The 50 Greatest Country Albums of All Time
For this article, we will present the 50 best country albums of all time – or basically a list of country albums that are worth investing your hard earned cash in. You’ll see plenty of familiar names, old and new, but note that these country albums aren’t necessarily the best-selling country albums of all time. More than sales, these albums are at the top because they helped shape and influence country music.
Top of the list is what critics are saying about one of the most influential country albums of all time: Shania Twain’s 1997 come here album. The 16-track album was full of crossover potential with hook-filled songwriting happily produced by rock legend Robert John “Mutt” Lange. And the result was not just a record-breaking, multi-award-winning album, but a pattern that many country singers have tried to recreate even 24 years later.
Second place is followed by Garth Brooks No fences, which produced four consecutive chart-topping hits. This not only made waves in Brooks’ career, but also throughout the industry. That’s why it’s no surprise to see a few more of his albums in the Top 50. Besides Brooks, there are also albums by Taylor Swift, Randy Travis, Charlie Rich, Carrie Underwood, and Waylon Jennings that rounded out the top ten.
What makes a good country album?
Country music holds a deeper place in America than any other musical genre, even when we consider the shifts, shifts, and evolution of stylistic directions within the genre. It has remained one of the few genre favorites listened to and enjoyed by a wide range of people. After all, it’s a genre that welcomes and embraces both traditional and new styles as well as the reinvention of existing songs.
But with so many new albums springing up everywhere, how do you know which ones are good?
Well, good is subjective. People can say an album is good just because they liked all the songs on it. But here’s the thing: Country songs can be chart-topping hits as singles without the influence of their album. On the other hand, country albums are more than well-told, well-delivered singles. It’s a tracklist that tells a story and delicately delivers all the emotions in a continuous flow. Apart from that, the songs have different flavors which you can play any time of the day. More importantly, an album presents the artist, his craft and his style without compromise.
Featured: The 50 Greatest Country Albums of All Time
Country Thang Daily has compiled a list of 50 of the best country music albums of all time according to Billboard’s Top Country Albums of All Time list. This ranking is based on weekly album performance, including sales, airplay, and streaming. So, let’s dive in!
1. “Go Ahead” by Shania Twain
Released in 1997, come here was the sequel to his phenomenal album The woman in me. The album broke with many contemporary country conventions with its rock-leaning, professionally crafted country-pop music and 16 original Lange-Twain longs (usual albums are only 10 songs long).
And while it’s not the honky-tonk expected from country albums, it has been well-received with over 40 million copies sold worldwide in 2020. And among its impressive list of accomplishments, come here became the number one country album for four different years from 1997 to 2000. It also produced 11 top 40 country singles, more than most country albums.
2. “NO FENCES” by Garth Brooks
With over 18 million copies sold, NO FENCES earned the 4th best-selling album across all genres during the 90s. And it’s truly impactful to produce not just four consecutive number one hits: ‘The Thunder Rolls’, ‘Friends in Low Places’, ‘Unanswered Prayers and “Two of a Kind, Workin’ on a Full House,” but also landed Brooks six Academy of Country Music Awards in 1991, including album of the year.
3. “Taylor Swift” by Taylor Swift
Although Taylor Swift is no longer considered a country musician by many, her influence in the genre is undeniable. At a young age, Taylor Swift released her first studio album Taylor Swift which topped the US Billboard Top Country charts for 24 weeks. Other than that, it was also the longest running album on the Billboard 200 of the 2000s. And if that wasn’t impressive enough, the album was also certified Platinum seven times, making Swift the number one country artist. female soloist to write and co-write every song on a platinum debut album.
4. “Garth Brooks” by Garth Brooks
Another Garth Brooks on the list is his debut studio album, released in 1989. This album achieved both critical and chart success, peaking at number two on the Top Country Albums Chart and number eight on the Country Billboard Charts. It also earned him his first number one with “If Tomorrow Never Comes”. Interestingly, he even put indie cowboy singer Chris LeDoux’s name on the card just for mentioning him in one of the song’s lyrics!
5. “Always and Forever” by Randy Travis
Much like his debut, Randy Travis’ second album titled ‘Forever and ever‘ not only lived up to expectations, but went far beyond, rivaling its predecessor in terms of quality. The tunes were classic country, with three of the album’s songs peaking at number one on the charts. It definitely proved that Randy Travis is one of the greatest country singers of the 80s, if not the greatest himself.
6. “Behind Closed Doors” by Charlie Rich
The sound of Behind Closed Doors, although very pop with big productions and multiple layers of instrumentals, became one of Charlie Rich’s most influential works, with many artists using the record as a model to reinvent their own style. From its hit singles to the tracks on the album, everything has been designed to appeal to mature country music audiences. And it did not fail. The album earned him a Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance and also earned him four awards from the Academy of Country Music.
7. “A Few Hearts” by Carrie Underwood
If we are talking about successful and influential debut albums, then this one is definitely at the top of the list. With the undeniable impact of her singles like “Jesus Take The Wheel” and “Before He Cheats”, the album earned an impressive list of achievements, including being the top-selling female country album from 2005 to 2007, the no longer sold. and the best-selling debut country album in country music history. It also earned Underwood back-to-back honors for Top Country Album in Billboard history.
8. Waylon Jennings’ “Greatest Hits”
This nine-track 1979 album is considered one of the best country compilation albums of all time, focusing solely on Jennings’ peak outlaw years. The album features many of his signature songs like “Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line” and “The Taker”. Each track included here is at the very heart of a legend and showcased Jennings at his most original side – as a rebellious, honky-tonk Nashville hero who wasn’t afraid to show every side of him, even the sensitive macho. Even though there are plenty of other great songs not included here, this is still one of the greatest compilations of all time.
9. “The Woman in Me” by Shania Twain
Shania Twain’s second studio album ‘The woman in me‘ is one of his most phenomenal albums. Together with her then-husband and producer, Robert John “Mutt” Lange, this album featured a reworked Twain – a sexy, sassy modern woman – singing empowerment anthems about grief. The album became her best-selling album at the time and was later certified 12 times Platinum. He has also been credited as one of the influences on the sound of contemporary country music.
10. ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou’ (Original Soundtrack)
To top off our top 10 list, the soundtrack’O brother, where are you.While the film failed to gain critical acclaim, its soundtrack definitely improved. Masterful producer T-Bone Burnett, known for his work with Elvis Costello, Sam Phillips, Joseph Arthur and Counting Crows, was put in charge of the soundtrack. And he definitely delivered. The songs, while none were original, were very powerful and gave the film its authenticity.
Here’s the rest of our top 50 best country albums of all time.
- “Fearless” by Taylor Swift
- “Killing Time” by Clint Back
- ‘Fly’ by Dixie Chicks
- ‘Here’s to the Good Times’ by Florida Georgia Line
- ‘Wide Open Spaces’ by Dixie Chicks
- ‘Blue’ by LeAnn Rimes
- “Storms of Life” by Randy Travis
- “My Kind of Party” by Jason Aldean
- “Feels So Good” by Alabama
- “Not a Moment Too Soon” by Tim McGraw
- “Stardust” by Willie Nelson
- “Crash My Party” by Luke Bryan
- ‘The Foundation’ by Zac Brown Band
- ‘Tailgates & Tanlines’ by Luke Bryan
- “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers
- ‘Ropin’ The Wind’ by Garth Brooks
- “Feels Like Today” by Rascal Flatts
- “Some Have Gave Their All” by Billy Ray Cyrus
- “The Hits” by Garth Brooks
- Alabama’s ‘Mountain Music’
- “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems” by Kenny Chesney
- “Freed” by Toby Keith
- “Need You Now” by Lady A.
- ‘Montevallo’ by Sam Hunt
- “Me and My Gang” by Rascal Flatts
- “For Good Times” by Ray Price
- “Always on My Mind” by Willie Nelson
- “Here for the Party” by Gretchen Wilson
- “Coyote Ugly” Soundtrack
- “When the Sun Goes Down” by Kenny Chesney
- ‘Breathe’ by Faith Hill
- ‘At the top!’ by Shania Twain
- ‘The Best of Charley Pride’ by Charley Pride
- ‘Head’ of Eric Church
- “Kenny Rogers’ Greatest Hits” by Kenny Rogers
- “Johnny Cash in San Quentin” by Johnny Cash
- ‘Old 8 X 10’ by Randy Travis
- Everywhere by Tim McGraw
- ‘Lots of Life (and a Little Love)’ by Alan Jackson
- “The Strangers” by Eric Church