Ok so here’s the idea: 25 albums that I think everyone should listen to before they die. An artist can only have one album on the list (otherwise it would be a list of The Beatles, Wilco and James Taylor)… Most of these are ‘no-brainers’ but I am sure that there are a few of you that have not heard EVERYTHING on this list (except Shannon because we have the EXACT same taste in music).

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#1     The Beatles: Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
The day that I find a woman as beautiful as this album I will live happily ever after! … Obviously The Beatles could have a lot of albums on this list, I took my favorite.

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#2     Wilco: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
The greatest album from the greatest American rock band … My time in Chicago carved a deep affection for this album. It IS Chicago.

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#3     Pink Floyd: The Wall
Honestly, I think I would still be limping from my divorce without this album. Seriously, I used to listen to it 2-3 times a day!!! It is so layered, so rich, so perfectly blended from song-to-song. The definition of a ‘concept album’.

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#4     James Taylor: Mud Slide Slim And The #000 Horizon
I nominate ‘Places In My Past’ as the most under-rated James Taylor song of all time… This album is great in the spring and fall.

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#5     Bob Dylan: Blood On The Tracks
‘Tangled Up In #000’ & ‘Buckets Of Rain’ are two of my favorite Dylan tunes… They both happen to be on this album!

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#6     Ben Folds Five: Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner
Another album from a specific time in my life… The Chicago group used to sit around and talk about how this album would be an amazing musical.

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#7     Joni Mitchell: #000
This album has bumped into and out of my ‘top 5 albums of all time’ list many times… Raw, simple, beautiful, touching.

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#8     Beach Boys: Pet Sounds
Part of me hates the Beach Boys for giving us this album and then crapping on our ears for the rest of their musical careers… THIS album is OFF THE CHARTS. Thanks Brian Wilson.

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#9     Radiohead: OK Computer
OK Computer is not necessarily something that I think my Mother would LOVE, but I think there would be moments that she could understand the appeal of this kind of music… I could have picked several Radiohead albums, but OK Computer’s aggressiveness and concept seem to stick with me.

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#10     Paul Simon: Graceland
This is such a SOLID album. SO listenable. SOOOOO under-rated!!!!!!! The song ‘Graceland’ kicks my ass every time.

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#11     Bruce Springsteen: Born To Run
Listening to this album and picking out the piano parts (often holding up the entire song, but not overwhelming it) is the closest thing I could come to the rock album that I would want to write (I would add a banjo of course).

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#12     Wings: Band On The Run
As much as I like ‘Batdance’, the song ‘Band On The Run’ is the only song that can mash up three different songs into one and make it work.

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#13     Gershwin: Rhapsody In Blue
This song takes up the entire side of an album. I get very reminiscent during this album.

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#14     Nick Drake: Bryter Layter
Speaking of emotional, reminiscent albums… Nick Drake is a journey into the soft, emotional sides.. If you are looking to get a party started you might want to skip this one.

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#15     Stevie Wonder: Songs in the Key of Life
You have heard all of these songs ripped-off and sampled by hip-hop artists for years. I love the political views stated and the place in history that they were made … THIS IS AN AMAZING ALBUM.

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#16     Johnny Cash: Live From Folsom Prison
This album on vinyl will absolutely kick your ass. One of my favorite Saturday afternoon albums.

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#17     David Gray: White Ladder
Another Chicago album: Sitting in the front room of the apartment, playing 007 on the N64, watching car accidents in the snow… Beautiful electronic sounding album

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#18     Velvet underground & Nico: The Velvet Underground
The trippiest album on the list… Give it a few listens, you will not be sorry.

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#19     The Rolling Stones: Let It Bleed
My favorite Stones album almost feels more like a #000s album towards the end.

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#20     Led Zeppelin: IV
The definition of pure and simple rock and roll.

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#21     Miles Davis: Kind Of Blue
Greatest jazz album of all time needs to be on the list.

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#22     Steely Dan: Aja
No one knows how to make their music ‘breeth’ like Steely Dan.

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#23     Jackson Browne: The Pretender
his might be one that you have not heard… SOLID from beginning to end with lyrics that paint a picture.

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#24     Mark Knopfler: Sailing To Philadelphia
Title song is a duet with James Taylor that will blow your mind… Stick around for ‘Do America’ on the latter half of the album.

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#25     Queen: Night At The Opera
Just a really solid rock and roll album… Great while playing darts!

  1. SS
    Apr 07, 2009

    Just you just reference the Rolling Stones as an American rock band?!?! Madness. Other than that, nice collection. A few other’s I’d contend should be on the list or at least debated.

    – Toad the Wet Sprocket – Fear
    Dulcinea is a phat album too, but Fear is amazing.
    – Dr. Dre – The Cronic
    #1 rap album of all time, needs consideration.
    – Nivana – Nevermind
    Amazing album, Cobain and Grohl together! second best rock tandem (McCarthy/Lennon)
    – The Doors – The Doors
    I personally heart the Doors, some don’t, but when you’re throwing down the brews, few bands just glide along with you.
    – The Clash – London Calling
    Have you heard this one? It is the definition of “it wails.”
    – The Police – Synchronicity
    Everybreath you take gets the air time, but Miss Gradenko, Wrapped Around Your Finger and King of Pain are great tunes. Packed alubm.
    – Metallica – Black Album
    Metal at its best. High energy and solid throughout.
    – Michael Jackson – Thriller
    Yeah, dude’s batshit crazy, but Thiller, Billie Jean, Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin, Beat it… phat beats for all!
    – U2 – War
    They’ve had several, but this one edges out Joshua Tree for me.

    Ok, there you go, chew on those. If you haven’t heard them, then get to it.

    Reply
  2. Capn
    Apr 07, 2009

    Ummmm….Gord’s Gold???

    Reply
  3. Joe
    Apr 07, 2009

    Yeah, the Stones are not American… This post took a while to put together and my brain went to mush… There goes my credibility! Hahahahaah…

    Reply
  4. misty
    Apr 08, 2009

    um, “edges out Joshua Tree”?! I don’t know how we got married.

    I offer up Petty & the Heartbreakers “wildflowers” and Simon & Garfunkel’s “live in central park” (the first one.) Classics!

    Reply
  5. Jamie
    Apr 08, 2009

    Very solid list Joe…I would maybe add Tori Amos’ “Little Earthquakes” and “Ten” by Pearl Jam as well. Two of my all time faves that stand up to repeated listening.

    Reply
  6. shannondg
    Apr 09, 2009

    i hope you weren’t being a smart ass…i own almost all of these albums, or several track from them. we are music twins, fo sho. i’m going to do my own list now that i am inspired by yours.

    Reply
  7. misty
    Apr 09, 2009

    Thought I commented yesterday – but alas on my phone. Ah, unreliablility.

    I put forth Tom Petty’s Wildflowers and Simon & Garfunkel Live in Central Park (the first time)….

    Reply
  8. Dave farrar
    Apr 13, 2009

    Hey Joe. Good list! i would agree with most of these. I gotta throw Jeff Buckley “Grace” in the list. Also, i got you a present. I’ll give it to Lady Steak Johnson to give to ya.

    Reply
  9. Whitney
    Apr 20, 2009

    May I also suggest Greatful Dead’s ‘Shakedown Street’. It’s one of my personal favs. Have a great one!
    Peace and Love

    Reply