List Of Essential Albums

A great album is an assemblage of songs that collectively form a body of music that is more enjoyable than the individual songs.  The great ones will even reveal something new with each listen.  This is a list of albums that fit that criteria. 

This list contains 413 albums (so far).

1 > 50 51 > 100 101 > 150 151 > 200 201 > 250 251 > 300 301 > 350 351 > 400 401 > 413

1

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
The Beatles
(1967)
To be honest, I like the Beatles but they are not really my cup of tea. However, I can not deny the brilliance of this album. An absolute masterpiece.

2

Kind of Blue
Miles Davis
(1959)
The stars aligned to make this album. Everything aspect of this album is firing on all cylinders.

3

The Soft Bulletin
The Flaming Lips
(1999)
Wildly creative yet laser focused. Wayne Coyne once stated that when he recorded this album, he didn’t play an instrument, he played a studio.

4

Pet Sounds
The Beach Boys
(1966)
This is such a complex recording. Levels upon levels of fine details to discover and enjoy.

5

Soundtracks for the Blind
Swans
(1996)
This was intended to be a “soundtrack for a non-existent film” but ended up being one of the greatest recordings of all time.

6

Remain in Light
Talking Heads
(1980)
This level of musicianship on this album is staggering. They make ridiculously difficult and complex rhythms sound effortless.

7

Spanish Dance Troupe
Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci
(1999)
Initially, I liked this album but did realize the brilliance of it. Then, one evening it suddenly sounded different and totally blew me away.

8

Exile on Main St.
The Rolling Stones
(1972)
This sounded a little too derivative and bluesy to me at first. Then, one day I noticed a certain essence that I have never heard in any other recording. Now I try to listen to it at least once each week.

9

Swing Easy
Frank Sinatra
(1962)
Give yourself a real treat and listen to this outside on a sunny afternoon while relaxing with a cocktail. Beautiful.

10

The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady
Mingus
(1995)
The orchestration in this recording is a mind-blowing. Layers and layers of subtle details.

11

Laughing Stock
Talk Talk
(1991)
Mark Hollis ventured into a whole new creative realm on this awesome album. There is virtually nothing else to compare it to.

12

Deja entendu
Brand New
(2003)
This album has everything. Superb songs performed with a shit-ton of emotion by a talented powerhouse of a band. The complex, three-part harmonies are especially mind-blowing.

13

Zen Arcade
Hüsker Dü
(1984)
Seriously. These three punks had an astonishing grasp of music composition, production, orchestration and history. This ‘punk’ album is a complex, bold and highly advanced work of art.

14

Trout Mask Replica
Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band
(1969)
These ‘experiments’ by Don Van Vliet might seem a little deranged on the surface but if you concentrate, you will hear some astonishingly creative music played by some seriously talented musicians.

15

OK Computer
Radiohead
(1997)

16

The Velvet Underground & Nico
The Velvet Underground
(1967)
Refined simplicity.

17

New Values
Iggy Pop
(1979)
Iggy recorded this while living in Germany and it has a really unique vibe. There is no other album like it.

18

Faith
The Cure
(1981)

19

Tago Mago
Can
(1971)

20

Eskimo
The Residents
(1979)
There are ‘concept’ albums and then there is Eskimo. This is basically a story told via sounds which seems far-fetched but that is where the Residents reside. They make it work.

21

Mount Eerie
The Microphones
(2003)

22

Dark Side of the Moon
Pink Floyd
(1973)

23

Clouds Taste Metallic
The Flaming Lips
(1995)

24

Souvlaki
Slowdive
(1993)

25

What’s Going On
Marvin Gaye
(1971)

26

Spirit of Eden
Talk Talk
(1988)

27

Let Love In
Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds
(1994)

28

Songs for Swingin’ Lovers!
Frank Sinatra
(1956)

29

Spiderland
Slint
(1991)

30

Ocean Beach
Red House Painters
(1995)

31

London Calling
The Clash
(1979)

32

Spike
Elvis Costello
(1989)

33

The Bends
Radiohead
(1995)

34

TNT
Tortoise
(1998)
Tortoise employs a vast array of instruments, samples and electronics to paint beautiful, complex sonic images on this recording. Headphones, lounge chair and a glass of wine recommended.

35

The Queen Is Dead
The Smiths
(1986)

36

In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
Neutral Milk Hotel
(1998)

37

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Wilco
(2002)

38

Heaven or Las Vegas
Cocteau Twins
(1990)

39

Chill Out
The KLF
(1990)

40

Nowhere
Ride
(1990)

41

Sea Change
Beck
(2002)

42

How I Long to Feel That Summer in My Heart
Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci
(2001)

43

Tao of the Dead
…And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
(2011)

44

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars
David Bowie
(1972)

45

Fear of Music
Talking Heads
(1979)

46

Paul’s Boutique
Beastie Boys
(1989)

47

Kid A
Radiohead
(2000)

48

Abbey Road
The Beatles
(1969)

49

Wish You Were Here
Pink Floyd
(1975)

50

Illinois
Sufjan Stevens
(2005)


1 > 50 51 > 100 101 > 150 151 > 200 201 > 250 251 > 300 301 > 350 351 > 400 401 > 413