The Best Rock Albums by Year 1965 - 2004

Tags: 
  • 1965: Bob Dylan/Highway 61 Revisited.
  • 1966: The Beach Boys/Pet Sounds.
  • 1967: The Doors/The Doors. Love/Forever Changes
  • 1968: The Byrds/Notorious Byrd Brothers. The Zombies/Odyssey and Oracle
  • 1969: Elvis Presley/From Elvis in Memphis. Creedence Clearwater Revival/Willy and the Poor Boys
  • 1970: Santana/Abraxas. John Cale/Vintage Violence
  • 1971: The Rolling Stones/Sticky Fingers. Rod Stewart/Every Picture Tells a Story
  • 1972: Curtis Mayfield/Superfly. David Bowie/The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust, Yes/Fragile
  • 1973: ZZ Top/Tres Hombres. Stevie Wonder/Innervisions, Roxy Music/For Your Pleasure
  • 1974: Big Star/Radio City. Gram Parsons/Grievous Angel
  • 1975: Willie Nelson/Red Headed Stranger.
  • 1976: Thin Lizzy/Jailbreak.
  • 1977: Elvis Costello/My Aim Is True. The Saints/(I'm) Stranded, Suicide/Suicide
  • 1978: The Rolling Stones/Some Girls. Lou Reed/Street Hassle, X-Ray Spex/Germ-Free Adolescents
  • 1979: The Clash/London Calling. Tom Petty/Damn the Torpedoes
  • 1980: The Soft Boys/Underwater Moonlight. AC/DC/Back in Black, X/Los Angeles
  • 1981: Japan/Tin Drum.
  • 1982: The Church/The Blurred Crusade.
  • 1983: R.E.M./Murmur. U2/War
  • 1984: The Meat Puppets/Meat Puppets II.
  • 1985: The Replacements/Tim. The Jesus and Mary Chain/Psychocandy
  • 1986: Paul Simon/Graceland.
  • 1987: U2/The Joshua Tree.
  • 1988: My Bloody Valentine/Isn't Anything. The Pixies/Surfer Rosa
  • 1989: Beastie Boys/Paul’s Boutique. The Pixies/Doolittle
  • 1990: Public Enemy/Fear of a Black Planet. Ride/Nowhere
  • 1991: U2/Achtung Baby. My Bloody Valentine/Loveless
  • 1992: Adam Again/Dig. Pavement/Slanted and Enchanted, Catherine Wheel/Ferment
  • 1993: Liz Phair/Exile in Guyville.
  • 1994: Nirvana/MTV Unplugged. Portishead/Dummy
  • 1995: Elastica/Elastica.
  • 1996: Weezer/Pinkerton. DJ Shadow/Endtroducing...
  • 1997: Radiohead/OK Computer.
  • 1998: Lucinda Williams/Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. Air/Moon Safari
  • 1999: Red Hot Chili Peppers/Californication. Fiona Apple/When the Pawn..., Basement Jaxx/Remedy
  • 2000: The Dandy Warhols/13 Tales from Urban Bohemia. Primal Scream/XTRMNTR, Poe/Haunted
  • 2001: Jimmy Eat World/Bleed American. The Strokes/Is This It?, The Avalanches/Since I Left You, Lucinda Williams/Essence
  • 2002: Wilco/Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Cornershop/Handcream for a Generation
  • 2003: Basement Jaxx/Kish Kash. The White Stripes/Elephant
  • 2004: Green Day/American Idiot.
Author Comments: 

Best album in bold, runners-up follow in light.

Wow, excellent list! I find your choices for the early 80s and the current decade especially interesting; I certainly need to cough up a copy of Tin Drum!

Alright, I'll have to add some runners-up now, I reckon...

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Thanks! I really love Tin Drum, as well as Underwater Moonlight. The Blurred Crusade I like just a tad less, but I found less competition for that year.

I'll also admit that for 2003, I probably haven't heard as much as I have for most years; I like Kish Kash quite a bit, but I prefer Remedy, Basement Jaxx's first album. 13 Tales of Urban Bohemia has been an addiction of mine for several years now, with the first three songs (all longer, atmospheric slow near-instrumentals) defining the album for me as much as the more obvious songs like "Bohemian like Me," which I also like. Bleed American was a close winner over The Strokes' Is This It, but I think Jimmy Eat World does what The Strokes supposedly did, great, stripped down rock, only with less attitude, better hooks, and a lot more emotional involvement.

Johnny Waco

I know how the "not my favorite album by the artist, but the year had less competition" thing goes. I had the same issue on my list (Bowie jumps to mind).

Kish Kash is a very good album. I can respect the choice of Bleed American over Is This It? (I just don't understand it! ;) ), and I already knew you loved the Dandy's album.

Crusade is a unique and interesting choice, along with an album I probably should listen to again soon.

Again, I love this list!

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Great picks, though I was wondering why you didn't pick one for 1986. Nothing you liked?

Yeah, 1986 was a difficult issue. On the one hand, I have several albums I enjoy from that year, including Guns 'n Roses' Appetite for Destruction, REM's Life's Rich Pageant, and The Smith's The Queen Is Dead, but nothing I liked enough to place on a level with the other years' winners. On the other hand, the mid-eighties has never been my favorite time period when it comes to exploring music, so hopefully I'll at some point hear something that jumps out at me and screams, "I'm the best! Put me on the list!" I'm curious about the Talk Talk album from that year in paticular (a band I've never heard). I may pick it up just to see what its like.

Anyone have any other recommendations from 1986?

Johnny Waco

I see. Well, I love The Queen Is Dead, but XTC's Skylarking would be a close second for me. Have you heard that one? Do you like XTC in general?

Other than that, I'll agree that it wasn't a very strong year. Paul Simon's Graceland is good too, though. It might not scream out at you (or it just might), but either way I definitely think it's worth hearing if you haven't.

You actually posted while I was pulling together my post. I think we actually share our top two picks for the year!

And Graceland made my list below as well.

Are you wearing black today also?

Just don't tell me it is how you feel on the inside...

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Black? Nah, most of my shirts are pretty vibrant, Hawaiian or otherwise. It's how I feel on the inside... ;-)

I did notice that our #1 and #2 picks are the same wonderful albums. Of course, given that I've only heard 5 albums from 1986, that's not such a huge coincidence, but it's still pretty cool.

As a side tangent, in looking up which albums are from 1986, I discovered that not only is They Might Be Giants' debut from that year, but also that the debut made Acclaimed Music at all! I mean, I strongly disagree with it outranking Lincoln, but it looks like one of my favorite weird-music bands is slowly but surely working their way up the acclaim charts.

By the way AJ, you gonna put up one of these things too? I'm throwing down the gauntlet, so you better pick it up;)

Never heard much XTC period, so I don't know. Years later, still not sure what I think of "Dear God," which I have heard. But I would like to hear the whole album.

Johnny Waco

Here, here. I also toss my gauntlet into the ring.

But everybody else is doing it!

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

I thought about making a clone once, but I was overcome by too many tough decisions, a quandary I griped about here. But maybe I will try again sometime soon. I won't make any promises though.

I have to push a little. It is painful, but once I made the hard choices, I understood what lbangs had to go through as well. Once you make a list like this, we'll know that it wasn't easy, but it is fascinating to see what choices you end up making. (And there's always the runners-up list;).

Johnny Waco (who likes exerting peer pressure!)

Alright, maybe I'll give it another try sometime soon.

Well, since you mentioned The Queen Is Dead, I'll rummage for a few suggestions.

XTC - Skylarking
Sonic Youth - EVOL
Elvis Costello - Blood & Chocolate & King of America
New Order - Brotherhood
Steve Earle - Guitar Town
Bad Brains - I Against I
Bodeans - Love and Hope and Sex and Dreams
Billy Bragg - Talking with the Taxman About Poetry
Paul Simon - Graceland
Prince - Parade
Peter Gabriel - So
The Church - Heyday
The The - Infected
The Go-Betweens - Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express
Hunters & Collectors - Human Frailty

Alright, I think I am plumb out of ideas... :)

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Thanks for the recommendations, guys. I actually do like Graceland quite a bit, but I forgot about it. I will put it in for now, and try to further educate myself on '86. I think Talk Talk's Colour of Spring, XTC's Skylarking, The Go-Between's Liberty Belle, and The Church's Heyday pique my interest the most. Have either of you heard Talk Talk? The reviews on Amazon sound pretty rapturous...

Johnny Waco

I think my knowledge of Talk Talk starts with 88's Spirit of Eden. If I've heard Colour of Spring, my feeble mind has long since forgotten it.

Sorry.

I love the alternates. I knew Psychocandy was bound to show up!

I find it fun to note that although our lists differ, I believe I actually love nearly everything on your list. Groovy.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Ah, Psychocandy! Yes, The Jesus and Mary Chain created it, and it was good.

The funny thing about Bleed American (about which I understand your lack of understanding, though respect your respecting) is that it seems to have gotten some criticism for being a "sell out" on the part of Jimmy Eat World; it was too accessible, etc, etc. Same for The Replacements' Tim, which the author of Our Band Could Be Your Life barely referred to, as though once they signed to a major label, there was nothing else worth discussing. I guess I like the sound of the first "sell out" albums (especially if you include The Who Sell Out!).

Johnny Waco

Chalk me up as a fan of both Psychocandy and Tim; heck, I even love the "post-sell-out" All Shook Down quite a bit (sorta a godfather of the 90's alt.country scene), and I'll Be You is a killer single.

I am rather conflicted about Jimmy Eats World. I think I like but don't love them (sadly, their bigger hits tend to annoy me), and the mass amounts of love leave me a bit bewildered. Perhaps I'll have to buy the album and give the love a chance to grow!

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Well, despite my love of Bleed American, I realize from your post that all along I have thought the "Eats" part was actually "Eat." I guess that exposes my devotion...

Tim may be a crisper and more polished, but that certainly doesn't make it a sterile-sounding Toto-type thing! The songs on the album are what get me: "Bastards of Young," "Swinging Party," even the petty and hateful "Waitress in the Sky"! Great stuff.

The Replacements reminds me (because they are also represented) of where I first heard The Soft Boys, The Chills, The Go-Betweens, and several other artists I've come to love: the three-volume Post-Punk set from Rhino. Have you heard them? They may be the best samplers of a musical genre I've ever encountered (the Rhino Power Pop series comes close). They cover all the different sounds and subgenres, yet each volume is very listenable from beginning to end. The liner notes by college and underground DJs of the time give a lot of great info.

Johnny Waco

It is 'Eat'. My error. I was typing too fast.

Which Rhino set are you talking about, the recent one (Left of the Dial) or the older one (part of the DIY series)?

And while I will agree with most of what you wrote, I still think Africa is a great single...

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

The Left of the Dial series (Scared to Dance and one other title I can't remember complete the set) is the one. I like the DIY series as well, but I think the newer one does a better job of putting the songs in context and is just overall more listenable. Same goes for the DIY Power Pop vs. the newer Power Pop set (both of which, sadly, are out of print).

This must be the only discussion on listology ever of Eat/Eats, eh?

Johnny Waco

Ah, my! There are THREE collections.

By Left of the Dial , I meant the latest box set. You were talking about the Postpunk Chronicles , of which one of the CDs was called Left of the Dial. And I wonder why we are confused!

I think the set you mentioned is the only one of the three I have yet to hear. I will try to remedy this kish-kash (in this context, that means tout de suite; ya gotta listen to alot of Basement Jaxx...).

And our discussion reminds me that I am now off of work and heading to Eats me some dinner!

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Well, there you go! I had no idea there was now a boxset called Left of the Dial. I wonder if it is the three Postpunk Chronicles (that's the name!) volumes in one collection, or if at Rhino they just love that song;)

I Eats a while ago, so I won't Eats again till later.

Johnny Waco

If I recall correctly, the new box set has four disc and is different from the older set, though I am sure much overlap exists.

It must be pretty tempting to call any post-punk/alternative collection that name.

I will have to check out the collection you are talking about. I remember liking the DIY series a lot, so it has a lot to live up to. The newer set is probably much easier to find than those old discs, though.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Wait a minute--it is Jimmy EAT World! OK, for a minute there I thought I would have to remove it from the list simply because I didn't even know the name of the band...

Johnny Waco