My Top 200 Albums Of All Time (2017 Update)

A couple of years have passed since I last refreshed my all-time favorite albums list — and with my 2016 listening having been parsed and processed, now seems as good a time as any to get it done.

For newbs to my website: I’ve been keeping a master list of favorite albums since the very early ’70s, when I was a grade school Steppenwolf fan. My tastes have evolved dramatically over the years (though I still like Steppenwolf), so I review and update this list periodically, dropping things that haven’t aged well, and adding new things that excite me and seem to have staying power.

For many years, this was a “Top 100 List,” but as I’ve gotten older, I feel entitled to expand the roster beyond the century mark, since I’ve listened to a whole lot more music now than I had when I was younger.

I also used to exclude “Greatest Hits” and other compilation albums, but I’ve gotten less uptight about that, too, since for some artists, their best work may have appeared on singles that only saw long-form release in the form of “Best Of” collections.

And with that as preamble, here’s the updated roster of my favorite albums of all time, in alphabetical order by artist. (I don’t put them in numerical order anymore either, since what’s the meaningful difference between #134 and #135 anyway?)

As soon as I post this list, I will invariably change my mind about something, but that’s the beauty of updates, right? Watch this space in 2019 to see what I got wrong this time!

AC/DC: Back in Black
Alice Donut: 10 Glorious Animals
Allison, Mose: Swingin’ Machine

Bauhaus: The Sky’s Gone Out
Beef: Stink, Stank, Stunk
Beefheart, Captain and the Magic Band: Clear Spot
Beefheart, Captain and the Magic Band: Safe As Milk
Beefheart, Captain and the Magic Band: The Spotlight Kid
Beefheart, Captain and the Magic Band: Trout Mask Replica
Birthday Party: Junkyard
Black Flag: Damaged
Bogmen: Life Begins at 40 Million
Bonzo Dog Band: Keynsham
Bonzo Dog Band: The Doughnut in Granny’s Greenhouse
Bowie, David: “Heroes”
Bowie, David: Low
Bowie, David: Lodger
Bowie, David: The Next Day
Bowie, David: Blackstar
Burning Spear: Marcus Garvey
Butthole Surfers: Hairway to Steven
Butthole Surfers: Locust Abortion Technician

Camberwell Now: All’s Well
Camper Van Beethoven: Camper Van Beethoven
Cave, Nick and the Bad Seeds: Henry’s Dream
Cave, Nick and the Bad Seeds: Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!
Chance The Rapper: Coloring Book
Che Guevara T-Shirt: Everyone That’s Dead Was Obviously Wrong
Check Engine: Check Engine
Christian Death: Catastrophe Ballet
Clash: Combat Rock
Clutch: Elephant Riders
Clutch: Robot Hive/Exodus
Clutch: Psychic Warfare
Coil: Love’s Secret Domain
Coil: Horse Rotorvator
Coil: The Ape of Naples
Collider: WCYF
Cramps: Bad Music for Bad People
Culture: Two Sevens Clash
Cypress Hill: Cypress Hill

Dälek: Absence
Dälek: Abandoned Language
Dälek: Gutter Tactics
Dälek: Asphalt for Eden
Davis, Jed: Small Sacrifices Must Be Made
Death Grips: Ex-Military
Death Grips: Government Plates
Department of Eagles: The Cold Nose
Devo: Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo
Dogbowl: Flan
Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment: Surf

Eagles: Desperado
Earth, Wind and Fire: All n’ All
Einsturzende Neubauten: Halber Mensch
Einsturzende Neubauten: Haus der Luge
Emerson, Lake and Palmer: Tarkus
Emerson, Lake and Palmer: Trilogy
Eno, Brian: Here Come the Warm Jets
Eno, Brian: Another Green World
Eno, Brian: Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)

Fall: Hex Enduction Hour
Fall: Imperial Wax Solvent
Family: Bandstand
Family: Fearless
Fear: The Record
Fela: Original Sufferhead
First Aid Kit: Stay Gold
Fleetwood Mac: Rumours
Fleetwood Mac: Future Games
Fripp, Robert: Exposure
Funkadelic: Maggotbrain
Funkadelic: American Eats Its Young

Gabriel, Peter: Peter Gabriel (III/Melt)
Gang of Four: Entertainment!
Gay Tastee: Songs for the Sodomites
Genesis: Duke
Genesis: Abacab
Genesis: The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
Genesis: Wind and Wuthering
Girlpool: Before The World Was Big
Goat: World Music
Good Rats: Birth Comes to Us All
Good Rats: Tasty
Grand Mal: Binge/Purge
Grateful Dead: American Beauty
Grateful Dead: Workingman’s Dead

Hall, Daryl: Sacred Songs
Hanslick Rebellion: The Rebellion is Here
Hawkwind: Doremi Fasol Latido
Hitchcock, Robyn and the Egyptians: Element of Light
Human Sexual Response: Fig. 14
Human Sexual Response: In a Roman Mood
Husker Du: Zen Arcade

Jarre, Jean-Michel: Equinoxe
Jesu/Sun Kil Moon: Jesu/Sun Kil Moon
Jethro Tull: Songs From the Wood
Jethro Tull: The Broadsword and the Beast
Jethro Tull: Heavy Horses
Jethro Tull: Thick as a Brick
Jethro Tull: A Passion Play
Joy Division: Unknown Pleasures
Joy Division: Closer
Juluka: Scatterlings

Kamikaze Hearts: Oneida Road
Kamikaze Hearts: Seven More Wonders of the World
Kaukonen, Jorma: Quah
Keineg, Katell: Jet
Killdozer: Twelve Point Buck
King Crimson: Starless and Bible Black
King Crimson: Red
King Crimson: Larks Tongue in Aspic
King Crimson: Lizard
Korn: The Paradigm Shift
Kraftwerk: Computer World
Kraftwerk: Trans-Europe Express
Kurki-Suonio, Sanna: Musta

Laurels: L

Melvins: (A) Senile Animal
Michael Nyman: A Zed and Two Noughts (Original Soundtrack)
Minutemen: Double Nickels on the Dime
Miri: Okkar
Mos Def: The Ecstatic
Mould, Bob: District Line

Napalm Death: Time Waits For No Slave
Napalm Death: Utilitarian
Napalm Death: Apex Predator — Easy Meat
New Order: Movement
New Order: Power, Corruption and Lies

Parliament: Chocolate City
Parliament: Motor Booty Affair
Pas/Cal: I Was Raised on Matthew, Mark, Luke and Laura
Pere Ubu: The Modern Dance
Pere Ubu: Terminal Tower
Phair, Liz: Exile in Guyville
Pink Floyd: The Dark Side of the Moon
Pink Floyd: The Wall
Prieboy, Andy: The Questionable Profits of Pure Novelty
Prieboy, Andy: Upon My Wicked Son
Public Enemy: Fear of a Black Planet
Public Enemy: Apocalypse ’91: The Enemy Strikes Black

R.E.M.: Life’s Rich Pageant
Renaldo and the Loaf: Songs for Swinging Larvae
Replacements: Let It Be
Richman, Jonathan: Ishkode! Ishkode!
Robbins, Marty: Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs
Rolling Stones: Exile on Main St.
Rolling Stones: Beggars Banquet
Roxy Music: For Your Pleasure
Rundgren, Todd: Healing
Rush: Signals

Scraping Foetus Off the Wheel: Nail
Sepultura: Roots
Sex Pistols: Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols
Shriekback: Oil and Gold
Shriekback: Tench
Simon and Garfunkel: Sounds of Silence
Small Axe: A Shot to the Body
Small Axe: A Blow to the Head
Smiths: Hatful of Hollow
Smiths: Louder Than Bombs
Snog: Last of the Great Romantics
Sonin, K.: The Definition of Stupidity is Doing the Same Thing 34 Times and Expecting Different Results
Special A.K.A.: In the Studio
Steely Dan: Aja
Steely Dan: The Royal Scam
Steppenwolf: Gold
System Of A Down: System Of A Down
Swans: Filth
Swans: Holy Money

Talk Talk: Spirit of Eden
Talking Heads: Fear of Music
Television Personalities: Closer to God
Thighpaulsandra: The Golden Communion
This Heat: Deceit
Tragic Mulatto: Italians Fall Down and Look Up Your Dress
Tsukerman, Slava et. al.: Liquid Sky (Original Soundtrack)

Van Halen: Van Halen
Various Artists: If You Can’t Please Yourself, You Can’t Please Your Soul
Various Artists: Blow Up Presents Exclusive Blend, Vol. 1
Vek, Tom: Luck

Wailer, Bunny: Blackheart Man
Wall of Voodoo: Happy Planet
Wall of Voodoo: Seven Days in Sammystown
Wasted: We Are Already in Hell
Weasels: Uranus or Bust
Weasels: AARP Go the Weasels
Ween: Quebec
Ween: The Mollusk
Who: Who’s Next
Wings: Band on the Run
Wings: Venus and Mars
Wire: The Ideal Copy

XTC: Black Sea
XTC: English Settlement

Yes: The Yes Album
Yes: Fragile

Young, Neil and Crazy Horse: re-ac-tor

Zappa, Frank and the Mothers of Invention: One Size Fits All
Zappa, Frank: Joe’s Garage, Parts I, II and III

10 thoughts on “My Top 200 Albums Of All Time (2017 Update)

  1. Great big list! Eric, I’ve printed this list so I can check out albums that I’ve never listened too. Hope you don’t mind. First glance through .. no Dylan, Bob 🙂 At the moment I’m going through every music file on my computer, there must be thousands and as the computer is on it’s last legs I’m saving what I can on to “sticks”. My eyesight is so poor I can’t load the “normal” CD player ( my old faithful player died just before Xmas and the new “normal” one is a pissy little thing with shocking speakers and everything is back on black!) and I don’t have music on my phone ( same reason; eyesight!) To cut this long story short (er) I can put the stick into a USB outlet on the TV and every folder comes up on the big screen and I can see what I want to listen to and on great speakers. For the moment it’s working well enough 🙂 Happy Days PS the sticks are being done alphabetical order by name of artist. Albums by Various Artists are causing me some angst. Cheers, Mellie.

    • No “Smith, Patti” or “Dictators, The” or “Tengo, Yo La” either!! SomeWone might be appalled . . . .

      Hope you enjoy checking out some new-to-you ones! I like the TV screen approach . . . though I am going to have to update my technology at some point to make it work, since I’m still using a pile of old first-generation iPods, and nothing connects to our TV sound system at this point. (I know, I know, I should embrace Spotify . . . but I hate the whole “You don’t own this song” thing!)

  2. So many cases of bands I agree with, but not the albums I prefer.

    F’rinstance, Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Everybody Knows this is Nowhere

    Good Rats: yes, Tasty, but Rat City in Blue rather than Birth Comes to Us All

    Beefheart, I’d go Trout Mask Replica and Shiny Beast (I once dreamed I asked Hillary Clinton to sing “Bat Chain Puller.)

    Peter Gabriel’s first, in addition to the third.

    Clash: London Calling

    Zappa: Yikes! I can’t stand Joe’s Garage. Prefer original Uncle Meat, Sleep Dirt, Civilization Phase III, many others

    Nice to see somebody else remembers Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and Fearless. I wonder if anybody else remembers Steppenwolf’s Monster.

    I find Sounds of Silence sounds mostly better in my head than on the album itself. In my head, I’ve mixed out the added slush. Did anybody re-issue a “naked’ version of it, ala Let It Be – Naked?

    … and I’m surprised to find such an Andy Prieboy fan. I’d always (unfairly) considered him a Ridgeway replacement. But Happy Planet? I got it in a cut-out bin. After hearing it, I went back to the cut-out bins and bought every copy I could and gave copies to everybody I ran into, that Xmas. I’m gonna rope me a fatted calf …

    • Prieboy is brilliant, so glad to hear of someone else who shares my enthusiasm for him! I think in a lot of cases, why I have one particular album by certain artists that may not be their typically canonical best is because of the circumstances in which I first heard or appreciated them . . . like in the case of Neil: I’m not really much of a fan, but I was in a record store when “re-ac-tor” came out, and my first hearing of it was “T-Bone” cranking over the sound system, and people having viscerally negative reactions to it, while I thought it was absolutely brilliant. Similar stories with Joe’s Garage (Vol I) and Good Rats. “Sounds of Silence” was such a formidable part of my youth that I actually wrote a whole article about it . . . https://jericsmith.com/2009/01/06/heart-of-darkness-my-old-friend/ . . . so that one will always remain on the list!! “Monster” was the album that first connected me to Steppenwolf, and also that awakened my political sense as a kid. I found myself listening to the title suite a bit in the past year, as it seemed distressingly on-target . . . .

      • By the way, thanks for mentioning the King Crimson Monkey Mind album in your 2016 post. It’s the first CD set I’ve bought in a few years. I’ve listened to the first two disks so far. Love the 3-drum sound.

        (And now that I’m back on my feet money-wise, I’ve ordered a bunch of Good Rats CDs, plus Spirit’s “Future Games” (an album I always paired with “Quark, Strangeness and Charm.”))

        Re Sounds of Silence: Yeah, it’s basic to my childhood, too. But internally, I’ve stripped it down. F’rinstance, the instruments on “I am a Rock” (the absolute best teen sulk song evah) are down to bass and drum.

        And in the past year of my life, “A Most Peculiar Man” has sometimes been an ominous earworm for me.

        But hey, a competitor in that strain of depression soundtracks is Aztec Two-Step’s “Cockroach Cacophany.” If you haven’t heard it yet, insist on the original album version.

        I gotta cheer myself up. Maybe by listening to some of that nice band I finally discovered last year, Joy Division. (I read Hooky’s book before hearing them. It’s hilarious in its black-on-black packaging, when the book is actually about the hellraising (in a totally non-literal sense) the band did.)

        • “Monkey Mind” is a fine, fine set. Glad you are enjoying it. I haven’t heard Aztec Two-Step in ages. Have to pull some up when I get back home from Mississippi this weekend! We actually play “A Most Peculiar Man” a fair amount around the house in our normal background mix. Cheery lot, us!

  3. Eric,
    I’ve been reading your blogs since the Albany Times Union days and always love reading your music lists. I have to say I’m a bit puzzled by your Smiths’ selections. My sister and I were both Smiths fans –between us we had everything, but I had a copy of Louder Than Bombs and my sister had Hatful of Hollow. Quite a bit of overlap between them — I’m a bit surprised The Queen Is Dead didn’t make the cut instead.
    Nice to see The Bogmen represented! I loved Life Begins at 40 Million!
    A bit shocked to see the only pre-Buckingham/Nicks Fleetwood Mac was Future Games and not ‘Then Play On’ or ‘Kiln House’.
    Combat Rock???? Really??? I’d take just about all the Clash’s output before that — including Sandinista.
    I also agree with ‘Just John’ that the first Peter Gabriel is a surprising omission.

    • I have never really gotten the support for “The Queen Is Dead” as the greatest Smiths album . . . I actually listened to it on the in-flight entertainment system while flying back from Iceland, and it has several songs that I actively dislike, including the overlong title track, where I like Morrissey is busy trying to out-Morrissey himself on the way to becoming MOZ. While there are overlaps in some of the songs between “Bombs” and “Hatful,” some are different versions, and between those two collections, I feel like I get all of the Smiths I want or need.

      One of the first shows I reviewed for Metroland circa 1994 was The Bogmen and they were utterly fantastic live. Have you seen/heard singer Billy Campion’s alter ego Vic Thrill? Worth investigating, if not!

      There are songs on “Kiln” and “Play On” that I love . . . but also stuff I hate (Jeremy Spencer bugs me on a variety of fronts). “Future Games” was the first Mac album I heard, before they broke big in states, so it still has a fond emotional resonance for me. I’m also an unapologetic Bob Welch fan, per: https://jericsmith.com/2012/06/10/future-games/

      And I just don’t get the “Combat Rock” hate either, which lots of people express to me when I share my fondness . . . I just love love love that album, so many cool and quirky songs on it, all over the place stylistically. (My least fave songs on it, oddly enough, are “Stay Or Go” and “Casbah,” which are all that most folks know from it).

      “Gabriel 1” has been on the list at different times . . . it may pop back on next time I update!!

    • “The Unutterable” was on the list for a long time, but it hadn’t aged as well for me as some others. I do like “Room To Live,” but “Dragnet” has always left me cold. I’d take “Grotesque” and “Slates” above it from the early days. “IWS” is easily my fave of the YZN era records . . . Never understand the lack of love it gets!

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