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1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die

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Cover artist  Jon Wainright
Language  English
Media type  Print (Hardback)
Author  Robert Dimery
OCLC  224890343

Country  United States
Publication date  2005
Originally published  2005
Genre  Reference work
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Publisher  Tristan de Lancey; Universe Publishing (first edition)
Similar  Robert Dimery books, Reference work books, Popular music books

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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.

Critical reception

In February 2006, Publishers Weekly called the book a "...bookshelf-busting testament to music geeks' mania for lists" and said it " 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's social cataloging website Goodreads, with 860 ratings as of April 30, 2015. The same 2006 version had an average rating of 3.5 stars out of 5 on, with 55 reviews as of April 30, 2015.


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 2013 edition.

  • 7 albums: The Beatles, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Neil Young, Morrissey (and The Smiths)
  • 6 albums: Elvis Costello (and The Attractions), The Rolling Stones
  • 5 albums: The Byrds, Led Zeppelin, Iggy Pop (and The Stooges), Sonic Youth, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits, The Who, Radiohead
  • 4 albums: Eric Clapton, Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Stevie Wonder, U2, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Brian Eno, PJ Harvey, The Kinks, Metallica, Pink Floyd, R.E.M., Steely Dan, Talking Heads
  • 3 albums: Roxy Music, The Doors, The Beach Boys, Kate Bush, Michael Jackson, Kraftwerk, Bj√∂rk, Queen, Aerosmith, Madonna, Blur, Public Enemy, Bob Marley and the Wailers, Pet Shop Boys, My Bloody Valentine, Nick Drake, Yes, Johnny Cash, The Velvet Underground, Peter Gabriel, Deep Purple, The Fall, Wilco, The Cure, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Nirvana, Prince, Kanye West
  • Revision

    Originally published in 2005, the book was revised in 2008, 2011, 2013, and 2016 to include newly released albums. The 2011 edition includes 25 albums released from 2005 to 2009, with the same number of albums removed from the first edition to keep the total at 1001.


    1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die Wikipedia