Friday, September 28, 2012

Counterbalance – Top 100 Albums

First posted 9/28/2012; updated 8/14/2020.


The Top 100 Albums

Counterbalance” was a weekly column featured at which dissected the top 100 albums of all time, as determined by The first post was on September 9, 2010. Number 100 was posted on September 28, 2012. Writers Jason Mendelsohn and Eric Klinger debated the merits of the albums with some of the most entertaining and insightful critiques I’ve seen. Here are the top 100 with links to the “Counterbalance” postings:

Note: you can click on an album title to go to a DMDB page for more about that album. If you click on PM after the album title, that will take you to the Counterbalance article about that album.

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

1. The Beach Boys Pet Sounds (1966) PM
2. The Beatles Revolver (1966) PM
3. Nirvana Nevermind (1991) PM
4. The Velvet Underground & Nico Velvet Underground & Nico (1967) PM
5. The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) PM
6. Marvin Gaye What’s Going On (1971) PM
7. Bob Dylan Blonde on Blonde (1966) PM
8. The Rolling Stones Exile on Main Street (1972) PM
9. The Clash London Calling (1979) PM
10. The Sex Pistols Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols (1977) PM

11. Bob Dylan Highway 61 Revisited (1965) PM
12. Jimi Hendrix Experience Are You Experienced? (1967) PM
13. Radiohead OK Computer (1997) PM
14. The Beatles The Beatles (aka “The White Album”) (1968) PM
15. Van Morrison Astral Weeks (1968) PM
16. David Bowie The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972) PM
17. Public Enemy It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988) PM
18. Bruce Springsteen Born to Run (1975) PM
19. Patti Smith Horses (1975) PM
20. The Beatles Abbey Road (1969) PM

21. Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon (1973) PM
22. The Jimi Hendrix Experience Electric Ladyland (1968) PM
23. Bob Dylan Blood on the Tracks (1975) PM
24. The Doors The Doors (1967) PM
25. Television Marquee Moon (1977) PM
26. Prince Sign ‘O’ the Times (1987) PM
27. Michael Jackson Thriller (1982) PM
28. The Smiths The Queen Is Dead (1986) PM
29. The Beatles Rubber Soul (1965) PM
30. The Rolling Stones Beggars Banquet (1968) PM

31. Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin IV (1971) PM
32. Massive Attack Blue Lines (1991) PM
33. The Who Who’s Next (1971) PM
34. Arcade Fire Funeral (2004) PM
35. Talking Heads Remain in Light (1980) PM
36. The Rolling Stones Let It Bleed (1969) PM
37. Ramones Ramones (1976) PM
38. U2 The Joshua Tree (1987) PM
39. Miles Davis Kind of Blue (1959) PM
40. James Brown Live at the Apollo Volume 1 (live, 1962) PM

41. Joy Division Closer (1980) PM
42. Stevie Wonder Innervisions (1973) PM
43. The Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers (1971) PM
44. Neil Young After the Gold Rush (1970) PM
45. The Strokes Is This It (2001) PM
46. Stevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life (1976) PM
47. The Band The Band (1969) PM
48. Joni Mitchell Blue (1971) PM
49. Love Forever Changes (1967) PM
50. Prince & the Revolution Purple Rain (soundtrack, 1984) PM

Counterbalance: Year One

51. Sly & the Family Stone There’s a Riot Goin’ On (1972) PM
52. Radiohead Kid A (2000) PM
53. R.E.M. Automatic for the People (1992) PM
54. Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band Trout Mask Replica (1969) PM
55. The Stone Roses The Stone Roses (1989) PM
56. The Clash The Clash (1977) PM
57. Beck Odelay (1996) PM
58. Fleetwood Mac Rumours (1977) PM
59. Pixies Doolittle (1989) PM
60. Guns N’ Roses Appetite for Destruction (1987) PM

61. Otis Redding Otis Blue (1965) PM
62. David Bowie Hunky Dory (1971) PM
63. Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin II (1969) PM
64. Joy Division Unknown Pleasures (1979) PM
65. R.E.M. Murmur (1983) PM
66. Carole King Tapestry (1971) PM
67. John Coltrane A Love Supreme (1965) PM
68. John Lennon Plastic Ono Band (1970) PM
69. Jeff Buckley Grace (1994) PM
70. Portishead Dummy (1994) PM

71. Wilco Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2001) PM
72. Sonic Youth Daydream Nation (1988) PM
73. Bob Dylan Bringing It All Back Home (1965) PM
74. My Bloody Valentine Loveless (1991) PM
75. Derek and the Dominos Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs (1970) PM
76. Paul Simon Graceland (1986) PM
77. De La Soul 3 Feet High and Rising (1989) PM
78. Lou Reed Transformer (1972) PM
79. Elvis Costello & The Attractions This Year’s Model (1978) PM
80. The Band Music from Big Pink (1968) PM

81. Aretha Franklin I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (1967) PM
82. U2 Achtung Baby (1991) PM
83. The Stooges Fun House (1970) PM
84. Jesus and Mary Chain Psychocandy (1985) PM
85. Primal Scream Screamadelica (1991) PM
86. Radiohead The Bends (1995) PM
87. Oasis (What’s the Story) Morning Glory (1995) PM
88. Miles Davis Bitches Brew (1970) PM
89. David Bowie Low (1/14/77) PM
90. The Stooges Raw Power (1973) PM

91. DJ Shadow Endtroducing… (1996) PM
92. Kraftwerk Trans-Europa Express (Trans Europe Express) (1977) PM
93. John Lennon Imagine (1971) PM
94. Van Morrison Moondance (1970) PM
95. AC/DC Back in Black (1980) PM
96. Pixies Surfer Rosa (1988) PM
97. Neil Young Harvest (1972) PM
98. Led Zeppelin Physical Graffiti (1975) PM
99. Pink Floyd The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967) PM
100. Tom Waits Swordfishtrombones (1983) PM

Resources and Related Links:


  1. Hi there! I'm also a fan of the Counterbalance column, but just a question: the list that they use is basically a SUM of lists (the acclaimed music list just uses a big bunch of critical lists and put them together for their website)... given that, are you going to count this as an independent list on your website?
    Cheers, a fan of this blog

    1. Hey, Alberto. Excellent question. I have a database of hundreds of best-of album lists and do include in those. As you point out, it is an aggregate itself, which means some lists are getting a little extra boost in my database because they factor in more than one place. I don't have a problem with that, though. It essentially means that the more prominent lists get a little more influence, which seems fair to me.

    2. Hey, Dave. Fair enough for me, I say!
      Two additional things, by the way: how do you come up with the sales estimates and the ratings that appears on each album's "file"?

    3. Hello again, Alberto! Unfortunately, there are no definitive worldwide sales figures on albums. I pooled multiple resources to come up with what can be considered estimates at best on the albums. Here's the link to the list of sources:

      I appreciate your interest!

    4. Great, thanks man... i was just wondering because i thought (and still think) that most of the sales figures for the most recent albums, the albums i saw here from about 2008 to now, seem too low (even with the global decrease of sales, i already saw bigger figures for most of the albums i saw)
      Anyway, keep up the great work :)