Remember albums? The LP still exists, but these days most music is listened to (and sold, when someone bothers to buy it) as individual songs. In a way this is a throwback to the way music was marketed from the 1920s until the mid-1950s, when the long playing album first arrived. At first, most LPs were just compilations of singles, with some filler. Then someone got the idea of thinking of the LP as a cohesive whole. The heyday of these through-composed LPs was the 1960s and 1970s, but artists have continued to make albums since then until today. It’s just that so many folks have abandoned the format as a way to listen to music that listening to albums seems a little old fashioned these days. I still think there is value to the format and other people seem to agree with me, since critics and fans alike still enjoy making lists of the best albums of all time. I found over 30 such lists and put them together into one big meta-list, which consists of the 370 albums (containing music made between 1936 and 2010) that appeared on at least three of the original source lists. (The most-listed album was on 32 of the lists.)
I originally published a Best Albums meta-list back in 2013, but I have added a number of new lists that have come out since then. The results are interesting. Most of the music falls into the rock and pop genres, with a fair amount of R&B, folk and hip hop/rap. There are a huge number of albums from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, quite a few from the late 1970s and early 1980s and then the numbers go down (with an uptick for the alt.rock/grunge/Brit pop period in the 1990s). There is no classical and very little jazz, blues, country or world music. Fortunately, I’ve created separate meta-lists for jazz, blues, country, world, hip hop and classical music.
I’ve arranged the Best Albums meta-list in three iterations: (1) by rank (that is, with the albums on the most lists at the top), (2) chronological, and (3) by artist. The lists by rank and chronological include the album cover art; the list by artist includes photographs of the artists (performing live, in most cases). Here are the links:
Best Albums of All Time – Ranked
Best Albums of All Time – Chronological
Best Albums of All Time – By Artist