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Pop albums that have consistently appeared in top lists

Music Sound

Pop albums that have consistently appeared in top lists

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While it is impossible to name the greatest album ever made, it is possible to discuss albums that have been named as candidates. The criteria usually consist of critical and commercial reception, sales, and awards, even though awards usually go to the best-selling artists and using sales as a criterion to judge music is considered quite dubious.

Albums acclaimed by critics

  • The Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street was named the greatest in the December 1997 German edition of Rolling Stone magazine, and appears frequently on other critics lists. The album is often cited as the definitive Stones record in its sprawling synthesis of hard rock, soul, gospel, and various American roots music. The album's rise to critical acclaim is particularly impressive given its initially lukewarm critical reception and the absence of any major singles.
  • Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited has consistently appeared on greatest album lists. Released in 1965, it expanded upon and perfected the sound and style of his previous album, Bringing It All Back Home (see below). It is best remembered for the opening track and single Like a Rolling Stone, recently named the greatest song ever by Rolling Stone. It is widely considered to be Dylan's greatest work.
  • Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, garnered critical acclaim upon its release, due to its radical and militant content railing against corporate control, structural racism, and police brutality. The album's popularity among aficionados and mainstream listeners laid the foundation for other rap groups such as X-Clan, Native Tongues Posse, and Brand Nubian; who abandoned hip hop's early themes of exuberant partying and braggadocio, and embraced more socially aware issues such as drug abuse, poverty, and African American empowerment. In 2003 the VH1 named It Takes a Nation of Millions the 20th greatest album of all time. It was also named the second greatest album in Spin Magazine's “Top 100 from 1985-2005”. Furthermore, It was the top ranked hip-hop album in the List of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time; number 48. The album was voted as the best album of the year in The Village Voice Pazz & Jop critics poll.
  • Miles Davis' Kind of Blue is considered by many to be the greatest jazz album of all time. It represented a major step away from traditional bebop jazz of the 50's and is widely acclaimed for its new interpretation of jazz. It is questionable whether Kind of Blue has sold the most copies of all jazz albums, or another Davis album, Bitches Brew, has done so. Exact statistics vary between different sources.
  • Metallica's Master Of Puppets is widely regarded among heavy metal fans as one of the greatest metal releases of all time. The seminal album is held in high esteem among fans and non-fans of the band, and countless metal and hard rock artists have cited Master of Puppets as a major influence in their music. A loose concept album on the theme of control and power, Master of Puppets surged the popularity of thrash metal as a more complex and thought-provoking alternative to the commercial pop-metal of the 80s. In 2006, Guitar World dedicated an issue to the 20th anniversary of the album's release.
  • Radiohead's OK Computer is consistently featured on many critics' "best albums" lists, including a top placing in a 1998 and 2005 Q magazine readers' poll as well as the number one spot on Channel 4's 2005 list. It was recorded at St Catherine's Court, the country house of Jane Seymour near Bath, mixed at Abbey Road Studios and released on June 16, 1997 in the United Kingdom and on July 1 in the United States. The album met with wide critical acclaim and commercial success, putting the British group at the forefront of modern rock. OK Computer won a Grammy Award in 1998 in the category of "Best Alternative Music Performance". The album is arguably Radiohead's most significant work to date.
  • The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds was named the greatest by MOJO magazine. Released in 1966, it showcased a maturer, more artistic Beach Boys that had moved away from the surf rock of their early days. The songs on Pet Sounds are contextually linked and highlight the troubles and feelings of teenagers in almost symphonic complexity and harmony. It was also something of an answer album to The Beatles' 1965 record Rubber Soul and was a major influence on The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
  • The Beatles' Revolver has been named by many critics and performers (including Ozzy Osbourne) as the greatest album ever made. Released in 1966, it marked a change in The Beatles' sound. They began pulling away from the love songs of the early-1960s and instead moved to seemingly complex political anthems, satirical songs, modern poetry and psychedelic rock. They started to rely more heavily on unusual instruments, especially the sitar that had been introduced in the earlier song "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)."
  • The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band has also been named by many critics as the greatest album ever made. Released in the Summer of Love in 1967, it was a culmination of psychedelic, folk, progressive, and classic rock. Not the first concept album ever, it was still hailed by critics with its elaborate structure, complex sound textures and lyrics, inventive intros and fade-outs and other experimental devices that went much further than anything previously heard, but other sources indicate that the Beatles had heard The Byrds' Younger Than Yesterday, which had several of the "innovations" of the album. It was ranked as number one on Rolling Stone's List of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
  • Michael Jackson's Thriller (1982) won eight Grammy Awards and has appeared on numerous "best albums" lists. It is the best-selling album worldwide and yielded several hit singles, among them "Billie Jean" and "Beat It". It was influenced by various genres, including disco, rhythm and blues, rock and roll and punk, soul, power pop, ballad, and experimental pop.
  • Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica, a 28 song album full of bewildering poetry, studio chatter, avant-garde techniques, delta blues and Beefheart's distinctive four and a half octave voice, which seemed to take on a different character in each song. There is likely not a single album like it in the history of music. The heralded critic John Peel said of the album, "If there has been anything in the history of popular music which could be described as a work of art in a way that people who are involved in other areas of art would understand, then Trout Mask Replica is probably that work. [1]" The music was largely ignored until the New Wave music movement.
  • The Velvet Underground's The Velvet Underground & Nico has long been a favorite of underground and alternative music. Unlike other albums on most top album lists, it attained little commercial success and no acclaim for a long time. Under the guiding hand of Andy Warhol and the skills of musicians like John Cale, who worked with LaMonte Young, and singer Lou Reed, they crafted an album that some said invented most of the key genres of Rock, and at least hinting at several more. Many claim it to be one of the first punk albums of all time, some say it was the first alternative rock album of all time, some say it has its own genre. While bands like The Beatles were tip-toeing around the counter-culture, Reed sang about heroin, Sacher-Masoch, beat-poetry, S&M and other radical subjects.
  • Marvin Gaye's What's Going On has been named by The Guardian as the best album ever made. With his especially masterful adagios, Gaye helped codify modern, smooth R&B music and distinguish it from the earlier generation's bluesier "Rhythm and Blues" music. Released in 1971, it influenced countless artists -- particularly African-American ones -- such as Stevie Wonder, Al Green and Curtis Mayfield. What's Going On included the hits "Inner City Blues", "Mercy Mercy Me" and the title track.

Best selling albums

  • Michael Jackson's Thriller is the best selling album worldwide, with sales of over 51 million copies [2]. The album included the popular singles "Billie Jean", "Beat It", "Thriller", "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'", "P.Y.T.", "Human Nature" and "The Girl Is Mine." Thriller spent 37 weeks at #1 and won eight Grammy Awards.
  • AC/DC's Back in Black is the second best-selling album worldwide, with sales of 42 million copies. The album was the first with new lead singer Brian Johnson, after the death of their former-lead singer Bon Scott. The album included the popular singles "Hell's Bells", "You Shook Me All Night Long", "Shoot to Thrill" and the title track.
  • The Eagles' Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) is the best-selling album in the United States, with over 28,000,000 copies sold. Its greatest album status is questionable because it is an anthology rather than new material.
  • Michael Jackson's HIStory is the best-selling multiple-disc album of all-time, with sales of 18 million worldwide. Disc one of the album includes 15 greatest hits, while disc two includes 15 original songs. Because it is sometimes regarded as an anthology, rather than a full studio album, its greatest album status is questionable.
  • Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon is the tenth best-selling album of all-time, with 34 million copies sold. It spent 591 consecutive weeks on the Billboard magazine music charts, eventually reaching a total of 741 weeks. In 2003 alone it sold 250,000 copies, and in 2004 8,000 copies a week were being sold.

Genre-creating albums

In addition to critical acclaim and popular appeal, some albums are recognized for the creation (or codification) of entire genres or sub-genres of music. These albums have been uniquely influential within their own musical tableaux even if they copied or "borrowed" from other sources that did not happen to achieve mainstream success. These albums are generally recognized as having had an effect on many types of music by the critics.

  • Nirvana's album Nevermind symbolically signaled the end of the hair metal ballads and bombastic anthems of the 1980s and the rise of grunge rock and alternative rock as the dominant form of rock music in the 1990s. The opening track, "Smells Like Teen Spirit," and its accompanying music video that depicted a high school pep rally gone awry, received massive airplay in late 1991. .
  • De La Soul’s release of the landmark album, 3 Feet High and Rising, is often viewed as the stylistic birth of alternative hip hop (and especially jazz rap) —mixing unique sampling sources (such as The Turtles, Hall & Oates, Steely Dan's "Peg", and Johnny Cash) with hippie-ish lyrics and a lighthearted sense of humor. With its inclusion of pre-recorded bits from outlandish sources, the album foreshadowed the self-referential sampling kaleidoscope that would soon envelope hip hop (and pop music in general). It received unanimous acclaim from all quarters for its innovation, including NME (One of the greatest albums ever made), Village Voice (the Sgt. Pepper of hip hop), and Spex (also #5 on the top 100 Albums of the Century). The album was also included in Rolling Stones' 200 Essential Rock Records. When Village Voice held its annual Pazz & Jop Critics Poll for 1989, 3 Feet High and Rising was ranked at#1, outdistancing its nearest opponent (Neil Young's Freedom) by 21 votes and 260 points.
  • Dr. Dre's 1992 debut album The Chronic, is widely recognized as being the apotheosis of West Coast Gangsta Rap, and having popularized such modern hip hop production staples such as sampling, melodic accompaniment, and background vocals. The album brought the genre now known as G-funk to the mainstream — a genre defined by slow bass beats and melodic synthesizers, topped by P-Funk samples, female vocals, and a slurring lyrical delivery referred to as a “lazy drawl”. The Chronic is also responsible for launching the careers of several legendary figures within the hip-hop community, including Snoop Dogg. The Chronic’s success established Death Row Records as the dominant hip hop record label of mid-1990s, and established G-funk as the most popular sound in hip hop for several years following its release (with Dre himself producing several major albums that drew heavily on his production style). The Chronic was included in Vibe's "100 Essential Albums of the 20th Century Vibe", listed in Rolling Stone's "Essential Recordings of the 90's”, and ranked#8 in Spin Magazine's "90 Greatest Albums of the '90s".
  • Bob Dylan's 1965 album Bringing It All Back Home has been called the world's first folk-rock album, and is the first album ever to combine a folk music sensibility with an electrified band. It contains some supremely influential songs, including "Subterranean Homesick Blues" and "Mr. Tambourine Man," and it went on to shape the work not only of musicians such as The Beatles and Paul Simon, but also of Dylan himself.
  • Black Sabbath's eponymous debut album is widely considered to be the first heavy metal album. While bands like Led Zeppelin and Blue Cheer are known for developing on heavy rock, Black Sabbath is agreed upon to be the first truly heavy metal album. The eponymous song that opens the album is also regarded as the birth of heavy metal.
  • London Calling by The Clash, while certainly not a genre-creator in its own right, is generally held to be responsible for the mainstream popularity of punk rock and therefore the ancillary popularization of such bands as The Sex Pistols and Buzzcocks among many others. It contains several highly influential punk sounds, including the (in)famous "wall of noise" borrowed from the Sex Pistols, and samples from classic radio progamming. It is perhaps the most widely covered punk rock album of all time, containing such perennially popular tracks as "Train in Vain (Stand By Me)," "The Guns of Brixton" and the title track. London Calling also has one of the most famous album covers of all time, a photo by Pennie Smith of bassist Paul Simonon smashing his bass guitar against the stage - an act that would become synonymous with punk and rock music in general.
  • Elvis Presley's self-titled album is perhaps the most influential pop record in history, responsible for the popularization and acceptance of rock and roll music as a genre. It helped launch Presley as one of the most influential musicians of all time, and was partially responsible for a huge shift in the culture and practices of American youth and, indeed, youth worldwide. As John Lennon put it: "Before Elvis, there was nothing."
  • The soundtrack to the film Saturday Night Fever, released in 1977 is responsible for bringing the nascent disco scene into the mainstream. Songs on the album were recorded by various artists, including KC & the Sunshine Band ("Boogie Shoes"), Walter Murphy ("A Fifth of Beethoven"), and David Shire ("Manhattan Skyline," et al.). However, the most significant singles were performed by The Bee Gees, including "How Deep Is Your Love?," "Night Fever," "More Than A Woman," "Jive Talkin," "You Should Be Dancing," and perhaps the most famous and beloved disco song of all time: "Stayin' Alive." The soundtrack remains the quintessential disco record, and is one of the few works of disco music that continues to be influential (and commercially viable) today.

See also

External links


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Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.


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