Cory’s Top 30 Favorite Albums of All Time

Hello, this is Cory from Edwards Bros. Reviews. Music is my favorite form of entertainment, outweighing everything from movies, TV shows, videos games, and the like. My favorite way to experience music is in the form of albums. I know some people prefer to listen to individual songs, playlists, or something similar, but to me, an album can be a much more meaningful experience. Sometimes albums have prevailing emotions or themes that are present from start to finish, which make an album seem unique or self-contained.

Ranking one’s favorite albums is an extremely hard task because one’s particular taste in music can vary so wildly on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes, what you may call your favorite album might not even be in your top 20 after a few months or years pass. With this in mind, I’d like to note that these might not be my favorite albums in the distant future. Also, this is DEFINITELY NOT a list of what I consider to be the “best” or “most essential” albums of all time, but rather my personal favorites, as of the date of publishing. After all, there’s so much amazing music out there that even tomorrow you may discover a new favorite.

DISCLAIMER: I’m a pretty big fan of rock music, so if that’s not your thing, this may not be an ideal list to read. The only rule for this list is ONE ALBUM PER BAND/SOLO ARTIST. So, without further ado, here are my top thirty favorite albums of all time!

#30: Daft Punk- Random Access Memories

Year of Release: 2013

Genre: Electronic, Pop, Disco

Starting off the list is Daft Punk’s most recent studio effort. This album is a mix of different styles, ranging from rock influences to post-disco grooves, from pure funk to experimental music, and from spoken word to pop. And, of course, everyone remembers the massive smash single “Get Lucky,” which features guitar from disco legend Nile Rodgers and vocals from superstar Pharrell Williams. Other great tracks include the pop-influenced “Fragments of Time” and the intense closer, “Contact.”

#29: Creedence Clearwater Revival- Green River

Year of Release: 1969

Genre: Rock

Honestly, who doesn’t love some CCR? They are without a doubt some of the most legendary performers in the history of popular music, and John Fogerty is one of rock’s great songwriters. This album features such classics as the title track, “Green River,” “Bad Moon Rising,” and my favorite CCR tune, “Lodi.”

#28: Devo- Are We Not Men? We Are Devo!

Year of Release: 1978

Genre: Post-punk, New Wave

Yeah, I know some people are snickering. “Devo? That band that sang “Whip It?” Hahahaha! They suck!” But the truth is, first of all, they don’t, and second of all, their debut album was a very unique and cool piece of post-punk. This album is kinda like Talking Heads, but way goofier. Some of these songs are even borderline ridiculous, such as “Too Much Paranoias” and “Jocko Homo.” But for every semi-ridiculous song they have, they also have a brilliant one, showcasing their raw musical talent on tracks like “Gut Feeling,” “Praying Hands,” and “Shrivel Up.”

#27: Faith No More- Angel Dust

Year of Release: 1992

Genre: Alternative Metal

This album sounds unlike any other I’ve ever heard. The songs touch on a variety of tones and emotions. Songs like “Land of Sunshine” and “Midlife Crisis” are ever so slightly danceable, and songs like “A Small Victory” and “Everything’s Ruined” are operatic epics. Top all that off with some of the other heavier tracks like “Caffeine” and a laid-back cover of Lionel Richie’s classic “Easy,” and you have quite a unique album.

#26: Yawning Man- Rock Formations

Year of Release: 2005

Genre: Instrumental Rock, Jazz Fusion, Desert Rock

Speaking of unique albums, here’s one I’m willing to bet most of you haven’t heard of, but let me assure you, this record is amazing. This is the first and only fully instrumental album on this list, and the songs on here are rock/free-jazz experiments unlike anything you’ve ever heard. Pieces like the titular “Rock Formations” and “Sonny Bono Memorial Freeway” really evoke scenes of the desert, and tracks like “Crater Lake” and “Stoney Lonesome” aren’t afraid to tone it down a little. Also, play some pool basketball on a near triple digit temperature day while this album is playing in the background. Just trust me on this one.

#25: The Allman Brothers Band- At Fillmore East

Year of Release: 1971

Genre: Blues Rock, Southern Rock, Jam Rock

Comprising only 7 tracks on 2 discs, this album is heavy on the jams. 3 of the 7 tracks eclipse 10 minutes in length, with the epic “Whipping Post” being 23 minutes long. The remaining tracks, while much shorter, are not lacking in musicianship, with such blues standards as “Statesboro Blues” and “Done Somebody Wrong” being highlights of this southern rock masterpiece. Also, the live setting really captures the energy and pure talent this band possessed.

#24: Descendents- All

Year of Release: 1987

Genre: Punk Rock, Alternative Metal

Ok, “alternative metal” might be a bit of a stretch here, but a good amount of this album’s songs, such as “Iceman,” “Impressions,” and “Schizophrenia” are almost thrash metal in form. And, impressively, the tracks that are pure punk do not clash with the thrashy style of the others. Songs like “Coolidge” and “Clean Sheets” are classic punk tracks, and this band even delivers a sense of humor in the form of the title track being only a single second long and the goofy “Van.” This album may sound a bit too all over the place, but, to me, it’s a perfect blend.

#23: Soundgarden- Badmotorfinger

Year of Release: 1991

Genre: Grunge, Alternative Metal

The sudden passing of Chris Cornell was a shock to many rock fans. His brilliant songwriting and spectacular voice were at an all-time high with Soundgarden’s third studio effort. Songs like “Outshined” and “Jesus Christ Pose” became timeless grunge classics, and “Rusty Cage” is so amazing that even Johnny Cash decided to cover it. Of course, even the country legend couldn’t do it justice because Chris’s voice and the rest of the band’s intense playing fit the song perfectly, making it one of the best songs of the 90s.

#22: U2- The Joshua Tree

Year of Release: 1987

Genre: Rock

U2 may be a bit of a joke now with that horrendous free album they put out, but from the 80s to the early 00s they were one of the biggest bands on Earth. This album is their magnum opus, with Bono’s songwriting at its peak, epic instrumentals, and having the brilliant Brian Eno handling production duties. Eno wasn’t afraid to turn the volume down a little bit, which made the soaring instrumentals in “With Or Without You” all the more better, with the climax near the end turning the volume back up. These subtleties are also present in the classic “One Tree Hill,” featuring what may be Bono’s best vocal performance with his voice being rich with emotion. Seriously, this is known as one of the best albums ever for a reason.

#21: Pink Floyd- Meddle

Year of Release: 1971

Genre: Progressive Rock

Pink Floyd are responsible for some of the greatest rock albums ever released, with such masterpieces as “Dark Side of the Moon” and “Wish You Were Here,” but for this list, I had to go with “Meddle.” I think this record perfectly captures a blend of folk and prog that hasn’t been matched by any of their other releases. Songs like “A Pillow of Winds” and “Fearless” exhibit David Gilmour’s beautiful voice and acoustic guitar while songs like “Echoes” showcase the prog rock they’re known for. Not to mention, the jazzy “San Tropez” is one of my favorite Pink Floyd tunes, with Roger Waters handling vocal duties.

#20: Nirvana- Nevermind

Year of Release: 1991

Genre: Grunge, Alternative Rock

There’s really nothing to say about this album that hasn’t already been said, so I’m not gonna go into much detail here. You know as well as I do why it’s on the list. Songs like “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Come As You Are,” and “In Bloom” are legendary, and Kurt Cobain’s voice and guitar work speak for themselves. I’d tell you to check it out, but odds are you have already.

#19: Fugazi- 13 Songs

Year of Release: 1989

Genre: Post-hardcore

This technically isn’t a studio album but rather a compilation of their first two EP releases, but I’m including it anyway because it works so well as an album. “Waiting Room” and “Suggestion” show off Ian Mackaye’s intense voice while songs like “Give Me the Cure” and “Provisional” showcase Guy Picciotto’s less harsh but equally intense voice. I personally love the contrast between their voices and think it provides a bit of variety. The instrumentals are equally intense, especially with songs like “Glue Man.”

#18: Kraftwerk- Trans-Europe Express

Year of Release: 1977

Genre: Electronic, Pop

Kraftwerk is one of the bands that I have the most respect for. Between the way they tinker with musical forms and making their own instruments, Kraftwerk has to be one of the most unique and imaginative bands out there. Trans-Europe Express is their most solid record in my opinion because all the songs work together so well, providing a very self-contained album. Songs like “Europe Endless” and the title track work so well because they rely on incessantly catchy beats. It’s no wonder they such were a huge influence on hip-hop. Even the softer songs like “Franz Schubert” capture such beauty and elegance. The only way I could appreciate this album more would be if I were actually from Europe. But, even through the eyes and ears of an Ohioan, it’s still a magnificent feat of musical talent.

#17: Black Sabbath- Black Sabbath

Year Of Release: 1970

Genre: Heavy Metal

Truthfully, any of their first four studio albums could have landed on this list, but I decided to go with their debut. The titular track provides such a foreboding atmosphere that basically invented the genre of heavy metal. Also, the heavy riffs and sweet tempo changes that Black Sabbath are known for are in abundance on this album, present on such tracks as “N.I.B.,” and the closer “A Bit Of Finger/Sleeping Village/Warning.”

#16: Brian Eno- Another Green World

Year of Release: 1975

Genre: Art Pop, Ambient

As I mentioned earlier, Brian Eno handled production duties on U2’s massively successful The Joshua Tree, but he was equally brilliant on his 1975 solo release, Another Green World. This record is quite serene and touches on a bunch of different styles, but the two predominant styles are pop and ambient. Tunes like “I’ll Come Running,” “St. Elmo’s Fire,” and “Everything Merges With the Night” showcase Eno’s proficiency as a pop songwriter and singer, while others like “The Big Ship,” “Zawinul/Lava,” and, my personal favorite, “Becalmed” are such beautifully done pieces of ambience. Seriously folks, this is one of the best albums of the 70s.

#15: Kyuss- Welcome to Sky Valley

Year of Release: 1994

Genre: Desert Rock, Heavy Metal

Some might know Josh Homme as the singer/guitarist behind Queens of the Stone Age, but my personal favorite project of his was his first band, Kyuss. This album is a masterpiece of metal, with Homme’s heavy riffs and vocalist John Garcia’s deep growl front and center. Songs like the heavy “Gardenia” and closer “Whitewater” are perfect examples of this band’s unique sound. Other highlights include “Supa Scoopa and Mighty Scoop” and “Demon Cleaner.”

#14: Game Theory- Lolita Nation

Year of Release: 1987

Genre: Power Pop, Alternative Rock

This is another record that transcends description. A double album, this record goes all over the place, touching on a variety of styles and dabbling in frequent experimentation. The main force, however, is the high-pitched voice and tight guitar playing of primary songwriter Scott Miller. Songs like “The Real Sheila” and “Nothing New” are pure pop goodness, while songs like “Look Away” and “Mammoth Gardens” exhibit the vocal talents of rhythm guitarist Donnette Thayer.

#13: Minutemen- Double Nickels on the Dime

Year of Release: 1984

Genre: Punk Rock, Alternative Rock

Here’s yet another double album that isn’t afraid to experiment. Whereas other bands are dominated by a single songwriting or performing force, Minutemen are a rare instance where all three members are equally vital to the band. Vocalist/guitarist D. Boon was one of the most unique guitar players of all time, with songs like “Viet Nam,” “West Germany,” and “This Ain’t No Picnic” showcasing not only his talent as a guitarist, but as a politically influenced songwriter. Bassist/occasional vocalist Mike Watt was also one of the best to ever play his instrument, yet his songwriting was much more “stream of consciousness” based. Tunes such as “Toadies,” “My Heart and the Real World,” and “The World According to Nouns” are driven not only by Watt’s prowess as a bassist, but songwriter as well. Last but not least, drummer George Hurley was as tight a drummer as there ever was, with some of his best work present on the tracks “The Glory of Man” and “It’s Expected I’m Gone.”

#12: Sugar- Copper Blue

Year of Release: 1992

Genre: Alternative Rock, Power Pop

After the demise of his previous band, Hüsker Dü, vocalist/guitarist Bob Mould released a couple solo studio efforts before forming a new band, Sugar. While Hüsker Dü were more hardcore punk and noise rock based, Sugar was more pop-influenced and much brighter. Although I personally prefer Hüsker Dü as a band, I think Mould’s songwriting was at its peak with Sugar, and this is no more evident than it is on their debut record, Copper Blue. This album is heavy on the riffs that drive the songs all the way through. This is definitely true on tracks like “The Act We Act” and “Changes.” There’s also the blissful pop masterpiece, “If I Can’t Change Your Mind.”

#11: New Order- Substance

Year of Release: 1987

Genre: Alternative Dance

Similar to Sugar, here’s another band that formed after the demise of a previous one. After Joy Division broke up, the remaining members (and a new fourth member) formed a new band, renaming themselves New Order. Their first album continued the post-punk style Joy Division was known for, but they eventually found their own identity, brightening things up and focusing more on dance music. Substance is basically a greatest hits compilation, compiling all their hit singles throughout the course of their career. I love how it’s done in chronological order. It starts with “Ceremony,” which was originally a Joy Division song, and ends with their most recent (at the time of release) single, “True Faith.” Because of this chronological nature, you can see the band metamorphose from the post-punk style they had at the beginning of their career to the up-tempo, catchy dance-pop they’d later perfect, which I think is pretty cool.

#10: Red Hot Chili Peppers- Stadium Arcadium

Year of Release: 2006

Genre: Alternative Rock

This, along with Pearl Jam’s Ten, was one of the first albums that really got me into rock music. And, even ignoring nostalgia, this album still holds up pretty darn well, and it may very well be the Chili Peppers’ best. Songs like “Dani California” and “Snow” were absolute megahits that you still hear today, and for good reason: they’re great rock songs. Others like “Make You Feel Better,” “Animal Bar,” and “Hard to Concentrate” evoke so much emotion and are probably the most mature songs this band has ever written. Let’s face it, these guys are rock legends and you probably love these songs just as much as I do.

#9: Led Zeppelin- Led Zeppelin IV

Year of Release: 1971

Genre: Rock

Every single song on this album is a mainstay of classic rock radio, so you all are probably just as familiar with this album as I am. We all know these classics: “Black Dog,” “Rock and Roll,” “When the Levee Breaks,” “Misty Mountain Hop,” the list goes on. Oh yeah, I almost forgot “Stairway to Heaven,” maybe the most iconic rock song ever written. Led Zeppelin were literal rock gods, and this album is a perfect example as to why.

#8: Neil Young & Crazy Horse- Rust Never Sleeps

Year of Release: 1979

Genre: Rock

Neil Young is a man who just makes whatever kind of music he feels like makin’. That’s why I can forgive him for making albums that just aren’t that good, (*cough cough* Trans) because for every crummy record he makes, he makes one like Rust Never Sleeps. This album is the best Neil Young has ever made. Being recorded live doesn’t take anything away from the experience, and songs like “Sail Away,” “Pocahontas,” and “Thrasher” capture so much emotion with little more than an acoustic guitar, harmonica, and Neil’s glorious voice. Not to mention, there are the heavier songs with Crazy Horse, like “Sedan Delivery” and the awesome “Hey Hey, My My.”

#7: Talking Heads- More Songs About Buildings and Food

Year of Release: 1978

Genre: New Wave, Post-punk

Talking Heads were one of the most unique rock bands ever assembled. David Byrne’s goofy voice and slick guitar work, Tina Weymouth’s memorable basslines, Chris Frantz’s precise drumming, and Jerry Harrison’s versatility were all present on their second studio album. Also, having Brian Eno produce your record is never a bad idea. This record features such great songs as “Thank You For Sending Me An Angel,” “Found A Job,” a cover of the soul classic “Take Me to the River,” and the finale “The Big Country.”

#6: Television- Marquee Moon

Year of Release- 1977

Genre: Art Punk

This album, like many in this list, speaks for itself. The intricate double guitar system of Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd, even 40 years after its release, still sounds fresh and unique. Bands like The Strokes and Red Hot Chili Peppers clearly owe a lot to Television. John Frusciante’s guitar playing sounds so similar to the track “Venus,” and the title track, “Marquee Moon,” is one of the most epic tracks in rock and roll history. Other stellar performances include “See No Evil,” “Friction,” and the rock ballad “Guiding Light.”

#5: fIREHOSE- Ragin’ Full On

Year of Release: 1986

Genre: Alternative Rock

I first heard this band while watching VH1 Classic one night. During one of those music video blocks that normally feature mundane and boring tracks, the song “Brave Captain” by fIREHOSE played, and my brother and I were instantly enamored. The sick bassline, tight guitar, and snappy drums were unlike anything I’d ever heard before. I’d later find out that this band was formed after the Minutemen, who I mentioned earlier. After singer/guitarist D. Boon tragically passed away, bassist Mike Watt and drummer George Hurley considered giving up music altogether. Minutemen fan Ed Crawford traveled all the way from Ohio to San Pedro, CA to convince Watt and Hurley to play music again. Sure enough, fIREHOSE formed soon after, with Crawford taking guitar/vocal duties. This album had to make the list not only because of the superb music on the album, but also because of the great story behind it, with Watt and Hurley overcoming massive trials and tribulations to make a new band. Standout tracks include “Brave Captain,” “Locked In,” “The Candle and the Flame,” and “Things Could Turn Around.”

#4: The Clash- London Calling

Year of Release: 1979

Genre: Punk Rock, Post-punk

Yet another double album, and yet another landmark punk record. The Clash are known as one of the greatest punk bands of all time, and their finest record was London Calling. This album, like many of my favorites, touches on a variety of different styles. This album has old school rock and roll influences (“Brand New Cadillac”), reggae influences (“Rudie Can’t Fail,” “Revolution Rock,” “Wrong Em’ Boyo”), and even lounge influences (“Jimmy Jazz”). By applying a punk mindset to different styles of music, The Clash made one of the finest records of all time.

#3: Hüsker Dü- Zen Arcade

Year of Release: 1984

Genre: Hardcore Punk

I promise, this is the final double album. I’ve already discussed this album at length in my review of it, and you can check that out here, so I’m not gonna go into much detail. Overall, this album is a masterpiece and, in my opinion, is the most solid punk album of all time.

#2: Pearl Jam- Ten

Year of Release: 1991

Genre: Grunge, Hard Rock

As I mentioned earlier, this album helped me get into rock music. That’s not the only reason it’s on the list, however. This album is loaded with stellar hard rock tracks. “Alive,” “Even Flow,” and “Jeremy” are some of the best tunes of the 90s, and “Oceans,” “Garden,” and “Black” are sung with such emotion by Eddie Vedder that it’s impossible to ignore them. This is the finest album of the 90s, in my opinion, and remains the finest album released by one of the greatest American rock bands of all time.

#1: R.E.M.- Murmur

Year of Release: 1983

Genre: Alternative Rock

Whereas Stadium Arcadium and Ten were albums that helped me get into rock music, Murmur was the record that resulted in my love of classic alternative rock, which is now probably my favorite genre. Thanks to Murmur, I now love post-punk, punk, hardcore, post-hardcore, jangle pop, etc…But that’s not the only reason I adore Murmur. I adore Murmur because it has some of my favorite songs ever written. It starts with the catchy “Radio Free Europe,” a perfect example of the jangle pop they were known for. There’s also “Laughing,” a beautiful acoustic song with brilliant piano parts. The urgent “Talk About the Passion,” the perfect “Moral Kiosk,” and the hopeful “Shaking Through.” Michael Stipe’s voice is so beautiful even though you can’t understand a damn thing he says. Peter Buck’s guitar is so jangly and the riffs are all distinct and memorable. Mike Mills’s basslines are pronounced and his piano is gorgeous. Bill Berry’s drumming is as tight as ever, never missing a beat and driving all the amazing songs. Literally every song on this album is perfect, and I implore you: if you’re into rock music at all, give Murmur a chance. It’s my #1 favorite album of all time.

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