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WHAT IS RECORDED MUSIC'S GREATEST YEAR?

Published Aug 12 by WOM Staff.
So the last few months in store has involved some heated debate brought about by listening to Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list. It's taken us a long while but we've been counting them each down from 500 to 1 and we're now nearing the end. The list is heavily biased towards the glory years of American popular music, featuring pretty much every Bruce Springsteen album, a lot of records made by late 60's Bay Area bands and plenty of Geffen West Coast AOR. There's a lot of highly deserving omissions from the list particularly from artists outside the magazine's homeland, but with 500 albums in total, there's also a hell of a lot of integral listening.

Lists like this are highly subjective and when it comes down to it quite trivial, but listening to it has never the less sparked plenty of conversation about a wide range of different things. It also got us thinking about what was music's greatest year for album releases? So we decided to put together our take on music's 20 greatest years for album releases. Time generally works favorably for albums importance so don't let the omission of any year in the last 10 seem like a reflection that music is in a downward spiral. There's plenty of years here that probably wouldn't have been considered as integral a few years after they took place but as music evolves, records from these years have found their place in musical history and have been given time to develop a legacy. It's crazy to look at some of the years and the amount of now iconic albums that we're released in a 12 month period.

So let's have a look back on the history of recorded music and ask the question; What is music's greatest year?

1989
The 80's was a decade not looked upon overly favourably when it comes to music but in the decades last year there were some albums released that both stamped a template for the years to come as well as culminated the decade before. We saw the debut releases for two of the 90's most iconic artists in Nirvana and Nine Inch Nails, two of the most seminal records from hip-hop's golden age with Beastie Boys 'Pauls Boutique' and De La Soul's '3 Feet High and Rising', The Cure's 'Disintegration' and The Pixies 'Doolittle' which are often considered the two crowning achievements of two of the 80's most important artists and across the pond we saw the debut album from Manchester's Stone Roses. 
Notable Albums: The Pixies - Doolittle // The Cure - Disintegration // Beastie Boys - Paul's Boutique // De La Soul - 3 Feet High and Rising // Tom Petty - Full Moon Fever // Nine Inch Nails - Pretty Hate Machine // Stone Roses - Stone Roses // Nirvana - Bleach // Red Hot Chili Peppers - Mothers Milk
 
1979
As important as punk was, it's initial phase was very short lived and by 1979 what was being called post-punk was already in full swing. But as well as releases by Joy Division, Public Image Ltd, Gang of Four, Swell Maps, Wire and XTC we also saw one of punk's most important bands release their most loved album with The Clash's London Calling and albums from Michael Jackson and Tom Petty gave us two of their most popular albums.
Notable Albums: The Clash - London Calling // Michael Jackson - Off The Wall // Gang of Four - Entertainment // Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures // Tom Petty - Damn The Torpedoes // PIL - Metal Box // Fleetwood Mac - Tusk // Elvis Costello - Armed Forces // Pink Floyd - The Wall //

2002
As the millennium started to get into swing, we saw some of the forthcoming decades most important albums as well as the beginnings of some of it's most important artists. 
Notable Albums: Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot // Beck - Sea Change // Queens of the Stone Age - Songs For The Deaf // Interpol - Turn On The Bright Lights // Broken Social Scene - You Forgot It In People // And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead - Source Tags & Codes // The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots // The Roots - Phrenology // Spoon - Kill The Moonlight // Sonic Youth - Murray Street // The Libertines - Up The Bracket // Sigur Ros - () // Boards of Canada - Geogaddi // Bright Eyes - Lifted or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground // The Mountain Goats - All Hail West Texas // The Vines - Highly Evolved

1959
Huge year for Jazz including the genre's best selling album of all time and landmark albums from not only artists such as Ornette Coleman, Charles Mingus and John Coltrane but Modal Jazz, Free Jazz and Post-Bop in general.
Notable albums: Ornette Coleman - The Shape of Jazz To Come // Miles Davis - Kind of Blue //  Charles Mingus - Mingus Ah Um // John Coltrane - Giant Steps // Dave Brubeck Quartet - Time Out // Ray Charles - The Genius of Ray Charles // Howlin' Wolf - Moanin In The Moonlight // John Fahey - Blind Joe Death // Bo Diddley - Go Bo Diddley

1965
Peak Dylan. 'Bringing It All Back Home' and 'Highway 61 Revisited' in the space of 6 months. The Beatles put out 'Help!' and 'Rubber Soul', Coltrane put out arguably the greatest ever Jazz recording with 'A Love Supreme', Sinatra put out arguably his best with 'The September Of My Years' and big albums from Otis Redding and The Who made for a hell of a year. 
Notable Albums: Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisited // John Coltrane - A Love Supreme // Bob Dylan - Bringing It All Back Home // The Beatles - Rubber Soul // The Beatles - Help! // Otis Redding - Otis Blue // Frank Sinatra - The September of My Years // The Sonics - Here Are The Sonics // The Who - My Generation

2004
Huge year for beginnings with debut albums from two artists who would go on to be the biggest in their respective fields in Kanye West and Arcade Fire. Madlib and MF Doom dropped one of the decades most acclaimed hip-hop releases with their Madvillain collaboration , Wilco won a grammy for A Ghost is Born, Brian Wilson released Smile 37 years after he started it with Van Dyke Parks and we also saw landmark or debut albums from some of the decades most individual artists in Joanna Newsom, Animal Collective, TV On The Radio and The Fiery Furnaces. The fact that Modest Mouse and The Walkmen released albums with their biggest tracks on there didn't hurt either. 
Notable Albums: Arcade Fire - Funeral // Kanye West - The College Dropout // Madvillain - Madvillainy // Joanna Newsom - The Milk-Eyed Mender // Wilco - A Ghost Is Born // The Streets - A Grand Don't Come For Free // Brian Wilson Presents Smile // Animal Collective - Sung Tongs // Modest Mouse - Good News for People Who Love Bad News // Bjork - Medulla // The Fiery Furnaces - Blueberry Boat // The Walkmen - Bows + Arrows // The Go! Team - Thunder, Lightning, Strike // TV On The Radio - Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes // Air - Talkie Walkie // Green Day - American Idiot

1968
Big albums from some of the 60's biggest names. The Band, Van Morrison, The Zombies and Aretha Franklin all release their most iconic albums this year.
Notable Albums: The Beatles - White Album // Rolling Stones - Beggars Banquet // Van Morrison - Astral Weeks // The Band - Music From Big Pink // Aretha Franklin - Lady Soul // The Zombies - Odyssey and Oracle // The Velvet Underground - White Light/White Heat // The Kinks - The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society // Jimi Hendrix - Electric Ladyland // Johnny Cash - Live at Folsom Prison // Dr John - Gris Gris // Simon & Garfunkel - Bookends // The Mothers of Invention - We're Only In It For The Money // Cream - Wheels of Fire // Os Mutantes - Os Mutantes // The Byrds - Sweetheart of the Rodeo

1998
Huge year for albums that while critically praised at the time, have only grown in importance and widespread acclaim with time. From hip-hop to lo-fi folk to psych and punk, 1998 saw some hugely influential releases. Also has easily Madonna's best album.
Notable Albums: Neutral Milk Hotel - In The Aeroplane Over The Sea // Boards of Canada - Music Has The Right For Children // Elliott Smith - XO // Lauryn Hill - The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill // Air - Moon Safari // Outkast - Aquemini // Silver Jews - American Water // Cat Power - Moon Pix // Refused - The Shape of Punk To Come // Mercury Rev - Deserters Songs // Fatboy Slim - You've Come A Long Way Baby // Lucinda Williams - Car Wheels On A Gravel Road // Massive Attack - Mezzanine // Eels - Electro Shock Blues // Dirty Three - Ocean Songs // Madonna - Ray of Light // Beastie Boys - Hello Nasty // Beck - Mutations // The Living End - The Living End // Powderfinger - Internationalist // The Beta Band - The Three EP's // Billy Bragg & Wilco - Mermaid Ave // Placebo - Without You I'm Nothing // Tortoise - TNT // Belle & Sebastian - The Boy With The Arab Strap

1988
A pivotal year for hugely influential records. Sonic Youth released 'Daydream Nation', Public Enemy released 'It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back', The Pixies released 'Surfer Rosa' and Talk Talk released 'Spirit of Eden'. Music was never the same.
Notable Albums: Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation // Public Enemy - It Takes a Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back // Pixies - Surfer Rosa // Talk Talk - Spirit of Eden // NWA - Straight Outta Compton // The Go-Betweens - 16 Lovers Lane // REM - Green // Janes Addiction - Nothings Shocking // Metallica - ...And Justice For All
2000
Y2K started the new millennium off with trepidation but the music world brought their A game as we saw genre defying and game changing albums released.
Notable Albums: Radiohead - Kid A // The Avalanches - Since I Left You // Outkast - Stankonia // Modest Mouse - The Moon and Antarctica // PJ Harvey - Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea // At The Drive In - Relationship Of Command // The Microphones - It Was Hot So We Stayed In The Water // Deftones - White Pony // Queens of the Stone Age - Rated R // D'Angelo - Voodoo // The Dandy Warhols - 13 Tales From Urban Bohemia // Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Lift Your Fists Like Skinny Antennas To The Sky // Elliott Smith - Figure 8 // Grandaddy - The Sophtware Slump // Yo La Tengo - And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out // Lambchop - Nixon

TAGS
Greatest Albums,  Recorded Music,  
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