Top 10 Non-Rock Albums

Forget all that rock 'n' roll for a moment, and enjoy an impressive collection of albums voted by Ultimate Guitar readers which you wouldn't expect.

Ultimate Guitar

What are the best albums from the rest of the music world?

This week we asked Ultimate Guitar readers to look outwards, past all the rock and metal that we usually cover, and pick out their favourite albums from the pop, hip-hop, electronic worlds and beyond. 

The resulting list is a refreshing change from our usual output, and better than we ever expected. It's a fantastic playlist to enjoy and discuss over the weekend, so let us know what you love and share other album tips in the comments below. Enjoy!

10. Justice "Cross"

The greatest French dance duo since Daft Punk. It takes a special kind of dance album to impress Ultimate Guitar readers, and this effort to produce an "opera-dance" record is it. Believe it or not, the album is peppered with samples of everything from Slipknot and 50 Cent to Queen.

9. Moby "Play"

Moby started life living in the ghettos and visiting hardcore punk shows alongside the likes of Dave Grohl and the Beastie Boys. So how did he end up making some of the most commercially successful records of all time? Every track on this, his fifth album, was incensed for commercial use. So he's technically a sell out - but perhaps Moby earned it.

8. Massive Attack "Mezzanine"

British music is about more than the Beatles. Massive Attack hail from Bristol, which is the equivalent of a rural dystopia and home to graffiti artists including Banksy. So when you hit play on this absolutely stunning record, you're about to take a trip into the real Britain you never see in the media. Magnificent.

7. Daft Punk "Discovery"

Dance music used to be repetitive in a bad way. It was rarely catchy, it was produced with little intellect, and couldn't muster a beat of emotion. Then Daft Punk came along, and gave the genre a huge dose of credibility which has been emulated thousands of times ever since, making the electronic scene far richer for it. This album marks their tipping point into the mainstream.

6. Wu-Tang Clan "36 Chambers"

Aggressive vocals, drive and distortion on every track, and a lasting influence on decades of music? If that sounds like a classic rock album, you'd be wrong. Wu-Tang Clan's debut emerged with a distinctive sound, where each of their nine rappers literally battled for the right to feature on each song. The resulting determination and attitude helped them crash into the Billboard chart in 1993.

5. The Prodigy "The Fat of the Land"

Rooted in dance but firmly influenced by punk rock ... ah, what's the point in trying to define this beast? It sounds like nothing else, and has never been truly rivalled since - even by the Prodigy, who have struggled to achieve their own lofty heights by this album which broke records as the fastest selling British release of all time.

4. Eminem "The Marshall Mathers LP"

Eminem has become one of the biggest artists of all time (and still battles Rihanna for the record for most Facebook fans in the world). This wasn't his first album, but in many ways his career started here - his quirky singles and refreshing rap style caught the attention of the world, and his ultra-aggressive album content captivated an adolescent generation.

3. Gorillaz "Gorillaz"

A band of cartoon characters? Led by the singer of a defunct 90s Britpop band? Featuring many of the best-loved artists in the world, from a wealth of genres, and the illest production in years? What a formula, and how it worked. Gorillaz were a phenomenon, and Ultimate Guitar readers constantly cite this album as an alternative fave.

2. Michael Jackson "Thriller"

After his previous album "Off the Wall," critics didn't think Jackson would come back with as much style. It was a great record, he did a great job of coming back from years as a child star, and that would be it. But then "Thriller" was released, and he showed up the critics by shaking the foundations of pop for all time. Quincy Jones' recording still sounds as fresh as it did in 1982.

1. Miles Davis "Kind of Blue"

This is so much more than the greatest jazz album. It's a definitive turning point in the history of improvisation, and for musicians, that's a concept that will just never die - and that's why "Kind of Blue" is so influential. When it comes to freeform emotion and performance, musicians in every decade turn to it for inspiration, including Pink Floyd keyboardist Richard Wright who says it influenced the opening chords on "Breathe" from "Dark Side of the Moon."

What a great list! Thanks to everyone who made a nomination and voted for a winner, because we're proud of this playlist.

Enjoy listening to every one of these classics of the weekend, and let us know which ones you love or have newly discovered and why. And if you like the list, hit 'Like' to share to your friends too.

143 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    Good list, good Music, I guess I discovered a few gems today
    It IS a good list, isn't it! Usually these UG lists end up being really polarizing and everyone gets butthurt. But this is just a nice, refreshing one. More stuff like this!
    There's no reggae. "Exodus" (1977) is one of the best album of all time (many others of course), not here. So I suppose this list ain't that good.
    Lets not kid ourselves, all blues is awful. I haven't heard the rest of the album, but techncalify doesn't make up for a piece sounding bad.
    That's literally one of the dumbest music related comment I may have ever heard.
    I'm pretty sure he means all blues, the song from kind of blue. If so you three are the idiots not him
    thank you for noticing that, rozers clearly said "the rest of the album" and he gets down votes for his opinion and the three people who have no idea what they are talking about get up votes....the people that visit this site and vote on comments are clueless sometimes Kind of blue is a masterpeice and is one the few jazz albums I enjoy listening but I don't know about it being number one
    I don't think there is a flaw in that album at all but you're entitled to your opinion. Capitalization is key to being succinct in what you mean though and your statement was clearly misconstrued as meaning the genre of blues. I even had to consider what you said at first... I was ready to explode lol.
    Romantic Warrior - Return To Forever
    Such a cheesy album
    The synth sounds definitely date Romantic Warrior, but if we're talking about fusion, it's hard to avoid cheese. But Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy and Where Have I Known You Before are awesome albums. Lenny White tears that shit up. I definitely prefer the Return albums that are the most guitar heavy.
    This so much, such an underrated band, Al di meola is spectacular and Return to Forever are probably one of, if not the best jazz fusion bands to ever exist.
    IMO the list needs Gotye's Like Drawing Blood, Coil's Musick to Play in the Dark, Aphex Twin's ...I Care Because You Do and Radiohead's Kid A, but I guess it's an okay list.
    Would've loved to see Portishead on the list but oh well...
    Portishead's "Dummy" almost made this list by user's votes - also there are a lot of great suggestions in comments - personally I'm glad to see UG readers are open-minded enough! Thank you!
    Dummy is such a fantastic album, but all of these albums are equally as good. Awesome list.
    Is there any chance we could get a list of runner-ups along with these lists? I know I'd love to see what else got lots of suggestions. And I know I can just go to the old post but that requires effort
    Unfortunately now we have only top 10 remaining - so just checking votes in previous post would be the best way)
    Great list; top 10 is silly to say though. Should just be "ten great non-rock/metal albums. Mezzanine and Kind of Blue are particularly amazing still.
    I'm glad we got a question that aknowledges that other genres exist, but this was extremely broad. Maybe we could have more questions like this but rather than non-rock it would be jazz, or techno, or funk, or any other genre.
    This site's top 10 Hip-Hop would be hilariously ignorant and definitely worth the laugh.
    Personally I'd like Mezzanine and Play to be higher up. Good list though!
    Glad to see that is Miles Davis - Kind of Blue on the 1 place. I am not a big fan of jazz, but this record is just amazing.
    I think that's what makes Miles Davis so awesome. He's obviously a great jazz player, but he's also very digestible and very easy to listen to. When I listen to jazz, a lot of it just goes over my head, but not Miles. Plus the man's a badass.
    And he pioneered like 3 different jazz styles, at LEAST. He was constantly reinventing himself.
    Daft Punk is probably the artist that turn a majority of rock devotees onto dance music, so I'm really happy to see them here.
    Yeah it's official, I'm gonna get over my anti-EDM bullshit and give those guys a REAL listen.
    Please do. There is much more than bass drops and one-note leads in EDM, Daft Punk, Justice, and Digitalism seem to lead the "weird" state of electronic music these days.
    Daft punk really deserves a good listening from anyone, really The album on the list it their best (IMO), but the latest one (R.A.M.) is a great album as well
    The "french touch" in general is great dance music. With Daft Punk and Justice, there is also Kavinsky, Yuksek, Else, L'Ordre and also Miami Horror (not french but still great)