Top Ten Albums Released on Columbia Records

Columbia Records has been one of the mainstays of the record industry for years. I'm planning on doing a series of lists about major labels to show people how much of their favorite music is owned by the big guys. I don't want albums originally issued on a different label and reissued on Columbia, and I don't want albums released by two labels at the same time (the album should only be issued by Columbia). With that established, feel free to add to the list. If you do, tell me about the artist's history with the label.

The Top Ten

1 Highway 61 Revisited - Bob Dylan Highway 61 Revisited - Bob Dylan Product Image

Bob Dylan first signed with Columbia after legendary talent scout John Hammond discovered him. Except for a short period from 1973-1974 where he signed to Asylum Records, he's been with Columbia ever since.

2 Bridge Over Troubled Water - Simon & Garfunkel Bridge Over Troubled Water - Simon & Garfunkel Product Image

Columbia producer Tom Wilson saw them perform at Gerde's Folk Club and let them audition in the studio, where they performed "The Sound of Silence". After that, he signed them to a record deal.

3 Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen Product Image

His managers brought him to the attention of John Hammond (yes, that John Hammond again), who auditioned him. He has stuck with the label ever since.

4 Kind of Blue - Miles Davis Kind of Blue - Miles Davis Product Image

George Avankian saw him perform at the Newport Jazz Festival and got him a record deal with Columbia, which lasted from 1957 to 1985.

I. Love. Miles. Davis. so my vote goes here today. Although I also love Johnny Winter, Johnny Cash, Billy Joel... Tough choice.

5 The Notorious Byrd Brothers - The Byrds The Notorious Byrd Brothers - The Byrds Product Image

The Byrds were recommended to Columbia by impresario Benny Shapiro and Miles Davis, and all their albums were released on Columbia except for the last one. Their contract with Columbia had an advantage, as it gave them better access to Bob Dylan's music (they did a bunch of Dylan covers).

6 At Folsom Prison - Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison - Johnny Cash Product Image

Johnny Cash was originally signed to Sun Records until Columbia offered him a lucrative contract. He signed with Columbia in 1958, and he eventually left them in 1985.

7 The Stranger - Billy Joel The Stranger - Billy Joel Product Image

After releasing his first album (Cold Spring Harbor) on the small label Family Productions and walking out after a mastering error made his voice too high pitched, he ended up signing to Columbia after the radio station WMMR began playing a live version of the song "Captain Jack" on a regular basis. He stuck with them afterwards.

8 Rocks - Aerosmith Rocks - Aerosmith Product Image

Columbia executive Clive Davis saw them perform at Max's Kansas City in New York; they had to pay the club to secure a spot on the bill. After spending the late 80s and early 90s with Geffen Records, they eventually resigned with Columbia in 1997.

9 Cheap Thrills - Big Brother & the Holding Company Cheap Thrills - Big Brother & the Holding Company Product Image

Originally signed to Mainstream Records, Columbia Records caught wind of the band at the Monterey Pop Festival, which led to them getting a record deal. Cheap Thrills, their first album for Columbia, ended up being seen as their best album.

10 Second Winter - Johnny Winter Second Winter - Johnny Winter Product Image

Johnny got up on stage with Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield and did a cover of "It's My Own Fault" by BB King. Columbia execs were in the audience, and they supposedly signed him and gave him the biggest advance seen at the time - $600,000.

The Contenders

11 Dirt - Alice in Chains Dirt - Alice in Chains Product Image

Thanks for adding to the list, JCHOW. I was afraid that no one would contribute to it.

12 Fifth Dimension - The Byrds Fifth Dimension - The Byrds Product Image
13 Bitches Brew - Miles Davis Bitches Brew - Miles Davis Product Image
14 Blood on the Tracks - Bob Dylan Blood on the Tracks - Bob Dylan Product Image
15 52nd Street - Billy Joel 52nd Street - Billy Joel Product Image
16 Comfort Eagle - Cake Comfort Eagle - Cake Product Image
17 Americana - The Offspring Americana - The Offspring Product Image
18 Heartworms - The Shins Heartworms - The Shins Product Image
19 Aorta - Aorta Aorta - Aorta Product Image
20 Santana - Santana Santana - Santana Product Image
21 The Inner Mounting Flame - The Mahavishnu Orchestra with John McLaughlin The Inner Mounting Flame - The Mahavishnu Orchestra with John McLaughlin Product Image
22 JT - James Taylor JT - James Taylor Product Image
23 Painkiller - Judas Priest Painkiller - Judas Priest Product Image

The band signed with Columbia in 1977 after being frustrated by their old label, Gull Records, not willing to give them a large enough budget. All of their greatest albums were released on Columbia; Painkiller was the last one.

24 Toys in the Attic - Aerosmith Toys in the Attic - Aerosmith Product Image
25 The Chicago Transit Authority - Chicago The Chicago Transit Authority - Chicago Product Image
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