Best Albums of All Time: The Critics’ Picks

I collected over 30 lists of the “Best Albums of All Time”, “Most Influential Albums…”, “Most Important Albums…” from books, magazines and the Internet and combined them into one meta-list by giving each album one point for each list on which it appears.  The numbers in bold & underlined indicate the number of original source lists the album was found on.  The list below includes every album that was on three or more of the original source lists.  Albums with the same number of points are arranged chronologically.

NOTE: The “Best Albums” lists I found focus on pop, r&b, hip hop and the many permutations of rock, with occasional nods to other genres (jazz, folk, country).  To make up for the many missing genres, I have created other Best Albums meta-lists for classical, jazz, blues, hip hop, country, and world music.  If you’re looking for Best Songs meta-lists, I’ve created some of those, too: rock/pop, etc., country, and hip hop.

The Beatles Revolver  (1966)

The Beach Boys  Pet Sounds (1966)

The Beatles  Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
The Beatles  The Beatles [White Album] (1968)
Led Zeppelin  Led Zeppelin [IV] (1971)
David Bowie  The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars (1972)
Nirvana  Nevermind (1991)

The Beatles  Rubber Soul (1965)
Jimi Hendrix  Are You Experienced? (1967)
Marvin Gaye  What’s Going On (1971)
The Rolling Stones  Exile on Main St. (1972)
Sex Pistols  Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s the Sex Pistols (1977)
The Clash  London Calling (1980)

The Velvet Underground The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)
The Beatles  Abbey Road (1969)
Bruce Springsteen  Born to Run (1975)

Fleetwood Mac  Rumours (1977)

Pink Floyd  The Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
Michael Jackson  Thriller (1982)

Bob Dylan  Highway 61 Revisited (1965)
Bob Dylan  Blonde on Blonde (1966)
Jimi Hendrix  Electric Ladyland (1968)
Ramones  Ramones (1976)

The Doors  The Doors (1967)
Van Morrison  Astral Weeks (1968)
The Rolling Stones  Let It Bleed (1969)
The Who  Who’s Next (1971)
Bob Dylan  Blood on the Tracks (1975)

The Rolling Stones  Sticky Fingers (1971)
AC/DC  Back in Black (1980)
Radiohead  OK Computer (1997)

David Bowie  Hunky Dory (1971)
Prince  Purple Rain (1984)
The Smiths  The Queen Is Dead (1986)
U2  The Joshua Tree (1987)
U2  Achtung Baby (1991)

Patti Smith  Horses (1975)
R.E.M.  Automatic for the People (1992)

Neil Young  After the Gold Rush (1970)
Joni Mitchell  Blue (1971)

Bob Dylan  Bringing It All Back Home (1965)
Love  Forever Changes (1967)
The Band  The Band (1969)
Stevie Wonder  Songs in the Key of Life (1976)
Television  Marquee Moon (1977)
Paul Simon  Graceland (1986)
Public Enemy  It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988)
Pearl Jam  Ten (1991)

Stevie Wonder  Innervisions (1973)
Led Zeppelin  Physical Graffiti (1975)
Guns n’ Roses  Appetite for Destruction (1987)
Prince  Sign o’ the Times (1987)
Oasis  (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? (1995)

Miles Davis  Kind of Blue (1959)
The Band  Music From Big Pink (1968)
The Rolling Stones  Beggars Banquet (1968)
Captain Beefheart  Trout Mask Replica (1969)
Led Zeppelin  Led Zeppelin II (1969)
Van Morrison  Moondance (1970)
Simon & Garfunkel  Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)
Lou Reed  Transformer (1972)
Pink Floyd  Wish You Were Here (1975)
Pink Floyd  The Wall (1979)
The Clash  The Clash (1979)
The Stone Roses  The Stone Roses (1989)
Jeff Buckley  Grace (1994)
Radiohead  The Bends (1995)

Carole King  Tapestry (1971)
Elton John  Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973)
Michael Jackson  Off the Wall (1979)
Talking Heads  Remain in Light (1980)
Beck  Odelay (1996)

James Brown  ‘Live’ at The Apollo (1963)
Otis Redding  Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul (1965)
Dusty Springfield  Dusty in Memphis (1969)
The Who  Tommy (1969)
Led Zeppelin  Led Zeppelin (1969)
John Lennon  John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1970)
Derek and The Dominos  Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (1970)
Bruce Springsteen  Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978)
Red Hot Chili Peppers  Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991)
Oasis  Definitely Maybe (1994)

The Velvet Underground  The Velvet Underground (1969)
John Lennon Imagine (1971)
The Stooges  Raw Power (1973)
The Eagles  Hotel California (1976)
Roxy Music  For Your Pleasure (1976)
Joy Division  Closer (1981)
Pixies  Doolittle (1989)
Primal Scream  Screamadelica (1991)
Metallica  Metallica (Black Album) (1991)
Massive Attack  Blue Lines (1991)
Radiohead  Kid A (2000)

Miles Davis  Bitches Brew (1970)
Neil Young  Harvest (1972)
Queen  A Night at the Opera (1975)
Elvis Costello  My Aim Is True (1977)
Various Artists  Saturday Night Fever (1977)
Kate Bush  Hounds of Love (1985)
Dire Straits  Brothers in Arms (1985)
Metallica  Master of Puppets (1986)
N.W.A.  Straight Outta Compton (1988)
Nirvana  In Utero (1993)
Portishead  Dummy (1994)
Lauryn Hill  The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)

Cream  Disraeli Gears (1967)
Aretha Franklin  Lady Soul (1968)
The Byrds  The Notorious Byrd Brothers (1968)
The Stooges  Fun House (1970)
Sly & the Family Stone  There’s a Riot Goin’ On (1971)
Stevie Wonder  Talking Book (1972)
Neil Young  Tonight’s the Night (1975)
Pretenders  Pretenders (1980)
Joy Division  Unknown Pleasures (1980)
R.E.M.  Murmur (1983)
The Police  Synchronicity (1983)
The Smiths  The Smiths (1984)
Bruce Springsteen  Born in the U.S.A. (1984)
Bob Marley  Legend: The Best of Bob Marley and the Wailers (1984)
Sonic Youth  Daydream Nation (1988)
Beastie Boys  Paul’s Boutique (1989)
My Bloody Valentine  Loveless (1991)
The Smashing Pumpkins  Siamese Dream (1993)
Blur  Parklife (1994)
Soundgarden  Superunknown (1994)
The Verve  Urban Hymns (1997)
The Strokes  Is This It (2001)

Elvis Presley  The Sun Sessions (1954-1955)
Aretha Franklin  I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (1967)
Johnny Cash  At Folsom Prison (1968)
Creedence Clearwater Revival  Green River (1969)
Sly & the Family Stone  Stand! (1969)
The Kinks  The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society (1969)
Black Sabbath  Paranoid (1970)
Grateful Dead  American Beauty (1970)
The Allman Brothers Band  At Fillmore East (1971)
The Who  Quadrophenia (1973)
Led Zeppelin  Houses of the Holy (1973)
Joni Mitchell  Court and Spark (1974)
Gram Parsons  GP/Grievous Angel (1974)
Bob Marley  Exodus (1977)
Blondie  Parallel Lines (1978)
The Rolling Stones  Some Girls (1978)
The Replacements  Let It Be (1984)
Peter Gabriel  So (1986)
R.E.M.  Out of Time (1991)
Pavement  Slanted and Enchanted (1992)
Rage Against the Machine  Rage Against the Machine (1992)
Alanis Morissette  Jagged Little Pill (1995)
The Smashing Pumpkins  Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995)
The Prodigy  The Fat of the Land (1997)

John Coltrane  A Love Supreme (1965)
Pink Floyd  The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967)
Jimi Hendrix  Axis: Bold as Love (1968)
Blind Faith  Blind Faith (1969)
Led Zeppelin  Led Zeppelin III (1970)
Santana  Abraxas (1970)
Al Green  Call Me (1973)
New York Dolls  New York Dolls (1973)
Richard & Linda Thompson  I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight (1974)
Aerosmith  Toys in the Attic (1975)
Kraftwerk  Trans-Europe Express (1977)
Van Halen  Van Halen (1978)
Big Star  Third/Sister Lovers (1978)
Elvis Costello  This Year’s Model (1978)
Tom Waits  Swordfishtrombones (1983)
U2  The Unforgettable Fire (1984)
Hüsker Dü  Zen Arcade (1984)
Minutemen  Double Nickels on the Dime (1984)
Tom Waits  Rain Dogs (1985)
Prefab Sprout  Steve McQueen (1985)
Bon Jovi  Slippery When Wet (1986)
Beastie Boys  Licensed to Ill (1986)
The Cure  Disintegration (1989)
Public Enemy  Fear of a Black Planet (1990)
Green Day  Dookie (1994)
Manic Street Preachers  Everything Must Go (1996)

The Beatles  A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
The Byrds  Younger Than Yesterday (1967)
The Who  The Who Sell Out (1967)
The Zombies  Odyssey & Oracle (1968)
Scott Walker  Scott 4 (1969)
Nick Drake  Five Leaves Left (1969)
The Flying Burrito Brothers  The Gilded Palace of Sin (1969)
King Crimson  In the Court of the Crimson King (1969)
Grateful Dead  Workingman’s Dead (1970)
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young  Déjà vu (1970)
Rod Stewart  Every Picture Tells a Story (1971)
The Doors  L.A. Woman (1971)
Jethro Tull  Aqualung (1971)
Janis Joplin  Pearl (1971)
T. Rex  Electric Warrior (1971)
Leonard Cohen  Songs of Love and Hate (1971)
Wings  Band on the Run (1973)
Steely Dan  Countdown to Ecstasy (1973)
Big Star  Radio City (1974)
Steely Dan  Aja (1977)
Meat Loaf  Bat Out of Hell (1977)
Pere Ubu  The Modern Dance (1978)
Neil Young  Rust Never Sleeps (1979)
Prince  1999 (1982)
Bruce Springsteen  Nebraska (1982)
Run-D.M.C.  Raising Hell (1986)
The Jesus and Mary Chain  Psychocandy (1986)
Madonna  Like a Prayer (1989)
De La Soul  3 Feet High and Rising (1989)
A Tribe Called Quest  The Low End Theory (1991)
Dr. Dre  The Chronic (1992)
Wu-Tang Clan  Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) (1993)
Hole  Live Through This (1994)
Nine Inch Nails  The Downward Spiral (1994)
Pulp  Different Class (1996)
DJ Shadow  Endtroducing….. (1996)
Bob Dylan  Time Out of Mind (1997)
Air  Moon Safari (1998)
Coldplay  Parachutes (2000)
Eminem  The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
PJ Harvey  Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea (2000)

Elvis Presley  Sunrise (rec. 1953-1955)
Chuck Berry  The Great Twenty-Eight (rec. 1955-1965)
Elvis Presley  Elvis Presley (1956)
Frank Sinatra  Songs for Swingin’ Lovers (1956)
James Brown  Star Time (1956-1984)
Little Richard  Here’s Little Richard (1957)
John Coltrane  Giant Steps (1960)
The Beatles  With The Beatles (1963)
The Rolling Stones  Aftermath (1966)
The Doors  Strange Days (1967)
Moby Grape  Moby Grape (1967)
The Moody Blues  Days of Future Passed (1967)
Leonard Cohen  Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967)
Jefferson Airplane  Surrealistic Pillow (1967)
Simon & Garfunkel  Bookends (1968)
Fairport Convention  Liege and Lief (1969)
Chicago  Chicago Transit Authority (1969)
The Stooges  The Stooges (1969)
Nick Drake  Bryter Layter (1970)
Tim Buckley  Starsailor (1970)
The Beach Boys  Sunflower (1970)
George Harrison  All Things Must Pass (1970)
James Taylor  Sweet Baby James (1970)
The Rolling Stones  ‘Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!’: The Rolling Stones in Concert (1970)
Funkadelic  Maggot Brain (1971)
The Beach Boys  Surf’s Up (1971)
Nick Drake  Pink Moon (1972)
Roxy Music  Roxy Music (1972)
Various Artists  The Harder They Come Soundtrack (1972)
Captain Beefheart  Clear Spot (1972)
Brian Eno  Here Come the Warm Jets (1973)
Bob Marley  Catch a Fire (1973)
Robert Wyatt  Rock Bottom (1974)
Neil Young  On the Beach (1974)
Van Morrison  It’s Too Late to Stop Now (1974)
Parliament  Mothership Connection (1975)
Joni Mitchell  The Hissing of Summer Lawns (1975)
Bob Dylan  Desire (1976)
Kate & Anna McGarrigle  Kate & Anna McGarrigle (1976)
Suicide  Suicide (1977)
Wire  Pink Flag (1977)
David Bowie  Low (1977)
Iggy Pop  Lust for Life (1977)
The Jam  All the Mod Cons (1978)
The B-52s  The B-52s (1979)
Gang of Four  Entertainment! (1979)
Public Image Ltd.  Second Edition (1979)
The Clash  Sandanista! (1980)
The Rolling Stones  Tattoo You (1981)
Duran Duran  Rio (1982)
Donald Fagen  The Nightfly (1982)
Dexys Midnight Runners  Searching for the Young Soul Rebels (1982)
Metallica  Kill ‘Em All (1983)
The Smiths  Hatful of Hollow (1984)
Hüsker Dü  New Day Rising (1985)
R.E.M.  Life’s Rich Pageant (1986)
Pixies  Surfer Rosa (1988)
Jane’s Addiction  Ritual de lo Habitual (1990)
Jay-Z  The Blueprint (1991)
Alice in Chains  Dirt (1992)
Tori Amos  Little Earthquakes (1992)
Björk  Debut (1993)
Counting Crows  August and Everything After (1993)
Nirvana  MTV Unplugged in New York (1994)
Björk  Post (1995)
Elliott Smith  Either/Or (1997)
Lucinda Williams  Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (1998)
Moby  Play (1999)
Red Hot Chili Peppers  Californication (1999)
Arcade Fire  Funeral (2002)
Coldplay  A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002)

5 thoughts on “Best Albums of All Time: The Critics’ Picks

  1. aforhapsody

    I’ve made some list:

    Best Electronic Albums Of All Time – 14 Lists Combined

    Best R&B albums of All Time – 7 lists combined

    Best Krautrock Albums Of All Time – 15 Lists Combined

    Best Metal Albums Of All Time – 23 Lists Combined

  2. Gwen

    I’m so happy to see “Prince’s” album “1999” on your list! It often gets over look for “Purple Rain” and “Sign O’ The Time”. All three are great albums of his. I also love “Dirty Mind”,” Controvery” and the wonderful “The Gold Experience”! Thank you 🙂


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