30. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars – David Bowie 1972
This is one big bite. You gotta take it all at once. Bowie may be the best producer of all time and has influenced more of the artists on this list than any other – from Lou Reed to Pulp to Ian Hunter.
Essential Tacks: All of them but my personal favorites are Lady Stardust, Moonage Daydream and Star
29. The Stranger – Billy Joel 1977
Don’t misconstrue this ranking as an artist ranking. Billy Joel is whatever as an overall artist. He’s a damn clever guy though, very charismatic and funny. HOWEVER, he hits the nail on the head with almost every track here. You can’t tell me that the first 6 songs are not pure one-after-another gold. AND DON’T TRY TO TELL ME THAT JUST THE WAY YOU ARE AIN’T ONE OF THE BEST, ALBEIT CHEESIEST, LOVE SONGS EVER.
Essential Tracks: Just The Way You Are, Scenes From an Italian Restaurant, Vienna
Best Lyrics: “I don’t want clever conversation, I never want to work that hard. I just want someone that I can talk to, I want you just the way you are”
28. The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground 1969
Yeah you could probably argue that this is one of the top 5 albums of all time and yeah I probably couldn’t deny that, but this is my list so this is its place. Top to bottom some of the finest written songs I’ve ever heard. Like come one!? CANDY SAYS??!!?!?! Are you shitting me?! How the hell does someone produce such genius?!?!?!?!?
Essential Tracks: Candy Says, Some Kinda Love, That’s the Story of My Life, After Hours
Best Lyrics: “Candy says, I hate the big decisions that cause endless revisions in my mind”
27. Led Zeppelin IV – Led Zeppelin 1970
Not a huge Zep fan but I know this shit bangs. Basically the soundtrack to LoTR.
26. Paranoid – Black Sabbath 1970
Something about this album makes you wanna overthrow the government.
Essential Tracks: War Pigs, Paranoid, Planet Caravan
25. Are You Experienced – The Jimi Hendrix Experience 1969
It just takes one listen and you’re hooked for life. Jimi being Jimi. There’s something so visceral about this album, it’s hard to explain, but it’s just you and it’s just right.
Essential Tracks: The Wind Cries Mary, Fire, Purple Haze, 51st Anniversary
24. Tapestry – Carole King 1970
Singer-Songwriter’s masterpiece. I’m sorry, but Joni Mitchell and James Taylor just don’t come anywhere close to this kind of perfection or consistency. One credit to James Taylor though, he does King’s “You’ve got a friend” better than she.
Essential Tracks: I Feel the Earth Move, Will You Love Me Tomorrow, So Far Away Beautiful, You Make Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman (her original version).
23. Rubber Soul – The Beatles 1965
Finally, a Beatles album. This is probably, next to another yet to be revealed on this list, the most significant album is the history of rock/pop music. This album set the new standard for art. And while there a couple songs I could do without on here, It harbors some of the greatest tracks ever.
Essential Tracks: In My Life, Nowhere Man, If I Needed Someone, I’m Looking Through You, and Girl.
Best Lyrics: “Doesn’t have a point of view, knows not where he’s going to , isn’t he a bit like you and me?”
22. Buffalo Springfield – Buffalo Springfield 1966
For What it’s Worth is the 6th best song of all time, but that’s a list for another day. Every song is so quintessentially folk-rock it’s insane.
Essential Tracks: Hot Dusty Roads, For What it’s Worth, Out of my Mind, Flying on the Ground
Best Lyrics: Probably the single best line of words ever conceived in music history (yes I’ll go that far). “There’s battle lines being drawn, And nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong”
21. Surf’s Up – The Beach Boys 1971
2nd most underrated album of all time. Forgotten and overshadowed. So honest, so sad, so peaceful. It’s shallow and it’s deep. The only thing preventing this from literally being in the top 10 on this list is one song: Student Demonstration Time. It throws the album completely out of wack and worse yet it’s right in the middle. It’s just a corny blues song about protests… I mean it’s catchy, but still. Some of the most heartfelt songs ever written on here, including my favorite song of all time.
Essential Tracks: Long Promised Road, Feel Flows, Disney Girls 1957, Till I Die
Best Lyrics: “I’ve got my love to give an a place to live, guess I’m gonna stay. It’d be a peaceful life with a forever wife, and a kid someday. It’s early nights and pillow fights, and your soft laugh. Fantasy world and Disney Girls, I’m coming back”