Black, “OK Computer’s great and all, but The Bends IS THE BEST ROCK ALBUM OF THE PAST 20 YEARS.”

Anyway, my choice at number one would be “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” by the Byrds, but only if you’re allowed to substitute in the original Gram Parsons vocals.


Matt Weiner 11.17.03 at 10:50 pm

Apocalypse 91? Nation of Millions forever! Or can we just deduce that I’m three years older than you?

Also, I dissent from the consensus–I will take Basement Tapes, Blood on the Tracks, or Highway 61 over Blonde on Blonde any day.

OK, ten great albums that come to mind (rock only):
The Mekons, Honky Tonkin’
Public Enemy, It Takes a Nation of Millions…
Little Richard’s Greatest Hits
Parliament, Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome
Sonic Youth, Sister
Robert Wyatt, Rock Bottom
Damon and Naomi, More Sad Hits
Antibalas Liberation Orchestra
James Brown, Foundations of Funk: A Brand New Bag
Tricky, Maxinquaye


josh 11.17.03 at 11:10 pm

Very good lists from all of the Timberites, though I tend to agree with joe that Rubber Soul and Revolver would be ahead of Sgt Pepper in the running for my favourite Beatles album (think I’d go with Revolver). The OK Computer vs. The Bends questions is a hard one; I’d go with The Bends, but that’s a heavily sentiment-weighted choice. I’d also actually put Modern Life is Rubbish ahead of Parklife, though again, personal associations play a role here. The same’s true for why it’s a dead heat between Hatful of Hollow and The Queen is Dead (though, really, it’s impossible to select a best Smith’s album, in my view). All of this is why I tend to rank bands rather than albums.
On the other hand, it is good to know that it is a truth generally acknowledge, at least in this civilized corner of the internet, that My Aim is True is still Elvis Costello’s masterwork.
All in all, an impressive conglomeration of good taste. Though the fact that no-one’s mentioned The Magnetic Fields’ 69 Love Songs, The Verve’s Urban Hymns, Gang of Four’s Entertainment, or Buzzcocks Another Music in a Different Kitchen, is lamentable.
And, Brian, if you must name a current retro-hip pseudo-garage band to your list (and I’m not in principle against it) — The Strokes over Interpol? Come on!


jeff 11.17.03 at 11:26 pm

God bless you, Henry, for adding Mogwai’s Young Team to the list. Personally, I’m a Come on Die Young Fan, but I’ll take what I can get. Plus: “Blur: Are Shite.”


Danny 11.17.03 at 11:27 pm

To piggy-back on a point Ted made above…

Talking about the best albums of all time excludes those artists who were album-focused. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but when “Best Album” is used as shorthand for “Best Music,” it’s a problem. How do you give proper credit to people like Otis Redding? Sure, he released albums, but it’s not the albums that account for his greatness.


Danny 11.17.03 at 11:28 pm


That second sentence should read “Talking about the best albums of all time excludes those artists who weren’t album-focused,” of course.


s_dub 11.17.03 at 11:30 pm

I’m sorry but I can’t resist adding my 10 cents worth (in no particular order):

My Favorite Things – Coltrane
London Calling – The Clash
Marquee Moon – Television
Doolittle – Pixies
Daydream Nation – Sonic Youth
The Low End Theory – A Tribe Called Quest
Angel Dust – Faith No More
Lost Somewhere Between the Earth and my Home – Geraldine Fibbers
Out to Lunch – Eric Dolphy
Let it Bleed – Rolling Stones


flazocktron 11.17.03 at 11:48 pm


i respectfully disagree about “my aim is true” being elvis costello’s best album. “this year’s model” all the way…the genius of “pump it up” can’t be denied


enthymeme 11.17.03 at 11:57 pm

I know better.

Wrath of the Tyrant – Emperor
In The Nightside Eclipse – Emperor
Bergtatt: Et Eeventyr i 5 Capitler – Ulver
Kveldssanger (Twilight Songs) – Ulver
Live after Death – Iron Maiden
Morningrise – Opeth
Aspera Hiems Symphonia – Arcturus
La Masquerade Infernale – Arcturus
Closer – Joy Division
Dark Faerytales in Phallustein – Cradle of Filth


Squirrel 11.18.03 at 12:06 am

I’ve been listening to Rancid a lot recently, and with all the talk of the clash…
-Tim Armstrong’s 10 greatest Records

-“Energy”-Operation Ivy
-“Life Won’t Wait” Rancid
-“Lets Go” Rancid
-“And Out Come the Wolves” Rancid
-“Translants” Rancid
-“Rancid(2000)” Rancid
-“Hectic” Operation Ivy
-The Unreleased Downfall stuff
-“Indestructible” Rancid


John Isbell 11.18.03 at 12:42 am

Van Morrison, Astral Weeks.
Bob Dylan, Blood on the Tracks.
Rolling Stones, Let It Bleed.
Bob Marley, Survival.
Bruce Springsteen, Darkness on the Edge of Town.
The Jam, Setting Sons.
The Sex Pistols, Never Mind the Bollocks.
The Who, Who’s Next.
The Beatles, damn. Rubber Soul.
Rod Stewart, Every Picture Tells A Story.

That’ll do.


Harry 11.18.03 at 12:54 am

Rolling Stone asked people for their favourites — is that what people are giving here? I can’t tell. My list of favourites would never include Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd’s Dark Side; but LZ’s first album and Dark Side would both have a chance at getting onto my judgment about 10 best (Loudon Wainwright’s History gets onto my top ten favourites, but it is certainly not as good as Dark Side).
Well, here’s my top ten favourites (today’s version — it changes day-to-day)

1. Blonde on Blonde
2. Sergeant Pepper (1 and 2 are reversible depending on mood).
3. Revolver
4. Richard and Linda Thompson — Shoot Out the Lights
5. Joni Mitchell — Blue
6. Blur — Park Life (Who is embarrassed about this? Why?)
7. Bonzo Dog Doo Da Band — Keynsham
8. Randy Newman — Good Old Boys
9. The Clash — The Clash
10. Loudon Wainwright — History

Bubbling under would be
Stiff Little Fingers – Inflammable Material; Blood on The Tracks;
Thin Lizzy — Live and Dangerous;
Loudon Wainwright — Album III;
Roy Harper — HQ (but largely for the single song ‘When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease’)


Keith 11.18.03 at 12:57 am

Yadda, yadda

The Smiths, Hatful of Hollow
The Stone Roses, The Stone Roses
The Happy Mondays, Pills’n’thrills’n’bellyaches
Nirvana, Nevermind
REM, Out of Time
Dolittle, Pixies
Substance, Joy Division
Alma Mater, Stockholm Monsters,
Insert Beatles Album Here, The Beatles
Fear of a Black Planet, Public Enemy

in no particular order.


Keith 11.18.03 at 1:14 am

Bleh. I’ve changed my mind already. Replace Out of Time with Generation Terrorists by the Manic Street Preachers


Mike D 11.18.03 at 1:30 am

here’s a list shamelessly weighted to my era, and no more than one album per artist:

1. Beatles – Rubber Soul
2. Radiohead – OK Computer (as an album, not as a collection of songs or else the Bends wins)
3. Pixies – Doolittle
4. Rolling Stones – Exile on Main St.
5. Elliott Smith – XO
6. Built to Spill – Keep it like a Secret
7. Beastie Boys – Paul’s Boutique
8. Prince – Purple Rain
9. Spoon – Kill The Moonlight
10. Oasis – What’s the story morning glory (The LP version)


sean 11.18.03 at 1:54 am

I stumbled upon this site by accident (one of the Timberites is my professor).
I can’t believe no one has mentioned…

Pavement – Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (or even Slanted and Enchanted)

While I am at it, here are the rest:

The Replacements – Tim (toss up with Let it Be)
Johnny Cash – With His Hot and Blue Guitar (rawk minimalism at its best)
Flaming Lips – The Soft Bulletin
The Band – The Band
Constantines –Shine a Light
Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation
Springsteen – Nebraska
Dylan – Bringing It All Back Home (yes over Blonde on Blonde)
The Velvet Underground – White Light, White Heat
Wilco – Being There
Interpol – Turn On the Bright Lights


Matt McIrvin 11.18.03 at 2:10 am

Talking Heads: I dunno, I’m partial to Fear of Music over Remain in Light these days. And I’ve been obsessively listening to some bits of the first album too.

Devo, Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo. They Might Be Giants, Lincoln. This completes the Holy Nerd Trinity.


Matt McIrvin 11.18.03 at 2:18 am

Also, speaking as a completely unbiased observer, Interrobang Cartel’s “Needs More Wanger” is the greatest album of the past 1,000 years.


JO'N 11.18.03 at 3:00 am

Since a lot of my top 10’s have already been mentioned, I think I’ll limit this list to my (rigorously objective) top 10 rock albums that have not yet been mentioned in the comments, in no particular order:

* Soon Over Babaluma – Can
* Pink Moon – Nick Drake
* Zen Arcade – Husker Du
* Double Nickels on the Dime – The Minutemen
* Vs. – Mission Of Burma
* Neon Golden – The Notwist
* The Modern Dance – Pere Ubu
* Spiderland – Slint
* Millions Now Living Will Never Die – Tortoise
* Los Angeles – X


Teaflax 11.18.03 at 3:58 am

I’m not surprised – if a little saddened – to see the relative homogeneity of most lists. Maybe it’s because Rock is a very limited idiom, and that most really fierce innovation takes the resulting music out of its realm. But still…


josh 11.18.03 at 4:12 am

You do make a good point — and This Year’s Model also has (I don’t want to go to) Chelsea, among other goodies. I was too quickly categorical in my pronouncement (naturally). Still, I don’t think it quite beats My Aim is True. I mean, come on — Alison? Welcome to the Working Week? Watching the Detectives? Doesn’t get much better than that. But it is close, certainly.


Cryptic Ned 11.18.03 at 4:26 am

Well, I used to be a blogger, so here goes:

Guided By Voices – Under The Bushes Under The Stars
Idlewild – 100 Broken Windows
Rancid – Life Won’t Wait
Sigh – Imaginary Soundscape
Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments – Straight To Video
Local H – Pack Up The Cats
XTC – English Settlement
Loud Family – Plants And Trees And Rocks And Things
R.E.M. – Lifes Rich Pageant
The Fall – The Light User Syndrome

Yeah, they’re an average of 8 or so years old. Who cares?


robert allen 11.18.03 at 4:56 am

I agree with Keith that Trout Mask is incomprehensible. My own list, drawn from the period with which I am most familiar- ’65-’72- is:

1. Blond on Blond, Bob Dylan

2. Revolver, The Beatles

3. Exile on Main Street, The Rolling Stones

4. Layla and other Assorted Love Songs, Derek and the Dominoes

5. Highway 61 Revisted, Bob Dylan

6. Are You Experienced, The Jimi Hendrix Experience

7. Notorious Byrd Brothers, The Byrds

8. Who’s Next, The Who

9. Astral Weeks, Van Morrison

10. Music from the Big Pink, The Band


ben wolfson 11.18.03 at 5:37 am

Oh boy. Lists of rock albums. Of course Needs More Wanger will revolutionize rock in coming decades, but here are ten other albums that I’ve been listening to recently (not necessarily greatest ever, and two are actually compilations, but whatever):

Richard Youngs – May
Nico – The Marble Index
Brian Eno – Another Green World
Franco Battiato – Fetus
Decemberists – Castaways & Cutouts
David Sylvian – Blemish
Sun City Girls – 330,003 Crossdressers from Beyond the Rig Veda
Robert Wyatt – Rock Bottom
Richard Thompson – Watching the Dark
King Crimson – The Great Deceiver

I guess that’s just a bit eccentric. I wouldn’t really call any of those one of the ten greatest rock albums. A lot of those aren’t even really rock. Huh.

(And how is it that only two of these lists contains anything by the Velvet Underground? Also, anyone who prefers Bringing It All Back Home to Blonde On Blonde is just wrong, and that’s all there is to it.)


enthymeme 11.18.03 at 5:43 am

I’m not surprised – if a little saddened – to see the relative homogeneity of most lists.

Yeah, Boring. Now watch them out-cool each other. HAHA


ben wolfson 11.18.03 at 5:48 am


Teaflax sez “Rock is a very limited idiom”. No idiom that can accomodate Belle & Sebastian, the Ruins, L’Ensemble Rayé, Slayer, Current 93, Deerhoof, Boris, Einstuerzende Neubauten, the Third Ear Band, Tortoise, the Tindersticks, the Rolling Stones, Faust, and I could go on for a while, can be all that limited. There’s enough variety in rock that you would think “rock & pop” just means “not anything else”.


Zizka 11.18.03 at 5:58 am

Favorite albums not named by anyone else so far (not in order):

Velvet Underground: White Light White Heat
Joni Mitchell: For the Roses
Sly Stone: Greatest Hits
Cowboy Junkies: Trinity Sessions
Ray Charles: Modern Sounds in Country-Western Music
Pogues: If I Should Fall From Grace With God
Stanley Clark: School Days
Tom Waits Swordfish Trombones
The Pretenders
Peter Tosh: Equal Rights

Tom Waits, Stanley Clarke, Peter Tosh, and Ray Charles are too rock n roll.


Zizka 11.18.03 at 6:13 am

Five (7) Albums I still like that maybe I shouldn’t:

Fleetwood Mac: Rumors

Cream: Disraeli Gears

Love: Forever Changes

Doors: First three albums

Doobie Brothers: Take it to the Street (?)


jonny 11.18.03 at 6:19 am

Some who’ve been overlooked:

Jeff Buckley, Grace,
Nirvana, In Utero,
Marley, Catch a Fire,
Bowie, Low,
Stones, Sticky Fingers,
Primal Scream, Screamadelica,
Queens of the Stone Age, Songs for the Deaf,
Lou Reed, Berlin,
Rage Against the Machine, RATM (it is rock albums after all!),
Dylan, Desire,
Massive Attack, Blue Lines,

And yes, Trout Mask Replica is a horrible mess.


TomK 11.18.03 at 9:03 am

Do not forget the greatest album of all time, at least according to

Looking For-Best of David Hasselhoff

I own 19 copies of this album and 10 back up coppies. Little do most of us ignorant Americans know the musical genious that resides between the ears of Mr. Hassenhammallaftenhoff. It’s just beautiful stuff, all of it will move you to tears. Years of repressed memories and feelings will burst to the surface, and, armed with strength from the musical inspiration that is Mr. Hillsontintoff, you will be able to confront these repressed memories and live the rest of your life to the fullest.

Even though they are all extrodinary songs, the song “Hot Shot City” is particularly good.

For you not to include it on your lists indicates that you need to listen to it.


Keith M Ellis 11.18.03 at 9:41 am

I’m pretty suspicious of everyone’s lists, because although I listen to a lot of music, I feel quite unqualified to name the top 10 albums of all time. (I thought this was “best”, not “personal favorite”.) I didn’t get Trout Mask Replica myself, but I was serious when I said that people that I do think know of what they speak rate it highly.

I have a hard time thinking of anything I would include that came from my particular experience of what is most people’s prime music afficiando age (teenage into twenties). Although from that era comes Rumors, which I wouldn’t put in this list, but that I agree with Zizka is darn good and holds up well.

Personally, I’m amazed at how well Nervermind holds up thirteen years down the road. I would put it in my top ten best list, were I qualified to compile one; it certainly is on my top ten favorite list. My intuition is that it will continue to hold up over time, like the few great classics, but it’s probably still too soon to tell.


Danny 11.18.03 at 2:45 pm

How is it that no one’s mentioned Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville yet?


Paul 11.18.03 at 2:53 pm

I’ll second (or third) the observation that the fundamental stupidity of the Stone list is the assumption that “greatest album”=”greatest (or most significant) artist.” That said, a few random remarks:

Where’s Elvis? The Elvis, I mean. Shouldn’t the Sun sessions recordings be on any “greatest” rock list? Elvis Presley if we’re only counting albums available at the time.

James Brown! James Brown! James Brown! How can a top 10 list of “greatest” rock and rollers not include James Brown. Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaataa should make any top 20.

If the Beatles get four spots, The Pet Shop Boys should get at least one, since Tennant and Lowe are the best pop pair since Lennon/McCartney. Very or BehaviorVery is my pick.

Minor Threat. Minor Threat. Michael Jackson. Thriller–possibly the best pop album ever made. Wire. Pink Flag.


dave heasman 11.18.03 at 3:05 pm

It’s all blokes, isn’t it?

1) Todd Rundgren – A Wizard A True Star
2) Steely Dan – Countdown To Ecstasy
3) Van Dyke Parks – Jump
4) Love – Forever Changes
5) Highway 61 Revisited
6) The Notorious Byrd Brothers
7) Here’s Little Richard
8) Gene Clark – No Other
9) Ray Charles in Person (1959)
10) Duane Eddy – The Twang’s The Thang


des 11.18.03 at 3:05 pm

Metal Machine Music by Lou Reed is the greatest rock and roll album of all time, as any fule kno.


Keith 11.18.03 at 3:35 pm

One might wonder: Why limit oneself to one for any given artist, as some (but not all) listers seem to have done? Well, when I remove that constraint, and just ask which are my favorite rock albums, I end up with something like this:

1. Dylan – HW61 Revisted
2. Dylan + Band – Basement Tapes
3. Dylan – Blonde on Blonde
4. Stones – Exile on Main St.
5. Dylan – John Wesley Harding
6. Dylan – Bringing It All Back Home
7. Dylan – Blood on the Tracks
8. Stones – Sticky Fingers
9. Hendrix – Are You Experienced?
10. Bowie – Hunky Dory


John Isbell 11.18.03 at 4:11 pm

Just to say I hate hate hate the Pet Shop Boys. God I hate the Pet Shop Boys.


Baby Jesus 11.18.03 at 4:56 pm

God I hate the Pet Shop Boys.



ChrisL 11.18.03 at 4:58 pm

arright… here’s my top 15. these are my favorite top-15, not the All-Time Best top-15.

Liz Phair – Exile In Guyville (1993)
Miles Davis – Kind Of Blue (1959)
Pavement – Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (1994)
Sea And Cake – Nassau (1995)
Yo La Tengo – Electr-O-Pura (1995)
Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation (1988)
My Bloody Valentine – Loveless (1991)
Pavement – Slanted and Enchanted (1992)
REM – Reckoning (1984)
Scud Mountain Boys – Massachusets (1996)
Pixies – Surfer Rosa (1988)
Neutral Milk Hotel – In An Aeroplane Over The Sea (1996)
Elliot Smith – XO (1998)
Big Star – Radio City (1973)
Beatles – Abbey Road (1969)


John Isbell 11.18.03 at 6:20 pm

ChrisL, you don’t like Coltrane?
I’m sorry I made the Baby Jesus cry, but I do encourage folks to check out His email address.


ChrisL 11.18.03 at 6:33 pm


I like Coltrane just fine. But, none of what I have of his makes my list (admittedly i don’t have all his big ones yet. but, i’m working on it! so little cash, so many items on the wish list)


John Isbell 11.18.03 at 7:09 pm

Most people like Giant Steps, My Favorite Things, and A Love Supreme. I tend to keep playing Live In Stockholm 1961, with the endless version of My Favorite Things. But I do love Kind Of Blue.


flazocktron 11.18.03 at 7:31 pm

as per coltrane, check out live in birdland too. phenomenal!


seth 11.18.03 at 7:51 pm

As a Rolling Stone subscriber, I sent in a set of recommendations. Don’t imagine they made much impact. Here’s my top 10:
1) Beatles – Abbey Road
2) Neil Young – After the Goldrush
3) Jimi Hendrix – Electric Ladyland
4) Velvet Underground – Loaded
5) The Clash – London Calling
6) Tom Waits – Rain Dogs
7) Guided by Voices – Bee Thousand
8) Stevie Wonder – Innervisions
9) David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust
10) Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation


nolo 11.18.03 at 8:16 pm

The problem here is that NO ONE has mentioned Killdozer or any of their fine albums. No one. This is a grave oversight.


maurinsky 11.18.03 at 8:48 pm

I don’t think I could do top 10 rock albums, but here are the 10 non-soundtrack, non-original cast recording CDs I’ve listened to most often in the past month:

The Clash – London Calling
Ben Folds – Ben Folds Live
Aretha Franklin – I Ain’t Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You
Talking Heads – More Songs About Buildings and Food
Stevie Wonder – Songs in the Key of Life
Bob Dylan – Highway 61
U2 – The Joshua Tree
Joan Osborne – Righteous Love
k.d. lang – Ingenue
Tori Amos – Boys for Pele

Not a comprehensive list by any means. Also, probably biased towards people I can sing along with easily, because I like to sing more than I like to listen.


robert allen 11.18.03 at 10:09 pm

I see that I misspelled the title of my #1 album: it should be Blonde on Blonde.

Re. Paul’s comment about no one including Elvis’ Sun material, you have there some seminal stuff, no doubt, but it doesn’t add up to an album, which I tend to think of as thematic. If I were to include an Elvis album on my list it would be his 1968 “comeback” effort, From Elvis in Memphis. For the same reason, greatest hits packages and live albums should be excluded from consideration. Having said that, I think The Great 28 by Chuck Berry and Kick out the Jams by the MC5 should be in every afficionado’s library.

I see that Keith seems to share my belief that in rock there is Dylan and then everyone else, all albums since Blonde on … being “footnotes.” I am anxious to know what he thinks of Dylan’s last two releases, Time out of Mind and Love and Theft. I think they compare favorably with his earlier work.

Ziska should know that there is no shame in liking either the Doors 1st album or Rumors.

Finally, is there anyone besides me who prefers The Beatles (aka the White Album) to Sgt. Peppers (that is, Pet Sounds on acid) and the just released version of Let it Be to the Specterized version that came out in 1970?


Nicholas Tyler 11.19.03 at 12:03 am

Another rock list, just because:

Smashing Pumpkins, GISH
Fugazi, THIRTEEN SONGS (which is a bit of cheating, as it’s two albums turned into a single CD)
Jimi Hendrix, BOLD AS LOVE
PJ Harvey, TO BRING YOU MY LOVE (and if anybody wants to fight about this one, we can duel with buckets of shit at dawn–it is the finest spaghetti-western rock album ever)
The Pixies, SURFER ROSA (don’t know why everyone is so fixated on Doolittle. Your bones got a little machine…)


John Isbell 11.19.03 at 1:45 am

I have about 30 Dylan albums, and Time Out Of Mind is very good IMO, better than say John Wesley Harding. I don’t know Love And Theft.
I’ll add that Betty Wright’s “Clean Up Woman” is one of the best soul songs ever recorded.


Dave Mason 11.19.03 at 2:44 am

This is my Top Ten for today- It tends to change from day to day and week to week…

(no particular order)

Robert Pollard- “Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department”;
Husker Du- “Zen Arcade”;
Replacements- “Let It Be”;
Pavement- “Slanted and Enchanted”;
Bob Marley and the Wailers- “Catch a Fire”;
R.E.M.- “Document”;
Guided by Voices- “Alien Lanes”;
Grateful Dead- “American Beauty”;
Minutemen- “Double Nickels on the Dime”;
The Smiths- “Meat is Murder”…


zizka 11.19.03 at 2:51 am

Jim Morrison and Stevie Nicks wrote some of the stupidest lyrics ever.

I don’t even know what Stevie was trying to get at. But she was so darn cute when she was young…. don’t tell her I said it that way because I don’t think she’s gotten the word yet.

As far as that goes, that’s my problem with Love, too. I like the sound, but the lyrics bother me.


jgl 11.19.03 at 5:17 am

Ted Barlow lists “The Amazing Royal Crowns”

Ha! If only I had known back then, in the late 1980’s, that when I convince Johnny Maguire to stop listening to the Smiths and start listening to Elvis that this would be the end.

“Starless and Bible Black”? That is a record to be destroyed, not cherished. But watch out if you do smash an old copy – an uncommonly thick record that breaks into dangerous flying shards. A certain quality in production, I suppose, at least at that end of things. Ugh, that album makes reading Dylan Thomas more unpleasant than it need be.


robert allen 11.19.03 at 5:53 am

Thanks John for pointing out my misspelling of ‘Spectorized’.

Speaking of bad lyrics, I was listening to The Notorious Bryd Brothers tonight, which, yes, is on my list and was struck by the sophomoricness of the following lines:

Truth is real, truth is real
That which is not real does not exist.

They read like the condensed version of a really bad intro philosophy lecture. But, like you say, sometimes it’s the sound that hooks you: I for one cannot resist Hillman’s bass, McGuinn’s Rickenbacker, and their exquisite harmonies (topped only by those of the Everlys and John and Paul).

Timberites who are interested in progressive rock should check out WDET, broadcasting out of Detroit and on the web @, specifically the Jim Bauer, Martin Bandyke, Judy Adams, and Liz Copeland shows.


Hugo 11.19.03 at 10:17 am

No mention so far of Scott Walker’s masterpiece, “Tilt”.


James Russell 11.19.03 at 12:26 pm

This article may be of interest in this context.

I have always preferred the White Album to Pepper. I refuse to buy the newly naked Let It Be as it’s copy-controlled and I don’t see any reason to encourage EMI to persist with this heinous practice by buying their products.

And I suspect there’s a good reason why Tilt hasn’t been mentioned so far, i.e. it’s a load of shit.


ben wolfson 11.19.03 at 4:14 pm

Tilt is awesome! (And I would also suggest that people interested in progressive rock should listen to, well, me, on WHPK, which unfortunately doesn’t stream on the web.)


benj 11.19.03 at 11:47 pm

As a radio DJ for 6 years, I am clearly more qualified than those lacking this qualification to weigh in on this one. Hence, in no particular order:

a. Neil Young – Everybody Knows this is Nowhere

b. Jimi Hendrix – Axis: Bold as Love

c. David Bowie – The Man Who Sold the World

d. Lou Reed – Street Hassle

e. Richard Hell and the Voidoids – Blank Generation

f. Black Flag – My War

g. Kevin Ayers – Joy of a Toy

h. Bob Dylan – Basement Tapes

i. John Lee Hooker – The Great JLH (a horridly produced but wild, stoned set of cutting room floor exploit on Crown Records)

j. James Blood Ulmer – Are You Glad to be in America?

Close at heels would be

k. The Fall – The Frenz Experiment

l. Can – Ege Bamyasi

m. The Who – Happy Jack

n. The Stooges – Fun House

o. My Bloody Valentine – Loveless

p. Contortions – Buy (or maybe Mars – 78 or DNA – Taste of DNA — something No Wavish)

q. Minutemen – Double Nickels on the Dime

r. Red Krayola – Hazel

Further opinionated ruminations:

* Ya I know this is a pretty fuzz-heavy list, weighted to around 1974. But that’s, like, my stuff.

* People should listen to more Conlon Nancarrow. Not rock, but composed art music: still, hyperstimulating, high concept, frenetic compositions programmed via punching holes in piano rolls.

* The Magic Band – Trout Mask Sessions is TM Replica without the excessively loud overdubbed Beefheart vocals. This reveals the complex, interesting, varied music. But it leaves me a bit cold. The band plays lethargically because they’d been starving, rehearsing on autopilot, in communal squalor for 18 months. Worthy of respect, and beautiful. But overall assessment is that the awful, annoying recitative has done more for the rep of the fabulous music than the music would have generated on its own.

* Aside from Paperback Writer, which would be the best song ever if it weren’t so dissatisfyingly short, and some of the stuff on Revolver, also that weird Vee Jay release, the Beatles have a ponciness I’ve never found appealing. The Stones are the most boring band ever (aside maybe from Satanic Majesties) – tedious, bombastic sludge. Give me Foreigner any day for puerile punch. Or AC/DC!

* After Confusion is Sex, Sonic Youth started to go on boring autopilot. I can’t understand how anyone could listen to Daydream Nation all the way through. After that one elemental riff in Teenage Riot, that record is sooo boring. Sister faded for me as well, after I ceased to be able to get into the only two halfway decent songs, Schizophrenia and Stereo Sanctity. People only listen to Sonic Youth because they are good for you. Anything after the 80s is pointless (even Goodbye 20th Century).

* Disputes over rock are made irrelevant by the Harry Smith Anthology, which totally blows away 98% of the records mentioned in this thread. Other great compilations are the Bloodstains and Killed By Death series of rare punk 7-inchers.


Jorma 11.20.03 at 3:20 am

To hell with the 10 best. There can only be a 10 favorites. An individual thing having to do with the complex contexts we surround them in. (Rock in this case meaning everything but opera)

Love Devotion Surrender McLaughlin-Santana

Survival Marley

Pirates Ricky Lee Jones

Indianola Mississippi Seeds BB King

Tribute To The Martyrs Steel Pulse

Axis Bold As Love Hendrix

Blood On The Tracks Dylan

Inarticulate Speech of the Heart Van Morrison


Speaking In Tongues Talking Heads


robert allen 11.20.03 at 5:32 am

Benj, with all due respect- and your list does reveal excellent taste- you can’t be serious saying that you prefer Foreigner to the Rolling Stones. The Stones have made more than their share of formulaic and awful sounding music, especially since Mick Taylor departed from the band. (If I wake up one morning and Miss You is playing everywhere that I go, I’ll know that I’ve been sent to hell.) But their recordings before ’72 are, for the most part, very exciting. (I agree with you that Satanic … is one of their best efforts, contrary to those who dismiss it as a cheap imitation of Sgt. Peppers.) OK, the Glimmer Twins are not great lyricists, but they have a feel for the blues and nobody plays Chuck Berry riffs better than Keith Richards (except, of course, Mr. Berry himself). Foreigner, on the other hand, represents everything that is bad about radio programming since the mid-70s: they don’t even deserve to be called a rock-and-roll band. I’m serious; I’d like to show up at one of their concerts and just boo them off the stage. AC/DC, however, rocks, one of the few things that my dear wife and I agree on.


seth 11.21.03 at 6:48 pm

I can’t understand how anyone could listen to Daydream Nation all the way through. After that one elemental riff in Teenage Riot, that record is sooo boring.
Apparently you haven’t listened to that record all the way through, because apparently you’ve never heard “Kissability,” which rules. But if it affronts, I’ll strike “Daydream” from my list and replace it with REM’s “Murmur.”


RHenderson 12.27.03 at 2:58 pm

If we’re talkin about rock rock, and not old rock or big hair rock, but music u can just jam too, here are the albums:

Pearl Jam- Yeild

Stone Temple Pilots- Core

Local H- As Good As Dead

Coldplay- A Rush of Blood To The Head

Radiohead- The Bends

Smashing Pumpkins- Siamese Dream

Audioslave- Audioslave(new but damn its the bomb)

Soundgarden- Badmotorfinger


PJ Harvey- Rid of Me

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