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 436 albums (so far).
1 > 50 51 > 100 101 > 150 151 > 200 201 > 250 251 > 300 301 > 350 351 > 400 401 > 436
1
London Calling
The Clash
(1979)
The cultural impact that this album had on the world can not be overstated. This is what music is all about.
2
Exile on Main St.
The Rolling Stones
(1972)
Sounded a bit derivative at first but one day it suddenly clicked. I now listen to this at least once each week to stay grounded.
3
Soundtracks for the Blind
Swans
(1996)
Intended to be a "soundtrack for a non-existent film" but ended up being one of the greatest recordings of all time.
4
Kind of Blue
Miles Davis
(1959)
The stars aligned when this album was made. Every single aspect of it is firing on all cylinders.
5
Spanish Dance Troupe
Gorky's Zygotic Mynci
(1999)
Much like Exile, this album did not make an impression on me at first. I still remember the moment when it hit me.
6
The Soft Bulletin
The Flaming Lips
(1999)
Wildly creative yet laser focused. Wayne Coyne once stated while recorded this album, that he didn't play an instrument, he played a studio.
7
Remain in Light
Talking Heads
(1980)
This level of talent and musicianship on this album is absolutely staggering. Yet, the great songs remain the focal point.
8
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.
9
Zen Arcade
Hüsker Dü
(1984)
In addition to a surprising grasp of music composition, production, orchestration and history, they also had TWO outstanding songwriters.
10
Pet Sounds
The Beach Boys
(1966)
This is such a complex recording. Levels upon levels of fine details to discover and enjoy.
11
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.
12
Deja entendu
Brand New
(2003)
This is my personal favorite. It has everything I love. Great songs, an intense band, mind-blowing harmonies and just the right balance of emotion and humor
13
The Slider
T. Rex
(1972)
Simple, tasteful songs with a loads of ultra-cool attitude. The music might sound dated now but Marc Bolan's swagger and guitar sound will never get old.
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 there is some astonishingly creative music played by some seriously talented musicians on this album.
15
The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady
Mingus
(1995)
The orchestration in this recording is a mind-blowing. Layers and layers of subtle details.
16
OK Computer
Radiohead
(1997)
These songs are great on their own but there is something about this album that makes them sound better together.
17
The Velvet Underground & Nico
The Velvet Underground
(1967)
How can music be so simple and basic yet so creative and abstract at the same time. Another album whose cultural impact can not be overstated.
18
New Values
Iggy Pop
(1979)
Iggy recorded this while living in Germany and it has a really cool, unique vibe. There is nothing else like it.
19
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.
20
Faith
The Cure
(1981)
Unlike a lot of goth and metal music, this is not music made to sound dark. It just plain is. The most atmospheric album I have ever heard.
21
Tago Mago
Can
(1971)
22
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.
23
Mount Eerie
The Microphones
(2003)
24
Dark Side of the Moon
Pink Floyd
(1973)
25
Clouds Taste Metallic
The Flaming Lips
(1995)
26
Souvlaki
Slowdive
(1993)
27
What's Going On
Marvin Gaye
(1971)
28
Spirit of Eden
Talk Talk
(1988)
29
Songs for Swingin' Lovers!
Frank Sinatra
(1956)
30
Spiderland
Slint
(1991)
31
Heaven or Las Vegas
Cocteau Twins
(1990)
32
Spike
Elvis Costello
(1989)
33
The Bends
Radiohead
(1995)
34
Let Love In
Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds
(1994)
35
Automatic for the People
R.E.M.
(1992)
36
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.
37
In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
Neutral Milk Hotel
(1998)
38
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars
David Bowie
(1972)
39
...On The Subject Of Mortality
Panopticon
(2011)
40
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Wilco
(2002)
41
Chill Out
The KLF
(1990)
42
Nowhere
Ride
(1990)
43
Rot Forever
Sioux Falls
(2016)
44
The Queen Is Dead
The Smiths
(1986)
45
Tao of the Dead
...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
(2011)
46
Fear of Music
Talking Heads
(1979)
47
Paul's Boutique
Beastie Boys
(1989)
48
Kid A
Radiohead
(2000)
49
Abbey Road
The Beatles
(1969)
50
Wish You Were Here
Pink Floyd
(1975)

1 > 50 51 > 100 101 > 150 151 > 200 201 > 250 251 > 300 301 > 350 351 > 400 401 > 436