Putting this list together was not only time-consuming but also one of the hardest lists that I have ever tried to come up with. Trying to decide which albums to put on a list of this nature was very difficult and the list itself went through so many re-writes it isn't funny. When I finally got a list together, it was comprised of nearly 200 albums. I slowly (and sometimes painfully) whittled away at that list until I was able to get it down to a manageable number.
Without further ado, here they are, listed in chronological order by year of release, the Top 58 Albums of All-Time:
1. The Beatles - The Beatles (1968)
This band has quite a few songs that are better than the songs included on this album but as a collection, this particular double-album produced by long-time producer George Martin is often known as the White Album due to its lack of cover art.
Highlights: Back in the USSR. Dear Prudence. While My Guitar Gently Weeps. Helter Skelter. Revolution.
2. Paranoid - Black Sabbath (1970)
Another example of the same. The band has better songs than those that appear on Paranoid but gathered together, this is their best collection of songs.
Highlights: War Pigs. Paranoid. Iron Man. Electric Funeral.
3. Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd (1975)
Others might disagree with me and say that 1973's Dark Side of the Moon was Pink Floyd's greatest work but I whole-heartedly proclaim that it is 1975's Wish You Were Here, recorded in London's Abbey Road studio, as their greatest.
Highlights: Shine On You Crazy Diamond. Welcome to the Machine. Wish You Were Here.
4. Boston - Boston (1976)
The album that started it all for this band was released on Epic Records in August of 1976. It reached #3 on the Billboard 200 and has sold over 17 million copies in the United States since its release.
Highlights: More Than a Feeling. Peace of Mind. Hitch a Ride.
5. Ramones- Ramones (1976)
As with The White Album, the Ramones have better tunes than those that are included on their debut album but collectively, you can't go wrong with their 14-track debut.
Highlights: Blitzkrieg Bop. Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue. Havana Affair.
6. The Wall - Pink Floyd (1979)
Although Wish You Were Here was a better album than The Wall, one cannot deny this album's importance in the band's history. This concept album alone has kept former member Roger Water's career going 3 decades after its release. It was the #1 album on Billboards Top Albums chart in 1980 and in the United States alone has sold over 11 million copies.
Highlights: Mother. Goodbye Blue Sky. Young Lust. Hey You. Comfortably Numb. Run Like Hell.
7. Back in Black - AC/DC (1980)
Back in Black was the first album to feature new singer Brian Johnson with the band after the death of original vocalist Bon Scott. It is the second highest selling album of all time having sold over 22 million copies just in the United States. It never reached the top spot of the Billboard charts but it did say on those charts for over 2 years.
Highlights: Hells Bells. Shoot to Thrill. Back in Black. Let Me Put My Love into You. Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution. You Shook Me All Night Long.
8. Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables - Dead Kennedys (1980)
The debut album by San Francisco's Dead Kennedys was released on Cherry Red Records in the United Kingdom and self-released on Alternative Tentacles in the United States. It was listed #46 in Spin magazines 50 Most Essential Punk Records of all time and was included in a book titled 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die published by Universe Publishing.
Highlights: Kill the Poor. Let's Lynch the Landlord. Chemical Warfare. California Uber Alles. Holiday in Cambodia.
9. Damaged - Black Flag (1981)
This was not only their first actual LP, but it was also Black Flag's first recording that featured vocalist Henry Rollins. Although the next album on the list, which happens to be theirs as well, is a much better collection of songs, this first album, released on SST, the influence that this album had on other punk rock bands is undeniable.
Highlights: Rise Above. Six Pack. TV Party. Police Story.
10. The First Four Years - Black Flag (1983)
Technically, this is not an album but a compilation of some of the bands earlier 7 inches. It includes tracks from three different singers: Keith Morris, Chavo, and Dez Cadena. It is essential a compilation of all of the tracks that were recorded before Rollins became their singer.
Highlights: Nervous Breakdown. Wasted. Jealous Again. White Minority. Six Pack.
11. Shout at the Devil - Motley Crue (1983)
Although, this is not their debut album, that would be 1982s Too Fast for Love, this is the album that really put Motley Crue on the map.
Highlights: Shout at the Devil. Looks That Kill. Too Young To Fall in Love. 10 Seconds to Love. Danger.
12. Violent Femmes - Violent Femmes (1983)
The debut album by this folk punk group from Wisconsin is their best, hands down.
Highlights: Blister in the Sun. Kiss Off. Prove My Love. Gone Daddy Gone.
13. Powerslave - Iron Maiden (1984)
This album by British heavy metal band Iron Maiden spawned the tour that produced the live album Live After Death. It reached #21 on the US Billboard 200.
Highlights: Aces High. 2 Minutes to Midnight. Powerslave. Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
14. Big Lizard in my Backyard - Dead Milkmen (1985)
In my opinion, Big Lizard was the best album that this band from Philadelphia ever did.
Highlights: Tiny Town. Swordfish. Big Lizard in my Backyard. Bitchin Camaro. Taking Retards to the Zoo.
15. Master of Puppets - Metallica (1986)
This was the first album that I had ever heard by Metallica. I still remember hearing that clean, acoustic chords ringing away and instantaneously turning into those chunky heavy metal chords from the opening track. This album was the last to feature bass player Cliff Burton, who died in a bus accident while on tour in Europe supporting this album.
Highlights: Battery. Master of Puppets. Welcome Home. Leper Messiah. Orion.
16. 5150 - Van Halen (1986)
This was the first album recorded by the band with singer Sammy Hagar, setting off years and years of which lineup was better debate. My opinion, the lineup with Hagar was better and this particular album can explain why.
Highlights: Why Can't This Be Love. Dreams. Best of Both Worlds. Love Walks In.
17. Among the Living - Anthrax (1987)
This was the first album that I had ever heard by the band. It had a great collection of tunes and I consider it to be their best with singer Joey Belladonna.
Highlights: Caught in a Mosh. I Am the Law. Efilnikufesin. Indians.
18. Momentary Lapse of Reason - Pink Floyd (1987)
I remember when I first learned of this album's release. It was to be their first without founding member Roger Waters. I remember that my first reaction was one of groaning. Pink Floyd without Waters? Why would they bother? Then I heard the album. Holy cow. David Gilmour taking over leadership duties of this band certainly did not detract from their music and quite possibly even made it better than it ever was.
Highlights: Learning to Fly. Dogs of War. On The Turning Away.
19. Document - R.E.M. (1987)
I would not consider myself to be one of the biggest R.E.M. fans in the world. I am more a fan of some of their songs than I am of the band itself. Despite that feeling, Document is one great album.
Highlights: Finest Worksong. Welcome to the Occupation. It's the End of the World as We Know It. The One I Love.
20. The Joshua Tree - U2 (1987)
This album was not my first introduction to the band U2 but it certainly had the first huge effect on me toward the band. The great thing about this album was its consistency. This album sounds like a U2 album, unlike many of their subsequent releases.
Highlights: Where the Streets Have No Name. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. Bullet the Blue Sky. In God's Country.
21. Operation: Mindcrime - Queensryche (1988)
First album that I ever heard from this Bellevue Washington-based band. Great concept album. Kind of the 1980s version of Pink Floyd's The Wall.
Highlights: Revolution Calling. Operation Mindcrime. Spreading the Disease. I Don't Believe in Love. Eyes of a Stranger.
22. No Control - Bad Religion (1989)
I can't remember if I heard this album first or if I heard the album Suffer first but this is the album that really made me a fan of this band. The song "I Want to Conquer the World" is still my all-time favorite Bad Religion song.
Highlights: Change of Ideas. Big Bang. I Want to Conquer the World. It Must Look Pretty Appealing. I Want Something More.
23. Sonic Temple - The Cult (1989)
I was not a big fan of this band until this album came out but when it did, I became a huge fan. I remember going to see them in concert in support of this album. Unfortunately, the band has not been able to duplicate the awesomeness of this album, although they have released some decent albums after this.
Highlights: Sun King. Fire Woman. Edie (Ciao Baby). Sweet Soul Sister.
24. Complete Discography - Minor Threat (1989)
Technically, this is not an album. It is a compilation. This album compiles all of the work that this band recorded in their short, 3-year career.
Highlights: Filler. I Don't Wanna Hear It. Straight Edge. Minor Threat. In My Eyes. Out of Step. Guilty of Being White.
25. Doolittle - Pixies (1989)
First album I ever heard from this band and still my favorite of theirs.
Highlights: Debaser. Wave of Mutilation. Here Comes Your Man. Monkey Gone to Heaven. Gouge Away.
26. Flood - They Might Be Giants (1990)
This album released by the not so serious duo of John Flansburgh and John Linnell was their third studio release but easily their best.
Highlights: Birdhouse in Your Soul. Istanbul. Your Racist Friend. Someone Keeps Moving My Chair. Road Movie to Berlin.
27. Somery - Descendents (1991)
Another entry on this list that is actually a compilation album. Other albums by this band could have ended up on this list, for example, 1982's Milo Goes to College or 1985's I Don't Want to Grow Up, but when you stack either album up to this compilation, there is no comparison. This album contains all of their really great tracks from the pre-ALL era.
Highlights: Suburban Home. Silly Girl. Clean Sheets. Sour Grapes. Weinerschnitzel. Good Good Things. Coolidge. I Don't Want to Grow Up. Cheer. Hope. Get the Time.
28. Trompe Le Monde - Pixies (1991)
This was the last album that the band released prior to their breakup. They certainly went out on a high note with this one.
Highlights: Planet of Sound. Alec Eiffel. The Sad Punk. Head On. Letter to Memphis. Subbacultcha.
29. My Brain Hurts - Screeching Weasel (1991)
Quite possibly the band's best album.
Highlights: Making You Cry. Guest List. Veronica Hates Me. Cindys on Methadone. The Science of Myth. My Brain Hurts.
30. Meantime - Helmet (1992)
This is the album that put Helmet in the spotlight, boosted by the inclusion of their video for "Unsung" on the MTV cartoon Beavis and Butthead.
Highlights: In the Meantime. Unsung.
31. Angel Dust - Faith No More (1992)
I was not a fan of Faith No more prior to the release of this album. Admittedly, the song "Epic" on their 1989s The Real Thing made me less of a fan. When this album was released and I got a chance to hear it, mostly due to the insistence of a friend of mine, that all changed. This album made me a fan.
Highlights: Land of Sunshine. Caffeine. Midlife Crisis. Smaller and Smaller. Everything's Ruined. Kindergarten. Be Aggressive. A Small Victory. Jizzlobber.
32. New Miserable Experience - Gin Blossoms (1992)
This is a band that for a while was consistently putting out good albums. This one, in my opinion, is the highlight of their career.
Highlights: Hey Jealousy. Until I Fall Away. Found Out About You. Allison Road.
33. In Utero - Nirvana (1993)
I was not a fan of their 1991 album Nevermind despite the fact that it did put this band on the map and changed the face of music forever. I did like their previous release Bleach which was released by Sub Pop in 1989. However, I liked this album from the time I first heard the song "Heart-Shaped Box." I was glad that I was able to see this band on tour in support of this album, months before singer Kurt Cobain's suicide.
Highlights: Serve the Servants. Scentless Apprentice. Heart-Shaped Box. Rape Me. Pennyroyal Tea. All Apologies. Radio Friend Unit Shifter.
34. Vs. - Pearl Jam (1993)
Ten was the band that brought this band into the limelight but Vs was the album that solidified their entry into the music world. This is by far their best album.
Highlights: Go. Animal. Daughter. Glorified G. Dissident. Rearviewmirror. Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town.
35. Stranger Than Fiction - Bad Religion (1994)
This was the first Bad Religion album to be recorded for major label Atlantic Records. At first I was a bit disappointed that the band had left their own label to sign with a major. I was almost sure that the majors would take a hold of this great band and change them in a very negative way. I was pleasantly surprised once I heard the album. It did sound a lot more polished than their previous releases but it didn't really change who the band was.
Highlights: Incomplete. Infected. Individual. Marked. Inner Logic. 21st Century Digital Boy.
36. Born to Quit - Smoking Popes (1994)
This was the band's major label debut. I was glad to see this band getting more recognition. I first started listening to this band around the time they released the album Get Fired. I found that CD at Wax Trax Records in Chicago and could not stop listening to it. The fact that they signed with major label Columbia Records did not sway the band's signature sound one bit.
Highlights: Midnight Moon. Rubella. Need You Around. Adena.
37. Weezer - Weezer (1994)
I have to admit that I was not a fan of Weezer when the first single "Undone (The Sweater Song)" first came out. Then, "Buddy Holly" came out and I began to like them a little more. Strangely, in my opinion, those two songs are the weakest on the album. This album is full of great tunes.
Highlights: My Name is Jonas. The World Has Turned and Left Me Here. In the Garage. Only in Dreams.
38. Everything Sucks - Descendents (1996)
I was living in Alaska when I heard that the Descendents were releasing a new album. I was in a remote part of Alaska and had to drive an hour and a half to the nearest city to find a store that had a copy but I'm glad that I was able to find it because this is, in my opinion, the best release put out by my favorite band.
Highlights: Everything Sux. I'm the One. Rotting Out. Sick-O-Me. When I Get Old. She Loves Me. We. Thank You.
39. Face to Face - Face to Face (1996)
My first introduction to the band Face to Face was the song "Blind." That is still my favorite song of theirs but that song and this album made me a Face to Face fan for life.
Highlights: Resignation. Walk the Walk. Blind. I Won't Lie Down. Handout. Everything's Your Fault.
40. Bark Like a Dog - Screeching Weasel (1996)
Like #38 on the list, I was in Alaska when I heard of this band's release which was their first with the classic lineup performing on it. If not for the existence of My Brain Hurts, this album would be my all-time favorite of theirs.
Highlights: Cool Kids. First Day of Summer. You'll Be in My Dreams Today. Your Name is Tattooed on My Heart.
41. White Light, White Heat, White Trash - Social Distortion (1996)
Another album released during my existence in Alaska. I still remember when the video for "I Was Wrong" first came on during a heated argument between me and fellow band members. Everybody in the room shut up and stared at the television for those nearly 4 minutes.
Highlights: Dear Love. Don't Drag Me Down. I Was Wrong. Through These Eyes.
42. American Lesion - Greg Graffin (1997)
Greg Graffin's first solo album. A serious departure from his work with Bad Religion. Not punk rock at all. This was a very personal record for Greg and was just an amazing work of songwriting overall.
Highlights: Opinion. Predicament. Cease. Maybe She Will.
43. Aftertaste - Helmet (1997)
This was the last album released by Helmet before their breakup. They ended on a high note here. No album of theirs since their reformation has ever compared to the brilliance of this one.
Highlights: Pure. Exactly What You Wanted. Like I Care. Driving Nowhere. Diet Aftertaste.
44. Destination Failure - Smoking Popes (1997)
The Pope's 2nd album on Columbia Records. This one proved that the band had what it took to remain relevant in the industry. It follows the recipe of punk rock music played over singer Josh Caterer's sweet croon.
Highlights: Star Struck One. No More Smiles. Paul. Before I'm Gone. Megan. Let's Hear It For Love. Pure Imagination. Pretty Pathetic.
45. All That You Can't Leave Behind - U2 (2000)
This one ties for me as U2's best album (along with The Joshua Tree). I would even go so far as to say that this was a sort of sequel to that album in that it was a return to the classic U2 sound after having experimented with a different sound for several albums.
Highlights: Beautiful Day. Walk On. In a Little While. Grace.
46. Blackout - Dropkick Murphys (2003)
The song "Walk Away" was the song that made me a Dropkick Murphys fan. Not necessarily their best album but certainly in the top 5.
Highlights: Walk Away. The Dirty Glass. Fields of Athenry. Kiss Me, I'm Shitfaced.
47. Crimson - Alkaline Trio (2005)
The first time that I heard this band was when I heard the song "Mercy Me." I liked it but I was not a huge fan of the band until I actually heard this entire album.
Highlights: Time to Waste. Mercy Me. Dethbed. Setting for Satin. Sadie.
48. The Warrior's Code - Dropkick Murphys (2005)
This album of Dropkick Murphys is not only their best-selling album but was also their last album released on Hellcat Records. This album was dedicated to Boston Irish boxer Miky Ward for whom the 2010 film The Fighter was about. In fact, the song "The Warrior's Code" was written about him.
Highlights: The Warrior's Code. Captain Kelly's Kitchen. Sunshine Highway. I'm Shipping Up to Boston. Tessie.
49. The Meanest of Times - Dropkick Murphys (2007)
The follow up to #48 album on this list, The Meanest of Times I think is their best album overall. It was the first to be released on their own label, Born & Bred Records. This album debuted on the Billboard 200 at #20. The album was #49 on Rolling Stone magazine's Top 50 Albums of 2007 and the song "The State of Massachusetts" wound up as #83 on the magazine's list of Top 100 songs of 2007.
Highlights: Famous for Nothing. God Willing. The State of Massachusetts. Flannigan's Ball.
50. Raditude - Weezer (2009)
This band definitely can write some great songs and release some great records. From my standpoint, the release of this album did not come along with much fanfare and I can't figure out why. It is such a great album and could even rival their 1994 self-titled album for the band's best.
Highlights: I Want You To. I'm Your Daddy. The Girl Got Hot. Can't Stop Partying. Put Me Back Together. Let It All Hang Out.
51. This Addiction - Alkaline Trio (2010)
This album was on this site's Top 5 Albums of 2010 and for good reason. It wasn't a better album than #47s Crimson but it comes darn close.
Highlights: This Addiction. Dine, Dine My Darling. Lead Poisoning. Draculina. Eating Me Alive. Off the Map.
52. Seven Degrees of Stephen Egerton - Stephen Egerton (2010)
This solo album by Descendents/All guitarist Stephen Egerton was brilliant! The crew he put together to sing on these songs was amazing. Stephen Egerton is an incredible guitar player and just as incredible a songwriter. In support of this CD, he came to Oklahoma City. I got married on stage at this show.
Highlights: Flip. Fire's On. Abundance of Fluff. South for the Winter. Our Last Song. She's Got Everything. Sunny Disposition.
53. American Slang - The Gaslight Anthem (2010)
I was actually not a fan of The Gaslight Anthem prior to the release of this album. In fact, I had not really ever heard of them. It was my friend Dave who introduced me to this band, through this very album in fact. Why I had not heard of this band before and why this band is not more famous than they are eludes me. This band is one of the best out there right now and this album shows why. Great songwriting + great musicians = great songs = great album!
Highlights: American Slang. Bring It On. The Diamond Church Street Choir. Boxer. Old Haunts.
54. Wasting Light - Foo Fighters (2011)
This band was formed by former Nirvana-drummer Dave Grohl and in my opinion, this band writes and performs better songs than his previous band. Not to discount Nirvana's overall influence on American rock music in general but the Foo Fighters are a better bunch of musicians and Dave is a better songwriter than Cobain was. This band has consistently released great albums but this 2011 release is by far their best to date.
Highlights: Bridge Burning. Rope. Dear Rosemary. White Limo. Arlandria. Back and Forth. Walk.
55. This Is Only a Test - Smoking Popes (2011)
The band's most recent release is their second since their reformation following 2008s Stay Down. I was really glad to see this band get back together and this album proves that the band got better with age. This one was one of the few punk rock concept albums and the Pope's pulled it off brilliantly.
Highlights: Wish We Were. This Is Only a Test. College. Punk Band. Diary of a Teen Tragedy. I've Got Mono.
56. Handwritten - The Gaslight Anthem (2012)
This release by The Gaslight Anthem was the #1 album on The Otter Limits Top Albums of 2012. This band took the recipe that made 2010s American Slang so great and improved on it.
Highlights: 45. Handwritten. Mulholland Drive. Keepsake. Biloxi Parish.
57. Exister - Hot Water Music (2012)
I have to admit that I have never been a really huge fan of Hot Water Music. In fact, I had never even listened to them prior to their breakup. A year or so ago I started listening to them and even bought a couple of their albums but still just wasn't really into them that much. They were a good band, no doubt, but they just didn't stand out to me that much. However, they got back together and released this album. Having not been such a big fan I really did not pay it much attention until my friend Dave recommended it to me. One night, I had a lot of free time and was listening to a bunch of albums so I grabbed this one from iTunes and holy crap! This album is just absolutely amazing and was stuck (not literally) in my car's CD player for a good 2 weeks. Because of this album, I am a much bigger fan of their previous work but this album is far and away their greatest release to date.
Highlights: Mainline. State of Grace. Drag My Body. Paid in Full.
58. Freak Out - Teenage Bottlerocket (2012)
TBR is another one of those bands that I liked but really was not a big fan of until I heard this latest release. Now I am a fan of all of their stuff.
Highlights: Headbanger. Necrocomicon. Done With Love. Punk House of Horrors. Mutilate Me.