|Author||General Editor: Robert Dimery, Preface by Michael Lydon|
|Cover artist||Jon Wainright|
|Publisher||Tristan de Lancey; Universe Publishing (first edition)|
|Media type||Print (Hardback)|
|LC Class||ML156.9 .A18 2006|
1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die is a musical reference book first published in 2005 by Universe Publishing. Part of the 1001 Before You Die series, it compiles writings and information on albums chosen by a panel of music critics to be the most important, influential, and best in popular music between the 1950s and the 2010s. The book was edited by Robert Dimery, an English writer and editor who had previously worked for magazines such as Time Out and Vogue.
Each entry in the book's list of albums is accompanied by a short essay written by a music critic, along with pictures, quotes, and additional information (such as the album's running time and producer). Only albums consisting fully of original material by a particular artist were included, which meant that compilations by various artists, including most film soundtracks, were also excluded.
The most recent edition consists of a list of albums released between 1955 and 2017, part of a series from Quintessence Editions Ltd. The book is arranged roughly chronologically, starting with Frank Sinatra's In the Wee Small Hours and the most recent edition concluding with I See You by The xx.
In the book's introduction, General Editor Robert Dimery notes that the selections were also intended to bring attention to gifted songwriters. Joni Mitchell, Elvis Costello and Nick Cave are named as examples. The release dates are chosen from the date the album first released in the artist's home country, and the version is the first one released, which would affect The Beatles' album tally. In most cases, bonus tracks added for later versions are ignored. The editors also attempted to ensure that each album profiled was still available for purchase. Soundtracks that were not original material from a particular artist were also excluded.
In February 2006, Publishers Weekly called the book a "...bookshelf-busting testament to music geeks' mania for lists" and said it "...is about as comprehensive a 'best-of' as any sane person could want." They continued, "For music lovers, it doesn't get much better." The 2006 version had an average rating of 3.92 stars out of 5 on Amazon.com's social cataloging website Goodreads, with 860 ratings as of April 30, 2015. The same 2006 version has an average rating of 3.5 stars out of 5 on Amazon.com.
Most of the book's recommendations are rock and pop albums from the Western world. 1001 Albums also features selections from world music, rhythm and blues, blues, folk, hip hop, country, electronic music, and jazz. The rock and pop albums include such subgenres as punk rock, grindcore, heavy metal, alternative rock, progressive rock, easy listening, thrash metal, grunge and rockabilly. Classical and modern art music are excluded.
These artists have the most albums in the 2017 edition.