Music

The Best Sophomore Albums of All Time 

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
Updated March 16, 2020 117.3k votes 7.7k voters 166.6k views 315 items

List Rules Must be a band/artist's second full-length album. No EPs, live albums, reissues, etc.

The best sophomore albums of all time include some of the greatest albums of all time and will largely divide music fans as to whether they're the best second albums ever or just another record in a musician's collection. Many of these second albums by bands are superior to the first albums, while others are simply better than most other albums ever released.

It was Elvis Costello who once said something to the effect of "you have your whole life to write your first record and six months to write the second"; it's quite the daunting task for a musician or band who has found themselves fast in the spotlight and under pressure to turn out a second album that's as successful as the first. Most bands fail when it comes to record #2 and never rebound (The Strokes, Futureheads, Tokyo Police Club) while others have done some of their best work many albums in (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bad Religion, Gogol Bordello). Many of the bands on this list of the greatest sophomore albums went on put out albums better than the first or second, and some just gave up after their sophomore effort.

What is the best sophomore album of all time? What band put out the greatest second album? What bands had better second records than the first? This list of the best second albums by bands is sure to spark a debate among music fans, and that's precisely the point. Make sure to vote for your favorite sophomore album and feel free to add any great second albums that aren't on the list.

If your favorite band made an awful second album, do not put them on the list just because they are your favorite band! This list is about the top second records by bands, not a list of bands that people like. These are important albums that have stood the test of time that will still be the top albums in years to come. If you're out to vote for the best bands ever, check out the greatest bands of all time and vote there.
list ordered by
1
Led Zeppelin II is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Sophomore Albums of All Time
By Led Zeppelin (1969); Tracks: Bring It on Home, The Lemon Song & Living Loving Maid (She's Just a Woman)
2
Nevermind is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Sophomore Albums of All Time
By Nirvana (1991); Tracks: Breed, Smells Like Teen Spirit & Something in the Way
3
Paranoid is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Sophomore Albums of All Time
By Black Sabbath (1970); Tracks: Paranoid, Iron Man & Rat Salad
4
The Bends is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Sophomore Albums of All Time
By Radiohead (1995); Tracks: My Iron Lung, Just & Street Spirit (Fade Out)
5
Siamese Dream is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Sophomore Albums of All Time
By The Smashing Pumpkins (1993); Tracks: Soma, Luna & Mayonaise
6
Strange Days is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Sophomore Albums of All Time
By The Doors (1967); Tracks: Moonlight Drive, When the Music’s Over & My Eyes Have Seen You
7
Dirt is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Sophomore Albums of All Time
By Alice in Chains (1992); Tracks: God Smack, Dam That River & Rooster
8
Queen II is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Sophomore Albums of All Time
By Queen (1974); Tracks: White Queen (As It Began), Some Day One Day & Ogre Battle
9
Axis: Bold as Love is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Sophomore Albums of All Time
By The Jimi Hendrix Experience (1967); Tracks: Castles Made of Sand, Little Miss Lover & If 6 Was 9
10
Ride the Lightning is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Sophomore Albums of All Time
By Metallica (1984); Tracks: Creeping Death, Escape & For Whom the Bell Tolls
11
Sounds of Silence is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Sophomore Albums of All Time
By Simon and Garfunkel (1966); Tracks: I Am a Rock, Somewhere They Can’t Find Me & Kathy’s Song
12
The Marshall Mathers LP ... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Sophomore Albums of All Time
By Eminem (2000); Tracks: Marshall Mathers, Who Knew & Kill You
13
Disraeli Gears is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Sophomore Albums of All Time
By Cream (1967); Tracks: Take It Back, World of Pain & We’re Going Wrong
14
(What's the Story) Morni... is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Sophomore Albums of All Time
By Oasis (1995); Tracks: Roll With It, Morning Glory & Morning Glory
15
Imagine is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Sophomore Albums of All Time
richerb added By John Lennon (1971); Tracks: I Don't Wanna Be a Soldier Mama I Don't Wanna Die, Oh My Love & Imagine
16
Parallel Lines is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Sophomore Albums of All Time
By Blondie (1978); Tracks: Heart of Glass (12″ disco version), Sunday Girl & 11:59
17
The Downward Spiral is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Sophomore Albums of All Time
By Nine Inch Nails (1994); Tracks: Ruiner, Piggy & The Becoming
18
The Colour and the Shape... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Sophomore Albums of All Time
By Foo Fighters (1997); Tracks: February Stars, My Hero & Walking After You
19
Demon Days is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Sophomore Albums of All Time
By Gorillaz (2005); Tracks: All Alone, November Has Come & Demon Days
20
Vs. is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Sophomore Albums of All Time
By Pearl Jam (1993); Tracks: Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town, Daughter & Animal
21
Piano Man is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Sophomore Albums of All Time
By Billy Joel (1973); Tracks: You’re My Home, Captain Jack & Ain’t No Crime
22
The Band is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Sophomore Albums of All Time
By The Band (1969); Tracks: The Unfaithful Servant, King Harvest (Has Surely Come) (alternate performance) & The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (alternate mix)
23
Ænima is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Sophomore Albums of All Time
By Tool (1996); Tracks: Third Eye, Useful Idiot & Jimmy
24
The Freewheelin' Bob Dyl... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Sophomore Albums of All Time
By Bob Dylan (1963); Tracks: Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall, Gamblin' Willie & Rocks and Gravel
25
Beatlemania! With The Be... is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Sophomore Albums of All Time
By The Beatles (1963); Tracks: Not a Second Time, Please Mister Postman & You Really Got a Hold on Me