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The 50 best folk albums of all time

Folk music as a genre has taken many different forms over the centuries. Traditional folk music has been defined as music that comments on cultural or national identity, is played on traditional instruments, and is associated with the culture of a specific group.

The beauty of folk music is that the genre is constantly shifting as society and people are constantly in flux. From the early days of artists like Woody Guthrie, who sang “Dust Bowl Ballads” about the drought and Depression of the first half of the 20th century, to artists like Bob Dylan who sang about politics, love, and war in the 1960s, and further still to artists like Neutral Milk Hotel, who blended psychedelic rock and folk in the 1990s, the depth and trajectory of folk music know no bounds.

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Stacker compiled data on the top 50 folk albums according to Best Ever Albums, which ranks albums according to their appearance and performance on 40,000 editorial and data-based charts (e.g., Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Billboard). For a more in-depth methodology, click here. All iterations of the folk genre were considered.

So when it comes to the best folk albums of all time, who has made the cut? Read on to discover the top-rated folk artists throughout the decades.

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Nick Cave, Folk Album
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50. ‘The Boatman’s Call’ by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

– Best Ever Albums score: 5,175
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 81
– Rank all-time: #379
– Rank in decade: #72
– Rank in year: #10
– Year: 1997

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds released The Boatman’s Call as their 10th studio album. The set of songs rely heavily on the piano, and the album is considered to be a pivotal moment for the group as they moved away from their traditional full-band arrangements. Pitchfork calls it Cave’s “most confessional, open-hearted album,” capable of resonating with a wide array of audiences.

49. ‘Have One on Me’ by Joanna Newsom

– Best Ever Albums score: 5,244
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 81
– Rank all-time: #373
– Rank in decade: #48
– Rank in year: #11
– Year: 2010

Joanna Newsom released her third studio album, Have One on Me, in 2010 as a triple album. Newsom produced the record herself, and it features an orchestral accompaniment alongside diverse instruments like harpsichord and the kaval. Although Newsom is traditionally a harpist, this album was her first since The Milk-Eyed Mender to include songs played on the piano instead of the harp. The album spent four weeks on the Billboard 200 list, peaking at No. 75.

48. ‘Benji’ by Sun Kil Moon

– Best Ever Albums score: 5,683
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 80
– Rank all-time: #347
– Rank in decade: #44
– Rank in year: #3
– Year: 2014

Benji is the sixth studio album from Sun Kil Moon. Self-produced and released in 2014, the album features contributions from Owen Ashworth, Will Oldham, and Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth. The album talks a lot about mortality, and it received a score of 85 on Metacritic, which translates to “universal acclaim.”

47. ‘Chutes Too Narrow’ by The Shins

– Best Ever Albums score: 5,918
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 81
– Rank all-time: #334
– Rank in decade: #53
– Rank in year: #5
– Year: 2003

The Shins, an American folk rock band, released their second studio album, Chutes Too Narrow in 2003. The album showed musical growth from the group’s first album, “Oh! Inverted World.” Pitchfork praised not only the musical style but the song lyrics as well, concluding that several songs on the album had the potential to be song of the year.

46. ‘The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do’ by Fiona Apple

– Best Ever Albums score: 6,162
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 81
– Rank all-time: #319
– Rank in decade: #38
– Rank in year: #7
– Year: 2012

Fiona Apple‘s fourth studio album was recorded entirely in secret. The artist told Blackbook magazine that this secrecy helped inspire her and removed undue pressure. Either way, it worked, with The Idler Wheel debuting at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and selling 72,000 copies in its first week. It also received a nomination at the 2013 Grammy Awards for Best Alternative Album.

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45. ‘Deja Vu’ by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

– Best Ever Albums score: 6,166
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 83
– Rank all-time: #318
– Rank in decade: #83
– Rank in year: #16
– Year: 1970

Deja Vu appeared in 1970 as the second studio album from Crosby, Stills & Nash, and the first album with the addition of Neil Young. The album came on the heels of the quartet’s performance at Woodstock in 1969 and its biggest single was the song “Woodstock.” Deja Vu has gone platinum seven times over.

44. ‘Bookends’ by Simon & Garfunkel

– Best Ever Albums score: 6,173
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 82
– Rank all-time: #317
– Rank in decade: #45
– Rank in year: #10
– Year: 1968

Simon & Garfunkel’s Bookends is a concept album that takes listeners on a journey from childhood through old age. The second side of the album includes many tracks that were not featured on the soundtrack for The Graduate. It was thanks to this album that the folk duo skyrocketed to superstardom: Bookends went platinum twice.

43. ‘Sea Change’ by Beck

– Best Ever Albums score: 6,203
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 80
– Rank all-time: #314
– Rank in decade: #51
– Rank in year: #7
– Year: 2002

Recorded over two months in Los Angeles, Sea Change is the eighth studio album from Beck. This album features live instrumentation, a big change from his previous work, which relied on sampling. Rolling Stone gave Sea Change five stars, calling it “the best album that Beck has ever made.”

42. ‘American Beauty’ by Grateful Dead

– Best Ever Albums score: 6,408
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 80
– Rank all-time: #306
– Rank in decade: #80
– Rank in year: #15
– Year: 1970

The Grateful Dead launched their fifth studio album in 1970. American Beauty was a continuation of the folk/country sound they had put out in their previous album, Workingman’s Dead. The album was an immediate success, hitting the Billboard 200 chart, reaching double platinum, and making Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. American Beauty was reissued for its 50th anniversary, giving the band its best sales week in 25 years.

41. ‘Music from Big Pink’ by The Band

– Best Ever Albums score: 6,894
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 81
– Rank all-time: #284
– Rank in decade: #43
– Rank in year: #8
– Year: 1968

The Band splashed onto the scene in 1968 with the release of Music from Big Pink. The debut album’s sound was a fusion of influences, from country and rock to folk, blues, and even classical. It was positively received, with critics praising it for its “natural instrumentation” achieved without overdubbing. The album is listed on Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Father John Misty, Folk Album
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40. ‘I Love You, Honeybear’ by Father John Misty

– Best Ever Albums score: 7,016
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 80
– Rank all-time: #278
– Rank in decade: #32
– Rank in year: #4
– Year: 2015

Father John Misty came out with his second studio album, I Love You, Honeybear, in 2015. According to an interview in SubPop, it is a concept album about the artist’s own life, including his intimacy issues and all sorts of “regrettable behavior.” It was met with critical acclaim and sold 28,000 copies in its first week.

39. ‘Bryter Layter’ by Nick Drake

– Best Ever Albums score: 7,532
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 84
– Rank all-time: #265
– Rank in decade: #64
– Rank in year: #12
– Year: 1971

Nick Drake’s second studio album, Bryter Layter, was released in 1971. The songs on the album feature an all-star cast of backup vocals, from John Cale from The Velvet Underground to Mike Kowalski and Ed Carter from the Beach Boys. The album received positive reviews: Q magazine named it one of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever, and it held a spot on Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

38. ‘Odelay’ by Beck

– Best Ever Albums score: 8,173
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 81
– Rank all-time: #238
– Rank in decade: #48
– Rank in year: #5
– Year: 1996

Beck’s fifth studio album Odelay is his most successful album, spending 88 weeks on the Billboard chart. A deluxe edition was released in 2008, which included the original album plus 19 B sides and previously unreleased songs.

37. ‘Hospice’ by The Antlers

– Best Ever Albums score: 8,184
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 82
– Rank all-time: #236
– Rank in decade: #40
– Rank in year: #2
– Year: 2009

The Antlers released Hospice, their first concept album and third album overall, in 2009. The album follows the relationship between a hospice worker and a patient who is struggling with bone cancer. The album was met with industry-wide praise: NPR Music put the album at No. 1 on their top 10 list for 2009, and Pitchfork included it on their list of the 50 best albums of the year.

36. ‘The Band’ by The Band

– Best Ever Albums score: 8,290
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 81
– Rank all-time: #233
– Rank in decade: #38
– Rank in year: #13
– Year: 1969

The Band is the eponymous second album released by Canadian-American rock group The Band. It was created as a concept album to highlight the culture of a forgotten era of Americana, and it included many of their iconic songs, such as “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” The album received a slew of accolades, from Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time to Time magazine’s 100 greatest albums.

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35. ‘Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere’ by Neil Young and Crazy Horse

– Best Ever Albums score: 8,737
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 84
– Rank all-time: #221
– Rank in decade: #34
– Rank in year: #10
– Year: 1969

Neil Young’s second studio album, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, was his first album with his backing band, Crazy Horse. Released in 1969, this album featured several songs that would become his standbys for many years, including “Down by the River” and “Cowgirl in the Sand.” This is also the album that introduced the world to the sound of the 1953 Gibson Les Paul guitar that would become synonymous with Young’s sound.

34. ‘Cosmo’s Factory’ by Creedence Clearwater Revival

– Best Ever Albums score: 9,030
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 85
– Rank all-time: #214
– Rank in decade: #53
– Rank in year: #10
– Year: 1970

Creedence Clearwater Revival smashed onto the scene with Cosmo’s Factory, their fifth studio album. The album’s B side contained some of the band’s most popular hits, including “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” and “Long As I Can See the Light.” The album topped the charts in countries around the world with its rockabilly and folk sound. It rose to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and stayed on the chart for 69 weeks.

33. ‘On the Beach’ by Neil Young

– Best Ever Albums score: 9,093
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 84
– Rank all-time: #210
– Rank in decade: #51
– Rank in year: #3
– Year: 1974

On the heels of 1972’s Harvest comes Neil Young’s On the Beach, released in 1974. Initially, the album was met with muted disappointment, especially considering the overwhelming response to Young’s debut album. Over time, however, critics and fans have come to regard the album as one of the world’s finest. It joins Harvest on Rolling Stone‘s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

32. ‘The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan’ by Bob Dylan

– Best Ever Albums score: 10,116
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 84
– Rank all-time: #184
– Rank in decade: #31
– Rank in year: #2
– Year: 1963

The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan represented a pivotal moment for the legendary folk artist. It was on this 1963 album that Dylan released “Blowin’ in the Wind,” a song that has since become the soundtrack to the decade. Dylan drew his inspiration from the news stories of the day, writing songs on politics, love, and the fear of nuclear war. To this day, Freewheelin’ is the most iconic Dylan album of all time, selling 1 million copies and going platinum in 1999.

31. ‘Ys’ by Joanna Newsom

– Best Ever Albums score: 10,244
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 82
– Rank all-time: #181
– Rank in decade: #31
– Rank in year: #2
– Year: 2006

Joanna Newsom made waves with her second studio album, Ys. The 2006 album has just five tracks, each dealing with people and things that had affected Newsom’s life. The record proved crucial to Newsom’s career, becoming her first album to chart in the United States when it reached the Billboard 200.

Van Morrison, Best Folk
Michael Putland/Getty Images
30. ‘Moondance’ by Van Morrison

– Best Ever Albums score: 10,485
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 83
– Rank all-time: #174
– Rank in decade: #44
– Rank in year: #8
– Year: 1970

Van Morrison’s Moondance is the perfect example of the saying “If at first you don’t succeed…” On the heels of the dismal reception of his first album, Astral Weeks, Morrison adopted his now-iconic blues/rock style, blending in jazz, pop, and Irish folk to create the songs of Moondance. The album was received with critical acclaim and received numerous “best of” accolades, including Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, Colin Larkin’s All Time Top 1000 Albums, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s 200 Definitive Albums and more.

29. ‘Five Leaves Left’ by Nick Drake

– Best Ever Albums score: 10,672
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 85
– Rank all-time: #171
– Rank in decade: #30
– Rank in year: #7
– Year: 1969

English folk artist Nick Drake burst onto the scene in 1969 with his debut album, Five Leaves Left. He recorded the album without the use of overdubbing, simply singing along live with the string accompaniment. Though it debuted to mixed reviews, over time Five Leaves Left has become one of the most important folk albums, taking spots on numerous “best of” lists, including Mojo’s “100 Records That Changed the World.”

28. ‘Bon Iver’ by Bon Iver

– Best Ever Albums score: 10,924
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 80
– Rank all-time: #166
– Rank in decade: #17
– Rank in year: #2
– Year: 2011

The eponymous album is the second studio album of the American folk band of the same name, and it features 10 songs featuring a full band, a dramatic departure from Justin Vernon’s the first album. It seems the evolution worked, with Bon Iver quickly rising to become one of the greats, earning “Best Alternative Music Album” at the 2012 Grammys as well as several other accolades.

27. ‘Lost in the Dream’ by The War on Drugs

– Best Ever Albums score: 11,018
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 82
– Rank all-time: #164
– Rank in decade: #16
– Rank in year: #1
– Year: 2014

Released in 2014, Lost in the Dream is the third studio album from The War on Drugs. The album was recorded over two years and was heavily influenced by classic American acts like Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young and Crazy Horse. Metacritic gave the album a score of 86, which translates to “universal acclaim.”

26. ‘Helplessness Blues’ by Fleet Foxes

– Best Ever Albums score: 11,046
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 82
– Rank all-time: #163
– Rank in decade: #15
– Rank in year: #1
– Year: 2011

The second studio album from Fleet Foxes, Helplessness Blues is the indie folk band’s only album to feature Josh Tillman on the drums, who later left to follow a solo career as Father John Misty. Helplessness Blues was nominated for Best Folk Album at the 54th Grammy Awards.

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25. ‘Beggars Banquet’ by The Rolling Stones

– Best Ever Albums score: 11,311
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 84
– Rank all-time: #160
– Rank in decade: #28
– Rank in year: #6
– Year: 1968

The Rolling Stones aren’t new to studio albums—by 1968, Beggars Banquet was their seventh British and ninth American studio album. It was the last album to be released in the lifetime of band founder Brian Jones. It followed the sounds of blues rock and roots rock but also used Latin, South Asian, and African beats. Among its many accolades, the album has earned a spot on Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, a place in 1001 Albums you Must Hear Before You Die, and a spot in the Grammy Hall of Fame.

24. ‘Songs Of Leonard Cohen’ by Leonard Cohen

– Best Ever Albums score: 11,801
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 85
– Rank all-time: #154
– Rank in decade: #26
– Rank in year: #7
– Year: 1967

Leonard Cohen burst onto the scene in 1967 with his debut album, Songs of Leonard Cohen. The artist had earned a reputation as a writer, but he eventually found his way into music. Featuring “Suzanne,” “So Long, Marianne,” and “Sisters of Mercy,” the album hit gold status in 1989 and peaked at No. 83 on the Billboard 200.

23. ‘Either/Or’ by Elliott Smith

– Best Ever Albums score: 12,503
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 84
– Rank all-time: #139
– Rank in decade: #29
– Rank in year: #3
– Year: 1997

Elliott Smith smashed it out of the park with his third studio album, Either/Or, recorded predominantly in Portland, Oregon. The album was accompanied by Smith’s struggles with depression and addiction. Three songs from Either/Or were included on the Good Will Hunting soundtrack.

22. ‘All Things Must Pass’ by George Harrison

– Best Ever Albums score: 13,197
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 84
– Rank all-time: #132
– Rank in decade: #35
– Rank in year: #4
– Year: 1970

Following the breakup of The Beatles, George Harrison went on to release All Things Must Pass, his third studio solo album. Drawing on unused material from The Beatles, it was released as a triple album and is regarded as Harrison’s best solo work.

21. ‘Graceland’ by Paul Simon

– Best Ever Albums score: 13,284
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 81
– Rank all-time: #131
– Rank in decade: #16
– Rank in year: #3
– Year: 1986

Out of the darkest depths can rise the most critical works of genius—and that’s exactly what Paul Simon’s Graceland was. The musician’s seventh studio solo album came in the wake of the collapse of Simon’s relationship with his former partner, Art Garfunkel, the end of his marriage to Carrie Fisher, and the failure of his previous record. Graceland was something new, featuring influences from South Africa, as well as pop, rock, and a cappella. It became his most successful studio album, winning the Album of the Year Grammy in 1987.

Fleet Foxes, Folk Album
Wendy Redfern/Redferns/Getty Images
20. ‘Fleet Foxes’ by Fleet Foxes

– Best Ever Albums score: 13,296
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 83
– Rank all-time: #130
– Rank in decade: #19
– Rank in year: #1
– Year: 2008

Fleet Foxes’ self-titled debut burst onto the scene in 2008 and was immediately lauded by audiences and critics. Entertainment Weekly, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone and Uncut all gave the album overwhelmingly positive reviews. Rolling Stone praised the new group, writing that their debut album is full of “rich, swirling melodies; billowing clouds of organs, tom-toms, bells and assorted stringed instruments cloak group vocals whose secular-gospel, suede-fringed precision owes plenty to Crosby, Stills and Nash.”

19. ‘Bridge over Troubled Water’ by Simon & Garfunkel

– Best Ever Albums score: 14,183
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 84
– Rank all-time: #121
– Rank in decade: #31
– Rank in year: #3
– Year: 1970

Before folk rock duo Simon & Garfunkel called it quits, they came out with their final album, Bridge over Troubled Water. The 1970 record spanned gospel, rock, R&B and classical music, with Pitchfork referring to it as “both their most effortless record and their most ambitious.”

18. ‘If You’re Feeling Sinister’ by Belle and Sebastian

– Best Ever Albums score: 14,406
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 83
– Rank all-time: #119
– Rank in decade: #23
– Rank in year: #2
– Year: 1996

Scottish pop band Belle and Sebastian released their second album, If You’re Feeling Sinister, in 1996. The band had signed with label Jeepster Records under the condition that they would release no singles and attend no promotional events. The band took just over a week to make the album, which received widespread acclaim, finding a home on lists like Pitchfork’s “100 albums of the 1990s” and Rolling Stone‘s “100 Best Albums of the Nineties.”

17. ‘Harvest’ by Neil Young

– Best Ever Albums score: 15,566
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 85
– Rank all-time: #102
– Rank in decade: #27
– Rank in year: #5
– Year: 1972

Perhaps Neil Young’s most recognized album, Harvest was released in 1972 and features notable guest performers, from the London Symphony Orchestra to James Taylor and Crosby, Stills and Nash. It was the best-selling album of the year, and its single “Heart of Gold” hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

16. ‘Bringing It All Back Home’ by Bob Dylan

– Best Ever Albums score: 15,602
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 86
– Rank all-time: #101
– Rank in decade: #23
– Rank in year: #4
– Year: 1965

Although Bob Dylan’s previous albums were works of protest, his fifth studio album, Bringing It All Back Home, takes a different approach, utilizing a mix of electric and acoustic sounds. The album hit No. 6 on Billboard’s Pop Albums chart—the first of Dylan’s records to do so.

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15. ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’ by Bon Iver

– Best Ever Albums score: 16,342
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 83
– Rank all-time: #94
– Rank in decade: #13
– Rank in year: #3
– Year: 2007

The world became familiar with Justin Vernon and his recording name, Bon Iver, with the release of his debut studio album, For Emma, Forever Ago. The album was recorded in a cabin in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and leaned heavily into melodies that were later set to words. The song “Skinny Love” became one of the album’s best-performing singles. The entire album peaked at No. 64 on the Billboard 200.

14. ‘Blue’ by Joni Mitchell

– Best Ever Albums score: 19,316
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 84
– Rank all-time: #79
– Rank in decade: #22
– Rank in year: #6
– Year: 1971

Joni Mitchell’s Blue has long been regarded as one of the greatest albums of all time. The folk album explores the complexities of relationships, from insecurity to obsession. Blue came on the heels of Mitchell’s relationship with Graham Nash and the start of her relationship with James Taylor. Today Mitchell is considered to have “ushered in a confessional mode for pop songwriting,” according to The New York Times.

13. ‘After the Gold Rush’ by Neil Young

– Best Ever Albums score: 19,617
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 86
– Rank all-time: #76
– Rank in decade: #21
– Rank in year: #2
– Year: 1970

After the success of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s album Deja Vu, each member of the folk quartet went on to release a solo album. After the Gold Rush was Neil Young’s endeavor, and the folk album featured hit singles like “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” and “When You Dance I Can Really Love.” The album made its way into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2014.

12. ‘Carrie & Lowell’ by Sufjan Stevens

– Best Ever Albums score: 19,768
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 86
– Rank all-time: #75
– Rank in decade: #6
– Rank in year: #2
– Year: 2015

American musician Sufjan Stevens went back to his indie folk roots with the launch of Carrie & Lowell, his seventh studio album. Listeners were introduced to the 2015 album on NPR, where it was given a one-week preview. According to NPR, the album “focuses more acutely on the sadder, darker and more ambivalent corners” of life: addressing love, faith, desire, and death. The album debuted at No. 10 on the Billboard 200 and sold 51,000 copies within its first week.

11. ‘Forever Changes’ by Love

– Best Ever Albums score: 20,216
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 85
– Rank all-time: #73
– Rank in decade: #18
– Rank in year: #5
– Year: 1967

Released in 1967, Forever Changes was the last album ever recorded by rock group Love. The band experienced a bitter breakup, but not without seeing enormous success from their final album, which became known as an influential example of psychedelia according to experts like Rolling Stone, Robert Christgau, and Colin Larkin. The album was added to the National Recording Registry in 2011.

Van Morrison, Folk Album
Christie Goodwin/Redfern/Getty Images
10. ‘Astral Weeks’ by Van Morrison

– Best Ever Albums score: 22,408
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 85
– Rank all-time: #60
– Rank in decade: #15
– Rank in year: #2
– Year: 1968

A blend of folk, blues, classical, and jazz put Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks on the scene in 1968. The style was new for the artist, whose first album contained mostly pop songs. Astral Weeks was not overly praised upon initial release, but over time it has come to be recognized as one of the greatest records of all time.

9. ‘Grace’ by Jeff Buckley

– Best Ever Albums score: 22,475
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 84
– Rank all-time: #59
– Rank in decade: #11
– Rank in year: #1
– Year: 1994

The only studio album ever released by Jeff Buckley, Grace debuted in 1994 to somewhat disappointing reviews. As time went on, however, Grace climbed in favorability to reach Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time and to be named Mojo magazine’s No. 1 Modern Rock Classic of All Time.

8. ‘Led Zeppelin’ by Led Zeppelin

– Best Ever Albums score: 22,861
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 86
– Rank all-time: #57
– Rank in decade: #14
– Rank in year: #4
– Year: 1969

Legendary English rock band Led Zeppelin burst onto the scene in 1969 with their debut album, a blend of original material as well as remakes of blues and folk songs. The eponymous album was initially met with subpar reviews, with Rolling Stone going so far as to claim that Led Zeppelin didn’t say anything that the Jeff Beck Group hadn’t already said. The magazine later went on to correct itself, calling it one of the most gratifyingly raw albums of all time.

7. ‘Pink Moon’ by Nick Drake

– Best Ever Albums score: 24,054
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 87
– Rank all-time: #51
– Rank in decade: #15
– Rank in year: #3
– Year: 1972

Believe it or not, Pink Moon was the only Nick Drake album released in North America during the musician’s lifetime. The album debuted in 1974, two years before the artist’s death, and the lyrics detail his struggles with depression. The album’s initial reviews were less than stellar, but it eventually made its way onto Colin Larkin’s All Time Top 1000 Albums and Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

6. ‘Illinois’ by Sufjan Stevens

– Best Ever Albums score: 27,072
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 86
– Rank all-time: #45
– Rank in decade: #5
– Rank in year: #1
– Year: 2005

This 2005 concept album from Sufjan Stevens tells the stories of people, places, and events that relate to the state of Illinois. Stevens explores Chicago as well as other corners of the state, calling it the American Midwest’s “center of gravity.” All the songs on the album were written and recorded by Stevens, encompassing a variety of styles from jazz to show tunes, classical and pop.

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5. ‘Led Zeppelin II’ by Led Zeppelin

– Best Ever Albums score: 28,231
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 87
– Rank all-time: #44
– Rank in decade: #13
– Rank in year: #3
– Year: 1969

Led Zeppelin II debuted in 1969, on the heels of the band’s breakout album, it was a prime example of the group’s evolution toward blues-focused material. It was the band’s first album to top the charts in the United States, and it was even nominated for a Grammy in 1970. The album was certified 12x Platinum in 1999.

4. ‘Exile on Main St.’ by The Rolling Stones

– Best Ever Albums score: 28,617
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 86
– Rank all-time: #43
– Rank in decade: #12
– Rank in year: #2
– Year: 1972

Exile on Main St. hit the airwaves in 1972 as The Rolling Stones’ first double album. Rooted in blues, rock, swing, country, and gospel, the majority of the album was recorded at a villa in the South of France where the band lived as tax exiles.

3. ‘Blonde on Blonde’ by Bob Dylan

– Best Ever Albums score: 33,510
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 88
– Rank all-time: #31
– Rank in decade: #11
– Rank in year: #3
– Year: 1966

Released as a double album in 1966, Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde is the artist’s seventh studio album. The album completed a rock trilogy with Dylan’s other records, “Bringing It All Back Home” and “Highway 61 Revisited.” It peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard 200 and eventually went double platinum.

2. ‘Highway 61 Revisited’ by Bob Dylan

– Best Ever Albums score: 38,876
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 89
– Rank all-time: #24
– Rank in decade: #7
– Rank in year: #1
– Year: 1965

Speaking of Highway 61 Revisited, this sixth studio album from Bob Dylan debuted in 1965 and was one of the first instances of Dylan using rock musicians as his backing band. The album features classics like “Like a Rolling Stone” and “Ballad of a Thin Man.” The album spent 47 weeks on the Billboard 200, peaking at No. 3.

Neutral Milk Hotel, Folk Album
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1. ‘In The Aeroplane Over the Sea’ by Neutral Milk Hotel

– Best Ever Albums score: 51,878
– Best Ever Albums user rating: 87
– Rank all-time: #15
– Rank in decade: #2
– Rank in year: #1
– Year: 1998

Neutral Milk Hotel’s second album, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, debuted in 1998 as a blend of indie rock and psychedelic folk, featuring unusual instruments like uilleann pipes, singing saws, and digital horns. Critics were initially hesitant to rave over the album, but over time it developed a quiet but devoted following. Paste called the record “timeless,” while Pitchfork reevaluated the album in 2005 and gave it a 10/10.

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