Top 100 Greatest Music Albums by buzzdainer (2019)

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There are so many ways to make a "100 Greatest Albums" list. What do we mean, after all, by "greatest"? Do we mean most important? Most popular? Most influential? I'd end up with very different lists for each of those questions. What I've done is select the albums that are most meaningful to me personally, the ones I keep wanting to hear time and time again. These are the albums that have fed my soul in some way, often riding in the car or spacing out on my bed. My tastes lean toward Americana, but you'll see multiple genres represented here. In general, I prefer sincerity over sarcasm, earnestness over cynicism, sentiment over cleverness, and subtlety over bombast (though I'm sure you'll see exceptions). I've included no more than one album by any primary artist, which is an accurate reflection of my tastes: I like to listen to many different artists as opposed to concentrating on only a few. That's the college DJ in me coming out, I suppose. I invite your feedback and (especially) your music recommendations. Enjoy!

As difficult as it is to rank albums, it's probably even more difficult to rate other people's charts. Really, it all comes down to taste, which is subjective, or at least a product of our own individual listening experiences, preferences, biases, phobias, and desires. If you like the Cramps and I don't, who's to say who's correct? As Public Image Ltd. put it so many years ago, "I could be right; I could be wrong." Originally I tried to evaluate the quality of the albums on user charts, but I have learned that doing so was basically impossible. Now it seems to me that charts that are lovingly created, and with a sense of some depth and breadth of knowledge, are, by definition, good. I don't use my ratings and comments to try to police other people's tastes, but instead to seek common ground and spark conversation.

  • Chart updated: 3 days ago
  • (Created: 09/24/2013 01:36).
  • Chart size: 100 albums.

There are 94 comments for this chart from BestEverAlbums.com members and Top 100 Greatest Music Albums has an average rating of 90 out of 100 (from 94 votes). Please log in or register to leave a comment or assign a rating.

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In the spring of 1994, a group of friends and I followed Uncle Tupelo around New England on what turned out to be their final tour, in support of this outstanding album. They were playing small venues then; one friend from that tour recently reminded me, for instance, of Club Babyhead, a bizarre venue in Providence, Rhode Island, that had on its men's room wall a mural of some sort of pseudo-psychedelic imagery involving all manner of demonic, disturbing, devilish-looking eyes. But I suppose that's part of the fun of the small venue circuit. By the second show, the band recognized us, gave us comp tickets, and invited us to join them on their tour bus to play Sega hockey with them after the shows. We were treated like family. Every time I hear this terrific album, the crowning achievement of the alt-country genre, I'm grateful to have shared a few moments of the great musical odyssey that was Uncle Tupelo, before Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar went their separate ways to form Wilco and Son Volt, respectively. "Chickamauga" is a searing rocker that showcases Jay Farrar's talents as songwriter and lead guitarist, and is probably the most thoroughly self-aware band breakup song that I've ever heard.(First added to this chart: 09/25/2013)
Year of Release:
1993
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Rank Score:
1,215
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I like just about everything Tom Waits has ever recorded, but Closing Time is my favorite of all his albums. Which probably says a lot about me as a listener. While I love the weirdness, goofiness, and twistedness of later Waits albums, it is this collection of guilelessly sentimental, lonesome love songs that reaches my heart the most. In addition to being Tom Waits's finest, this also earns the distinction of the greatest debut of all time. To gain a sense of the beer-soaked pathos of this album, check out "Ol' 55" and "I Hope That I Don't Fall in Love with You."(First added to this chart: 03/21/2015)
Year of Release:
1973
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Rank Score:
4,901
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Zen Arcade brings together two lead singers--a screaming, abrasive voice in Bob Mould and a warmer, more yearning one in Grant Hart--to express multiple perspectives on twentysomething white Minnesotan masculinity, doing so mostly in their loud three-piece rock format. While there's plenty of variation here--everything from a punishing fourteen-minute instrumental to a short piano vignette to noisy percussion swirls beneath Hare Krishna chants--mostly it's that three-piece arrangement, with Mould's guitar a sheet of blazing noise that feels like a corrugated aluminum wall shattering in your face. This is a band still chasing the land speed record that titled their first release, but with added maturity shown in a greater sense of melody and purpose. A fine rock band that, on this album, discovered its signature, authentic sound.(First added to this chart: 02/11/2016)
Year of Release:
1984
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6,154
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When Ryan Adams and his new (at the time) band, the Cardinals, released this album in 2005, I had just gone through a horrific breakup. The songs on this extravagant double album were exactly what I needed at the time to accompany me on my long move west from Vermont to Nevada. While some critics have accused Ryan Adams of being overly prolific, of being indiscriminate about what he puts on an album, I can't think of a single song here that I'd have wanted culled. The emotional range here--from nostalgia to blind hope to unrelenting despair--carried me through my own torrent of feelings as I tried to salvage the wreckage of my emotional life. In a way, you could say the release of this album divided the two halves of the 2000s decade for me, and helped me to deal with grief while also making me hopeful about the future. "Magnolia Mountain" is a gorgeous, epic homage to the Grateful Dead, and "If I Am a Stranger" is one of the most devastating breakup songs I've ever heard.(First added to this chart: 09/25/2013)
Year of Release:
2005
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Rank Score:
1,085
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When I was living in Korea back in 1997, my sister mailed me a cassette tape of this album. It was one of three tapes I had with me at the time (for some reason I didn't have the presence of mind to bring more music with me), and I wore the thing out. The title track is one of the sweetest love songs I've ever heard, and while it's probably overplayed, it still moves me every time. It reminds me sense of kinship that I always experience when I'm in the wilderness, and the profound longing I feel when I hear the words, "You belong with your love on your arm."(First added to this chart: 09/25/2013)
Year of Release:
1994
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Rank Score:
1,974
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This double album is the somewhat experimental follow-up to Rumours, and I can remember my parents, who had loved Rumours, reacting pretty negatively to this one when it came out. But in many ways, I think Tusk is better. There are so many great songs here, and the depth and breadth is astounding--a significant step forward from anything the band had done previously, which was a remarkable achievement when you consider how coke-addled, strung out, and emotionally exhausted the members of Fleetwood Mac were by the time they recorded these songs. Any conversation about this album would have to begin with the Lindsey Buckingham's weirdly wonderful, danceable title track and Stevie Nicks' forlorn composition "Sara," accented by Mick Fleetwood's brilliantly understated brush-drum work.(First added to this chart: 04/28/2015)
Year of Release:
1979
Appears in:
Rank Score:
4,843
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The Silver Gymnasium is a criminally underrated record, one that gets overshadowed when we talk about Okkervil River because they're recorded so many great albums in such a short time. I understand, though, that not all listeners will identify with it as much as I do. These are Will Sheff's stories of growing up in a small New England town, an experience that resonates for me, having grown up in the next state over. The stories are unsettling, with hints of violence and darkness always lurking just around the corner, as in these lyrics from "Down Down the Deep River": "We lie awake at night in a tent and I say / Tell me about your uncle and his friend / Because they seem like very bad men / Well we'll want to keep away from them." Haunting. This feels like a thematic step toward a Will Sheff solo album, although the sound of the band as a whole has never sounded more full.(First added to this chart: 09/25/2013)
Year of Release:
2013
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Rank Score:
252
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This album is the loud, swampy, in-your-face high-water mark for great Southern rock band Drive-By Truckers. Unlike their spiritual forebears Lynyrd Skynyrd, who have always been naïve and reactionary in their uncritical depiction of white Southern pride, Drive-By Truckers have always understood the underlying irony of Faulknerian Southernness, which principal songwriter Patterson Hood has elsewhere called "the duality of the Southern thing." I'm not even sure that the best track here is one of Hood's, though; that honor has to go to Jason Isbell's brutal, whiskey-drenched ballad "Goddamn Lonely Love," with its achingly desperate chorus: "I'll two of what you're having / And I'll take all of what you've got / To kill this goddamn lonely, goddamn lonely love."(First added to this chart: 03/14/2015)
Year of Release:
2004
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Rank Score:
1,105
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The album that really launched Emmylou Harris's career, and for good reason. This is a terrific collection of country songs, mostly covers, sung in a voice that is clear and precise and filled with longing, with more than a pinch of sass. My favorite track here is "Boulder to Birmingham," Harris's tender elegy to her musical collaborator and star-crossed lover Gram Parsons. To people who reflexively say they don't like country music, period, I say: okay, fine, but have you heard Pieces of the Sky?(First added to this chart: 09/25/2013)
Year of Release:
1975
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Rank Score:
809
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It's surprising to me that for an album that is relatively difficult listening in places, Doolittle has become an uncontroversial classic. The appeal, I think, is that behind Black Francis's maniacal screaming and Kim Deal's keening, there are great melodies, memorable (and often hilarious) production flourishes, and clever songwriting. As A.A. Dowd of the Onion's A.V. Club incomparably expressed it, "Doolittle marries psychotic gibberish to sunny surf-rock hooks." My favorites here are "Hey," "Here Comes Your Man," and of course, "Monkey Gone to Heaven."(First added to this chart: 09/25/2013)
Year of Release:
1989
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Rank Score:
83,645
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Total albums: 100. Page 1 of 10

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Top 100 Greatest Music Albums composition

Decade Albums %


1930s 0 0%
1940s 0 0%
1950s 0 0%
1960s 9 9%
1970s 13 13%
1980s 11 11%
1990s 19 19%
2000s 29 29%
2010s 19 19%
Country Albums %


United States 85 85%
United Kingdom 10 10%
Canada 3 3%
Mixed Nationality 1 1%
Sweden 1 1%

Top 100 Greatest Music Albums chart changes

Biggest climbers
climbers Up 16 from 68th to 52nd
Deadringer
by RJD2
Biggest fallers
fallers Down 1 from 52nd to 53rd
What Will We Be
by Devendra Banhart
fallers Down 1 from 53rd to 54th
Redemption's Son
by Joseph Arthur
fallers Down 1 from 54th to 55th
Offerings
by Typhoon (US)

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Top 100 Greatest Music Albums ratings

Average Rating: 
90/100 (from 94 votes)
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09/05/2019 07:00 Johnnyo  Ratings distributionRatings distribution 1,268 ratings78/100
  
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04/29/2019 02:46 NickVolos  Ratings distributionRatings distribution 112 ratings92/100
  
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04/12/2019 07:32 vruslov  Ratings distributionRatings distribution 342 ratings86/100
  
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03/07/2019 02:44 ExTeaSea  Ratings distributionRatings distribution 136 ratings88/100
  
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10/24/2018 07:20 Peppa  Ratings distributionRatings distribution 300 ratings85/100

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Top 100 Greatest Music Albums comments

Showing latest 10 comments | Show all 94 comments | Most Helpful First | Newest First
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From buzzdainer 5 hours ago
Thanks for that kind comment, panapsal! I'm still working on geographical diversity (I'm pretty North America centric on this chart!), but I'll probably always think of this chart as a work in progress. Getting feedback from other users always opens up new musical terrain that up to now has remained unexplored by me. Looking forward to checking out some stuff from your charts!
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Rating:  
95/100
From panapsal 41 hours ago
a incredible balance and combination of solidarity of music taste, and the appropriate diversivity also. Great chart !!
Helpful?  (Log in to vote) | +1 votes (1 helpful | 0 unhelpful)
Rating:  
90/100
From Johnnyo 09/05/2019 07:01
This is a really great chart and I love that you have taken the time to add comments. Something which I have endeavoured to do in the past but have totally failed with.
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From buzzdainer 01/20/2019 20:01
Thanks for your generous comment, HeavyChair. It's true; my charts tend to be really white. I'm happy that you're finding some great Americana here, and I intend for that to continue, but I'm also always looking for ways to diversify my charts in terms of ethnicity, national origin, and gender. I predict a few more soul and ska records from the eighties (lookin' at you, Fishbone) will make their way onto my chart in the months to come, as I've been listening to a lot of that stuff recently.
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From buzzdainer 04/07/2018 18:55
Thanks for those encouraging comments, antaiospiano, Ulf, Joeingram, and WayneMC! Yes, Tusk is a terrific and often underrated album, and I also appreciate the shared appreciation (on various of your charts) for Doolittle, Grace, Innervisions, Funeral, Illinois, OK Computer, and The Stone Roses--all albums that have given me many, many hours of enjoyment over the years.
Helpful?  (Log in to vote) | 0 votes (0 helpful | 0 unhelpful)
Rating:  
85/100
From WayneMC 04/06/2018 21:10
The 57 albums in your chart that I own tell me that the 43 that I don't would be well worth investigating.
Helpful?  (Log in to vote) | +1 votes (1 helpful | 0 unhelpful)
Rating:  
95/100
From Joeingram 03/20/2018 19:41
Good chart with interesting commentary, many albums I haven't listened to.
Helpful?  (Log in to vote) | +1 votes (1 helpful | 0 unhelpful)
Rating:  
85/100
From Ulf 03/20/2018 14:26
Noice
Helpful?  (Log in to vote) | +1 votes (1 helpful | 0 unhelpful)
Rating:  
90/100
From antaiospiano 03/20/2018 10:09
Certainly an interesting chart. A lot I don’t know yet, but what I do know, I like. Nice to see someone appreciates Tusk as I do.
Helpful?  (Log in to vote) | +1 votes (1 helpful | 0 unhelpful)
From buzzdainer 03/18/2018 19:46
Glad you appreciate Lana del Rey as much as I do, C_Krug2009! I think she's often misunderstood, as she's taken to be celebrating the shallowness of the millenial generation rather than commenting on it and exploring it, and slyly critiquing the stereotype. She's a lot more savvy than she's given credit for, and Born to Die is such a great example of what she's capable of when she's at the height of her powers as an artist.
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