The Observer: The 100 Best British Albums of All Time

Roses beat Beatles in best UK album poll

Discover the 100 greatest British albums in today's Observer Music Monthly

Sarah Boden
Sunday June 20, 2004
The Observer

The greatest British album of all time was recorded by four young men from the north-west of England, armed with the rock'n'roll rudiments of guitar, bass and drums and an ear for an unforgettable refrain. But it was not by the Beatles. Nor Oasis. The honour goes to the Stone Roses.

The outcome of a poll carried out for today's Observer Music Monthly shows a departure from traditional 'best album' lists.

Ozzy Osbourne, Emma Bunton, Morrissey, Brian May and the Darkness's Justin Hawkins are among 100 musicians and industry experts who selected their 10 favourite British albums. The results were used to compile the definitive list of the 100 Greatest British Albums.

The Beatles' Revolver was pushed into second place by the Roses, Oasis's first album Definitely Maybe languishes at No 19 and John Lydon's rock group PIL beat the Sex Pistols to the top 10.

The Stone Roses' eponymous debut was declared a masterpiece by the music press on its release in 1989. Its trippy melodies captured the musical zeitgeist by melding the influences of acid house and the baggy sonics of 'Madchester'. Despite charting at No 39, it hung in the top 100 for more than a year.

Shock omissions from the list include Pulp, Queen and the Cure.

Jim DeRogatis, music critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, voiced his disbelief at the winner: 'You're going to champion that lame retread disco beat, that whiny singer, those oh-so-dated chiming guitars and all the lifted Simon and Garfunkelisms?'

The view from America

Jim DeRogatis
Sunday June 20, 2004
The Observer

The first thing to say is: you Brits have good taste - certainly much better than us Yanks. As an American analyst of British rock and popular music in general, I cannot applaud you heartily enough for the absence here of, say, Kylie and the Spice Girls (sure, you're as quick to embrace pop dreck as we are, but at least you don't call it art), or for the inclusion of cultish heroes such as Massive Attack, Nick Drake, My Bloody Valentine, Brian Eno, Robert Wyatt and the Fall. (But where the hell are Wire?)

Second, in general, you Brits really fall (and hard) for certain inexplicable cons! I mean, come on, now - is the Stone Roses' one brief, shining, but exceedingly overrated moment in the sun really the one disc you'd choose to put in a time capsule to introduce alien cultures to all that is great about British rock? You're going to champion that lame retread disco beat, that whiny singer, those oh-so-dated chiming guitars and all the lifted Simon and Garfunkelisms (it's OK with us, you can have 'em!)?

Third, and along the same lines, we've always had a vibrant Lend-Lease program operating across the pond in terms of what you borrow from us and vice versa - witness the rightful success here of the Beatles, the Stones and Zeppelin. But, on occasion, you've appropriated the wrong things (the Streets's faux Eminem routine, for example), ignored other innovators who have actually improved upon our sounds (PJ Harvey's take on the blues), and perhaps taken for granted - and thus underrated - the uniquely English charms of some artists who are missing in action (why Oasis but not Pulp, Echo and the Bunnymen but not the Teardrop Explodes?).

I could go on - and on, and on - but we haven't the space. In the interest of international diplomacy, I'll resist sniping about the folly of all such lists, especially when they're constructed on nationalist terms, and note that at least they give us something to debate - better even than the antics of our Dubya and your Tony Blair.

Jim DeRogatis is the pop music critic of the Chicago Sun-Times

The list in full

Observer Music Monthly's top 100 British albums
More details here

Sunday June 20, 2004


The Stone Roses, The Stone Roses
Never mind the Pollocks: The Stone Roses' The Stone Roses

1. The Stone Roses, The Stone Roses
2. Revolver, The Beatles
3. London Calling, The Clash
4. Astral Weeks, Van Morrison
5. Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles
6. The Beatles, The Beatles
7. Sticky Fingers, The Rolling Stones
8. Exile on Main St, The Rolling Stones
9. Blue Lines, Massive Attack
10. Metal Box, PiL
11. The Rise & Fall Of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars, David Bowie
12. Beggars Banquet, Rolling Stones
13. The Clash, The Clash
14. Never Mind The Bollocks, The Sex Pistols
15. Club Classics Vol 1, Soul II Soul
16. Five Leaves Left, Nick Drake
17. The Specials, The Specials
18. Closer, Joy Division
19. Definitely Maybe, Oasis
20. Loveless, My Bloody Valentine
21. The Smiths, The Smiths
22. Hounds Of Love, Kate Bush
23. For Your Pleasure, Roxy Music
24. OK Computer, Radiohead
25. Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, Pink Floyd
26. Roxy Music, Roxy Music
27. Unhalfbricking, Fairport Convention
28. Abbey Road, The Beatles
29. Roxy Music, Stranded
30. Unknown Pleasures, Joy Division
31. New Boots And Panties!!, Ian Dury And The Blockheads
32. Rubber Soul, The Beatles
33. Spirit Of Eden, Talk Talk
34. Every Picture Tells A Story, Rod Stewart
35. Bryter Layter, Nick Drake
36. Rock Bottom, Robert Wyatt
37. The Queen Is Dead, The Smiths
38. Ocean Rain, Echo And The Bunnymen
39. Low, David Bowie
40. Led Zeppelin II, Led Zeppelin
41. The Bends, Radiohead
42. Lexicon Of Love, ABC
43. The La's, The La's
44. Bummed, Happy Mondays
45. John Lennon And The Plastic Ono Band, John Lennon And The Plastic Ono Band
46. Solid Air, John Martyn
47. Hatful Of Hollow, The Smiths
48. Led Zeppelin IV, Led Zeppelin
49. Here Come The Warm Jets, Brian Eno
50. Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake, Small Faces
51. The Yes Album, Yes
52. Handsworth Revolution, Steel Pulse
53. Just Another Diamond Day, Vashti Bunyan
54. Searching For The Young Soul Rebels, Dexys Midnight Runners
55. Entertainment, Gang Of Four
56. All Mod Cons, The Jam
57. Village Green Preservation Society, The Kinks
58. Cut, The Slits
59. Urban Hymns, The Verve
60. Maxinquaye, Tricky
61. My Aim Is True, Elvis Costello
62. Meat Is Murder, The Smiths
63. Dark Side Of The Moon, Pink Floyd
64. Aladdin Sane, David Bowie
65. Power, Corruption and Lies, New Order
66. Something Else, The Kinks
67. Moondance, Van Morrison
68. Screamadelica, Primal Scream
69. Goodbye Yellow Brickroad, Elton John
70. (What's The Story) Morning Glory, Oasis
71. The Slider, T Rex
72. Grand Prix, Teenage Fanclub
73. Jailbreak, Thin Lizzy
74. Quadrophenia, The Who
75. Original Pirate Material, The Streets
76. Parklife, Blur
77. Dusty in Memphis, Dusty Springfield
78. Let it Bleed, Rolling Stones
79. Penguin Eggs, Nic Jones
80. Station To Station, David Bowie
81. Dummy, Portishead
82. Basket Of Light, Pentangle
83. My Generation, The Who
84. Road To Freedom, Young Disciples
85. Hunky Dory, David Bowie
86. Don't Stand Me Down, Dexy's Midnight Runners
87. This Nation's Saving Grace, The Fall
88. Young Americans, David Bowie
89. Band On The Run, Wings
90. Regatta De Blanc, The Police
91. Physical Graffiti, Led Zeppelin
92. Paranoid, Black Sabbath
93. Parachutes, Coldplay
94. Behaviour, Pet Shop Boys
95. Dizzee Rascal, Boy In Da Corner
96. Dare, The Human League
97. Heaven Or Las Vegas, The Cocteau Twins
98. Rattlesnakes, Lloyd Cole And The Commotions
99. The Holy Bible, Manic Street Preachers
100. Sweet Dreams, The Eurythmics