Albums considered the greatest ever
||This article is written like a personal reflection or opinion essay rather than an encyclopedic description of the subject. (October 2011)|
Many publications and organizations have tried to determine the albums considered the greatest ever. Those listed below have all have been frequently cited as among the greatest albums of all time by several publications and notable surveys, be it a popular poll or critics' poll.
None of these citations should be viewed as scientific. Many of these sources focus on American albums or were polls of English-speaking listeners. Most implicitly consider only currently popular genres, with classical music, opera, jazz, and other categories given short shrift. USA Today noted that Rolling Stone magazine's The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time "is weighted toward testosterone-fueled vintage rock", with only a "smattering of country (Johnny Cash), jazz (Miles Davis) and seminal blues (Howlin' Wolf)." There are often problems with vote stacking or skewed demographics; Internet-based surveys have a self-selecting audience. The methodology of some surveys may be questionable. Sometimes voters were asked to select albums from a limited list of entries.
Below is a summary of the rank of 23 albums on 14 published lists of the greatest albums of all time. The albums selected are those with the highest average rank. Albums which were released after a particular list was published are designated by an asterisk.
|Rank||Album||Mo 1995 ||Grd 1997 ||Virg 2000 ||MM 2000 ||VH1 2001 ||RS 2005 ||Ch4 2005 ||ABC 2006 ||Gui 2006 ||Q 2006 ||HF 2007 ||SV 2008 ||CS 2010 ||NME 2013 ||Median |
|1||Revolver (Beatles album), The Beatles (1966)||3||2||1||6||1||3||10||13||3||4||42||1||40||2||3.0|
|2||Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles (1967)||51||19||3||10||1||7||5||2||19||1||6||8||87||7.5|
|3||Nevermind, Nirvana (1991)||33||4||17||3||2||17||3||6||6||3||10||13||32||11||8.0|
|4||The Beatles ("The White Album") (1968)||19||9||5||4||11||10||12||12||13||17||39||30||22||9||12.0|
|5||The Velvet Underground & Nico, The Velvet Underground (1967)||9||8||13||12||19||13||46||100||55||42||10||5||5||13.0|
|6||The Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd (1973)||37||9||51||43||5||1||8||15||2||14||7||132||14.5|
|7||Pet Sounds, The Beach Boys (1966)||1||6||18||11||3||2||33||22||18||9||23||2||26||14.5|
|8||OK Computer, Radiohead (1997)||*||4||20||94||162||1||3||4||1||111||49||10||20||20.0|
|9||London Calling, The Clash (1979)||23||17||37||28||8||44||26||12||20||96||12||3||39||24.5|
|10||Exile on Main St., The Rolling Stones (1972)||4||25||35||23||12||7||42||42||34||6||15||46||24||24.5|
|11||What's Going On, Marvin Gaye (1971)||6||1||39||24||4||6||78||57||32||38||36||19||25||28.5|
|12||Led Zeppelin IV, Led Zeppelin (1971)||99||89||42||69||17||7||17||4||4||9||13||106||29.5|
|13||The Joshua Tree, U2 (1987)||57||25||15||27||2||10||11||5||38||34||424||30.5|
|14||Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen (1975)||41||44||20||27||18||37||54||84||15||15||18||6||85||32.0|
|15||Blonde on Blonde, Bob Dylan (1966)||8||24||33||9||9||52||71||36||2||11||62||34.5|
|16||Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, Sex Pistols (1977)||22||3||29||10||17||41||31||43||16||109||38||34.5|
|17||Rumours, Fleetwood Mac (1977)||78||31||16||26||62||20||29||25||24||42||58||51||36.5|
|18||The Queen Is Dead, The Smiths (1986)||28||10||1||216||20||49||9||12||1||38.5|
|19||Appetite for Destruction, Guns N' Roses (1987)||137||42||62||9||73||26||32||35||194||73.0|
|20||Purple Rain, Prince and The Revolution (1984)||72||18||76||61||73||16||50||50||91||74.5|
|21||Back in Black, AC/DC (1980)||107||62||82||77||25||80||17||21||29||197||81.0|
|22||Thriller, Michael Jackson (1982)||64||23||20||4||35||3||4||131||82.5|
|23||The Wall, Pink Floyd (1979)||30||87||14||36||65||25||38||94.0|
- Edna Gundersen (November 17, 2003). "It's certainly a thrill: 'Sgt. Pepper' is best album". USA Today.
- Methodology: albums which are not ranked on a particular list are assigned a rank one higher than the highest-ranked album for that list (e.g., albums which are not ranked on a list of 100 albums are assigned a rank of 101). Lists which were published before an album was released are not included in averaging.
- Mo = Mojo's 100 Greatest Albums of All Time. Mojo Magazine, 1995.
- Grd = The Guardian's 100 Best Albums Ever. The Guardian, 1997.
- Virg = Virgin All-Time Top 1000 Albums, 2000
- MM = Melody Maker's 100 Greatest Music Albums. Melody Maker, 2000.
- VH1 = VH1's 100 Greatest Music Albums, 2001
- RS = The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Rolling Stone, 2005.
- Ch.4 = Channel 4's 100 Greatest Albums. Channel 4, 2005.
- ABC = ABC's Top 100 Albums. Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2006.
- Gui = Greatest 100 Albums of All Time by The Guinness Book of British Hit Singles & Albums with NME, 2006
- Q = Q's 100 Greatest Albums Ever. Q, 2006.
- HF = The Definitive 200 Albums of All Time. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 2007.
- SV = The Top 50 Albums of All Time by Sound & Vision Magazine, 2008
- CS = Top 100 Albums Ever by Consequence of Sound, 2010
- NME = The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. NME, 2013.
- Median = Median rank. Albums which are not ranked on a particular list are assigned a rank one higher than the highest-ranked album for that list (e.g., albums which are not ranked on a list of 100 albums are assigned a rank of 101).
- Ralf von Appen and André Doehring: Nevermind The Beatles, here's Exile 61 and Nico: 'The top 100 records of all time' - a canon of pop and rock albums from a sociological and an aesthetic perspective. In: Popular Music 25(1), pp. 21–39. 
- The Observer's 100 Greatest British Albums of All Time. The Observer, 2004.
- The 50 albums that changed music The Observer, 15 July 2006.