Bowie, Waits, Sonic Youth: Top Five Albums

Three prolific musical acts with much debate over album rankings. What are the top five by any or all of them?

David Bowie

Station to Station 1 2
Ziggy Stardust 1 2
Low 1 2
Hunky Dory 1 2
Scary Monsters 1 2

Runner-up: Diamond Dogs. You can’t go wrong with anything from Hunky Dory to Scary Monsters though. From 1970 to 1980 Bowie was on fire (12 albums in that time!).

Tom Waits

The Black Rider 1 2
Bone Machine 1 2
Blue Valentine 1 2
Blood Money 1 2
Alice 1 2

The Black Rider was the first one I heard, and is still my favorite… but it might be his most unlistenable and is not recommended for starters. Since Blood Money and Alice also made my list, you can see I like his theatrical side. Blue Valentine is easily my favorite of his early work and the title track is one of my favorite songs, which I would recommend to anyone.
Sonic Youth**

EVOL 1 2
A Thousand Leaves 1 2
Washing Machine 1 2
Confusion is Sex + Kill Yr Idols 1 2
Experimental Jet Set, Trash & No Star 1 2

After much time, these are the ones I still want to listen to. I always thought Daydream Nation, while great, could get a little boring. Like it traded some of the highs (or at least extremes) for greater consistency. I’d rather get terrorized by Confusion is Sex (not recommended to anyone, do not turn up volume) or take a trip with A Thousand Leaves (granted, I might skip Karen Koltrane and/or Hits of Sunshine just because the album is so long with them in it).

Tom Waits:

  1. Rain Dogs
  2. Bone Machine
  3. Mule Variations
  4. Alice
  5. Orphans – all three parts :slight_smile:

No Daydream Nation on the Sonic Youth list?

Carmady does mention intentionally excluding Daydream from hir top five. I’m surprised there’s no love for either Goo or Dirty, though. Too commercial? I like both albums, but I admit I haven’t listened to a lot of their earlier stuff.

Oops. It helps to read the OP I guess. I’d add Dirty for sure. That is probably my favorite. EVOL has some cool stuff too, esp. the Madonna cover.

No* Bad Moon Rising*? If only forDeath Valley '69. The perfect Pixies song 2 years before the Pixies.

And no Goo? Outrageous!


Hunky Dory
Ziggy Stardust
The Man Who Sold the World


Real Gone
Mule Variations
Frank’s Wild Years
Small Change

What Madonna cover? Are you thinking of the Ciccone Youth album? Mind EVOL is amazing just for Tom Violence, Starpower and Expressway to yr Skull alone

Yeah I was thinking of Into the Groove. I thought that was on EVOL. My bad! I haven’t heard these albums in so long I forgot what’s on them.

Tom Waits:

  1. Nighthawks at the Diner
  2. The Heart of Saturday Night
  3. Rain Dogs
  4. Closing Time
  5. Big Time (if only for the version of “Train Song” which is just heartbreaking).

My top 5 Bowie would be:

Ziggy Stardust
Hunky Dory
Aladdin Sane
Station to Station
Diamond Dogs

But “Heroes” and The Man Who Sold the World are very close to taking the #5 spot.

I agree with Washing Machine, but I’d vote for Sister, Goo, Daydream Nation, and Dirty. “True fans” often deride as being the sell-out pop albums, but how can you sell out with nearly a third of the whole catalog? These are indispensable desert island albums IMO.

For both Bowie and Waits I found it easy to choose the top three spots, but the last two could have been any of at least half a dozen albums by each artist.

I’ve only got a couple each of David Bowie and Tom Waits. But I’ve got all the Sonic Youth ones up to Experimental Jetset, and I think these are my top five:

  1. Daydream Nation
  2. Evol
  3. Goo
  4. Sister
  5. Confusion Is Sex

As I thought, Tom Waits lists are vastly different. Out of 4 in this thread, 3 have absolutely nothing in common. There are 16 different albums listed out of a possible 20.

That definitely wasn’t my reasoning. Three of my top 5 came out after Dirty. Experimental Jet Set is their most commercial album and better at it than Goo or Dirty imo. Washing Machine and A Thousand Leaves are divisive albums (usually appearing in the top 5 or the bottom 5), but I think they have the best sound of any SY albums and very underrated songs. For the early stuff, I find Confusion is Sex and EVOL the most exciting. Daydream Nation and Sister would be next on my list.


  1. Nighthawks at the Diner
  2. Small Change
  3. Rain Dogs
  4. Bone Machine
  5. Heartattack and Vine


Sonic Youth:

  1. Dirty

  2. Daydream Nation

  3. Sister

  4. Goo

  5. Experimental Jet Set

  6. Ziggy Stardust

  7. Lodger

  8. Low

  9. Scary Monsters

  10. Earthling