1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die is a musical reference book first published in 2005 by Universe Publishing. It compiles writings and information on albums chosen by a panel of music critics to be the most important, influential, and best in popular music between the 1950s and the 2000s. The book was edited by Robert Dimery, a writer and editor who had previously worked for magazines such as Time Out and Vogue.
Each entry in the book's list of albums is accompanied by a short essay written by a music critic, along with pictures, quotes, and additional information (such as the album's running time and producer). Only albums consisting fully of original material by a particular artist were included, which meant that compilations by various artists, including film soundtracks, were also excluded.
The most recent edition consists of a list of albums released between 1955 and 2016, part of a series from Quintessence Editions Ltd. The book is arranged chronologically, starting with Frank Sinatra's In the Wee Small Hours and the most recent edition concluding with Blackstar by David Bowie.
In February 2006, Publishers Weekly called the book a "...bookshelf-busting testament to music geeks' mania for lists" and said it "...is about as comprehensive a 'best-of' as any sane person could want." They continued, "For music lovers, it doesn't get much better." The 2006 version had an average rating of 3.92 stars out of 5 on Amazon.com's social cataloging website Goodreads, with 860 ratings as of April 30, 2015. The same 2006 version has an average rating of 3.5 stars out of 5 on Amazon.com.
Most of the book's recommendations are rock and pop albums from the Western world. 1001 Albums also features selections from world music, rhythm and blues, blues, folk, hip hop, country, electronic music, and jazz. The rock and pop albums include such subgenres as punk rock, grindcore, heavy metal, alternative rock, progressive rock, easy listening, thrash metal, grunge and 1950s-style rock and roll. Classical and modern art music are excluded.
These artists have the most albums in the 2016 edition.
- 9 albums: David Bowie.
- 7 albums: The Beatles, Elvis Costello (and The Attractions), Bob Dylan.
- 6 albums: Morrissey (and The Smiths), The Rolling Stones.
- 5 albums: The Byrds, Brian Eno (and David Byrne), Led Zeppelin, Iggy Pop (and The Stooges), Sonic Youth, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits, The Who.
- 4 albums: Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Leonard Cohen, Miles Davis, P. J. Harvey, The Kinks, Metallica, Joni Mitchell, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, R.E.M., Steely Dan, The Talking Heads, U2, Stevie Wonder.
- 3 albums: Aerosmith, The Beach Boys, Beastie Boys, Björk, Black Sabbath, Blur, Tim Buckley, Kate Bush, Ray Charles, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Cure, Deep Purple, Dexy's Midnight Runners, The Doors, Nick Drake, Echo And The Bunnymen, The Fall, Peter Gabriel, Marvin Gaye, Genesis, Emmylou Harris, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Michael Jackson, Kraftwerk, Bob Marley and The Wailers, Van Morrison, My Bloody Valentine, Nirvana, Pet Shop Boys, Pixies, Elvis Presley, Prince (and The Revolution), Public Enemy, Queen, Roxy Music, Simon And Garfunkel, Paul Simon, Frank Sinatra, The Velvet Underground, Kanye West, Wilco, Yes.
- 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
- 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die
- 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die
- 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die
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