Even for someone like me, who’s been obsessively making lists for just about ever, this wasn’t easy. For one thing, I’d never really done it for anything pre-1980, and for another, I was born just a couple of years prior to the British Invasion, which pretty much kicked off what I consider the music that I love.
I decided to use my previous lists as a guide, but if something I thought was aces in 1989 hasn’t really held up, I’ve gone with something else that I still love every time I hear it.
While I was doing this, other things came to mind: my favorite years were 1967, 1980, 1987, 1991 & 1994; years where any of the top 4 or 5 records I love more than the top record from years like 1974, 1990 or 1999 or 2004. Also, apparently, 1962, was the worst year ever for music, because I think that Dylan’s debut is way way way down in his canon.
Most frustrating was a year like 1975, where epochal records like Physical Graffitti or Born to Run — absolute all-time classics which I still love — get edged out when they would have stomped either the year before or the year prior.
That said, as the digital encroachment and reissue dates made the actual year something was released a bit amorphous, I was able to cheat a bit to cover up a weak-ass 2000 and leverage a strong 2001.
And finally, I’ve resisted the temptation to use the U.K. release date (December 1979) of London Calling just to get Boy, or Pretenders — both of which I loved more at the time — not to mention I Just Can’t Stop It or Underwater Moonlight, which have never gotten old, even for a second, on this list.
But, you know, London Calling.
In any event, here is my list:
- 1962: Bob Dylan – Bob Dylan
- 1963: James Brown – Live at the Apollo
- 1964: John Coltrane – A Love Supreme
- 1965: Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited
- 1966: Bob Dylan – Blonde on Blonde
- 1967: The Velvet Underground & Nico – The Velvet Underground and Nico
- 1968: The Rolling Stones – Beggars Banquet
- 1969: The Rolling Stones – Let it Bleed
- 1970: The Kinks – Lola Vs. Powerman & The Moneygoround Pt 1
- 1971: The Who – Who’s Next
- 1972: The Rolling Stones – Exile on Main Street
- 1973: The Who – Quadrophenia
- 1974: Bob Marley & The Wailers – Burnin’
- 1975: Bob Dylan – Blood on the Tracks
- 1976: Led Zeppelin – Presence
- 1977: The Sex Pistols – Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols
- 1978: The Clash – Give Em’ Enough Rope
- 1979: The Clash – The Clash
- 1980: The Clash – London Calling
- 1981: X – Wild Gift
- 1982: The Dream Syndicate – The Days of Wine and Roses
- 1983: R.E.M. – Murmur
- 1984: The Replacements – Let it Be
- 1985: Bob Dylan – Biograph
- 1986: The Jesus and Mary Chain – Psychocandy
- 1987: Hüsker Dü – Warehouse: Songs & Stories
- 1988: Public Enemy – It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
- 1989: The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses
- 1990: The Pixies – Bossanova
- 1991: Nirvana – Nevermind
- 1992: R.E.M – Automatic For The People
- 1993: Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream
- 1994: Hole – Live Through This
- 1995: Oasis – What’s The Story, Morning Glory?
- 1996: Beck – Odelay
- 1997: Whiskeytown – Strangers Almanac
- 1998: Billy Bragg & Wilco – Mermaid Ave.
- 1999: Magnetic Fields – 69 Love Songs
- 2000: Whiskeytown – Pneumonia (Napster Version)
- 2001: Bob Dylan – “Love & Theft”
- 2002: Drive-by Truckers – Southern Rock Opera (reissue)
- 2003: The Wrens – The Meadowlands
- 2004: The Arcade Fire – Funeral
- 2005: The Hold Steady – Separation Sunday
- 2006: The Hold Steady – Boys & Girls in America
- 2007: The Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
- 2008: Drive-by Truckers – Brighter Than Creation’s Dark