200. The Breeders, ‘The Last Splash’ (1993) 4AD.
A strange album for a million-seller, ‘Last Splash’ oscillates between poised pop (‘Divine Hammer’, ‘Cannonball’), country shuffles (‘Drivin’ On 9’) and surf-rock instrumentals (‘Flipside’, ‘SOS’).
199. The Boo Radleys, ‘Giant Steps’ (1993) Creation.
A band whose career was killed by an unrepresentatively chipper hit single, it’s easy to forget that this post-shoe groundbreaker that boasted the brilliant ‘Lazarus’.
198. Prince, ‘Sign O’ The Times’ (1987) Paisley Park.
A classic double album that’s dazzling in its eclecticism, ‘Sign…’ started out life as a triple set. It also contained a number of songs written for Prince’s pitched-up alter-ego Camille.
197. AC/DC, ‘Back In Black’ (1980) Atlantic.
“The apex of heavy metal art,” was how David Fricke described this. And despite being built on big dumb riffing and much double entendre, it’s now the second-highest selling album ever.
196. The Stranglers, ‘Rattus Norvegicus’ (1977) United Artists.
“Sometimes I want to smack your face” was this album’s charming opening statement. There’s more chauvinism on the arse-admiring ‘Peaches’, but also an angular, proggy sensibility.
195. The Beatles, ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ (1964) Parlophone.
Miles Kane: ” There’s loads of great songs on it like ‘Things We Said Today’, that’s a tune! But there’s loads of others on there; ‘If I Fell’, that’s brilliant. I wish I’d made it, and met a model girlfriend on set like George Harrison did.”
194. Guns N’Roses, ‘Appetite For Destruction’ (1987) Geffen.
Dizzee Rascal: “It’s a wicked blend of soulful rock’n’roll, but with the hardest, grungiest shit. They have the high-pitched singing against rough, gritty music; Guns N’Roses are the perfect medium between hard and soulful. They have some of the best music ever made.”
193. Ryan Adams, ‘Gold’ (2001) Lost Highway.
Like a bar-room jukebox playing ’70s favourites (Allmans, The Band, The Eagles), Gold came packed with familiar rootsy tropes, but there’s also a whimsical homage to Sylvia Plath.
192. Franz Ferdinand, ‘Franz Ferdinand’ (2004) Domino.
Their stated intention was to “make records to make girls dance” and despite the most unlikely source materials – Orange Juice, Josef K – Franz’s funksome debut worked the nation’s Club NMEs like a charm.
191. Elastica, ‘Elastica’ (1995) Deceptive.
Two Wire songs (‘Three Girl Rhumba’, ‘I Am The Fly’) and The Stranglers’ ‘No More Heroes’ provided much of the riffing here, but the attitude is pure ’90s Good Mixer.
190. Pink Floyd, ‘The Piper At The Gates of Dawn’ (1967) EMI.
“I nearly shit myself – by Christ it was loud”: that’s how Pink Floyd’s engineer recalls hearing the band for the first time. Here their extended freakouts met Syd Barrett’s more childlike whimsy.
189. Todd Rundgren, ‘A Wizard, A True Star’ (1973) Bearsville.
Todd’s “cosmic calling card to the universe” was a kaleidoscope of psychedelic prog-glam (with occasional white soul diversions). Reportedly recorded on mushrooms, naturally.
188. John Coltrane, ‘A Love Supreme’ (1964) Impulse!
Clear-sighted and newly off the dope, the angry sax blowing on Coltrane’s three-track epiphany became the soundtrack to the civil rights movement.
187. My Bloody Valentine, ‘Isn’t Anything’ (1988) Creation.
Inventing shoegazing as effortlessly as ‘Loveless’ would destroy it, MBV’s debut album proper was a brutally hazy, disorientating delight.
186. Jay-Z, ‘The Blueprint’ (2001) Roc-A-Fella.
“I’m the Sinatra of my day,” rapped Hova, as he effortlessly rewrote the rulebook on modern-age rapping. Also introduced the world to beats by a young Kanye West, and a coterie of melodic smurfs.
185. Paid in Full, ‘Eric B & Rakim’ (1987) 4th & B’way.
Often cited as the album which defined modern hip-hop, ‘Paid In Full’ is packed with James Brown samples, while Rakim is a past master at rapping about rapping.
184. MIA, ‘Kala’ (2007) XL.
With vocal contributions from Keralan fishermen and Aboriginal street kids, Kala comes on like a global block party, anchored by MIA’s deadpan vocals.
183. OutKast, ‘Speakerboxxx/The Love Below’ (2003) LaFace.
A double album split evenly between Big Boi (Speakerboxxx) and Andre 3000 (The Love Below), this is a riot of ideas worthy of its tag as hip-hop’s White Album.
182. Manic Street Preachers, ‘Everything Must Go’ (1996) Epic.
The stately post-Richey ’90s benchmark wherein orchestras crashed like freedom fighters over the barricades on ‘A Design For Life’ and of Sunday-supplement war photography came under fire on ‘Kevin Carter’.
181. Boards of Canada, ‘Music Has The Right To Children’ (1998) Warp.
Inspired by the test-card music and featuring samples of old VHS movies Boards Of Canada’s second album is a subtle, playful meditation on childhood.
180. X-Ray Spex, ‘Germfree Adolescents’ (1978) EMI.
Unique among first-generation punkers for having an (admittedly discordant) saxophone in the lineup, X-Ray Spex railed against consumerism and identity politics.
179. Missy Elliott, ‘Miss E… So Addictive’ (2001) Elektra.
And she was addictive, as long as she kept turning out irrepressible rap pop like ‘Get Ur Freak On’ and ‘One Minute Man’.
178. The Coral, ‘The Coral’ (2002) Deltasonic.
From the opener ‘Spanish Main’, which cast them as scallydelic pirates, The Coral’s debut was a magpie pick’n’mix of psych-pop treasures.
177. Mogwai, ‘Young Team’ (1997) Chemikal Underground.
Kele Okereke: “This was the first time I realised how powerful instrumental music could be. I had mainly been listening to more traditional British guitar music up until I heard this, but ‘Young Team’ sent me on a different path.”
176. Rufus Wainwright, ‘Want One’ (2003) DreamWorks.
Lush, baroque and stirringly ambitious, the pizzicato strings and massed tubas of ‘Want One’ come across like a metrosexual Brian Wilson.
175. David Bowie, ‘Young Americans’ (1975) RCA.
After Ziggy Stardust, Bowie’s next persona was as a purveyor of “plastic soul”. Slickly funky, it contains contributions from the young Luther Vandross and David Sanborn.
174. Bright Eyes, ‘I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning’ (2005) Saddle Creek.
Conor Oberst at his most saccharine, ‘…Wide Awake…’ merged political protest, tremblesome romance and bawling heartache to enthralling alt.country effect.
173. Led Zeppelin, ‘Led Zeppelin III’ (1970) Atlantic.
Conceived in a Welsh cottage without electricity, it’s no surprise that Led Zep’s third album went back to basics, with Davey Graham, Bert Jansch and John Fahey looming large.
172. Stevie Wonder, ‘Songs In The Key Of Life’ (1976) Tamla.
A double album with an extra four-song EP, Wonder’s celebrated recording was the work of over 100 musicians, including Herbie Hancock and George Benson.
171. Talking Heads, ‘Fear Of Music’ (1979) Sire.
Dadaist nonsense lyrics and a lot of repetition: Brian Eno drove a Record Plant truck round to Chris Frantz and Tina Weynouth’s loft to catch Talking Heads on the cusp of greatness.
170. The Smashing Pumpkins, ‘Siamese Dream’ (1993) Virgin.
Perfume Genius: ”They played ‘Today’ on the radio station that I listened to and I was obsessed with it, like the first chords and everything. It was the perfect teenager album.”
169. Dexy’s Midnight Runners, ‘Don’t Stand Me Down’ (1985) Mercury.
Often cited as a “lost album”, Dexys’ third album is Kevin Rowland’s best work, musing on national identity, the state of radio and myriad attempts to distil “what she’s like”.
168. Portishead, ‘Dummy’ (1994) Go! Discs.
Jamie Smith, The xx: “It influenced a lot of the stuff that I’ve done to date, and it was one of the first electronic albums that inspired me. I must have been about 10 when I got it.”
167. Aretha Franklin, ‘Lady Soul’ (1968) Atlantic.
Blue-chip guests (Bobby Womack King Curtis, Eric Clapton), the FAME Studio sessioneers and the cool production heads of Tom Dowd and Jerry Wexler helped Aretha truly arrive.
166. Pulp, ‘This Is Hardcore’ (1998) Island.
….or alternatively Britpop: The Comedown. Jarvis Cocker turns his unflinching eye from acrylic afternoons to long dark nights of the soul on this uncompromising epic.
165. Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, ‘Let Love In’ (1994) Mute.
The Bad Seeds were at their most high gothic here: all primal drums, churchy organ and spooked guitar, with Cave at his blood-curdling best.
164. Johnny Cash, ‘At Folsom Prison’ (1968) Columbia.
Undoubtedly the only live album to be recorded at 9.40 in the morning, Johnny Cash cemented his outlaw status with an uncompromising set in front of 2,000 inmates.
163. Neu!, ‘Neu!’ 75 (1975) Brain.
A game of two halves: side one was recorded as the original Neu! duo, with drummer Klaus Dinger switching to guitar and vocals on side two. The result was a big influence Bowie and the punks.
162. The National, ‘Boxer’ (2007) Beggars Banquet.
Twelve tales of domestic despair from lyricist and vocalist Matt Berninger increasingly feted as his generation’s Morrissey.
161. Arcade Fire, ‘The Suburbs’ (2010) Mercury.
A sprawling 16 tracks of Bruce Springsteen narrative given the throbbing Depeche Mode synth treatment.
160. Primal Scream, ‘XTRMNTR’ (2000) Creation.
The first Scream album to feature Mani throughout also marked the arrival of My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields. Agitprop never sounded so motorik.
159. Gang Of Four, ‘Entertainment!’ (1979) EMI.
Incorporating funk and reggae into punk, Entertainment! was a massive influence on the entire funk-punk generation. And Flea from Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
158. Wild Beasts, ‘Two Dancers’ (2009) Domino.
Unabashedly artful, unashamedly lusty pop, topped by the falsetto vocals of Hayden Thorpe.
157. The Jesus And Mary Chain, ‘Psychocandy’ (1985) Blanco Y Negro.
A record which set the template for the next generation of guitar bands (My Bloody Valentine, Pixies), a template which read: more feedback.
156. Spiritualized, ‘Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space’ (1997) Dedicated.
Ben Goldwasser, MGMT: “This album is so precise and everything on it sounds amazing; it’s arranged so nicely. Jason Pierce is a genius. We met him. He’s really nice and he had enormous sunglasses. I was expecting him to be intense, but he was just a nice guy.”
155. The Prodigy, ‘Music For The Jilted Generation’ (1994) XL.
Rou Reynolds, Enter Shikari “My uncle said, ‘Listen to this, it’s like nothing you’ve ever heard before!’ I remember almost being scared listening to it. My uncle was right. It was like nothing I’d ever imagined. It blew my mind completely.”
154. PJ Harvey, ‘To Bring You My Love’ (1995) Island.
The recruitment of Flood marked Harvey’s “first venture into production”. The result was rich in Bible imagery and nods to Beefheart.
153. The La’s, ‘The La’s’ (1990) Go! Discs.
This Merseybeat gem took as many as seven producers and even then was famously hated by the band’s notoriously perfectionist frontman, Lee Mavers.
152. Mercury Rev, ‘Deserter’s Songs’ (1998) V2.
The New York state band were falling apart and made this glorious, widescreen alt.psych record for themselves. It’s cut to 35mm film tape to sound “intentionally weird”.
151. PJ Harvey, ‘Dry’ (1992) Too Pure.
There was more than a touch of the cult-rock /Carrie/ about PJ Harvey’s debut, the gorey, violent coming-of-age of a supernatural talent.
150. The Streets, ‘Original Pirate Material’ (2002) 679/Locked On.
Not quite British rap, not quite UK garage, Mike Skinner’s debut sketched a new, and commercially viable, direction for English urban music.
149. Elliott Smith, ‘Either/Or’ (1997) Kill Rock Stars.
Although it didn’t trouble the charts on release, the haunted home-made Americana of ‘Either/Or’ was the album that propelled the troubled Smith to worldwide fame.
148. Bruce Springsteen, ‘Nebraska’ (1982) Columbia.
Little more than four-track home demos, ‘Nebraska’ proved that a Springsteen song didn’t need 48-track mixing desks and three years to define his blue-collar hardships.
147. Frank Ocean, ‘Channel Orange’ (2012) Def Jam.
This acclaimed debut will have profound resonance, Ocean’s openness about his sexuality helping hip-hop culture confront its latent prejudice problem.
146. At The Drive-In, ‘Relationship Of Command’ (2000) Universal.
ATDI’s sound was the logical progression of straight-edge through emo, and their final album paved the way for post-hardcore bands to have mainstream hits.
145. The Zombies, ‘Odyssey And Oracle’ (1968) CBS.
Paul Weller: “It’s one of my all-time favourite records. When it came out in 1968 this type of music was completely unheralded. It’s very English, with wistful melodies.”
144. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, ‘Are You Experienced’ (1967) Track.
It would be Woodstock that made the guitar virtuoso a superstar, but this debut built Hendrix’s legend.
143. Bob Dylan, ‘Desire’ (1976) Columbia.
He hired a violin player he saw walking down the street, and wrote a song about an ex-boxer charged with murder. Dylan was never less predictable.
142. Serge Gainsbourg, ‘Histoire De Melody Nelson’ (1971) Phillips.
Lushly orchestrated, lazily funky, sleazily louche, Gainsbourg’s 1971 record – not quite half-an-hour long – is a lauded if somewhat discomfiting touchstone.
141. ‘Bob Marley And The Wailers, ‘Natty Dread’ (1974) Island.
Widely considered to be the greatest reggae album of all time, ‘Natty Dread’ positioned Marley as both groundbreaking musician and socio-political icon.
140. Nick Drake, ‘Bryter Layter’ (1970) Island.
Often pigeonholed as an incorrigible miserablist, Drake’s second album of psychedelic folk-pop is often breezy and joyous.
139. The Cure, ‘Disintegration’ (1989) Fiction.
Already an established if unlikely pop act, The Cure’s towering gothic centrepiece turned them into an international stadium-rock super-brand thanks to ‘Pictures Of You’, ‘Lovesong’ and the ultra-creepy ‘Lullaby’.
138. Sufjan Stevens, ‘Illinoise’ (2005) Rough Trade.
Sufjan’s sublime baroque alt-folk in thrall to the UFO sightings, serial killers and Supermen of the title state, set the bar for quirky Americana.
137. Blur, ‘Blur’ (1997) Food/Parlophone.
Shedding Britpop’s taint for narcotic rock thrills, ‘Song 2’ was supposed to take the piss out of grunge and its fans: instead, it became their new anthem.
136. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, ‘Fever To Tell’ (2003) Polydor/Interscope.
The New York 21st-century garage-rock trio’s debut cemented claims to greatness made on their early EPs.
135. Eminem, ‘The Marshall Mathers LP’ (2000) Interscope.
Dev Hynes: ”I remember when it came out – I got a copy of it from a friend who I used to skate with, he burned it for me. I listened to it non-stop. I’m still surprised at how many people really liked it. It was so big – you couldn’t avoid it.”
134. PJ Harvey, ‘Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea’ (2000) Island.
Her first Mercury Prize-winning album found Polly Harvey at her most accessible and sonically polished, but still questing, adventurous, stridently individual.
133. John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, ‘John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band’ (1970) EMI.
The result of primal scream therapy, Lennon’s solo debut, overshadowed by the ghost of his mother, was a harrowing and brave splaying of political, social, religious and personal truths.
132. Pink Floyd, ‘The Dark Side Of The Moon’ (1973) EMI/Capitol.
Languid backbeats, chiming clocks, serpentine guitar lines and spacious production meet the occasional bit of legendary prog song-writing. Stoners’ lives would never be the same again.
131. Michael Jackson, Thriller (1982) Epic.
Ed Macfarlane, Friendly Fires: ”I’ve got footage of me aged four, singing the tunes and dancing. I still like it, even though lyrically it’s a bit shit. But it’s not about that, it’s about the way he sings and dances.”
130. Interpol, ‘Turn On The Bright Lights’ (2002) Matador.
Interpol’s debut helped usher in a new wave of Americans in thrall to British indie rock of the 1980s.
129. Neil Young, ‘On The Beach’ (1974) Reprise.
After two years of erratic shows and depression, culminating in having an album rejected by his label, Young got back on track with this introspective, bittersweet collection.
128. The Verve, Urban Hymns (1997) Hut.
The late ’90s vogue for yearning epic pop-rock reached its dizzying zenith on the Wigan band’s heart-on-sleeve mega-hit.
127. Ramones, ‘Ramones’ (1976) Sire/Phillips.
Reputedly recorded inside a week for a paltry $6,400, the Bruvvas’ debut is considered by many to be the first punk album.
126. Beastie Boys, ‘Ill Communication’ (1994) Capitol/Grand Royale.
The album put them at the leading edge of a type of hip hop built on scratchy funk and jazzy samples best epitomised by the single ‘Sure Shot’ – and sewed the seeds for sundry rap-rock crossovers of the future, with the wild, riff-laden ‘Sabotage’.
125. James Brown, ‘Live At The Apollo’ (1963) King.
The Godfather Of Soul, in his pre-funk pomp, spits fire on the storied Harlem stage.
124. Paul Simon, ‘Graceland’ (1986) Warner Bros.
The erstwhile Village folkie’s hit collaboration with hitherto little-known South African musicians kick-started the World Music boom.
123. Blur, ’13’ (1999) Food/Parlophone.
Blur’s sixth album sounds like a band striving boldly for new purpose, rattling through experimental ambient rock and electronica as the post-Britpop comedown starts to bite.
122. New Order, ‘Technique’ (1989) Factory.
Manchester’s fab four went to Ibiza and added acid house to their precision-tooled electro-pop formula.
121. Aphex Twin, ‘Selected Ambient Works 85-92’ (1992) PIAS.
Mat Horne, actor: ”I thought it was from another world. It was somehow otherworldly yet accessible in terms of melody and sounds. It defined an era for me.”
120. De La Soul, ‘3 Feet High And Rising’ (1989) BCM.
Take three suburban teenagers, a DJ from a band on the rise, and weird shit from their parents’ record collections. Stir in humour and a game show. Change the world.
119. Pulp, ‘His ’N’ Hers’ (1994) Island.
It had taken 14 years to make an album for a major, but Pulp didn’t miss a step. ‘His ‘N’ Hers’ was nowt but consummate and stylish sleaze pop; all lipgloss and razzmatazz, adorable voyeurism and melodic S&M.
118. Dexys Midnight Runners, ‘Searching For The Young Soul Rebels’ (1980) EMI.
A record about turning belief in music into your life, Dexys’ debut was a manifesto you could dance to, a political polemic you can fall in love with.
117. ABC, ‘The Lexicon Of Love’ (1982) Mercury.
Cee-Lo Green: ”It was a very attractive record for a child, because it has a sugary, plastic quality. It’s very pop, and at the same time, it’s a very deep and hand-made bit of artistry.”
116. The White Stripes, ‘Elephant’ (2003) V2.
Jack and Meg’s response to becoming stars was to make a harder, darker kind of record – and cover Bacharach & David.
115. Teenage Fanclub, ‘Bandwagonesque’ (1991) Creation.
Even at a time when Scotland seemed to have the monopoly on fuzzed-up perfect pop, TFC’s sparkling grunge third album stood out.
114. Radiohead, ‘Kid A’ (2000) Parlophone.
Yannis Philippakis, Foals: “I fell in love with it. For six months I listened to it at least six days a week. Now, it’s impossible to extract the album from the memories I have of when I was listening to it then.”
113. Belle And Sebastian, ‘If You’re Feeling Sinister’ (1996) Jeepster.
As alt-rock became tribal and macho, Stuart Murdoch’s band won hearts and minds by channelling vulnerability and fragile melodies.
112. GZA, ‘Liquid Swords’ (1995) Geffen.
Wu-Tang Clan’s 1993 debut hit hip-hop like a fist to the throat, but if anything it was the subsequent flurry of solo albums that had a greater impact. ‘Liquid Swords’ was basically essence of Wu: pure atmosphere honed to a katana edge.
111. The Human League, ‘Dare’ (1981) Virgin.
Other synth-pop bands went for style over substance: The Human League put soul songs worthy of Motown at this album’s heart.
110. Fairport Convention, ‘Liege & Lief’ (1969) Island.
Three years after Dylan was called “Judas” for plugging in, Fairport invented folk-rock by blending the traditional and the electric.
109. Bruce Springsteen, ‘Darkness On The Edge Of Town’ (1978) Sony BMG.
As punk threatened to leave him behind, Springsteen located epic themes in workaday lives. No-one nails the struggle against a stacked deck like the Boss.
108. Weezer, ‘Pinkerton’ (1996) DGC.
It hammered the quirks of its predecessor with mallet-like guitar heaviosity, and struggled commercially as a result: but the desperate, screaming sex-angst of the second Weezer album is stronger and far more ambitious.
107. Rage Against The Machine, ‘Rage Against The Machine’ (1992) Epic.
Carl Barât: “I heard it when I was 14 and still know every word. We were all getting into our teenage angst and hating our parents, but my rage waned after their second album.”
106. Led Zeppelin, ‘IV’ (1971) Atlantic.
John Bonham plays drums down an echoing corridor; Jimmy Page prefigures Fugazi on ‘Black Dog’; Robert Plant howls. History is made.
105. Tom Waits, ‘Rain Dogs’ (1985) Island.
Adding guitarist Marc Ribot to his ‘Swordfishrombones’ template, Waits gave additional bite to mini tragedies about drunks, losers and lives lived in the shadows.
104. The Stooges, ‘Fun House’ (1970) Elektra.
Six years before the Pistols, Iggy and colleagues laid down most of the elements of the punk rock template.
103. Jimi Hendrix, ‘Electric Ladyland’ (1968) Reprise.
Nick Frost, actor: “Even from a very young age, from when I heard of him, for some reason I felt close to him, I felt a connection. Sure, we’ve got the same electric gypsy look – that’s what I’m known for, really.”
102. The Flaming Lips, ‘The Soft Bulletin’ (1999) Warner Bros.
After ‘Zaireeka’, a four-disc set designed to be played at the same time, Wayne Coyne and co tried a new gambit: tunes. It worked.