For this article, we will be featuring the top 50 best country albums of all time – or basically a list of country albums that are worth investing your hard-earned money in. You will see a lot of familiar names, both old and new, but take note that these country albums are not necessarily the best-selling country albums of all time. More than the sales, these albums are on top because they have helped shape and influence country music.
Topping off the list is what critics say one of the most influential country albums of all time: Shania Twain’s 1997 Come On Over album. The 16-track album was full of crossover potential that featured hook-filled songwriting blessedly produced by rock legend Robert John “Mutt” Lange. And the result was not just a record-breaking, multi-awarded album but a blueprint that many country singers have tried to recreate even 24 years after.
Following on the second spot is Garth Brooks’ No Fences, which produced four consecutive chart-topping hits. Not only did it make waves in Brooks’ career, but in the whole industry as well. That’s why it’s not surprising to see a few more of his albums on the Top 50. Aside from Brooks, there are also the albums of Taylor Swift, Randy Travis, Charlie Rich, Carrie Underwood, and Waylon Jennings that completed the top ten rankings.
What makes a good country album?
Country music holds a deeper ground in America than any other music genre, even if we’re considering the shifts, changes, and evolution of stylistic directions within the genre. It has remained as 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 spouting everywhere, how do we know which ones are good?
Well, good is subjective. People can say an album is good simply because they enjoyed all of the songs in it. But here’s the thing: Country songs can be chart-topping hits as singles without the influence of its album. On the other hand, country albums are more than just well-narrated and well-delivered singles. It’s a tracklist that spins a story and delicately delivers all the emotions in a continuous flow. Aside from that, the songs have different flavors that you can play at any moment of the day. Most importantly, an album introduces the artist, their craft, and their style without compromises.
Featured: The Top 50 Best Country Albums Of All Time
Country Thang Daily compiled a list of 50 of the best country music albums of all time as per Billboard’s Greatest of All-Time Country Albums list. This ranking is based on the albums’ weekly performance, including sales, airplay, and streaming. So, let’s dive right into it!
1. ‘Come on Over’ by Shania Twain
Released in 1997, Come on Over was the sequel to her phenomenal album The Woman In Me. The album broke away from several contemporary country conventions with its rock-leaning, professionally crafted country-pop music and its 16-long original Lange-Twain originals (usual albums are just 10 songs long).
And while it’s not the honky-tonk expected from country albums, it was well-received with over 40 million copies sold worldwide as of 2020. And among its impressively long list of achievements, Come on Over became the number one country album for four different years from 1997 until 2000. It also produced 11 top 40 country singles, which were more than most country albums have.
2. ‘NO FENCES’ by Garth Brooks
With over 18 million copies sold, NO FENCES earned the 4th best-selling album in all genres during the ‘90s. And it’s definitely impactful producing not only 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 bagging Brooks six Academy of Country Music Awards in 1991 including Album of the Year.
3. ‘Taylor Swift’ by Taylor Swift
Though Taylor Swift is no longer considered by many as a country musician, her influence in the genre is undeniable. At a young age, Taylor Swift released her debut studio album Taylor Swift which topped the US Billboard Top Country charts for 24 weeks. Aside from that, it was also the longest-charting album on the Billboard 200 of the 2000s. And if that was not impressive enough, the album was also seven times certified Platinum making Swift the first solo female country artist 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, it also even put the name of independent cowboy singer Chris LeDoux on the map just simply for mentioning him in one of the song’s lyrics!
5. ‘Always & Forever’ by Randy Travis
Just like his first, Randy Travis’ second album titled ‘Always & Forever’ did not only meet expectations but went way beyond it, rivaling its predecessor in terms of quality. The tunes were a classic country, with three of the album’s songs peaked at number one on the charts. This 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, though heavily pop with grand productions and multi-layers of instruments, has become one of Charlie Rich’s most influential works, with numerous artists using the record as a template to reinvent their own style. From its hit singles to the album’s tracks, everything was designed to appeal to the maturing audience of country music. And it did not fail. The album earned him a Grammy award for Best Country Vocal Performance Male and also bagged him four Academy of Country Music awards.
7. ‘Some Hearts’ by Carrie Underwood
If we’re talking about successful and influential debut albums, then this is definitely high up on the list. With the undeniable impact of her singles just like “Jesus Take The Wheel” and “Before He Cheats,” the album took home an impressive list of achievements, including being the best-selling female country album from 2005 until 2007, the fastest-selling and best-selling debut country album in country music history. It also earned Underwood back-to-back honors for the Top Country album in Billboard history.
8. ‘Greatest Hits’ by Waylon Jennings
This nine-track 1979 album is considered one of the best country compilation albums of all time, concentrating solely on Jennings’ peak outlaw years. The album contains several of his signature songs like “Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line” and “The Taker.” Every tune included here is at its very core a legend and presented Jennings in his most original self – as Nashville’s rebel and honky-tonk hero who wasn’t afraid to show every side of him, even the macho sensitive one. Even though there are a lot of other great songs not included here, it remains to be one of the greatest compilations ever.
9. ‘The Woman In Me’ by Shania Twain
Shania Twain’s second studio album ‘The Woman In Me’ is one of her most phenomenal albums ever. Collaborating with her then-husband and producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange, this album showcased a reworked Twain – a sexy and sassy modern woman – singing empowerment anthems about heartbreak. The album went on to become her biggest-selling album at the time and was later on certified 12 times Platinum. It was also credited as one of the influences on the sound of contemporary country music.
10. ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou’ (Soundtrack)
Capping off our top 10 list is the soundtrack ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou.’ While the film failed to achieve critical success, its soundtrack definitely stepped up. The masterful producer T-Bone Burnett known for his works with Elvis Costello, Sam Phillips, Joseph Arthur, and Counting Crows, was commissioned for the soundtrack. And he definitely delivered. The songs, although none were original, were very powerful and gave the film its authenticity.
Here is the rest of our top 50 best country albums of all time.
- ‘Fearless’ by Taylor Swift
- ‘Killin’ 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 Kinda Party’ by Jason Aldean
- ‘Feels So Right’ 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 Gave All’ by Billy Ray Cyrus
- ‘The Hits’ by Garth Brooks
- ‘Mountain Music’ by Alabama
- ‘No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems’ by Kenny Chesney
- ‘Unleashed’ by Toby Keith
- ‘Need You Now’ by Lady A.
- ‘Montevallo’ by Sam Hunt
- ‘Me And My Gang’ by Rascal Flatts
- ‘For The 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
- ‘Up!’ by Shania Twain
- ‘The Best of Charley Pride’ by Charley Pride
- ‘Chief’ by Eric Church
- ‘Kenny Rogers’ Greatest Hits’ by Kenny Rogers
- ‘Johnny Cash At San Quentin’ by Johnny Cash
- ‘Old 8 X 10’ by Randy Travis
- ‘Everywhere’ by Tim McGraw
- ‘A Lot About Livin’ (And A Little ‘Bout Love)’ by Alan Jackson
- ‘The Outsiders’ by Eric Church
Carrie Underwood, charlie rich, Garth Brooks, Randy Travis, Shania Twain, taylor swift, Waylon Jennings