Lists, Magazines — April 28, 2010 at 6:12 am

U2’s ‘Achtung Baby’ tops Spin magazine’s list of the 125 best albums of last 25 years

U2, 'Achtung Baby'

As it marks its own 25th anniversary this year, Spin magazine has churned out a list of the 125 best albums of the past quarter century — an honor roll topped by U2’s 1991 left turn Achtung Baby, a record the mag says “genetically engineer(ed) rock music into the hybridized mutant we know today.”

For a magazine born in 1985, the list has a generous showing from late-’80s college rock faves in its Top 25, including classics such as The Smiths’ The Queen is Dead (No. 3), The Replacements’ Tim (No. 11), Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation (No. 13), Hüsker Dü’s New Day Rising (No. 15) and Pixies’ Doolittle (No. 16).

As for the U2 pick at No. 1, Spin’s Charles Aaron writes, “Though they continued to bumble through periods of bloat and self-delusion and irrelevance, U2 became the emblematic band of the alternative-rock era with Achtung Baby. Struggling to simultaneously embrace and blow up the world, they were never more inspirational.”

You can check out Spin’s full Top 125 below. And speaking of Spin, we’ve also got some choice links to the magazine’s late-’80s coverage right here.

See Spin’s Top 125 albums of the last 25 years after the jump…

Spin’s Top 125 albums of the past 25 years:

1. U2, Achtung Baby
2. Prince, Sign O’ the Times
3. The Smiths, The Queen Is Dead
4. Nirvana, Nevermind
5. Radiohead, OK Computer
6. Public Enemy, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
7. Guns N’ Roses, Appetite for Destruction
8. PJ Harvey, Rid of Me
9. Pavement, Slanted and Enchanted
10. Nine Inch Nails, The Downward Spiral
11. The Replacements, Tim
12. OutKast, Stankonia
13. Sonic Youth, Daydream Nation
14. Beastie Boys, Paul’s Boutique
15. Hüsker Dü, New Day Rising
16. Pixies, Doolittle
17. De La Soul, 3 Feet High and Rising
18. The Strokes, Is This It
19. Jay-Z, The Blueprint
20. My Bloody Valentine, Loveless
21. Oasis, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?
22. Eric B. & Rakim, Paid in Full
23. Daft Punk, Discovery
24. Metallica, Master of Puppets
25. Nas, Illmatic
26. Guided by Voices, Bee Thousand
27. Nirvana, In Utero
28. Radiohead, The Bends
29. Pavement, Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
30. A Tribe Called Quest, The Low End Theory
31. Massive Attack, Blue Lines
32. Wu-Tang Clan, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)
33. Björk, Debut
34. Beck, Odelay
35. R.E.M., Automatic for the People
36. The Jesus and Mary Chain, Psychocandy
37. Liz Phair, Exile in Guyville
38. Run-D.M.C., Raising Hell
39. Public Enemy, Fear of a Black Planet
40. Tricky, Maxinquaye
41. Pulp, Different Class
42. Green Day, Dookie
43. The Notorious B.I.G., Ready to Die
44. The Beastie Boys, Licensed to Ill
45. Pixies, Surfer Rosa
46. N.W.A., Straight Outta Compton
47. Portishead, Dummy
48. Elliott Smith, Either/Or
49. D’Angelo, Voodoo
50. Jay-Z, Reasonable Doubt
51. Rage Against the Machine, The Battle of Los Angeles
52. Kanye West, The College Dropout
53. The Cure, The Head on the Door
54. Dinosaur Jr, You’re Living All Over Me
55. Hole, Live Through This
56. Aphex Twin, Selected Ambient Works 85-92
57. The White Stripes, Elephant
58. DJ Shadow, Endtroducing…
59. Belle and Sebastian, If You’re Feeling Sinister
60. Fugazi, 13 Songs
61. Smashing Pumpkins, Siamese Dream
62. U2, The Joshua Tree
63. R.E.M., Fables Of The Reconstruction
64. The Flaming Lips, The Soft Bulletin
65. Eminem, The Marshall Mathers LP
66. Arcade Fire, Funeral
67. Tom Waits, Rain Dogs
68. Raekwon, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…
69. The Stone Roses, The Stone Roses
70. Pearl Jam, Ten
71. Oasis, Definitely Maybe
72. Lucinda Williams, Lucinda Williams
73. The Pogues, Rum, Sodomy and the Lash
74. Sleater-Kinney, Dig Me Out
75. Bjork, Post
76. OutKast, Aquemini
77. Boogie Down Productions, Criminal Minded
78. Lauryn Hill, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
79. The Breeders, Last Splash
80. The Fall, This Nation’s Saving Grace
81. Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
82. Dr. Dre, The Chronic
83. Steve Earle, Guitar Town
84. LL Cool J, Radio
85. Missy Elliott, Supa Dupa Fly
86. TV on the Radio, Return to Cookie Mountain
87. The White Stripes, White Blood Cells
88. Jeff Buckley, Grace
89. Basement Jaxx, Remedy
90. Elliott Smith, XO
91. The Smiths, Strangeways, Here We Come
92. Jay-Z, The Black Album
93. The Chemical Brothers, Dig Your Own Hole
94. Jane’s Addiction, Ritual de lo Habitual
95. Soundgarden, Superunknown
96. The Roots, Things Fall Apart
97. Arcade Fire, Neon Bible
98. Johnny Cash, American Recordings
99. PJ Harvey, Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea
100. Kanye West, Late Registration
101. Blur, Parklife
102. Queen Latifah, All Hail the Queen
103. M.I.A., Arular
104. The Magnetic Fields, 69 Love Songs
105. Massive Attack, Mezzanine
106. Fiona Apple, When the Pawn
107. Coldplay, A Rush of Blood to the Head
108. Fugees, The Score
109. The Chills, Submarine Bells
110. Spiritualized, Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space
111. Teenage Fanclub, Bandwagonesque
112. Interpol, Turn On The Bright Lights
113. Danger Mouse, The Grey Album
114. Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavilion
115. OutKast, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
116. Against Me!, New Wave
117. The Flaming Lips, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
118. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, It’s Blitz!
119. Green Day, American Idiot
120. Lil Wayne, Tha Carter III
121. Queens of the Stone Age, Rated R
122. LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver
123. The Hives, Veni Vidi Vicious
124. Prince Paul, A Prince Among Thieves
125. Moby, Play


  1. It is beyond logical explanation why Pavement ended in the 9th place…

  2. Any list that doesn’t include Depeche Mode’s “Violator” in the top 25 is of questionable value.

  3. i thought the world had finally come to its senses after years of seeing corrections to the error, but yet again, it reappears…there is no way that Nevermind is a better album than OK Computer. and, i’m speechless at that selection of Achtung at #1. i just don’t get it.

  4. BTW, where is the “Disintegration” by The Cure? I refuse to believe that Head On the Door is better that Disintegration.

  5. No Neutral Milk Hotel = Instant disqualification.

  6. No New Order Substance = instant disqualification, too.

  7. LAME!!!


    Music for the Masses / Violator
    Isn’t Anything

    …. among others.

    Why is Neon Bible on this list?

  8. Look, I haven’t even read through the list yet, but we all need to be aware that any list of “Greatest” albums, singles, songs, etc. is going to please us in some ways and infuriate us in others. I like to consider these lists as an opportunity to rethink those albums that I’ve already been exposed to and as an introduction to some albums that I’ve never even considered hearing before. No list will be perfect for everybody…if you want your own list, then make it, but when it comes to lists put out by authors, critics, publications, etc. inclusion must be a goal.

  9. Achtung Baby?


  10. Fig Neutron

    I’m old enough to remember when Spin gave ‘Achtung Baby’ a Yellow (Hah, too bad they didn’t still give ‘streetlight’ reviews when Coldplay came around).

    But I think Achtung gets the WIN because it so influenced many bands, including the band that TRULY had the best album in this span (not Nirvana).

    Perhaps too much credit goes to such a mainstream band, but goddam if they didn’t pull of one amazing ‘alternative’ album. The influence of this far beats Nevermind.

    I think the top 20 is almost interchangeable; in fact, though it’s missing Violator and Summer Teeth, I see it as one big lump of greatness.

    Spin has always been good about their stuff. Pitchfork takes after them, they just have to feed it all through a hipster tube first.

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