Friday, November 30, 2007

The Guardian – Top 100 Albums

The Guardian:

The Top 100 Albums

The Guardian is a UK newspaper which has published a few best-of lists over the years. Below are their top 100 albums, as determined by aggregating five album-focused lists published from 1997 to 2007. See links to those lists at bottom of page.

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

1. The Stone Roses The Stone Roses (1989)
2. Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
3. Radiohead The Bends (1995)
4. Marvin Gaye What’s Going On (1971)
5. The Jimi Hendrix Experience Are You Experienced? (1967)
6. Massive Attack Blue Lines (1991)
7. Patti Smith Horses (1975)
8. Primal Scream Screamadelica (1991)
9. John Coltrane A Love Supreme (1965)
10. The Beatles Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)

11. Nirvana Nevermind (1991)
12. David Bowie The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)
13. The Beach Boys Pet Sounds (1966)
14. Velvet Underground & Nico Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)
15. The Clash London Calling (1979)
16. Joni Mitchell Blue (1971)
17. Stevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life (1976)
18. Frank Sinatra Songs for Swingin’ Lovers! (1956)
19. Miles Davis Kind of Blue (1959)
20. Oasis Definitely Maybe (1994)

21. Michael Jackson Thriller (1982)
22. Bruce Springsteen Born to Run (1975)
23. Talking Heads Fear of Music (1979)
24. Jeff Buckley Grace (1994)
25. Fleetwood Mac Rumours (1977)
26. The Doors The Doors (1967)
27. Kate Bush Hounds of Love (1985)
28. Pulp Different Class (1995)
29. Joy Division Closer (1980)
30. Paul Simon Graceland (1986)

31. Public Enemy It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988)
32. Dexy’s Midnight Runners Searching for the Young Soul Rebels (1980)
33. The Beatles Revolver (1966)
34. The Beatles The Beatles (aka “The White Album”) (1968)
35. Oasis (What’s the Story) Morning Glory (1995)
36. R.E.M. Automatic for the People (1992)
37. The Sex Pistols Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols (1977)
38. The Smiths The Queen Is Dead (1986)
39. U2 The Joshua Tree (1987)
40. Alanis Morissette Jagged Little Pill (1995)

41. The Rolling Stones Exile on Main Street (1972)
42. Bob Dylan Blood on the Tracks (1975)
43. The Rolling Stones Let It Bleed (1969)
44. Lou Reed Transformer (1972)
45. The Stooges Raw Power (1973)
46. Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin IV (1971)
47. The Pixies Doolittle (1989)
48. The Smiths The Smiths (1984)
49. John Lennon Imagine (1971)
50. Neil Young After the Gold Rush (1970)

51. Prince Sign ‘O’ the Times (1987)
52. Aretha Franklin I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (1967)
53. Portishead Dummy (1994)
54. Spice Girls Spice (1996)
55. Blur Parklife (1994)
56. Michael Jackson Off the Wall (1979)
57. Nick Drake Five Leaves Left (1969)
58. James Brown Live at the Apollo Volume 1 (live, 1962)
59. Ramones Ramones (1976)
60. Björk Debut (1993)

61. Augustus Pablo King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown (1976)
62. U2 Achtung Baby (1991)
63. Love Forever Changes (1967)
64. Television Marquee Moon (1977)
65. Various artists (Bee Gees et al) Saturday Night Fever (soundtrack, 1977)
66. Meat Loaf Bat Out of Hell (1977)
67. Rod Stewart Every Picture Tells a Story (1971)
68. The Strokes Is This It (2001)
69. De La Soul 3 Feet High and Rising (1989)
70. The Verve A Northern Soul (1995)

71. The Human League Dare! (1981)
72. Tricky Maxinquaye (1995)
73. Elton John Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973)
74. Prefab Sprout Steve McQueen (aka “Two Wheels Good”) (1985)
75. Radiohead OK Computer (1997)
76. Van Morrison Astral Weeks (1968)
77. The Beatles Abbey Road (1969)
78. Bob Dylan Highway 61 Revisited (1965)
79. Bob Dylan Blonde on Blonde (1966)
80. David Bowie Hunky Dory (1971)

81. The Jimi Hendrix Experience Electric Ladyland (1968)
82. Simon & Garfunkel Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)
83. The Band The Band (1969)
84. The Prodigy Fat of the Land (1997)
85. The Verve Urban Hymns (1997)
86. Kraftwerk Trans-Europa Express (Trans Europe Express) (1977)
87. Public Enemy Fear of a Black Planet (1990)
88. Queen A Night at the Opera (1975)
89. Bob Dylan Bringing It All Back Home (1965)
90. The Clash The Clash (1977)

91. Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band Trout Mask Replica (1969)
92. Bob Marley & the Wailers Exodus (1977)
93. Dire Straits Brothers in Arms (1985)
94. The Jam All Mod Cons (1978)
95. Bob Marley & the Wailers Legend (compilation: 1973-83, released 1984)
96. Dusty Springfield Dusty in Memphis (1969)
97. Happy Mondays Pills ‘N’ Thrills and Bellyaches (1990)
98. Joy Division Unknown Pleasures (1979)
99. The Specials The Specials (1979)
100. Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin II (1969)

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First posted 11/30/2007; last updated 3/12/2024.

Friday, November 23, 2007

50 years ago: “Great Balls of Fire” charted

Great Balls of Fire

Jerry Lee Lewis

Writer(s): Otis Blackwell, Jack Hammer (see lyrics here)

First Charted: November 23, 1957

Peak: 2 US, 2 CB, 2 HR, 12 CW, 3 RB, 12 UK, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 5.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, 0.51 video, 98.8 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Some of rock ‘n’ roll’s earliest architects walked a fine line between their religious Southern upbringings and the shockingly sexual and aggressive style that defined early rock music. With a musical prowess birthed as much from the black honky-tonks as the Assembly of God Church, AC Lewis concocted an uncomfortable blend of music inspired by God and the devil. He got booted from Bible college AC for “playing hymns boogie-woogie style.” TB His “onstage terrorization of the piano” FR earned him the nickname “The Killer.”

Nowhere was Lewis’ musical dichotomy more on display than with “Great Balls of Fire,” a song that “transcends everything doctrinaire and theoretical.” DM This is “nerve shaking, frame rattling, brain charring – rock ‘n’ roll at its most primal.” DT Jerry Lee’s signature song was “full of Southern Baptist hellfire turned into a near-blasphemous ode to pure lust.” RS500 Lewis realized the shock in 1957 of such sexual innuendo coming from a Southern music man SF and initially refused to sing the song. RS500 He argued with Sun Records’ founder Sam Phillips that “recording the song would send him straight to hell.” SS Phillips eventually won out, thanks to the ever-flowing liquor during the session. RS500

The song came to Lewis via songwriter Otis Blackwell. He was a poor kid from Brooklyn, New York, the first black man to really tap into the Nashville sound, dominating the country and rock charts in the mid to late-‘50s. AC He wrote “Don’t Be Cruel” and “All Shook Up” for Elvis Presley. After seeing Lewis perform on TV, he sent a demo of “Great Balls of Fire” to Sun Records. Both Phillips and Lewis knew it was a hit AH worthy of following Lewis’ breathrough hit “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.” Regarding Blackwell’s writing partner, Jack Hammer, several accounts say his sole contribution is coming up with the title and selling it to Blackwell. LW

The song was a “refinement of the ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’’ formula but it has a few differences that give the song far more impact.” AH “Great Balls of Fire” “has a much more dynamic opening, one that sets the tone for the whole record with its stop-start exclamations” AH that are reminiscent of Carl Perkins’ “Blue Suede Shoes.”

It wouldn’t be much longer before Lewis’ career would come crashing down in flames. In May 1958, he was in the UK for a tour and the press asked who the girl was with him. It emerged that it was his thirteen-year-old cousin Myra – and his bride. The tour was cancelled and Lewis returned home in disgrace. He would revive his career years later on the country charts, but would never again reclaim the pop and rock glory he had in the 1950s.


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Last updated 8/23/2023.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Led Zeppelin: A Retrospective, 1968-1980

Led Zeppelin

A Retrospective: 1968-1980


All Music Guide’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine called Led Zeppelin “the definitive heavy metal band.” AMG “It wasn’t just their crushingly loud interpretation of the blues – it was how they incorporated mythology, mysticism, and a variety of other genres (most notably world music and British folk) – into their sound.” AMG

They formed in July 1968 in London, England. They were first known as the New Yardbirds. Jimmy Page had formerly worked as a session guitarist and with the Yardbirds from 1966 to 1968. John Paul Jones provided string arrangements for the Yardbirds’ 1967 album Little Games. Robert Plant and John Bonham worked together in Band of Joy prior to Led Zeppelin.

Seven of the band’s eight studio albums rank in the DMDB’s top 1000 albums of all time. Three of them, Led Zeppelin I, Led Zeppelin II Led Zeppelin IV and Physical Graffiti are featured in the DMDB book The Top 100 Albums of All Time. Led Zeppelin IV ranks in the top 10. “Stairway to Heaven,” a song from that album, is in the DMDB book of The Top 100 Songs of the Rock Era, 1954-1999 and ranks as the top classic rock song of all time even though it was never released as a single.

Led Zeppelin disbanded following the alcohol-related death of John Bonham at age 33 in September 1980. Page and Plant did work together again, recording an EP in 1984 as the Honeydrippers. They also did a live MTV special in 1994 which led to a live album and a studio project. The surviving three members reunited in 2007 for a concert, but never recorded together again. They have sold an estimated 200 to 300 million records.

The Players:

  • Robert Plant (vocals)
  • Jimmy Page (guitar)
  • John Paul Jones (bass, keyboards)
  • John Bonham (drums)

On the Web:



The Studio Albums:

Hover over an album cover to see its title and year of release. Click on the album to go to its dedicated DMDB page.


Under each album snapshot, songs featured on the anthologies are noted. If the song charted, the date of the song’s release or first chart appearance and its chart peaks are noted in parentheses. Click for codes to singles charts.

Led Zeppelin I (1969):

Led Zeppelin got a contract with Atlantic Records in the United States in 1968. Early the next year, they set out on their first American tour, setting the stage for the release of their eponymous album in January. The album reached the top 10 within two months of release. The band toured relentlessly in America and England throughout the year.

  • Good Times, Bad Times (Bonham/ Jones/ Page) [2:47] (3/29/69, 80 US, 66 CB, 66 HR, 2 CL, 64 CN) R, E, M
  • Dazed and Confused (Page) [6:26] (1 CL) R, E, M
  • Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You (Bennett/ Bredon/ Darling) [6:41] (4 CL) R, E, M

Led Zeppelin II (1969):

While still on the road, Led Zeppelin recorded their second album. It topped the U.S. charts two months after release, spending seven weeks at #1. It helped establish the band as “an international concert attraction.” AMG

  • Whole Lotta Love (Bonham/ Dixon/ Jones/ Page/ Plant) [5:34] (11/7/69, 4 US, 2 CB, 4 HR, 1 CL, 21 UK, 2 CN, 1 AU, sales: 0.5 million) R, E, M
  • Ramble On [4:24] (1 CL, 66 CN) R, M
  • Heartbreaker (Bonham/ Jones/ Page/ Plant) [4:14] (3/14/70, 65 US, 1 CL) R, M
  • What Is and What Should Never Be (Plant, Page) [4:45] (3 CL) E

Led Zeppelin III (1970):

The band’s third album demonstrated “an overt British folk influence,” AMG demonstrating their desire to be recognized as more than just a loud, guitar-thrashing band. Like its predecessor, it was a #1 album in the U.S. and UK.

  • Immigrant Song (Page/Plant) [2:25] (11/21/70, 16 US, 1 CL, 4 CN, 16 AU) R, E, M
  • Since I’ve Been Loving You (Jones/Page/Plant) [7:23] (9 CL) R, E, M
  • Celebration Day (Jones/Page/Plant) [3:29] (21 CL) R

Led Zeppelin IV (1971):

“The group's infatuation with folk and mythology would reach a fruition on the group’s untitled fourth album.” AMG It was their most successful commercially and ranks as one of the best albums of all time. Stairway to Heaven became “the most played song in the history of album-oriented radio.” AMG

  • Black Dog (Page, Plant, Jones) [4:54] (12/25/71, 15 US, 9 CB, 10 HR, 1 CL, 11 CN, 9 AU) R, E, M
  • Rock and Roll (Page, Plant, Jones Bonham) [3:40] (3/18/72, 47 US, 42 CB, 38 HR, 1 CL, 38 CN, 51 AU) R, E, M
  • Stairway to Heaven (Page, Plant) [8:02] (11/24/07, 1 CL, 37 UK) R, E, M
  • The Battle of Evermore (Page, Plant) [5:51] (9 CL) R, E
  • When the Levee Breaks (Page, Plant, Jones, Bonham, Memphis Minnie) [7:07] (3 CL) E, M
  • Misty Mountain Hop (Page, Plant, Jones) [4:38] (2 CL) R

Early Days

Led Zeppelin

Released: November 23, 1999

Covers: 1969-1971

Peak: 71 US, 55 UK

Sales (in millions): --

Genre: classic rock/heavy metal

Tracks: (1) Good Times Bad Times (2) Babe I’m Gonna Leave You (3) Dazed and Confused (4) Communication Breakdown (5) Whole Lotta Love (6) What Is and What Should Never Be (7) Immigrant Song (8) Since I’ve Been Loving You (9) Black Dog (10) Rock and Roll (11) The Battle of Evermore (12) When the Levee Breaks (13) Stairway to Heaven

Total Running Time: 1:08:09


4.469 out of 5.00 (average of 6 ratings)

About Early Days:

This was released as a companion to Latter Days, which followed a few months later. It offers nothing new, featuring studio cuts from the band’s first four studio albums. Early Days and Latter Days were released as a combined set in 2002 and was certified platinum. The album is now out of print, replaced by the 2007 Mothership collection.

Houses of the Holy (1973):

Houses of the Holy continued the band’s musical experimentation, featuring touches of funk and reggae among their trademark rock and folk.” AMG It was another #1 album in the US and UK. It was supported with a tour in America that broke numerous box office records previously held by the Beatles. Their Madison Square Garden concert was filmed and released as The Song Remains the Same three years later.

  • Over the Hills and Far Away (Page/Plant) [4:50] (6/9/73, 51 US, 28 CB, 31 HR, 1 CL, 63 CN) M
  • D’Yer Mak’er (Bonham/Jones/Page/Plant) [4:22] (10/13/73, 20 US, 16 CB, 15 HR, 15 RR, 1 CL, 24 CN) R, M
  • The Song Remains the Same (Page/Plant) [5:30] (6 CL) R, L, M
  • No Quarter (Jones/Page/Plant) [7:00] (12 CL) R, L, M
  • The Rain Song (Page/Plant) [7:39] (6 CL) R

Physical Graffiti (1975):

Led Zeppelin formed their own Swan Song label in 1974. They released their own subsequent albums through the label as well as material by Bad Company, Dave Edmunds, the Pretty Things, and others. They were back with a double album in 1975, of which about half the material was recorded in 1974 and half before that. It was their fourth chart-topping album in the U.S. and fifth in the UK. It was certified for sales of 16 million in the U.S. Led Zeppelin were prepared to tour when Robert Plant and his wife were in a serious car accident while on vacation in Greece. Plant spent the remainder of the year recuperating.

  • Kashmir (Bonham, Page, Plant) [8:37] (11/12/07, 1 CL, 80 UK, 33 CN) R, L, M
  • Trampled Under Foot (Jones, Page, Plant) [5:35] (4/2/75, 38 US, 2 CL, 41 CN, 60 AU) R, L, M
  • Houses of the Holy (Page, Plant) [4:01] (4 CL) R, L, M
  • Ten Years Gone (Page, Plant) [6:31] (8 CL) L

Presence (1976):

This was Led Zeppelin’s least successful album, although it still hit #1 in the U.S. and UK and sold more than six million worldwide. “Reviews for the album were lukewarm, as was the reception to the live concert film The Song Remains the Same, which appeared in the fall of 1976.” AMG The band returned to tour America in 1977, but it was canceled when Plant’s five-year-old son Karac died from a stomach infection.

  • Nobody’s Fault But Mine (Redding) [6:16] (8 CL) R, L, M
  • Achilles Last Stand (Page, Plant) [10:25] (13 CL) R, L, M

In Through the Out Door (1979):

After a several-year hiatus, Led Zeppelin returned with their eighth studio album. It was another #1 hit in the U.S. and UK. Sadly, it would be their last release before John Bonham’s death in September 1980. The drummer was found dead after an all-day drinking binge, having passed out and choked to death on his own vomit. The band announced in December 1980 that they were disbanding.

  • All My Love (Jones/Plant) [5:56] (9/21/79, 10 RR, 1 CL) R, L, M
  • In the Evening [6:51] (Page/Plant/Jones) (7 CL) R, L, M

Latter Days

Led Zeppelin

Released: March 21, 2000

Covers: 1973-1979

Peak: 81 US, 40 UK

Sales (in millions): 1.37 m (worldwide)

Genre: classic rock/heavy metal

Tracks: (1) The Song Remains the Same (2) No Quarter (3) Houses of the Holy (4) Trampled Under Foot (5) Kashmir (6) Ten Years Gone (7) Achilles Last Stand (8) Nobody’s Fault But Mine (9) All My Love (10) In the Evening

Total Running Time: 1:06:36


3.816 out of 5.00 (average of 7 ratings)

About Latter Days:

This was released as a companion to Early Days, released a few months earlier. It offers nothing new, featuring studio cuts from the band’s last four studio albums. Early Days and Latter Days were released as a combined set in 2002 and was certified platinum. The album is now out of print, replaced by the 2007 Mothership collection.


Led Zeppelin

Released: January 1, 1992

Covers: 1969-1979

Peak: 47 US, 10 UK, 46 CN, 11 AU

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.6 UK, 6.0 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: classic rock/heavy metal

Tracks, Disc 1: (1) Communication Breakdown (2) Babe I’m Gonna Leave You (3) Good Times Bad Times (4) Dazed and Confused (5) Whole Lotta Love (6) Heartbreaker (7) Ramble On (8) Immigrant Song (9) Celebration Day (10) Since I’ve Been Loving You (11) Black Dog (12) Rock and Roll (13) The Battle of Evermore (14) Misty Mountain Hop (15) Stairway to Heaven

Tracks, Disc 2: (1) The Song Remains the Same (2) The Rain Song (3) D’yer Mak’er (4) No Quarter (5) Houses of the Holy (6) Kashmir (7) Trampled Under Foot (8) Nobody’s Fault But Mine (9) Achilles Last Stand (10) All My Love (11) In the Evening

Total Running Time: 2:05:01


4.488 out of 5.00 (average of 15 ratings)

About Remasters:

The first Led Zeppelin retrospective sold six million copies worldwide, but seemed like it should have been bigger. The album only reached #47 in the U.S., a surprise since all of their studio albums went top ten and six of those hit #1. Of course, a four-disc box set had been released just two years prior. This also offered nothing new. All of the songs were previously featured on studio albums.


Led Zeppelin

Released: November 12, 2007

Covers: 1969-1979

Peak: 7 US, 4 UK, 7 CN, 8 AU

Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 0.9 UK, 4.71 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: classic rock/heavy metal

Tracks, Disc 1: (1) Good Times Bad Times (2) Communication Breakdown (3) Dazed and Confused (4) Babe I’m Gonna Leave You (5) Whole Lotta Love (6) Ramble On (7) Heartbreaker (8) Immigrant Song (9) Since I’ve Been Loving You (10) Rock and Roll (11) Black Dog (12) When the Levee Breaks (13) Stairway to Heaven

Tracks, Disc 2: (1) The Song Remains the Same (2) Over the Hills and Far Away (3) D’yer Mak’er (4) No Quarter (5) Trampled Under Foot (6) Houses of the Holy (7) Kashmir (8) Nobody’s Fault But Mine (9) Achilles Last Stand (10) In the Evening (11) All My Love

Total Running Time: 136:18


4.472 out of 5.00 (average of 18 ratings)

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About Mothership:

Early Days (1999) and Latter Days (2000) didn’t come anywhere close to the chart heights and sales one would have expected. Mothership, however, was a top 10 success in the U.S. and UK and reached multi-platinum status in America. It became the chart juggernaut one would have expected of the previous Led Zeppelin compilations, logging more than four years on the charts.

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First posted 7/1/2008; last updated 8/18/2021.