Wild Mercury Sound

My Top 50 Albums Of All Time (Now including a Top 131, sort of)

My Top 50 Albums Of All Time (Now including a Top 131, sort of)
John Mulvey

As you may have seen, this week’s NME features the 2013 edition of their 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time. For this one, they also accepted votes from a bunch of the mag’s alumni, including me, so I thought it’d be an easy, albeit self-indulgent, blog to reproduce my Top 50 albums here.

As I’ve said before, I find these lists a lot harder to compile as I get older and, I hope, become a bit less didactic in the way I think about the music I like and the music I dislike. This is what my Top 50 looked like in early September, anyhow: rather canonical, a little nostalgic, no doubt fatally undermined by the absence of records I will soon be mortified to have forgotten, but generally resembling one of those Rock Snob pisstakes from ten or so years back.

I do remember, though, poring over an NME Greatest Albums list that was published in the mid-‘80s, and discovering a horde of extraordinary albums – like “What’s Goin’ On”, for a start – that broadened my perspective way beyond the world of Aztec Camera and Echo & The Bunnymen that I probably lived in at the time. It was a critical tool that allowed me to see the bigger picture, and whenever I see people treating all magazine lists with the same blanket disdain, thinking about it reassures me; at their best, they can have a profound effect.

Be interested, as ever, to hear your thoughts: about the NME list as much as mine, of course.

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1. The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds

2. Neil Young – Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere

3. Television – Marquee Moon

4. Fairport Convention – Liege And Lief

5. Terry Riley – A Rainbow In Curved Air

6. My Bloody Valentine – Loveless

7. Gil Evans – The Individualism Of Gil Evans

8. Joni Mitchell – Hejira

9. The Rolling Stones – Exile On Main Street

10. Dexys Midnight Runners – Don’t Stand Me Down

11. The Go Betweens – Spring Hill Fair

12. Neil Young – On The Beach

13. Marvin Gaye – What’s Goin’ On

14. Steely Dan – Countdown To Ecstasy

15. Linda Perhacs – Parallelograms

16. Led Zeppelin – 4

17. Neu! – Neu! 75

18. Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited

19. REM – Murmur

20. The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead

21. Van Morrison – Astral Weeks

22. Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation

23. The Grateful Dead – Europe 72

24. Brightblack Morning Light – Motion To Rejoin

25. Love – Forever Changes

26. Elliott Smith – Either/Or

27. Gram Parsons – Grievous Angel

28. Robert Wyatt – Rock Bottom

29. The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers

30. Alice Coltrane – Journey In Satchidananda

31. The Stooges – Funhouse

32. GZA – Liquid Swords

33. Gillian Welch – Time The Revelator

34. Red House Painters – Red House Painters

35. Funkadelic – Maggot Brain

36. Robbie Basho – Venus In Cancer

37. The Waterboys – Fisherman’s Blues

38. Big Star – Third/Sister Lovers

39. Tim Buckley – Happy Sad

40. The Band – The Band

41. Leonard Cohen – The Songs Of Leonard Cohen

42. MC5 – High Time

43. Slint – Spiderland

44. Prince – Around The World In A Day

45. Kraftwerk – Trans Europe Express

46. Joanna Newsom – Ys

47. White Stripes – White Blood Cells

48. The Fall – This Nation’s Saving Grace

49. Pavement – Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain

50. Boredoms – Vision Create Newsun

UPDATE 7/11/13: Responding to all your comments and interest, I've found the 131-strong longlist that I used to come up with my Top 50 (it mostly involved skimming through my iTunes, plus a cursory look at my shelves). A good few records that some of you have mentioned are in this lot, plus hopefully a few less well-known things that deserve a wider audience.

Let me know what you think, anyhow (they're not in any order, I should point out):

The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds
AC/DC – Back In Black
The Beach Boys – Surfs Up
The Beach Boys – Smile
The Beatles - Revolver
Aphex Twin – Selected Ambient Works Volume II
Alice Coltrane – Journey In Satchidananda
Archie Shepp – Attica Blues
Gil Evans – The Individualism Of Gil Evans
Pharaoh Sanders – Black Unity
Smog – Knock Knock
Bill Fay – Bill Fay
Neu! – Neu! 75
Bjork – Vespertine
Led Zeppelin – 2
Led Zeppelin – 4
Led Zeppelin – Houses Of The Holy
Boredoms – Vision Create Newsun
Brightblack Morning Light – Motion To Rejoin
Bruce Springsteen – The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle
Caetano Veloso – Caetano Veloso (2)
Can – Tago Mago
Public Enemy – It Takes A Nation Of Millions
GZA – Liquid Swords
Robbie Basho – Venus In Cancer
Boards Of Canada – Geogaddi
Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited
Bob Dylan – John Wesley Harding
Bob Dylan – Blood On The Tracks
Comets On Fire – Avatar
Creedence Clearwater Revival – Cosmo’s Factory
Lemonheads – It’s A Shame About Ray
Rocket From The Crypt – Hot Charity
The Byrds – Younger Than Yesterday
David Bowie – Heroes
David Bowie – Station To Station
Dennis Wilson – Pacific Ocean Blue
Dexy’s Midnight Runners – Don’t Stand Me Down
The Waterboys – Fisherman’s Blues
Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation
Steely Dan – Countdown To Ecstasy
Funkadelic – Maggot Brain
Duke Ellington – Far East Suite
Patti Smith – Horses
Television – Marquee Moon
Elliott Smith – Either/Or
Os Mutantes – Os Mutantes (1st)
Fairport Convention – Liege And Lief
Fairport Convention – Unhalfbricking
The Fall – This Nation’s Saving Grace
Gram Parsons – Grievous Angel
Tim Buckley – Blue Afternoon
Tim Buckley – Happy Sad
Linda Perhacs – Parallelograms
Gillian Welch – Time The Revelator
Neil Young – Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Neil Young – Ragged Glory
Neil Young – On The Beach
The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers
The Rolling Stones – Exile On Main Street
The Grateful Dead – Europe 72
Nick Cave – The Good Son
The Stooges – Funhouse
MC5 – High Time
LCD Soundsystem – Sound Of Silver
Jim O’Rourke – Eureka
Joanna Newsom – Ys
Joni Mitchell – Hejira
Joni Mitchell – Court & Spark
Red House Painters – Red House Painters
Sun Kil Moon – Ghosts Of The Great Highway
Julian Cope – Peggy Suicide
The Go Betweens – Spring Hill Fair
The Go Betweens – Before Hollywood
Aztec Camera – High Land Hard Rain
Kraftwerk – Trans Europe Express
Richard & Linda Thompson – I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight
Leonard Cohen – The Songs Of Leonard Cohen
Leonard Cohen – I’m Your Man
Cluster – Sowiesoso
Love – Forever Changes
Mike Oldfield – Hergest Ridge
My Bloody Valentine – Loveless
The Necks – Mosquito/See Through
PJ Harvey – Dry
The Pop Group – Y
Pulp – Different Class
Queens Of The Stone Age – Songs For The Deaf
REM – Murmur
Robert Wyatt – Rock Bottom
Roy Harper – Stormcock
Royal Trux – Accelerator
Sandy Bull – E Pluribus Unum
Scritti Politti – Songs To Remember
Shirley & Dolly Collins – Death And The Lady
Sly & The Family Stone – Fresh
Pavement – Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
Terry Riley – A Rainbow In Curved Air
Terry Riley – Persian Surgery Dervishes
The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground
Scott Walker – Scott 4
Wilco – A Ghost Is Born
Nick Drake – Five Leaves Left
The Band – The Band
Spiritualized – Lazer Guided Melodies
The Monkees – Head
Jeff Buckley – Grace
Pixies – Surfer Rosa
The Feminine Complex – Livin’ Love
Ali Farka Toure & Toumani Diabate – By The Light Of The Moon
Youssou N’Dour – Immigres
Four Tet – Pause
Fennesz – Endless Summer
Marvin Gaye – What’s Goin’ On
Isaac Hayes – Hot Buttered Soul
Screaming Trees – Dust
Love As Laughter – Destination 2000
Stereolab – Emperor Tomato Ketchup
The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead
Slint – Spiderland
Van Morrison – Astral Weeks
Van Morrison – The Common One
Van Morrison – Into The Music
Husker Du – Candy Apple Grey
Big Star – Third/Sister Lovers
Prince – Around The World In A Day
Van Dyke Parks – Song Cycle
Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill
D’Angelo – Voodoo
Donald Fagen – The Nightfly
White Stripes – White Blood Cells


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Editor's Letter

The 46th (And Last) Playlist Of 2014


Sorry I didn't manage to post a playlist last week; a combination of germs, deadlines and various other professional/seasonal distractions meant that I ran out of time.

Here, though, is our last office list of 2014, with lots of strong new entries. A few highlights...