Review: 100 Best Albums of All Time

What do Arctic Monkeys’ Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, Green Day’s American Idiot and The Smiths’ The Queen Is Dead have in common? All are feted as among the best long players ever in the new book The 100 Best Albums of All Time by Toby Creswell and Craig Mathieson.

Anita Awbi
  • By Anita Awbi
  • 5 Aug 2013
  • min read
It is always considered a brave move when a book, TV programme or poll decrees the 100 best albums of all time.  But experienced authors Creswell and Mathieson have certainly done their research for this one and the results are an enthralling journey through the vaults of popular music.

Behind the scenes stories and in-depth analysis are complemented with track listings and album cover art.  And the fact that the authors are Australian music journalists helps add an interesting viewpoint.

It may come as no surprise to hear that the top ten includes classic albums by The Beatles (Revolver), Fleetwood Mac (Rumours) and Bob Dylan (Highway 61 Revisited).  However, the book is certainly not without its eyebrow-raising moments with some interesting inclusions and omissions further down the rankings.

New wave act Devo make it on to the list in 59th position with their 1978 album Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!  It may not have set the charts alight on its release, but it has certainly appreciated in value with critics over the years.  Meanwhile Australian band Midnight Oil, known in the UK mainly for their hit Beds Are Burning, make a surprise showing in 83rd position with 1987’s Diesel and Dust.

Thankfully, female artists have not been jettisoned as is sometimes the case with this type of book. Joni Mitchell’s Blue and Kate Bush’s Hound of Love among those included.  Elsewhere, The Pretenders and Blondie, fronted respectively by the effortlessly cool Chrissie Hynde and Debbie Harry, both rightly appear in the top 100.

Pure pop is somewhat overlooked though, meaning there is no room for Madonna’s Like a Prayer, ABBA’s Arrival or The Human League’s Dare despite their status as classic albums.  And even Michael Jackson’s Thriller has to settle for an arguably low 27th position.

However, one of the main reasons people love books like this is because it is always interesting to compare your own personal list to that of the experts.  After all, an element of controversy is always a good thing and can only stoke healthy musical debate!

Published by Hardie Grant Books on 1 September 2013.

Words: Russell Iliffe, PRS for Music