Yet Another Top Albums List


Brad’s post below on his Top 101 albums of the rock era got me thinking about my favorite albums of the same era.  And given his hopes that we all do a similar post, I’m only too happy to oblige now given a few free hours and an overwhelming urge to write something (that’s not job related, which I get enough of Monday-Friday and often times on weekends). 


I’ve discussed elsewhere that coming up with a list of five or ten desert island discs would be nearly impossible for me.  If I was a secret agent under interrogation, a knowledgeable interrogator could easily get actionable intelligence from me by simply trying to force me to come up with such a list.  Thus, I’m not going to restrict this list to any particular number of albums.


On the other hand, I am going to put one restriction on this list – I’m not going to list anything I’ve first heard in 2013.  For me, it takes time to fully digest great works of art, and thus all of these albums here will be ones that have stood the test of time for me.  This will eliminate some great albums from the list, such as English Electric 2 by Big Big Train, Riverside’s spectacular Shrine of New Generation Slaves, and other great releases from a year that is shaping up to be one of incredible abundance for excellent prog rock.  It will also eliminate albums such as Spirt of Eden by Talk Talk and Tick Tock by Gazpacho, neither of which I had actually heard until a few months ago.  Nevertheless, all of the releases mentioned in this paragraph are extremely likely to end up on a future edition of this list. 


Finally, here and there, I will add a few notes about some of the albums on the list.  Maybe to give some insight as to why I like them, maybe an interesting fact about them … who knows.  The reasons will hopefully be self-evident. 


Genre-wise, the list will cover a lot more than just prog, but generally will stay within the realm of rock.  This will eliminate some other favorite albums, such as two excellent releases of instrumental flamenco guitar by the late Italian guitarist Gino D’ Auri.  It will also eliminate some classical guitar oriented albums by Steve Hackett that I otherwise like very much.


Anwyay, without further adieu, my list:


AC/DC – Back in Black

Aerosmith – Toys in the Attic

Aerosmith – Rocks

Aerosmith – Rock in a Hard Place (this is a *very* underrated album among Aerosmith fans, in my opinion, probably since it was the only one without Joe Perry.  But Jimmy Crespo did a bang-up job in his role, and this album flat out rocks.  As an Amazon reviewer noted, it’s “criminally underrated.”)

Arena – The Visitor

The Beatles – Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Big Big Train – English Electric, Part 1

Big Big Train – The Underfall Yard

Black Sabbath – Paranoid

Black Sabbath – Sabotage

Black Sabbath – The Mob Rules

The Cult – Electric

The Cult – Sonic Temple

Days of the New I (sometimes referred to as ‘Yellow’)

Days of the New II (sometimes referred to as ‘Green’.  This album came out in autumn, 1999, around the time I was going through a divorce from my first wife. As you can imagine, I was a whirlwind of emotions.  This album both resonated with me and grounded me during that time.  It’s also spectacularly good).

Drive By Truckers – Southern Rock Opera

Drive By Trucker – The Dirty South (If you’ve ever lived south of the Mason-Dixon line for any extended length of time and like raw, gritty music, then these two albums are for you).

Emerson, Lake, and Palmer – Trilogy

Emerson, Lake, and Palmer – Brain Salad Surgery

Fleetwood Mac – Rumours (one of the best pop albums ever.  It showed that ‘pop’ and ‘quality’ need not be mutually exclusive.  I swear my opinion here is in no way swayed by the fact that Stevie Nicks was a strong celebrity crush of mine in the late ’70’s … no, really … ok, maybe a little)

The Flower Kings – Space Revolver

Gazpacho – Night

Genesis – Selling England by the Pound

Genesis – A Trick of the Tail

Genesis – Wind and Wuthering

Glass Hammer – Perilous

Grateful Dead, Charlotte, 3-23-1995 (This isn’t officially an album, but rather a bootleg recording of the only Grateful Dead show I ever attended.  While I was nothing close to being a Deadhead, it was a great show, and I can certainly understand why The Dead had so many dedicated fans.  One additional note – Bruce Hornsby sat in on piano that night).

Heart – Little Queen

Iron Maiden – Piece of Mind

Iron Maiden – Powerslave

Jane’s Addiction – Ritual de lo Habitual

Jefferson Airplane – The Worst of Jefferson Airplane (yes, a greatest hits album, but what a great collection of songs here).

Jethro Tull – Thick as a Brick

Jethro Tull – Warchild

Jethro Tull – Minstrel in the Gallery

Jethro Tull – Songs from the Wood

John Cougar Mellencamp – Scarecrow

Jon and Vangelis – Short Stories

Jon Anderson – Olias of Sunhillow

Jon Anderson – Song of Seven

Jon Anderson – Change We Must

Judas Priest – British Steel

Kansas – Leftoverture

Kansas – Point of Know Return

Kerry Livegren – Seeds of Change

King Crimson – In The Court of the Crimson King

Led Zeppelin – III

Led Zeppelin – IV

Led Zeppelin – Houses of the Holy

Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti

Led Zeppelin – Presence (It would seem strange to call a band as lauded as Led Zeppelin ‘underrated’, but I think the label applies.  They did music that falls into so many different genres, from bluesy music such as ‘When The Levee Breaks’, to prog-tinted stuff such as ‘Stairway to Heaven’, ‘Kashmir’ and ‘In The Light’, to folky stuff such as ‘The Battle of Evermore’ and ‘Gallows Pole’ to flat out rockers such as ‘Rock and Roll’ and ‘Out on the Tiles’ … and they did them all extremely well).

Lone Justice – their self-titled debut.  (Their cowpunk sound was a little bit ahead of it’s time, and if they had debuted in the mid-90’s or later when the alt-country wave hit, they might still be around.  Also, it’s entirely possible my opinion here is swayed a bit again by the celebrity crush thing, the object of which being lead singer Maria McKee)

Marillion – Script for a Jester’s Tear

Marillion – Clutching at Straws

Marillion – Brave (this was an album that didn’t click with me on the first few listens, and I set it aside.  Years later I picked it up again, gave it a good listen, and was blown away, wondering how I missed it the first time around.  A true masterpiece).

Montrose – their self-titled debut.

The Moody Blues – Days of Future Passed

Mother Love Bone – a self-titled album.  (One really wonders how music history would have been different if the lead singer of this Seattle-based band, the flamboyant Andrew Wood, hadn’t succumbed to his demons and died of a heroin overdose on the verge of releasing their debut album in 1990.  There almost certainly would have been no Pearl Jam, and I wonder if the grunge thing would have ever taken off, given that Mother Love Bone’s sound was nothing like that of the other bands of the same time and place).

Neil Young and Crazy Horse – Live Rust

Neil Young and Crazy Horse – Weld (both live albums, and thus compilations, but both are very good.  In fact, I think most of the songs on these albums sound better live than in the studio).

Paul Simon – Graceland

Pearl Jam – Vitalogy

Pete Townshend – Empty Glass

Pete Townshend – White City (a ridiculously underrated album)

Pink Floyd – Meddle

Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here

The Police – Syncrhonicity 

Porcupine Tree – Fear of a Blank Planet

Queen – News of the World

R.E.M. – Life’s Rich Pageant

Renaissance – Novella

Renaissance – Turn of the Cards

Riverside – Rapid Eye Movement (I thought of this album as pretty good when I first listened.  I’ve re-assessed lately, and now realize it’s great, the best of the ‘Reality Dream’ trilogy in my opinion).

Riverside – Anno Domini High Definition

The Rolling Stones – Some Girls

Rush – 2112

Rush – A Farewell to Kings

Rush – Hemispheres

Rush – Permanent Waves

Rush – Moving Pictures

Rush – Grace Under Pressure

Rush – Power Windows

Rush – Clockwork Angels

Rush – Exit Stage Left (a great live album)

Saga – World’s Apart

Simple Minds – Once Upon A Time (Another album that proved ‘pop’ and ‘quality’ need not be mutually exclusive.  This album had some exceptionally strong melodies).

Soundgarden – Badmotorfinger

Steve Hackett – Voyage of the Acolyte

Steve Hackett – Spectral Mornings

Tool – Lateralus

Tool – 10,000 Days

Trevor Rabin – Can’t Look Away

U2 – War

Van Halen – Fair Warning (another very underrated album)

Wang Chung – To Live and Die in LA Soundtrack

The Who – Tommy

The Who – Who’s Next

The Who – Quadrophenia

The Who – Who Are You

Yes – The Yes Album

Yes – Fragile

Yes – Close to the Edge

Yes – Going for the One

Yes – Drama

10 thoughts on “Yet Another Top Albums List

    1. eheter

      Thanks, Brad – i liked your list as well. And of course, some of those were albums you introduced to me. As for the beer, if you haven’t tried that particular strain of Shiner, you most definitely should.


  1. frankur

    I was with you most of the way but you lost me with Drama. I think the challenge is to balance old releases that provided the soundtrack for a part of your life, vs. the new stuff that reinforces the magic of this type of music. I listened to Ptree a ton during the early days up to In Absentia so they would have 3-4 releases and Tull less. Interesting list. As I posted on one of the other lists, for a contrast here is Greg Walker (progressive distributor-Symphonic and all round mr. prog) list which shows how much I have missed over the years:Anglagard – Epilog,
    Balletto Di Bronzo, Il – YS,
    Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso – Io Sono Nato Libero
    Camel – Moonmadness,
    Eloy – Floating,
    Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway,
    Gentle Giant – Octopus,
    Grobschnitt – Rockpommel’s Land (or Solar Music Live),
    Jethro Tull – Thick As A Brick,
    King Crimson – In The Wake Of Poseidon,
    Latte E Miele – Passio Secundum Mattheum,
    Locanda Delle Fate – Forse Le Lucciole Non Si Amano Pui,
    Magma – Mekanik Destructiw Kommandoh,
    Orme, Le – Felona E Sorona,
    Pink Floyd – Animals,
    Premiata Forneria Marconi – Per Un Amico,
    Pulsar – Halloween, Triana – same (a.k.a. El Patio),
    Van Der Graaf Generator – H To He Who I Am The Only One (or Pawn Hearts),
    Yes – Close To The Edge


    1. eheter


      Thanks for the feedback. My own circumstances probably affect my impression of Drama, as it was the first new release by Yes subsequent to me becoming a fan (in June 1979). I was quite pleased with what they had pulled off, particularly in the difficult circumstances in which it occurred. But to each his own.

      As far as Greg’s list goes, there are a number of artists I have not heard of and several more of whom I am aware but have not heard their music. Such is life in the current prog revival, as there is so much quality music coming out right now there is now way one person can keep up with it all. What a great problem to have though!


  2. I agree with your list for the most part (at least when it comes to the artists I’m familiar with). I’m glad you included ‘Going for the One’ by Yes along with their earlier “big three” as I call them. I didn’t care much for ‘Drama’ (no Jon Anderson, mainly) and I don’t care much for Yes’ work after ‘Going for the One’- too mainstream.

    I would also include on this list:

    ‘666’ by Aphrodites Child. A wonderful album that still sounds fresh. It’s sort of an underground iconic album, so to speak.

    ‘Tubular Bells’- Mike Oldfield

    ‘Phaedra’ by Tangerine Dream (even though it could be classified as electronic music rather than ‘prog’). It was their first and best album before they began writing movie soundtrack music.


  3. Pingback: Chwomp | Rolling Stone Readers’ Poll: 10 Best Metal/Rock Albums of the ’70s


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