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posted by: Alley Gator
08/08/13 5:02 pm
TOP 50 ALBUMS OF LAST 50 YEARS
(15)
My all-time best albums. Last tweaked 8/8/2013. See the CD Database for more details on the albums on this list.
Rank -- Artist -- Title -- Year
-- -- --
01 -- Bob Dylan -- Blonde on Blonde -- 1966
02 -- Bob Dylan -- Highway 61 Revisited -- 1965
03 -- Bruce Springsteen -- Born to Run -- 1975
04 -- The Beatles -- Rubber Soul (UK) -- 1965
05 -- The Beatles -- Revolver (UK) -- 1966
06 -- Bob Dylan -- Blood on the Tracks -- 1975
07 -- The Rolling Stones -- Let It Bleed -- 1969
08 -- The Rolling Stones -- Beggars Banquet -- 1968
09 -- Derek & The Dominos -- Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs -- 1970
10 -- Bob Dylan -- Bringing It All Back Home -- 1965
11 -- The Jimi Hendrix Experience -- Are You Experienced? -- 1967
12 -- Bruce Springsteen -- Born in the U.S.A. -- 1984
13 -- Elvis Presley -- The Sun Sessions (1954-55) -- 1976
14 -- The Clash -- London Calling -- 1980
15 -- The Who -- Who's Next -- 1971
16 -- Stevie Wonder -- Innervisions -- 1973
17 -- The Rolling Stones -- Exile on Main Street -- 1972
18 -- The Beatles -- Abbey Road -- 1969
19 -- The Beatles -- Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band -- 1967
20 -- The Band -- The Band -- 1969
21 -- Woody Guthrie -- Dust Bowl Ballads (1940) -- 1964
22 -- Robert Johnson -- King of the Delta Blues Singers (1936-37) -- 1961
23 -- Van Morrison -- Moondance -- 1970
24 -- Stevie Wonder -- Songs in the Key of Life -- 1976
25 -- Marvin Gaye -- What's Going On -- 1971
26 -- The Jimi Hendrix Experience -- Electric Ladyland -- 1968
27 -- Bob Dylan & The Band -- The Basement Tapes -- 1975
28 -- The Beatles -- The Beatles (White Album) -- 1968
29 -- Van Morrison -- Astral Weeks -- 1968
30 -- Bob Dylan -- The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan -- 1963
31 -- James Brown & His Famous Flames -- Live At The Apollo -- 1963
32 -- Mose Allison -- Mose Allison Sings -- 1963
33 -- Bob Dylan -- "Love and Theft" -- 2001
34 -- The Band -- Music From Big Pink -- 1968
35 -- Otis Redding -- Sings Soul/Otis Blue -- 1965
36 -- The Beach Boys -- Pet Sounds -- 1966
37 -- Public Enemy -- It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back -- 1988
38 -- U2 -- The Joshua Tree -- 1987
39 -- Sly & The Family Stone -- Stand! -- 1969
40 -- Aretha Franklin -- Lady Soul -- 1968
41 -- Aretha Franklin -- I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You -- 1967
42 -- The Who -- Live At Leeds -- 1970
43 -- The Rolling Stones -- Sticky Fingers -- 1971
44 -- The Rolling Stones -- Aftermath (UK) -- 1966
45 -- Paul Simon -- Graceland -- 1986
46 -- Fleetwood Mac -- Rumours -- 1977
47 -- Rod Stewart -- Every Picture Tells A Story -- 1971
48 -- Led Zeppelin -- Led Zeppelin [fourth album] -- 1971
49 -- The Temptations -- The Temptations Sing Smokey -- 1965
50 -- The Rolling Stones -- Out Of Our Heads -- 1965
cornercat says:
09/26/11 12:59 am
Potent list! Public Enemy and Lucinda Williams seem to stick out as noticeably "different" from the other choices. Interesting to see them selected over Zeppelin, for example.
RaveOn says:
11/08/11 4:55 pm
Pleased to see "Layla" ranked toward the top. Not only are the individual songs all worthy desert-island choices, the album as a whole continues to be a peak experience.
Magic Rat says:
11/25/11 8:04 pm
Great albums, great list. This would make a great boxed set gift for x-mas. But to really make my Christmas, we'd need to find room for Dark Side of the Moon, Legend (Bob Marley, not Poco), Darkness on the Edge of Town and Led Zeppelin (I or II). That would be tough to pull off, but I'd be willing to let go of Music from Big Pink, Aftermath, Hard Day's Night and Freewheelin' Dylan. What would you other Cats need to have in your boxed set of All Time Greatest 50?
catfish says:
02/13/12 6:57 pm
Hey, Gator, if you limited yourself to one album per artist, which other artists would get on the list?
Alley Gator says:
02/17/12 12:56 pm
catfish said: Hey, Gator, if you limited yourself to one album per artist, which other artists would get on the list?
Good question, catfish! It's true that 18 of my top 50 albums are by Bob Dylan, The Beatles, or the Rolling Stones, and that all 50 albums are drawn from only 27 artists. I could do a new list of the 23 albums that would answer your question, but it would be a pretty odd list in its own right.

Here are my top 10 albums by artists that didn't make the Top 50 list:
Creedence Clearwater Revival -- Green River -- 1969
Ray Charles -- Live (1958-59) -- 1973
Patti Smith -- Horses -- 1975
The Doors -- The Doors -- 1967
The Byrds -- Mr. Tambourine Man -- 1965
Prince -- Sign 'O' The Times -- 1987
T-Bone Walker -- T-Bone Blues -- 1960
B.B. King -- Live At The Regal -- 1965
The Allman Brothers Band -- At The Fillmore East -- 1971
Michael Jackson -- Thriller -- 1982

Artists with albums in the next cut include: R.E.M., Elvis Costello, Talking Heads, Neil Young, Elton John, Carole King, Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley, The Velvet Underground, The Pretenders, Santana, Joni Mitchell, Steely Dan, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, and Nirvana.

Many superb compilation albums are ranked in a separate list. For example, Marley's "Legend" album would rank among the top 20 on this list if compilations were eligible for it.
Linden Arden says:
02/20/12 7:03 pm
Something about this list bothers me and I think it's that the list should be limited to music that was actually made during the last 50 years. Woody Guthrie & Robert Johnson certainly belong on SOME list but not this one. And if those two belong then what about Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music (to name one of many possible others)? ( I know it's a compilation but it's sort of a different kind of compilation.) Likewise, where does Mose Allison come from? Maybe left field? If Mose, then why not Miles or Coltrane? So that makes room for Patti Smith, Led Zeppelin & one more from the leftovers list.

Alley Gator says:
02/22/12 1:49 am
Linden Arden said: Something about this list bothers me and I think it's that the list should be limited to music that was actually made during the last 50 years. Woody Guthrie & Robert Johnson certainly belong on SOME list but not this one. And if those two belong then what about Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music (to name one of many possible others)? ( I know it's a compilation but it's sort of a different kind of compilation.) Likewise, where does Mose Allison come from? Maybe left field? If Mose, then why not Miles or Coltrane? So that makes room for Patti Smith, Led Zeppelin & one more from the leftovers list.
Thanks for commenting about how the list should be scoped. Your preferred criterion is valid and compelling, but it's (obviously) not the one I used. I made a list of albums released since 1960, not music made since then. I paid no attention to whether the list included all the artists (or albums) I'd like to see on it. Instead, I ranked all albums on the same scale (shown here), decided to include live albums and one special kind of compilation, and let the chips fall. Then I gave the list its name.

Distinctively among compilations, the music on both Dust Bowl Ballads and King of the Delta Blues Singers was recorded over a compressed time period. Both are original studio albums in spirit. As is Mose Allsion Sings, whose inclusion is explained here. Now that I think of it I should also have included Elvis's Sun Sessions (which would rank in the top 15) on the same grounds.

I'd love to see your version of this list! I encourage you (and all Cats) to take advantage of our as-yet untapped capacity for making longer lists like this one by starting with a copy of another list. Copy mine and re-fashion it to your purposes. It's way easier to do that than to start from scratch. And, unlike comments, you can keep tweaking your lists until you "perfect" them or give up trying to. ;-)
tedemore says:
02/26/12 8:50 am
Moby Grape's first album
Love's first album
Alley Gator says:
02/26/12 1:45 pm
tedemore said: Moby Grape's first album Love's first album
Thanks for suggesting these albums. I didn't get into either of them in the 1960s. In 2007 I tried unsuccessfully to buy the Sundance CD reissue of Moby Grape. I just read customer reviews on Amazon.com, learned that "Vintage - The Very Best of Moby Grape" includes the entire first MG album and is available used, and immediately ordered it. Then, because of your comment, I just listened to samples of Love's first album and decided to buy it, too. (Update: After many listens, I really like both these albums, but not at the "among the best ever" level.)
barbara ann 1945 says:
03/12/12 7:58 pm
catfish said: Hey, Gator, if you limited yourself to one album per artist, which other artists would get on the list?
Alley Gator said: Good question, catfish! It's true that 18 of my top 50 albums are by Bob Dylan, The Beatles, or the Rolling Stones, and that all 50 albums are drawn from only 27 artists. I could do a new list of the 23 albums that would answer your question, but it would be a pretty odd list in its own right. Here are my top 10 albums by artists that didn't make the Top 50 list: Creedence Clearwater Revival -- Green River -- 1969 Ray Charles -- Live (1958-59) -- 1973 Patti Smith -- Horses -- 1975 The Doors -- The Doors -- 1967 The Byrds -- Mr. Tambourine Man -- 1965 Prince -- Sign 'O' The Times -- 1987 T-Bone Walker -- T-Bone Blues -- 1960 B.B. King -- Live At The Regal -- 1965 The Allman Brothers Band -- At The Fillmore East -- 1971 Michael Jackson -- Thriller -- 1982 Artists with albums in the next cut include: R.E.M., Elvis Costello, Talking Heads, Neil Young, Elton John, Carole King, Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley, The Velvet Underground, The Pretenders, Santana, Joni Mitchell, Steely Dan, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, and Nirvana. Many superb compilation albums are ranked in a separate list. For example, Marley's "Legend" album would rank among the top 20 on this list if compilations were eligible for it.
Hey Gator....which Joni Mitchell album would be on your "artists with albums in the next cut"? And which Neil Young?

Re: the overall Top 50 list....I'd be doing some adding and subtracting, but, overall, I totally get and dig this list. Love the Aretha choices and your giving Lucinda a place of honor. Really need to make up one of these for myself.
Alley Gator says:
03/13/12 12:50 am
catfish said: Hey, Gator, if you limited yourself to one album per artist, which other artists would get on the list?
Alley Gator said: Good question, catfish! It's true that 18 of my top 50 albums are by Bob Dylan, The Beatles, or the Rolling Stones, and that all 50 albums are drawn from only 27 artists. I could do a new list of the 23 albums that would answer your question, but it would be a pretty odd list in its own right. Here are my top 10 albums by artists that didn't make the Top 50 list: Creedence Clearwater Revival -- Green River -- 1969 Ray Charles -- Live (1958-59) -- 1973 Patti Smith -- Horses -- 1975 The Doors -- The Doors -- 1967 The Byrds -- Mr. Tambourine Man -- 1965 Prince -- Sign 'O' The Times -- 1987 T-Bone Walker -- T-Bone Blues -- 1960 B.B. King -- Live At The Regal -- 1965 The Allman Brothers Band -- At The Fillmore East -- 1971 Michael Jackson -- Thriller -- 1982 Artists with albums in the next cut include: R.E.M., Elvis Costello, Talking Heads, Neil Young, Elton John, Carole King, Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley, The Velvet Underground, The Pretenders, Santana, Joni Mitchell, Steely Dan, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, and Nirvana. Many superb compilation albums are ranked in a separate list. For example, Marley's "Legend" album would rank among the top 20 on this list if compilations were eligible for it.
barbara ann 1945 said: Hey Gator....which Joni Mitchell album would be on your "artists with albums in the next cut"? And which Neil Young?
Hey, barbara ann 1945... Court & Spark (Joni) and Rust Never Sleeps (Neil with Crazy Horse). Blue and Ragged Glory are very close second choices, in both cases.
barbara ann 1945 says:
03/13/12 7:51 pm
I would just reverse the order, Gator...Blue on top, but definitely agree that these are her two best. As for Neil, I'm just an old, old hippie who can't forget the combination of mescaline and After the Gold Rush.
Alley Gator says:
08/08/13 7:48 pm
It's been about 18 months since I last tweaked this list. I just made a few changes. Knocked out from the bottom were Otis's Dictionary of Soul, The Beatles' A Hard Day's Night, and Lucinda's Car wheels On A Gravel Road.

Added were Elvis's Sun Sessions (#13), The Stones' Sticky Fingers (#43) and Led Zeppelin's fourth album (#48). The reason for the Elvis sighting was spelled out in my reply to Linden Arden on 2/21/12.
ggreene says:
08/30/13 7:28 pm
My top 50 would include Elton John- Yellow Brick Road, Jethro Tull- Aqualung and probably a couple of others.
Alley Gator says:
09/01/13 1:08 pm
ggreene said: My top 50 would include Elton John- Yellow Brick Road, Jethro Tull- Aqualung and probably a couple of others.
I just listened to Goodbye Yellow Brick Road the other day. A great album. It didn't quite make my top 50, but it surely would if the list were limited to one album per artist.