Listening to all albums (at least once) in the 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die list. For the record, 1000 *pretty much anything* in an absurd undertaking.
Each album has a little background and any tracks I particularly enjoyed.
Great means the whole album was fantastic. Good albums have at least 6 songs I like. Honorable albums have at least 4 songs I like. Ranked as entire albums, not by artist or isolated tracks.
Great: Head Hunters (Herbie Hancock), Tubular Bells (Mike Oldfield), The Dark Side Of The Moon (Pink Floyd)
Good: The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie), The World Is A Ghetto* (War), Exile on Main Street** (The Rolling Stones), Aladdin Sane (David Bowie), Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (Elton John), Band On The Run (Wings), New York Dolls
Honorable: The Slider (T. Rex), Pink Moon (Nick Drake), School’s Out (Alice Cooper), Bongo Rock (Incredible Bongo Band), Catch A Fire (Bob Marley & The Wailers), For Your Pleasure (Roxy Music), A Wizard / A True Star (Todd Rundgren), Innervisions (Stevie Wonder), Next (Alex Harvey Band), Billion Dollar Babies (Alice Cooper), Raw Power (The Stooges), 3+3 (The Isley Brothers), Here Come The Warm Jets (Brian Eno), The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (Genesis), Fulfillingness’ First Finale (Stevie Wonder)
* 4/6 tracks
** Remastered version
#251 | Stephen Stills — Manassas
Produced with engineers available around the clock, the band in a nearby house, and marathon recording sessions — with Stills spending 106 hours in the studio on one occasion! On another occasion the band cut eight tracks in two days without sleep. Sills and Hillman got into a fight leading to regular hours. During mixing the Rolling Stone’s Bill Wyman co-wrote and played bass on The Love Gangster.
The album cover was taken where the Confederacy had claimed its first major victory at the Battle of Bull Run (Stills was a Civil War buff). The band was named after the photo.
- Jet Set (Sigh)
- The Treasure
- Blues Man
#252 | T. Rex — The Slider
Recorded in Paris to avoid British taxes on the recommendation of Elton John. Basic recording was completed in five days. Ringo Starr is credited with the cover photos (taken during his Born to Boogie documentary), but is disputed by the producer. The grainy image was a result of darkroom technician heating the chemical higher than recommended to shorten the processing time.
In 2012, a 40th Anniversary re-issue with a new remaster, B-sides, outtakes and an unheard demo of the title track. The set contains two CDs, an 180g pressing of the newly remastered album, singles vinyl, and DVD.
- Metal Guru
- Mystic Lady
- Rock On
- The Slider
- Ballrooms of Mars
#253 | David Ackles — American Gothic
- One Night Stand
- Another Friday Night
#254 — Eagles
The debug album helped popularize country rock. Producer Glyn Johns was not impressed with the band’s live performance and initially declined to be involved — changing his mind after a later rehearsal session. The album cost $125,000 to produce and was made under a no alcohol, no drug rule.
Nightingale was recorded behind John’s back and was included, even though he found it unsatisfactory. Initially designed as a gatefold album that would open up into a poster, but was deemed confusing so it was glued together — leading to the image of the band members orientated wrong side up…fitting since the band were all on peyote (in Joshua Tree) at the time!
- Take It Easy
- Witchy Woman
#255 | Tim Buckley — Greetings From L.A.
Possibly his best-selling album — with two different US pressings, each with removable postcard.
- Sweet Surrender
- Make It Right
#256 | Nick Drake — Pink Moon
Final studio album and only one released in North America during his lifetime. Recorded without a backing band — just Drake on vocals, an acoustic guitar, and a brief piano riff overdubbed onto the title track.
Made during Drake’s ongoing battle with depression (dying two years later), and with a running time of just over twenty-eight minutes. It was falsely rumored Drake dropped the album off in a plastic bag at Island Records’ reception and then left without anyone realizing. An acoustic recording of Plaisir d’amour (1784 French love song) was included but left off the album; eventually released hidden track in 2004.
Original album cover photos were not used due to Drake’s rapidly deteriorating appearance, so a surrealist artwork by Michael Trevithick (incidentally a friend of Drake’s sister) was used; the original was later presented to Drake’s parents.
In 1999, the title track was featured in a Volkswagen campaign, leading to a large increase in record sales and #5 on the Amazon sales chart. In 2001, Volkswagen gave all new Cabrio buyers a compilation CD which featured Pink Moon as the first track.
- Pink Moon
- Place To Be
- Things Behind The Sun
#257 | Paul Simon
Second solo studio, but first released in the US. Several songs on the album reference his rocky marriage to Peggy (née Harper), which later ended in divorce.
- Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard
- Hobo’s Blues
- Paranoia Blues
#258 | Roxy Music
Self-financed (£5,000) and recorded in a single week. The 1950s-style album cover features model Kari-Ann Muller, who later married Chris Jagger (brother of Mick). The album is dedicated to Susie, a drummer who auditioned for Roxy Music in the early days.
The track 2HB is a tribute to Humphrey Bogart and quoted the line “Here’s looking at you, kid”; Chance Meeting was inspired by the film Brief Encounter (1945); The Bob is named after Battle of Britain (1968).
- If There Is Something
# 259 | Alice Cooper — School’s Out
The original album cover opened like a wooden school desk, with the vinyl wrapped in a pair of panties — later discontinued as the paper panties were found to be flammable! The actual desk photographed is on display in the Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas.
- School’s Out
- Blue Turk
- My Stars
- Alma Mater
- Grande Finale
#260 | The Temptations — All Directions
According to group leader Otis Williams, the band resisted recording Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone and Run Charlie Run — the former winning three Grammys while the latter featured the lyrics “the niggers are comin’” sung in a causation accent.
- Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On
- Love Woke Me Up This Morning
- The First Time Ever (I Saw Your Face)
#261 | David Bowie — The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars
“Ziggy Stardust” is a loose concept album and rock opera about Bowie’s alter ego — an androgynous and bisexual alien rock star sent to Earth as a saviour. Shortly after release Bowie gained stardom after performing Starman on Top of the Pops.
Starman was added at the last minute after a record executive complained the album didn’t contain a single; it replaced a Chuck Berry cover of Around and Around. The name “Ziggy” was taken from a tailor shop and has a purposeful connotation to Iggy Pop.
The album cover was taken while Bowie was sick with the flu; it was raining and he didn’t want to go to far so chose that location. After the album’s success a solicitor for K. West sent an angry letter about being featured. The sign was taken down in 1991 and a commemorative plaque installed in 2012. The photo was taken in monochrome and recoloured (jumpsuit and hair colour). The rear of the album includes the instruction “to be played at maximum volume.”
Bowie said he had trouble differentiating between himself and Ziggy during the 18-month album tour, which was the start of a longtime cocaine addiction. The final show was filmed and released as Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars with accompanying soundtrack album Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture. A bootlegged Santa Monica radio broadcast was released in 2008 as Live Santa Monica ‘72.
In 2010, one of the “Classic Album Cover” stamps. Three songs were covered by Seu Jorge in Portuguese for the soundtrack to The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Ranked 35th on the Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of All Time and one of Time magazine’s 100 Best Albums of All Time. Selected for the Library of Congress.
- Five Years
- Moonage Daydream
- It Ain’t Easy
- Lady Stardust
- Ziggy Stardust
- Suffragette City
- Rock ’n’ Roll Suicide
#262 | War — The World Is A Ghetto
Billboard #1, Billboard Album of the Year, and best-selling album of 1973. In 2012, 40th anniversary re-release on CD with 4 previously unreleased bonus tracks.
- The Cisco Kid
- Four Cornered Room
- The World is a Ghetto
- Beetles in the Bog
#263 | Al Green — Let’s Stay Together
Peaking at number eight on the pop albums chart and the first of six albums to peak at number one (for ten weeks) on the soul album chart.
- Let’s Stay Together
- How Can You Mend a Broken Heart
#264 | The Rolling Stones — Exile On Main Street
The band’s first double album was recorded in the South of France in a mobile recording studio while tax evading a British government supertax on the rich. The drug-fuelled atmosphere (Richards was using heroin daily) resulted in chaotic recording sessions and diversion within the band. John Lennon, William S. Burroughs and Marshall Chess visited. Overdubs were added in LA by musicians such as Billy Preston and Dr. John.
A number one album in six countries (including the US and UK). Gospel arrangements were influenced by a visit to the church where Aretha Franklin was recording the live album Amazing Grace. The album cover is an outtake from Robert Frank’s 1958 book The Americans. The back cover was taken on LA’s Main Street. Twelve postcards inside the sleeve were taken at the Stone’s Bel Air mansion.
Casino Boogie lyrics were selected at random from torn pieces of paper and has never been played live. Sweet Black Angel is about civil rights activist Angela Davis. Happy features rare lead vocals from Keith Richards. Ventilator Blues one of two times Mick Taylor was given credit as guitarist. A demo of All Down the Line was given to an LA radio station so the the band could listen to it as they drove around. Shine a Light was written by founding member Brian Jones. Sweet Black Angel, Ventilator Blues, and Stop Breaking Down have only been played live only once; Let It Loose has never been played live.
In 2003, the album was ranked 7th (later dropping to 14th) on Rolling Stone’s 500 greatest albums of all time. In 2009, a remastered re-release (38 years later) reached number one in the UK and number two in the US! In 2012, the album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
The album name has been referenced by numerous bands such as Exile on Mainstream by Matchbox Twenty. Covers by Elton John, Green Day (Rip This Joint on Jimmy Fallon), Jack White, Sheryl Crow, The Black Crowes, Elvis Costello, Pussy Galore (complete album) and Phish (complete album). Referenced by the shows Californication and Supernatural; and films Casino, The Departed, Shine a Light, Beyond the Sea, and Knives Out.
* The original album sound quality is poor (even Jagger said is “sounds lousy”), the 2010 remaster is better.
- Rocks Off
- Rip This Joint
- Tumbling Dice
- Sweet Virginia
- Loving Cup
- Ventilator Blues
- Shine a Light
#265 | Lynyrd Skynyrd — (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-’nérd ‘Skin-’nérd)
The band perfected every song in a Florida “Hell House” (due to the heat) before recording such that no improvisation was allowed. The bassist left the band before recording and rejoined afterwards — just in time to be on the album cover. The producer thought Simple Man was to weak to be on the record so the band escorted him to his car and ordered him to remain there until the song was recorded!
Seconds after the cover photo was taken, guitarist Gary Rossington (seated middle) vomited on the sidewalk. The lightning strike in the sky wasn’t noticed until after the album was released! Ranked 381 on the Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (2020).
- Tuesday’s Gone
- Simple Man
- Free Bird
#266 | Michael Viner’s Incredible Bongo Band — Bongo Rock
Created by an MGM executive to supplement the soundtrack to the B-film The Thing With Two Heads. Many tracks were covers of popular songs and used MGM studio musicians.
Songs have been sampled in hip-hop, and drum and bass. Featured in a 2001 Acura commercial; theme song to the television program Atlantic Grand Prix Wrestling; documentaries Sample This (narrated by Gene Simmons) and Baseball: The 10th Inning; and used in the films Black Lightning and Baby Driver.
* Note: Available on Spotify as the first 8 tracks of the 40 Years of the Incredible Bongo Band.
- Let There Be Drums
- Last Bongo in Belgium
#267 | David Bowie — Aladdin Sane
Recorded in London New York between legs of the Ziggy Stardust Tour (most tracks were written between US shows), it is the final album with the full Spiders from Mars backing band. Many songs were inspired by the Rolling Stones and New York Dolls. Aladdin Sane is a pun on “A Lad Insane,” who Bowie described as “Ziggy Stardust goes to America.”
Aladdin Sane (1913–1938–197?) is often shortened to just “Aladdin Sane” and was inspired by the 1930 novel, Vile Bodies, which Bowie read during his trip back to the UK aboard the RHMS Ellinis. Panic in Detroit was inspired by Iggy Pop’s stories of the Detroit riots in 1967 and the rise of the White Panther Party. Time was banned by the BBC for the use of the word “wanking.” Let’s Spend the Night Together is a Rolling Stones cover.
In an effort to ensure RCA promoted the album extensively, Bowie’s manager was determined to make the cover as costly as possible. He insisted on an unprecedented seven-colour system, resulting in the most expensive cover art ever at the time! It represents the split personality of the Aladdin Sane character and Bowie’s mixed feelings of the tour and stardom. Despite being Bowie’s most iconic image, the shoot was the only time Bowie wore the design on his face!
Ranked 279 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (2012). Remastered in 1990, 1999, and 2013.
- Aladdin Sane
- Cracked Actor
- Let’s Spend the Night Together
- The Jean Genie
- Lady Grinning Soul
#268 | King Crimson — Larks’ Tongues In Aspic
Featured co-founder and guitarist Robert Fripp along with four new members. Heavily instrumental and with instrumentation such as chimes, bells, thumb pianos, musical saw, shakers, rattles, found objects (such as sheet metal, toys and baking trays), and the Mellotron.
- Easy Money
#269 | Bob Marley & The Wailers — Catch A Fire
After touring the band did not have enough money to return to Jamaica and did not have work permits, so their producer gave them an advance to fly back to Jamaica where they completed the recordings. A court case between record labels led to overdubs being added.
The original album was released (20,000 copies) as The Wailers in a Zippo lighter case, which opened in the middle to reveal the record; subsequent releases credited Bob Marley and the Wailers and featured a portrait of Marley smoking; the original photo was seized in a Jamaican police raid shortly after the album release and never returned!
Stir it Up was the first successful Marley song outside Jamaica and has been covered by Johnny Nash and The Black Sorrows.
In 1995, Ultradisc II release. In 2000, a documentary of the same name was released. In 2001, a special collection was released featuring the non-dubbed (“Jamaican version”) and overdubbed tracks. Listed at 126 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
- Concrete Jungle
- Slave Driver
- Stir It Up
- Kinky Reggae
- No More Trouble
#270 | Hawkwind — The Space Ritual Alive in Liverpool and London
Commonly known as Space Ritual, a continuous live tour performance designed to promote a follow-up album. A full audio-visual experience, the performance featured a programme (reproduced on the 1996 CD), stage set, dancers, light show, and poetry recitals.
Sonic Attack was written by sci-fi author Michael Moorcock who performed with the band. The original release featured edits and overdubs, but Space Ritual Volume 2 contains the full unedited versions. Remastered in 2007 and 2013.
- Down Through The Night
- Orgone Accumulator
#271 | John Cale — Paris 1919
The title references the 1919 Paris Peace Conference following the First World War. Between 2009 and 2013, Cale performed the album live in entirety around the world — including London, LA, Melbourne, Barcelona, New York and Paris.
- Paris 1919
#272 | Can — Future Days
The cover features a Psi sign and I Ching symbol (representing the classic Chinese Book of Changes).
#273 | Lou Reed — Berlin
Finishes the story of the couple from Berlin from Reed’s first solo album — reworking several songs of previous albums. Makes use of unused Velvet Underground material. A one-minute piano solo from the initial 8-track tape was removed and never featured on any other release.
A stage adaption was scrapped after poor sales and mixed reviews, but was resurrected in 2007 with a 30-piece band and choir; it was released on film as Berlin: Live at St. Ann’s Warehouse. During the performance Reed reinstated the lost piano solo.
Rolling Stone declared the album “a disaster” in 1973, but ranked in 344 in the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time in 2012.
- Lady Day
#274 | Genesis — Selling England By The Pound
The title was taken from the British Labour Party manifesto. During the album’s sessions Gabriel and Hackett developed a track named Déja Vu, which was released in 1996 on Genesis Revisited. The cover is The Dream by Betty Swanwick, who added the lawn mower later on suggestion from the band. Remastered in 1994 and 2007.
- Dancing with the Moonlit Knight
- Firth of Fifth
- After the Ordeal
#275 | Marvin Gaye — Let’s Get It On
Gaye’s first venture into funk, and his most successful Motown album — helping establish him as a sex icon. The change of musical style and production made an immediate impact on the subsequently successful Motown artists, including Lionel Richie and Rick James. The album also led to an increase in popularity of sexual themes in contemporary music.
Remained at the top of the Billboard Soul Albums for 11 weeks, becoming the best-selling soul album of 1973. Number 58 on Times’s 100 Best Albums of All Time (1993), 422 on the Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (2020). Remastered in 2001. In 2004, inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
- Let’s Get It On
- If I Should Die Tonight
- Keep Gettin’ In On
#276 | John Martyn — Solid Air
Recorded over eight days. In 2006, Martyn performed the album live and subsequently toured the UK. Remastered in 2000 and 2009. The cover demonstrates the solid nature of air.
I’d Rather Be the Devil is a cover of Devil Got My Woman. Eric Clapton covered May You Never on his album, Slowhand.
- Over The Hill
#277 | Roxy Music — For Your Pleasure
The last Roxy album to feature synthesiser and sound specialist Brian Eno. Various editions confuse the producer names. For Your Pleasure ends with the voice of Judi Dench.
The cover featured lead singer Bryan Ferry’s girlfriend at the time, singer and model Amanda Lear — protégée and closest friend of Salvador Dalí! Original pressings of the album featured a gatefold sleeve picturing all five band members posing with guitars.
- Do The Strand
- Beauty Queen
- In Every Dream Home A Heartache
- The Bogus Man
#278 | Faust — Faust IV
Recording sessions took too long so earlier material (Krautrock and It’s a Bit of a Pain) were used. The track numbering on the original CD contains a number of errors.
- Just A Second
- Giggy Smile
#279 | Herbie Hancock — Head Hunters
An artistic breakthrough, crossing over to funk and rock audiences and bringing jazz-funk fusion to the mainstream. All of the musicians, with the exception of the drummer, play multiple instruments. Used a clavinet instead of guitar at all.
The image on the album cover is based on the African kple kple mask of the Baoulé tribe from Ivory Coast. The image also references reel-to-reel audio tape recording equipment at the time.
The largest-selling jazz album of all time until 1976. Number 254 on the Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (2020). Added to the Library of Congress.
- Entire album
#280 | Mott The Hoople — Mott
The album featured different UK and US covers, as well as remastered tracks on some editions. Initial copies had a gatefold sleeve with the Augustus image printed on a transparent plastic sheet. Remastered in 2006. Number 370 on the Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (2012).
- Hymn for the Dudes
- I’m a Cadillac
#281 | Mike Oldfield — Tubular Bells
Mike Oldfield was 19 years old and played almost all the instruments on the mostly instrumental album using 274 overdubs, half-speed recording, and a Glorfindel effects box. The tubular bells in the studio were cracked during recording.
Recorded in Richard Branson’s Manor Studio after having dinner on Branson’s houseboat. Later Branson pressured Oldfield to deliver the album, and to include vocals on one of the tracks so he could release it as a single. Angered by Branson’s suggestion, Oldfield drank half a bottle of whiskey then “screamed his brains out for 10 minutes” into a microphone — causing him to loose his voice for two weeks! The recording was slowed down, producing the Piltdown Man vocals.
Branson wanted to title the album Breakfast in Bed and use a boiled egg image (later used for Heaven’s Open), which Oldfield rejected. The triangular “bent bell” on the front was inspired by the damage Oldfield had caused to the tubular bells while playing them on the record. Cover artist Trevor Key designed and constructed one, which he then photographed in his studio and superimposed on the beach backdrop. The bent bell has appeared on every sequel album and on classic album postage stamps.
The album was played live once at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. Oldfield was so nervous Brandon offered him his Bentley that he drove to the concert! Part One of the performance was later pre-recorded and aired on BBC. In 1974, won the Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition. In 2018, inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
In 1986, a Commodore 64 version was released. In 2004, music was used in a virtual reality project called Maestro. In 2012, a remix contest was help and judged by Oldfield.
An orchestral version was released in 1975 as The Orchestral Tubular Bells. For the album’s 30th anniversary, Oldfield re-recorded the album as Tubular Bells 2003 (narrated by John Cleese). A remastered edition was released in 2009 and promoted by a series of bell-ringing events on 6 June at 6pm — a reference to the Number of the Beast.
Extracts were played during the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony. Richard Branson named one of his first Virgin America aircraft Tubular Belle. Tori Amos frequently used the theme in her live show. A fringe production called Tubular Bells for Two attempts to recreate the album as faithfully as possible. Featured in the films The Exorcist and Space Movie.
- Entire album
#282 | Todd Rundgren — A Wizard, A True Star
Produced, engineered, and, with the exception of some tracks, entirely performed by Rundgren — it was one of the longest (56 minutes) single-disc LPs at the time, which reduced the sound quality. Heavily influenced by Rundgren’s hallucinogenic experiences with psychedelic drugs, it was recorded at a newly built Secret Sound in Manhattan.
An unconventionally-shaped album, it featured a surrealistic painting by Arthur Wood that included coded messages in the image, a poem by Patti Smith on a giant band-aid, and a postcard that promised to include names on the next album.
A technologically ambitious stage show was cancelled after about two weeks due to poor reception. In 2009, he toured Wizard for the first time playing the album in its entirety — complete with elaborate theatrical effects and numerous costume changes. Songs have been used in Daft Punk’s Electroma and Frank Ocean’s Blonde.
- Zen Archer
- When The Shit Hits The Fan
- Sometimes I Don’t Know What To Feel
#283 | Elton John — Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Written under the working titles of Vodka and Tonics and Silent Movies, Talking Pictures. The lyrics were written in two and half weeks, and most of the melodies in three days while staying at the Pink Flamingo Hotel in Kingston, Jamaica.
John wanted to record in Jamaica after the Rolling Stones had recorded Goats Head Soup there, but recording was moved to Château d’Hérouville in France after issues with the studio piano and sound system; logistical issues arising from the Joe Frazier-George Foreman boxing match; and political and economic protests. An unused version of Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting was recorded in Jamaica.
Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding were not written as one piece and are copyrighted individually with separate sheet music. They were joined by the musical key of A. The first part is music John wanted at his funeral.
Remastered in 1992, 1995, 2003 and 2004. Released as a 24 karat gold CD. Number 1 on the Billboard 200 for eight consecutive weeks; it was the 1974 best selling album in the US. Ranked number 112 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (2020). Inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame (2003) and has sold more than 20 million copies. Featured in the documentary Classic Albums: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.
- Funeral for a Friend (only)
- Candle In The Wind
- Bennie And The Jets
- Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
- I’ve Seen That Movie Too
- Sweet Painted Lady
- Dirty Little Girl
- Saturday Night’s Alright
- Roy Rogers
- Social Disease
#284 | Steely Dan — Countdown To Ecstasy
With new lead vocalist Donald Fagen, their only album written for a live band. The title a joke about attempts to rationalize a state of spirituality. The original cover was a painting was by Fagen’s girlfriend — which was changed after the record label president found the discrepancy between five band members and three figures on the cover unacceptable. The proofs for the cover were later stolen during a dispute over the final layout!
- Show Biz Kids
- King of the World
#285 | Pink Floyd — The Dark Side Of The Moon
One of the best-selling records of all time and top 25 best-selling albums in the US — one in every fourteen people in the US under the age of 50 is estimated to have owned a copy. Although it held the number one spot in the US for only a week, the album remained in the Billboard 200 albums chart for 736 nonconsecutive weeks (1973 to 1988)!
After discovering that title had already been used by another band it was temporarily changed to Eclipse, but changed back after the commercial failure of Medicine Head’s album. Dark Side of the Moon: A Piece for Assorted Lunatics, as it was then known, was performed for an assembled press more than a year before its release. Differences included the lack of synthesisers and Clare Torry’s vocals on The Great Gig in the Sky replaced by readings from the Bible.
Recorded at EMI Studios (now Abbey Road Studios) with staff engineer Alan Parsons, it made use of advanced studio techniques such 16-track mixes, tape loops, and analogue synthesisers. Sessions were frequently interrupted by Waters watching Arsenal football matches, or the band watching Monty Python’s Flying Circus on the television.
For the The Great Gig in the Sky, session musician Torry was given the concept but no explicit direction so she improvised. Her takes were then selectively edited to produce the version used on the track. She was paid £30 (£420 today). In 2004, she sued EMI and Pink Floyd for 50% of the songwriting royalties and settled out of court for an undisclosed sum, with all post-2005 pressings crediting Wright and Torry jointly.
Voices on the album were provided by staff and other studio occupants responding the printed flashcards. Several responses “I am not frightened of dying. Any time will do: I don’t mind. Why should I be frightened of dying? There’s no reason for it — you’ve got to go sometime” and closing words “there is no dark side in the moon, really. As a matter of fact it’s all dark” came from the studios’ doorman. Paul and Linda McCartney were also interviewed, but their answers were judged to be “trying too hard to be funny” and were not included; McCartneys’ Wings bandmate Henry McCullough contributed the line “I don’t know, I was really drunk at the time.”
The cover design was inspired by a photograph of a prism with a colour beam projected through it from a photography book — as well as by album cover inventor Alex Steinweiss’ illustration for the New York Philharmonic. The band were so confident of the quality of Waters’ lyrics that, for the first time, they printed them on the album’s sleeve.
As the quadraphonic mix of the album was not then complete, the band (with the exception of Wright) boycotted the press reception held at the London Planetarium. The guests were instead presented with a quartet of life-sized cardboard cut-outs of the band, and the stereo mix of the album played over a poor-quality public address system!
Remastered in 1979, 1992 and 2003. The 20th anniversary box set cover was designed by Storm Thorgerson (who designed the original cover) and on some pressings a faintly audible orchestral version of the Beatles’ Ticket to Ride can be heard after Eclipse.
Certified 14 times platinum in the UK with an estimated worldwide sales of over 45 million copies. In 2012, added to the Library of Congress. Number 55 on the Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Dark Side of the Rainbow and Dark Side of Oz are used to refer to an online observation of the synchronicities when the album is simultaneously played alongside The Wizard of Oz. Featured in the documentary Classic Albums: The Making of The Dark Side of the Moon. Phish performed a semi-improvised version of the entire album as part of their show in 1998.
- Entire album
#286 | Stevie Wonder — Innervisions
Hugely influential on the sound of commercial soul and black music. Won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, Best Engineered Non-Classical Recording, and Best R&B Song. In 1999, inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Number 34 on the Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (2020).
Living for the City was one of the first soul music songs to deal explicitly with systemic racism and to incorporate everyday sounds of the street. All in Love Is Fair was a hit cover for Barbra Streisand in 1974.
Scheduled for a five-week tour, but three days after the commercial release a car accident (a log from a truck smashed through the windshield) left Wonder with a severe brain contusion — he was in coma for ten days. The tour was postponed with the exception of one concert at Madison Square Garden.
- Living For The City
- Golden Lady
- Higher Ground
- All In Love Is Fair
#287 | ZZ Top — Tres Hombres
For over 20 years a controversial remix (significantly changed sound) was the only available version; the original mix was made available in 2006.
Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers was covered by Motörhead. Jesus Just Left Chicago has been performed over 80 times in concert by Phish. La Grange reached number 41 on the Billboard Hot 100. Number 490 in the Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (2003).
- Jesus Just Left Chicago
- La Grange
#288 | Wings — Band On The Run
McCartney’s most successful and most celebrated post-Beatles album. Number 418 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (2012). In 2013, inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
Mostly recorded in Nigeria, where the studio was of poor quality and conditions were tense and difficult (robbed at knifepoint losing a bag of song lyrics and song tapes, publicly accused of exploiting African music). Upon returning to London, the McCartneys received a letter from EMI dated before the band had left warning them not to travel to Lagos due to an outbreak of cholera.
Shortly before recording both the drummer and guitarist left the group. With no time to recruit replacements, McCartney went into the studio with just his wife Linda and Denny Laine. McCartney therefore played bass, drums, percussion and most of the lead guitar parts.
Band on the Run was partly inspired by a remark by George Harrison. Jet was named after one of the McCartneys’ Labrador puppies. Early versions of the Capitol release fail to list Helen Wheels, making the song a hidden track.
The cover features a photo of the band (McCartney, Linda and Laine) plus Michael Parkinson, Kenny Lynch, James Coburn, Clement Freud, Christopher Lee and John Conteh. Reissued in 1993, 1996, 1999 and 2010.
- Band On The Run
- Mrs Vanderbilt
- Let Me Roll It
- Picasso’s Last Words
- Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five
#289 | The Sensational Alex Harvey Band — Next
- Gang Bang
- Giddy Up A Ding Dong
- Vambo Marble Eye
- The Last Of The Teenage Idols
#290 | Alice Cooper — Billion Dollar Babies
The best-selling Alice Cooper record at the time of release. Number one on the US and UK charts, it went on to be certified platinum. The longest (40 minutes 51 seconds) band studio album.
After release, the band embarked on a 90-day, 64 concert, 59 city tour that broke US box office records. Live performances featured Cooper wearing a costume with fake blood stains at the crotch, tearing apart baby dolls, attacking mannequins, and being decapitated by a guillotine. Around 50 people were employed and 26,000 pounds of equipment in two semi-trailers were used.
- Hello Hooray
- Billion Dollar Babies
- Generation Landslide
- Sick Things
- I Love The Dead
#291 | The Stooges — Raw Power
Credited as Iggy and the Stooges. A pioneering punk rock album that inspired members of the Sex Pistols, The Smiths, Sonic Youth, Mötley Crüe, Red Hot Chili Peppers — plus Henry Rollins and Kurt Cobain, who wrote in his journals numerous times that Raw Power was his favourite album of all time.
Initial demo sessions were rejected by the band’s management. Iggy produced and mixed the album by himself, but botched his attempt requiring David Bowie step in and do the mixing — which he completed in a single day. Bowie also tamed Iggy’s heroin addiction.
The cover photograph was taken by rock music photographer Mick Rock. In 1993, low-fidelity copies of the original mixes were released as Rough Power. In 1997, Iggy remixed a new version.
Featured in the documentary film Raw Power. Notable covers have been preformed by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Def Leppard, Guns N’ Roses’, Ewan McGregor (for the film Velvet Goldmine). Covers have also featured in the video games Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2, Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland, and Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty!
- Search and Destroy
- Gimme Danger
- I Need Somebody
#292 | The Isley Brothers — 3+3
The band walked in on Stevie Wonder recording Don’t You Worry ‘bout a Thing (recording at the same studio). Number 464 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
- That Lady
- You Walk Your Way
- Listen to the Music
- Summer Breeze
- The Highways of My Life
#293 | New York Dolls
Debut album with producer Todd Rundgren, who was known for his lukewarm opinion of the band. He was criticised for the mixing, which was done in less than half a day. Rundgren contributed to the background vocals heard on Trash, and played synthesizers on Vietnamese Baby and Frankenstein.
During recording the band dressed in their usual flashy clothes. With limited studio time and no concept in mind, the band recorded songs that were popular at their live shows. During touring the band developed a reputation for rock-star excesses, including drugs, groupies, trashed hotel rooms, and public disturbances.
The controversial cover featured the band dressed in exaggerated drag for shock value. An ad slogan for the release read “Introducing The New York Dolls: A Band You’re Gonna Like, Whether You Like It Or Not.” Number 213 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (2003).
- Personality Crisis
- Lonely Planet Boy
- Bad Girl
- Subway Train
- Jet Boy
#294 | Brian Eno — Here Come The Warm Jets
Eno enlisted sixteen guest musicians to play on the album, who were invited on the basis that he thought they were musically incompatible with each other! He directed the musicians by using body language and dancing, as well as through verbal suggestion. The album credits Eno with instruments such as “snake guitar”, “simplistic piano” and “electric larynx.” Some tracks were heavily mixed and bear little resemblance to what was recorded.
The cover features a teapot by Eno’s girlfriend and an erotic playing card of a woman urinating.
- Baby’s On Fire
- Driving Me Backwards
- Blank Frank
- Dead Fink’s Don’t Talk
- Here Come The Warm Jets
#295 | Bad Company
The album reached the top of the US Billboard 200. Certified five times platinum.
- Ready for Love
#296 | Genesis — The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway
The band’s longest album to date (23 tracks, 1 hour 34 minutes). Brian Eno add synthesised effects on his vocals on several tracks, which are credited with “Enossification.”
The cover depicts the story character, Rael, in the area where In the Rapids and Riding the Scree are set. Remastered in 1994 and 2008. No complete performance of the album has been officially released.
The 102-date concert tour across North America and Europe was delayed after guitarist Steve Hackett severed a tendon in his hand. The tour featured a double-neck Rickenbacker and the largest drum kit ever used by Collins. The stage show involved three backdrop screens that displayed 1,450 slides from eight projectors and a laser lighting display. Other stage effects included inflatable genitalia from a penis-shaped tube, a dummy of Peter Gabriel (for the last concert a roadie replaced the dummy wearing only a leather jacket), and a vanishing act.
- The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway
- Broadway Melody of 1974
- Back in N.Y.C.
- The Chamber of 32 Doors
- The Waiting Room
#297 | Shuggie Otis — Inspiration Information
Otis produced and performed most of its instrumental parts, taking three years to finish. Featuring newer sounds through utilisation of analog drum machines. Reissued in 2001 and 2013.
- Things We Like To Do
#298 | Stevie Wonder — Fulfillingness’ First Finale
At the 17th Annual Grammy Awards, it won in three categories, including Wonder’s second consecutive win for Album of the Year.
Wonder performed They Won’t Go When I Go at Michael Jackson’s memorial service; it has been covered by George Michael, Josh Groban, Kanye West and Chance the Rapper.
- Boogie On Reggae Woman
- You Haven’t Done Nothin’
- It Ain’t No Use
- They Won’t Go When I Go
- Please Don’t Go
#299 | Eric Clapton — 461 Ocean Boulevard
Clapton’s return to the recording studio after a three-year hiatus due to heroin addiction. The title refers to the address where Clapton lived while recording the album.
Reissued in 1988, 1996 and 2004. In 2003, Clapton’s version of I Shot the Sheriff was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
- Motherless Children
- Willie and the Hand Jive
- I Shot the Sheriff
#300 | Kraftwerk — Autobahn
Most of the album is taken up by the 22-minute Autobahn; a three and a half minute single version of “Autobahn” became an international hit song. The original painted cover was replaced with the blue-and-white motorway logo from the UK release.