As I mentioned in the year-end top 20 albums post, out of curiosity I went back over my prior ten years of published top albums lists. The results are…unsurprising to me, and probably unsurprising to everyone else, too.
Twenty-nine acts have placed more than three albums in my top lists (which in some years went up to fifty). In many years, I didn’t rank absolutely; because years in which I listed more albums tended to be years with more good music that I heard, I’ve ranked such groupings as tied for the highest available position. The raw info (in my sloppily typed form) is available here as an Excel file.
Here’s the overall list. Artist first, number of albums placed in parentheses (“+” means an unranked EP was mentioned), then the average rank.
1. The New Pornographers (4) 1.25*
2. The Loud Family (4) 2.25**
3. The Caribbean (4+) 2.5
4. Spoon (4) 3.75
5. Interpol (3) 6
6. Lilys (4***) 6.5
6. Radiohead (4) 6.5****
8. John Vanderslice (5) 8.6
9. Low (3) 9.66
10. Ted Leo & the Pharmacists (3) 10
11. The Rock*a*Teens (3+) 10.33
12. Stereolab (5++) 10.4
13. Mark Eitzel (3) 11
13. Wilco (4) 11
15. Robyn Hitchcock***** (4+) 11.25
16. Guided by Voices (7) 11.25
17. Kristin Hersh (3) 11.33
18. Sam Phillips (3) 11.66
19. Yo La Tengo (3) 12
20. Elvis Costello@ (5) 13.6
21. Tris McCall (3) 14
22. His Name Is Alive (4) 14.25
23. Anton Barbeau (4) 14.75@@
24. Björk (4) 18
25. Robert Pollard (5+) 20
26. Mary Timony (3) 20.66
27. Joe Henry (3) 21.33
28. The Fall (4) 21.75@@@
29. Modest Mouse (3) 24
* Combined New Pornographers/A.C. Newman average: 1.2
** includes collaborative album with Anton Barbeau
*** Precollection was essentially reissued the following year under the title The Lilys; it had a different mix and a couple of different tracks. Although it was among the better releases of that year, I counted it as a reissue and did not rank it.
**** Combined Radiohead/Thom Yorke average: 9.4. (Curious and obsessively counting fans may be wondering: so which Radiohead album didn’t make the cut? Due to laziness, busyness, or cluelessness (I can’t recall which), the answer is, unbelievably, OK Computer…you know, that album that’s probably the consensus for best album of the ’90s. I listed only a dozen albums that year; no idea whether that meant I hadn’t heard the album, didn’t like it yet (I do now), or what. If I were to redo these rankings, OKC would push Radiohead’s metaranking upwards.
***** Includes work released under the name Robyn Hitchcock & the Venus 3.
@ Includes all ranked albums with Costello’s name on them, including collaborations.
@@ Does not include collaboration with the Loud Family; 12.8 if it’s included.
@@@ The Real New Fall Album, formerly “Country on the Click” was issued in two very different versions in Britain and in the U.S.; the second version came out in the year after the first one. I didn’t rank it. Also: if I were to have included the Von Südenfed album as an album by The Fall (under the Granny’s Bongos Bylaw), the average would be 20.4.
Unranked albums that may have been released by these acts during these years do not count against the artist, because their absence may simply be due to my not having heard the album until after I did the lists.
From 2006 through 2003, best-of lists are typically the last entry of the respective year. For lists from 2002 back through 1996, go here.