e321. The All-Time Best All-Time Best Albums List of All Time

A couple weeks ago, Apple Music released their list of the 100 Best Albums of all time. This isn’t really new. People do it all the time. In fact, Rolling Stone publishes a top 500 Albums of all time list fairly regularly. More than anything, these lists serve to create arguments amongst the readers about who got snubbed or who was on it that didn’t deserve to be or the order of the rankings or who knows what other random opinions. Mostly, it seems to serve to create conversation about itself. Well, we’re going to be a part of that. In this week’s episode Mav and Wayne are joined by returning guest Stephanie Siler and new guest, music journalist Quentin Harrison to talk all about how”delve into the craft of creating ‘”Greatest Albums lists” are created and why they are important (or not) and how we would do it differently. Then we’ll even give you our own picks. Do you have differences of opinions? Let us know in the comments.

Citations and Links:

The VoxPopcast Best 100 Albums (at least for today as we wrote them but would probably change if you ask us tomorrow)

As you get to the end of the episode you’ll hear the four of us decide to try and give this a try ourselves. We each decided (more or less) to each create a list of 25 so that we would have a total of 100 once they were all added together. Each individual list (and all four as a whole) are actually unranked for reasons we discussed on the show, but they are still our recommendations.

Quentin’s List

Quentin had actually had previously done this exercise already, though he only had 20 albums.That’s going to leave some extras for later. Definitely click through to his blog to see his reading behind each album. For now, here are his choices (alphabetically):

  1. Tori Amos – Scarlet’s Walk
  2. Brandy – Human
  3. Culture Club – Colour by Numbers
  4. Duran Duran – Notorious
  5. Sophie Ellis-Bextor – Shoot from the Hip
  6. Gloria Estefan – gloria!
  7. Janet Jackson – Damita Jo
  8. Jamiroquai – A Funk Odyssey
  9. Kimbra – Vows
  10. Madonna – Ray of Light
  11. George Michael – Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1
  12. Kylie Minogue – Kylie Minogue
  13. Dannii Minogue – Neon Nights
  14. Prince – Parade
  15. Diana Ross – The Boss
  16. Seal – Human Being
  17. Carly Simon – Spy
  18. Spice Girls – Spiceworld
  19. Donna Summer – The Wanderer
  20. Swing Out Sister – Somewhere Deep In the Night

Stephanie’s List

Steph finished her list first (other than Quentin who was already done). Her list is also unranked (though in a random order) but it definitely starts a different direction separate from Quentin’s and immediately shows the importance of having diverse voices making decisions like this. Steph added some reasoning on a few choices.

  1. U2 – Joshua Tree
  2. U2 – Achtung, baby
  3. Tori Amos – Little Earthquakes (Please don’t compare Tori to Kate Bush. Their styles are very different. Kate Bush is great, but Tori Amos is phenomenal.) She was a child prodigy on the piano, and the youngest person ever admitted to the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University at the age of five(!!!).)
  4. Tori Amos – Boys For Pele (A more experimental album that Tori produced herself; Hey Jupiter is one of the most beautiful songs ever written.)
  5. Peter Murphy – Deep (songs of drug addiction and recovery)
  6. Bob Dylan – Blood on the Tracks (the epic Tangled up in Blue is enough for me to get this album on here)
  7. The Cure – Disintegration (this album is like a dream you totally get sucked into; Robert Smith is a modern day Mozart.)
  8. Pink Floyd – The Wall
  9. The Bee Gees – Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack (watch “how can you mend a broken heart?” which is a pretty thorough bio of the bee gees).
  10. Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On?
  11. Neil Young – Harvest 
  12. Fleetwood Mac – Rumors (songs of relationship turmoil from various perspectives in the band; eclectic yet cohesive)
  13. Nirvana: Nevermind
  14. Radiohead: OK Computer
  15. Alanis Morissette: Jagged Little Pill
  16. Michael Jackson: Thriller
  17. Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin IV (I distinctly remember the first time I heard stairway to heaven, which was in a music class in middle school where the teacher was playing the record backwards to prove it was satanic; the song stuck in my head on my walk home from school and the rest if the day. Going to California is heartbreakingly beautiful.)
  18. Supertramp: Breakfast in America
  19. ABBA: Arrival
  20. Prince: Purple Rain
  21. REM: Automatic for the People
  22. The Smiths: The Queen is Dead
  23. Morrissey: Your Arsenal
  24. Simon & Garfunkel: Bridge Over Troubled Waters
  25. Oasis: Morning Glory

Wayne’s List

Wayne notes that: As we said on the show, ask me my top anything and I will change my mind before I get to the end of the list. What follows is a list of albums that were personally meaningful or influential in my life and not a ‟Best Albums Ever” list. It is presented in roughly the chronological order in which I encountered these albums. This of course reflects my age, where I was at given points in my life, my culture, and what I may or may not have been exposed to. I spent a lot of years in the weird alternative trenches, so there are some obscure artists on here. I was a bit of a pretentious shit for awhile. I got over that. Music is personal, and just because it’s not on this list doesn’t mean I don’t love it.

  1. Alice Cooper (Solo) – Welcome to My Nightmare
  2. Alice Cooper (Group) – Killer (Originally, the name Alice Cooper referred to the entire band and not just the frontman/singer. There is a difference in sound between the two)
  3. Kiss – Destroyer (No band defines my my life as a teenager in the 70s as much as Kiss)
  4. Queen – A Night at the Opera (I must have had birthday or Christmas money, because I bought this and the Kiss album the same day. Queen was a much bigger influence in challenging my beliefs of what a rock album should sound like)
  5. The Sweet – Give Us a Wink (You may know them from “Ballroom Blitz” and “Fox on the Run”)
  6. Stevie Wonder – Songs in the Key of Life
  7. Cheap Trick – Heaven Tonight
  8. David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars (I had some Bowies singles, but it was the early 80s before I heard this whole album)
  9. David Bowie – Heroes (Courtesy of an 8-track that a previous owner had left in a used car. Like Queen, this album completely changed my expectations and the way I listen to music)
  10. The Doors – American Prayer (I went through a big Doors phase in the early 80s. This was a posthumous release, and while I like all of the Doors albums, this one has very specific autobiographical connections)
  11. The Nails – Mood Swing (They kind of had a New Wave hit with ‟88 Lines About 44 Women,” which led me to this album, the rest of which doesn’t very much like the hit at all, but I love it)
  12. Adam and the Ants – Kings of the Wild Frontier
  13. Lou Reed – Transformer
  14. The Cramps – Psychedelic Jungle (This and the Lou Reed album were two sides of a cassette a friend made for me. It hit when I was becoming bored with what I had been listening to and changed everything)
  15. Velvet Underground – Velvet Underground & Nico
  16. The Jazz Butcher – In Bath of Bacon (Not my favorite Jazz Buthcer album, and there are a lot of them, but the one that started it for me)
  17. Roxy Music – Avalon
  18. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Tender Prey (See my note on the Jazz Butcher)
  19. The Replacements – Pleased to Meet Me (The ultimate self-destructive Gen X band)
  20. The Pixies – Doolittle
  21. Lloyd Cole – Rattlesnakes (My favorite singer-songwriter. This one for a very specific person)
  22. Leonard Cohen – I’m Your Man
  23. PJ Harvey – To Bring You My Love (Hands down my favorite album of the 90s)
  24. The Geraldine Fibbers – Lost Somewhere Between the Earth and My Home
  25. 16 Horsepower – Sackcloth and Ashes

Mav’s List

Since Mav is the one who builds the show notes he had an unfair advantage. He actually had overlap with each of the other lists (he even said Prince’s Parade is one of his all time favorite albums on the show). But in order to make we got to 100 he was able to just bump anything that he had intended to pick that someone else already had. He also got to pull three additional choices because Quentin had only gone to 20. Call it producer’s benefit!

  1. Funkadelic – One Nation Under a Groove (Because I couldn’t see my way fit to ACTUALLY recommeding all 23 P-Funk albums)
  2. Kanye West – Late Registration (He may be crazy… but he knows how to make a damn good album)
  3. Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (She may be crazy… but she knows how to make a damn good album)
  4. The Fugees – The Score (in some versions of this list, I would have chosen solo projects by each of the three Fugees… but I had to draw a line)
  5. Public Enemy – It Nation of Millions to Hold us Back (… don’t believe the hype…)
  6. Rihanna – Loud
  7. Wu-Tang Clan – Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)
  8. Janet Jackson – Janet
  9. Miles Davis – Kind of Blue
  10. Charlotte Church – Voice of an Angel
  11. TLC – CrazySexyCool
  12. Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP
  13. Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell (I and II) (ok… this is sorta kinda cheating… but I really do think of them as just 1 long album… even if they did come out 16 years apart… It’s a real Godfather situation here… you can skip part III)
  14. Sade – Love Deluxe
  15. Marvin Gaye – Here My Dear (not at all my favorite Marvin… but it’s the right choice for THIS list)
  16. Counting Crows – August and Everything After
  17. Sheryl Crow – Tuesday Night Music Club
  18. Quincy Jones – Q’s Jook Joint (this is the absolute best album recorded in history by someone who didn’t sing or play a single damn note on the album)
  19. Olivia Ong – A Girl Meets a Bossanova 2 (the choice probably the fewest people reading this list have heard)
  20. Prince – Ƭ̵̬̊ (I could have easily filled this whole list with Prince… and in fact, I could have also chosen the other two Prince albums if they hadn’t been picked by other people)
  21. Notorious B.I.G. – Ready to Die
  22. The Who – Tommy (oddly enough I personally prefer the Original Broadway cast version to the Who version… by a lot, actually. BUT for the purposes of this list, the Who it is. Because they defined the concept of a rock opera with this album. All other attempts will forever be judged in comparison. Sorry Pink Floyd)
  23. PM Dawn – Of the Heart, Of the Soul, and of the Cross: The Utopian Experience
  24. R Kelly– Chocolate Factory (See Kanye… R isn’t so much crazy as he is a creep.. but this album is amazing)
  25. t.A.T.u/Тату – 200 По Встречной (specifically the original Russian rather than the American English language cover)
  26. Arrested Development – 3 Years 5 months and 2 Days
  27. Usher – Confessions
  28. Jay-Z – The Black Album (special honorable mention to the Gray Album remix by DJ Dangermouse featuring the Beatles… but the original Jay-Z version edges it out)
  29. Michael Jackson – Off the Wall (Thriller is NOT his best album. In fact, for my money, it doesn’t hold together “as an album”. It’s amazing… but it’s not cohesive. Off the Wall on the other hand…)
  30. Santana – Supernatural (Like Q… Santana doesn’t sing on his own album… also like Q, it doesn’t matter. You can do worse than to spend your nights falling in love to the sounds of a guitar played by Carlos Santana)

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