Top 20 Soul Albums Everyone Should Own

Struggling to find soulful sounds for your playlist? Soul music has a rich history, with albums that have shaped the soundtrack of generations. This blog will guide you through twenty must-own soul albums that will not just enhance your collection but touch your heart deeply.

Get ready to groove!

Key Takeaways

  • “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye is a timeless and legendary soul album that addresses important societal issues through its powerful music.
  • Adele’s “25” and “30” albums have made significant impacts on contemporary soul music, showcasing her exceptional vocal talent and songwriting ability.
  • Otis Redding’s influential albums such as “The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads” and “Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul” continue to resonate with listeners, capturing the essence of soul music.
  • Aretha Franklin’s album “I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You” remains widely celebrated and recommended for both retro and modern music enthusiasts.

Top 20 Soul Albums Everyone Should Own

From Marvin Gaye’s iconic “What’s Going On” to Adele’s powerhouse “25”, these essential soul albums are a must-have for any music collection. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or just starting to explore the world of classic soul, these albums will surely stand the test of time.

Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On

Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” is a powerful soul album that touches hearts. It came out in 1971 and quickly became a must-have record. The songs talk about war, peace, and love in ways that still matter today.

Marvin Gaye made music that helps people think about the world and their lives.

This album stands out as one of the top soul records everyone should own. Its sound has shaped music history. Fans of classic soul call it timeless and legendary. If you love soul music, this record belongs in your collection.

Al Green – Call Me

Moving on to the iconic soul album “Call Me” by Al Green, this timeless record is a must-have for any R&B and soul music enthusiast. With its smooth melodies and powerful vocals, “Call Me” has solidified its place as one of the greatest soul albums in history.

The album’s title track, “Call Me,” along with other hits like “Here I Am (Come and Take Me)” and “You Ought to Be with Me,” showcase Al Green’s remarkable talent and are essential additions to any classic soul collection.

Highlighted in numerous lists of top soul albums, including several best-of-all-time rankings, “Call Me” continues to resonate with fans and critics alike. Its influence on the genre’s history is undeniable, making it a definitive piece in the world of soul music.

Aretha Franklin – I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You

Aretha Franklin’s “I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You” is considered an iconic soul album that is often recommended for music enthusiasts. It has made a significant impact on the history of soul music and is widely celebrated by fans and critics alike.

The vinyl edition of this album is especially popular among retro music lovers, and its timeless appeal continues to attract new listeners to classic soul music. With its blend of classic and contemporary soul songs, this album showcases Aretha Franklin’s unparalleled talent and remains a must-have in any record collection.

Otis Redding – The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads

Otis Redding‘s “The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads” is a must-have album for any soul music enthusiast. Released in 1965, this classic showcases Redding’s powerful and emotive vocals, earning its place as one of the most iconic soul albums of all time.

Tracks like “Just One More Day” and “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” are timeless examples of Redding’s raw talent and emotional depth, making it a definitive soul album that continues to captivate audiences.

With its blend of romantic ballads and passionate performances, “The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads” remains an essential addition to any collection of classic soul albums. Its enduring popularity cements its status as a beloved and influential piece within the realm of timeless soul music.

Stevie Wonder – Songs in the Key of Life

Stevie Wonder’s “Songs in the Key of Life” is viewed as a definitive and timeless soul album. It’s widely celebrated for its blend of soul, funk, jazz, and R&B, making it a must-have for vinyl record enthusiasts who appreciate classic and influential music.

The album has made a significant impact on the history of soul music and continues to be cherished by fans and critics alike due to its exceptional musicality and profound lyrical themes.

This album stands out among the top 20 soul albums everyone should own. Its enduring popularity showcases the lasting influence of Stevie Wonder’s legendary work in shaping the soul music genre.

Elvis Presley – From Elvis in Memphis

Continuing the journey through timeless soul albums, let’s delve into the iconic “From Elvis in Memphis” by Elvis Presley. This legendary album marked a significant return to his rock and roll roots after years of focusing on movie soundtracks.

Released in 1969, it captures the essence of Presley’s musical prowess with an infusion of soul, country, and blues elements. The album features standout tracks like “In the Ghetto” and “Suspicious Minds,” which showcase Presley’s emotive vocals and versatile range.

As one of the must-have soul albums for music enthusiasts, “From Elvis in Memphis” remains a definitive piece that solidifies Elvis Presley’s enduring legacy as a pioneer in popular music.

The O’Jays – Back Stabbers

The O’Jays‘ “Back Stabbers” is a definitive soul album. It’s one of the must-have albums for vinyl records collectors and soul music enthusiasts alike. This legendary album showcases the timeless appeal of The O’Jays and their significant impact on the history of soul music.

Next, let’s look at – David Bowie – Station to Station in our list of top 20 soul albums everyone should own.

David Bowie – Station to Station

David Bowie’s “Station to Station” is widely regarded as one of the most influential albums in both rock and soul music. Released in 1976, it showcases Bowie’s versatility, blending elements of funk, soul, and rock.

The title track itself spans over 10 minutes, fusing different musical styles seamlessly. With its innovative sound and complex themes, “Station to Station” remains a must-have for music enthusiasts looking for definitive soul albums.

Bowie’s ability to experiment with various genres while maintaining his unique style is evident in this album.

Van Morrison – Astral Weeks

Transitioning from the soulful sounds of David Bowie’s “Station to Station,” we come to the timeless masterpiece that is Van Morrison’s “Astral Weeks.” This album, released in 1968, is often regarded as one of the greatest albums of all time.

With its poetic lyrics and unique blend of folk, jazz, and soul, “Astral Weeks” takes listeners on a transcendent musical journey.

Van Morrison’s evocative storytelling through songs like “Madame George” and “Cyprus Avenue” showcases his deeply expressive vocals and emotional depth. The album’s immersive arrangements and ethereal instrumentation create an otherworldly atmosphere that continues to captivate audiences decades after its release.

Boz Scaggs – Silk Degrees

Moving from the timeless classic “Astral Weeks” to another must-have for any soul music enthusiast, “Silk Degrees” by Boz Scaggs. With its smooth blend of rock, pop, and R&B, this album became a sensation in the late ’70s.

Known for hits like “Lowdown” and “Lido Shuffle,” it’s marked as one of the top-rated soul albums with its infectious grooves and captivating melodies. The unique sound of this legendary album has made it a staple in any must-listen soul albums collection.

Understanding just how pivotal “Silk Degrees” is within the world of soul music, enthusiasts recognize its influence and significance as one of the beloved soul albums that truly stand out.

Adele – 25

Continuing with the legendary soul albums, Adele’s “25” stands out as a must-have in any music collection. With powerful and emotive tracks such as “Hello” and “When We Were Young,” this album showcases Adele’s exceptional vocal talent and songwriting ability.

Released in 2015, “25” received widespread acclaim and commercial success, solidifying Adele’s status as one of the leading voices in modern soul music. The album beautifully captures themes of love, heartbreak, and resilience, resonating with audiences worldwide.

Its compelling storytelling and soul-stirring melodies make it a top-rated soul album that everyone should listen to.

Featuring emotionally resonant songs like “Hello” and “When We Were Young,” Adele’s “25” is a masterpiece that has left an indelible mark on contemporary soul music. The album not only received critical acclaim but also achieved immense commercial success, cementing Adele’s position as a prominent figure in the genre.

Bill Withers – Still Bill

Moving on from Adele’s “25” to the timeless soul album “Still Bill” by Bill Withers, this 1972 release encompasses some of Withers’ most beloved songs, including “Lean on Me” and “Use Me.” The album seamlessly blends elements of soul, R&B, and folk to create a unique and impactful sound that resonates with listeners across generations.

Still highly regarded as a classic in the world of soul music, this album showcases Withers’ exceptional songwriting abilities and his distinctive voice, solidifying its place as a must-have in any soul music collection.

Bill Withers’ “Still Bill” is an essential addition for anyone seeking to explore the depth and beauty of soul music. The album continues to captivate audiences with its raw emotionality and enduring relevance.

Otis Redding – Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul

“Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul” is considered one of the essential soul albums to own. It was released in 1965 and features a blend of original songs and covers, showcasing Otis Redding’s powerful vocals.

The album includes iconic tracks like “Respect,” “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,” and “Satisfaction.” “Otis Blue” achieved critical acclaim for its raw emotion and dynamic performances, solidifying its place as a must-have for any soul music enthusiast.

This influential album captures the essence of Otis Redding’s artistry, leaving an indelible mark on the history of soul music. Its timeless appeal continues to resonate with listeners today, making it a standout addition to any collection of top-rated soul albums.

Adele – 30

Transitioning from the timeless soul classics to modern hits, Adele’s “30” has made a significant impact on contemporary music. Released in 2021, “30” showcases Adele’s powerful vocals and deeply personal songwriting, earning its place among must-have soul albums for music enthusiasts.

With hit singles like “Easy On Me,” this album has resonated with fans and critics, solidifying Adele’s position as one of the top-rated soul artists of today. The vinyl edition of “30” is highly recommended for those looking to add this modern classic to their collection.

Adele’s “30” represents a blend of classic and contemporary soul music that continues to showcase the genre’s timeless appeal. With her emotionally charged lyrics and compelling melodies, Adele has created an album that stands out as a must-listen in any collection of essential soul albums.

James Brown – Live at the Apollo (Recorded 1962)

Transitioning from Adele’s contemporary soul music, let’s dive into the timeless classic “James Brown – Live at the Apollo (Recorded 1962).” This album is an iconic live recording that captures the electrifying energy of James Brown and his band in a historic performance.

Known for its raw intensity and captivating stage presence, this album showcases Brown at the height of his powers, featuring hit tracks like “I’ll Go Crazy” and “Night Train.” With its dynamic rhythm and soulful precision, “Live at the Apollo” solidified James Brown’s status as one of the greatest performers in soul music history.

Considered one of the greatest live albums ever recorded, “Live at the Apollo” perfectly encapsulates James Brown’s showmanship and influence on soul music. The electrifying energy and powerful vocals exhibited throughout this legendary performance continue to resonate with audiences, cementing its well-deserved place among must-have soul albums for any music enthusiast.

Sade – Diamond Life

Sade’s “Diamond Life” is a must-have soul album that blends smooth jazz and R&B, showcasing Sade’s distinctive voice and the band’s unique sound. Released in 1984, it includes hit tracks like “Smooth Operator” and “Your Love Is King,” which have become classics.

The album received critical acclaim and commercial success, establishing Sade as a prominent figure in the music industry. Its seamless combination of soulful melodies and captivating lyrics makes “Diamond Life” an essential addition to any music collection for those who appreciate soulful, evocative music.

“Diamond Life” by Sade is a timeless piece of work that has left a lasting impact on the world of soul music. With its sultry vocals and sophisticated instrumentation, the album continues to be celebrated as one of the top-rated soul albums of all time.

Nina Simone – Wild is the Wind

Nina Simone‘s “Wild is the Wind” is a must-have soul album that showcases her powerful and emotive vocal style. Released in 1966, it features her iconic rendition of the title track, which became one of her signature songs.

The album also includes captivating covers like “I Love Your Lovin’ Ways” and “Four Women,” displaying Simone’s ability to infuse soulful depth into every song she performs. With its hauntingly beautiful melodies and raw emotional delivery, “Wild is the Wind” remains an essential addition to any soul music collection.

Simone’s influence on soul music can’t be overstated, and this album perfectly captures her unique artistry, making it a timeless classic for both devoted fans and newcomers to the genre alike.

Prince – Originals

Moving from Nina Simone’s classic album to a contemporary gem, let’s talk about “Prince – Originals.” This compilation album features 15 previously unreleased versions of songs that Prince wrote for other artists.

It includes tracks like “Manic Monday,” famously performed by The Bangles, and “The Glamorous Life,” which Sheila E. made popular. These original recordings showcase Prince’s exceptional songwriting and production skills, giving fans a deeper insight into his creative process.

The album demonstrates the timeless influence of Prince’s music across various genres, making it a must-have for soul and music enthusiasts alike.

Remembered as an iconic figure in the music industry, Prince – Originals allows listeners to appreciate the breadth of his musical talent while celebrating the impact he had on shaping soul and pop music.

Erykah Badu – Mama’s Gun

Erykah Badu’s “Mama’s Gun” is a must-listen soul album. It showcases Badu’s unique style, blending neo-soul with elements of hip hop and jazz. The album includes hit tracks like “Bag Lady” and “Didn’t Cha Know,” which have become classics in the soul genre.

With its smooth vocals and authentic lyrics, “Mama’s Gun” has earned critical acclaim and continues to be celebrated by fans as one of the top soul albums worth owning.

This engaging project remains a timeless favorite among music enthusiasts, demonstrating the enduring impact of Erykah Badu on the history of soul music.


When it comes to soul music, these albums stand out as must-haves. The timeless sounds of Marvin Gaye and Otis Redding are pure classics. From Aretha Franklin to Prince, each album is a gem worth owning.

These top 20 soul albums capture the essence and evolution of this beloved genre. Whether on vinyl or digital, these albums deserve a place in every music lover’s collection.

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