Since being challenged on social media to list my ten most influential albums, I’ve been delving into my favourites to put together a list. I narrowed down my top ten, but had SO many honorable mentions that I wanted to include, that I figured, let’s make it 20….or 30…..and then it became 100! ❤️
I’ll start with my top ten, and add a little blurb on each, and then give you a list of the 90 honorable mentions. They are in no particular order, as I had a hard enough time making the list, let alone ranking things. My musical tastes are so fluid day by day – my mood could easily influence a ranking, so I didn’t really feel a rank score was very accurate. The “rules” I created for myself were:
- ONE album only PER artist, or I could have easily populated this list with multiple albums from my favourite bands.
- I must like the album in its ENTIRETY, rather than choosing albums that contain only a song or two that I enjoy. So this list is a testament to artists that have created albums that I can listen to beginning to end and appreciate at least MOST of the tracks, if not each and every one. This is a feat in and of itself in the days of downloadable singles, where bands dont seem to feel as compelled to create a whole album that shines.
- Other than a select few, I also chose not to mention albums / bands that I feel are ridiculously overmentioned in “top” lists. Though I enjoy The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and other early influential pioneering artists, I don’t feel like I need to include them in this list. As an 80’s baby, these are kind of “givens.” The few that I do mention are VERY dear to my heart for various reasons.
Tool – Aenima
Tool is a band that will always be cemented in the best of the best for me. Undertow was such a genre bending album. Their innovative style includes face melting power amidst incredibly complex melodic stories that evolve so frequently that I am amazed they can regurgitate their creations on stage. Not to mention the clarity and delight that is Maynard’s singing. Truly an eargasm every time.
PJ Harvey – Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea
This was the first album of Harvey’s that I sat down and listened to in full. Her edginess and gift for simple, yet powerfully emotive and boundary pushing songwriting had me immediately. Being a multiinstrumentalist myself, I appreciate her talents of putting all her gifts together into a cohesive whole with the help of her bandmates. I also appreciated that this album included some amazing collaborations with Thom Yorke, which were mostly background contributions rather than front and centre.
Radiohead – The Bends
Speaking of Thom Yorke, Radiohead was one of my first loves. I even created a cringe worthy fan website back in the days of geocities and writing your own html code – it was incredibly time consuming (hmmm, like this list? I am sensing an Autistic pattern here)….I first heard “Street Spirit” on Much Music, which was how I discovered music back in the days prior to internet music streaming! This album is GOLD cover to cover, and I nearly wore my copy out. The collaborative songwriting by this dream team is stellar.
Nine Inch Nails – The Fragile
Though not necessarily my CURRENT favourite album of NIN’s, this was the album that did it for me back in the day. No one captures angst quite like Trent Reznor! From the desperation of The Fragile, through the middle fingered don’t give a shit attitude on Starfuckers, Inc, this album was perfect for a teen going through her own identity and coming of age issues. I still blast NIN when I need a little catharsis.
The Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
If you haven’t heard this classic TWO DISC epic creation, you’re missing out. Another dream team in action, these bandmates have never been the same in their own solo work. Coming together, they created many magical things. Billy Corgan’s indistinguishable croon over top of Iha’s perfectly complementary riffs made their style truly unique. I myself identified heavily with D’Arcy, their bassist. She has staggering performance anxiety (which I also share), yet has a beautiful “HERE I AM WORLD” attitude that did not create any obstacles to having her tits out on the jacket of their next release. I was truly heartbroken when she left the band. It should be noted that during my obsession with this album, I even decorated my room with many of the motifs from the cover / jacket art.
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magik
As a bass playing teen, I absolutely idolized Flea. Upon meeting him when staying in the same hotel as the band with my boyfriend at the time, I absolutely fan gushed. Yet, I remember shaking his hand and thinking, how the F does he play so amazingly with such small hands? Anyway, this album is quintessential for any budding bassist. I also loved the edgy sexual themes of Kiedis’ funky lyrics. Truly a delight to listen to.
Gang of Four – Entertainment
Keeping with the amazing bass player theme, this album absolutely bent my perception. Dave Allen blew me away with his pumping riffs that drove Jon King’s post punk lyrics in even harder. Andy Gill’s experimental and minimalistic guitar shone both on its own and allowed Allen’s basslines to truly drive the tunes. Definitely a groundbreaking album that stands the test of time.
Foo Fighters – The Colour and the Shape
Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters will always be dear to my heart. Many bands that break out after the death of a former collaborator or a break up of an original line-up fail to measure up. Yet Foo Fighters did more than measure up – I truly feel Dave and the Foo have risen beyond the success of Nirvana. The sheer number of pure hits they come out with is staggering – not to mention the fierce, athletic enthusiasm of their live shows. This album was the one that I played on repeat during my formative years, amd often played my bass along with in my room. An amazing release, among many others of theirs! It was hard to pick one.
The Cranberries – No Need to Argue
I’m truly sad that I never got to see a live show before Dolores passed on. I love belting out the lyrics alongside her thick Irish croon, especially to Daffodil Lament. I also appreciate the activism and poltical content in her writing. Every single track on this album hits me hard. The all around talent of this band is clear! If you haven’t heard it, make sure you do, soon. I guarantee you won’t regret it.
The Dandy Warhols – Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia
This album is a masterpiece. Not an extremely technical band, The Dandies SHINE in their melodic songwriting. Courtney Taylor-Taylor’s deep, sexy vocals are truly unmatched. Plus, we have another amazing woman on board – keyboardist Zia McCabe. I absolutely have a girl crush on Zia. I’ve seen them three times, and would see them again and again. This is THE album to listen to if you haven’t yet experienced the Dandies. The layered vocal harmonies on “Sleep” will make your heart sing, and the catchiness of “Bohemian Like You” and “Not If You Were the Last Junkie on Earth” is undeniable. Have a listen!
There, that did it for my top ten! So the following are my….
NINETY honorable mentions
….(in true, hyperfocused, Autistic fashion) again NOT rank ordered. It was hard to even narrow this down, but here it is. If you haven’t listened to any one of these, YOU’RE WELCOME! Honestly, I like to think of this as a list that my kids may one day go to if they are ever like, I wonder what Mom listened to? Does that happen??
Beck – Sea Change
Primus – Antipop
Stone Temple Pilots – Purple
Silverchair – Frogstomp
Soul Coughing – Ruby Vroom
The Tragically Hip – Day for Night
Man Man – Six Demon Bag
Hole – Live Through This
Nirvana – Nevermind
Dave Matthews Band – Before These Crowded Streets
Deftones – White Pony
James – Laid
Matthew Good Band – Underdogs
REM – Automatic for the People
Sonic Youth – Sonic Nurse
Joy Division – Substance
Days of the New – (the Yellow album)
Soundgarden – Superunknown
Metallica – Master of Puppets
The Cure – Disintegration
Massive Attack – Mezzanine
Crash Vegas – Aurora
Big Audio Dynamite – Tighten Up Vol. 88
Live – Throwing Copper
Pearl Jam – Yield
Baths – Romaplasm
John Grant – Pale Green Ghosts
Sisters of Mercy – Floodland
They Might Be Giants – Flood
Sugar – Copper Blue
Enya – The Celts
Shriekback – Oil & Gold
Incubus – Make Yourself
System of a Down – Toxicity
Filter – Short Bus
Odds – Good Weird Feeling
Tracy Chapman – (Self Titled)
New Order – Technique
Big Wreck – In Loving Memory Of
Monster Magnet – Dopes to Infinity
The Clash – London Calling
Jimi Hendrix – Are You Experienced
The Blue Nile – A Walk Across the Rooftops
XTC – Apple Venus
Guided By Voices – Under the Bushes, Under the Stars
I Mother Earth – Scenery and Fish
Our Lady Peace – Naveed
Midnight Oil – Diesel & Dust
Ben Harper – The Will to Live
Counting Crows – August and Everything After
Japan – Tin Drum
Spin Doctors – Pocket full of Kryptonite
Collective Soul – (Self Titled)
Billy Talent – (Self Titled)
Daft Punk – Homework
Calvin Harris – I Created Disco
Rage Against the Machine – The Battle of Los Angeles
Garbage – (Self Titled)
Say Hi – The Wishes and the Glitch
The National – High Violet
Alice in Chains – Dirt
Green Day – Dookie
A Perfect Circle – Thirteenth Step
54.40 – Smilin’ Buddha Cabaret
Talking Heads – Stop Making Sense
Suzanne Vega – Solitude Standing
The Pixies – Doolittle
Van Morrison – Moondance
The Prodigy – The Fat of the Land
Ashley MacIsaac – Hi, how are you today?
Frank Black – (Self Titled)
Metronomy – The English Riviera
Peter Gabriel – So
The Chemical Brothers – Come With Us
Hawksley Workman – Lover/Fighter
Dinosaur Junior – Without a Sound
Freedy Johnston – This Perfect World
WhoMadeWho – Brighter
The Doors – (Self Titled)
Interpol – Turn on the Bright Lights
Pavement – Brighten the Corners
Weezer – The Blue Album
Depeche Mode – Violator
Tears for Fears – The Hurting
The Police – Ghost in the Machine
Liz Phair – Whip Smart
Ali Farka Toure with Ry Cooder – Talking Timbuktu
The Offspring – Smash
No Doubt – Tragic Kingdom
INXS – Kick
If you’re on Apple Music, here’s a full playlist that includes all of these amazing albums!
What are your top albums? I’d love to know if you share any on this list, or have any to add!