The Best British Albums Of The Last 60 years
To celebrate 60 years on the throne, HMV conducted a poll in Britain asking what the best British album released during Queen Elizabeth II's reign was. The results are filled with the usual suspects, but the order they finished up in left more than a few eyebrows raised.
20. Oasis - Definitely Maybe
“All I ever wanted to do was make a record. Here’s what you do: you pick up your guitar, you rip a few people’s tunes off, you swap them round a bit, get your brother in the band, punch his head in every now and again, and it sells. I’m a lucky bastard. I’m probably the single most lucky man in the world, apart from our Liam.” – Noel Gallagher.
19. Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Considering Queen Elizabeth II knighted Sir Elton John in 1998, it seems only fitting he should find his way onto a poll conducted in her honour. John’s 1973 album ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ contained the Marilyn Monroe tribute “Candle in the Wind” which would subsequently become a tribute to Princess Diana after Sir Elton played it (and then television stations repeated it, constantly) at her funeral.
18. Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here
For an album of five songs, two of which are one (trippy); it’s a testament to the endearing quality of Pink Floyd’s expansive soundscapes that ‘Wish You Were Here’ remains so popular amongst fans. “Shine on you Crazy Diamond”, the album’s centrepiece, was inspired by the mental decline of former band stalwart Syd Barrett, who visited Abbey Road studios in 1975 whilst the album was being recorded. The members of the band didn’t recognise him, and it was to be the last time any of them saw him before his death in 2006.
17. Radiohead - OK Computer
One of the most critically acclaimed albums of the last twenty years, if not of all time, ‘OK Computer’ was described by Rolling Stone as “the sound of rock and roll dying”. Inspired by Miles Davis’ ‘Bitches Brew’ and the writings of Noam Chomsky, ‘OK Computer’ left guitar rock behind for more expansive and experimental terrain. Still one of the most important bands around, Radiohead’s November tour of Australia sold out instantly. God loves his children.
16. Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath
Released on Friday the 13th of February, 1970; Black Sabbath’s self-titled debut is often cited as the first Heavy Metal album. The band has sold more than 70 million albums, with singer Ozzy Osbourne selling a further 55 million on his own. The band is set to reunite with the closest reincarnation of its original lineup yet. Again, probably not one of The Queen’s favourite records during her reign, but imagining ol’ Lizzy rocking along to “Evil Woman” is fun enough.
15. The Smiths - The Queen is Dead
27 years since The Smiths released their seminal album ‘The Queen is Dead’, and Her Majesty has still yet to kick the bucket. Though never reaching true mainstream success, The Smiths garnered a strong, loyal following. One of the biggest independent groups to emerge from the 1980’s, the band split in 1987 and despite numerous offers, have refused to reunite ever since.
14. David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
The most important album from the most important and eclectic artist of the 1970’s; Bowie’s fifth studio album saw him adopt the fictional Ziggy Stardust moniker for a spaced-out concept record. “Starman” peaked at #10 on the UK charts; and while the album never sold the millions of records of other albums in the list, Bowie’s influence on popular music cannot be overstated.
13. The Clash - London Calling
Arguably the most iconic punk rock album, with one of the most iconic photographs in rock and roll for its cover; ‘London Calling’ ended the 1970’s in much the same way Pete Simonon ended that Fender Precision Bass on the cover; with a fucking bang. Selling 5 million copies worldwide, Rolling Stone rated it as number eight on their all-time best albums list. Its hour-long barrage of nineteen angst, hurt and hope-filled anthems are as vital now as they were thirty years ago. London is still Calling.
12. The Beatles - Rubber Soul
….damn they’re popular.
11. Led Zeppelin – IV
Led Zeppelin’s highest selling album always finds a spot close to the top on any best albums list. It spent over a year in the British charts after its release, and has sold 32 million copies, the same as ‘Sgt Peppers’. Speaking of the Beatles…
10. The Beatles - White Album
No Skrillex. Still good.
9. Adele – 21
Not only is ‘21’ the only album on the list to still be in the charts, it’s the only album of the last fifteen years to breach the top twenty. Adele’s second LP went on to sell 20 million copies in 2011, and single-handedly revitalised the lagging sales of the British and American record industries. And she was 21.
8. Oasis - (What's the Story) Morning Glory?
The second album by the Gallagher brothers launched them into the commercial stratosphere. With hits like “Wonderwall”, it’s no surprise the album has gone on to become one of, if not the seminal album of the Britpop era. Or, as Liam would put it, “Lennon was right. And we are bigger than Jesus. We will be as big as the Beatles, if not bigger.”
7. Queen - A Night at the Opera
When it was released in 1975, Queen’s fourth LP was the most expensive record ever made. And worth every penny! This is the album with “Bohemian Rhapsody” on it; needless to say it was a commercial and critical success. Guitarist Brian May was cited as saying if it weren’t a success, Queen would have disbanded.
6. The Beatles – Revolver
The only Beatles record to be produced by Skrillex, listen out for the enormous drop during “She Said, She Said”.
5. Pink Floyd - The Dark Side of the Moon
British Prime Minister David Cameron voted Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ the best album under Her Majesty’s rule. Between its release in 1973 and 1988, 741 weeks later; the album never left the British charts. It has sold more than 50 million copies worldwide, with only Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ selling more. Like Sgt Peppers, Dark Side is considered one of the greatest ‘concept albums’, with both sides flowing as a continuous piece of music, and a consistent lyrical theme involving “the loss of a creative individual’s ability to function in the modern world”. Far out, man.
4. The Beatles - Abbey Road
The last album ever recorded by The Beatles (though Let It Be would be released later), Paul McCartney pitched the album as “one more like we used to”, and as a coda to the legacy of The Beatles, Abbey Road certainly is fitting. “Come Together”, “Here Comes The Sun”, “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” or “Oh! Darling”, there’s not a dull moment here. The album was the fourth highest selling record of the 1960’s; and that zebra crossing garnered ‘grade II listed’ status for its cultural significance.
3. The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Arguably the most important album in recorded history; in 1967 Sgt Peppers proved that popular music could be as rich as any high art. Referred to by some as the first ever ‘concept album’, or by others as “a defining moment in the history of Western Civilisation”, the eighth studio album by the ‘Fab Four’ spent a dizzying twenty-seven weeks atop the British Charts, and has gone on to sell 32 million copies.
2. Depeche Mode – Violator
The 1990’s proved to be the most popular decade in the poll, with eighteen entries in the sixty albums. Depeche Mode’s seventh studio album ‘Violator’ was deemed the most popular. Dropping in 1990, it remains the band’s most popular album, with over 15 million copies sold worldwide. With over 100 million albums sold worldwide, Depeche Mode remain the world’s most successful electronic band.
1. Iron Maiden - The Number of the Beast
Though not likely Her Majesty’s favourite album on her diamond jubilee list, the legions of fans of ‘The Beast’ hurled their 1982 hit record into the top position as best album in the sixty years of the Queen’s rule. Met instantly with critical and commercial success, ‘Number of the Beast’ was the first album to feature vocalist Bruce Dickinson, and their first to reach the coveted number one spot on the British charts.
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