Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Rolling Stone's Top 100 Albums of All Time

First posted 11/30/2003; updated 9/23/2020.

Rolling Stone:

Top 100 Albums

This is not an official Rolling Stone magazine list; rather it is an aggregate of seven major lists published by the magazine. (See the specific links at bottom of page). The best resource for reading more about these albums is Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time book, published in 2005 by Wenner Media, LLC. The list differs slightly from the original 2003, which was updated again in 2012 and a third time in 2020.

Note: you can click on an album title to go to a DMDB page for more about that album. If you click on RS after the album title, that will take you to an online article from one of the Rolling Stone lists.

Also, check out Rolling Stone’s annual picks for album of the year. They have made such picks since 1978. However, the DMDB has expanded the list back to 1965 based on the lists aggregated here.

1. The Rolling Stones Exile on Main Street (1972) RS
2. The Beatles Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) RS
3. The Beatles Abbey Road (1969) RS
4. The Clash London Calling (1979) RS
5. The Beatles The Beatles (aka “The White Album”) (1968) RS
6. Marvin Gaye What’s Going On (1971) RS
7. Bob Dylan Blood on the Tracks (1975) RS
8. The Jimi Hendrix Experience Are You Experienced? (1967) RS
9. Bruce Springsteen Born to Run (1975) RS
10. Velvet Underground & Nico Velvet Underground & Nico (1967) RS

11. Van Morrison Astral Weeks (1968) RS
12. The Rolling Stones Let It Bleed (1969) RS
13. The Who Who’s Next (1971) RS
14. Sex Pistols Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols (1977) RS
15. The Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers (1971) RS
16. Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin IV (1971) RS
17. The Jimi Hendrix Experience Electric Ladyland (1968) RS
18. The Beach Boys Pet Sounds (1966) RS
19. David Bowie The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972) RS
20. Nirvana Nevermind (1991) RS

21. Bob Dylan Highway 61 Revisited (1965) RS
22. Bob Dylan Blonde on Blonde (1966) RS
23. The Beatles Rubber Soul (1965) RS
24. Joni Mitchell Blue (1971) RS
25. Michael Jackson Thriller (1982) RS
26. Patti Smith Horses (1975) RS
27. Fleetwood Mac Rumours (1977) RS
28. The Band The Band (1969) RS
29. John Lennon Plastic Ono Band (1970) RS
30. Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon (1973) RS

31. Ramones Ramones (1976) RS
32. The Doors The Doors (1967) RS
33. Prince & the Revolution Purple Rain (soundtrack, 1984) RS
34. The Rolling Stones Beggars Banquet (1968) RS
35. Michael Jackson Off the Wall (1979) RS
36. Bob Dylan Bringing It All Back Home (1965) RS
37. The Clash The Clash (1977) RS
38. Van Morrison Moondance (1970) RS
39. Sly & the Family Stone There’s a Riot Goin’ On (1972) RS
40. Neil Young After the Gold Rush (1970) RS

41. Aretha Franklin Lady Soul (1968) RS
42. Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin II (1969) RS
43. Bruce Springsteen Born in the U.S.A. (1984) RS
44. Bruce Springsteen Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978) RS
45. Pretenders Pretenders (1980) RS
46. Elvis Costello My Aim Is True (1977) RS
47. Jefferson Airplane Surrealistic Pillow (1967) RS
48. The Beatles Revolver (1966) RS
49. Neil Young Tonight’s the Night (1975) RS
50. The Band Music from Big Pink (1968) RS

51. Stevie Wonder Innervisions (1973) RS
52. Carole King Tapestry (1971) RS
53. U2 The Joshua Tree (1987) RS
54. Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band Trout Mask Replica (1969) RS
55. Guns N’ Roses Appetite for Destruction (1987) RS
56. Elvis Costello & The Attractions This Year’s Model (1978) RS
57. U2 Achtung Baby (1991) RS
58. Aretha Franklin I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (1967) RS
59. Television Marquee Moon (1977) RS
60. Stevie Wonder Talking Book (1972) RS

61. Dusty Springfield Dusty in Memphis (1969) RS
62. David Bowie Hunky Dory (1971) RS
63. Talking Heads Remain in Light (1980) RS
64. John Lennon Imagine (1971) RS
65. The Who Tommy (1969) RS
66. Black Sabbath Paranoid (1970)
67. Jimmy Cliff et al The Harder They Come (soundtrack, 1972) RS
68. Derek and the Dominos Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs (1970) RS
69. Sly & the Family Stone Greatest Hits (1970) RS
70. Velvet Underground Loaded (1970) RS

71. The Smiths The Queen Is Dead (1986) RS
72. R.E.M. Automatic for the People (1992) RS
73. Rod Stewart Every Picture Tells a Story (1971) RS
74. Pearl Jam Ten (1991) RS
75. R.E.M. Murmur (1983) RS
76. Prince Dirty Mind (1980) RS
77. New York Dolls New York Dolls (1973) RS
78. Various Artists Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era (compilation: 1965-68) RS
79. Madonna Like a Prayer (1989) RS
80. The Flying Burrito Brothers The Gilded Palace of Sin (1969) RS

81. Randy Newman Sail Away (1972) RS
82. Randy Newman 12 Songs (1970) RS
83. Oasis (What’s the Story) Morning Glory (1995)
84. Bob Dylan & The Band The Basement Tapes (recorded 1967, released 1975) RS
85. Nirvana MTV Unplugged in New York (recorded live 1993, released 1994) RS
86. Creedence Clearwater Revival Willy and the Poor Boys (1969) RS
87. The Rolling Stones Some Girls (1978) RS
88. Pink Floyd The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967) RS
89. Neil Young & Crazy Horse Rust Never Sleeps (1979) RS
90. Miles Davis Kind of Blue (1959) RS

91. Beck Odelay (1996) RS
92. Smashing Pumpkins Siamese Dream (1993) RS
93. James Brown Live at the Apollo Volume 1 (live, 1962) RS
94. Stevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life (1976) RS
95. Bob Marley & the Wailers Legend (compilation: 1973-83, released 1984) RS
96. Elvis Presley Elvis Presley (aka ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll’) (1956) RS
97. Chuck Berry The Great Twenty-Eight (compilation: 1955-64, released 1982) RS
98. Love Forever Changes (1967) RS
99. Paul Simon Graceland (1986) RS
100. Public Enemy It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988) RS


Resources and Related Links:

  • 8/27/1987: “The 100 Albums of the Last 20 Years
  • 5/16/1997: “The Definitive Library of the Best Albums Ever Made
  • Dec. 1997: “Top 100 Albums” (German edition of Rolling Stone)
  • 10/17/02: “Reader’s Poll of the 100 Greatest Albums
  • Nov. 2003: “500 Greatest Albums of All Time

    This list was created from the results of a poll of more than 270 artists, producers, industry executives, and journalists.

  • 2005: 500 Greatest Albums of All Time

    This book was based on the 2003 list with slight modifications. Some compilations were eliminated if they repeated material found elsewhere on the list. The two volumes of Robert Johnson’s King of the Delta Blues Singers were also combined in the more readily available Complete Recordings.

  • 5/31/12: “500 Greatest Albums of All Time

    As the website explains, this list was created from the 2003 list and a 2009 survey of 100 experts asked to pick the best albums of the 2000s. Essays (often just a paragraph) accompany each album.

  • 9/22/20: “500 Greatest Albums of All Time

    This fourth edition of the list was started from scratch. More than 300 artists, producers, critics, and music industry people were surveyed, each sending in a list of top 50 albums. The latest version offers 86 albums from the 21st century and 154 albums that didn’t appear on the 2003 or 2012 lists.

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