My Five-Star Albums

I’ve rated these albums/recordings five out of five stars. They are presented in chronological order.  When there is a conflict between the recording date and the release date, I have used the recording date, or, in rare cases, both.  When the recordings on an album were made over a period of time, I have used the date of the earliest recording for purposes of chronology.  Classical music albums are placed after the main list.

  1. Various Artists – Ken Burns Jazz (rec. 1917-1995)
  2. Bessie Smith – The Collection (rec. 1923-1933)
  3. Louis Armstrong – The Complete Hot Fives and Hot Sevens (rec. 1924-1929)
  4. Lonnie Johnson – Steppin’ on the Blues (rec. 1925-1932)
  5. Jelly Roll Morton – Birth of the Hot (rec. 1926-1927)
  6. Blind Blake – Ragtime Guitar’s Foremost Fingerpicker (rec. 1926-1930)
  7. Fats Waller – Piano Solos: Turn on the Heat (rec. 1927-1941)
  8. Various Artists – An Anthology of Big Band Swing (rec. 1930-1955)
  9. Art Tatum – Piano Starts Here (rec. 1933, 1949)
  10. Django Reinhardt & Stéphane Grappelli – The Quintessential Django Reinhardt & Stéphane Grappelli: Le Quintette du Hot Club de France (rec. 1934-1940)
  11. Robert Johnson – King of the Delta Blues (rec. 1936-1937)
  12. Duke Ellington – The Blanton-Webster Band (rec. 1940-1942)
  13. Charlie Parker – The Complete Savoy & Dial Master Takes (rec. 1944-1948)
  14. Charlie Parker –  Yardbird Suite: The Ultimate Collection (rec. 1944-1953)
  15. Hank Williams – The Hits, Vols. 1 & 2 (rec. 1946-1953)
  16. John Lee Hooker – The Very Best of John Lee Hooker (rec. 1948-1987)
  17. Miles Davis – Birth of the Cool (rec. 1949-1950)
  18. Bud Powell – The Amazing Bud Powell, Vol. 1 (rec. 1949-1951)
  19. T-Bone Walker – The Complete Imperial Recordings (rec. 1950-1954)
  20. Elmore James – The Sky Is Crying: The History of Elmore James (rec. 1951-1961)
  21. Art Tatum – The Complete Pablo Solo Masterpieces (rec. 1953-1956)
  22. Jimmy Reed –  Big Boss Blues (rec. 1953-1961)
  23. Sarah Vaughan – Sarah Vaughan (with Clifford Brown) (1954)
  24. Elvis Presley – The Complete Sun Sessions (rec. 1954-1955)
  25. Various Artists – Atlantic & Atco Remasters Series: Sampler One (rec. 1954-1958)
  26. Buddy Holly – Memorial Collection (rec. 1955-1959)
  27. Chuck Berry – The Great Twenty-Eight (rec. 1955-1965)
  28. Frank Sinatra – Songs for Swingin’ Lovers! (1956)
  29. Sonny Rollins – Saxophone Colossus (1956)
  30. Thelonious Monk – Brilliant Corners (1956)
  31. Nat “King” Cole – After Midnight: The Complete Session (1956)
  32. Otis Rush – The Essential Otis Rush: The Classic Cobra Recordings (rec. 1956-1958)
  33. James Brown – 20 All Time Greatest Hits! (rec. 1956-1976)
  34. Original Broadway Cast – West Side Story (1957)
  35. Thelonious Monk – Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall (rec. 1957, rel. 2005)
  36. The Everly Brothers – Cadence Classics: Their 20 Greatest Hits (rec. 1957-1960)
  37. Patsy Cline – 12 Greatest Hits (rec. 1957-1963)
  38. Cannonball Adderley – Somethin’ Else (1958)
  39. Champion Jack Dupree – Blues From the Gutter (1958)
  40. Stan Getz & J.J. Johnson – Stan Getz and J.J. Johnson at The Opera House (1958)
  41. The Dave Brubeck Quartet – Time Out (1959)
  42. Miles Davis – Porgy and Bess (1959)
  43. Miles Davis – Kind of Blue (1959)
  44. Ornette Coleman – The Shape of Jazz to Come (1959)
  45. Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – The Ultimate Collection (rec. 1959-1972)
  46. Art Farmer & Benny Golson – Meet the Jazztet (1960)
  47. Wes Montgomery – The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery (1960)
  48. Hank Mobley – Soul Station (1960)
  49. Freddie King – Hide Away: The Best of Freddy King (rec. 1960-1966)
  50. Etta James – The Sweetest Peaches: The Chess Years, Part 1 (rec. 1960-1966)
  51. Bill Evans – Sunday at the Village Vanguard (1961)
  52. Bill Evans – Waltz for Debby (1961)
  53. John Coltrane – My Favorite Things (1961)
  54. Dexter Gordon – Go (1962)
  55. The Beatles – A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
  56. Lee Morgan – The Sidewinder (1964)
  57. Joe Henderson – Inner Urge (1965)
  58. Wayne Shorter – Speak No Evil (1965)
  59. Sun Ra – The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra (1965)
  60. John Coltrane – A Love Supreme (1965)
  61. Bob Dylan – Bringing It All Back Home (1965)
  62. B.B. King – Live at the Regal (1965)
  63. The Beatles – Help! (1965)
  64. The Beatles – Rubber Soul (1965)
  65. Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited (1965)
  66. Various Artists – Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From the First Psychedelic Era (rec. 1965-1968)
  67. The Beatles – Past Masters: Vol. 2 (rec. 1965-1970)
  68. Bob Dylan – Blonde on Blonde (1966)
  69. Bob Dylan – The Bootleg Series Vol. 4: Live 1966 – The “Royal Albert Hall” Concert (rec. 1966, rel. 1998)
  70. Larry Young – Unity (1966)
  71. Various Artists – Chicago/The Blues/Today! (1966)
  72. The Beatles – Revolver (1966)
  73. Albert King – King of the Blues Guitar (rec. 1966-1968)
  74. Jefferson Airplane – The Worst of Jefferson Airplane (rec. 1966-1970)
  75. Janis Joplin – Greatest Hits (rec. 1966-1970)
  76. The Velvet Underground – Peel Slowly and See (rec. 1966-1970)
  77. The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground and Nico (1967)
  78. The Beatles –  Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
  79. Aretha Franklin – The Very Best of Aretha Franklin: The ’60s (rec. 1967-1970)
  80. Van Morrison – Astral Weeks (1968)
  81. The Beatles – The Beatles [White Album] (1968)
  82. The Velvet Underground – White Light/White Heat (1968)
  83. Various Artists – Tropicália: A Brazilian Revolution in Sound (rec. 1968-1970)
  84. Dusty Springfield – Dusty in Memphis (1969)
  85. The Who – Tommy (1969)
  86. Crosby, Stills & Nash – Crosby, Stills & Nash (1969)
  87. The Band – The Band (1969)
  88. The Beatles – Abbey Road (1969)
  89. The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground (1969)
  90. Van Morrison – Moondance (1970)
  91. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Déjà vu (1970)
  92. Derek and The Dominos – Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (1970)
  93. John Lennon – Plastic Ono Band (1970)
  94. Al Green – Compact Command Performances: 14 Greatest Hits (rec. 1970-1974)
  95. Hound Dog Taylor – Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers (1971)
  96. Carole King – Tapestry (1971)
  97. Joni Mitchell – Blue (1971)
  98. The Who – Who’s Next (1971)
  99. T. Rex – Electric Warrior (1971)
  100. Neil Young – Harvest (1972)
  101. Randy Newman – Sail Away (1972)
  102. Yes – Close to the Edge (1972)
  103. The Modern Lovers – The Modern Lovers (rec. 1972, rel. 1976)
  104. Bob Marley – Legend (rec. 1972-1983)
  105. Dave Holland – Conference of the Birds (1973)
  106. Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
  107. Yes – Yessongs (1973)
  108. Paul Simon – There Goes Rhymin’ Simon (1973)
  109. The Who – Quadrophenia (1973)
  110. Yes – Tales From Topographic Oceans (1973)
  111. Joe Pass – Virtuoso (1974)
  112. Bob Dylan – Blood on the Tracks (1975)
  113. Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run (1975)
  114. Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (1975)
  115. Patti Smith – Horses (1975)
  116. Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Vocal Choir – Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares (1975)
  117. Renaissance – Live at Carnegie Hall (1976)
  118. Albert Collins – Ice Pickin’ (1978)
  119. Elvis Costello – This Year’s Model (1978)
  120. The Roches – The Roches (1979)
  121. Talking Heads – Fear of Music (1979)
  122. Talking Heads – Remain in Light (1980)
  123. Dire Straits – Making Movies (1980)
  124. Elvis Costello – Imperial Bedroom (1982)
  125. The Roches – Keep On Doing (1982)
  126. Paul Simon – Hearts and Bones (1982)
  127. Orchestra Baobab – Pirates Choice (1982)
  128. Tom Waits – Rain Dogs (1985)
  129. Elvis Costello – King of America (1986)
  130. Peter Gabriel – So (1986)
  131. Paul Simon – Graceland (1986)
  132. U2 – The Joshua Tree (1987)
  133. Alison Krauss – Now That I’ve Found You (rec. 1987-1994)
  134. k.d. lang – Shadowland (1988)
  135. The Sundays – Reading, Writing and Arithmetic (1990)
  136. They Might Be Giants – Flood (1990)
  137. Sinéad O’Connor – I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got (1990)
  138. World Party – Goodbye Jumbo (1990)
  139. Rosanne Cash – Interiors (1990)
  140. Van Morrison – Enlightenment (1990)
  141. Throwing Muses – The Real Ramona (1991)
  142. R.E.M. – Out of Time (1991)
  143. U2 – Achtung Baby (1991)
  144. My Bloody Valentine – Loveless (1991)
  145. R.E.M. – Automatic for the People (1992)
  146. Master Musicians of Jajouka – Apocalypse Across the Sky (1992)
  147. Liz Phair – Exile in Guyville (1993)
  148. Aimee Mann – Whatever (1993)
  149. Johnny Cash – American Recordings (1994)
  150. Letters to Cleo – Aurora Gory Alice (1994)
  151. PJ Harvey – To Bring You My Love (1995)
  152. Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill (1995)
  153. Various Artists – Party Girl Soundtrack (1995)
  154. Garbage – Garbage (1995)
  155. Emmylou Harris – Wrecking Ball (1995)
  156. Aimee Mann – I’m With Stupid (1995)
  157. Beck – Odelay (1996)
  158. Radiohead – OK Computer (1997)
  159. Yo La Tengo – I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One (1997)
  160. Sarah McLachlan – Surfacing (1997)
  161. The Sundays – Static & Silence (1997)
  162. Bob Dylan – Time Out of Mind (1997)
  163. John Scofield – A Go Go (1998)
  164. Garbage – Version 2.0 (1998)
  165. Lucinda Williams – Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (1998)
  166. Jim Hall & Pat Metheny – Jim Hall & Pat Metheny (1999)
  167. Wilco – Summerteeth (1999)
  168. Tom Waits – Mule Variations (1999)
  169. The Magnetic Fields – 69 Love Songs (1999)
  170. Greg Osby – Invisible Hand (2000)
  171. Shelby Lynne – I Am Shelby Lynne (2000)
  172. Mariza – Fado em Mim (2000)
  173. PJ Harvey – Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea (2000)
  174. U2 – All That You Can’t Leave Behind (2000)
  175. Buddy Guy – Sweet Tea (2001)
  176. Macy Gray – The Id (2001)
  177. Jason Moran – Black Stars (2001)
  178. Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)
  179. Beck – Sea Change (2002)
  180. Sleater-Kinney – One Beat (2002)
  181. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever to Tell (2003)
  182. The New Pornographers – Electric Version (2003)
  183. Arcade Fire – Funeral (2004)
  184. Petra Haden – Petra Haden Sings: The Who Sell Out (2005)
  185. Sufjan Stevens – Illinois (2005)
  186. My Morning Jacket – Z (2005)
  187. The Hold Steady – Boys and Girls in America (2006)
  188. Camera Obscura – Let’s Get Out of This Country (2006)
  189. Arcade Fire – Neon Bible (2007)
  190. The New Pornographers – Challengers (2007)
  191. Glen Hansard & Markéta Irglová – Once: Music From the Motion Picture (2007)
  192. PJ Harvey – White Chalk (2007)
  193. Los Campesinos! – Hold On Now, Youngster… (2008)
  194. Tune-Yards – Bird-Brains (2009)
  195. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs (2010)
  196. Superchunk – Majesty Shredding (2010)
  197. Dengue Fever – Cannibal Courtship (2011)
  198. Tom Waits – Bad As Me (2011)
  199. Yuck – Yuck (2011)
  200. The Decemberists – The King Is Dead (2011)
  201. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake (2011)
  202. Grimes – Visions (2012)
  203. The New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers (2012)
  204. Frightened Rabbit – Pedestrian Verse (2013)
  205. Alvvays – Alvvays (2014)
  206. Angel Olsen – My Woman (2016)
  207. Alvvays – Antisocialites (2017)
  208. Angélique Kidjo – Remain in Light (2018)


CLASSICAL MUSIC (organized chronologically by composer’s date of birth)

  1. Anonymous Composers (9th & 10th Centuries) – Adorate Deum: Gregorian Chant from the Proper of the Mass (Nova Schola Gregoriana/Alberto Turco) (1993)
  2. Various Composers (12th-14th Centuries) – Music of the Gothic Era (Early Music Consort of London/David Munrow) (1976)
  3. Perotin (c. 1200) – Perotin (The Hilliard Ensemble) (1989)
  4. Josquin des Préz (c. 1450-1521) – Missa “Ave maris stella”; Motets & Chansons (Taverner Consort & Choir/Andrew Parrott) (1992)
  5. Tomás Luis de Victoria (c. 1548-1611) – Requiem: Officium Defunctorum (1605) (Gabrieli Consort/Paul McCreesh) (1995)
  6. John Dowland (1563-1626) – Complete Lute Works, Vol. 1 (Paul O’Dette) (1995)
  7. Various Composers (15th-16th Centuries) – Song of Songs: Music of Renaissance Spain and the New World (Convivium Musicum/Scott Metcalfe) (2004)
  8. Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) – Orfeo (Ensemble Vocal et Instrumental de Lausanne/Michael Corboz) (1968)
  9. Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) – Monteverdi (Magdalena Kožená, La Cetra/Andrea Marcon) (2016)
  10. Dietrich Buxtehude (c. 1637-1707) – Opera Omnia X: Organ Works 5 (Ton Koopman) (2008)
  11. Henry Purcell (1659-1695) – Dido and Aeneas (English Concert and Choir/Trevor Pinnock, Anne Sofie von Otter, Stephen Varcoe, Lynne Dawson, Nigel Rogers) (1989)
  12. Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) – Complete Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin (Arthur Grumiaux) (rec. 1960)
  13. Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) – St. Matthew Passion (Philharmonia Orchestra & Choir/Otto Klemperer, Peter Pears, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, Christa Ludwig) (1961)
  14. Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) – The Well-Tempered Piano, Part 1 (Christiane Jaccottet) (1989)
  15. Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) – Cello Suites (Mstislav Rostropovich) (1991)
  16. Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) – Mass in B Minor (Gächinger Kantorei & Bach-Collegium Stuttgart/Helmuth Rilling; Sibylla Rubens; Juliane Banse; Ingeborg Danz; James Taylor; Andreas Schmidt; Thomas Quasthoff) (2000)
  17. Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757) – Best Sonatas (Scott Ross) (rec. 1984-1985, rel. 1991)
  18. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) – Le Nozze di Figaro (London Philharmonic Orchestra/Georg Solti; Thomas Allen, Lucia Popp, Samuel Ramey, Frederica von Stade; Kiri Te Kanawa) (1982)
  19. Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)/Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) – Heifetz: Beethoven/Brahms Concertos (Jascha Heifetz; Boston Symphony Orchestra/Charles Munch; Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Fritz Reiner;) (1955)
  20. Franz Liszt (1811-1886) – Sonata in B minor (Maurizio Pollini) (1990)
  21. Richard Wagner (1813-1883) – Tristan und Isolde (Bayreuth Festival Orchestra/Karl Böhm; Birgit Nilsson; Wolfgang Windgassen; Christa Ludwig; Martti Talvela; Eberhard Waechter) (1966)
  22. Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) – Otello (National Philharmonic Orchestra/James Levine; Placido Domingo; Renata Scotto; Sherill Milnes) (1978)
  23. Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) – Das Lied von der Erde (New Philharmonia Orchestra & Philharmonia Orchestra/Otto Klemperer; Christa Ludwig; Fritz Wunderlich) (1964-1966)
  24. Richard Strauss (1864-1949) – Der Rosenkavalier (Karajan; Schwarzkopf; Ludwig) (1956)
  25. Erik Satie (1866-1925) – Erik Satie (Anne Queffélec) (1990)
  26. Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951) – Verklärte Nacht, Piano Pieces, Five Orchestral Pieces (Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Daniel Barenboim) (1995)
  27. Charles Ives (1874-1954) – Four Sonatas (Hilary Hahn; Valentina Lisitsa) (2012)
  28. Béla Bartók (1881-1945) – 6 String Quartets (Emerson String Quartet) (1988)
  29. Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) – The Great Ballets (London Philharmonic Orchestra/Bernard Haitink; London Symphony Orchestra/Igor Markevitch) (rec. 1963; 1973)
  30. Alban Berg (1885-1935) – Wozzeck (Staatskapelle Berlin & German States Opera Choir Berlin/Daniel Barenboim; Franz Grundheber; Waltraud Meier; Endrik Wottrich; Günther von Kannen) (1994)
  31. Michael Tippett (1905-1998) – A Child of Our Time (City of Birmingham Symphony/Michael Tippett; F. Robinson; S. Walker; J. Garrison; J. Cheek) (1991)
  32. Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) – String Quartets (Emerson String Quartet) (1994-1999)
  33. Elliott Carter (1908-2012) – The Four String Quartets (Juilliard Quartet) (1991)
  34. Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) – Mass (Baltimore Symphony Orchestra/Marin Alsop; Jubilant Sykes) (2009)
  35. Steve Reich (1936- ) – Music for 18 Musicians (Ensemble Modern) (rec. 1996; rel. 1998)
  36. John Adams (1947- ) – The Dharma at Big Sur/My Father Knew Charles Ives (BBC Symphony Orchestra/John Adams; Tracy Silverman) (2006)
  37. Various Composers (19th and 20th Centuries) In the Clearing (Coro Allegro, David Hodgkins) (1997)

4 thoughts on “My Five-Star Albums

  1. Pingback: A New Way of Making Lists | Make Lists, Not War

  2. aforhapsody

    Thank You So Much!
    And I Love All Artists In This List, Especially Artists After 2000.

    (I’m Vietnamese, Sorry About My Bed English).

    Reply
  3. jameswharris

    I’ve always wanted to do this. And since your tastes and mine have a great deal of overlap, I’m going to use this list as my starter list. Plus you offer me a lot of albums to try that I should like.

    By the way, I don’t see an about page. How old are you? You have consumed a lot of creative works, I wonder how long that has taken. I’m 68 and it’s taken me a lifetime to get to all these albums.

    Reply
    1. beckchris

      Glad you like it, James! I grew up on rock, pop & folk and taught myself about blues, jazz and classical as an adult. It never occurred to me to do an about page. I’m a little nervous about putting too much personal info on the Internet, but I can tell you that I was born in the Kennedy administration (NJ); finished elementary school in the Ford administration (NJ); graduated high school in the Carter administration (NY); graduated college in the Reagan administration (Ohio); got married during Bush I (Mass.); and graduated law school in the Clinton years (Mass.).

      Reply

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