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