60 of the best hi-fi albums for audiophiles

Audiophile album artwork
(Image credit: Future)

What is a hi-fi album? And, indeed, what is an audiophile? For us, it simply means caring about sound quality and appreciating great sound production. Never at the expense of the music – we love all the albums on this list, first and foremost, for the great music they contain – but rather alongside the music. 

Does the production sing? And as a result, will it also make your music system sound great? That sounds like an audiophile album to us, then. After all, listening to top-quality tunes on a top-notch sound system is what hi-fi is all about.

As with every list, it is uniquely ours. These are our recommendations; the music we love and use when we review hi-fi and audio products. We hope you enjoy our selections and find something new. Let us know what you think – and your suggestions – in the comments section. 

Recent updates

27th March 2024: We've updated our list with ten fresh album recommendations, most of which have been released in the last few years.

The Smile – Wall of Eyes (2024)

Thom Yorke continues to cement his place as one of the most important artists working today, and, happily for us, he shows no signs of slowing down. His latest project, alongside the equally prolific Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead) and Tom Skinner (Sons of Kemet), is now on to album two in the space of a couple of years. Inventive and unexpected at every turn, this will keep your system on its toes, not least in terms of dynamics and detail. 

View on Amazon: The Smile Wall of Eyes

Taylor Swift – Midnights (2023)

Taylor Swift's Grammy Award-winning album Midnights has propelled her popularity into the stratosphere, and for good reason too. This album expands on her familiar upbeat pop formula with the wildly popular tracks Anti-Hero and Karma, while also incorporating slick, edgier production on the likes of Lavender Haze and Mastermind. While we wouldn't blame you for dismissing Swift on a list such as this, Midnights features fine lyricism, master songwriting and expert production.

Listen to Taylor Swift Anti-Hero on YouTube

View on Amazon: Taylor Swift Midnights

Low – HEY WHAT (2021)

Indie darlings Low’s varied and often deeply introspective catalogue is a treat for audiophiles willing to be patient and allow their works to blossom. That said, 2021’s HEY WHAT saw the duo take a more immediate sonic approach, piling their angst-ridden record with all manner of textured overlays and experimental rhythmic patterns, all topped by Alan Sparhawk and the late Mimi Parker’s raw, insistent harmonies. A feast for the senses, seek out track six – Days Like These – as a powerful, soaring meditation on the frustrations of this tumultuous decade.

Listen to Low Days Like These on YouTube

View on Amazon: Low – HEY WHAT

Khruangbin – Mordechai (2020)

Did Khruangbin come before or after 'lo-fi beats to chill and study to' playlists? We are doing them something of a disservice there but Mordechai is undeniably family-friendly music ideal for background but worthy of closer scrutiny. Sounding not unlike a warm, dusty vinyl pressing rescued from a pile of 70s psychedelic records, you'd do well to place this music in a time or a place but we think that's no bad thing. Own a turntable? Get this on vinyl for the complete experience.

Listen to Khruangbin Mordechai on YouTube

View on Amazon: Khruangbin Mordechai

Tame Impala – The Slow Rush (2020)

This aptly-named album sees Tame Impala relax further into their lounge room psychedelia, delivering dreamlike synths and feel-good melodies on top of ever-more luxuriously laidback beats. We're too relaxed to be talking 'Wall of Sound' but this album will occasionally test how well your system can handle everything everywhere all at once, while still staying cool.

Listen to Tame Impala The Slow Rush on YouTube

View on Amazon: Tame Impala The Slow Rush

Tool – Fear Inoculum (2019)

Thirteen years in the making, Tool’s fifth album is the band's most sumptuous and refined. Dynamically sweeping, underpinned by awesomely creative percussion and led by Maynard James Keenan’s lush, lilting vocals, this is a must for rock fans who appreciate serious craft.

Listen to Tool Fear Inoculum on YouTube

View on Amazon: Tool Fear Inoculum

Jungle – For Ever (2018)

Blending soulful funk with modern electronic pop, Jungle deliver the perfect soundtrack for a warm summer day. Fresh from a Brit Award for their 2023 album, Volcano, we've plumped for this earlier album thanks to its heavyweight roster of funkadelic tracks, such as Beat 54 (All Good Now) and Heavy, California, alongside delightful downtempo tracks such as House in LA. 

Listen to Jungle House in LA on YouTube

View on Amazon: Jungle For Ever

The War on Drugs – A Deeper Understanding (2017)

The War on Drugs - which is, for the most part, Adam Granduciel - sound instantly evocative yet entirely distinctive. You can't help but hear Bruce Springsteen in the husky, expressive vocals, but while the final product is big, clean and intricately layered with instruments, A Deeper Understanding remains introspective and tinged with melancholy. This is walk-in-the-woods music rather than sing-a-long in a stadium but, however you listen, it will benefit from a spacious, articulate system that can let the music breathe. 

Listen to The War on Drugs Thinking of a Place on YouTube

View on Amazon: The War on Drugs A Deeper Understanding

Lorde – Melodrama (2017)

Lorde's sophomore album is a coming-of-age triumph that incorporates racing beats and pulsing synths with introspective, vulnerable lyrics in an attempt to encapsulate the dizzying experience of transitioning into young adulthood. Not only does it succeed in this mission, but it also becomes a seminal pop album in the process. Its masterful production and Lorde/Ella Yelich-O'Connor's enchanting vocals throughout seal the deal, as this dark and yearning yet equally melodic album is one for history books. 

Listen to Lorde Green Light on YouTube

View on Amazon: Lorde Melodrama

Kaytranada – 99.9% (2016)

The debut album from Montreal-based producer Kaytranada reads more like a review than an album title. 99.9% features an eclectic mix of guests to create a varied-yet-cohesive track list, ranging from dancefloor fillers with vocalists like Syd, to funky instrumental grooves with bands like BadBadNotGood. Of all the beatmakers to emerge in the last decade or so, few have such an instantly identifiable rhythmic flavour – his kick drums are always deep and punchy, the snare and percussion choices are crisp and snappy, and his synth-bass sounds are always satisfyingly resonant and rich in texture.

Listen to Kaytranada Weight Off on YouTube

View on Amazon: Kaytranada 99.9%

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – The Boatman's Call (1997)

As with many of the other artists on this list, we could have pinned the tail on the Nick Cave record to decide which we'd include. In being entirely piano-led The Boatman's Call was a bit of a departure from Cave & The Bad Seeds' records to that point, with arrangements framing perfectly its frank and often sombre lyricism.

View on Amazon: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds The Boatman's Call

Kiasmos – Kiasmos (2014)

While Ólafur Arnalds' piano compositions are often more minimalist than those of label-mate Nils Frahm, alongside Janus Rasmussen in Kiasmos he created a classical-inspired house record that is at once a departure and unmistakably his. Though live sets are largely comprised of knob-twiddling, the record was produced with live instruments that give Kiasmos its own sonic bent on the ever-expanding house music landscape.

View on Amazon: Kiasmos Kiasmos

Radiohead – Hail To The Thief (2003)

Following a pair of heavily electronic-infused records in Kid A and Amnesiac, Radiohead here effectively returned to being a five-piece guitar band without forgoing the experimentation or genre blurring that made the aforementioned records so comprehensively seminal. 

Listen to Radiohead There, There on YouTube

View on Amazon: Radiohead Hail To The Thief

Miles Davis – Bitches Brew (1970)

Miles Davis made his opinions on the term fusion as a descriptor for this period of his music stingingly clear. Nonetheless, Bitches Brew blended modal jazz with, essentially, a rock rhythm section to rebirth the fomer's position as the wildly influential genre it had always been.

Listen to Miles Davis Bitches Brew on YouTube

View on Amazon: Miles Davis Bitches Brew

My Bloody Valentine – Loveless (1991)

Arguably the poster album for shoegaze, Loveless is a masterpiece combining elephantine riffs with dream-pop haze, awash with reverb and overdriven guitars - and complimented by an equally iconic sleeve of cherry-drop psychedelia.

Listen to My Bloody Valentine Only Shallow on YouTube

View on Amazon: My Bloody Valentine Loveless

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (1975)

Can you really call yourself an audiophile if you don't own a copy of Wish You Were Here? Well, yes, of course you can, but most audiophiles own one regardless.

View on Amazon: Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here

The Beatles – Abbey Road (1969)

There are of course more experimental and, some might say, more interesting Beatles albums than this. But even if we disregard any sonic value in terms of production, Abbey Road in particular is (if nothing else) proof that 'straightforward' pop music can and should be art.

View on Amazon: The Beatles Abbey Road

Daft Punk – Random Access Memories (2013)

If you're going to get Nile Rogers in, then a compressed and radio-friendly recording is never going to cut it. Recorded largely using live instruments, Random Access Memories is one of the few chart-topping dance albums that facilitates, in fact demands, deeper listening.

Listen to Daft Punk Lose Yourself to Dance on YouTube

View on Amazon: Daft Punk Random Access Memories

R.E.M. – Automatic For The People (1992)

Alongside the preceeding Out Of Time, Automatic For The People is one of the two R.E.M. records with, arguably, the most mainstream pop sensibilities. Where others can falter in combining hits with poignancy, however, Berry, Stipe, Buck and Mills here created a timelessly beautiful and pensive record.

Listen to R.E.M. Everybody Hurts on YouTube

View on Amazon: R.E.M. Automatic For The People

The Flaming Lips – The Soft Bulletin (1999)

Their being so prolific has made The Flaming Lips' discography difficult to navigate for those who are only now being introduced, but The Soft Bulletin is a sonic photograph of the band at their best: an expansive and eclectic pallet of musical and lyrical brilliance.

View on Amazon: The Flaming Lips The Soft Bulletin

Stevie Wonder – Innervisions (1973)

An innovative melting pot of funk, gospel and soul, Innervisions is a record whose production toes the line marvellously between precision and abandon with ballerina-like poise.

View on Amazon: Stevie Wonder Innervisions

Frank Sinatra – In The Wee Small Hours (1955)

So smooth and smoky is In The Wee Small Hours, it paints sonically the same picture of streetlights and cigarettes adorning the sleeve.

View on Amazon: Frank Sinatra In The Wee Small Hours

Marvin Gaye – What's Going On (1971)

Marvin Gaye What's Going On? album cover

(Image credit: Universal Music Group)

Does Gaye's soulful satin vocal, soaring as it does above What's Going On's spacious jazz- and blues-drenched arrangements, belie somewhat this remarkable record's themes of social injustice? Or does it elevate those messages beyond the realms of the archetypal political concept record?

Listen to Marvin Gaye What's Going On? on YouTube

View on Amazon: Marvin Gaye What's Going On

Gustav Holst – The Planets (1916)

We could imagine Holst leaving us a nasty Facebook comment when he saw The Planets on this list, given how much he despised its popularity. Our apologies Gustav, but few classical suites cover so broad a spectrum of mood and tonality as this. Some have theorised The Planets also serves as an allegory for the tumult of life itself.

View on Amazon: Holst The Planets (Zubin Mehta & Los Angeles Philharmonic)

Eric Bibb – Spirit and The Blues (1994)

Though his father took him out of school early, Eric Bibb could hardly have had a better education in terms of music, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Bob Dylan and Taj Mahal. Spirit and The Blues is a virtuoso catalogue of Bibb's signature slide and fingerpicking playing, and blues- and gospel-steeped vocal.

Listen to Eric Bibb In My Father's House on YouTube

View on Amazon: Eric Bibb Spirit and The Blues

Sigur Rós – Takk... (2005)

Inventing a language is usually the terrain of six-year-old girls at a sleepover but, the fact is, Jónsi's writing of the lyrics for many Sigur Rós songs in "Hopelandic" still doesn't detract from the beauty or grandeur of the band's music. Which is testament to how truly brilliant it is.

View on Amazon: Sigur Rós Takk...

The Congos – Heart Of The Congos (1977)

One of the finest roots reggae albums of all time, and undoubtedly Lee 'Scratch' Perry's finest hour-and-26-minutes. If ever there were a place to begin with Jamaican music, this is it.

View on Amazon: The Congos Heart Of The Congos

LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening (2010)

There are those who believe James Murphy worked out the algorithm for chart-bothering indie music and created LCD Soundsystem in its image - but something so calculated would not explain the digital-with-analogue glory and wit of their three albums. Here's to hoping Murphy's forthcoming return matches up to this, the last LCD studio album.

View on Amazon: LCD Soundsystem This Is Happening

Lewis – L'Amour (1983)

When this private press was picked up by a collector at a Canadian flea market and subsequently shared online, the mystery of the man known as Lewis caught the imaginations of record lovers as much as the music itself. Rumours circulated he was a con artist who fled Los Angeles after not paying for L'Amour's photo shoot, or that he was actually an extra-terrestrial. Lewis remains a mystery, but the merits of his velveteen croon certainly do not.

Listen to Lewis L'Amour on YouTube

View on Amazon: Lewis L'Amour

Nils Frahm – Spaces (2013)

"I see this release more as a field recording project than a live record," Frahm writes in his sleeve notes for Spaces. Audiophile-wooing experimentation isn't restricted to the music on this ambient-cum-modern-classical album, either: "Some concerts were recorded on old portable reel-to-reel recorders, some on simple cassette tape decks. Some were roughly recorded on the house engineers' mixing desks, and others were more advanced multi-track recordings." Let him in, he's one of us.

Listen to Nils Frahm Says on YouTube

View on Amazon: Nils Frahm Spaces

Lubomyr Melnyk – Rivers & Streams (2015)

Our consistent lauding of this Ukranian continuous-music pioneer is really rather fitting when you think about it. It's usually best not to think when listening to Lubomyr Melnyk, however, rather meditade and bask in his ambient glory.

Listen to Lubomyr Melnyk Parasol on YouTube

View on Amazon: Lubomyr Melnyk Rivers & Streams

Shye Ben Tzur, Jonny Greenwood & The Rajasthan Express – Junun (2015)

Paul Thomas Anderson documented the recording of this collaboration in his film of the same name, so you can actually follow the album being created. And what a group it is collaborating: Israeli guitarist Shye Ben Tzur, Radiohead creator-in-chief Jonny Greenwood and Indian ensemble Rajasthan Express recorded Junun in the latter's home state, with Nigel Godrich's light-fingered production letting the sounds of nesting birds and surrounding streets permeate a fusion of musical culture that perhaps oughtn't work but absolutely does.

Listen to Junun on YouTube

View on Amazon: Shye Ben Tzur, Jonny Greenwood & The Rajasthan Express Junun

Boards Of Canada – Tomorrow's Harvest (2013)

Boards Of Canada's blend of field recordings with often ambient synth lines has inspired a hoard of software plug-in developers who'd seek to emulate their immediately recognisable signature sound. Perhaps Tomorrow's Harvest isn't always the most accessible of records, but it's an intriguing and affecting listen.

Listen to Boards of Canada Nothing is Real on YouTube

View on Amazon: Boards Of Canada Tomorrow's Harvest

Nina Simone – Baltimore (1978)

Another record the artist would possibly balk at us including, the recording of Baltimore was not a particularly enjoyable time for Nina Simone, who seems to have disagreed with pretty much everything jazz producer Creed Taylor decided to do. Astonishingly, she ended up recording her vocals for the album in a single hour-long session.

Listen to Nina Simone Baltimore on YouTube

View on Amazon: Nina Simone Baltimore

Dr. Dre – 2001 (1999)

"And when your album sales wasn't doing too good/Who's the doctor they told you to go see?" Effectively, 2001 is a sonic argument as to why Dr. Dre is widely considered one of the world's finest composers of hip-hop beats. And that's an argument he wins.

Listen to Dr Dre Still D.R.E. on YouTube

View on Amazon: Dr. Dre 2001

Brian Eno – Ambient 1: Music For Airports (1978)

Brian Eno's fascination with complexity born of simplicity is spotlighted marvellously on Ambient 1. For its second track, for example, Eno simply recorded each 'ah' sound and left them to loop with varying delays to create a cavernous, overlapping soundscape that in our minds remains one of his finest ambient compositions.

Listen to Brian Eno 1/1 on YouTube

View on Amazon: Brian Eno Ambient 1: Music For Airports

Aphex Twin – Selected Ambient Works 85-92 (1992)

It's difficult to comprehend, but Richard James has claimed blissful ignorance to any of the classical or electronic artists by whom he appeared to have been influenced while creating Selected Ambient Works. Regardless, there is a definite otherness to the record that, despite its apparent forebears, keeps it from being at all derivative in a way that tempts us to believe those comments are true.

View on Amazon: Aphex Twin Selected Ambient Works 85-92

Darkside – Psychic (2013)

We have Will Epstein largely to thank for the existence of Darkside. It was he who recommended multi-instrumentalist Dave Harrington when electronic musician Nicolas Jaar was searching a third musician for his live band while touring his album Space Is Only Noise. Psychic is an exploration in genre and instrumental arrangement that is sonically unparalleled by anything else we've heard.

View on Amazon: Darkside Psychic

Biffy Clyro – Infinity Land (2004)

This is the last album before Biffy Clyro made the switch to chart-topping anthemic rock, and Simon Neil has admitted to wilfully toying with his audience. There's the electro intro to album opener Glitter and Trauma, designed to trick listeners into thinking they'd bought the wrong CD, a choral precursor to the record's most acerbically raucous track There's No Such Thing As A Jaggy Snake, and the hardcore intro/outro sandwiching what is in essence a pop song in The Kids From Kibble and The Fist Of Light. It'd be pure gimmickery if Infinity Land wasn't such an incredible album, full of melodic beauty meshed with angular guitar riffs and obscure rhythmic patterns.

Listen to Biffy Clyro Only One Word Comes to Mind on YouTube

View on Amazon: Biffy Clyro Infinity Land

FKA Twigs – LP1 (2014)

Nominated for the 2014 Mercury Prize, where it was pipped by Young Fathers' also-brilliant Dead, LP1 is a meld of electronic experimentation and sharp-tongued lyricism juxtaposed with Tahliah Barnett's almost angelic vocal.

View on Amazon: FKA Twigs LP1

Nine Inch Nails – The Downward Spiral (1994)

Were there a mob family dealing in industrial music, Trent Reznor would be its Godfather. This is probably Nine Inch Nails's best-known work, though even those who've never heard the name before now might recognise Hurt, which Johnny Cash covered for his 2002 album American IV.

View on Amazon: Nine Inch Nails The Downward Spiral

TV On The Radio appeared to be in less experimental mood on their unexpected latest album Seeds, the first since multi-instrumentalist and co-songwriter Gerard Smith died of lung cancer in 2011, but Return To Cookie Mountain is the record that really gets to the heart of band. Recurring themes of alt-rock, gospel, hip-hop and electronic music are interspersed with so many other genre influences you'd probably need your toes as well as your fingers to count them all.

Listen to TV On The Radio Wolf Like Me on YouTube

View on Amazon: TV On The Radio Return To Cookie Mountain

The Mars Volta – Deloused In The Comatorium (2003)

In many ways, the story of Deloused In The Comatorium begins with At The Drive-In's last record before they split: Relationship of Command. "One of my only regrets out of anything I've ever done is the way that record was mixed," says Omar Rodríguez-Lopez. "People think that was a raw and energetic record, but what they're hearing is nothing compared to what it truly was before it was glossed over." He righted those wrongs on Deloused, producing the record himself, alongside Rick Rubin, and in the process creating a record that almost 15 years later still feels like being punched square between the eyes. Punched with such technique and craftsmanship, however, you can't help feeling admiration as you fall to the floor.

Listen to The Mars Volta Inertiatic on YouTube

View on Amazon: The Mars Volta Deloused In The Comatorium

The White Stripes – Elephant (2003)

Would Elephant still be one of the finest garage rock records ever written if it weren't for the dirt beneath its fingernails? But don't read lo-fi here as recorded-in-a-teenager's-bedroom: read it as raw, in the best possible way.

View on Amazon: The White Stripes Elephant

Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath (1970)

There are more modern metal albums, such as Slipknot's debut, that could easily have made this list, but this particular record is proof that it doesn't take eight distortion pedals and a double kick-drum to create a petrifyingly heavy sound. As entrenched in psychedelia as it is heavy metal, we defy any first-time listener to Black Sabbath to guess it is now 50 years old.

Listen to Black Sabbath Black Sabbath on YouTube

View on Amazon: Black Sabbath Black Sabbath

Toots & The Maytals – Funky Kingston (1972)

As far as whacked-out reggae goes, there are few purveyors on par with Toots & The Maytals. This is the group's first record made with producer Chris Blackwell, who tailored their sound for an international audience without sacrificing their roots-inspired signature.

Listen to Toots & The Maytals Country Roads on YouTube

View on Amazon: Toots & The Maytals Funky Kingston

Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um (1959)

Between 1950 and 1960, Mingus released more than 20 albums. But it's Mingus Ah Um - packed with compositions written for or about his musical heroes, such as Lester Young and Duke Ellington, as well as less affectionate figures, such as Orval E. Faubus - that is the most consistently dazzling.

Listen to Charles Mingus Goodbye Pork Pie Hat on YouTube

View on Amazon: Charles Mingus Mingus Ah Um

Neil Young – Unplugged (1993)

With so many superlative live records from which to choose, and indeed so many studio albums by Neil Young, you may wonder why we chose this to represent both. Listen to Like A Hurricane without getting goosebumps and perhaps we'll consider changing it.

Listen to Neil Young Like a Hurricane on YouTube

View on Amazon: Neil Young Unplugged

Cut Chemist – The Audience's Listening (2006)

Cut worked for 18 months on this, his first solo LP, having left both rap group Jurassic 5 and Latin funk outfit Ozomalti. Those bands, of whom he was a founding member, hold a few clues as to the eclecticism of his influences. The Audience's Listening is not merely a collage of regurgitated samples over scratched hip-hop beats - on it you'll find samples diverse as Quincy Jones, Boards Of Canada, Jefferson Airplane and beat novelist William Burroughs.

Listen to Cut Chemist What's the Altitude on YouTube

View on Amazon: Cut Chemist The Audience's Listening

Mogwai – The Hawk Is Howling (2008)

A lot of the material for The Hawk Is Howling was written for a Colombian film soundtrack, though it was never used. As such, it lies somewhere between the OSTs and studio albums that make up the rest of Mogwai's heady catalogue, conceptually diverse but never disjointed. If for no other reason, who wouldn't want to spin a record with pieces titled I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead, or Scotland's Shame, or I Love You, I'm Going To Blow Up Your School. Absurd brilliance.

View on Amazon: Mogwai The Hawk Is Howling

Ghostpoet – Shedding Skin (2015)

Obaro Ejimiwe picked up the 2011 Mercury Prize for Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam, his debut album as Ghostpoet, and recieved similar critical acclaim for his second, Some Say I So I Say Light. They set a blueprint for his almost-performance-poetry sitting moodily atop stark electronic arrangements that was all but torn up for this record. He introduced a backing band, effectively making Ghostpoet a four-piece, that gives Shedding Skin more the feel of a post-punk album than hip-hop or electronica, allowing Ejimiwe greater scope to explore his undoubted musical and creative talent.

Listen to Ghostpoet X Marks the Spot on YouTube

View on Amazon: Ghostpoet Shedding Skin

Arcade Fire – Funeral (2004)

Among the plethora of astonishing facets to Funeral is it took only half a year to record. Produced and engineered by the band themselves, that's half a year to record an army of guitars, pianos, synthesizers and organs, xylophones, violins, cellos and horns, harp, percussion and vocals - and then turn it into one of the finest albums of any genre to be released this side of the millennium.

Listen to Arcade Fire Wake Up on YouTube

View on Amazon: Arcade Fire Funeral

The Blood Brothers – Crimes (2004)

The Blood Brothers' post-hardcore noise isn't for everybody's taste, but its intensity, and the fact they've succeeded where so many artists fail in traslating that to a studio recording, is the kind any audiophile ought be able to appreciate. This is probably their most diverse and so probably least divisive record, with breakneck scream tracks broken up by what (by Blood Brothers standards) you could almost list as pop songs or ballads. Crimes is unpleasant, but violently creative.

Listen to The Blood Brothers on YouTube

Views on Amazon: The Blood Brothers Crimes

Thundercat – Drunk (2017)

It'd be criminal to pigeonhole Thundercat as a virtuoso bassist. Drunk is Stephen Bruner's third solo studio album, showing off songwriting that ranges from somber to comical and spans enough genres to make him a fusion artist. Though 'fusion' is insufficient to properly describe his sonic mastery.

Listen to Thundercat Them Changes on YouTube

View on Amazon: Thundercat Drunk

J. S. Bach – Brandenburg Concertos

This collection of concertos written for Christian Ludwig, Margrave of Brandenburg (though there's no evidence he ever actually heard them) really acts as a gateway drug to Baroque music. Bach here gave solos to each orchestral family of instruments, so in hi-fi terms it's about as comprehensive a workout as you'll find in terms of detail and tonality.

Listen to Bach Brandenburg Concertos on YouTube

Buy it on Amazon: Bach Brandenburg Concertos (Trevor Pinnock & European Brandenburg Ensemble)

Percy Sledge – The Percy Sledge Way (1967)

The title of this album really says all you need to know about the record: it's a collection of 11 songs made famous by other soul and R&B stars, done in that oh-so iconic Percy Sledge way. It's majestic and effortless, infusing each with the heartache conveyed in apparently every note he ever sang.

Listen to Percy Sledge My Special Prayer on YouTube

View on Amazon: Percy Sledge The Percy Sledge Way

Queens Of The Stone Age – Songs For The Deaf (2002)

If stoner rock were a video game, Josh Homme would be who you'd have to defeat in its boss level. On Songs For The Deaf, Queens Of The Stone Age ramped up the intensity somewhat while retaining their effortless sunglasses-in-a-darkened-room chill, writing some of the heaviest and off-beat-est riffs on any of their six albums to date.

View on Amazon: Queens Of The Stone Age Songs For The Deaf

Blakroc – Blakroc (2009)

Blakroc began when Roc-A-Fella Records co-founder Damon Dash began listening to Ohian garage-blues rock duo The Black Keys and got in touch with the idea of pairing them with rapper Jim Jones to make an album. Story goes that Mos Def interrupted a session and ended up recording with them as well, and over 11 weeks an army of artists including Ludacris, Q-Tip and RZA contributed to a truly unique rap record.

Listen to Blakroc What You Do To Me on YouTube

View on Amazon: Blakroc Blakroc

David Bowie – Blackstar (2016)

You almost thought we'd left Bowie off the list, didn't you? What better way to round off this group of 50 albums than with Blackstar, a Tony Visconti gem on which Bowie's creative genius is complemented gorgeously by jazz saxophonist Donny McCaslin and his quartet. Quite a way to go out, in all senses.

View on Amazon: David Bowie Blackstar


With contributions from
  • Fredlocks
    Where's The Nightfly?
  • eoc69
    Poor list, Where's the blue Nile. Hats?
  • PLapin
    Yeah where is The Nighty? And Aja. Aja should be at the top of the list.
  • jw23
    Two from Mogwai? Really?
  • Escudos999
    I'm very surprised by absence of Joni Mitchell...'Blue'?
  • Skotto
    Also missing is The Year of the Cat by Al Stewart. It and Dark Side of the Moon are the two best sounding albums to come out of the 70s.
  • Skotto
    PLapin said:
    Yeah where is The Nighty? And Aja. Aja should be at the top of the list.
    Those two should definitely be on the list. I’ve never heard of a lot of the ones on there.
  • Natan90NL
    Lol always people complaining their songs aren’t on the list. It’s a selection. Btw it even took me a while to add all these albums so nice big list!
  • singularity6
    In my opinion, Tool is a band that seems like it should be mentioned more on such lists. Tom Waits puts out some very interesting music, too. Some of his stuff is a trip if you have good headphones or a decent stereo.
  • singularity6
    Skotto said:
    I’ve never heard of a lot of the ones on there.

    Likewise. However, more ideas of what to listen to is never a bad thing!