Ranking the Rolling Stones Studio Albums


I realize I’ve never done this. Not officially. So I do it now, on Rolling Stones Concert Eve. Here now are the (studio) albums of the Rolling Stones ranked.

Mostly. I’ll explain later.

Top Tier:

  “Exile on Main St.”

  “Beggars Banquet”

  “Let It Bleed”

  “Sticky Fingers”

  “Some Girls”

These were easy to list, and I’d stand by this order. They fluctuate around as I fluctuate around, but if I had to pick it, and I do, because I’m making myself do it, here they are.

“Lots of Greatness, but Not “Absolutely” Great”

  “Goats Head Soup”


  “Tattoo You”

  “The Rolling Stones, Now!”


  “Out of Our Heads”

  “England’s Newest Hit Makers”

  “12 X 5”

  “December’s Children”

  “A Bigger Bang”

These were harder to categorize for a couple reasons. First off, it’s mostly a taste thing. It all is, of course. I don’t think anyone would really argue that any of these albums would seriously fight for the top prize… most times. But then I’ve gone through periods with the first three (“Goats,” “Aftermath” and “Tattoo”) that would make me wonder. As sloppy as it is entirely, “Goats Head Soup” is so legitimately sleazy slop. The first half of “Tattoo You” suffers under the burden of over-exposure, while the latter half soars through understatement. I’m sure some might fight for “Aftermath,” which is certainly very good, if not a little not-as-good as, say, “Some Girls.”

Then the others mostly mix in here because I have generally positive feelings about them on the whole, looking past the lesser parts. Then there’s the ones like “Now,” “Out of Our Heads,” “England’s,” “December’s Children” and “12 X 5” which, frankly, kind of blend together.

And, yeah, “Bigger Bang” is in there. Minus 4 tracks, it’s really solid. If the top five was the Hall of Fame, this is the Hall of Really Solid.

“Flawed, But Not Terrible”

  “Between the Buttons”

  “Emotional Rescue”

  “Only Rock ‘n’ Roll”

  “Their Satanic Majesty’s Request”

This is mostly a decision based on playability. Really, I’m as surprised as anyone by these, but there you have it. I mean, “Buttons” has some superb tunes on there, but then it has some of the tracks that haven’t aged as well (“Yesterday’s Papers” for one). These mostly get by on their inherent Rolling Stones-ness, which is to say even though they’re not great, they still sound like a band that is great. There’s some boring stuff in this foursome, but not enough to keep it out of…

“Uh… Nah”

  “Voodoo Lounge”

  “Bridges to Babylon”

  “Steel Wheels”

  “Black and Blue”

Now that I think about it, “Steel Wheels” should probably be on the very bottom, considering I only owned it temporarily, on tape, which I bought for a dollar at a used music store. But I do own “Black and Blue,” and my feelings toward it are downright antagonistic. It even has the worst album cover. The same could be said toward parts of “Voodoo Lounge” (9 out of 15 songs start the exact same way) and “Bridges to Babylon” (“Already Over Me” and “Always Suffering” are the exact. same. song), but I still have some of those tracks on my iPod. I have ZERO of the other two.

MIA: “Dirty Work” and “Undercover.” I still haven’t heard them in their entirety and nothing I’ve heard partially has merited further investigation.


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