So, here on the blog I like to occasionally try the impossible. Best movies, best songs, best whatever... so I'm going to try to give the best albums of all time (according to me and me alone) to help you on that summer road trip you'll be going on (there's even some hip hop thrown in for good measure). I think its sad that people don't buy whole albums anymore. I remember holding them in my hand and reading every square inch - the lyrics, the band member's thank you, etc... It was amazing to get a new record. So I'm going to give this a shot. Now, I'm very sure I'll miss many of the great ones - this is not an exhaustive list by any stretch of the imagination and it is not in any particular order. I even end with some of my favorite Christian albums . These are just records that I keep coming back to. I have one rule - only one album per artist or band allowed, which is very difficult... Here we go!
Beatles - SGT Peppers Lonely Hearts Club
How do you pick just one of their albums, right?!
Impossible really. But if I had to, this is the one. It really changed the way records were even made.
Beach Boys - Pet Sounds
Just brilliant! Drug induced, but brilliant! We forget how cutting edge this is.
U2 - Joshua Tree
Hard to pick just one U2 album, but every single song on this record is amazing! It's almost like a "greatest hits" album. Take a listen - you'll be singing along with just about song. It's insane!
Stevie Wonder - Innervisions
Again how do you pick just one. It was a toss up between this one and Talking Book...
Nirvana - Nevermind
I am a true fan of 90's music. Rock music in the 80's almost killed the genre. Thank God for the 90's, bringing thought and depth back to music. This whole record is just so very good. We need another renaissance in music like Nirvana and the 90's brought us. Please!
Michael Jackson - Off the Wall
OK, I know Thriller is an incredible album and I love much of his other recordings,especially Dangerous, but Off the Wall, in my humble opinion, is his best. It was a game changer!
Pearl Jam - Ten
Their more recent record, Backspacer
almost took the spot here. Honestly. That's what's been so amazing about them - they just keep making really good music. But, Ten- how do you not put it here? I love Pearl Jam and they still have one of the best live shows on the planet. Pearl Jam and Nirvana were the top two of some really good music in the 1990's. Pearl Jam, to me, is the better of the two.
Fleetwood Mac - Rumors
A highly dysfunctional band in every way - relationally and with the use of drugs during the recording of this record - but this is a gem! Many put it on the best records of all time.
Lauryn Hill - The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
What an amazing and thoughtful record the whole way through - even the little skits or discussions with some teenagers. As a youth worker, I loved it! The only downside is that it ends and she didn't continue giving us more of the same.
Amplified Version - Alive
Best band of all time and not just because my parents were in it (ok, maybe because they were in it). Their previous album, Watcha Gonna Do?
, had a top ten hit on secular radio, but I just love this one a bit better. My early years were all about being on the road, watching my parents, and being in awe of what and who they were. They blow me away and my mom is still singing. Occasionally I'll run into people who were big fans - it is just so darn awesome!
Bob Marley - Legend
...and not just for when you're in the Caribbean.
Marvin Gaye - What’s Going On
Perfect example of an artist stepping up and using their art to move a culture's thinking forward.
Beastie Boys - Pauls Boutique
It's a really interesting story because, Paul's Boutique
was initially considered a commercial failure by their label, as its sales did not match that of the group's previous record, Licensed to Ill -
gotta love that name =) But
the label eventually decided to stop promoting the album. The album's popularity continued to grow and it has since been touted as a breakthrough achievement for the Beastie Boys. Paul's Boutique
secured the Beastie Boys' place as critical favorites and pioneers in the hip-hop genre. Plus they reminded us that, you indeed must fight for your right to party! RIP Adam Yauch
Bruce Springsteen - Born to Run
Born to Run garnered widespread acclaim when it was first released and it has since been considered by critics to be one of the greatest albums of all time. I love it!
Coldplay - Viva La Vida
There's been recent push back against Coldplay - which I do NOT understand at all. To me, they are simply one of the best, ever!
Eminem - The Eminem Show
Love him or hate him - either way, he's undeniably just so very good!
Neil Young - Harvest
The father of The Grunge Movement
David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
The album tells the story of Bowie's alter ego
Ziggy Stardust, a rock star who acts as a messenger for extraterrestrial beings. So 70's! =)The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars
has been consistently considered one of the greatest albums of all time, with Rolling Stone
magazine ranking it the 35th greatest ever.
Talking Heads - Remain in Light
Sometimes you just have to throw on some Talking Heads, ya know?!
N.W.A. - Straight Outta Compton
Many have mixed feelings about this group, they really did usher in gangster rap. But you can't deny their influence and this album in particular is regarded as one of the best all time hip hop albums ever recorded.
Oasis - (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?
Idiots but incredibly talented. I only wish they would have made more music than what they did.
The Dave Matthews Band - Remember Two Things
This is a great band with a lot of amazing records. But this is the album that drew me in.
Bob Dylan - Bringing it All Back Home
The first folk-rock album? Yep!
There's even some wordplay kind-of-ish rap stuff in it. Basically, on this album and on his next, Bob Dylan invented modern rock. Plus he loves Jesus, so there's that =)
Extra point: He plays harmonica on his good friend Keith Green's record a few years later after he comes to Christ.
Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill
I love all of her stuff! This album was huge but the cool thing is that all of her other stuff is really good. But you gotta love Jagged Little Pill!
Jay-Z - Reasonable Doubt
Reasonable Doubt has often been considered by many fans to be Jay-Z's best record. He himself deemed it his best.
Johnny Cash - At Folsom Prison
Counting Crows - August and Everything After
The whole record is incredible. I'll never forget when Letterman booked them for 5 nights straight on his show - so stinking' amazing!
Radiohead - The Bends
Almost too brilliant ;)
OK, so I'm a big Chicago fan, especially of their earlier stuff- anything before 17 or 18 or maybe 19... 20 isn't bad...
Creedence Clearwater Revival - Chronicle Vol. 1
This album contains every one of Creedence Clearwater Revival
's original 19 hit singles -- including "Proud Mary," "Bad Moon Rising," "Green River," "Down on the Corner," "Travelin' Band," "Up Around the Band," and "Have You Ever Seen the Rain" -- plus "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," which became a hit at the same time this double-record compilation was released. It is just a really complete compilation that demonstrates how amazing this band was.
Carole King - Tapestry
You can't forget the brilliance of Carole King - she has written so many hits, many of which she never recorded herself. But this album, Tapestry is a standout among greats
Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Sometimes you just HAVE TO throw some Elton John on and sing along. Yes you do.
Adele - 21
This album was praised by critics for its vintage aesthetic and of course for Adele's vocal performance, which is absolutely amazing! That girl can sang! =) 21 defied the expectations of her record label. The album topped the charts in more than 30 countries and became the world's best-selling album of the year for 2011 and 2012. Incredible!
Eagles - Hotel California
I'm still not over the fact that Glenn Frey passed. Still not over it...
Public Enemy - It Takes a Nation to Hold Us Back
Public Enemy set out to make the hip hop equivalent to Marvin Gaye
's What's Going On
, an album noted for its strong social commentary.
It has been regarded by music writers and publications as one of the greatest and most influential albums of all time.
Foo Fighters, Sonic Highways
We can thank them for keeping Rock alive! This album was their attempt to take their unplugged stuff - which garnered so much praise - and make a whole album the was melodic, but still kicked ass.
Simon & Garfunkel - Bridge over Troubled Water
Coming out of the beatnik folk music genre, they reigned through the 60's and even into the 70's - this was the best of that whole era.
Taylor Swift - Red
Even Ryan Adams
is a fan - click his name to find out why.
Arrested Development - 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life Of
I continue to listen to this one enough that my daughter knows all of the songs - so fun - as well as thoughtfully and socially challenging.
311 - Greatest Hits '93-'03
Sorry, I couldn't pick one album and this one gets played in my house consistently - so much fun and you can't help yourself - you have to dance.
Kanye West - College Dropout
Forget the recent years of ridiculousness - this was such an amazing recording from start to finish! Even the skits are hilarious
Rage Against the Machine, The Battle of Los Angeles
Hate that they are no longer together! Hate!
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Greatest Hits
Crazy fun! Living in LA and listening to this on the radio. Great memories for this guy.
Imagine Dragons - Night Visions
Maybe unexpected, but I love it! My family finds them truly fun and inspiring.
and here are some of the greatest christian rock albums of all time:
Altar Boys - Gut Level Music
This band was cutting edge for Christian music in the 80's. Heck, they still are! I'll never forget them playing at a local high school to a packed auditorium and yelling like only they could, "You Are Loved!" Check it out here.
Kings X - Faith, Hope, Love
I've seen them live - they were unreal! When I first heard the song, Over my Head
, I was completely floored (here's the video
). They are such an incredible and underrated band, who is still doing it to this day. Rolling Stone Magazine lists them as one of the best rock bands of all time - which is awesome! =>Here's
a video of them on MTV back in the day - they play live at around the 4:15 minute mark - WOW! They are so good!
Stavesacre - Speak Easy
Mark Salomon is one of the best frontmen of all time - at least in christian rock music. Man, he is good! Stavesacre attended our church in Long Beach, CA. They once played for just our youth group and it was amazing.
If you have forgotten how good they were, just
Switchfoot - The Beautiful Letdown
I had a very hard time picking their best album - all of them are just so stinking good! They have kept me listening all of these years and I'm all excited about their next one coming out soon! Here's
a fun video of them.
Plankeye - Relocation
This one has a special place for my wife and myself plus their lead singer attended our church in Long Beach, CA. We especially resonate with the song,
I Can't Complain.
MuteMath - MuteMath
In 2000, before Mutemath even existed, I loved a band called Earthsuit, a Christian rock-jazz-rap band. Three years later, Earthsuit member Paul Meany formed Mutemath, and he was intentional about the new band’s music not being marketed as overtly Christian, opting instead for a freedom of artistic expression but with a freedom to express faith in ways that were more freeing. Mutemath has gone on to produce music full of angst and about relationships, failure, loss and love - and, when you listen closely, their engagement with each of those themes intersects with faith. So good!
Sixpence None The Richer - Sixpence None The Richer
They were the best! When I first saw them they did a late night at #NYWC and no one had heard of them. They were edgy and artistic and out of the box. A breathe of fresh air.
Dynamic Twins - 40 Days in the Wilderness
With all of the crappy christian rap music at the time, The Twins were amazing and absolutely the best! I still will listen to this one!
White Heart - Freedom
This was my favorite record my freshmen year of college. To this day I listen and it's still so good! It totally holds up.
Jars of Clay - Jars of Clay
Again, I like quite a few of their albums, especially Good Monsters - but this one started it all for them.
Delirious? - King of Fools
Their album, Cutting Edge may have single handedly changed worship music forever, moving it to the forefront of the christian music scene (for this I'm not super happy). King of Fools is just an amazing record. I still listen to all of their albums - their Farewell concert album is so very good! Take a listen
Steve Taylor - I Want to be a Clone
I still love him! Just saw him recently with his new band, Steve Taylor and the Perfect Foil. He's just so brilliant! Plus he produced Sixpense, LA Symphony, Burlap to Cashmere, Newsboys...
Supertones - Supertones Strike Back
Ska? Yep, and music in the 90's was so bad and so good!
Burlap To Cashmere - Anybody Out There
I saw them the first time at NYWC - they blew us all away! I was standing next to Tic Long watching them (he helped so many bands make it - including Crowder), Tic looked at me and said, "These guys are simply the best!" And they were.
Allies - Long Way From Paradise
This band was one of my favorites when I was in middle school and high school. Rock n Roll.
David Crowder - A Collision (or 3+4=7)
Just so stinking' good! This is an amazing and thoughtful record.
I'm looking forward to his next one. Maybe it's just me, but I feel like more recently his Texas accent has gotten thicker?!? Not that I mind that, but it's really noticeable. He's embracing #mypeople =)
Audio Adrenaline - Lift
Love me some Audio-A! They were more than the song Big House
(which was written for children in Africa at a VBS). Honestly, no one could lead a crowd like Mark Stuart. I had the privilege of introducing them at a concert and was standing on the side of the stage watching next to an influential producer. He looks at me and says of Mark Stuart, "Wow, now that's a rock star!" He was. Its just sad he lost his voice... ugh! But here's
live footage of them in concert.
MXPX - The Ever Passing Moment Alone
No one played faster. And this album was my favorite of theirs! So fun with songs like, Responsibility.
Amy Grant - Lead Me On
Her best album... by far
The Prayer Chain - Shawl
In the early to mid 90's I had a terrible time getting our youth group to listen to christian music - but The Prayer Chain did the trick. They were a gateway drug (band) into the world of christian music for our students. Seeing them at Creation Festival in 1992 was a highlight for our group.
Michael W Smith - Big Picture
The first time I heard this record (it was actually live concert footage
), I was really young and it blew me away! Yes, it's very 80's, but I loved it
Jennifer Knapp - Kansas
Game changer at the time for christian music
Galactic Cowboys - Galactic Cowboys
Loved this album. They were such naturals at harmonizing. And with brutal metal underneath
Third Day - Time
The first two records were very good - maybe better than Time
, but I just personally loved this one! The album features ten songs chosen from more than 30 that the band had managed to write during their tour the previous year. Some of the songs left out can be heard in the album Southern Tracks.