The Anniversary Albums Project: Best of 2020

New music has lost a lot of hold on me over the last few years. And two years ago I decided that instead of trying to keep up with it all, I’d look back at music history and listen to the albums celebrating milestones. Some of these I’d heard before, but many I had not. The project ended up being more than I could keep up with at times – there’s a list of at least 50 albums I didn’t get to – but it was much more enjoyable to discover and rediscover classics instead of just whatever was being dumped onto Spotify every Friday.

So below are my top 10s from each year I covered, along with some honorable mentions.

1970

  1. Van Morrison – Moondance
  2. The Kinks – Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One
  3. George Harrison – All Things Must Pass
  4. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Cosmo’s Factory
  5. Simon & Garfunkel – Bridge over Troubled Water
  6. Cat Stevens – Tea for the Tillerman
  7. The Velvet Underground – Loaded
  8. The Who – Live at Leeds / James Brown – Sex Machine / Joe Cocker – Mad Dogs and Englishmen
  9. Miles Davis – Bitches Brew
  10. Black Sabbath – Paranoid

HONORABLE MENTIONS
• Elton John – Tumbleweed Connection
• Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin III
• John Lennon – Plastic Ono Band
• Randy Newman – 12 Songs
• Santana – Abraxas
• The Stooges – Fun House

1980

  1. Talking Heads – Remain in Light
  2. Bruce Springsteen – The River
  3. Prince – Dirty Mind
  4. Pretenders – Pretenders
  5. Elvis Costello and the Attractions – Get Happy!!
  6. AC/DC – Back in Black
  7. Betty Carter – The Audience with Betty Carter
  8. The Clash – Sandinista!
  9. XTC – Black Sea
  10. Peter Gabriel – Melt

HONORABLE MENTIONS
• The B-52’s – Wild Planet
• David Bowie – Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)
• Dire Straits – Making Movies
• The Feelies – Crazy Rhythms
• Genesis – Duke
• The Jam – Sound Affects
• Joy Division – Closer
• Killing Joke – Killing Joke
• The Police – Zenyatta Mondatta
• Rockpile – Seconds of Pleasure
• The Soft Boys – Underwater Moonlight
• Squeeze – Argybargy
• U2 – Boy
• Tom Waits – Heartattack and Vine
• Various Artists – The Blues Brothers

1990

  1. George Michael – Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1
  2. A Tribe Called Quest – People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm
  3. Prefab Sprout – Jordan: The Comeback
  4. Garth Brooks – No Fences
  5. Pixies – Bossanova
  6. Cocteau Twins – Heaven or Las Vegas
  7. Angelo Badalamenti – Soundtrack from Twin Peaks
  8. The KLF – Chill Out
  9. Ride – Nowhere
  10. Pet Shop Boys – Behaviour

HONORABLE MENTIONS
• Brand Nubian – One for All
• Eric B. & Rakim – Let the Rhythm Hit ’Em
• Fugazi – Repeater
• Kronos Quartet – Black Angels
• The La’s – The La’s
• Madonna – The Immaculate Collection
• Sinéad O’Connor – I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got
• Public Enemy – Fear of a Black Planet
• Selena – Ven Conmigo
• They Might Be Giants – Flood

1995

  1. Oasis – (What’s the Story?) Morning Glory
  2. Radiohead – The Bends
  3. The Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
  4. GZA – Liquid Swords / Raekwon – Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…
  5. Tricky – Maxinquaye
  6. Leftfield – Leftism
  7. Annie Lennox – Medusa
  8. Pavement – Wowee Zowee
  9. The Roots – Do You Want More?!!!??!
  10. Passengers – Original Soundtracks 1

HONORABLE MENTIONS
• Björk – Post
• D’Angelo – Brown Sugar
• Goldie – Timeless
• Goodie Mob – Soul Food
• Jawbreaker – Dear You
• Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill
• Mouse on Mars – Iaora Tahiti
• Pulp – Different Class
• Selena – Dreaming of You
• Elliott Smith – Elliott Smith
• Bruce Springsteen – The Ghost of Tom Joad

2000

  1. Radiohead – Kid A
  2. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven
  3. OutKast – Stankonia
  4. Yo La Tengo – And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out
  5. Coldplay – Parachutes
  6. U2 – All That You Can’t Leave Behind
  7. Ryan Adams – Heartbreaker
  8. Various Artists – Almost Famous
  9. Joni Mitchell – Both Sides Now
  10. Various Artists – NOW That’s What I Call Music! 4

HONORABLE MENTIONS
• Air – The Virgin Suicides
• Badly Drawn Boy – The Hour of Bewilderbeast
• D’Angelo – Voodoo
• Death Cab for Cutie – We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes
• Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP
• Ghostface Killah – Supreme Clientele
• Khaled – Kenza
• Lambchop – Nixon
• Marah – Kids in Philly
• Matchbox Twenty – Mad Season
• Modest Mouse – The Moon & Antarctica
• Primal Scream – XTRMNTR
• Smashing Pumpkins – Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music
• XTC – Wasp Star (Apple Venus Volume 2)
• SR-71 – Now You See Inside
• Various Artists – High Fidelity
• Various Artists – O Brother, Where Art Thou?

2010

  1. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
  2. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
  3. LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening
  4. Various Artists – Shutter Island
  5. Titus Andronicus – The Monitor
  6. Girl Talk – All Day
  7. Gorillaz – Plastic Beach
  8. Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz
  9. The National – High Violet
  10. The Roots – How I Got Over

HONORABLE MENTIONS
• Beach House – Teen Dream
• Frightened Rabbit – The Winter of Mixed Drinks
• Peter Gabriel – Scratch My Back
• The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang
• Local Natives – Gorilla Manor
• The Hold Steady – Heaven Is Whenever
• Sarah Jaffe – Suburban Nature
• Kings of Leon – Come Around Sundown
• Lecrae – Rehab
• Janelle Monáe – The ArchAndroid
• Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More
• Eli “Paperboy” Reed – Come and Get It
• The Rocket Summer – Of Men and Angels
• Sparklehorse & Danger Mouse – Dark Night of the Soul

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