So, 1974 to 1985, right?

I suppose the first thing to do is to answer the question everyone’s been asking: “Why 74-85?” A seemingly random period of time. The rationale behind the recent pre-1974 poll was perhaps a tad easier to explain. For that exercise we reimagined the 1974 NME Top 100 albums, through 21st century eyes. For this one, we’ve drawn a line at 1985, the year the NME published their second Greatest Albums poll. There would be little point in voters duplicating some of their choices from the pre-74 list, so instead, TNPC is planning a four part feature. The next one will focus on albums released between 1986 and 1999, and the last will be a 21st century rundown. Expect to be harassed into taking part in those over the coming months.

Where did jazz go?

While this is a terrific collection of albums, there isn’t a great deal here to be surprised about. One might note perhaps how Wire’s legacy, like that of The Kinks (as evidenced by their performance in the pre-74 poll) is becoming more secure. Wire was conspicuously absent from the ’85 NME poll, pictured above. The balance and breadth of the entries was striking too: people seem more relaxed nowadays to mix prog, punk and hip-hop together in their lists, something which might not have been the case in 1985.

In 1974, few could possibly have foreseen the changes that were about to take place in popular music, and the outward ripples of punk and new wave flow freely through the list. But there’s a real shortage of soul. While reggae and dub are at least represented with a handful of entries, it was after all the golden era of JA music. Jazz meanwhile has fallen of the radar spectacularly, despite Miles making some of the most adventurous music, and Sun Ra some of his most accessibly celestial, during the period in question.

All the others you’d expect to be there – well, they’re here. And the top choice? Won by a landslide…

As with the last poll, I’ll post an Appendix of the next 100 over the next few days. Some great albums just missed the cut, Marcus Garvey, one of my all-time favourites for example. I also intend to post an Alternative Top 100 of albums which were nominated only once. I guarantee that will be an eye-opener and will set you off on new journeys of discovery.

Once again, I can’t thank enough all those who were kind and enthusiastic enough to contribute. I’m very grateful to you all. Hope you enjoy the list. Back soon. (JJ)

The Top 100:

100. Kings Of The Wild Frontier – Adam & The Ants (CBS, 1980)

99. Fried – Julian Cope (Mercury, 1984)

98. Soul Mining – The The (Some Bizarre, 1983)

97. The Undertones – The Undertones (Sire, 1979)

96. New Gold Dream [81-82-83-84] – Simple Minds (Virgin, 1982)

95. I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight – Richard & Linda Thompson (Island, 1974)

94. 154 – Wire (Harvest, 1979)

93. Born To Run – Bruce Springsteen (Columbia, 1975)

92. Imperial Bedroom – Elvis Costello & The Attractions (F-Beat, 1982)

91. Super Ape – The Upsetters (Island, 1976)

90. Desire – Bob Dylan (CBS, 1976)

89. More Songs About Buildings & Food – Talking Heads (Sire, 1978)

88. Exodus – Bob Marley & The Wailers (Island, 1977)

87. Nebraska – Bruce Springsteen (CBS, 1982)

86. Physical Graffiti – Led Zeppelin (Swan Song, 1975)

85. Grievous Angel  – Gram Parsons (Reprise, 1974)

84. Rust Never Sleeps – Neil Young & Crazy Horse (Reprise, 1979)

83. Sulk – Associates (Beggars Banquet, 1982)

82. Diamond Dogs – David Bowie (RCA, 1974)

81. Court & Spark – Joni Mitchell (Asylum, 1974)

80. Get Happy!! – Elvis Costello & The Attractions (F-Beat, 1980)

79. Lexicon Of Love – ABC (Neutron, 1982)

78. The Man Machine – Kraftwerk (EMI, 1977)

77. Let It Be – The Replacements (Twin/Tone, 1984)

76. This Nation’s Saving Grace – The Fall (Beggars Banquet, 1985)

75. Colossal Youth – Young Marble Giants (Rough Trade, 1980)

74. The Modern Dance  – Pere Ubu (Blank, 1978)

73. Rain Dogs – Tom Waits (Island, 1985)

72. A Walk Across The Rooftops – The Blue Nile (Linn, 1983)

71. Kilimanjaro – The Teardrop Explodes (Fontana, 1980)

70. Purple Rain – Prince & The Revolution (Warner Bros, 1984)

69. Reckoning – REM (IRS, 1984)

68. Don’t Stand Me Down – Dexy’s Midnight Runners (Mercury, 1985)

67. The Hissing Of Summer Lawns – Joni Mitchell (Asylum, 1975)

66. Rocket To Russia – Ramones (Sire, 1977)

65. Rumours – Fleetwood Mac (Warner Bros, 1977)

64. Sound Affects – The Jam (Polydor, 1980)

63. Steve McQueen – Prefab Sprout (Kitchenware, 1985)

62. Pacific Ocean Blue – Dennis Wilson (Caribou, 1977)

61. Singles: Going Steady – Buzzcocks (United Artists, 1979)

60. All Mod Cons – The Jam (Polydor, 1978)

59. Lust For Life – Iggy Pop (RCA, 1977)

58. Another Green World – Brian Eno (Island, 1975)

57. Hex Enduction Hour – The Fall (Kamera, 1982)

56. Heroes – David Bowie (RCA, 1977)

55. Ocean Rain – Echo & The Bunnymen (Korova, 1984)

54. Hejira – Joni Mitchell (Asylum, 1976)

53. Tonight’s The Night – Neil Young (Reprise, 1975)

52. . Entertainment! – Gang Of Four (EMI. 1979)

51. The Specials (Two-Tone, 1979)

50. Another Music In A Different Kitchen – Buzzcocks (United Artists, 1978)

49. Dare – The Human League (A&M, 1981)

48. Swordfishtrombones – Tom Waits (Island, 1983)

47. Two Sevens Clash – Culture (Joe Gibbs, 1977)

46. Real Life – Magazine (Virgin, 1978)

45. Treasure – Cocteau Twins (4AD, 1984)

44. Hounds Of Love – Kate Bush (EMI, 1985)

43. Meat Is Murder – The Smiths (Rough Trade, 1985)

42. The Smiths (Rough Trade, 1984)

41. Cut – The Slits (Island, 1979)

40. Parallel Lines – Blondie (Chrysalis, 1978)

39. Veedon Fleece – Van Morrison (Warner Bros, 1974)

38. Pink Flag – Wire (Harvest, 1977)

37. Radio City – Big Star (Ardent, 1974)

36. High Land Hard Rain – Aztec Camera (Rough Trade, 1983)

35. Songs In The Key Of Life – Stevie Wonder (Tamla Motown, 1976)

34. Rattlesnakes – Lloyd Cole & The Commotions (Polydor, 1984)

33. The Idiot – Iggy Pop (RCA, 1977)

32. You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever – Orange Juice (Polydor, 1982)

31. Neu! 75 – Neu! (Brain, 1975)

30. Rock Bottom – Robert Wyatt (Virgin, 1974)

29. Ramones (Sire, 1976)

28. The Clash (CBS, 1977)

27. Kings Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown- Augustus Pablo (Yard, 1976)

26. Trans-Europe Express – Kraftwerk (EMI, 1977)

25. Hatful Of Hollow – The Smiths (Rough Trade, 1984)

24. Heart Of The Congos – The Congos (Black Ark, 1977)

23. Rum Sodomy & The Lash – The Pogues (Stiff, 1985)

22. Chairs Missing – Wire (Harvest, 1978)

21. Fear Of Music – Talking Heads (Sire, 1979)

20. Power Corruption & Lies – New Order (Factory, 1983)

19. 3rd [Sister Lovers] – Big Star (PVC, 1978)

18. Remain In Light – Talking Heads (Sire, 1980)

17. Murmur – REM (IRS, 1983)

16. Psychocandy – The Jesus & Mary Chain (Blanco y negro, 1985)

15. Suicide (Red Star, 1977)

14. The Modern Lovers (Beserkley, 1976)

13. London Calling – The Clash (CBS, 1979)

12. Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols – The Sex Pistols (Virgin, 1977)

11. Horses – Patti Smith (Arista, 1975)

10. Searching For The Young Soul Rebels – Dexy’s Midnight Runners (EMI, 1980)

9. Metal Box – Public Image Ltd (Virgin, 1979)

8. Station To Station – David Bowie (RCA, 1976)

7. On The Beach – Neil Young (Reprise, 1974)

6. No Other – Gene Clark (Asylum, 1974)

5. Closer – Joy Division (Factory, 1980)

4. Unknown Pleasures – Joy Division (Factory, 1979)

3. Low – David Bowie (RCA, 1977)

2. Blood On The Tracks – Bob Dylan (CBS, 1975)

1. Marquee Moon – Television (Elektra, 1977)


Bill Ainsworth, Camilla Aisa, Neil Alexander, Dot Allison, Mick Anderson, Andy (Birmingham 81), Michael Bailey (Soft Hearted Scientists), Billy Bell, Caroline Binnie, Nick Blakey (Underground Jukebox), Chris Bounds, Holly Boyd, Stephen Boyd, Gerry Braiden, Johnny Browning, Colin Brunton, Helen Bull, Marc (Captain Howdy), Julie Campbell (LoneLady, Warp Records), Rob Chapman, Chris Coleman, Mike Convery, Alison Cotton (Left Outsides), Dave Coulter, Laura Lee Davies, Jon Dennis, Mick Derrick, John Dickie, Andrew Divine, Philip Downer, Spender Downes, Vincent Driscoll, Seamus Duggan, Maureen Dunlop, Matthew Edwards, Liam Elliott, Matt Elliott, Pete Ferguson, Declan Flanagan, Mikki Francis-Lawton, Paul Gallagher, Ash Grace, Theo Hakkert, Jeff Hartley, Andrew Hill, Mark Hillier, Barney Hoskyns, Sophie Jay, Johnnie Johnstone, Martin Johnstone, Peter Johnstone, Allan Jones, Jukebox Rebel, Danny Kelly, David Kelner, John Kilbride, Harris King, Graham Kingsbury, Neil Kulkarni, June Lewins, Gerry Love, Huw M, Alastair Macduff, Gary Mackenzie, John Marcus, Leon Massey, Stephen McAuley, Ryan McCullough, Grant McPhee, Fiona McQuarrie, John Medd, Graham Meikle, Andy Miller, Thom Moore, Rob Morgan, Greg Morse, Tony Mulraney, Paul Murray, Peter Murray, Jason Myles, Brendan O’Leary, Jake Palmer, Thomas Patterson, Mark Paytress, Andy Pidluznyj (New Apostles), Nick Portnell, Johnny Purcell, Steve Rhodes, Don Richmond, Chris Roberts, Matt Rogers, Marco Rossi, Martin Ruddock, David Sharp, Simon Shaw, Angela Slaven, Jonathan Small, Jason Spence, Iain Stansfield, Duglas T Stewart, Theo Stockman, David Stubbs, David Tanner, Huw Thomas, Daniel Thompson, Terry Tochel, Toni Tochel, Ben Travers, Paul Turnbull, Sughosh Varadarajan, Ian Wade, Neil Ware, Judah Warsky, Stevie Watt, Rob Webb, Dominic Whittingham, Sandy Wishart, Colin Wright.

Appendix 1: 101-200:

101. The Scream – Siouxsie & The Banshees

102. Talking Heads ‘77 – Talking Heads
103. This Year’s Model – Elvis Costello & The Attractions
104. Nightclubbing – Grace Jones
105. Darkness On The Edge Of Town – Bruce Springsteen
106. Songs The Lord Taught Us – The Cramps
107. Mothership Connection – Parliament
108. Spring Hill Fair – The Go-Betweens
109. Heaven Up Here – Echo & The Bunnymen
110. Crocodiles – Echo & The Bunnymen 
111. More Specials – The Specials
112. WishYou Were Here – Pink Floyd
113. Marcus Garvey – Burning Spear
114. Aja – Steely Dan
115. Damned Damned Damned – The Damned
116. Wilder – The Teardrop Explodes 
117. Leave Home – Ramones
118. There’s No Place Like America Today – Curtis Mayfield
119. The Correct Use Of Soap – Magazine
120. 20 Jazz Funk Greats – Throbbing Gristle
121. Blank Generation- Richard Hell & The Voidoids
122. Movement – New Order
123. New Boots & Panties – Ian Dury & The Blockheads
124. Young Americans – David Bowie
125. Computer World – Kraftwerk 
126. Coney Island Baby – Lou Reed
127. Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables – Dead Kennedys 
128. New Day Rising – Hüsker Dü
129. Zuma – Neil Young & Crazy Horse
130. Emergency Third Rail Power Trip – The Rain Parade
131. Fables Of The Reconstruction – REM
132. Germ-Free Adolescents- X-Ray Spex
133. My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts – Brian Eno / David Byrne
134. Risque – Chic
135. Best Dressed Chicken In Town – Dr. Alimantado
136. Before And After Science – Brian Eno
137. Scary Monsters [And Super Creeps] – David Bowie
138. The Belle Album – Al Green
139. Y – The Pop Group
140. Soon Over Babaluma – Can
141. Perverted By Language – The Fall
142. English Settlement – XTC
143. Tusk – Fleetwood MAC
144. I Just Can’t Stop It – The Beat
145. Grotesque- The Fall
146. Autobahn – Kraftwerk 
147. Red – King Crimson
148. Zen Arcade – Hüsker Dü
149. One World – John Martyn 
150. Underwater Moonlight – Soft Boys
151. The Kick Inside – Kate Bush
152. Head On The Door – The Cure
153. Street Hassle- Lou Reed
154. Red Roses For Me – The Pogues
155. Kimono My House – Sparks
156. C’est Chic – Chic
157. Double Nickels On The Dime – Minutemen
158. Swoon – Prefab Sprout
159. Handsworth Revolution – Steel Pulse
160. The Strange Idols Pattern & Other Short Stories – Felt
161. The Raincoats – The Raincoats
162. Crazy Rhythms – The Feelies
163. Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret – Soft Cell
164. Cupid & Psyche 85 – Scritti Politti
165. Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes
166. Some Girls – The Rolling Stones
167. Here My Dear – Marvin Gaye
168. A Trip To Marineville – Swell Maps
169. Dragnet – The Fall
170. Live At The Witch Trials – The Fall
171. Natty Dread – Bob Marley & The Wailers
172. Inflammable Material – Stiff Little Fingers
173. The Nightfly – Donald Fagen
174. This Is The Sea – The Waterboys
175. Dirty Mind – Prince
176. Even Serpents Shine – The Only Ones
177. Machine Gun Etiquette – The Damned
178. Doc At The Radar Station – Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band
179. The Rutles – The Rutles
180. Give ‘Em Enough Rope – The Clash
181. Winter In America – Brian Jackson & Gil Scott-Heron 
182. It’ll End In Tears – This Mortal Coil
183. Fire Of Love – The Gun Club
184. Suicide – Suicide (2nd)
185. E2-E4 – Manuel Göttsching 
186. Come Away – ESG
187. LC – The Durutti Column 
188. La Düsseldorf – La Düsseldorf 
189. Gentlemen Take Polaroids – Japan
190. What’s The Matter Boy? – Vic Godard & Subway Sect
191. B-52s – B-52s
192. The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway – Genesis
193. Al Green Is Love – Al Green
194. Run DMC – Run DMC
195. And Don’t The Kids Just Love It – Television Personalities 
196. LAMF – The Heartbreakers 
197. Pretenders – Pretenders
198. The Only Fun In Town – Josef K
199. Youth Of America – Wipers
200. African Dub Chapter 3 – Joe Gibbs

Appendix. 2: One Vote Wonders: Journeys of Discovery

Some of the more eye catching nominations – from the sublime to the ridiculous. Happy listening:..

A Certain Ratio – To Each…

The Aggrovators – Johnny In The Echo Chamber

Terry Allen – Lubbock (On Everything)

Amanaz – Africa

Art Bears – The World As It Is Today

Robert Ashley – Automatic Writing

Beat Happening – Beat Happening

Bee Gees – Main Course

Jorge Ben – Africa Brasil

Agnes Bernelle – Bernelle On Brecht and…

Jane Birkin – De Doo Dah

Glenn Branca – Ascension

Jacques Brel – Les Marquises

Butthole Surfers – Psychic Powerless, Another Man’s Sac

Cabaret Voltaire – The Crackdown

Cerrone 3 – Supernature

Don Cherry- Brown Rice

The Chords – So Far Away

The Church – Heyday

Alice Coltrane – Eternity

Cortex – Spinal Injuries

Miles Davis – Dark Magus

Betty Davis – They Say I’m Different

Francesco De Gregori – Bufalo Bill

Dukes Of Stratophear – 25 O’ Clock

Einsturzende Neubauten – 1/2 Mensch

Eno / Moebius / Roedelius – After The Heat

Original Soundtrack- Escape From New York

Felt – The Splendour Of Fear

Fred Frith – Guitar Solos

The Fuzztones – Lysergic Emanations

Game Theory – Real Nightime

Germs – (GI)

Richard Gotainer – Chants Zazous

Great Plains – Naked At The Buy Sell & Trade

Harmonia – Harmonia Deluxe

Eddie Hazel – Games, Dames & Guitar Thangs

Henry Cow – In Praise Of Learning

Higelin – BBh75

Joe Higgs – Life Of Contradiction

Isolation Ward – Point Final

The Jazz Butcher – A Scandal In Bohemia

Eddie Kendricks – Boogie Down

Basil Kirchin – Worlds Within Worlds

Fela Kuti & Afrika ’70 – Sorrow Tears & Blood

RD Laing – Life Before Death

Last Poets – Delights Of The Garden

Jah Lion – Colombia Colly

Lyres – On Fyre

Candy Mackenzie – Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry presents…

MX-80 Sound – Hard Attack

Indoda Mahlathini – Ngibuzindlela

Michael Mantler – The Hapless Child

Mantronix – The Album

Marine Girls – Lazy Ways

Millions Of Dead Cops – Millions Of Dead Cops

Mission Of Burma – Signals Calls & Marches

Moondog – H’Art Songs

Hugh Mundell – Africa Must Be Free By 1983

Milton Nascimento- Clube Da Esquina 2

Nash The Slash – Bedside Companion

Mickey Newbury – I Came To Hear The Music

Colin Newman – A-Z

Pauline Oliveros – Accordion & Voice

Bulent Ortacgil – Benimle Oynar Misin

Ossie All-Stars – Leggo Dub

Gilbert O’Sullivan – A Stranger In My Own Back Yard

Annette Peacock – X-Dreams

Ann Peebles – The Handwriting Is On The Wall

Pink Industry – Low Technology

Popol Vuh – Brüder des Schattens

The Radiators – Songs From The Ancient Furnace

Red Kross – Teen Babes From Monsanto

Terry Reid – Songs From Memory

The Residents – Meet The Residents

Minnie Riperton – Perfect Angel

Michael Rother – Fernwarme

Rufus – Rufusized

Sand – Golem

Scientist – Scientist Rids The World Of The Evil Curse Of The Vampires

Section 25 – Always Now

Yatha Sidhra – A Meditation Mass

Solid Space – Space Museum

The Sound – Heads & Hearts

Sun Ra – Lanquidity

Tangerine Dream – Rubycon

Teenage Head – Teenage Head

Telephone – Crache Tom Venin

The Triffids – Treeless Plain

TV21 – A Thin Red Line

James Blood Ulmer – Are You Glad To Be In America?

Van Der Graf Generator – Godbluff

Townes Van Zandt – Flyin’ Shoes

Velvet Monkeys – Future

Laurent Voulzy – Bopper En Larmes

The Wake – Here Comes Everybody

Ben Watt – North Marine Drive

Yabby You – Deliver Me From My Enemies

Zero Boys – Vicious Circle

Tappa Zukie – MPLA


6 thoughts on “TNPC presents… THE GREATEST ALBUMS MADE BETWEEN 1974-85

      1. Great list! Interesting choice for the top spot. Much as I love Marquee Moon, I’m struggling to think of any other album so eclipsed by one song.


  1. All solid stuff. This is more in the spirit of the influential lists published by NME, Mojo and Rolling Stone than the Perfect Collection. Perfect Collection has a number of advantages over the big three. Firstly, that there is no ranking and no suggestion of a number one ultimate LP. Sgt Pepper, Forever Changes, Pet Sounds, Astral Weeks and Marquee Moon are all good to excellent records, but how can any single recording withstand the pressure of being promoted to the very pinnacle of recorded music? I’ve become allergic to use of the word ‘narrative’ so please excuse it’s use here – the Top 100 list is a narrative of a culture peddled by consumer focused publications. Sgt Pepper was clearly a symbol of a moment in time whose memory was cherished in the minds of a generation, and this explains why it’s reputation has diminished in recent years as a new consumer cohort comes of age and the previous slides into apathy. ‘Nevermind’ will top a similar list in the next few years, if it hasn’t already. The narrative was essentially a nostalgic one. Secondly, Perfect Collection enjoyed the virtue of brevity, and of capsulising into sections based on genre or time period instead of offering one monolithic list. This was helpful, since it allowed fifties rock n roll, soul, early sixties etc chance to breathe. I don’t have my copy handy, but I think there is no jazz list at all. This was perhaps wise. The inclusion of Kind OF Blue in the Mojo list was pure tokenism. Rock and Jazz may be related in some ways but they are quite different beasts. Likewise, Van Morrison himself expressed puzzlement that Astral Weeks was featured in the Mojo list of top rock records since as he put it ‘ … there is no rock on it. A bit puzzling!’ This also begs the question: how is a perfect collection put togetehr in the internet era? Finding the records in the original PC was great fun. Now, our conception of music is expanded to a huge degree. The idea of consuming music by purchasng one album a week, although feasible and sensible, seems archaic and almost ascetic. In an age of compulsory consumption, a handy guide to the (by common consensus) artistic highlights of recorded music is useful to the buyer. The sheer volume (no pun) of music available is overwhelming. Tom Hibbert’s follow up (or predecessor?) to PC, Rare Records features, for example, a list of thirty collectable Punk-Beat vinyls. Consider this in light of the phone directory (another archaism) sized tomes published Vernon Jonson and others on the same subject. Soul music also suffered by being tokenised in a list dominated by rock. A list of equal quality could produced using only soul music. It’s a question of musical taste, and of the cultural milieu of the writers. I love Undertones, Buzzcocks and so on, and they are undoubtedly influential. The question is, who am I talking to? The enthusiast or the novice? I t would be extremely reductionist, but I would probably only recommend Teenage Kicks in an appendix list of essential 45s to make way for a more substantial album. Finally, Perfect Collection also enjoyed the further virtues of irreverence and idiosyncracy. There is no pompous weight of ‘cultural importance’. It is very funny, and Hibbert’s championing of the likes of Kasenetz-Katz bubblegum and Sheila B, for instance, is charming. His extreme aversion to Bowie is also amusing. There is a ‘canon’ of recorded music which ought to be promoted. You will find little argument against Revolver being a great listen. For or against, the people who care are probably a vanishingly small coterie. The lists that maintain the reputations of Big Star Third, Fun House, Forever Changes and so forth are like keepers of the faith. These are examples of ‘rock’ straining toward sophistication, a new Art form. By and large though, outside of a small cult, that promise has been unfulfilled. The mass pop music, whatever musical virtues it may or may not possess, represents the only true Art form of the twentieth century and beyond – the mobilization of advertising and mass media. Sign off with the epitaph Lou Reed wrote in the hangover of the sixties, when it was already obvious that shooting at the moon had failed: ‘I had hoped that the intelligence which once invested films and novels would also invest Rock. I was, perhaps, wrong’.


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