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Top 50 music artists of all time
(updated January 2013) 
1.  Bruce Springsteen   
Springsteen is both an innocent and a visionary. Whilst able to map the dark side of the human soul, his philosophy is positive and life-affirming. Revelling in soul-rock, but experimenting with other forms, he is a unique and under-rated figure. Best albums: The River, Darkness on the Edge of Town, The Rising.

2.  The Beatles   
The musical phenomenon of the 20th century, and rightly so. Untainted by a reunion, their brief (1963-69) career produced many highlights. They popped better than they rocked, but we can forgive them that. A great band to discover music with. Best albums: Rubber Soul, Revolver, A Hard Day's Night.

3.  Teenage Fanclub   
Angels. They started as a grungey rock band in the Dinosaur Jr and Nirvana era, and transformed into the sweetest pop band on the planet, via Big Star and The Byrds. The best trio of songwriters in a band since Lennon/McCartney/Harrison. Magical beyond belief. Best albums: Thirteen, Howdy!, Grand Prix.

4.  Bob Dylan   
This man stands alone. A chameleon musically and lyrically, he has had numerous ups and downs, but keeps on going, transcendentally lost in his world. A gifted and generous artist, his importance (even now) cannot be underestimated. Best albums: Desire, Blood on the Tracks, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan.

5Patti Smith   
Over-earnest punk poetess who nevertheless has a life-affirming vision to match Springsteen's (despite the tragedies that have marked her life). Her career has two distinct phases, if one excludes the beautiful Dream of Life. An inspirational figure. Best albums: Horses, Gone Again, Dream of Life.

6The Rolling Stones  
On the back of Berry and other blues-makers, the Stones created a certain rock'n'roll template that they are now unfortunately stuck in. Their pop digressions in the mid '60s are undervalued, but their early '70s rock songs are indeed sublime. Best albums: Sticky Fingers, Exile on Main Street, Beggar's Banquet.

7.  The Byrds   
Folk-rock was an interesting hybrid, and The Byrds were at the forefront of this movement. But they developed in ways that were fascinating and complex. Being volatile internally seemed to actually help this. Best albums: Turn! Turn! Turn!, The Notorious Byrd Brothers, Sweetheart of the Rodeo.

8.  Joan Baez   
A political folkie who has supported various causes throughout her career, she did a great service to everyone in the early '60s by making the loveliest folk ballads from the past available. Many mediocre albums have followed, but she earns respect. Best albums: Joan, Joan Baez Vol 1, Come From the Shadows.

9.  The Jam   
A band that flamed up magically for 5 or so years, creating interesting mod/punk/soul variations. Foxton and Buckler were a great rhythm section, creating a dynamic, forceful sound. And Weller was fiery and passionate. At their best, scorching. Best albums: Setting Sons, All Mod Cons, Sound Affects

10.  The Buzzcocks   
Can music - let alone punk/pop - live without the voice of Pete Shelley? That beautiful and romantic voice is still with us thankfully, and their recent albums aren't half-bad, but their initial flush produced some absolute gems of (love) songs. Best albums: the singles, A Different Kind of Tension, Another Music.

11.  Nick Cave
12.  Trypes
13.  P J Harvey
14.  R.E.M.
15.  Loudon Wainwright III
16.  Big Star
17.  Neil Young
18.  The Smiths
19.  The Pixies
20.  Billy Childish
21.  Abba
22.  The Dead Salesmen/The Underminers
23.  Joy Division
24.  Guided By Voices
25.  The Sex Pistols
26.  Sonic Youth
27.  The Clash
28.  Nick Drake
29.  Husker Du
30.  Sebadoh
31.  Stiff Little Fingers
32.  The Fiery Furnaces
33.  Pavlos Sidiropoulos
34.  Paul McCartney / Wings
35.  John Lennon
36.  Leonard Cohen
37.  The Ramones
38.  Sotiria Bellou
39.  Gang of Four
40.  Wah!
41.  Janis Joplin
42.  Iggy Pop and the Stooges
43.  The Carpenters
44.  Weezer
45.  The Mamas and the Papas
46.  Nina Simone
47.  The Box Tops
48.  Sleater-Kinney
49.  Television Personalities
50.  The White Stripes

See also

Top 50 albums of all time
Top 50 songs of all time