Regardless of what genre they prefer, here are 10 albums everyone should listen to end-to-end, at least once, according to an AskReddit poll.
Reddit may be a hellscape, but sometimes, you find gems that are worth taking a second look at. When they’re to do with exceptional music, we sit up and pay attention. A recent AskReddit thread on the website asked people the question: What album from 20+ years ago should everyone sit down, close their eyes, and listen to start to finish at least once in their lifetime, regardless of their normal music tastes?
While the responses mentioned everything from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons to Marvin Gaye, we rounded up some of the most notable mentions so you don’t have to. Here are 1o albums that everyone needs to listen to in their entirety, at least once at their lifetime.
Massive Attack – Mezzanine (1998)
Often hailed as Massive Attack’s greatest album, Mezzanine marked a definitive departure from the group’s earlier sound, going into darker territory built on a melting pot of sounds, from post-punk to reggae, to prog-rock, to funk.
Beyond the multicultural overhaul that it brought to global sound, however, Massive Attack also came with irreversible transformation for the group itself. While the members had always had personality clashes, tensions during the production of the album were such that they recorded and promoted it separately, with Andrew “Mushroom” Vowles leaving the group entirely in 1999.
Portishead – Dummy (1994)
Chilling, dark, riveting, and so unbearably sad – Portishead’s Dummy is considered the debut of all debuts. Marrying hip hop, blues, funk, jazz, dub, and held together by Beth Gibbons’ languish, yet gut-wrenching vocals, Dummy was an album driven by profound emotional turmoil, bringing to life a sorrow that often felt suffocating.
Also, as a Reddit user puts it: “In addition to being a simply terrific album, it is also the best makeout music mankind has ever given us.”
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Fleetwood Mac – Rumours (1977)
Thanks to Tiktok, Fleetwood Mac have been experiencing a revival in recent years, especially among Gen-Z who have made them the soundtrack of their lost years. Even to Fleetwood Mac, however, Rumours remains a seminal album, definitely “the most important album we ever made”, according to Mick Fleetwood. With singles like ‘Go Your Own Way’, ‘Dreams’ ‘You Make Loving Fun’ and more, it’s on Rumours that Fleetwood Mac perfected their signature pop-rock sound.
Miles Davis – Kind Of Blue (1959)
In a lot of us, Jazz inspires both curiosity and hesitation, because we want to explore the genre but have no idea where to start. But as a comment on Reddit reads: “If you ever find yourself thinking ‘I want to get into jazz but don’t know where to start, Kind of Blue is where you start.” Even for Davis, Kind of Blue marked a departure from his usual style – as opposed to his usual hard-bop style on previous work, this one is based entirely on modality, giving him more space to breathe and improvise, creating a free, liberating effect throughout the album.
Stevie Wonder – Songs In The Key Of Life (1976)
If you google Songs In The Key Of Life, the first question under the ‘People You Ask’ section says: “Why is Songs In The Key Of Life so good?” Perhaps it’s because it came prefaced with Wonder’s extensive time in the industry, or perhaps it’s due to Wonder’s full artistic control thanks to his deal with Motown, which eventually resulted in a kaleidoscope of sounds across every track, all coming together under his genius vision.
One shudders to think that if Wonder had retired in 1975 as planned, we could have missed out on one of the greatest albums in modern history.
Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On (1971)
The first album on which Gaye was credited as producer, the socio-economic concepts on What’s Going On seem as relevant today as they did in 1971 in the wake of the Vietnam War. The best part about it, however, isn’t that it’s a genius output by one of music’s greatest, but that it’s a sensitive, informed, heartwarming album that puts humanity at its centre.
As Gaye discussed in an interview with Rolling Stone: “In 1969 or 1970, I began to re-evaluate my whole concept of what I wanted my music to say … I was very much affected by letters my brother was sending me from Vietnam, as well as the social situation here at home. I realised that I had to put my own fantasies behind me if I wanted to write songs that would reach the souls of people. I wanted them to take a look at what was happening in the world.”
Pink Floyd – The Dark Side Of The Moon (1973)
While people are usually divided about which of Pink Floyd’s albums are ‘no-skip’ (the thread in question was torn over The Wall and Dark Side Of The Moon), we simply cannot deny the influence Dark Side Of The Moon had on contemporary music. Engrossing, maddening, suffocating, liberating – call it whatever you may, but Pink Floyd’s musical thesis on human life and nature remains one of the most informed pieces of music of all time.
Radiohead – Ok Computer (1997)
Say what you want about Radiohead, but the expansive, unconventional work on Ok Computer laid the groundwork for the act Radiohead would eventually become, making this a must-listen for any fan. The general nihilism and apathy depicted through the lyrics on the album is elevated thanks to the band’s unconventional recording techniques – one of which included recording on a staircase for natural reverb – making the horror and despondence a tad bit more tangible.
Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin IV (1971)
It’s hard to choose a great Led Zeppelin album, but Led Zeppelin IV comes close, partly because it seems like a glorious culmination of the band’s growth. The genius lyrical work was held together by the genres that Led Zeppelin had featured so heavily in their previous work – blues rock, heavy metal, rock & roll, folk – yet none seemed overpowering, creating a masterpiece of an album deserving of an act often counted among the greatest of all time.
The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds (1966)
Brian Wilson wanted to create “the greatest rock album ever made” and, well, many would say he succeeded with Pet Sounds. With elements from pop, jazz, and classical combining with complex vocal harmonies, found sounds, and instruments such as French horns, flutes, and beverage cans, Pet Sounds truly created an experience that was unprecedented in rock, unique to the extent that an exact live reproduction was impossible.
As one of the tracks on the album says, it just wasn’t made for those times. It was way ahead.