I've been listening a lot recently to "A Tree With Roots," a new remaster of the "unofficial" "Genuine Basement Tapes," and I've gotta say that even though it's not an "album" in any conventional sense, it'd have to make my list.
Sure, plenty of the stuff Dylan and the Hawks put onto tape sounds like just what it is: six guys hanging out in a basement, smoking dope and jamming. And some of it sounds kinda...well...bad. But it's well worth it for the many diamonds-in-the-rough there, expected and unexpected: the first recordings of songs such as "Quinn the Eskimo," "Million Dollar Bash," "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere," "This Wheel's on Fire," "I Shall Be Released," and others, plus covers of things like three terrific Johnny Cash songs, "Belshazar," "Folsom Prison Blues," and "Big River." Even "Bonny Ship the Diamond," which begins with Dylan in poor voice indeed, ends up being raucous, fun, and confident.
Great--if rough-hewn--stuff, much of it.