The best indie compilation records of all time

14 July 2019, 17:00 | Updated: 14 July 2019, 17:01

Best indie compilations
Best indie compilations. Picture: Press

From cult classics to the best of Britpop, the compilation can be a wonderful thing. Let's take a look at some of our favourite collections.

Some people look down their nose at compilation albums but we think that when they get it right, there's nothing better about getting to enjoy a mixed bag of the best tracks by a bunch of different artists. So here's some of our favourites!

  1. Now That’s What I Call Music

    Now 17
    Now 17. Picture: Press

    It’s now dedicated to pop but in its earlier years, the Now compilation series tipped its hat to guitar music on plenty of occasions. The very first Now! featured The Cure and by the 1990s, The La’s, The Jesus And Mary Chain and Faith No More were appearing on discs.

  2. Bez’s Madchester Anthems!

    Bez’s Madchester Anthems!
    Bez’s Madchester Anthems! Picture: Press

    What this compilation lacked in tasteful cover design, it more than made up for with actually great tunes. Sure, There She Goes and Panic by the Smiths might struggle to be classed as “Madchester” but Bez knows best.

  3. Alternative 90s

    Alternative 90s
    Alternative 90s. Picture: Press

    Spanning an entire decade’s rock output is never going to be easy, but this two-disc compilation made a good go of it. Ranging from The Prodigy to Jamiroquai vis Dee-Lite and Pixies, it had something for everyone.

  4. Modular Presents Leave Them All Behind

    Modular Presents Leave Them All Behind
    Modular Presents Leave Them All Behind. Picture: Press

    In the 2000s, as dance and rock became harder to split, Australian record label Modular brought the two genres together. Bloc Party, Death From Above 1979 and The Rakes all featured in the two editions. Lazy DJs were known to just put this on repeat, it was that good.

  5. The Help Album

    The Help Album
    The Help Album. Picture: Press

    In 1995, The Help Album was released just days after it was recorded and proved a huge hit and raised a stack of money for the War Child charity. The quality of tracks helped: a Manics cover of Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head, an early outing for Radiohead’s Lucky and even Kate Moss offering backing vocals to Oasis.

  6. Late Night Tales

    Late Night Tales
    Late Night Tales. Picture: Press

    Chill out tracks chosen by some of the biggest names in music (Turin Brakes, Flaming Lips and Matt Helders from Arctic Monkeys) and dance (Fatboy Slim, Air and Four Tet). Especially worth a listen: Alex Turner’s story that closes out his buddy Matt’s selection.

  7. Rubiyat

    Rubiyat
    Rubiyat. Picture: Press

    The Elektra label has a rich and storied history and to celebrate their 40th birthday, they had some of their newer acts in the 1990s cover some of their classic back catalogue. Hence we we got The Cure covering The Doors and Metallica covering Queen.

  8. Unbelievable!

    Unbelievable!
    Unbelievable! Picture: Press

    Released in 2001 but paying tribute to the sound of rock and baggy tunes from the early 1990s, this was a great blast from the past. Morrissey, James and The Farm all featured.

  9. Shine

    Shine
    Shine. Picture: Press

    Considered by some to be the definitive catalogue of Britpop’s biggest bands, the Shine compilations ran from 1995 to 1998. Placebo, Pulp, Charlatans and Supergrass were regular features.

  10. Ruby Trax

    Ruby Trax
    Ruby Trax. Picture: Press

    In 1992, the NME turned 40 and celebrated with great new bands covering No.1 hits. So Teenage Fanclub did Dylan, Blur covered Rod Stewart and best of all, Johnny Marr did the theme tune to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

  11. Sorted!

    Sorted!
    Sorted! Picture: Press

    Looking for an exhaustive collection of the sound of baggy? Look no further: this Ministry of Sound mix opened with Step On before hitting on the likes of Depeche Mode, Inspiral Carpets and Suede.

  12. Communion

    Communion
    Communion. Picture: Press

    A simple title for this double vinyl featuring Mumford and Sons, Jay Jay Pistolet and Johnny Flynn. Marcus Mumford even pops up to help out on the brilliant William Stokes’ Zion.

  13. Cigarettes And Alcohol

    Cigarettes And Alcohol
    Cigarettes And Alcohol. Picture: Press

    Eye-catching covers suggested the kind of swaggering attitude these compilations aimed to capitalise on. Should I Stay Or Should I Go and A Town Called Malice set the tone and we can just about forgive them including Wheatus.

  14. Acoustic

    Acoustic
    Acoustic. Picture: Press

    The late-90s and mid-00s saw a huge rise in the popularity of singer-songwriters like David Gray, Beth Orton and Ryan Adams. Chuck in groups like Coldplay, Travis and Stereophonics who were known to whip out a pared-back ballad or two and you had the recipe for Acoustic. Classic tracks from the likes of Nick Drake and Jeff Buckley helped make this a winning collection for calm Sundays.

  15. C86

    C86
    C86. Picture: Press

    A compilation that came bundled with the NME, C86’s jangle pop sound was so good it sparked a whole genre of music and helped give a huge boost to the independent music scene in the UK. The class of 1986 featured Primal Scream and The Wedding Present, plus the much-loved Half Man Half Biscuit. All that and it was free!