Feb 062018
 

A selection of more than one thousand albums/recordings I consider essential, from 1923 to the present. Click the decade link to view the whole decade in one page or click the single year.

New! View it in Google Sheets.

The lists:

Notes about the lists:

  • This is a work in progress.
  • The lists are focused on rock music, including roots and derivative genres. So they cover other genres as well, even if not extensively, in those cases where the content is considered influential for rock music.
  • The first section (Early blues, jazz, folk and rock ‘n’ roll) includes mostly compilations. The other lists include albums only, although there are few exceptions.
  • They include 10 main albums per year (at least starting from 1964) plus a variable number of notable albums listed after (I’m more “generous” in the last decade). The release date is reported between the parenthesis and the albums are sorted by that date, unless specification indicates otherwise.
  • Straight blues is covered more extensively here: Blues recordings selection.
  • The following acronyms are used to identify some minority genres or nationalities:

Album covers selected from the lists above, one for each year:

 

Jan 012018
 

Release date order:

  • First Aid Kit – Ruins (January 19)
  • Xylouris White – Mother (January 19)
  • Yhdarl – Loss (January 19)(BM)
  • The Limiñanas – Shadow People (January 19)
  • Calexico – The Thread That Keeps Us (January 26)
  • Fire! – The Hands (January 26)
  • Portal – ION (January 26)(DEATH)

Upcoming:

  • Drudkh – They Often See Dreams About the Spring (March 9)(BM)
  • A Place to Bury Strangers – Pinned (April 13)
  • Vampire Weekend – ?
  • My Bloody Valentine – ?
  • Deafheaven – ?
  • Mount Eerie – ?
  • Nothing – ?
  • Sylvaine – ?

Released posthumously:

  • Frank Zappa – The Roxy Performances [box set] (February 2; recorded: December 8–10, 1973)

« Best albums of 2017

Dec 102017
 

Rank order:

  1. Bell Witch – Mirror Reaper (October 20)(DOOM)
  2. Ryuichi Sakamoto – Async (April 28)
  3. Fen – Winter (March 10)(BM)
  4. Wolves in the Throne Room – Thrice Woven (September 22)(BM)
  5. Drudkh / Paysage d’Hiver – Somewhere Sadness Wanders (August 25)(BM)
  6. Rosalía – Los Ángeles (February 10)(FLAMENCO)
  7. Chelsea Wolfe – Hiss Spoon (September 22)
  8. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Luciferian Towers (September 22)
  9. Ulver – The Assassination of Julius Caesar (April 7)
  10. Auðn – Farvegir Fyrndar (November 10)(BM)

Others, release date order:

  • The xx – I See You (January 13)
  • Piano Magic – Closure (January 20)
  • Moon Duo – Occult Architecture Vol 1 (February 3)
  • Tinariwen – Elwan (February 10)(AFRICA)
  • Lawrence English – Cruel Optimism (February 17)(AMBIENT)
  • Grails – Chalice Hymnal (February 17)
  • Dool – Here Now, There Then (February 17)
  • Vagabon – Infinite Worlds (February 24)
  • The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Don’t Get Lost (February 24)
  • Jay Som – Everybody Works (March 10)
  • Planning For Burial – Below The House (March 10)
  • Yasmine Hamdan – Al Jamilat (March 17)(LEBANON)
  • Mount Eerie – A Crow Looked at Me (March 24)
  • Falls of Rauros – Vigilance Perennial (March 31)(BM)
  • Robyn Hitchcock – Robyn Hitchcock (April 21)
  • The Black Angels – Death Song  (April 22)
  • Mark Lanegan Band – Gargoyle (April 28)
  • Flowers Must Die – Kompost (April 28)
  • Slowdive – Slowdive (May 5)
  • Perfume Genius – No Shape (May 5)
  • Hampshire & Foat – Galaxies Like Grains of Sand (May 26)(JAZZ)
  • Big Thief – Capacity (June 9)
  • Flotation Toy Warning – The Machine That Made Us (June 16)
  • Offa Rex – The Queen of Hearts (July 7)(BRITISH)
  • Lana Del Rey – Lust For Life (July 21)
  • Oh Sees – Orc (August 25)
  • Der Weg Einer Freiheit – Finisterre (August 25)(BM)
  • LCD Soundsystem – American Dream (September 1)
  • The Dream Syndicate – How Did I Find Myself Here? (September 8)
  • Gregg Allman – Southern Blood (September 8)
  • The National – Sleep Well Beast (September 8)
  • Motorpsycho – The Tower (September 8)
  • Myrkur – Mareridt (September 15)(BM)
  • The Horrors – V (September 22)
  • UUUU – s/t (October 6)
  • Yellow Eyes – Immersion Trench Reverie (October 20)(BM)
  • Julien Baker – Turn Out the Lights (October 27)
  • Converge – The Dusk in Us (November 3)
  • Charlotte Gainsbourg – Rest (November 17)(FRANCE)

Reissues/Compilations:

  • Radiohead – OK Computer OKNOTOK 1997 2017 (Compilation, June 23)

EPs:

  • VANUM – Burning Arrow (EP, April 1)(BM)
  • Oranssi Pazuzu – Kevät / Värimyrsky (EP, April 12)(BM)

« Best albums of 2016
» Best albums of 2018

Sep 212017
 

Essential list of early influential recordings, mostly compilations, sorted approximately by recording date:

  • [recordings 1923-] Bessie Smith – The Essential Bessie Smith (Compilation, Columbia/Legacy, 1997)(BLUES)
  • [recordings 1927-] Blind Willie Johnson – Dark Was the Night (Compilation, Columbia/Legacy, 1998)(BLUES)
  • [recordings 1927-] Blind Lemon Jefferson – The Best of Blind Lemon Jefferson (Compilation, Yazoo, 2000)(BLUES)
  • [recordings 1928-] Mississippi John Hurt – Avalon Blues: The Complete 1928 Okeh Recordings (Compilation, Columbia/Legacy, 1996)(BLUES)
  • [recordings 1929-] Charley Patton – Founder of the Delta Blues (Compilation, Yazoo, 1969)(BLUES)
  • [recordings 1930-] Son House – Complete Recorded Works of Son House & the Great Delta Blues Singers (Compilation, Document, 1990)(BLUES)
  • [recordings 1931-] Skip James – I’d Rather Be the Devil: The Legendary 1931 Session (Compilation, Rev-Ola Records, 2007)(BLUES)
  • [recordings 1933-] Billie Holiday – The Ultimate Collection (Compilation, Hip-O, 2005)(JAZZ)
  • [recordings 1935-] Billie Holiday – Lady Day: The Master Takes and Singles (Compilation, Columbia/Legacy, 2007)(JAZZ)
  • [recordings 1934-] Lead Belly – King of the 12-String Guitar (Compilation, Columbia/Legacy, 1991)(BLUES)
  • [recordings 1935-] The Carter Family – Can the Circle Be Unbroken?: Country Music’s First Family (Compilation, Columbia/Legacy, 2000)(FOLK)
  • [recordings 1936-] Robert Johnson – King of the Delta Blues: The Complete Recordings (Compilation, Columbia/Legacy, 1997)(BLUES)
  • [recordings 1937-] Bukka White – The Complete Bukka White (Compilation, Columbia/Legacy,1994)(BLUES)
  • [recordings 1938-] Sister Rosetta Tharpe – Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 [1938-1941] (Compilation, Document, 1996)(BLUES)
  • [recordings 1938-] Louis Armstrong – The Definitive Collection (Compilation, Hip-O/Verve,2006)(JAZZ)
  • [recordings 1940 ] Woody Guthrie – Dust Bowl Ballads (Album, Victor Records, 1940)(FOLK)
  • [recordings 1944-] Woody Guthrie – This Land Is Your Land: The Asch Recordings, Vol. 1 (Compilation, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 1997)(FOLK)
  • [recordings 1944-] Charlie Parker – The Complete Savoy and Dial Studio Recordings 1944-1948 (Compilation, Atlantic, 2000)(JAZZ)
  • [recordings 1945-] Bill Monroe – The Essential Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys [1945-1949] (Compilation, Columbia/Legacy, 1996)(FOLK)
  • [recordings 1947-] Hank Williams – 40 Greatest Hits (Compilation, Polydor/Mercury, 1978)(FOLK)
  • [recordings 1947-] Muddy Waters – His Best, 1947 to 1955 (Compilation, MCA/Chess, 1997)(BLUES)
  • [recordings 1947-] Lightnin’ Hopkins – Gold Star Sessions, Vol. 1 & 2 (Compilation, Arhoolie, 1990)(BLUES)
  • [recordings 1947-] Django Reinhardt – Peche à la Mouche (Compilation, Verve Reissues, 1992)(JAZZ)
  • [recordings 1948-] John Lee Hooker – The Definitive Collection (Compilation, Hip-O, 2006)(BLUES)
  • [recordings 1949-] B.B. King – Original Greatest Hits (Compilation, Virgin, 2005)(BLUES)
  • [recordings 1951-] Elmore James – The Sky Is Crying: The History of Elmore James (Compilation, Rhino, 1993)(BLUES)
  • [recordings 1951-] Howlin’ Wolf – His Best: The Chess 50th Anniversary Collection (Compilation, MCA/Chess, 1997)(BLUES)
  • [recordings 1951-] Ray Charles – The Best of Ray Charles: The Atlantic Years (Compilation, Rhino, 1994)(BLUES)
  • [recordings 1951-] Willie Dixon – The Chess Box (Compilation, MCA/Chess, 1989)(BLUES)
  • [recordings 1953-] Elvis Presley – Sunrise (Compilation, RCA, February 9, 1999)(RnR)
  • [recordings 1954-] Elvis Presley – Elvis Presley (Album, March 23, 1956)(RnR)
  • [recordings 1954-] Bill Haley – 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: The Best of Bill Haley & His Comets (Compilation, MCA, 1999)(RnR)
  • [recordings 1955-] Eddie Cochran – Somethin’ Else: The Fine Lookin’ Hits of Eddie Cochran (Compilation, Razor & Tie, 1998)(RnR)
  • [recordings 1955-] Carl Perkins – Original Sun Greatest Hits (Compilation, Rhino/Warner Bros, 1986)(RnR)
  • [recordings 1955-] Little Richard – The Very Best of Little Richard (Compilation, Fantasy/Specialty Records/Universal, 2008)(RnR)
  • [recordings 1955-] Chuck Berry – The Definitive Collection (Compilation, Geffen/Chess, 2006)(RnR)
  • [recordings 1955-] Bo Diddley – The Definitive Collection (Compilation, Geffen/Chess, 2007)(RnB)
  • [recordings 1955-] Johnny Cash – The Sun Years (Compilation, Rhino, 1990)(FOLK)
  • [recordings 1956-] Buddy Holly – The Definitive Collection (Compilation, Geffen/Decca, 2006)(RnR)
  • [recordings 1956-] Jerry Lee Lewis – Original Sun Singles ’56-’60 (Compilation, Sundazed, 2009)(RnR)
  • [recordings 1956 ] Charles Mingus – Pithecanthropus Erectus (Album, Atlantic Records, July 1956)(JAZZ)
  • [recordings 1957 ] The Crickets – The “Chirping” Crickets (Album, Brunswick, November 27, 1957)(RnR)
  • [recordings 1957 ] John Coltrane – Blue Train (Album, Blue Note, 1958)(JAZZ)
  • [recordings 1958-] Link Wray – Rumble! The Best of Link Wray (Compilation, Rhino, 1993)(RnR)
  • [recordings 1959 ] Miles Davis – Kind of Blue (Album, Columbia, August 17, 1959)(JAZZ)
  • [recordings 1959 ] Ornette Coleman – The Shape of Jazz To Come (Album, Atlantic, October 1959)(JAZZ)
  • [recordings 1960-] The Shadows – Shadows Are Go! (Compilation, Scamp, 1996)
  • [recordings 1960-] The Ventures – Walk Don’t Run: The Best of the Ventures (Compilation, EMI Music Distribution, 1990)(SURF)
  • [recordings 1961-] Roscoe Holcomb – An Untamed Sense of Control (Compilation, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 2003)(FOLK)

» Best albums of 1960

Dec 272016
 

Rank order:

  1. Oranssi Pazuzu – Värähtelijä (February 26)(BM)
  2. Alcest – Kodama (September 30)(BM)
  3. Sylvaine – Wistful (May 12)(BM)
  4. Emma Ruth Rundle – Marked For Death (September 30)
  5. Ash Borer – The Irrepassable Gate (December 2)(BM)
  6. Marissa Nadler – Strangers (May 20)
  7. The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Third World Pyramid (October 8)
  8. Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker (October 21)
  9. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool (May 8)
  10. King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – Nonagon Infinity (April 29)

Others, release date order:

  • David Bowie – Blackstar (January 8)
  • The Besnard Lakes – A Coliseum Complex Museum (January 22)
  • Atlanter – Jewels Of Crime (January 22)
  • Emma Pollock – In Search of Harperfield (January 29)
  • Amute – Bending Time In Waves (February 5)
  • DIIV – Is the Is Are (February 5)
  • Aluk Todolo – Voix (February 5)(BM)
  • Cavern Of Anti-Matter – Void Beats / Invocation Trex (February 19)(ELECTRONIC)
  • Mogwai – Atomic (April 1)
  • Nothing – Tired of Tomorrow (May 13)
  • Cool Ghouls – Animal Races (August 19)
  • Andrea Schroeder – Void (August 26)
  • Angel Olsen – My Woman (September 2)
  • Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree (September 9)
  • Drudkh / Grift – Betrayed By The Sun / Mirages (September 16)(BM)
  • Winterfylleth – The Dark Hereafter (September 30)(BM)
  • TOY – Clear Shot (October 28)
  • Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions – Until the Hunter (November 4)
  • Jamie Smith’s Mabon – The Space Between (?)(CELTIC)

Released posthumously:

  • Pink Floyd – The Early Years 1965-1972 [box set] (Compilation, November 11)

« Best albums of 2015
» Best albums of 2017