My top 10 Favorite Stones Albums

This is an almost impossible task. It is of course subjective. How do you compare Between the Buttons to Some Girls… Steel Wheels to Goats Head Soup? There was such a difference in eras…and in the Stones case decades apart.

When making these lists the question always comes to mind…do I make the list of my favorite albums or what I think artistically their best albums are in history. I’ve just gone with my personal favorite.

Beggars Banquet

1: Beggars Banquet 1968 – This was the second Stones album I ever owned and with songs like Prodigal Son, Jigsaw Puzzle, and the filthy Stray Cat Blues it’s hard to resist. Their rock/blues peak started with this album into a stretch of 5 great albums in a row. The common dominator was producer Jimmy Miller in all 5. This album was the last one to feature Brian Jones.

Favorite song – Stray Cat Blues

Sticky Fingers

2: Sticky Fingers 1971 – Is this the best Stones album artistically?  I would have to say yes. There is not a weak track on this album. After reviewing it and comparing it to Exile on Main Street…I have to give it to Sticky Fingers as artistically the best Stones album…but it’s my second. They had a lot of competition that year with The Who Who’s Next and Led Zeppelin IV.

Favorite song – Dead Flowers

Let It Bleed larger

3: Let It Bleed 1969 – The first album with Mick Taylor. This was the second album into their gold stretch of 5 great albums. The Mick Taylor years are said by some to be their best albums. I do miss Brian Jones’s coloring of the musical pictures though. They were more flexible with Jones than anyone else but it’s hard to beat Mick Taylor’s fat guitar sound.

Favorite song – Monkey Man

Exile On Mainstreet

4: Exile On Mainstreet 1972 – This was my favorite Stones album at one time. It was mostly recorded in the  Nellcôte in France in a damp basement. It’s one of the greatest double albums ever. Not much I can say about this album that hasn’t already been said.

Favorite Song – tied… Happy and All Down The Line

Some Girls

5: Some Girls 1978 – What a filthy-sounding title track and I mean that in the best way. This album was great…personally, I think it’s their last great album…but the next one on the list is close.

Favorite Song – Before They Make Me Run

Tattoo You

6: Tattoo You 1981 – Over the hill… Geritol-drinking old geezers…those are some of the comments I heard about the Stones while they were 39 and 40! This album was a hodgepodge of outtakes and older songs put together for an album. For me…this was their last brush with greatness. Not that some of the later albums weren’t good…they were but not at this level of good.

Favorite Song – Worried About You

Between The Buttons

7: Between The Buttons (American Version) 1967 – This was the first Stones album I owned. I had to add a Brian Jones-era album. This period gets overlooked too much. They were adventurous during this period and tried new things…I wish that would have carried over more later on instead of the blues/rock on and on….but they did touch a little funk and reggae later on.

Favorite song – Ruby Tuesday

Goat's Head Soup

8: Goats Head Soup 1973 – The new deluxe mix has moved this one up. It was a drop-off from Sticky Fingers and Exile on Mainstreet but they were hard to compete with.

Favorite song – 100 Years Ago

black and blue

9: Black and Blue 1976- This was not known as a great album and it’s not. You would need a scorecard to see what guitar player they were auditioning on each track.  It contains my all-time favorite Rolling Stones song…Memory Motel. They do mix it up with different styles with this one.

Favorite song – Memory Motel

It's Only Rock and Roll.jpg

10: It’s Only Rock and Roll 1974 – This was a drop from the previous 5 albums and the last album featuring Mick Taylor. It does contain some good songs like the title track, Ain’t Too Proud To Beg, If You Can’t Rock Me, and others.

Favorite Song – If You Can’t Rock Me

Honorable Mention

Get Your Ya Yas Out

Get Your Ya Ya’s Out 1970 – I didn’t include any live albums but if I did this one would be in there. I also liked Still Life but this one to me is their best by far.

Favorite Song – Jumping Jack Flash

Their Satanic Majesties Request

Their Satanic Majesties Request 1967 – I know Stones fans who either hate this album or love it. I like it because they showed some more range in this one. They tried something different after Sgt Pepper was released and some of it works.

Favorite Song – She’s A Rainbow

The Rolling Stones Steel Wheels | Classic Rock Review

Steel Wheels 1989 – My favorite album after Tattoo You would be Steel Wheels by far. It contained the songs Mixed Emotions and Rock in a Hard Place. I missed this tour and the last one with Bill Wyman playing bass.

Favorite Song – Sad, Sad, Sad

Below is Happy from the 1972 tour…for my money, they never sounded better. One big reason was Mick Taylor and his Les Paul. Also, I like hearing Keith sing lead and backup…no it’s not perfect but it’s the Stones…no professional backup singers, please.

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

52 thoughts on “My top 10 Favorite Stones Albums”

  1. Memory Motel is one of my favorite songs too. I actually like about half of that album much more than I like Some Girls, which I don’t like at all. It has some of the last good Stones songs on it. I like Hand of Fate and Crazy Mama and a couple others. And Memory Motel is best of all.

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    1. I like Fool to Cry also. Do you like Tattoo You? I do like that one a lot. It has a good mixture to me. That was the first Stones album I bought real time.

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      1. Hang Fire and Little T&A I like more than anything on Some Girls. And a few more of them too. Somebody told me that Tattoo You is all old unused songs that they just didn’t put on earlier albums. I never knew that. If it’s even true.

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      2. Yes that is true. Mick Taylor is on “Tops” and “Waiting on a Friend” from the Goats Head Soup era I believe. It is a hodge podge of recordings but I did like it.

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  2. I love this stuff Max as with lists they can always change! Great stuff. Voodoo Lounge for me would be a personal favourite as I saw them twice on that tour. Goats Head Sticky Fingers- Exile- Tattoo would be up there as well…You are more of a diehard than me so thats my assed list on this Saturday am!

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    1. Ok….I saw them on the Bridges to Babylon tour right after Voodoo Lounge. Deke…didn’t you see them on the Steel Wheels tour also?
      With me Deke it’s about that nasty sound they had during the early seventies…just awesome. I did like Voodoo Lounge and A Bigger Bang also.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes to that! I don’t need all of those other musicians…just the guys and go. Still Life is way up there on my live albums….I had the album and the Going to a Go Go plus Time is on My Side single from that album.

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      2. Yes… we played that song based on that version. Thanks for reminding me of that one.
        Deke did you see where they guy rushed Mick Jagger and Keith whacked him over the head with is guitar? I’m sure you did….if not it’s short and here it is.

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    1. I love Sticky Fingers and yes…I think it’s their best album but those songs on Beggars Banquet have stuck with me…can’t go wrong with any of these!

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  3. My top 3 Stones albums would probably include Beggars Banquet and Let It Bleed as well. I also really enjoy “England’s Newest Hitmakers”. You get to hear their influences on that one. There’s a hilarious “Hitler reacts” video about the Stones that Mick Taylor fans should enjoy.

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    1. I should have added another Brian Jones era album I will admit. In 65-67 they had some great songs.
      I just saw a Hitler reacts on Alice in Chains…I need to look for that one.

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  4. Ahh! Great post, Max! How is it that my list is identical to your list?! I think this might be a first for us. Ha! I mean, even down to Black and Blue, which I obviously love, but a lot of people don’t. Fool to Cry, Memory Motel, Hey Negrita, Hot Stuff and Melody, I mean, what’s not to like? F’in’ great album, IMO. And yeah, Steel Wheals is BY FAR the best Stones album after Tattoo You. I think it’s very stout. Not too big into “…Satanic Majesties…” but, She’s a Rainbow is a fantastic tune.

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    1. That is cool that we are that close. Satanic Majesties is not a great album but I guess I liked it because they tried something different…some of it succeeded and some of it didn’t. Yea Black and Blue is a sleeper album… it’s better than some remembered.

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  5. I wouldn’t even know where to begin on rating the albums. It’s like choosing my favorite book by a beloved author. It’s the body of work that draws me in. I do love Ruby Tuesday and Happy. Keith can’t sing like Mick can but Keith’s voice meshes perfectly with Mick’s when they sing together.

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    1. Their voices do go together well…it was hard to do…I’m going to tackle the Beatles next….that will be much harder because I’m closer to them.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Slap dab in the classic era. They went on a dead end as they moved from singles to album orientated in their hippy psychedelic phase, but ‘2000 Light Years’ ain’t bad. As outliers I’d put in ‘Little Red Rooster’ from early on, in the middle classic era ‘Salt Of The Earth,’ the less than discrete ‘Star Star’ ‘Far Away Eyes’ and later, ‘Saint Of Me’ and ‘Living In A Ghostown.’ But what a depth of songs and albums to choose from!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes it is a vast selection. It was hard because they sound like two different bands in some eras. With Brian Jones they made some good albums but I think of them more as a singles band during that time…some fine pop singles.

      During that stretch they couldn’t do much wrong. Their producer Jimmy Miller helped a bunch also.

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  7. I own one Stones album– from early on I’d guess, judging by all the listings in your post and in comments! I don’t recall its name, but it had Honky Tonk Woman and 19th Nervous Breakdown for sure, if not also Jumpin’ Jack Flash and Paint It Black..

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    1. That was probably a greatest hits package I would assume with those songs together. I had “Hot Rocks” a greatest hits package that was really good. You can’t go wrong with a greatest hits.

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  8. Fine list! I’m not familiar enough with any of their regular albums, track by track , to really pick but certainly that late-60s through mid-70s era seemed like their career high. No pun intended, but if the shoe fits…

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    1. Yea career high in more ways than one lol. I did like their mid sixties songs like Ruby Tuesday and things like that… they showed a different side.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I haven’t visited her e much but I saw it mentioned on Christian’s site that you were doing a Stones rundown and couldn’t resist .My top ten:

    1. Exile on Main Street
    2. Let it Bleed
    3. Sticky Fingers
    4. Beggars Banquet
    5. Get Your Ya-Yas Out
    6. Some Girls
    7. Goats Head Soup
    8. Tattoo You
    9. It’s Only Rock and Roll
    10. Black and Blue

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jim…you are always welcomed.
      I love that list… I’m happy you included Black and Blue…that one gets left off of people’s lists often. I should have included Get Your Ya Ya’s Out but I wanted a Jones album in there.

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      1. I actually wanted one of their earlier albums but I found my memory of them to be sketchy. And to me, “Exile” is so outstanding I listen to it several times a year. In fact it’s my favorite album of all time.

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      2. I do love that album…another double album is my favorite of all time….that would be the White Album. I’m going to try this on The Beatles in a couple of weeks. That one will be really hard for me.

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  10. I can see why compiling this list took much effort. I love the Stones, but I don’t think I could choose a top 10 of their albums. I have a lot of favorite songs, and they come from all of the albums; even from Emotional Rescue (She’s So Cold). Yet there are probably only a couple of their albums I’d listen to from start to finish, Exile and Tattoo You. I wore out the Hot Rocks I double album compilation though. I love the song recording you chose to include, and that it’s a live version to boot. Happy is definitely one of my fave Stones songs.

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    1. Emotional Rescue came up with me many times. That was during “my time” in other words not dipping back into history when I wasn’t around…That album is when I started to take notice of them real time. The way I did it was to take off the hits and see if I liked the album tracks around them.

      My next project is the Beatles…that will be rough because I’m so close to their music.

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  11. I couldn’t even start a list. I have never even owned a Stones album. There are many songs I like but, I have never made a purchase. I guess Classic Rock stations provide me with enough Stones to satisfy. They have quite a catalog.

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      1. Well no…you can buy them new from some artist and I’m sure the Stones do offer that but there are great used ones though.

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      2. I might dig for some at my local “record store.” We have a guy in town with tons of vinyl…and beer, wine & cider! There is even a “record store” in my home county, next door…west. Just like dealing with my dad’s estate, some Boomers are passing away and vinyl is starting to turn up.

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  12. Your first sentence sums it up really well – an almost impossible task! Add to that the fact that I’m ranking-challenged, and you have a “real problem”! 🙂

    Overall, your list looks great and I know most tunes you highlighted. If I would have to pick a no. 1 Stones album. I’d go with “Sticky Fingers”. “Exile” would be in my top three as well.

    I would probably also add an earlier record to my top 10, such as “Out of Our Heads”. Yes, “Satisfaction” obviously has been over-exposed, but that album also includes “The Last Time,” which has one of my favorite Stones riffs! Both tunes feature iconic guitar riffs.

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    1. I wish I would have added more Brian Jones albums instead of just Between The Buttons. You start running out of room…maybe a top twenty would have been better lol.
      I’m doing the Beatles next. That will be harder.

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    1. The earlier stuff I know more as singles except Between the Buttons which I own. I thought I would get a lot of flack over Black and Blue but a couple people actually agreed.

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      1. As I was saying to Christian recently, I barely know those mid-1970s records.

        The one I disagree on is Some Girls – two great singles (Miss You and Beast of Burden) tower over the rest of me. I like Before They Make Me Run though.

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      2. I thought you would disagree with Black and Blue. I think I”m close to Some Girls because I owned it right after Tattoo You. I like the title track to Some Girls as well…as crass as it is and Far Away Eyes.
        I do think Goats Head Soup improved after the added songs and remix.

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      3. As far as in the last 40 years…41 to be exact I think Tattoo You was the best. Undercover didn’t do much for me…Steel Wheels was pretty good though.

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