Ranking All 30 Rolling Stones Studio Albums
If you’re like most people, you’ve spent the majority of your life listening to The Rolling Stones. There’s no question that they have done a lot of albums over the years, 30 of them to be exact. That doesn’t even count tons of live albums, compilation albums and even official bootlegs. The truth is, if you really want to get your hands on every piece of Rolling Stones music that you can, there’s probably more than you can listen to in any reasonable amount of time.
30. Aftermath (1966)
The group was actually on an international tour when they recorded this album. That forced them to record half of it during December of 1965 and then return to record the other half during March of 1966. Both halves were recorded at RCA studios, located in California.
29. December’s Children (1965)
This is the fifth album that was recorded by the band. It was released just in time for Christmas on the 4th of December, 1965. Despite that fact, the band had a tendency to refrain from playing the overwhelming majority of the songs on the album during live performances. Apparently, they weren’t terribly happy with the way that the album came out and as a result, preferred to forget that it even existed.
28. Out of Our heads (1965)
This album was released twice, once in the UK and once in the US. In reality, they were two entirely different editions. The US version was released in 1965, but it came two months earlier than the release for the UK. Each of the two different albums had entirely different covers. The track listings were also different.
27. The Rolling Stones (1964)
You might say that this is the one that started it all, because that’s exactly what it is. It was the first album released by the band and it started a tremendous fan following that has existed for decades.
26. 12 X 5 (1964)
This album was released the same year as their debut album, but it was released in the United States. The funny thing is, this particular album was released at exactly the same time that the debut album was also being released. The difference is that the debut album was released in the UK and this one was released exclusively in the United States.
25. The Rolling Stones No. 2 (1965)
Even though they had two albums that were released in 1964, this is largely considered the second studio album by the band because it was the second album released in the UK. If you really want to get technical about things, it was the third album that they released. Producers decided to play it safe and do much the same thing as they did on their debut album, singing covers of popular American rock and roll songs and throwing in a healthy dose of R&B music to boot.
24. The Rolling Stones, Now (1965)
This marked the band’s third American album. It was handled by the same individuals that took care of the other records that the band had produced within the US, London Records. Once again, it offered standard American covers of rock and roll music along with some R&B. However, there was some blues rock that was thrown in for good measure this time around.
23. Sticky fingers (1971)
This marked the ninth album that was released in the UK by the band. Surprisingly, it was the 11th album released in the United States. This was an important milestone for the band because they were releasing it on their own label, Rolling Stones Records. This marked the first time that they were producing their own material.
22. It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (1974)
This was the 12th album the band released in Britain, but the 14th in the United States. Once again, it featured various covers of rock and roll music. There were also a few songs representing blues rock and something that the band hadn’t typically ventured into up until this point, funk rock. It was produced by the Glimmer Twins on the Rolling Stones label. Recording was accomplished through Island records in London.
21. Between the Buttons (1967)
This was the fifth album in the UK, the seventh in the United States. It was supposed to be a direct follow-up to “Aftermath” in the United States. It also marked one of the only times that the group would venture into territory involving Baroque pop ballads and even a bit of psychedelic rock. It wasn’t something that was well-received, so it was a sound that the band never really tried to duplicate again.
20. Beggars Banquet (1968)
Here you have the 7th album in Britain and the 9th in America. It was released by Decca records for the United Kingdom version and by London Records in the United States. The sound was a bit different this time, incorporating different types of styles ranging from roots rock to hard rock. There were even a few songs that were a mixture of both country and blues in order to round things out.
19. Goats Head Soup (1973)
Aside from the odd title, the album was also released both in Britain and in the United States. It was released directly after “Exile on Main St.” and the overwhelming majority of the album was both composed and recorded in either Jamaica or Los Angeles. This was largely because the band had managed to get themselves labeled as tax exiles in the United Kingdom. That meant that they had to do the majority of their work outside of the country.
18. Their Satanic Majesties Request (1967)
It wasn’t just the title of this album that had fans wondering what was going on, it was the music as well. It marked one of the rare times that an identical album was released in both the UK and the US. However, the band’s foray into things like psychedelic pop, experimental rock and even acid rock did not bode especially well with fans.
17. Exile on Main St. (1972)
This was the 10th British album, but it was the 12 album released in the United States. It was also the first double album that the band ever released. They recorded it in various places including London, Newbury and Los Angeles. They also kept it relatively simple when it came to content, sticking to rock and roll and throwing in a few hard rock songs for good measure.
16. Let It Bleed (1969)
This album was released very soon after the band had finished their American tour in 1969. It was meant to be the follow-up to another album called “Beggars Banquet”, which had been released the year before. It was the eighth album released in Britain and the 10th for the United States, featuring blues, hard rock and country.
15. Tattoo You (1981)
This was the 16th album released in the UK. For US fans, it was the 18th studio album, this time featuring saxophone player Sonny Rollins. Once again, the album was produced by the Glimmer Twins. It was one that they kept very close to the band’s original roots. As such, it only featured rock and roll with a few hard rock songs sprinkled in here and there.
14. Dirty Work (1986)
This was the 18th album that was released in the UK, the 20th in the United States. It was released on the band’s own Rolling Stones label, with one major difference. They had just signed a new contract with Columbia Records. Therefore, they were able to use their own label but the album was actually released by CBS Records.
13. Black and Blue (1976)
The thing most people remember about this album is that it was the first one recorded after the band’s guitarist, Mick Taylor, quit at the end of the year in 1974. It was the thirteenth album for fans in Britain, the fifteenth one for those in the United States, produced by and released on Rolling Stones Records. It featured a number of different types of songs including blues rock, hard rock and funk rock. However, there were some new sounds on this one including both reggae and disco.
12. Some Girls (1978)
This was a rather unique album in the sense that the band was trying some new sounds. They had been experiencing fewer fans at their concerts as well as a decline in record sales for the previous two years, largely because many people were listening to disco music and supporting new rock bands that had only recently come along. As such, they included traditional rock and roll on this album, but also punk rock, country and disco.
11. Undercover (1983)
This marked the last time that Atlantic Records would distribute an album for the band. Almost immediately after its completion, they moved to Columbia Records. However, they wouldn’t complete the follow-up album for another three years.
10. Emotional Rescue (1980)
This was a fairly simple album featuring both rock and disco. Released on the band’s own label, it was produced by the Glimmer Twins. It is the 15th album released in Britain and the 17th album to be released in the United States. It was recorded in both Paris and New York City.
9. A Bigger Bang (2005)
Clearly, this is one of their later albums. There is also a re-release of the album featuring additional music that was released in 2021. It was composed almost entirely of rock music. This time, Mercury Studios was the label used for its release.
8. Steel Wheels (1989)
This is one of the band’s live albums, broadcast live during their “Urban Jungle” tour. They also released another live album from this tour called “Flashpoint.” Even though the album was recorded live in 1989, it wasn’t released as an album until 2020. As previously mentioned, it had been broadcast live when it was reported on December 19th of 1989. However, a record had not been available until recently.
7. Bridges to Babylon (1997)
This album was recorded in Los Angeles and featured both blues rock and hard rock selections. It was released by Virgin Records as a double album, but only for those who purchased the vinyl. It was also made available on CD as an extended album. It was the 21st album to be released by the band in Britain. It also marked their 23rd release in the US.
6. Voodoo Lounge (1994)
This album marked the first time in five years that the band had officially released new music. It was also their first album with their then-new label, Virgin Records. It was produced by the Glimmer Twins, along with Don Was and featured genres such as blues rock, hard rock and roots rock.
5. Blue & Lonesome (2016)
Thai was the 23rd album released in Britain, the 25th in America. Once again, it involved the Glimmer Twins and Don Was as producers. Recorded in London and Los Angeles, it featured the same type of blues rock that had been on so many other albums. However, there was also some electric blues and even Chicago blues this time around.
4. Flashpoint (1991)
This was another live album, their first one in almost a decade. They recorded it during their “Urban Jungle” tour, recording sessions from the tour in both 1989 and 1990. They released the album the following year.
3. Still Life (1982)
The band recorded this album while they were on their American tour in 1981. They released the album during the summer of 1982 in preparation for their European tour. Apparently, they were so awe-struck by the design on the album cover, they incorporated some of those same elements in the stage design for their European tour.
2. Live Licks (2004)
This double album was recorded throughout various performances during the band’s “Licks” tour. They did the recordings throughout 2002 and 2003. The album was released in 2004.
1. Shine a Light (2008)
This album serves as a soundtrack to the band’s similarly-named concert. Impressively, Martin Scorsese directed the entire project (there is a video that can also be purchased). It is available in both standard form and as a double album. The album was released during the first week of April in 2008 in the UK. Fans in the US could purchase it one week later.