Top 100 or so CDs of all time

An entirely predictable list. People have known my taste for around a decade or so by now, so there aren’t going to be too many surprises. This is, with the exception of #1, not in order of preference - not really. That would be too time-consuming to hairsplit over whether I enjoy Unknown Pleasures of Zen Arcade better at #53 or #54 - silly. Besides, whether I like any album “better” entirely depends upon on my mood. If I want to chill out, the Buzzcocks aren’t what I want to listen to at all. Using the one album per artist rule, as should be unspoken:

  1. Big Star - #1 Record/Radio City - entirely predictable choice, and it’s hairsplitting to disregard this CD because it’s technically 2 separate albums
  2. The Buzzcocks - Singles Going Steady - Fuck you, this BELONGS. The A-side singles are the greatest 8 songs in a row written by anybody.
  3. The Clash - The Clash - either the U.K. or U.S. version is fine
  4. The Jam - Setting Sons
  5. The Zombies - Odyssey and Oracle
  6. Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures
  7. The Replacements - Pleased to Meet Me
  8. Husker Du - Zen Arcade
  9. The Great Lost Kinks Album - yes, this is seriously my favorite Kinks LP, as long as it’s the bootleg that includes Dave Davies’ unreleased '60s solo album collecting his A/B-sides like “Creeping Jean” and “Lincoln County” and “This Man He Weeps Tonight”
  10. House of Freaks - Tantilla
  11. The Fall - Live at the Witch Trials - this was the most difficult decision, since I’ve got about a dozen of their 50 albums
  12. X - Los Angeles
  13. Wire - Pink Flag - along with Marquee Moon, isn’t this going to be on everybody’s list? One LP where punk and art rockers can agree.
  14. Television - Marquee Moon - might as well get this over with
  15. The Byrds - Turn! Turn! Turn!
  16. John Prine - John Prine (1971 debut)
  17. The Ramones - The Ramones (1976 debut)
  18. R.E.M. - Murmur
  19. The Stranglers - Rattus Norvegicus
  20. The Comsat Angels - Waiting for a Miracle
  21. Midnight Oil - 10,9,8,7,6,5,3,2,1…
  22. The Saints - Eternally Yours
  23. Marshall Crenshaw - s/t 1982 debut
  24. Tommy Keene - The Real Underground (technically another comp, but c’mon, none of this was ever released on a full-length album)
  25. 20/20 - two-fer of s/t debut & Lookout!
  26. The Go-Betweens - 1978-1991 (I’m really breaking the rules by including all these comps, aren’t I? Fact is that a lot of bands released their best work on EPs and singles not albums and not including comps would exclude too much great music)
  27. Chuck Berry - the Great 28 - sometimes I think he’s the best lyricist in rock’n’roll. Not much of a tunesmith, but his words are always sharp and detailed and often funny.
  28. From Elvis in Memphis - his ‘68 comeback! "Kentucky rain keeps fallin’ down…"
  29. Graham Parker - Heat Treatment
  30. Elvis Costello - Imperial Bedroom
  31. Bruce Springsteen - Born to Run
  32. The New York Dolls - s/t 1973
  33. Stevie Wonder - Innervisions
  34. Al Green - the Belle Album
  35. The Beatles - s/t 1968
  36. Mott the Hoople - Mott (1973)
  37. David Bowie - Hunky Dory
  38. Blondie - Parallel Lines
  39. Fleetwood Mac - Rumours
  40. Roxy Music - Stranded (throwing darts here, since every album except for Manifesto & Flesh + Blood, were all absolutely fuckingly amazingly brilliant)
  41. Brian Eno - Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) - worthy of genius for Robert Fripp’s solo on “The Third Uncle” alone
  42. The Harder They Come - v/a soundtrack - if any multi-artist comp deserves to be allowed to break the no-comps rule, this is it. And I don’t even like reggae
  43. The Smiths - Hatful of Hollow - BBC sessions and whatnot, technically a comp, but by fair their best work
  44. The Rolling Stones - if any great band were better represented by singles than LPs…but I’ll pick one out of left field and say “Between the Buttons”
  45. Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisited
  46. Neil Young - After the Gold Rush
  47. Guided By Voices - Under the Bushes, Under the Stars
  48. Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation
  49. Cheap Trick - In Color (and in Black & White)
  50. U2 - Boy
  51. Gang of Four - Entertainment!
  52. Mission of Burma - Signals, Calls, and Marches (only an EP, but damn…)
  53. Angry Samoans - The Unboxed Set - one CD, 43 songs, misanthropic gay-bashing woman-hating Hitler-lovin’ punk rock ecstacy
  54. Roy Wood - Boulders - I like the Move more, but they never made a consistent album, and it would be cheating to include the CD reissues where the bonus tracks of '60s A-sides outshine the original LPs, wouldn’t it?
  55. The Undertones - Positive Touch - the album where they abandoned pop-punk for pop-psychedelia, a giant leap forward and easily their best.
  56. Game Theory - Real Nighttime - my second favorite Alex Chilton acolyte (after Tommy Keene, of course)
  57. Fountains of Wayne - Utopia Parkway
  58. Sloan - Twice Removed
  59. The Dream Syndicate - The Days of Wine & Roses - does the 2nd VU album 10x better than the Velvets ever managed
  60. Lloyd Cole - Rattlesnakes - well, gotta include one sensitive-songwriter LP, eh?
  61. The Cars - s/t 1978 - in the liner notes to their 2 CD comp, these guys admitted that they should have named their debut “The Cars Greatest Hits”. Along with my Blondie pick, one of these crunchy little highly commercial pop-rock masterpieces where every single song should have been a hit single. Except that half the songs on this really were hits, at least according to classic rock radio airplay
  62. John Lennon - Plastic Ono Band
  63. The Beach Boys - Today & Summer Days (two-fer CD)
  64. The Pixies - Trompe Le Monde
  65. Nirvana - Nevermind - yeah, every song follows the same predictable quiet verse/screaming chorus pattern, but all these years after the hype, we can hear it for what it is: a damn good rock’n’roll album
  66. Lynyrd Skynyrd - Second Helping - I grew up hating this band. But now I can listen to it as music. Neil Young was a fanboy and there aren’t many anti-heroin songs better than “The Needle and the Spoon”
  67. The Psychedelic Furs - Talk Talk Talk
  68. The Vapors - New Clear Days - these guys were way, way, way better than their novelty hit “Turning Japanese” suggests. Even though - admit it - 30 seconds into hearing it you realizing that “Turning Japanese” is, like, the catchiest mofo of a song ever
  69. Johnny Cash - Live at Folsom Prison - “I like the way you talk.” “I’m talking with my mouth!”
  70. Rod Stewart - Every Picture Tells a Story - once upon a time, this man had talent
  71. Love - Forever Changes
  72. Creedence Clearwater Revival - obviously, the two Chronicle Vol. 1 & 2 CDs contain all you need to hear from these guys. But if you have to pick one of their regular LPs, “Cosmo’s Factory” is it: just look at the tracklisting. You know all of the songs. A virtual greatest hits.
  73. The Left Banke - There’s Gonna Be a Storm: 1966-1969 - both of their LPs plus a handful of singles on one CD. Inconsistent as hell, particularly the second LP, but the highs are as high as pop music gets. “Walk Away Renee” may be my favorite song of all time (after Leadbelly’s “Goodnight Irene”)
  74. Sly & the Family Stone - Stand!
  75. Nuggets - both the U.S. and U.K. box sets. I know that multi-artist comps aren’t kosher, but damn it, this deserves inclusion. How can you go through your life without hearing “Don’t Look Back” or “Talk Talk”?!
  76. Thin Lizzy - Jailbreak - throwing darts again; the most consistent (and not necessarily in a good way) hard rock band of the '70s.
  77. Steve Harley & the Cockney Rebel - The Psychomodo
  78. Steely Dan - The Royal Scam - their darkest and most cynical LP…well, dark and cynical are what these guys do best
  79. The Sex Pistols - Never Mind the Bollocks - yeah, half of this sort of sucks, but the high points are…really freakin’ high. And inconsistent genius beats consistently good any day.
  80. Dukes of Stratosphear - Chips From a Chocolate Fireball (yeah, another comp)
  81. The Pretenders - s/t 1980
  82. Gene Clark - s/t 1971 (colloquially known as “White Light”)
  83. The Flying Burrito Bros. - The Gilded Palace of Sin
  84. The Scruffs - Wanna Meet the Scruffs?
  85. The Modern Lovers - s/t 1973
  86. The Only Ones - the Peel Sessions - a comp, but far better performances than their overproduced albums
  87. The Distractions - Nobody’s Perfect
  88. The Damned - Machine Gun Etiquette (OK, admittedly towards the end of this list, I’m getting to the lower rungs…very entertaining album, but not in the same league as anything in the first 30 or so I just listed)
  89. King Crimson - In the Court… OK, the album that should be the Music Babble mascot (isn’t it mandatory that you own this album before being allowed to post here?) Might as well. Besides, there’s precisely 1/2 bad song (and you all know what the second half of that particular song is)
  90. Elliot Murphy - Aquashow - Ah! Digging around my CD collection, now I remember a great lost classic that’s all but forgotten. The best Dylan clone this side of John Prine.
  91. Squeeze - Cool for Cats - what the hell. These guys are second tier but “this is pop!” as XTC sang, and damn great pop at that.
  92. The Who Sing My Generation - honestly, did they ever improve upon their debut? Not really. Pete Townshend never wrote better songs, and the fact is that besides the 3 horrible James Brown covers, there isn’t a bad song on the original LP.
  93. The Soft Boys - Underwater Moonlight - shit, I knew I forgot about somethin’
  94. Magazine - Real Life - P.O.S.T. P.U.N.K.! P.O.S.T. P.U.N.K.!
  95. Randy Newman - Good Old Boys - worth it for the drunken sing-a-long of the title track alone, which I’m sure is a big hit in the Derek Sidebottom household. “We’re rednecks, we’re rednecks, and we don’t know our ass from the hole in a ground / and we’re still keeping the niggers down / Keeping the niggers down!”
  96. Jerry Lee Lewis - Live at the Starclub - You want ENERGY? The Killer in '66 or so playing Hamburg - you can literally hear his legs jump off the keyboard, the energy level is that audibly intense.
  97. Rockpile - Seconds of Pleasure - Dude…rock’n’roll! The bonus tracks are even better: Dave Edmunds & Nick Lowe & whoever the hell the rhythm section are, covering the Everly Bros., unplugged. Dudn’t get any better dan dis.
  98. The Stooges - Fun House - yeah, you guys expected THIS to rate much higher with me, didn’t you? Well, fact is, I really gotta be in the mood to listen to this sort of thing.
  99. Fairpont Convention - s/t 1967 - It’s a confused, eclectic mess, a band that didn’t know what direction they wanted to go in. That’s why I love it. Their other albums are too samey, it gets boring.
  100. Here’s a tie: it’s either Pete Townsend’s “All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes” which is actually better than most Who albums, or Crazy Horse’s 1972 s/t, which is actually better than most Neil Young albums. Flip a coin…wait a moment…it came up heads, so it’s the Pete Townsend LP.

There’s lots of stuff that if I had to think about / listen to it more, would make it. For example, I have the box set of the first seven Townes Van Zandt albums, but haven’t listened enough to settle on which one is the best. Same as I have the box set of the first three Wipers albums - great band - but can’t settle on which one is the one I’d pick.

I didn’t make this list strictly in preferential order, but towards the end stuff started getting dubious. After #75, I really started having to scour my CD collection to find worthy inclusions.

Sorry if this is going overboard…I posted this list on another board, a music board, where I’m talking to young kids in their '20s into garbage like the Decembrists. My picks are all very oldy moldies, yeah. I’m not into Radiohead or hip-hop. But here is my most contreverisial opinion: I genuinely prefer Fat Elvis to Skinny Elvis. I honestly prefer stuff like “In the Ghetto” and “Suspicious Minds” to his '50s stuff like “Hound Dog” and “Don’t Be Cruel”. Let’s be honest - those were better songs! We’re caught in a trap, and I can’t walk out, because I love you too much baby…you were always on my mind…that stuff is way, way much better than '50s Elvis.

I do not honestly expect any Top 100s here. That took me two hours on a Sunday afternoon, when I was idle. I expect y’all guys to do a Top 20 or 30, is all. Honestly, after #35 or so, I actually had to work at this…

These picks are mostly wrong. Seriously! I’ve given my corrections.

Sound Affects

Are the Village Green Preservation Society


Armed Forces


Ambient 1: Music for Airports

Yes, excellent album. The sound is fantastic.

John Wesley Harding

Decade is the one you want, if only for “Winterlong.”

Bee Thousand

I spent my first year of university mooning over a girl, and Lloyd didn’t help things.


A compilation of the 1985 and 1987 albums put out by the great lost 1960s psychedelic band.

Live at Leeds. We have know for almost 40 years now that the Who at the turn of the 1970s were the greatest live rock band of all time.

Your omissions are too glaring and numerous to mention. And how old are you? Over 50?

I truly hate lists like these because they are filled with commercial pop culture.

I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Seriously, though. fantastic list. I was pleased to see the Flying Burrito Brothers, The Only Ones and Guided by Voices on this list. I would have substituted Doolittle in place of Trompe Du Monde (perhaps Bossanova) and I was a little dismayed by the lack of Pavement.

Here’s my five minute list in no particular order:

  1. Wowee Zowee - Pavement
  2. Guilded Palace of Sin - The Flying Burrito Brothers
  3. Disintegration - The Cure (I’m listening to it as I write this)
  4. Music from Big Pink - The Band
  5. Paul’s Boutique - The Beastie Boys
  6. The Three EP’s - The Beta Band
  7. Paranoid - Black Sabbath
  8. Twice Removed - Sloan
  9. Mezzanine - Massive Attack
  10. Ride the Lightning - Metallica
  11. 13 Songs - Fugazi
  12. Murder Ballads - Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
  13. New Adventures in Hi-Fi - REM
  14. Rocket to Russia - The Ramones
  15. Blank Generation - Richard Hell & the Voivods
  16. Exile on Main Street - Rolling Stones
  17. Marquee Moon - Television
  18. Closing Time - Tom Waits
  19. Lateralus - Tool
  20. Road Songs - Townes Van Zandt
  21. Excitable Boy - Warren Zevon
  22. 12XU - Wire
  23. I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass - Yo La Tengo
  24. Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables - The Dead Kennedys
  25. Milo Goes To College - The Descendents
  26. This Year;s Model - Elvis Costello
  27. Crazy Rhythms - The Feelies
  28. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots - The Flaming Lips
  29. Flip Your Wig - Husker Du
  30. Substance - Joy Division

[quote=“rousseau”]These picks are mostly wrong. Seriously! I’ve given my corrections.

Fair enough. All Mod Cons completes the Jam’s trio of classics. Hard to choose between those.

Every Kinks album from 1966-1971, same as every Beatles and Dylan album from the same period, is brilliant.

Close call, I’ll admit. I like punk better than goth.

I’ll admit that it’s Elvis’ most immediately catchy album. But I think that Imperial Bedroom goes deeper emotionally. Armed Forces is still in Elvis’ emotionally stunted Angry Young Man stage.

On second thought, Ziggy Stardust

I like songs

On second thought, Blood on the Tracks

You’re right. Even if it a compilation, around 1/3 of it’s unreleased material.

A coin toss

You must be the only person in the universe to think this is the best Pixies album. Most people would say “Doolittle”

Yes, but also easily the best work XTC’s ever done.

The Who lost me around the time they started doing operas.

Your omissions are too glaring and numerous to mention. And how old are you? Over 50?[/quote][/quote]

I’m younger than you.

In no particular order, but I’ll start with my daytime sounds:

  1. Congos - Heart of the Congos (The very apex of Lee Perry’s production career)
  2. Augustus Pablo - Original Rockers (Love that boomy bass and dreamy melodica)
  3. Yabby You - Jesus Dread (Fantastic comp. of tunes, dubs and d.j versions)
  4. Various Artists - Keep the Pressure Down (Jimmy ‘One Foot’ Radway production - a brilliant roots era horns arranger)
  5. Burning Spear - Hail H.I.M. (or perhaps Dry and Heavy - both great albums by this vocalist)
  6. The Abyssinians - Satta Massaganna (Excellent creamy vocal harmonies from the best in a crowded field)
  7. Dennis Brown - The Promised Land (very intense singer and hard, hard roots sound)
  8. Bim Sherman - Tribulation (excellent reggae excavation job by revive label Pressure Sounds on this delicate but expressive singer)
  9. Gladiators - Back to Roots (a stand out album from a group that probably peaked longest in the roots era)
  10. Horace Andy - In the Light (another long lasting singer who made a lot of good records, but on this one, a faster driving sound notches up the intensity level)

Could go on a lot longer about reggae - I haven’t even touched the rock steady era, for example - but let’s move on to those weird evenings…

  1. Jon Hassell - Fourth World Vol. 1
  2. Philip Glass - Music with Changing Parts
  3. Steve Reich - Music for 18 Musicians
  4. Terry Riley - Persian Surgery Dervishes
  5. Charlemagne Palestine - Schlongo! Da Luvdrone
  6. LaMonte Young and The Theater of Eternal Music - Dream House
  7. Popol Vuh - Die Nachte Der Seele
  8. Can - Future Days
  9. Cluster 2
  10. Michael Mantler - The Hapless Child and other inscrutable stories
  11. Stars of the Lid - And the refinement of their decline
  12. Ed Askew - Ed Askew
  13. John Martyn - No Little Boy
  14. Captain Beefheart - The Spotlight Kid
  15. Faust - The Faust Tapes
  16. Gong - Camambert Electrique
  17. Nick Drake - Five Leaves Left
  18. Fripp and Eno - Evening Star
  19. Terje Rypdal - Odyssey
  20. Tim Hecker - Harmony in Ultraviolet

…suffice to say I turn anything I listed above down when the gf is over. Or, maybe it’s time for some soul or funk. In that case:-

  1. Bobby Womack - The Poet
  2. Various Artists - Deep Soul Treasures Vols. 1-4
  3. Nina Simone - The High Priestess of Soul
  4. Van Morrison - Astral Weeks
  5. Al Green - Love Ritual
  6. Marvin Gaye - I want you
  7. James Brown - Motherlode
  8. Sly and The Family Stone - There’s A Riot Goin’ On
  9. Garnett Mimms - Cry baby
  10. Various Artists - Sanctified Soul
  11. Van Morrison - No Guru, No Method, No Teacher

Music is my drug and these are some of the albums I keep returning to.

CDs are the work of Satan, and all his little pixies.


You must be the only person in the universe to think this is the best Pixies album. Most people would say “Doolittle”

Definitely Doolittle; I’m probably older than both of you! :blush:

Peruse this list: 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die
It goes from 1955 to 2005. It’s got a lot of decent albums and a few clear duds.