The 50 Albums Everyone Needs to Own, 1963-2013

No one buys albums anymore, goes the music industry truism. And yet, for all that the format’s commercial viability may or may not be on the wane, sitting and listening to a great album from start to finish is one of the greatest pleasures that music can bring. Flavorwire recently got to thinking about how one might build a record collection if you really only did buy one record a year. So here’s the result of our thought exercise: 50 albums you really should own, one a year from 1963 until the present day. Yes, of course this mean things are gonna get left out. Do feel free to argue the merits of our choices in the comment section. Just be nice. (And no, Random Access Memories isn’t the best album of 1976. Smartypants.)

1963: James Brown — Live at the Apollo

The Beatles would be the easy choice here — they released their debut Please Please Me in March — but that’s an album appreciated more in principle than in actuality, and rather pales in comparison to the band’s later work. Instead, let’s go with a record that captures one of the greatest performers of the 20th century at the height of his powers, tearing up the stage of the Apollo in Harlem. Oh, to have been there.