Top 10 British Albums of All Time

Lynne Kiesling

On a lighter topic, New Music Express has a polled their writers to generate a Top-100 list of all-time British albums. The top 10 are

  • 1. The Stone Roses ‘The Stone Roses’
  • 2. The Smiths ‘The Queen Is Dead’
  • 3. Oasis ‘Definitely Maybe’
  • 4. Sex Pistols ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’
  • 5. Arctic Monkeys ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’
  • 6. Blur ‘Modern Life Is Rubbish’
  • 7. Pulp ‘Different Class’
  • 8. The Clash ‘London Calling’
  • 9. The Beatles ‘Revolver’
  • 10. The Libertines ‘Up The Bracket’

OK … I have a few quibbles with this list, parhaps reflecting my age relative to their writers. Blur better than ‘London Calling’? Not a chance! I’m sure my top-10 lists is a function of my age as well as my taste, not so much a function of their influence, but here it is:

  • 1. The Clash ‘London Calling’
  • 2. The Who ‘Quadrophenia’
  • 3. The Stone Roses ‘The Stone Roses’
  • 4. Echo and the Bunnymen ‘Porcupine’
  • 5. The Smiths ‘The Queen Is Dead’
  • 6. Sex Pistols ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’
  • 7. XTC ‘English Settlement’
  • 8. New Order ‘Power, Corruption and Lies’
  • 9. Roxy Music ‘Avalon’
  • 10. The Beatles ‘Revolver’
  • 11. The Rolling Stones ‘Beggar’s Banquet’

Note I went to 11, both for the cheap Spinal Tap joke and to ensure that I could include both the Beatles and the Rolling Stone’s best albums, in my opinion. I don’t really listen to them, while the other 9 albums I still listen to, but certainly their influence was crucial.

What’s your list?


32 thoughts on “Top 10 British Albums of All Time

  1. I am surprized that Radiohead did not get onto either of the lists. I have to say either Pablo Honey or OK Computer defintiely deserve to be on this list!

    Cheers

  2. lynne, ‘avalon’?? I mean I love ‘more than this’ as much as the next guy, but I believe that ‘for your pleasure’ is the critically correct roxy album to cite. I’d also add ‘the wonderful and frightening world of the fall’ by the fall, and will always have a ‘soft’ spot for suede

  3. From an American point of view, my favorite British albums are.
    1. Rubber Soul…Beatles
    2. Revolver…Beatles
    3. Abbey Road…Beatles
    4. Sgt. Pepper…Beatles
    5. Who’s Next…The Who
    6. Some Girls…Rolling Stones
    7. The White Album…Beatles
    8. Venus and Mars…Wings
    9. All Things Must Pass…George Harrison
    10. Band On The Run…Wings

  4. Josh,

    Yeah, Radiohead has never sent me into convulsing waves, nor has Oasis. A little too navel-gazey for my taste. In the navel-gazey vein, I like the Verve (plus they’re from Wigan, a sentimental favorite town of mine).

    John,

    You’re right, and I defer to your superior music knowledge. “Do the Strand” on ‘For Your Pleasure’ is one of my favorite RM songs. I chose ‘Avalon’ instead for two reasons. One is that in the Eno-Ferry tension, I’m a Ferry girl, the other is that “Avalon” was the song for the first dance at our wedding. Interestingly, the KP Spouse is a big Eno fan, so we live the tension … also, one of my absolutely favorite bands is James, which had a big Eno connection. I may becoming more of an Eno girl over time.

  5. Josh,

    Yeah, Radiohead has never sent me into convulsing waves, nor has Oasis. A little too navel-gazey for my taste. In the navel-gazey vein, I like the Verve (plus they’re from Wigan, a sentimental favorite town of mine).

    John,

    You’re right, and I defer to your superior music knowledge. “Do the Strand” on ‘For Your Pleasure’ is one of my favorite RM songs. I chose ‘Avalon’ instead for two reasons. One is that in the Eno-Ferry tension, I’m a Ferry girl, the other is that “Avalon” was the song for the first dance at our wedding. Interestingly, the KP Spouse is a big Eno fan, so we live the tension … also, one of my absolutely favorite bands is James, which had a big Eno connection. I may becoming more of an Eno girl over time.

  6. Josh,

    Yeah, Radiohead has never sent me into convulsing waves, nor has Oasis. A little too navel-gazey for my taste. In the navel-gazey vein, I like the Verve (plus they’re from Wigan, a sentimental favorite town of mine).

    John,

    You’re right, and I defer to your superior music knowledge. “Do the Strand” on ‘For Your Pleasure’ is one of my favorite RM songs. I chose ‘Avalon’ instead for two reasons. One is that in the Eno-Ferry tension, I’m a Ferry girl, the other is that “Avalon” was the song for the first dance at our wedding. Interestingly, the KP Spouse is a big Eno fan, so we live the tension … also, one of my absolutely favorite bands is James, which had a big Eno connection. I may becoming more of an Eno girl over time.

  7. It must be an age thing, but I don’t think i have ever heard most of those recordings. OTOH, I didn’t see Yardbirds’ Having a Rave Up, or anything by Cream, Pink Floyd…

  8. It must be an age thing, but I don’t think i have ever heard most of those recordings. OTOH, I didn’t see Yardbirds’ Having a Rave Up, or anything by Cream, Pink Floyd…

  9. ‘Rubber Soul’ – Beatles
    ‘Abbey Road’ – Beatles
    ‘Tim’ – The Replacements
    ‘The Stone Roses’ – The Stone Roses
    ‘Anodyne’ – Uncle Tupelo
    ‘Loveless’ – My Bloody Valentine
    ‘Surfer Rosa’ – Pixies
    ‘Hatful of Hollow’ – The Smiths
    ‘Being There’ – Wilco
    ‘Hollywood Town Hall’ – The Jayhawks
    ‘Grace’ – Jeff Buckley

  10. Lynne-
    Their list is patently absurd: none of the their 1-7 is better than London Calling. Yours is, of course, better. Since you asked, though, here’s mine (all British per restriction – there are some US albums I’d rate higher than some of these.) I reserve the right to realize I’ve forgotten something.
    1-2: Any 2 Led Zeppelins album through Presence
    3. Quadrophenia
    4. Dark Side of the Moon
    5. Sticky Fingers (or could sub Exile on Main St)
    6. Revolver
    7. Abbey Road
    8. John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers Featuring Eric Clapton
    9. Something else with Clapton, maybe w/ Cream or the Yardbirds
    10. London Calling
    11. The Pretenders (1st LP) (Yes, I know Chrissie Hynde is from Ohio, but (a) she was an ex-pat living in the UK, and (b) the rest of the band is British.) If you want to disallow this entry, substitute “Shark Sandwich” 🙂

  11. Aeon,

    I knew this topic would be right up your alley. I will also allow Chrissy Hynde because she was married for a short time to Jim Kerr of Simple Minds, a band on my short list for inclusion in this top 10 (along with Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, Bauhaus, and Ultravox).

    I also know that my list lacks the various iterations of Eric Clapton, but that’s lack of deep familiarity on my part. However, lack of deep familiarity also signals my preference for the post-punk music.

  12. Aeon,

    I knew this topic would be right up your alley. I will also allow Chrissy Hynde because she was married for a short time to Jim Kerr of Simple Minds, a band on my short list for inclusion in this top 10 (along with Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, Bauhaus, and Ultravox).

    I also know that my list lacks the various iterations of Eric Clapton, but that’s lack of deep familiarity on my part. However, lack of deep familiarity also signals my preference for the post-punk music.

  13. Aeon,

    I knew this topic would be right up your alley. I will also allow Chrissy Hynde because she was married for a short time to Jim Kerr of Simple Minds, a band on my short list for inclusion in this top 10 (along with Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, Bauhaus, and Ultravox).

    I also know that my list lacks the various iterations of Eric Clapton, but that’s lack of deep familiarity on my part. However, lack of deep familiarity also signals my preference for the post-punk music.

  14. Chrissie was also married to what’s-his-name from the Kinks, but I always found them a tad overrated. Anyway, she had clearly “gone native,” so I’m glad you agree that the Pretenders count – surprised they don’t make your list!
    Yikes, a typo in my list — that’s “Led Zeppelin” without an s. Embarrasing.
    Despite your preference for post-punk, you show exquisite taste by including Quadrophenia, London Calling, and Beggars Banquet. I share your admiration for “Never Mind The Bollcks,” but couldn’t fit it on the top 10, even with the goes-to-11 mod.

  15. Chrissie was also married to what’s-his-name from the Kinks, but I always found them a tad overrated. Anyway, she had clearly “gone native,” so I’m glad you agree that the Pretenders count – surprised they don’t make your list!
    Yikes, a typo in my list — that’s “Led Zeppelin” without an s. Embarrasing.
    Despite your preference for post-punk, you show exquisite taste by including Quadrophenia, London Calling, and Beggars Banquet. I share your admiration for “Never Mind The Bollcks,” but couldn’t fit it on the top 10, even with the goes-to-11 mod.

  16. Another thought. You say “I don’t really listen to them, while the other 9 albums I still listen to, but certainly their influence was crucial.” But it’s not a list of infulential records, but best records. While an excellent record is likely to be influential, it may not be, and indeed a record can be influential without being excellent.

  17. Another thought. You say “I don’t really listen to them, while the other 9 albums I still listen to, but certainly their influence was crucial.” But it’s not a list of infulential records, but best records. While an excellent record is likely to be influential, it may not be, and indeed a record can be influential without being excellent.

  18. It looks to me like Lancashire has taken over the voting in the NME poll. What with Oasis, Stone Roses and the Smiths, you might think that Herman’s Hermits, The Hollies and The Buzzcocks would also have polled well for the home team.

    One can quibble with the Sex Pistols inclusion, as John (Rotten) Lydon has at various times claimed to be a from County Cork and County Galway, making him Irish not British.

    Here’s 10 others (no dupes/no greatest hits)

    1) Elvis Costello-This Years Model
    2) The Jam-In the City
    3) The Dammed-Damned Damned Damned
    4) Faces-Nod is as Good as a Wink (Scots are British)
    5) Nick Lowe-Pure Pop for Now People
    6) Dave Edmunds-Get It (Welshman count)
    7) The Rolling Stones-Around and Around
    8) The Squeeze-East Side Story
    9) The Who-Sing My Generation
    10) Billy Bragg-Talking to the Taxman about Poetry (not sure that Socialists count)

    JBP
    (You guys took all the Beatles and Zep albums)

  19. It looks to me like Lancashire has taken over the voting in the NME poll. What with Oasis, Stone Roses and the Smiths, you might think that Herman’s Hermits, The Hollies and The Buzzcocks would also have polled well for the home team.

    One can quibble with the Sex Pistols inclusion, as John (Rotten) Lydon has at various times claimed to be a from County Cork and County Galway, making him Irish not British.

    Here’s 10 others (no dupes/no greatest hits)

    1) Elvis Costello-This Years Model
    2) The Jam-In the City
    3) The Dammed-Damned Damned Damned
    4) Faces-Nod is as Good as a Wink (Scots are British)
    5) Nick Lowe-Pure Pop for Now People
    6) Dave Edmunds-Get It (Welshman count)
    7) The Rolling Stones-Around and Around
    8) The Squeeze-East Side Story
    9) The Who-Sing My Generation
    10) Billy Bragg-Talking to the Taxman about Poetry (not sure that Socialists count)

    JBP
    (You guys took all the Beatles and Zep albums)

  20. Quadrophenia is an acquired taste, and I’m glad to see others think highly of it. That’s a great story (from your wedding) for “Avalon”. I like that song too but it has been “eons” since I’ve heard it.

    I was wondering if Eno was appropriate to mention since it’s difficult to pin down one of his best albums, as well as David Bowie. Yeah, he went fairly commercial but I still spin “Hunky Dory” every once in awhile. It brings back memories of my “yute” and the ch-ch-ch-changes since then.

  21. oh right, where’s Bowie? ‘Low’ and ‘Heroes’ changed my life, though both are kind of more ‘european’ than ‘british’…? very Eno-y too. and re: Roxy, I really like Ferry too, and not-so-secretly love ‘Avalon’ myself – and, now that I think of it, I probably like both post-Eno Roxy AND post-Roxy Eno (slightly) better than the Eno/Ferry Roxy – I mean, I like diversity and ‘creative tension’ and stuff, but some tastes are better separate than alone, I guess. definitely keep letting the KP husband wear you down on the Eno tip – ‘Another Green World’, ‘Ambient: Plateau of Mirrors’, and ‘Ambient: On Land’ are all so beautiful, I’ll be listening to them the rest of my life I’m sure

  22. Oh, expletive! Bad of me to omit Bowie. “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust…” is one of his many truly fantastic albums, and I’m also greatly sympathetic to the inclusion of Elvis Costello and the Attractions (although I might rank “Armed Forces” higher than “This Year’s Model”). The problem with modifying yourself once you’ve made a list like this is: who do I drop to “make room” for the others? One solution might be to stipulate that only one album per artist be included. I used two slots each for the Beatles and Led Zeppelin, which refelcts both subjective and objective considerations of awesomeness, so this stipulation would free up entries for Armed Forces and Ziggy Stardust.

  23. Oh, expletive! Bad of me to omit Bowie. “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust…” is one of his many truly fantastic albums, and I’m also greatly sympathetic to the inclusion of Elvis Costello and the Attractions (although I might rank “Armed Forces” higher than “This Year’s Model”). The problem with modifying yourself once you’ve made a list like this is: who do I drop to “make room” for the others? One solution might be to stipulate that only one album per artist be included. I used two slots each for the Beatles and Led Zeppelin, which refelcts both subjective and objective considerations of awesomeness, so this stipulation would free up entries for Armed Forces and Ziggy Stardust.

  24. I was going to say something about “Avalon” on the second list, but someone else appears to have beaten me to it. I mean, any of Elvis Costello’s first three albums could have made my list ahead of that, but I see it has a personal attachment to you.

    And “Power, Corruption and Lies” over “Substance” or “Brotherhood”? I guess the former doesn’t quite count because it’s a greatest hits album, but putting up an album that omits “Bizarre Love Triangle”, probably their biggest hit, strikes me as an odd choice.

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