1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die

1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die is a musical reference book first published in 2005 by Universe Publishing. Part of the 1001 Before You Die series, 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 2010s.[1] The book is edited by Robert Dimery, an English writer and editor who had previously worked for magazines such as Time Out and Vogue.[2]

1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die
AuthorRobert Dimery (general editor)
Cover artistJon Wainright
GenreReference work
PublisherTristan de Lancey; Universe Publishing (first edition)
Publication date
Publication placeUnited Kingdom
Media typePrint (Hardback)
Pages960 p.
781.64026/6 22
LC ClassML156.9 .A18 2006

Each entry in the book's roughly chronological 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). Compilations of various artists, and most film soundtracks, are excluded.[3]

Selection and sorting methodology


In the book's introduction, general editor Robert Dimery notes that the selections were also intended to bring attention to gifted songwriters. Joni Mitchell, Elvis Costello and Nick Cave are named as examples. The release dates are chosen from the date the album first released in the artist's home country, and the version is the first one released. In most cases, bonus tracks added for later versions are ignored. The editors also attempted to ensure that each album profiled was still available for purchase. Soundtracks that were not original material from a particular artist were also excluded.[4]



The 2005 edition starts with Frank Sinatra's In the Wee Small Hours,[4] and ends with Get Behind Me Satan by the White Stripes.[5] As the book has been reissued several times, some albums are removed in each edition to make space for more recent albums.

The 2010 edition ends with It's Blitz! by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, while the 2013 edition ends with The Next Day by David Bowie.[6] The 2016 edition ends with Blackstar, also by Bowie. The 2018 edition ends with Microshift by Hookworms.[7] The 2021 edition ends with Heaux Tales by Jazmine Sullivan.

Critical reception


Writing for The Sun-Herald in November 2005, John Clare said that he loved the book and that it "is good-looking and has a great body" which is "perfectly proportioned", being "fat but not too wide or tall". Of the jazz albums included in the book, Clare felt that "all are well chosen except one"; he thought that the inclusion of two Stan Getz albums was too many given the absence of a Louis Armstrong album.[8] In a more critical review in the same month, Matt Price of The Australian said that "[t]he whole premise of the book is humbug", arguing that it would take too long to listen through all the albums in the book whilst also following new releases. He also criticized several of the book's choices on what albums to include and to not include, concluding that it was "biased, un-Australian and unacceptable".[9]

In February 2006, Publishers Weekly called the book a "bookshelf-busting testament to music geeks' mania for lists" and said it was "about as comprehensive a 'best-of' as any sane person could want". The reviewer added: "For music lovers, it doesn't get much better."[10] Mirela Roncevic reviewed the book for Library Journal in May of that year, citing it as an example of a reference work that is "highly enjoyable to browse" and "downright addictive".[11] Grant Alden also reviewed the book in May 2006 for No Depression. He stated that he was unaware of most of the critics who contributed to the book and was of the opinion that "[y]ou don't have to hear all these". He also criticized the relative lack of albums included in the book from the 1950s compared to later decades.[12]



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 rockabilly. Classical and modern art music are excluded.[3]


Neil Young is among the artists with the most appearances in the 2017 list.

These artists have the most albums in the 2017 edition.

See also



  1. ^ "Publisher description for 1001 albums you must hear before you die / [edited by] Robert Dimery". Library of Congress. Archived from the original on April 5, 2016. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
  2. ^ Hachette https://www.hachette.co.uk/contributor/robert-dimery/ Archived March 2, 2021, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b Dimery, Robert (June 10, 2016). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die (2016 ed.). Octopus Publishing Group. ISBN 978-1-84403-890-9. Archived from the original on 16 April 2017. Retrieved 16 April 2017.
  4. ^ a b Dimery, Robert (2011). 1001 Albums: You Must Hear Before You Die. Preface by Michael Lydon. Octopus. p. 22. ISBN 978-1-84403-714-8. ISBN 978-1-84403-714-8. Archived from the original on February 22, 2017. Retrieved July 7, 2016.
  5. ^ "1001 albums you must hear before you die". Muzieklijstjes.nl. Archived from the original on February 27, 2021.
  6. ^ "The '1001 Albums...' 2016 Edition is Here!". 1001albums.co.uk. Archived from the original on November 16, 2020. Retrieved February 9, 2022.
  7. ^ Fleming, Greg (2 December 2018). "The 1001 album debate". New Zealand Herald. Archived from the original on October 27, 2020. Retrieved February 9, 2022.
  8. ^ Clare, John (November 27, 2005). "Hefty tome flatters and frustrates". The Sun-Herald. p. 90. Gale A284833310.
  9. ^ Price, Matt (November 26, 2005). "Talk about ABC bias, it's on the record". The Australian. p. 18. EBSCOhost 200511261018560901.
  10. ^ "1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die". publishersweekly.com. 2006-02-06. Archived from the original on 2015-06-14. Retrieved 2015-04-30.
  11. ^ Roncevic, Mirela (May 15, 2016). "1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die". Library Journal. 131 (9): 132. ISSN 0363-0277. Gale A146957901.
  12. ^ Alden, Grant (May 1, 2006). "1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die". No Depression. Archived from the original on June 25, 2022. Retrieved June 25, 2022.