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Top 100 Greatest Music Albums by sethmadsen (2019)

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Here's my old 2013 chart: http://www.besteveralbums.com/thechart.php?c=31041

In 2016 I listened to something like 1,600 albums (selected first from the top 100 of each decade on this site, but then some gems and recommendations) and reassessed what music I truly thought was good in that moment, rating them song for song and averaging out the album. I feel like I only scratched the surface in some areas while in others it was liberating discoveries. Obviously there were some reassessments of known favorites.

Along the way I discovered some prejudices with my own initial gut checks... like I thought I had to put Nevermind in my top 10 (not because of popularity, but because I thought it was a top 10 album) and maybe that is true and maybe it isn't. I realize this process is ever changing, and in 6 months it might change again, but no, I don't need to have my top 10 the gut check what "should" be in my top 10. The mathematical approach I did was both blind and at times shocking. It also wasn't perfect.

Some give me a hard time for liking my "big artists", but ever since I was 14 I kind of made this decision that I like big bands... they have great discographies, and felt other artists failed at creating something with true staying power, even if it was pretty cool for the time. Somehow my favorite aesthetic is that pop (very loose use of this term) group like Nirvana or U2 who can both appeal to the blue collar and the white collar - that sweet sour pop yet not pop, the artist who happens to play in the medium of pop, if you will... or maybe it's the pop artisan who aspires to make great art. To me great art best puts a mirror against humanity and conveys emotions and discusses ideas in powerful/meaningful ways. Great musicians are those who can do it in a beautifully tonal landscape.

I've also decided to go one artist per album on my overall. There's times when I say, why would I not put a 100 album on my list just because I want another artist on my list, who maybe really has an 80 album, then I realized at the end of this project, I wouldn't be able to fit all of my 80 or higher albums on this list... or 5 lists, so here it is 1 album per artist with the lowest score of 86.6.

Well it's 2018 now... I'm ready to revamp again (sometimes I look at it and I'm disappointed and sometimes I look at it and say, yeah, that feels about right), but this time incorporating my review of western music before 1950... WIP that probably will take a year or so... idk.

Starting to add descriptors and genre's from RYM to be a little more conscious of why I love these albums. It's a bit of unconscious competency for me sometimes. I will never use the genre's pop rock, indie rock, singer/songwriter to describe anything but garbage that doesn't have enough style to be unique. Also have decided I need to stop my stream of conscious ramblings and quote more thought out writings about albums. I usually am writing on this site after a 10 hour work day and mostly sound like incoherent ramblings than anything really constructive, even if I know better. I saw someone else do this as well and thought it a nice touch to their chart. If it's in quotes and references a user, it's not my words.

Chart updated: 4 days ago (Created: 06/02/2011 05:12). Chart size: 100 albums.

There are 81 comments for this chart from BestEverAlbums.com members and Top 100 Greatest Music Albums has an average rating of 87 out of 100 (from 126 votes). Please log in or register to leave a comment or assign a rating.

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Sort byOverall Rank | Number of Charts | Average Rating | Number of Ratings | Release Date | Title | ArtistDate Added
1. (=)

The Joshua TreeIreland U2
This is nearly me giving the finger to the Status Quo... almost any of my top 10 could be #1.

Alternative, Americana, Ambient Pop
passionate, uplifting, atmospheric, melodic/soundscape palette, political

"Is there a more life-affirming album than The Joshua Tree? Bono’s soaring voice and with The Edge’s revolutionary guitar style take the listener through a spiritual, socially conscious atmosphere of the most intense of human feeling. The Joshua Tree is a breath of clean air. It was meant to be listened to while driving across America, and has an intensely personal meaning...

But in all the desolation of some of the topics of the album: death, loss, heroin addiction, discontent, there is one unbreakable theme of this album: hope. U2’s unbreakable mission of hope is on full display on this album. The songs are dripping with a sense of seeking spiritual renewal. If you close your eyes and listen to Bono’s beautiful tenor, and some of the best guitar work in rock that doesn’t distract with lengthy solos, you might just find some spiritual renewal on the Joshua Tree." - corenfro, BEA

The Joshua Tree (1987): 100
Achtung Baby (1991): 100
Zooropa (1993): 96.5
War (1983): 94
Under A Blood Red Sky (1983): 93.75
Boy (1980): 93.6
Original Soundtracks 1 (U2&Eno/Passengers in 1995): 93.5
Rattle And Hum (1988): 92.9
All That You Can't Leave Behind (2000): 92.7
Pop (1997): 91.6
The Unforgettable Fire (1984): 91.5
No Line On The Horizon (2009): 90
October (1981): 88.6
Songs of Innocence (2014): 87
How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb (2004): 85.4
Songs Of Experience (2017): 81.1
(First added to chart: 06/01/2011)
Year of Release:1987Appears in:1,508 charts
Rank in 1987:1Rank Score:49,427
Rank in 1980s4Overall Rank:36
Average Rating:  82/100 (2,023 votes)
Comments: 197 comments
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2. (=)

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club BandUnited Kingdom The Beatles
Psychedelic Pop, Art Rock, Baroque Pop
surreal, melodic/soundscape palette, warm, lush

"Arguably one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century. A masterpiece of psychedelic pop rock. A legendary album that was the rare mix of revolutionary, popular, and influential all in one. Masterfully produced by the legendary George Martin... Truly a pleasure to listen to while still challenging and goose bump inducing." - glynspsa, BEA

"Hailed on its release as proof that popular music could be as rich an artistic pursuit as more high-minded media such as jazz and classical, the record's reputation and sense of ambition ushered in the album era." - Scott Plagenhoef, Pitchfork

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967): 100
Abbey Road (1969): 100
Magical Mystery Tour (1967): 95
Revolver(1966): 95
Let It Be (1970): 90
The Beatles (The White Album) (1968): 90
Rubber Soul (1965): 90
With The Beatles (1963): 90
Beatles For Sale (1964): 85
Help! (1965): 85
Please Please Me (1963): 80
A Hard Day's Night (1964): 80
Yellow Submarine (1969): 65
(First added to chart: 12/15/2011)
Year of Release:1967Appears in:2,879 charts
Rank in 1967:1Rank Score:138,074
Rank in 1960s3Overall Rank:5
Average Rating: Top rated 90/100 (3,736 votes)
Comments: 402 comments
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3. (=)

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And ThymeUnited States Simon And Garfunkel
Chamber Folk, Folk Baroque, Folk Rock
poetic (beat poet), melancholic, melodic/soundscape palette, psychedelic

"Simon & Garfunkel's first masterpiece, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme was also the first album on which the duo, in tandem with engineer Roy Halee, exerted total control from beginning to end, right down to the mixing, and it is an achievement akin to the Beatles' Revolver or the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds album, and just as personal and pointed as either of those records at their respective bests." - Bruce Eder, AllMusic

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme (1966): 100
Bookends (1968): 95
Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970): 93.1
Sounds Of Silence (1966): 80
The Concert In Central Park (1982): 77.1
The Graduate (1968): 75
Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. (1964): 65
(First added to chart: 06/01/2011)
Year of Release:1966Appears in:426 charts
Rank in 1966:7Rank Score:4,678
Rank in 1960s66Overall Rank:565
Average Rating:  80/100 (476 votes)
Comments: 27 comments
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4. (=)

In RainbowsUnited Kingdom Radiohead
Art Rock, Alternative, Math Rock
lush, melancholic, introspective, bittersweet

"At a time when studio production and overdubbing has the ability to make sound bigger than it actually is, the magic of creating a full and immersive sound that seems greater than the sum of it's parts seems to be something that is taken for granted.

But, to watch Radiohead play this album live (For example, on their live from the basement video) is pretty amazing. The full and encompassing amount of sound produced by just these 5 guys and their instruments is pretty incredible." - Lastings, BEA

I too felt giddy at this release like nothing I've been giddy about since the late 90s/early 2000s and nothing else since: (full disclosure I wasn't there at the release, but when 15 Step first dropped... I was as giddy as I was at other album release parties... I was just late to it):
"Like many music lovers of a certain age, I have a lot of warm memories tied up with release days. I miss the simple ritual of making time to buy a record. I also miss listening to something special for the first time and imagining, against reason, the rest of the world holed up in their respective bedrooms, having the same experience. Before last Wednesday, I can't remember the last time I had that feeling. I also can't remember the last time I woke up voluntarily at 6 a.m. either, but like hundreds of thousands of other people around the world, there I was, sat at my computer, headphones on, groggy, but awake, and hitting play." - Marke Pytlik, Pitchfork

In Rainbows (2007): 100
Kid A (2000): 97.5
OK Computer (1997): 96.6
The Bends (1995): 94.5
The King Of Limbs (2011): 91.8
Amnesiac (2001): 90.9
Hail To The Thief (2003): 90.7
A Moon Shaped Pool (2016): 90
Pablo Honey (1993): 71.6
(First added to chart: 06/01/2011)
Year of Release:2007Appears in:2,345 charts
Rank in 2007:1Rank Score:103,803
Rank in 2000s3Overall Rank:12
Average Rating: Top rated 89/100 (3,119 votes)
Comments: 338 comments
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5. (=)

Sea ChangeUnited States Beck
Art Pop, Contemporary Folk, Folk Rock
melancholic, sad, warm, lonely

"...This is tearing nails into the saddest Drake and Cohen songs, and there's nothing wrong with that. This isn't the Beck you expect, the weirdness is seeped in soft ribbons of noise and deadened in a way. But I think after spending so long with Beck's music. I no longer enjoy the "quirk" appeal and Sea Change stands out as one of his best arrangements.

The string sections take it to a whole other level in general. The climax in "Lonesome Tears" is probably every heartbreak song ever made with the cheese milked out and the emotional crescendo turned up to 10..." -Schizima, RYM

Sea Change (2002): 100
Guero (2005): 97.6
Odelay (1996): 94.2
Colors (2017): 91
Mutations (1998): 90.4
The Information (2006): 89.6
Midnite Vultures (1999): 86.3
Morning Phase (2014): 85
Modern Guilt (2008): 84
Mellow Gold (1994): 82
One Foot In The Grave (1994): 70
(First added to chart: 06/01/2011)
Year of Release:2002Appears in:557 charts
Rank in 2002:6Rank Score:10,541
Rank in 2000s50Overall Rank:266
Average Rating:  80/100 (802 votes)
Comments: 46 comments
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6. (=)

Stravinsky Conducts Le Sacre Du PrintempsMixed Nationality Igor Stravinsky / Columbia Symphony Orchestra
Ballet, Modernism, Russian Folk
Violent, Avant-Garde, Nature, Mythic

"Certainly, the impact of this legendary event (as well as similarly "colorful" receptions to the work elsewhere) expedited its recognition as an all-around seminal occurrence and achievement in the social history and art of the twentieth century. In understanding early reactions to Rite, it is worth considering that while Stravinsky was at a relatively early stage in his career, a cadre of older, well-known, more traditionally aligned composers -- Strauss, Saint-Saëns, Sibelius, Elgar, and yes, Rachmaninov -- remained active and retained a good deal of currency with audiences. At the same time, the scenario adopted by the Rite collaborators -- Stravinsky, folklorist and artist Roerich, choreographer Nijinsky, impresario Diaghilev -- was far from the usual genteel, sentimental, and romantic themes that had theretofore dominated ballet. This collection of "Scenes from Pagan Russia" (the work's subtitle) concerns itself with an exploration of nature, both human and that of the earth itself, through the rituals of renewal -- ultimately, human sacrifice -- of an earlier, "primitive" society." - Michael Rodman, AllMusic
(First added to chart: 03/25/2019)
Year of Release:1961Appears in:4 charts
Rank in 1961:34Rank Score:106
Rank in 1960s783Overall Rank:12,499
Average Rating:  75/100 (2 votes)
Comments: 0 comments
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7. (=)

GreenUnited States R.E.M.
Alternative, Jangle Pop, [mixed bag]
bittersweet, melodic/soundscape palette, political, passionate

The R.E.M. album Kurt Cobain put in his top 50. I couldn't find a great quote that really gets this album. I feel the irony/mockery, yet at the same time sincere pop songs of Stand or Pop Song 89 aren't really understood. The politics in World Leader Pretend and Orange Crush. The emotional powerhouse of Hairshirt, The Wrong Child, or You Are The Everything. It is the perfect mixture of all things R.E.M. or perhaps a culmination of the best of rock music: "Musically, Green quotes a lot of sources. Listen closely and you can hear references to the Doors, Led Zeppelin, Sly Stone and others." - Michael Azerrad, Rolling Stone

Green (1988): 100
Automatic For The People (1992): 96.2
Accelerate (2008): 95.4
Eponymous (1988): 92.5
Monster (1994): 91.6
Murmur (1983): 90.8
Out Of Time (1991): 90
Collapse Into Now (2011): 89.5
New Adventures In Hi-Fi (1996): 87.5
Up (1998):87.5
Around The Sun (2004): 87.3
Fables Of The Reconstruction (1985): 86.8
Document (1987): 86.8
Chronic Town (1982): 85
Reckoning (1984): 84
Lifes Rich Pageant (1986): 83.3
Reveal (2001):79
Dead Letter Office (1987): 70
(First added to chart: 06/01/2011)
Year of Release:1988Appears in:363 charts
Rank in 1988:11Rank Score:4,231
Rank in 1980s92Overall Rank:613
Average Rating:  78/100 (527 votes)
Comments: 42 comments
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8. (=)

GracelandUnited States Paul Simon
[genre here is a mess imo - it's not definitively anything...???]
warm, eclectic, rhythmic, poetic

"1986 saw the release of an album that took world music to its ultimate peak of exposure, where Simon created an album about isolation and redemption that transcended world music to become the whole world's eclectic album.

With a mixture of musical styles, including pop, a cappella, and African roots genres, Simon created these magnificent compositions inspired by his journey to South Africa, collaborating with both African and American artists.

What I pay particular attention to on this great album is the bass of each song. The bass works as an unusual template here that I haven't heard this distinctive before - it sort of works as the essence of everything that happens on the album.

The production is also stellar - Simon, working with the best musicians from the black townships, brought a fluid energy and expertise to the soundscape with the help of guitarist Ray Phiri and not to leave out, "Ladysmith Black Mambazo" (who had their career basically based on the popularity of this album).

Here, Simon created an album about isolation and Apartheid and redemption that transcends world music. The bright grooves accompany the sharp, intelligent, strange and funny lyrics which altogether makes this one of my favorite albums of all time." - calsper, BEA

Graceland (1986): 100
You're The One (2000): 92.7
Stranger To Stranger (2016): 90
Negotiations And Love Songs 1971-1986 (1988): 88.1
There Goes Rhymin' Simon (1973):87
Surprise (2006): 86.3
Hearts And Bones (1983): 85
So Beautiful Or So What (2011): 85
Still Crazy After All These Years (1975): 84.5
Paul Simon (1972): 77.2
One-Trick Pony (1980): 76
The Rhythm Of The Saints (1990): 70
(First added to chart: 07/08/2016)
Year of Release:1986Appears in:858 charts
Rank in 1986:3Rank Score:20,527
Rank in 1980s17Overall Rank:128
Average Rating:  81/100 (1,056 votes)
Comments: 59 comments
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9. (=)

Greatest Hits
United States Sly & The Family Stone
Psychedelic Soul, Funk, Pop Soul
hopeful, funky, melodic/soundscape palette, human connection

I would put Stand! here, but honestly feel like this is their best collection of songs and I don't think they were album oriented anyway.

"Sly & The Family Stone’s most enduring accomplishment was to enhance their relentless and progressive funkiness, then to distill it down into a format that was more commercially friendly, getting back to the music within the funk construct … and for that aspect alone, Sly will be remembered for all time, as no one has been able to accomplish this aspect with the grace and harmonic texture that he brought to life.

Now, I’m not saying that James Brown wasn’t good, indeed he was, yet James was never able to apply the essence of what Sly was hearing in his head, even though the two were traveling down the same path when it came to social integrity, justice, freedom and empowerment for black Americans at the time, along with an abiding love of the sounds." - streetmouse, RYM

Greatest Hits (1970): 98.7
Stand! (1969):95
There's A Riot Goin' On (1971): 77.9
Dance To The Music (1968): 65
(First added to chart: 07/08/2016)
Year of Release:1970Appears in:49 charts
Rank in 1970:70Rank Score:566
Rank in 1970s633Overall Rank:3,344
Average Rating:  80/100 (154 votes)
Comments: 10 comments
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10. (=)

FuneralCanada Arcade Fire
Chamber Pop, Art Pop, Art Rock (I guess)
introspective, passionate, melodic/soundscape palette, [talking heads]

Very succinct and could be expounded upon, but spot on:
"Funeral evokes sickness and death, but also understanding and renewal; childlike mystification, but also the impending coldness of maturity." - David Moore, Pitchfork

Not sure I agree with these ratings, but so they stand now:
Funeral 2004 98
Everything Now 2017 89.6
Reflektor 2013 87.6
Neon Bible 2007 86.8
The Suburbs 2010 85.6
Arcade Fire 2003 80.7
(First added to chart: 06/01/2011)
Year of Release:2004Appears in:2,436 charts
Rank in 2004:1Rank Score:105,720
Rank in 2000s2Overall Rank:9
Average Rating: Top rated 88/100 (3,053 votes)
Comments: 350 comments
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Top 100 Greatest Music Albums composition

Decade Albums %

1930s 0 0%
1940s 0 0%
1950s 6 6%
1960s 17 17%
1970s 11 11%
1980s 16 16%
1990s 19 19%
2000s 26 26%
2010s 5 5%
Artist Albums %

The Velvet Underground 1 1%
Jeff Buckley 1 1%
Little Richard 1 1%
Chuck Berry 1 1%
Arcade Fire 1 1%
The Anniversary 1 1%
Black Sabbath 1 1%
Show all
Country Albums %

United States 63 63%
United Kingdom 21 21%
Mixed Nationality 7 7%
Canada 3 3%
Iceland 2 2%
Ireland 1 1%
Colombia 1 1%
Show all

Top 100 Greatest Music Albums chart changes

There have been no changes to this chart.
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