Saturday, December 27, 2003

Virgin Records: Top 100 Albums

First posted 12/27/2003; updated 8/15/2020.

Virgin Records:

The Top 100 Albums

Through a variety of media outlets, including radio and publishing, Virgin Records has put out a variety of best-of album lists through the years. This exclusive DMDB list consolidates five Virgin lists (see sources at bottom of page) into one top 100.

Also, check out annual picks for album of the year.

1. Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
2. Nirvana Nevermind (1991)
3. The Rolling Stones Exile on Main Street (1972)
4. Meat Loaf Bat Out of Hell (1977)
5. Queen A Night at the Opera (1975)
6. Eagles Hotel California (1976)
7. Dire Straits Brothers in Arms (1985)
8. The Beatles Revolver (1966)
9. The Beatles Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
10. The Beach Boys Pet Sounds (1966)

11. R.E.M. Automatic for the People (1992)
12. The Beatles The Beatles (aka “The White Album”) (1968)
13. The Beatles Abbey Road (1969)
14. David Bowie The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)
15. U2 The Joshua Tree (1987)
16. David Bowie Hunky Dory (1971)
17. Fleetwood Mac Rumours (1977)
18. The Beatles Rubber Soul (1965)
19. Bob Dylan Blonde on Blonde (1966)
20. Bruce Springsteen Born to Run (1975)

21. Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin IV (1971)
22. Paul Simon Graceland (1986)
23. The Doors The Doors (1967)
24. The Jimi Hendrix Experience Are You Experienced? (1967)
25. U2 Achtung Baby (1991)
26. Pearl Jam Ten (1991)
27. Guns N’ Roses Appetite for Destruction (1987)
28. The Who Who’s Next (1971)
29. Crowded House Woodface (1991)
30. Blondie Parallel Lines (1978)

31. Elton John Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973)
32. The Police Synchronicity (1983)
33. Elvis Costello My Aim Is True (1977)
34. Elvis Costello & The Attractions Imperial Bedroom (1982)
35. Derek and the Dominos Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs (1970)
36. The Rolling Stones Aftermath (1966)
37. Oasis (What’s the Story) Morning Glory (1995)
38. Van Morrison Astral Weeks (1968)
39. Velvet Underground & Nico Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)
40. Bob Dylan Highway 61 Revisited (1965)

41. The Smiths The Queen Is Dead (1986)
42. Love Forever Changes (1967)
43. Sex Pistols Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols (1977)
44. Bob Dylan Blood on the Tracks (1975)
45. The Jimi Hendrix Experience Electric Ladyland (1968)
46. The Rolling Stones Let It Bleed (1969)
47. R.E.M. Out of Time (1991)
48. Alanis Morissette Jagged Little Pill (1995)
49. Prince Sign ‘O’ the Times (1987)
50. The Band The Band (1969)

51. Joni Mitchell Blue (1971)
52. Michael Jackson Thriller (1982)
53. Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here (1975)
54. Blur Parklife (1994)
55. Simon & Garfunkel Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)
56. Prince & the Revolution Purple Rain (soundtrack, 1984)
57. Lou Reed Transformer (1972)
58. Pink Floyd The Wall (1979)
59. Stevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life (1976)
60. Neil Young After the Gold Rush (1970)

61. U2 The Unforgettable Fire (1984)
62. The Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers (1971)
63. Frank Sinatra Songs for Swingin’ Lovers! (1956)
64. Crosby, Stills & Nash Crosby, Stills & Nash (1969)
65. Peter Gabriel So (1986)
66. Neil Young Harvest (1972)
67. Manic Street Preachers Everything Must Go (1996)
68. John Lennon Imagine (1971)
69. The Verve Urban Hymns (1997)
70. Red Hot Chili Peppers Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991)

71. Van Morrison Moondance (1970)
72. Carole King Tapestry (1971)
73. David Bowie Low (1977)
74. Mike Oldfield Tubular Bells (1973)
75. The Byrds The Notorious Byrd Brothers (1968)
76. Moby Grape Moby Grape (1967)
77. Metallica Master of Puppets (1986)
78. Elvis Costello & The Attractions This Year’s Model (1978)
79. T-Rex Electric Warrior (1971)
80. AC/DC Back in Black (1980)

81. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Déjà Vu (1970)
82. Kate Bush Hounds of Love (1985)
83. Cream Disraeli Gears (1967)
84. The Jam All Mod Cons (1978)
85. The Beatles Help! (1965)
86. The Byrds Younger Than Yesterday (1967)
87. The Rolling Stones Beggars Banquet (1968)
88. Neil Young Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (1969)
89. Bruce Springsteen Born in the U.S.A. (1984)
90. Michael Jackson Bad (1987)

91. Frank Zappa Hot Rats (1969)
92. Joni Mitchell Court and Spark (1974)
93. Jefferson Airplane Surrealistic Pillow (1967)
94. R.E.M. Green (1988)
95. Michael Jackson Off the Wall (1979)
96. U2 War (1983)
97. Simply Red Stars (1991)
98. ABC Lexicon of Love (1982)
99. Steely Dan Can’t Buy a Thrill (1972)
100. The Grateful Dead American Beauty (1970)

Resources and Related Links:

  • 1994: “Top 250 Rock and Pop Albums

    This is from the Colin Larkin book The All Time Top 1000 Albums, first published in 1994 by Guinness. It broke down albums into different genres; just the rock and pop list is included here. Subsequent books by Larkin were published by Virgin so this list is included here even.

  • 1998: The Virgin All-Time Top 1000 Albums

    This revised book from Colin Larkin is the result of more than 200,000 poll participants.

  • 2000: The Virgin All-Time Top 1000 Albums

    This is the third edition of Colin Larkin’s books, again produced by gathering more than 200,000 votes.

  • 2003: “Great Albums You Really Should Own”

    List was compiled by DJ Daryl Denham for Virgin Radio from more than 3500 votes.

  • 12/27/03: “Top 25 Rock Albums All Time”

    Presented on Virgin Radio on Russ Williams’ Rebel Yell show.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

“Mad World” hit #1 in the UK

Mad World

Tears for Fears

Writer(s): Roland Orzabal (see lyrics here)

Released: September 20, 1982

First Charted: October 2, 1982

Peak: 2 CO, 3 UK, 12 AU, 2 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.25 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 76.84 video, 80.21 streaming

Mad World

Michael Andrews with Gary Jules

Released: December 15, 2003

First Charted: December 21, 2003

Peak: 11 AA, 30 MR, 13 UK, 93 CN, 28 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.7 UK, 0.92 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 157.53 video, 206.69 streaming

Awards (Tears for Fears):

Click on award for more details.

Awards (Andrews/Jules):

About the Song:

Tears for Fears broke through in the United States in 1985 with the #1 hits “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” and “Shout” from their album Songs from the Big Chair. Their first album, 1983’s The Hurting, had little impact on U.S. soil, but was a chart-topper in the UK, propelled by three top-five hits, including “Mad World.”

Roland Orzabal wrote the song “about a depressed young person who feels out of place in this world.” SF Orzabal wanted to write a new wave song like Duran Duran’s “Girls on Film.” It was inspired by Arthur Janov, who wrote The Primal Scream, and his theories. The line “the dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had” comes from the notion that dreams of intense experiences are best at releasing tension. WK Bandmate Curt Smith ended up handling lead vocals because, as he said, “It worked better with my voice because it’s more melancholic, darker.” SF

The song was revived in 2001 for the soundtrack to the film Donnie Darko. The director, Richard Kelly, commissioned television and film composer Michael Andrews to develop the score. Because of the project’s low budget, Andrews recorded all the instruments himself, but wanted vocals on at least one song. He tapped Gary Jules, a childhood friend with whom he’d worked in the Origin and the Greyboy Allstars. WK Tears for Fears was one of their favorite bands so they opted to record a stripped-down version of “Mad World.” Jules said, “I think it’s a really beautiful example of a person struggling with the fact that life is mad.” WK

The “slower and more melodic” SF version was more fitting to the somber lyrics, although some considered the original “upbeat dance tune by Tears for Fears” SF to be deliberately ironic. Jules said, “Every so often a song with just vocals, piano, and cello creeps up on you and says something about who you are, where you’re going which stops you in your tracks.” WK

Donnie Darko was well received by critics, but didn’t do well commercially. However, after its DVD release, it gained a cult following and demand grew for a single release of “Mad World.” It was released in late 2003 and it topped the UK charts. Orzabal said the cover reaching #1 was the proudest moment of his career. SF

The song had yet another comeback in 2020 during the coronavirus epidemic when people found themselves quarantined worldwide. Many musicians turned to in-home, intimate performances to reach out to fans and offer some entertainment and comfort. Curt Smith and his daughter Diva performed “Mad World” in a style more like the Andrews/Jules version and it went viral.


Related Links:

First posted 5/7/2020; last updated 8/5/2022.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

OutKast hit #1 with the Song of the Decade, “Hey Ya!”

Hey Ya!


Writer(s): André 3000 (see lyrics here)

Released: September 9, 2003

First Charted: September 19, 2003

Peak: 19 US, 17 RR, 13 A40, 9 RB, 16 MR, 3 UK, 15 CN, 12 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 3.0 US, 1.2 UK, 4.46 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 0.7 radio, 473.6 video, 784.1 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Although obsolete, the Polaroid camera will maintain a place in pop music history, thanks to singer André 3000’s call to “shake it like a Polaroid picture.” That catchphrase and others like the response to “What’s cooler than cool?” with “Ice cold,” made the song iconic. However, it is the song’s rallying call for every demographic to flood the dance floor that makes it, as quoted on Consequence of Sound, “the decade’s ‘Teen Spirit,’ man.” CS As said, “you could see yourself partying to in college just as easily as you could watch your parents sweat to it in spin class.” PE

Like Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Hey Ya!” was the moment when a masterful artist “made a record that sounded like everything on the radio and nothing anyone had heard before.” PE “Married to the sound of some mid-’60s dance craze that never was, ‘Hey Ya’ exemplified something very few tunes of the time had; a sense of fun.” PE Its merge of genres suggested “the walls between rock and R&B and hip-hop were about to topple.” PE

The song “featured rap lines fed through a vocoder and re-recorded up to 30 times” NME and engineer Rabeka Tuinei was the lone voice behind the “ladies” cheering halfway through the song. RS500 On top of that, Dre told Rolling Stone that its guitar chords, the first he ever learned, were inspired by the Ramones, the Buzzcocks, the Smiths. RS500

There was also an “equally brilliant paradigm-smashing video” PE aping the Beatles’ appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show Add a clever viral video with A Charlie Brown Christmas footage spliced to match the song, and you’ve got the decade’s signature hit.


Related Links:

Last updated 11/24/2021.

Friday, December 5, 2003

USA Today: Top 40 Albums

USA Today:

The Top 40 Albums – the USA TODAY Way

From USA Today: “A great album functions as a self-contained universe. USA TODAY music critic Edna Gundersen salutes 40 that stand as cohesive bodies of work – not just fine collections of songs. Some guidelines have been applied to separate this from the many best-of lists. History’s most frequent list-topper, The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club, has been excluded, as have live albums (James Brown’s Live at the Apollo), formal concept albums (The Who’s Tommy), soundtracks (Superfly, The Harder They Come) and greatest-hits sets. This top 40, listed chronologically, spans 50 years to cull works that made the album configuration such a success.”

I’ve posted the list with its original one-sentence comments on each album. Click on an album title to see its DMDB page.

Check out other publications and organizations’ best-of album lists here.

  • Frank Sinatra In the Wee Small Hours (1955). The jazzy and melancholy collection of ballads arranged by Nelson Riddle focuses on a failed love affair and forms one of the earliest concept albums.

  • Miles Davis Kind of Blue (1959). The iconic trumpeter rewrote the jazz rulebook with this liberating celebration of improv and mood. It’s still a primer for both jazzbos and rockers.

  • Johnny Cash Ride This Train (1960). Though not his best songs, the country growler’s ruminations on America’s railroad history prove intriguing.

  • The Beatles Revolver (1966). Though less acknowledged, this psychedelic, adventurous predecessor to 1967’s Sgt. Pepper is a superior work.

  • The Beach Boys Pet Sounds (1966). Brian Wilson’s intensely personal tour de force inspired The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper.

  • The Jimi Hendrix Experience Are You Experienced? (1967). The guitar prodigy's inventive and cosmic psychedelia continues to influence new waves of rockers.

  • The Who Sell Out (1967). Potent power pop compensates for an unsteady commercialism concept replete with phony radio ads and jingles.

  • Aretha Franklin I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (1967). Producer Jerry Wexler coaxed the previously muted fire from the Queen of Soul on this R&B masterpiece, the touchstone for diva wannabes.

  • Love Forever Changes (1967). A stunning achievement in majestic folk-rock by Arthur Lee’s underacknowledged cult band.

  • Van Morrison Astral Weeks (1968). This rock monument actually draws from jazz, folk and blues to showcase Morrison’s bewitching voice.

  • Dusty Springfield Dusty in Memphis (1969). What started out as a simple batch of songs became a gold standard of blue-eyed soul, thanks to the alchemy between the British pop queen and visionary producer Jerry Wexler.

  • Marvin Gaye What’s Going On (1971). The soulster shattered Motown’s pop formula with his powerful social commentary on race, war and the environment.

  • Sly & the Family Stone There’s a Riot Goin’ On (1971). Cynicism and decadence seep into drug-hazed stories set in dense funk, a radical departure from the party vibe of Stand! two years earlier.

  • Joni Mitchell Blue (1971). The singer exposes a fragile, battered heart in an exquisitely sad and lovely song cycle.

  • The Rolling Stones Exile on Main Street (1972). The band’s scrappy, ramshackle blues-rock manifesto foreshadowed grunge.

  • David Bowie The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972). Bowie’s androgynous extraterrestrial conveys the panic and paranoia of a coming apocalypse in glitzy, theatrical glam-rock with a heavy undertow.

  • Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon (1973). The seeds of madness that lurk in the dreary predictability of daily life are magnified by the band’s foreboding melodies and lush textures.

  • Stevie Wonder Innervisions (1973). The summit of the wunderkind’s blend of funk-addled synth-pop and socially conscious lyrics.

  • Bob Marley & the Wailers Catch a Fire (1973). Marley and his phenomenal band ushered reggae into the mainstream with this sunny and sexy island carousal.

  • Bob Dylan Blood on the Tracks (1975). Dylan’s failed marriage fueled pained and poignant songs that brought a new emotional depth to his legacy.

  • Patti Smith Horses (1975). The punk poetess and her crack band blazed a new trail in this brazen hybrid of literary smarts and feral rock.

  • Ramones Ramones (1976). A 29-minute explosion of bratty speedy unschooled punk knocked the wind out of art-rock.

  • Fleetwood Mac Rumours (1977). Internal romantic tumult is grist for confessional pop-rock gems.

  • The Clash London Calling (1979). The punk band’s third album embodies the genre’s thrilling fury and blind devotion to rock ‘n’ roll’s revolutionary powers.

  • Michael Jackson Thriller (1982). The Jackson 5 pipsqueak emerges as an unstoppable star on this mature, feisty and hit-laden pop set helmed by Quincy Jones.

  • Paul Simon Graceland (1986). World music found a global stage with the former folkie’s rich and exotically fanciful collaborations with such African talents as Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

  • Metallica Master of Puppets (1986). The heavy-metal outfit explores the tyranny of drugs in whiplash rhythms and stinging guitars.

  • Prince Sign ‘O’ the Times (1987). After winning fans over with seductive balladry and guitar sizzle, Prince pushes his own boundaries on a sprawling rock-soul soundscape dotted by searing messages and wild mood swings.

  • Bruce Springsteen Tunnel of Love). The Boss has executed concept marvels from Nebraska to The Rising, but Tunnel ranks as a personal best for its anguish and intimacy.

  • Guns N’ Roses Appetite for Destruction (1987). Exquisite pain, uncorked rage and pure rebellion meet in a full metal racket of howler Axl Rose and the smoking Guns.

  • N.W.A. Straight Outta Compton (1989). Gangsta rap stormed through pop’s delicate barricades with the divisive “Fuck Tha Police” and snarling diatribes about racism, injustice and murderous rage.

  • Public Enemy Fear of a Black Planet (1990). The Bomb Squad production team’s dazzling and intricately layered sonics provide a vibrant platform for Chuck D’s seething but articulate raps.

  • Sinéad O’Connor I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got (1990). The stark cover of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” pulled listeners into the startling confessions and brutal catharsis of a complicated singer whose gorgeous voice conveys vulnerability and defiance in equal measures.

  • Nirvana Nevermind (1991). “Smells Like Teen Spirit” crashed the hair-band party and anointed Kurt Cobain the Elvis of the grunge movement.

  • U2 Achtung Baby (1991). After the triumphant Joshua Tree Rock’s revered idealists detour into the darker realms of irony, decay and turmoil on accessible avant-garde rock tunes recorded in Berlin.

  • R.E.M. Automatic for the People (1992). Eloquent examinations of death and loss are countered by graceful arrangements, soothing melodies and Michael Stipe’s achingly beautiful vocals.

  • Nine Inch Nails The Downward Spiral (1994). Trent Reznor’s endlessly intriguing one-man show distills wide-ranging styles and mesmerizing sound effects into his singular brand of brooding computerized art-rock.

  • Radiohead OK Computer (1997). Themes of alienation and dysfunction bubble up through the band’s fearlessly experimental textures and Thom Yorke’s astonishing vocal prowess.

  • Eminem The Marshall Mathers LP (2000). Rap’s superlative wordsmith blurs the line between autobiography and cartoons in hilarious and vulgar high-velocity rhymes.

  • Neil Young Greendale (2003). The latest in Young’s long series of daring concept albums spins a cinematic yarn about a small-town family coping with a murder.

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First posted 12/11/2021.