1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969
1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979
1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989
1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019


What is this Page about?
(1980 - 2011)
Below is a list of my ten favorite albums for every year since 1961. 

At the top of the list you will find my favorite album of the year, with a short commentary.  Underneath are the remaining nine albums, listed alphabetically, not by order of preference.  I should emphasize that I make no claim to being objective here--these are not necessarily the best albums ever, just the ones I enjoy the most.  The main difficulty I faced was sorting out albums that I liked at the time, but that maybe have not aged well, and then making way for music that I didn't listen to at all at the time, but that is some of my favorite today.  In the end, I have done my best to include a little of both categories.

I thought putting this list together was more fun than creating a simple list of my favorite albums period, mainly because several albums appeared on the list that wouldn't have made it otherwise.  Furthermore, it was interesting to look back and see which albums appeared around the same time.  The downside was that occasionally some really good albums slipped through the cracks if they appeared in a year with a lot of fabulous music.


2018 2019 2020
The 1975: A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships 1975 Brief
 Another solid release from this a band that sounds so 1980s and yet so current at the same time. As on earlier albums, some solid pop hooks and lush atmospherics, but with a few surprises thrown in as well. 
The Hold Steady: Thrashing Thru the Passion Hold Steady Thrashing
 Lots of really mellow music this year, but I was in the mood for a rocker. Luckily I got it with this album. It feels like a come-back for this band, but maybe only because they haven't released anything in a while. For any lovers of 1970s-era Bruce Springsteen, I'd recommend it. 
Run the Jewels: RTJ4 Run the Jewels RTJ4
 A group that has been rightly compared with Public Enemy, Run the Jewels made an album that was perfect for 2020: angry, noisy, and political. I've had this one playing from the moment it came out. 
Neko Case: Hell-On Bastille:Doom Days The Deftones: Ohms
Death Cab for Cutie: Thank You for Today Beck Hyperspace Dua Lipa: Future Nostalgia
Death Grips: Year of the Snitch The Black Keys: Let's Rock Fleet Foxes: Shore
DJ Koze Knock Knock Brittany Howard:Jaime Four Tet: Sixteen Oceans
Stephen Malkmus: Sparkle Hard Burna Boy: African Giant Hum: Inlet
Panic at the Disco: Pray for the Wicked Lana Del ReyNorman Fucking Rockwell! Katatonia: City Burials
Parquet Courts: Wide Awake! Maggie Rogers:Heard It in a Past Life Nada Surf: Never Not Together
Superchunk: What a Time to Be Alive The New Pornographers: In the Morse Code of Break Lights Pefume Genius: Set My Heart on Fire Immediately
Walk the Moon:What if Nothing Of Monsters and Men:Fever Dream The Strokes: The New Abnormal


2015 2016 2017
Adele: 25 Adele's 25
 With three kids at home, I am listening to a lot more pop music these days than I have in years.  I don't have to tell you how beautiful Adele's voice is, or how moving her songs are.   It's an album that still makes me tear up, even after a month of listening to it.   And as a person with religious leanings these days, I couldn't help hear "Hello" as a song to God.   I'm sure it wasn't intended this way, but like the Song of Solomon it can easily be heard from this perspective: an existential cry to whatever is out there on the other side.   A cry for forgiveness, a plea for return, but with more than a touch of modern resentment for having been left here to manage on our own in this screwed up world.  
The 1975:I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It The 1975's I Like It

Back to 80s New Wave for me this year.  Besides finally listening to Walk the Moon's material, I also spent a lot of time with Bastille's new album in the car as well as this beautiful album on my ipod.   It has some very catchy pop songs with some ambient soundscapes mixed into the middle.  All in all, a much better CD than thier first album--one that makes me look forward to future efforts.
The War on Drugs:A Deeper Understanding The War on Drugs' Deeper Understanding

Another amazing album from a band making consistently quality music. Dylanesque lyrics over a sonic roar that reminds me a bit of 1980s-era Pink Floyd. This is an album that takes me back a few decades.
Alabama Shakes: Sound & Color Car Seat Headrest:Teens of Denial Afghan Whigs: In Spades
Beirut: No No No David Bowie: Blackstar Japandroids: Near to the Wild Heart of Life
Death Cab for Cutie: Kintsugi Danny Brown: Atrocity Exhibition Jay-Z: 4:44
Drake: If You're Reading This It's Too Late Gojira:Magma Kendrick Lamar: DAMN
Kurt Vile: b'lieve i'm goin down... The Lumineers:Cleopatra Mount Erie:A Crow Looked at Me
Of Monsters and Men: Beneath the Skin The Savages:Adore Life The National:Sleep Well Beast
Protomartyr: The Agent Intellect Soft Kill:Choke The New Pornographers:Whiteout Conditions
Sleater-Kinney: No Cities to Love A Tribe Called Quest: We Got It From Here Spoon:Hot Thoughts
Walk the Moon:Talking is Hard Wild Nothing:Life of Pause Slowdive:Slowdive


2012 2013 2014
Grizzly Bear: Shields
 I've always appreciated Grizzly Bear, but for whatever reason their albums never penetrated very deeply into my psyche.  Until this one, that is.  Shields is a gorgeous, haunting art rock album that moves Grizzly Bear, in my opinion, to the top of the many great bands based in New York at the moment.
The Arctic Monkeys: AM

OK, so I will admit it.  It was the Bacardi Commercial that got me listening to this album.  I almost didn't buy it since I was severely disappointed by their last two albums.  This one is much better--a real return to form.  A bunch of fun, rockin' songs that are great to drive to.
The War on Drugs: Lost in the Dream war on drugs: lost in the dream

Maybe it is a sign of me getting old, but there were no albums this year that just blew me away.  Still, a bunch of strong efforts, and The War on Drugs's latest is the one that I kept coming back to over and over again.  A great rock 'n' roll album.  Nice to see them still putting out consistent music, even with Kurt Vile out on his own now.  At its core, somehow a very "classic rock" sound, but with enough shimmering, feedback to keep us indie fans interested.

Bat for Lashes: The Haunted Man Bastille: Bastille The Afghan Whigs: Do to the Beast
Chairlift: Take It Out on Me Deerhunter: Monomania Aphex Twin: Syro
The Divine Fits: A Thing Called Divine Fits Local Natives: Hummingbird The Cloud Nothings: Here and Nowhere Else
Gaslight Anthem: Handwritten The National: Trouble Will Find Me Cymbols Eat Guitars: LOSE
Japandroids: Celebration Rock Nine Inch Nails: Hesitations Marks The New Pornographers: Brill Bruisers
Lana Del Ray: Born to Die Queens of the Stone Age: ...Like Clockwork Pallbearer: Foundations of Burden
Bob Mould: Silver Age The Savages: Silence Yourself Spoon: They Want My Soul
Of Monsters and Men: My Head is an Animal Vampire Weekend: Modern Vampires in the City Sun Kil Moon: Benji
Temper Trap: Temper Trap Kurt Vile: Waken on a Pretty Daze U2: Songs of Innocence


2009 2010 2011
The Big Pink: A Brief History of Love
 At the end of the year, I finally woke up to Shoegaze-revival going on in Britain and the US.  This CD has stayed on my ipod since the moment I put it there, and nearly a year later I am still listening to it.  Like a lot of the "nugaze," it is also more than a little reminiscent of some 1980s new wave.  Strong beats, roaring guitars, and dreamy melodies.
Surfer Blood: Astro Coast
2010 was a great year for surf-rock revival bands.  I'll admit that I got a little tired of it by the end of the year, but this album stayed in my CD player a lot nonetheless.
Army Navy: The Last Place

I came upon this band's first album about a year ago (thank you, emusic), and since then it has never left my ipod.  Others might have been introduced to them through their song on Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist Sountrack.  I've always had a soft spot in my heart for power pop, and this band is one of the best out there right now working in this style.  Their new album is just as good as their first, in my opinion.  For those of us who think that the Posies and Teenage Fanclub don't make nearly enough music, Army Navy steps in to fill the void.

Animal Collective: Merriweather Post Pavilion Arcade Fire: Suburbs Cut Copy: Zonoscope
Neko Case: Middle Cyclone Band of Horses: Infinite Arms Fleet Foxes: Helplessness Blues
Dinosaur Jr.: The Farm The Black Keys: Brothers Girls: Father, Son, Holy Ghost
Iron & Wine: Around the Well Broken Social Scene: Forgiveness Rock Record M83: Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart The Drums: The Drums Nils Petter Molvaer: Baboon Man
Silversun Pickups: Swoon Radio Dept: Clinging to a Scheme Radiohead: The King of Limbs
Sonic Youth: The Eternal Ra Ra Riot: The Orchard Washed Out: Within and Without
U2: No Line on the Horizon Vampire Weekend: Contra Wild Flag: Wild Flag
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs: It's Blitz Yeasayer: Odd Blood Yuck: Yuck


2006 2007 2008
Ellen Allien/Apparat: Orchestra of Bubbles
This has been the year for me to dive back into techno , specifically of the Berlin and Detroit varieties.  Discovering that itunes has much of the material from the Tresor label, I've become addicted lately to Juan Atkins, Jeff Mills, Richie Hawtin, Joey Beltram and the like.  I also like the bpitch control label, with Ellen Allien being one of my favorites.  And what's not to enjoy!  On this CD, produced with experimental electronic composer Apparat, you get a little bit of everything, it seems: some of the melodic synth lines of progressive house, hints of the glitchy, twitchy beats of microhouse, the Euro-vampy voicework of electroclash, the occasional funky beats of traditional electro, and lots of danceable, driving rhythms to keep the techno fan happy.  A very nice CD.  
The Shins: Wincing the Night Away
Interestingly, we've seen a resurfacing of prog-rock over the past few years within many different genres: emo (My Chemical Romance), pop-punk (Green Day), metal (Coheed and Cambria), and even indie-pop (the Decembrists).  With their new album, the Shins too have made the move, and a lot more successfully than I would have ever guessed.  Fans of the concise pop-songs of the last two albums may be disappointed, but there are enough gorgeous, lush melodies here to win some new converts, I think.
The Kings of Leon: Only by the Night
The best years in music tend to be those in which a new wave of artists breaks out into the music scene: 1967 with the explosion of psychedelic music, 1977 with punk and new wave, 1987 with College Music breaking out of the underground, 1991 with the convergence of Grunge and the Golden Age of Hip Hop, 1995 with the Brit-Pop and Electronica finally making it into the American mainstream, and most recently 2001 with the Strokes and Emo hitting the mainstream and an explosion of indie pop artists in the underground.

Then there are years like 2008, which are quieter and yet still manage to produce a bunch of really good albums.  I could have easily doubled the list this year of CDs that I really, really like.  Even some albums, like Death Cab for Cutie's Narrow Stairs, which started off by disappointing me but have gradually grown on me over the year.

So I had a hard time picking a favorite this year, but the new Kings of Leon album has steadily stayed in my CD player and on my ipod.  It fits the mood, I think.  With an economic recession coming fast down the pike, it is appropriate that we would look back to the 1970s for inspiration.  Two-martini lunches anyone?  Now that's how to live through a depression.  This album has provided my personal soundtrack for the last six months.  Enormous guitar chords combined with Plant-style banshee wailing produces a fantastic, 1970s-hard rock album that is amazing, blissed-out fun.

Cassy: Panarama Bar 01 Against Me!: New Wave Army Navy: Army Navy
The Decemberists: The Crane Wife Ellen Allien: Fabric 34 Cut Copy: In Ghost Colours
The Editors: The Back Room The Broken West: I Can't Go On, I'll Go On Deerhunter: Microcastle
The Hold Steady: Boys and Girls in America Feist: The Reminder The Gaslight Anthem: The '59 Sound
Luciano: Sci.Fi.Hi.Fi., Vol. 2 Kings of Leon: Because of the Times Mates of State: Rearrange Us
The Strokes: First Impressions of Earth LCD Soundsystem: Sound of Silver The Raveonettes: Lust Lust Lust
Tiefschwarz: Fabric 29 Nine Inch Nails: Year Zero Santagold: Santagold
TV on the Radio: Return to Cookie Mountain Spoon: Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga TV on the Radio: Dear Science
Yo La Tengo: I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass Bruce Springsteen: Magic Vampire Weekend: Vampire Weekend


2003 2004 2005
White Stripes: Elephant
I liked their last album, White Blood Cells, though I don't think it warranted all the publicity it got.  This album, though, deserves all the publicity, and then some.  In my opinion, the best rocker of the year.
Pedro the Lion: Achilles Heel
This acoustic pop album has a frail, haunting quality that draws comparisons to Sebedoh and some of the slowcore bands (Bedhead, etc.).  The songwriting, though--especially the use of the high range--reminds me of Coldplay and occasionally Jeff Buckley.  This is the first album I've bought from this artist, but I will certainly pick up others.
Kings of Leon: Aha Shake Heartbreak
This CD floored me.  I enjoyed their first album, but was really not prepared for the tremendous jump in songwriting that that this album represents.  This is for anyone who likes the Strokes and a good CCR tune, or maybe might have liked the Strokes if they sounded like a bunch of Southern rednecks.  Driving rhythms, punk attitude, and sloppy Southern guitar wrapped up into a fabulous album
Blur: Think Tank The Beastie Boys: To the 5 Boroughs Alkaline Trio: Crimson
Death Cab for Cutie: Transatlanticism Blonde Redhead: Misery is a Butterfly Beck: Geuro
Fountains of Wayne: Welcome Interstate Managers Franz Ferdinand: Franz Ferdinand Bloc Party: Silent Alarm
The Jayhawks: Rainy Day Music Green Day: American Idiot Coldplay: X&Y
Jay-Z: The Black Album Iron and Wine: Our Endless Numbered Days Common: Be
Jet: Get Born The Killers: Hot Fuss Decemberists: Picaresque
The New Pornographers: Electric Version Rilo Kiley: More Adventerous Low: Great Destroyer
Lucinda Williams: World Without Tears The Walkmen: Bows + Arrows New Pornographers: Twin Cinema
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Fever to Tell Various Artists (Kompakt): Kompakt 100 Spoon: Gimme Fiction



2000 2001 2002
PJ Harvey: Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea
Not your usual PJ Harvey, but still her most complex and developed album to date.  If you haven't heard PJ in a few years, give this a try.
Dezerayís Hammer: Immune
I think Dezeray's Hammer is one of the best bands out there today.  Too bad their record company collapsed so quickly, since I think this upstate-South Carolina band is just as good as Jimmy Eat World, who also had a big hit this year.
Wilco: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
A mellow album with some beautiful music.  Reminds me a little of the Grateful Dead, circa American Beauty, except without the long solos.  Many Dead Heads will say that the long solos are what made the Grateful Dead... well, grate(sic).  But trust me, this album is beautiful. 
At the Drive-In: Relationship of Command America Hi-Fi: American Hi-Fi And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead: Source Tags and Codes
Daniel Bell: The Button Down Mind of Daniel Bell Craig Richards: Fabric 01 Coldplay: A Rush of Blood to the Head
The Jayhawks: Smile Jimmy Eat World: Bleed American The Flaming Lips: Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
Modest Mouse: The Moon & Antarctica Guided By Voices: Isolation Drills Interpol: Turn on the Bright Lights
The New Pornographers: Mass Romantic Richie Hawtin: DE9: Closer to the Edit The Libertines: Up the Bracket
Paul Van Dyk: Out There and Back The Strokes: Is This It MRI: All That Glitters
Radiohead: Kid A Tool: Lateralus The Roots: Phrenology
Rainer Maria: A Better Version of Me The Verve Pipe: Underneath Silkworm: Italian Platinum
Sleater-Kinney: All Hands on the Bad One Pete Yorn: Musicforthemorningafter Various Artists (Tresor): True Spirit



1997 1998 1999
Verve: Urban Hymns
Music that you can't get out of your head (in a good way, though).
The Barenaked Ladies: Stunt
The album that made a lot of us realize that the Barenaked Ladies was more than a novelty band.  The band is one of the greatest pop acts out there.
Guided By Voices: Do the Collapse
For some reason, people who call themselves "true" GbV fans hate this album.  I have never understood that, since I think it is by far their best.  OK, OK, so I like Ric Ocasek, who produced this album.  But even beyond that, the tunes on this album are so catchy!
Albert Hill: Machine Called Company Babe the Blue Ox: The Way We Were Dave Seaman: Global Underground 12: Buenos Aires
Apples in Stereo: Tone Soul Evolution The Goo Goo Dolls: Dizzy Up the Girl Built to Spill: Keep It Like a Secret
The Ben Folds Five: Whatever and Ever Amen Madonna: Ray of Light The Dismemberment Plan: Emergency and I
Blur: Blur Neutral Milk Hotel: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea The Flaming Lips: Soft Bulletin
The Deftones: Around the Fur Sasha: Global Underground 09: San Francisco The Foo Fighters: There is Nothing Left to Lose
The Foo Fighters: The Colour and the Shape Semisonic: Feeling Strangely Fine Moby: Play
Modest Mouse: The Lonesome Crowded West Sunny Day Real Estate: How It Feels To Be Something On The Red Hot Chili Peppers: Californiacation
Prodigy: The Fat of the Land The System of a Down: System of a Down Superchunk: Come Pick Me Up
Radiohead: OK Computer Lucinda Williams: Car Wheels on a Gravel Road Tosca: Suzuki



1994 1995 1996
Underworld: Dubnobass- withmy- headman
Like most Americans, I pretty much  ignored electronica (unless you count the pop house music of the early 90s) until 1997, when albums by the Chemical Brothers and Prodigy both got lots of attention.  Since then, I have tried to make up for everything I missed.  This album is my favorite from the genre.
Oasis: Whatís the Story (Morning Glory)
When their first album came out, I remember seeing them as Stone Roses knock-offs (as I thought nearly all Brit pop bands were for a long time).  It wasn't until their second album that I started to catch on that they were actually Rolling Stones/Beatles rip-offs, and that it didn't matter.
Lyle Lovett: Road to Ensenada
I didn't start listening to country until I went to Texas.  I guess it is natural, then, that this great Texas patriot is, and will probably always be, my favorite country artist.
Codeine: White Birch Aphex Twin: I Care Because You Do Fountains of Wayne: Fountains of Wayne
Everything but the Girl: Amplified Heart The Chemical Brothers: Exit Planet Dust Hootie and the Blowfish: Fairweather Johnson
Green Day: Dookie Guided by Voices: Alien Lanes The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion: Now I Got Worry
Hole: Live Through This Natalie Merchant Tigerlilly L.T.J. Bukem: Logical Progression
Jawbox: For Your Own Special Sweatheart Radiohead: The Bends Marilyn Manson: Antichrist Superstar
Pavement: Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain Son Volt: Trace Promise Ring: 30 Degrees Everywhere
Soul Coughing: Ruby Vroom Teenage Fanclub: Grand Prix Sublime: Sublime
The Stone Temple Pilots: Purple Tricky: Maxinquaye Tool: Aenima
Weezer: Weezer Tupac: Me Against the World Underworld: Second Toughest in the Infants 



1991 1992 1993
Massive Attack: Blue Lines
This seems like a weird choice for #1 album of this year, since I (like nearly everyone else, it seemed) had ears and eyes only for grunge in 1991.  If I had heard this at the time, I certainly wouldn't have liked it.  I am glad I found it later.
The Beastie Boys: Check Your Head
This may not be as good as Paul's Boutique, but very few people appreciated that album at the time.  This is the album that made us all remember how great the Beastie Boys are.
Meshell Ndegeocello: Plantation Lullabies
I only started to listed to Meshell Ndegeocello when her second album came out in 1996.  But this is my favorite of the neo-soul of the 90s.  A great mix of soul, hip-hop, and a bit of funk thrown in for good measure.
Dinosaur Jr.: Green Mind The Afghan Whigs: Congregation The Breeders: Last Splash
My Bloody Valentine: Loveless Alice in Chains: Facelift The Counting Crows: August and Everything After
Nirvana: Nevermind The Barenaked Ladies: Gordon Cypress Hill: Black Sunday
The Orb: The Orbís Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld Faith No More: Angel Dust The Flaming Lips: Transmissions from the Satellite Heart
Pearl Jam: Ten Helmet: Meantime Nirvana: In Utero
Pixies: Trompe le Monde Jawbox: Novelty Sarah McLachlan: Fumbling Towards Ecstasy  
The Red Hot Chili Peppers: Blood Sugar Sex Magic Pavement: Slanted and Enchanted The Posies: Frosting on the Beater
Soundgarden: Badmotorfinger Rage Against the Machine: Rage Against the Machine The Smashing Pumpkins: Siamese Dream
Teenage Fanclub: Bandwagonesque REM: Automatic for the People The Wu-Tang Clan: Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)



1988 1989 1990
Sonic Youth: Daydream Nation
I bought this album by chance as I was looking for another hardcore punk album.  I found something much, much better.  At the time, my favorite bands were Alice Donut and Jane's Addiction.  Their music has not aged so well in my mind, and this album is ageless.
Nine Inch Nails: Pretty Hate Machine
The best and worst industrial album: best because it melded pop and industrial music in a way that made us all sit up and listen, worst because it gave so many people bad ideas.
Sinead OíConner: I Do Not Want What I Havenít Got
I think I developed a crush on  this bald-headed phenomenon during my sophomore year at Rice U.  Her music was so simple and so moving.  Unfortunately, it didn't age as well as I would have liked, but it is still a classic of the alternative era.
Alice Donut: Alice Donut The Beastie Boys: Paulís Boutique Alice in Chains: Facelift
Tracy Chapman: Tracy Chapman Camper Van Beethoven: Key Lime Pie The Breeders: Pod
The Cowboy Junkies: Trinity Sessions The Cure: Disintegration Concrete Blonde: Bloodletting
Fishbone: Truth and Soul Robyn Hitchcock: Queen Elvis Depeche Mode: Violater
Janeís Addiction: Nothing Shocking Ministry: The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste The Dwarves: Blood, Guts, and Pussy
Slayer: South of Heaven The Pixies: Doolittle Fugazi: Repeater
The Sugarcubes: Lifeís too Good The Red Hot Chili Peppers: Motherís Milk Public Enemy: Fear of a Black Planet
The Talking Heads: Naked The Stone Roses: The Stone Roses The Sundays: Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic
The Waterboys: Fishermanís Blues Soundgarden: Louder Than Love The Laís: Laís



1985 1986 1987
Replacements: Tim
I only started to listen to the Replacements in 1987, when I was searching for another REM.  I so wished I had started earlier, since they were probably the best band of the eighties.  This is their best album, in my opinion, though some people prefer Let It Be.
REM: Lifeís Rich Pageant
This was the first REM album I heard, and therefore it remains my favorite.  I now see it as a the last of their straight-forward jangle pop pieces of the eighties.  Afterwards, they would go on to do some wonderful music, and alas some not so wonderful music.
U2: Joshua Tree
This album evokes so many memories for me.  I think many people feel like they have to grow into their personality sometime in high school.  This album played some part in the process for me.
A-Ha: Hunting High and Low Bodeans: Love, Hope, Sex, and Dreams Big Black: Songs about Fucking
Phil Collins: No Jacket Required Depeche Mode: Black Celebration Connells: Boylan Heights
Dead Milkmen: Big Lizard in my Backyard Drivin and Cryin: Scarred but Smarter Cure: Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me
Dire Straits: Brothers in Arms Flaming Lips: Heat It Is Guns ní Roses: Appetite for Destruction
DRI: Dealing with It Peter Gabriel: So Pixies: Come on Pilgrim
Jesus and Mary Chain: Psychocandy Metallica: Master of Puppets Reivers: Saturday
John Cougar Mellencamp: Scarecrow Run-D.M.C.: Raising Hell REM: Document
Madonna: Like a Virgin Slayer: Reign in Blood Sting: Nothing Like the Sun
Tears for Fears: Songs from the Big Chair Smiths: The Queen is Dead 10,000 Maniacs: In My Tribe



1982 1983 1984
Michael Jackson: Thriller
God, I used to hate this album.  I still want to at some level, but I can't help it.  Nostalgia does its magic--but black or white, I'm not sure.
REM: Murmur
My experience has been that the first REM album you hear will generally be your favorite.  Murmur is usually the second.
Prince: Purple Rain
As a kid in puberty, I was both shocked and fascinated by this album when it became the sensation that it did in 1984--a reaction shared by most of America, I suppose.  In the end, though, it's the music and not the lyrics that still makes this album a pleasure to listen to.
Asia: Asia David Bowie: Letís Dance Big Country: Steeltown
Bad Brains: Bad Brains Billy Joel: Innocent Man Cars: Heartbreak City
Circle Jerks: Wild in the Streets John Cougar Mellencamp: Uh-huh Cocteau Twins: Treasure
Fear: The Record New Order: Power, Corruption, Lies Husker Du: Zen Arcade
Peter Gabriel: Security Police: Synchronicity  Cindi Lauper: Sheís So Unusual
Iron Maiden: The Number of the Beast Prince: 1999 REM: Reckoning
Mission of Burma: Vs. Suicidal Tendencies: Suicidal Tendencies Replacements: Let It Be
XTC: English Settlement U2: War Smiths: The Smiths
Yaz: Upstairs at Ericís Yes: 90125 Bruce Springsteen: Born in the USA



1979 1980 1981
Clash: London Calling
I heard this after I had started listening to the Dead Kennedys and the Sex Pistols.  At the time it didn't sound very punk to me, but now it may be my favorite album ever.  The cover is great too.
Talking Heads: Remain in the Light
This may be my favorite new wave album.  Classic Talking Heads.
Black Flag: Damaged
It's amazing to me how long it took me to get into Black Flag.  I originally started listening to the Circle Jerks and the Dead Kennedys back in High School; it wasn't until my last years in college that I started working back to some of the originals.  Now this is my favorite hardcore album.
Buzzcocks: Singles Going Steady AC/DC: Back in Black DB's: Stands for Decibels
Cure: Boys Don't Cry Dead Kennedys: Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables Gang of Four: Solid Gold
Journey: Evolution Dire Straights: Making Movies Go-Go's: Beauty and the Beat
Joy Divison: Unknown Pleasures Killing Joke: Killing Joke Joan Jett: Bad Reputation 
Pink Floyd: The Wall Judas Priest: British Steel Minor Threat: Minor Threat EP/In My Eyes
Slits: Cut Pretenders: Pretenders Stevie Nicks: Belladonna
Supertramp: Breakfast in America Soft Boys: Underwater Police: Ghost in the Machine
Neil Young: Rust Never Sleeps Bruce Springsteen: The River Psychedelic Furs: Talk Talk Talk
Weather Report: 8:30 X: Los Angeles Rick Springfield: Working Class Dog



1976 1977 1978
Ramones: Ramones
I started to listen to the Ramones in high school several years after I had started listening to punk rock.  They weren't my favorite at the time, but their music has grown on me over the years.
Fleetwood Mac: Rumours
This was the album I hid from all my punk friends in high school.  I listened to it a lot, but only behind locked doors with headphones.  I don't know now why I was so ashamed.
Elvis Costello: This Year's Model
Dave Deggeller, one of my roommates at Rice U., listened to Elvis Costello all of the time.  It took a while to grow on me, but now he is one of my favorite songwriters.  This is my favorite of his albums.
Boston: Boston Abba: Arrival Blondie: Parallel Lines
Jackson Browne: Pretender The Clash: The Clash Cars: Cars
Eagles: Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 Elvis Costello: My Aim is True Cheap Trick: At Budokan
Eagles: Hotel California Billy Joel: The Stranger Funkadelic: One Nation Under a Groove
Heart: Dreamboat Annie Kraftwerk: Trans-Europa Express Police: Outlandos d'Amour
Kiss: Destroyer Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack Rolling Stones: Some Girls
Modern Lovers: Modern Lovers Sex Pistols: Never Mind the Bullocks Bruce Springsteen: Darkness at the Edge of Town
Linda Ronstadt: Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 Steely Dan: Aja Steve Miller Band: Greatest Hits
Stevie Wonder: Songs in the Key of Life Television: Marquee Moon Van Halen: Van Halen I



1973 1974 1975
Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon
In contrast to many Pink Floyd fans, I prefer some of the later albums like Wish You Were Here and The Wall, but this is still a classic.
Kiss: Kiss
I know most people prefer the two live albums, but I have always been a sucker for their studio work.  I think I like the cleaner sound.  A weakness of mine, I suppose.  "Strutter" and "Black Diamond" are two of my favorite Kiss songs.
Bruce Springsteen: Born to Run
One of my favorite albums from one of my favorite artists.  You will notice a lot of Springsteen's albums on these lists.
Allman Brothers: Brothers and Sisters Eric Clapton: 461 Ocean Boulevard AC/DC: High Voltage
Herbie Hancock: Head Hunters Bad Company: Bad Company Aerosmith: Toys in the Attic
Elton John: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Big Star: Radio City Electric Light Orchestra: Face the Music
Led Zeppelin: Houses of the Holy Jackson Browne: Late for the Sky Bob Dylan: Desire
Little Feet: Dixie Chicken Steely Dan: Pretzel Logic Parliament: Mothership Connection
Iggy Pop and the Stooges: Raw Power Lynyrd Skynyrd: Second Helping Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here
Bob Marley: Burnin' Joni Mitchell: Court and Spark Queen: A Night at the Opera
New York Dolls: New York Dolls Roxy Music: Country Life Roxy Music: Siren
Bruce Springsteen: The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle Supertramp: Crime of the Century Patti Smith: Horses



1970 1971 1972
Grateful Dead: American Beauty
I actually think the Dead is somewhat overrated (no offense to all those Dead-Heads out there), but this album, along with its companion Workingman Blues, is absolutely beautiful.
T. Rex: Electric Warrior
I was so happy when I heard "Cosmic Dancer" on the film Billy Eliot.  Somehow, it just fit perfectly.  Most people my age know T.Rex through Power Station's cover of "Get it On," but I like the original a whole lot better.  This is by far my favorite glam album.
Big Star: #1 Record
I first heard about Big Star obliquely--through a Replacements song named after Alex Chilton, the brilliant yet slightly erratic main songwriter for this group.  It took me a while to hunt down this album, but since finding it Big's Star's first has become one of my "desert island" discs.  Many people will recognize "In the Street" from the Cheap-Trick cover that served as the theme song for That 70s Show.  Big Star could do both power-pop sing- alongs like this one, and also haunting ballads such as "Thirteen" and "Watch the Sunrise."
Badfinger: No Dice Black Sabbath: Paranoid David Bowie: Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
Crosby, Stills, and Nash: Deja Vu Doors: L.A. Woman Black Sabbath: Volume 4
Doors: Morrison Hotel Marvin Gaye: What's Going On Curtis Mayfield: Superfly
Iggy Pop and the Stooges: Fun House Carole King: Tapestry Neu!: Neu!
Simon and Garfunkel: Bridge over Troubled Waters Led Zeppelin: IV (Zofo) Lou Reed: Transformer
Cat Stevens: Tea for the Tillerman Joni Mitchell: Blue Rolling Stones: Exile on Main Street
James Taylor: Sweet Baby James Van Morrison: Tupelo Honey T. Rex: Slider
Velvet Underground: Loaded Rod Stewart: Every Picture Tells a Story Stevie Wonder: Talking Book
Neil Young: After the Gold Rush Who: Who's Next Yes: Fragile



1967 1968 1969
Doors: Doors
How many hippie bands are also enjoyed by punks, goths, and, well, about anyone with good taste?  Lots of great music this year, but Morrison's Nietzschean side helps the Doors to stand out from the crowd.
Van Morrison: Astral Weeks
Boy, was it hard to pick a favorite out of the bunch of albums that came out this year.  I have only recently discovered Van Morrison, though, so this one is my favorite at the moment.  
Rolling Stones: Let it Bleed
I figure that the Rolling Stones needed to make it into the top slot for at least one year, and this album is as good as anything they put out.  This year's was another difficult choice, though.
Beatles: Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band Beatles: White Album Beatles: Abby Road
Buffalo Springfield: Buffalo Springfield Again Big Brother and the Holding Company: Cheap Thrills Creedence Clearwater Revival: Willy and the Poor Boys
Aretha Franklin: I Never Loved a Man the Way I Loved You Byrds: Sweetheart of the Rodeo Crosby, Stills, and Nash: Crosby, Still, and Nash
Jimi Hendrix: Are You Experienced? Cream: Wheels of Fire Miles Davis: Bitches Brew
Jefferson Airplane: Surrealistic Pillow Jimi Hendrix: Electric Ladyland Jefferson Airplane: Volunteers
Kinks: Something Else Rolling Stones: Beggars Banquet Kinks: Arthur or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire
Pink Floyd: Piper at the Gates of Dawn Steppenwolf: Steppenwolf Led Zeppelin: II
Rolling Stones: Between the Buttons Simon and Garfunkel: Bookends Velvet Underground: Velvet Underground
Velvet Underground: Velvet Underground and Nico The Zombies: Odessey & Oracle Who: Tommy



1964 1965 1966
Beatles: A Hard Day's Night
The first Beatles album to show that they could do something better than "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" and decent Chuck Berry covers.  Also the album to inspire the Byrds, which alone would make it stand out.  Nothing here could match up to the Kinks' "You really Got Me Now" of the same year, but better overall than the Kinks' debut.
Bob Dylan: Highway 61 Revisited
My second favorte Dylan album, after Blonde on Blonde.
Beatles: Revolver
Nearly every album the Beatles put out is a classic, of course, but the experimentation and song-quality of this one makes it by far my favorite.
Animals: The Animals Beatles: Rubber Soul Beach Boys: Pet Sounds
Beach Boys: All Summer Long James Brown: Papa Gotta Brand New Bag Byrds: Fifth Dimension
John Coltrane: Love Supreme Byrds: Mr. Tambourine Man Cream: Fresh Cream
Bob Dylan: The Times are A-Changin' John Coltrane: Ascension Miles Davis: Miles Smiles
Kinks: The Kinks Bob Dylan: Bringing It All Back Home Bob Dylan: Blonde on Blonde
Roy Orbison: Oh, Pretty Woman Herbie Hancock: Maiden Voyage Otis Redding: Otis Blue
Supremes: Where Did Our Love Go Lovin Spoonful: Do You Believe In Magic? Rascals: The Young Rascals
Temptations: Meet the Temptations Them: Angry Young Them Simon and Garfunkel: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme
Yardbirds: 5 Live Yardbirds The Zombies: Begin Here Troggs: Wild Thing



1961 1962 1963
Bill Evans: Sunday at the Village Vanguard
Great Jazz for a rainy day, or just when you need to chill out.
Thelonious Monk: Monk's Dream
If you haven't heard this, buy it.  Now.  Some of my favorite Jazz.
Bob Dylan: The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
My favorite of Dylan's folk albums
Joan Baez: Volume 2 Dick Dale: Surfer's Choice Beatles: Please Please Me
John Coltrane: My Favorite Things Miles Davis: Sorcerer Beatles: With the Beatles
Dion and the Bellmonts: Runaround Sue Bob Dylan: Bob Dylan Booker T and the MG's: Green Onions
Charles Mingus: Oh Yeah Bill Evans: Moonbeams Eric Dolphy: Conversations
Thelonious Monk: Monk in Copenhagen Dexter Gordon: Go! Bill Evans: Conversations with Myself
Max Roach: Percussion Bitter Sweet Isley Brothers: Twist and Shout Jan and Dean: Surf City
George Russell: Ezz-Thetics George Russell: Stratus Seekers Kingsmen: The Kingsmen in Person
The Shadows: The Shadows McCoy Tyner Trio: Inception Charles Mingus: Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus
Del Shannon: Runaway Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons: Sherry and 11 Other Songs Del Shannon: Little Town Flirt


Copyright 2008 Clayton J. Whisnant

This page contains some copyrighted material (album covers) used for review purposes only.

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The Best albums of 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969.

The Best albums of 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979.

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