My 100+ Favorite Albums Ever (Spring 2014 Update)

As an inveterate collector and list-maker, I’ve been keeping tabs on my favorite stuff since I was a little kid. I’ve had a “Top 100 Albums” list since at least junior high school, and every so often I pull it out, evaluate what’s aged poorly, assess recent acquisitions, and generally polish the thing to reflect my (then) current listening habits, losing some things, gaining others. My websites have been particularly useful in this regard, as they allow me to readily access old lists and create new ones, no muss, no fuss.

I used to sort this type of list from number 1 to number 100 from a quality standpoint, but at this point in my life, trying to differentiate between number 23 and number 27 is a bit tough (and meaningless), so now I just sort the list in alphabetical order instead. Also, as I add new things in these my older, wiser days, I don’t really feel any pressing reason to drop other things just to maintain an arbitrary number. I drop things only if I decide that they’re not pleasing me as they once did, or have aged poorly, or represented short-term enthusiasms and not long term passions. The current list of albums I’d claim as life-time favorites sits at about 125 now.

Note that I do not include greatest hits or compilation albums on my list: these are records as self-contained works of art as the artists intended to present them, not retrospectives created later by record company executives.

Which of these would show up on your list(s) . . .  of either favorite, or least  favorite, albums?

  1. AC/DC: Back in Black
  2. AC/DC: Black Ice
  3. Alice Donut: 10 Glorious Animals
  4. Anderson, Ian: Homo Erraticus
  5. Bartos, Karl: Off the Record
  6. Bauhaus: The Sky’s Gone Out
  7. Birthday Party: Junkyard
  8. Black Flag: Damaged
  9. Bogmen: Life Begins at 40 Million
  10. Bonzo Dog Band: Keynsham
  11. Bonzo Dog Band: The Doughnut in Granny’s Greenhouse
  12. Bowie, David: “Heroes”
  13. Bowie, David: The Next Day
  14. Bush, Kate: The Sensual World
  15. Butthole Surfers: Hairway to Steven
  16. Cave, Nick and the Bad Seeds: Henry’s Dream
  17. Christian Death: Catastrophe Ballet
  18. Clash: Combat Rock
  19. Clutch: Elephant Riders
  20. Clutch: Robot Hive/Exodus
  21. Coil: Black Antlers
  22. Coil: Constant Shallowness Leads to Evil
  23. Coil: Love’s Secret Domain
  24. Coil: The Ape of Naples
  25. Dälek: Absence
  26. Dälek: Abandoned Language
  27. Dälek: Gutter Tactics
  28. Davis, Jed: Small Sacrifices Must Be Made!
  29. Dead Kennedys: Plastic Surgery Disasters
  30. Death Grips: Ex-Military
  31. Death Grips: Government Plates
  32. Devo: Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo
  33. Dogbowl: Flan
  34. Doyle, Abominator
  35. Eagles: Desperado
  36. Einsturzende Neubauten: Halber Mensch
  37. Einsturzende Neubauten: Haus der Luge
  38. Emerson, Lake and Palmer: Tarkus
  39. Emerson, Lake and Palmer: Trilogy
  40. Eno, Brian: Here Come the Warm Jets
  41. Eno, Brian: Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)
  42. Family: Bandstand
  43. Family: Fearless
  44. Fear: The Record
  45. Fela: Original Sufferhead
  46. Fripp, Robert: Exposure
  47. Funkadelic: Maggotbrain
  48. Gang of Four: Entertainment!
  49. Gay Tastee: Songs for the Sodomites
  50. Genesis: Duke
  51. Genesis: The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
  52. Genesis: Wind and Wuthering
  53. Goat: World Music
  54. Good Rats: Birth Comes to Us All
  55. Good Rats: Tasty
  56. Grand Mal: Binge/Purge
  57. Grateful Dead: American Beauty
  58. Hall, Daryl: Sacred Songs
  59. Hanslick Rebellion: The Rebellion is Here
  60. Hendrix, Jimi Experience: Are You Experienced?
  61. Hitchcock, Robyn and the Egyptians: Element of Light
  62. Human Sexual Response: Fig. 14
  63. Human Sexual Response: In a Roman Mood
  64. Husker Du: Zen Arcade
  65. Jarre, Jean-Michel: Equinoxe
  66. Jethro Tull: A Passion Play
  67. Jethro Tull: The Broadsword and the Beast
  68. Jethro Tull: Thick as a Brick
  69. Joy Division: Unknown Pleasures
  70. Kamikaze Hearts: Oneida Road
  71. Kaukonen, Jorma: Quah
  72. Killdozer: Twelve Point Buck
  73. King Crimson: Starless and Bible Black
  74. Korn: Issues
  75. Korn: The Paradigm Shift
  76. Laurels: L
  77. Melvins: (A) Senile Animal
  78. Miam Monster Miam: Cum at the Liquid Fancy Fair
  79. Michael Nyman: A Zed and Two Noughts (Original Soundtrack)
  80. Minutemen: Double Nickels on the Dime
  81. Mos Def: The Ecstatic
  82. Napalm Death: Time Waits For No Slave
  83. Napalm Death: Utilitarian
  84. Phair, Liz: Exile in Guyville
  85. Pink Floyd: The Dark Side of the Moon
  86. Pink Floyd: The Wall
  87. Prieboy, Andy: The Questionable Profits of Pure Novelty
  88. Prieboy, Andy: Upon My Wicked Son
  89. Public Enemy: Fear of a Black Planet
  90. Red Hot Chili Peppers: The Uplift Mofo Party Plan
  91. R.E.M.: Life’s Rich Pageant
  92. Renaldo and the Loaf: Songs for Swinging Larvae
  93. Replacements: Let It Be
  94. Residents: Animal Lover
  95. Residents: Demons Dance Alone
  96. Rolling Stones: Exile on Main St.
  97. Roxy Music: For Your Pleasure
  98. Rundgren, Todd: Healing
  99. Scraping Foetus Off the Wheel: Nail
  100. Sepultura: Roots
  101. Sex Pistols: Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols
  102. Simon and Garfunkel: Sounds of Silence
  103. Six Feet Under: Warpath
  104. Snog: Last of the Great Romantics
  105. Soul Rebellion Orchestra: Dolemite (Original Soundtrack)
  106. Steely Dan: Aja
  107. Swans: Filth
  108. Talk Talk: Spirit of Eden
  109. Talking Heads: Fear of Music
  110. This Heat: Deceit
  111. Tsukerman, Slava et. al.: Liquid Sky (Original Soundtrack)
  112. Wall of Voodoo: Happy Planet
  113. Wall of Voodoo: Seven Days in Sammystown
  114. Ween: Quebec
  115. Wings: Band on the Run
  116. Wings: Venus and Mars
  117. Wire: The Ideal Copy
  118. Wire: Change Becomes Us
  119. XTC: Black Sea
  120. XTC: English Settlement
  121. Yes: Drama
  122. Young, Neil and Crazy Horse: re-ac-tor
  123. Zappa, Frank and the Mothers of Invention: One Size Fits All
  124. Zappa, Frank: Joe’s Garage, Parts I, II and III
  125. Zevon, Warren: Life’ll Kill Ya

About J. Eric Smith
Executive Director, Salisbury House Foundation.

8 Responses to My 100+ Favorite Albums Ever (Spring 2014 Update)

  1. Bob W. says:

    The Eagles’ “Desperado” — did I just miss it all these years or is that a new addition? And AC/DC’s “Black Ice” you say? Hmmmmmm…

    • “Desperado” has come and gone a few times over the years . . . it’s my fave Eagles album, so it’s generally a matter of whether I am feeling positively or negatively disposed toward them at the time of list updates!

      “Black Ice” is a great, fun, crunchy album. Very inviting, and recommended!

      • Bob W. says:

        Agreed on “Black Ice” – as a long-time fan I was pleasantly surprised when it came out. It was their best work since “Flick of the Switch” to these ears.

        Any 100 favorites list of mine (hmmmmm…) would have to include their “Powerage”…that album still gets at least a weekly spin from me.

  2. Red Metal says:

    Ah, you put Wire’s Change Becomes Us on there. I picked that one up about a month ago at my local record store; it’s great! It’s amazing that a band could be that strong so long after their debut.

    Back in Black was one of the first albums I got for my collection! It’s certainly a classic, but I thought in Best of the Blockbusters, you said that you liked Highway to Hell more. They’re both excellent hard rock albums though.

    It’s fun when collecting music to see what others would rank highly. It’s a good way to learn of new music. Recently, I’ve gotten albums by the Birthday Party, Swans, Can, and Black Flag thanks to previous versions of this list and the secret bands tournament. Next, I think I’ll give that Minutemen album a try; it seems very interesting. Thank you once more for the recommendations!

    • There was a time when I definitely would have picked “Highway to Hell” over anything else in the AC/DC canon . . . it’s still great, but I don’t listen to much off of it anymore beyond the title track and “Girls Got Rhythm.”

      The Minutemen are amazing . . . and “Double Nickels on the Dime” is their masterpiece. I think you will be pleased (and surprised by one song, if you ever watch the TV show “Jackass”!).

      Glad you continue to enjoy the lists. Happy listening!

      • Red Metal says:

        No problem!

        That’s one thing I noticed happens quite often when I’ve collected albums – I sometimes get songs that I’ve heard, but didn’t know the name of or the artist (sometimes, I knew neither). More than a few times, I’ve said some variant of “Oh! These guys did this song?”

        By the way, what’s your opinion on the top 500 lists by Rolling Stone magazine and NME magazine? I kind of think of them as beginners’ guides because after a certain point, the lists become less handy, especially should one decide to invest in excellent, yet obscure music (such as the aforementioned Swans and Birthday Party).

        • I think 500 is too many items to make a list particularly meaningful . . . . and that some editing would make for a better list. I suspect those types of “macro” lists are created by getting a whole crew of critics and editors to submit their own lists, then aggregating them. If I asked 10 people to give me a list of their top 100 albums with no constraints on what they included, I’m pretty sure I’d end up with at least 500 contenders. The tough part is getting those 10 people to agree to edit them down to 100!!!

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