The 50 Greatest Canadian Albums of All Time

Don't let it bring you downSo I told my friend in Portland, Oregon, that I was writing a list of great Canadian albums, and he responded by suggesting that the whole darn thing should be filled with The Band and Neil Young. Of course, this is the same guy who says he won’t read a book unless it’s at least 100 years old and has stood the test of time. You know — one of those.

But it’s true: Neil Young and The Band are two of Canada’s most important musical acts, and therefore feature prominently on this list. If it means anything, they are two of only five Canadian acts that curators have deemed worthy of inclusion into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — the others being Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen and Rush (though a few other inducted bands also have Canadian members). Still, while perhaps unknown to Oregonians, there’s more to Canadian music than just the 1960s.

This is primarily a list of the greatest English-language Canadian rock or pop albums — “rock or pop” being loosely defined to include basically any form of music invented after 1955. I figured there was no point in throwing in a token Oscar Peterson or Glenn Gould album just to pretend we’re including jazz and classical. We’re not. Also: no Celine Dion, Bryan Adams or Nickelback. This is a list of good music, remember? We’re turning down the suck.

1. After the Gold Rush (1970) – Neil Young
2. Music from Big Pink (1968) – The Band
3. The Suburbs (2010) – Arcade Fire
4. Blue (1971) – Joni Mitchell
5. Twice Removed (1994) – Sloan
6. Harvest (1972) – Neil Young
7. Moving Pictures (1981) – Rush
8. Oar (1969) – Skip Spence
9. Wheatfield Soul (1968) – The Guess Who
10. Something Better Change (1980) – D.O.A.
11. Symphony in Effect (1989) – Maestro Fresh-Wes
12. Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967) – Leonard Cohen
13. Rhythm of Youth (1982) – Men Without Hats
14. The Band (1969) – The Band
15. Mass Romantic (2000) – The New Pornographers
16. Fully Completely (1992) – The Tragically Hip
17. Stealing Fire (1984) – Bruce Cockburn
18. Everything I Long For (1995) – Hayden
19. Court and Spark (1974) – Joni Mitchell
20. Tonight’s the Night (1975) – Neil Young
21. Fumbling Towards Ecstasy (1993) – Sarah McLachlan
22. American Woman (1970) – The Guess Who
23. Neon Bible (2007) – Arcade Fire
24. Jagged Little Pill (1995) – Alanis Morissette
25. Celebration Rock (2012) – Japandroids
26. Melville (1991) – Rheostatics
27. Zuma (1975) – Neil Young & Crazy Horse
28. And Now the Legacy Begins (1991) – Dream Warriors
29. Lost Together (1992) – Blue Rodeo
30. Not Fragile (1974) – Bachman-Turner Overdrive
31. Other Songs (1997) – Ron Sexsmith
32. The Trinity Session (1988) – Cowboy Junkies
33. Sit Down Young Stranger (1970) – Gordon Lightfoot
34. Ingénue (1992) – K.D. Lang
35. Let it Die (2004) – Feist
36. Joyful Rebellion (2004) – k-os
37. Love Tara (1993) – Eric’s Trip
38. Crawl with Me (1988) – Art Bergmann
39. Miss America (1988) – Mary Margaret O’Hara
40. Great Speckled Bird (1970) – Great Speckled Bird
41. VIVIsectVI (1988) – Skinny Puppy
42. Fantasies (2009) – Metric
43. Steppenwolf (1968) – Steppenwolf
44. Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (1969) – Neil Young & Crazy Horse
45. Teenage Head (1979) – Teenage Head
46. Gordon (1992) – Barenaked Ladies
47. Reconstruction Site (2003) – The Weakerthans
48. And No One Else Wanted to Play (1985) – SNFU
49. Rufus Wainwright (1998) – Rufus Wainwright
50. God Shuffled His Feet (1993) – Crash Test Dummies

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Andrew Unger lives and writes in a dystopian Mennonite town, but feels no Orwellian sense of urgency to escape. He is the author of, among other things, the novel Inches from America. He promises that the next one will be better.