| Share
 

Must-Have Recordings

One of the pleasures in life in the post-CD era is reassessing your record collection. The enormous volume of back-catalog recordings being released and compilations being assembled on disc means that music fans can more easily explore new types of music.

To help in that exploration, we've assembled a list of recordings you should consider. There have been literally millions of musical performances recorded since the advent of audio tape, and thousands are worthy of your attention. Our list is meant to suggest genres, time periods and artists that should be represented in your CD collection. The list is historical; we assume you're keeping up with current artists (and you've already read our survey of this year's significant recordings). Many of the artists have had their work compiled into greatest hits collections that you may want to purchase. We've avoided them (except when a collection is the most commonly available or desirable form) in order to suggest interesting periods in the artists' development.

Classical

  • Various, Ancient Music for a Modern Age, Sequentia (RCA Red Label)
  • Pachelbel, Handel, Vivaldi, Gluck, Various Compositions, Academy of Ancient Music/Christopher Hogwood (L'Oiseau Lyre)
  • Bach, Goldberg Variations (1955), Glenn Gould (Columbia)
  • Bach, Brandenburg Concertos, Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra/Tom Koopman (Erato)
  • Bach, Unaccompanied Cello Suites, Yo-Yo Ma (Columbia)
  • Mozart, Don Giovanni, Wachter, Sutherland, others; Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus/Carlo Maria Giulini (EMI)
  • Mozart, Requiem, Academy of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields/Neville Marriner (London)
  • Beethoven, Nine Symphonies (complete cycle), Academy of Ancient Music/Christopher Hogwood (L'Oiseau Lyre) (This is a period instruments reading; classicists may want to consider the redoubtable Bruno Walter/Columbia 1959 cycle.)
  • Beethoven, The Late String Quartets, Guarneri Quartet (RCA Victor Gold Seal)
  • Schubert, Symphony No. 8 (Unfinished), Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra/Leonard Bernstein (Deutsche Grammophon)
  • Brahms, Symphony No. 1, Berlin Philharmonic/Claudio Abbado (Deutsche Grammophon)
  • Bellini, Norma, Sutherland, Pavarotti, Caballe, Chorus and Orchestra of the Welsh National Opera/Bonynge (London)
  • Verdi, Falstaff, Bruson, Ricciarelli, Nucci, Los Angeles Philharmonic/Giulini (Deutsche Grammophon)
  • Wagner, Tristan und Isolde, Nilsson, Ludwig, Wachter, Chorus and Orchestra of the Bayreuth Festival/Bohm (Deutsche Grammophon)
  • Puccini, Turandot, Pavarotti, Sutherland, Caballe, London Philharmonic Orchestra/Mehta (London)
  • Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring, Cleveland Orchestra/Boulez (CBS Masterworks)
  • Schoenberg, Verklarte Nacht, Juilliard Quartet With Yo-Yo Ma (Sony Classical)
  • Weill, The Threepenny Opera, Ute Lemper, Berlin Sinfonietta (London)
  • Barber, Complete Songs, Thomas Hampson, Cheryl Studer, Emerson String Quartet (Deutsche Grammophon)
  • Ives, Three Places in New England, Boston Symphony Orchestra/Thomas (Deutsche Grammophon)
  • Gershwin, Rhapsody in Blue, Columbia Symphony/Bernstein (CBS Masterworks)
  • Reich, Music for 18 Musicians, Steve Reich Ensemble (ECM)
  • Glass, Einstein on the Beach (1993), Philip Glass Ensemble (Elektra Nonesuch)
  • Pärt, Tabula Rasa, Gidon Kremer (ECM)
  • Gorecki, Symphony No. 3, London Sinfonietta with Dawn Upshaw/Zinman (Elektra Nonesuch)

Jazz/Blues

  • Louis Armstrong, Hot Fives and Sevens 1927–1928 (Columbia)
  • Fats Waller, The Complete Fats Waller, vols. 1–4 (Bluebird/RCA)
  • Duke Ellington, The Blanton-Webster Band 1940–1942 (Bluebird)
  • Billie Holiday, The Quintessential Billie Holiday 1940–1942 (Columbia)
  • Charlie Parker, The Complete Charlie Parker Savoy Studio Sessions (Savoy)
  • Charlie Parker, Bird: The Complete Charlie Parker on Verve (Verve)
  • Thelonious Monk, The Genius of Modern Music 1947–1952 (Blue Note)
  • Miles Davis, Kind of Blue (Columbia)
  • Dave Brubeck, Time Out (Columbia)
  • Duke Ellington, The Far East Suite: Special Mix (Bluebird)
  • John Coltrane, A Love Supreme (Impulse)
  • John Coltrane, My Favorite Things (Impulse)
  • Ornette Coleman, The Shape of Jazz to Come (Atlantic)
  • Chet Baker, Best of Chet Baker Sings (Pacific Jazz)
  • Frank Sinatra, Songs for Swinging Lovers (Capitol)
  • Ella Fitzgerald, The Best of the Songbooks (Verve)
  • Charles Mingus, Mingus Ah-Um (Columbia)
  • Miles Davis, Bitches Brew (Columbia)
  • Wynton Marsalis, Hot House Flowers (Columbia)
  • Robert Johnson, The Complete Recordings (Columbia)
  • Charlie Patton, Founder of the Delta Blues (Yazoo)
  • Son House, Son House (Arhoolie)
  • Bessie Smith, The Complete Recordings (Columbia)
  • Muddy Waters, Folksinger (Chess/MCA)
  • Muddy Waters, The Chess Box (Chess/MCA)
  • Professor Longhair, Rock 'n' Roll Gumbo (A&M)
  • John Lee Hooker, John Lee Hooker Plays and Sings the Blues (Chess/MCA)
  • Albert King, Born Under a Bad Sign (Atlantic)

Rock

  • Elvis Presley, Elvis Presley (RCA)
  • Sam Cooke, The Man and His Music (RCA)
  • Chuck Berry, St. Louis to Liverpool (Chess)
  • The Drifters, 1959–1965 All-Time Greatest Hits and More (Atlantic)
  • Buddy Holly, The Complete Buddy Holly (MCA)
  • Phil Spector/Various, Back to Mono (ABKCO)
  • The Beatles, Revolver (Capitol)
  • The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Capitol)
  • The Rolling Stones, High Tide and Green Grass (ABKCO)
    The Rolling Stones
    Archive Photos
  • Beach Boys, Pet Sounds (Capitol)
  • The Byrds, The Byrds (Columbia)
  • Bob Dylan, Blonde on Blonde (Columbia)
  • Simon and Garfunkel, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme (Columbia)
  • Jefferson Airplane, Surrealistic Pillow (RCA)
  • Big Brother and the Holding Company, Cheap Thrills (Columbia)
  • Cream, Disraeli Gears (Polydor)
  • Jimi Hendrix, Are You Experienced? (Reprise)
  • Funkadelic, Cosmic Slop (Westbound)
  • James Brown, Star Time (Polydor)
  • Van Morrison, Astral Weeks (Warner Bros.)
  • The Four Tops, Anthology (Motown)
  • The Supremes, Anthology (Motown)
  • The Band, The Band (Capitol)
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival, Willie and the Poor Boys (Fantasy)
  • Elvis Presley, Elvis (TV Special) (RCA)
  • Neil Young, After the Gold Rush (Reprise)
  • The Allman Brothers, At Fillmore East (Capricorn)
  • Derek and the Dominoes, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (RSO)
  • Aerosmith, Toys in the Attic (CBS)
  • The Rolling Stones, Exile on Main Street (Rolling Stones)
  • The Who, Live at Leeds (MCA)
  • The Doors, Morrison Hotel (Elektra)
  • David Bowie, Hunky Dory (Rykodisc)
  • The Stooges, Fun House (Elektra)
  • Stevie Wonder, Songs in the Key of Life (Motown)
  • Marvin Gaye, Let's Get It On (Tamla)
  • Al Green, Let's Stay Together (Motown)
  • Sex Pistols, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols (Warner Bros.)
  • The Clash, London Calling (Epic)
  • Buzzcocks, Singles Going Steady (IRS)
  • Talking Heads, Talking Heads '77 (Sire)
  • Elvis Costello, Get Happy! (Columbia)
  • Wire, Chairs Missing (Restless reissue)
  • Gang of Four, Entertainment! (Warner Bros.)
  • Blondie, Plastic Letters (Chrysalis)
  • Devo, Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo (Warner Bros.)
  • X, Los Angeles (Slash)
  • The Gun Club, Fire of Love (Ruby)
  • Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Damn the Torpedoes (MCA)
  • AC/DC, Back in Black (Atlantic)
  • U2, The Joshua Tree (Island)
  • R.E.M., Murmur (IRS)
  • Peter Gabriel, So (Geffen)
  • Tom Waits, Swordfish Trombones (Island)
  • Bruce Springsteen, Greetings From Asbury Park or Darkness at the Edge of Town (Columbia)
  • Nirvana, Nevermind (DGC)

Folk/Country

  • Jimmie Rodgers, The Early Years 1928–1929 (Rounder)
  • The Carter Family, My Clinch Mountain Home (Rounder)
  • Bill Monroe, The Original Bluegrass Band (Rounder)
  • Hank Williams, eight-volume Polydor reissue (Polydor)
  • Patsy Cline, The Patsy Cline Collection (MCA)
  • George Jones, The Best of George Jones (Rhino)
  • Johnny Cash, Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison (Columbia)
  • Merle Haggard, Sing Me Back Home (Capitol)
  • Emmylou Harris, Luxury Liner (Warner Bros.)
  • Woody Guthrie, The Greatest Songs of Woody Guthrie (Vanguard)
  • Leadbelly, Midnight Special, Gwine Dig a Hole to Put the Devil In or Let It Shine on Me (three CDs; Rounder)
  • Doc Watson, The Doc Watson Family (Smithsonian/Folkways)
  • Various, Jubilation Volume: Great Gospel Performances (Rhino)
  • Phil Ochs, Phil Ochs in Concert (Elektra)
  • Clifton Chenier, Bogalusa Boogie (Arhoolie)
  • Joan Baez, Joan Baez 5 (Vanguard)
  • Joni Mitchell, Blue (Reprise)
  • Tim Hardin, Reason to Believe (Polydor)

World Music

  • Planxty, Planxty (Shanachie)
  • The Bothy Band, The Best of the Bothy Band (Green Linnet)
  • The Chieftains, The Long Black Veil (RCA)
  • Altan, Island Angel (Green Linnet)
  • De Dannan, De Dannan (Shanachie)
  • Ewan MacColl, Black and White (Green Linnet)
  • The Oyster Band, From Little Rock to Leipzig (Rykodisc)
  • Kate and Anna McGarrigle, French Record (Hannibal)
  • Various, Rai Rebels (Earthworks)
  • Paco de Lucia, Almoraima (Philips)
  • Don Byron, Don Byron Plays the Music of Mickey Katz (Nonesuch)
  • Nusrat Fatah Ali Khan, En Concert à Paris (Harmonia Mundi)
  • Sabri Brothers, Ya Habib (Real World)
  • Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, Signature Series Vol.1 (AMMP)
  • Dr. L. Subramaniam, Raga Hemavati (Nimbus)
  • Ramnad Krishnan, Vidwan — Songs of the Carnatic Tradition (Nonesuch)
  • Youssou N'Dour, Eyes Open (Columbia)
  • King Sunny Ade, Juju Music (Island)
  • Various, Juju Roots 1930s–1950s (Rounder)
  • Various, The Indestructible Beat of Soweto (Earthworks)
  • Mahlatini and the Mahotella Queens, The Lion Roars (Shanachie)
  • Various, Zimbabwe Frontline (Earthworks)
  • Thomas Mapfumo, The Chimurenga Singles (Shanachie)
  • The Bhundu Boys, Jit Jive (Mango)
  • Bob Marley and The Wailers, Natty Dread (Tuff Gong)
  • Gamelan of Pura Pakualaman, Javanese Court Gamelan (Nonesuch)
  • Various, Bali: Gamelan and Kecak (Nonesuch)
  • Fong Naam, The Hang Hong Suite (Nimbus)
  • Kohachiro Miyata, Shakuhachi — The Japanese Flute (Nonesuch)
  • Various, Cuba Classics Vol. 1–3 (Luaka Bop)
  • Los Munequitos de Matanzas, Rumba Caliente (Qbadisc)
  • Various, Konbit: Burning Rhythms of Haiti (A&M)
  • Various, Zouk Attack (Rounder)
  • Los Pinguinos del Norte, Conjuntos Nortenos (Arhoolie)
  • Steve Jordan, The Many Sounds of Steve Jordan (Arhoolie)
  • Various, Beliza Tropical: Brazil Classics (Luaka Bop)
  • Various: O Samba: Brazil Classics (Luaka Bop)
  • Joao Gilberto, Joao Gilberto (Polygram)
  • Astor Piazzolla, Zero Hour (American Clave)
  • Various, Vintage Hawaiian Music: Steel Guitar Masters 1928–1934 (Rounder)

Information Please® Database, © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Recording Industry Association of America's Top-Selling Albums of All TimeMusicNational Recording Registry

More on Must-Have Recordings from Infoplease:

  • Daily Almanac - Infoplease is the world's largest free reference site. The Daily Almanac features Today in History, Today's Birthdays, and Word of the Day.
  • Daily Almanac - Infoplease is the world's largest free reference site. The Daily Almanac features Today in History, Today's Birthdays, and Word of the Day.
  • Daily Almanac - Infoplease is the world's largest free reference site. The Daily Almanac features Today in History, Today's Birthdays, and Word of the Day.

Premium Partner Content
HighBeam Research
Documents Images and Maps Reference
(from Newspapers, Magazines, Journals, Newswires, Transcripts and Books)

Research our extensive archive of more than 80 million articles from 6,500 publications.

Additional search results provided by HighBeam Research, LLC. © Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

24 X 7

Private Tutor

Click Here for Details
24 x 7 Tutor Availability
Unlimited Online Tutoring
1-on-1 Tutoring