WXPN's 885 Greatest Albums Of All Time

Last year around this time, WXPN, 88.5 FM, Philadelphia, broadcasting from the University of Pennsylvania, asked listeners to vote for their ten favorite songs of all time. WXPN tabulated the votes and then played all 885 songs finishing with number one. For those of you curious about the results here are WXPN’s 885 Greatest Songs Of All Time.

This year XPN is trumping that programming feat by asking everyone to vote for their ten favorite albums to compile the 885 Greatest Albums Of All Time . After long and careful thought, and with deep apologies to many great albums that didn’t make the cut, here is my list. In order to keep the list diversified, and to prevent it from getting top heavy with too many of the same artists, I forced myself to follow one rule: No artist could appear on the Top 10 more than once. So while this isn’t a true top 10, it will have to do.

1.The Beatles - Abbey Road (1969) The three part “Golden Slumbers” suite closing out the album gave this one the edge over my favorite band’s many other worthy candidates. The Beatles last album has everything from heavy metal to orchestral music. Ringo even gets a drum solo. Revolver was the other primary candidate for the number one spot.

2. The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds (1966) So much great stuff has been written about this album and it’s all true. Brian, I’m glad you’re still with us.

3. Chicago Transit Authority - Chicago Transit Authority (1969) No, they weren’t always wimps. As their original drummer, and founding member Danny Seraphine once said, "I think if Chicago had stayed true to what they really were, today they would be like the Grateful Dead, with huge gigantic followings. I really believe that, because Chicago had a huge following, and we may have maintained a level of success by having all these hit singles, but I think what we sold was a loyal following." The great horn band deserved a better fate than to be the traveling oldies road show they have become today. I picked this album because it is the one that introduced me to a band who gave me great enjoyment through their first seven albums.

4. Black 47 - Trouble In The Land (2000) Another album chosen because, even though this is one of their later releases, it is the one that introduced me to the band and that makes it special. I tip my hat to Larry Kirwan for the interview and for being so accessible to the band’s fans. Here is the full original review.

5. Jackson Browne - Running On Empty (1977) Late For the Sky may be a more intelligent album, and therefore in many ways it is more deserving of a place on this list, but both the “The Load Out/Stay” and the title track finally made me a fan, so this album has a special place in my heart.

6. Mark Knopfler – Local Hero (1983) The greatest movie soundtrack album ever made. The closing theme, "Going Home," is sensational and has my all time favorite sax solo.

7. Rod Stewart - Every Picture Tells A Story (1971) Like Chicago, Rod wasn’t always a sellout.

8. Michelle Shocked - Arkansas Traveler (1993) Here is my review of her live performance of this great CD.

9. Steely Dan – Aja (1977) I’ve always liked the Dan but not as much as most of the artists preceding them on this list. However, Aja makes the list for “Deacon Blues” and the title track which is the greatest jazz-rock song ever recorded.

10. Crosby, Stills and Nash - Crosby, Stills and Nash (1969) This album combines great vocal harmonies, melodies, and musicianship, a combination you don’t see often today in folky singer-songwriters. It is head and shoulders over other albums of the singer-songwriter genre because it is so musical.

The voting will be over on September 5, 2005 and the countdown begins on September 27th. The results, and how my choices fared, will be posted here. Stay tuned.


  1. Nice job Charlie. There are so many great albums and so few slots in a top ten that the final choices get really interesting. I'd agree with just about all your selections except that my top ten only intersects with yours in the fact that we both have a Beatles album #1. I went with Rubber Soul, although Sgt. Pepper's was equally worthy. I could really have done ten Beatles albums (as probably could you) but that would be kind of a lame way to avoid the issue. I like your Steely Dan but I'd have had to choose between Katy Lied and Donald Fagen's The Nightfly. Crosby Stills & Nash was a classic, but then again so was Dejavu. I almost included Running on Empty and would've had the same issue with Late for the Sky (that's where I came in big time, although I did enjoy his albums right from the first). Trouble in the Land and Local Hero are gutsy choices - way to go. We'll have to agree to disagree on Pet Sounds, I'm down with the genius of Brian Wilson and his many great songs, but in my opinion only four of them are on Pet Sounds. Chicago Transit Authority would've been my Chicago choice as well. The playback should be interesting.

  2. One of the ultimate Beatles fans-that be me.

    I change from year to year but, presently, would go with "Revolver" as numero uno.

    "The White Album" with all its unique sounds and songs plus being a double album was remarkable.

    I liked "Chicago" as well. CTA was a great album.

    I also like Bob Dylan, Stones, and Neil Young among others, but the fab 4 were the best.


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