"And my time is a piece of wax, fallin' on a termite. Who's chokin' on the splinters"

- Beck

Top 100 Greatest Music Albums by Arthurknight (2018)  

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The most important thing for me in an album is when the songs dance together in unison, or in artistic disarray, when the album becomes something more than a compilation of cascading tracks. This is my main criteria for considering one album over another.

~~ One Album per Artist. ~~

The List continues:
101-200 -- http://www.besteveralbums.com/thechart.php?c=33194
202-300 -- being built

Should you consider it a great injustice that there is very little emphasis on more recent music here, feel free to check out my 2000s and 2010s decade charts.

No Jazz or Hip-Hop albums feature in this chart simply because if they did 100 albums would barely suffice. I find it particularly difficult to compare these genres with popular music broadly or with each-other. I could integrate them into this chart, but I do feel like that would be a disservice. Instead, I have made each their own respective custom chart, you can find those here:

Greatest 100 Hip-Hop Albums: https://www.besteveralbums.com/thechart.php?c=32704
Greatest 100 Jazz Albums: https://www.besteveralbums.com/thechart.php?c=32925

Chart updated: 08/24/2018 05:45 (Created: 07/26/2014 08:45). Chart size: 100 albums.

There are 63 comments for this chart from BestEverAlbums.com members and Top 100 Greatest Music Albums has an average rating of 93 out of 100 (from 102 votes). Please log in or register to leave a comment or assign a rating.

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Collector's summaryLog in or register to discover the great albums that are missing from your music collection!
Sort byOverall Rank | Number of Charts | Average Rating | Number of Ratings | Release Date | Title | Artist | Date Added
1. (=)

The Smile Sessions
United States The Beach Boys
"A choke of grief
Heart hardened I
Beyond belief a broken man too tough to cry."


“At his own sorrow and the emptiness of his life. Because he can’t even cry for the suffering in the world, for his own suffering. And then, hope.” - From Brian Wilson's annotations to Surf's Up.

I've kept myself from including this album since its not a 'studio release' or even an 'album' in the strictest sense. It's kind of like Sappho's 'You burn me,' It's art, but it's fragments of art picked up and put together. That having been said, this is the closest thing to Smile that we're ever going to get and even this 4 decade later salvage job is the greatest thing in popular music.

This album has since taken on a lot of significance for me over the years. Smile Sessions, along with other albums that are just filled with joy, helped me to deal with a lot of negativity in my mind. It's been a significant shift for me to listen to euphoric sounds and really enjoy them. Why I connected with this album in particular is because of how Wilson situates hope in songs like Surf's Up, plays with humour in music almost as if it were a sound, and how throughout the music ebbs and flows between psychedelic exuberance and true sorrow, yet returns in it's end to beauty. It is an album that to me now signifies getting better.

(First added to chart: 01/13/2017)
Year of Release:2011Appears in:335 charts
Rank in 2011:3Rank Score:9,131
Rank in 2010s24Overall Rank:300
Average Rating: Top rated 86/100 (615 votes)
Comments: 55 comments
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2. (=)

Tago MagoGermany Can
"Searching for my black dope


Effectively, one need only listen to 'Aumgn' to understand why this album is so indisputably brilliant. I mean think about it, over half of this album was recorded without the band's knowing. The album is just a phenomenal jam session. That I find amazing.

I recently managed to get a copy of this album on a hazy blue vinyl from my housemate who was clearing their small but very good collection. It's become the prized gem of my collection - I sit back and listen to this album on hot Australian nights and can sort of feel it reverberate through the humid air, comfortable.

(First added to chart: 10/23/2014)
Year of Release:1971Appears in:659 charts
Rank in 1971:8Rank Score:15,714
Rank in 1970s41Overall Rank:165
Average Rating:  84/100 (757 votes)
Comments: 62 comments
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3. (=)

Laughing StockUnited Kingdom Talk Talk
"Welled up within me
A hunger uncurbed by nature's calling."


Following the godly moment sometime around 1986 when Talk Talk must have realized they were absolute musical garbage, they changed tact entirely for their next albums 'The Colour of Spring', 'Spirit of Eden' and 'Laughing Stock', which were each in their own right astounding albums. However, interestingly with each successive release Talk Talk moved further in an experimental and adventurous direction. Laughing Stock, being the finale of their musical exploration, demonstrates Talk Talk's ability to construct vivid atmospheres and conjure raw emotions. If this album proves anything it is that silence can resonate.

This is one of the albums that moves me so much on a personal level, because I find myself listening to this album most in times of loneliness. It now harkens back to when I was in a dark place and found the tranquil beauty of Laughing Stock simultaneously understanding of my state of mind, and uplifting of it. I recall listening to Laughing Stock as I walked through the streets of my hometown Chester in the rain. The streets were empty, the park and the river bridge too, but the music made me so happy to look at the place I knew with fondness, even allowing me to see the poetic in a tossed empty packed of cigarettes - trying to - collect rain, as if it was looking for a purpose.

(First added to chart: 10/28/2014)
Year of Release:1991Appears in:519 charts
Rank in 1991:9Rank Score:12,632
Rank in 1990s47Overall Rank:215
Average Rating:  84/100 (624 votes)
Comments: 60 comments
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4. (=)

LowUnited Kingdom David Bowie
“Under the cool, under the cool and under having a ball
What you gonna say to the real me, to the real me?”


It would be hard to pick a favourite Bowie album, if not for Low. I listened to this album a lot during a weird school language trip to Germany, alongside many other albums I'd either associated with the country or were in fact german. I was with a sort of ramshackle bunch that I didn't feel comfortably a part of, and I mostly spent the trip alone. If I was with others I was constantly worried about being peripheral, worrying about what the others thought of me or spoke about me in my absence. So I found solace in being able to wander down cobbled roads alone with an earphone in, it was something I could sort of focus on. I listened to Low above all because the trip was speckled with good times and bad times; this album embodied the heights of the trip, and - to be blatantly punny - the lows. I remember listening to Low as I - having given the group the slip and wandered out past the inner city wall - walked alone in wet post-downpour Nuremberg park. Afterwards I switched over to Heroes and ran blissfully back through the city centre like a complete idiot. Everyone stared but for a moment I couldn't care less.

(First added to chart: 10/23/2014)
Year of Release:1977Appears in:1,106 charts
Rank in 1977:4Rank Score:33,477
Rank in 1970s18Overall Rank:63
Average Rating: Top rated 86/100 (1,513 votes)
Comments: 127 comments
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5. (=)

Tender PreyAustralia Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds
"Like my good hand I
tatooed E.V.I.L. across it's brother's fist
That filthy five! They did nothing to challenge or resist."


This has been a major shift for me, like how shifts in historiography may involve revisionist arguments that dismantle the entire status quo framework of understanding. Anyway, for years now I've declared 'Your Funeral My Trial' the best Bad Seeds album and it's largely been down to a few reasons: 1. It's the album that I first embraced as a teen when getting into Cave, 2. I have a love affair with Blixa and 'Stranger Than Kindness' is one of my most loved songs period, and 3. Cave says it's the best (the reaffirmation I needed when deciding a favourite from an artist with more great albums in my mind than anyone else.)

The album here has not always been Your Funeral My Trial. For a time it was 'No More Shall We Part' - we don't talk about that period of my music appreciation anymore though - and for slightly longer a time The Good Son. Perhaps even 'Boatman's Call' found it's way onto the list at some point. I suppose when discussing the great works of Cave it's hard to ignore mentioning Boatman's Call. But, it doesn't come close for me. However, for anyone who prefers soft ballad Bad Seeds you don't need to worry about my reservations; you have all the major publications on your side and my Step-father.

Anyway this moment of revisionism came because I'd sort of blinded myself to the great albums 'From Her to Eternity' and 'Tender Prey' as I elevated Your Funeral... to a certain unreachable height. That's not to say I didn't listen to them or really enjoy them, but I'd become immoveable in my steadfast view that Your Funeral... was untouchably better; I'd built it up to such Icarian heights that it was almost bound to come crashing down. So, the other week I put on Tender Prey and it just sort of clicked, and then I played Your Funeral... and the click stayed. I realised Tender Prey was the better album (still an incredibly precarious position, this could easily revert at any moment). But then it became even more difficult because I then listened to From Her to Eternity and had a second click, and before you know it 2 albums were battling for the spot and neither of them were the one that had held it for so long with total security.

Rather than spend much time delving into any internal debate about which album is better - it's arbitrary in the end, they sound and feel so differently - It might be a better opportunity to mention how this reveals the limitations of the "1 Album per Artist" chart. One could very easily just say "Well to you they're all 10s so why not just include them all?" That's fine and all - not to be too hypercritical as I can't stand charts with half a dozen albums from one artist - but I think it's been quite enriching to compare Cave's (or anyone's for that matter) discography with a fine tooth comb and with stakes set. The challenge of picking a favourite is one that invites me to really intently listen to his music.

Whether Tender Prey remains here for long is a question for tomorrow, but this profound difficulty picking a favourite makes me all the more sure of my love for Nick Cave, and how he is most definitely my musical icon. I watch Wings of Desire regularly to try and vicariously experience being present in the mythic underground-Berlin wonder that 80s Bad Seeds inhabited. Cave's albums, and the early ones in particular, take me places, all dark, all sinister, and I love it - I want it.

(First added to chart: 02/14/2018)
Year of Release:1988Appears in:208 charts
Rank in 1988:22Rank Score:2,072
Rank in 1980s186Overall Rank:1,144
Average Rating:  80/100 (218 votes)
Comments: 10 comments
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6. (=)

HorsesUnited States Patti Smith
"Trumpets, violins, I hear them in the distance
And my skin emits a ray, but I think it's sad, it's much too bad
That our friends can't be with us today."


Such a moving poetic voice. I had the privilege of seeing Patti perform horses in Melbourne in what was a sort of near out-of-body transcendental concert. I now listen to the 2005 live recording of horses in repeatedly more desperate attempts of re-living that experience. But, just as Patti ponders on our lives and our loved ones, such moments are too singular and ephemeral to clutch back at and actually grab. Still, I keep trying.

(First added to chart: 10/23/2014)
Year of Release:1975Appears in:715 charts
Rank in 1975:6Rank Score:14,942
Rank in 1970s43Overall Rank:178
Average Rating:  81/100 (881 votes)
Comments: 44 comments
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7. (=)

Dolmen MusicUnited States Meredith Monk
"I still have my memory.
I still have my gold ring... beautiful, I love it, I love it!
I still have my allergies.
I still have my philosophy."


One of a small handful of compositions that move me to tears on virtually every listen, the other such work on this list is Gavin Bryar's Titanic. There are some others, like Steve Reich's Different Trains, Arvo Pärt's Tabula Rasa, or Olivier Messiaen's Quatour Pour La Fin Du Temps. All of which I feel would be a bit uncomfortable in this list, I don't quite grasp them as albums. Dolmen Music, however, feels right in this chart.

I remember once in a university lecture for theatre, a recording of a Singaporean play was presented and over the top of the clips the title track was playing. I imagine to any who didn't know Monk would have just presumed the song was Singaporean. Apart from nearly - from an almost knee-jerk memorised reaction - crying, I realised that Monk achieved in Dolmen Music a sound that feels totally foreign and incomprehensible, like she is sort of out of reach of my understanding. Yet the same also feels attuned to some sort of inward emotional universality. I feel closer to something when I listen to this work, I'm just never sure what, and I'm totally fine with that.

(First added to chart: 07/15/2016)
Year of Release:1981Appears in:56 charts
Rank in 1981:30Rank Score:1,067
Rank in 1980s323Overall Rank:1,977
Average Rating:  75/100 (53 votes)
Comments: 2 comments
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8. (=)

Rain DogsUnited States Tom Waits
"The captain is a one-armed dwarf
He's throwing dice along the wharf."


Actual genius, ugly and erotic, but mesmerising. When I listen to Waits I almost find the music wrong. There's an interview of Waits in Australia on the Don Lane Show where he, opening the interview after moving over to the chair half saunter swagger half drunken stumble - he looked like a shell of a man - says he feels "better than nothing." He was, just barely. He seemed to me a near parody of a music artist in the interview. Lane didn't take him seriously at all, he was obviously high as a kite. However, he later stepped over to the piano, touched fingers to keys, and the mood changed immediately. When asked, Waits said that his songs are all sort of travel logs, and that he "can't say really where they come from." It was then I experienced his music, it was them I fell for his music, in a way. Wait's songs straddle the ugly, but they’re also, at their core, beautiful. Other artists that disregard convention tend to never achieve this bizarre and moving duality; Waits most assuredly does. He is certainly no parody.

(First added to chart: 10/10/2014)
Year of Release:1985Appears in:857 charts
Rank in 1985:1Rank Score:22,755
Rank in 1980s15Overall Rank:109
Average Rating: Top rated 85/100 (998 votes)
Comments: 63 comments
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9. (=)

Lazer Guided MelodiesUnited Kingdom Spiritualized
"No chains can hold me, no walls confine me
Come on now people, come on and slide with me
Cause I'm blind, but not as blind as blind as you."


I’ve spent a lot of time growing closer to this album. In Lazer Guided Melodies, Jason Pierce makes an explorative statement, both in terms of sonic experimentation, but also by testing attitudes and tones in music – the album is poppy and melodic, but also droning and discordant.
Before this album was entered I had Ladies and Gentlemen We’re Floating in Space, and my comment for that album was ‘for melodic cacophonies look no further than this album,’ and that rings true for Lazer as well. Ladies and Gentlemen, as well as Pure Phase, built upon the foundation Lazer Guided Melodies laid. These albums are great and do indeed ‘expand’ upon everything that I love about Lazer. However, there’s something profoundly amazing about how Laser Guided Melodies sounds and – more importantly perhaps – feels. Spiritualized leapt into their sonic journey with this album at a sprint.

(First added to chart: 12/24/2016)
Year of Release:1992Appears in:150 charts
Rank in 1992:26Rank Score:1,746
Rank in 1990s275Overall Rank:1,292
Average Rating:  78/100 (171 votes)
Comments: 6 comments
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10. (=)

98.12.28 Otokotachi No WakareJapan フィッシュマンズ [Fishmans]
風を呼んで 君を呼んで
僕ら半分 夢の中."


"Running in the evening twilight just two of us
Calling the wind, calling you
From Tokyo city corner to corner
We are half in a dream."

Lyrics from Long Season. A truly spectacular live album, It's transformative in the ways the band treats their own music, and in how they chose to approach a live show and by extension a live album.

(First added to chart: 03/26/2017)
Year of Release:1999Appears in:103 charts
Rank in 1999:20Rank Score:3,135
Rank in 1990s162Overall Rank:775
Average Rating: Top rated 88/100 (113 votes)
Comments: 12 comments
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Top 100 Greatest Music Albums composition

Decade Albums %

1930s 0 0%
1940s 0 0%
1950s 0 0%
1960s 15 15%
1970s 33 33%
1980s 22 22%
1990s 26 26%
2000s 2 2%
2010s 2 2%
Artist Albums %

Radiohead 1 1%
Dead Can Dance 1 1%
Robert Wyatt 1 1%
Gavin Bryars 1 1%
David Sylvian 1 1%
Talking Heads 1 1%
Low 1 1%
Show all
Country Albums %

United States 32 32%
United Kingdom 30 30%
Germany 7 7%
Canada 5 5%
Japan 4 4%
Brazil 3 3%
Russia 3 3%
Show all

Top 100 Greatest Music Albums chart changes

Biggest climbers
climbers Up 3 from 100th to 97th
In A Bar, Under The Sea
by dEUS
Biggest fallers
fallers Down 1 from 97th to 98th
East And West
by Anna Domino
fallers Down 1 from 98th to 99th
by Yasuaki Shimizu
fallers Down 1 from 99th to 100th
Nocny Patrol
by Maanam

Top 100 Greatest Music Albums similar charts

Top 100 Music Albums of the 1970s by Arthurknight (2018)
Top 100 Greatest Music Albums by Ms Mojo Risin (2018)
The BEA Friendly Chart by alelsupreme (2015)
Top 100 Music Albums of the 1990s by Arthurknight (2018)

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Top 100 Greatest Music Albums ratings

Average Rating: 
93/100 (from 102 votes)
  Ratings distribution  Average Rating = (n ÷ (n + m)) × av + (m ÷ (n + m)) × AV
av = trimmed mean average rating an item has currently received.
n = number of ratings an item has currently received.
m = minimum number of ratings required for an item to appear in a 'top-rated' chart (currently 10).
AV = the site mean average rating.

Showing latest 5 ratings for this chart. | Show all 102 ratings for this chart.

Date logged
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Avg. chart rating
10/05/2018 00:07
06/23/2018 08:23
06/18/2018 09:27
03/27/2018 22:31
03/09/2018 15:15

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Top 100 Greatest Music Albums comments

Showing latest 10 comments | Show all 63 comments | Most Helpful First | Newest First
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From arthurbittencourt 06/26/2018 14:45
what a wonderful fucking chart, bless you!
Helpful?  (Log in to vote) | 0 votes (0 helpful | 0 unhelpful)
From joannajewsom 03/27/2018 22:32
I love your taste--and your thoughtful writing on some releases. I'm going to use this for recommendations.
Helpful?  (Log in to vote) | 0 votes (0 helpful | 0 unhelpful)
From Kool Keith Sweat 02/11/2018 20:04
Excellent chart for rock
Helpful?  (Log in to vote) | 0 votes (0 helpful | 0 unhelpful)
From daftpunter 01/06/2018 08:14
What a tremendous chart. I only wish the last 90 had the insights you deliver on the first 10 or so. The classic mixed with the obscure (ok, obscure to me). I pick a favorite for two reasons... 1. is there's enough in common with my chart that I can relate and use guidance to add to my collection and
2. Commentary that let's me get into the head of one who loves music at least as much as I.
The insights are wonderful. Thank you for sharing you're experiences with the music. I'll be returning and checking out other lists to pick up some new favorites. Thank you!
Helpful?  (Log in to vote) | 0 votes (0 helpful | 0 unhelpful)
From Purplepash 01/02/2018 12:58
This chart makes me want to expand my musical horizons even further in different directions than I usually do. So much for me to explore here.
Helpful?  (Log in to vote) | 0 votes (0 helpful | 0 unhelpful)
From Lgk21 12/14/2017 23:36
Obviously a lot of thought and care went in to making this chart. I have a lot I'm looking forward to trying out from here.
Helpful?  (Log in to vote) | +1 votes (1 helpful | 0 unhelpful)
From sidneyfranklyn 12/14/2017 19:59
How have I never seen this chart before???
Helpful?  (Log in to vote) | +1 votes (1 helpful | 0 unhelpful)
From Stover75 04/10/2017 07:35
Good chart. Only 10 in common but a lot to check out. Only one I don't like is Yes. Many others I like especially Can and Slowdive and MBV. Good stuff
Helpful?  (Log in to vote) | 0 votes (0 helpful | 0 unhelpful)
From LedZep 03/25/2017 16:39
This is nice
Helpful?  (Log in to vote) | 0 votes (0 helpful | 0 unhelpful)
From arthurbittencourt 02/13/2017 20:40
Ill come back several times. You have style.
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