Going out with a bang - the best last albums ever
Cohan Chew

12:54 28th November 2013

We all hate to say goodbye to our favourite bands. Some split and leave their fans in a cloud of disappointment with lacklustre material, while others vanish for more tragic reasons in their prime or really go out witha bang. But all in all, a brilliant final album from a brilliant band is the perfect parting gift. 

It's the ultimate way to leave your legacy intact, by giving the world one last shimmering gem and leaving the taste of what really made you so special lingering for decades to come. These are albums that should be celebrated, but also leave us mourning the loss of some of music's true greats. 

Throughout the ages and across genres, from The Beatles To Blur, Queen to Tupac and Pulp to LCD Soundsystem - here are the 15 greatest final albums of all time. 

  • Nirvana - In Utero: Rather than seize the opportunity to cash in on their mainstream mass success, Kurt Cobain's final studio effort before his suicide was an unrelenting and uncompromising attack of sheer vitriolic beauty.

  • My Chemical Romance - Danger Days, The True Lives Of he Fabulous Killjoys: Shedding their Black Parade morbid aesthetic for a world of colour and energy, MCR's final studio album saw the band take a concept and run with it, at full speed into the centre of the sun.

  • Rage Against The Machine - The Battle Of Los Angeles: The last full record of original material from RATM, this album is arguably their finest hour - bidding farewell to the 20th Century with a furious kick in the face.

  • Queen - Made In Heaven: Made after Freddie Mercury's tragic passing using vocals and piano parts that he recorded before his death - this album is a magnificent swan song from one of rock's true heroes.

  • Notorious B.I.G. - Life After Death: A chillingly apt title for the last album recorded by Biggie - an album that cemented his immortal standing in hip-hop.

  • Pulp - We Love Life: A tragically overlooked LP that shows Sheffield's finest at their most mature and reflective. It's worth a listen for 'Sunrise' and 'Wickerman' alone.

  • The Smiths - Strangeways, Here We Come: Ending their far too brief career with arguably their best album, Strangeways is a consistently excellent effort with Marr toying with expansive and ambitious sounds while Morrissey's worldplay is so wonderfully lucid.

  • At The Drive-In - Relationship Of Command: Fast, furious and awesomely awkward, here stands a twisted math-rock gem that sticks two fingers up to convention and slaps tradition in the face.

  • Tupac - The Don Killuminati, The 7 Day Theory: Widely regarded as one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time, its sheer class and intelligence makes Tupac's passing all the more tragic.

  • Joy Division - Closer: Debate still rages over whether the title is meant as 'more close' or closer as in an ending, an early suicide note from Ian Curtis. What is never debated is the quality of the music. One of the darkest, most brutal and brilliant records you will ever hear.

  • The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Electric Ladyland: Wall to wall classics, solid-gold licks, searing vocals, explosive grooves. What more could you ask for?

  • Yourcodenameis:milo: They Came From The Sun: With Muse-sized riffs, Radiohead levels of artful experimentation and an At The Drive-In level of instensity, YCNI:M were a band bursting with promise. This, their second and final album, stands tall as the perfect full stop, but we pine for their return to claim the recognition they deserved.

  • The Distillers - Coral Fang: The third and final album from Brody Dalle's was a flaming middle finger to the rest of the world, and a blistering goodbye from one of the most visceral bands that the punk revival at the turn of the Century produced.

  • The Birthday Party - Junkyard: Before splitting to form The Bad Seeds, Nick Cave's Birthday Party left the world with this post-punk masterpiece - a gem of chaos, beauty, poetry and aggression.

  • Talking Heads - Naked: A bold and colourful carnival of life - everything you love about Talking Heads, sealed with a kiss (and a little help from Johnny Marr).

  • REM - Collapse Into Now: Far from inventing the wheel, but still the sound of a band at their most comfortable and certainly their best album in over a decade. Beauty and energy collide in a record that makes that wave goodbye on the cover seem so bittersweet.

  • The White Stripes - Icky Thump: Little did we know at the time that this would be the last we'd hear from Jack and Meg, but with time the Anglophile title, the melding of genres and the more three-dimensional sound have come to form a fully-realised vision of The Stripes. A truly brilliant LP from a band nearing their end.

  • The Beatles - Let It Be: An obvious choice, but with good reason. Despite being record with intense conflict and tension, the album is packed with classics and makes for the perfect parting gift from the most influential band of all time.

  • Nick Drake - Pink Moon: Drake's final album is dark masterpiece that provides an insight into the troubled mind of the incredible songwriter who would later take his own life.

  • Sex Pistols - Never Mind The Bollocks: Galvanising, raw, rambunctious and anarchic, Never Mind The Bollocks was the Pistols' first and last album. Despite being almost 40 year old, this timeless punk classic still makes most modern day rock albums seem tame.

  • Sonic Youth - The Eternal: Heavier than their usual trademark sound, Sonic Youth%u2019s final album suggested a potential new turn for the band, but the breakup of Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore prevented the release of any follow-up.

  • T.Rex - Dandy In The Underworld: Dandy In The Underworld would sadly be glam rock pioneer Marc Bolan's final album. Bolan had proved himself as a formidable songwriter, whose work remained watertight throughout. The band's final album is recognised as one of their best albums due to its fall back to the band's earlier, simpler sounds.

  • Fleetwood Mac - Say You Will: Say You Will was the band's highest charting album in 20 years. The album's sound isn't too far removed from their early days and proves that if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

  • Johnny Cash - American IV: The Man Comes Around: The man in black's fourth in a series of covers produced by Rick Rubin and his final album before his death, The Man Comes Around has become an iconic album in Cash's repertoire. Cash's cover of Nine Inch Nails' 'Hurt' still sends shivers down our spines.

  • Oasis - Dig Out Your Soul: With Noel and Liam's feud intensifying over the years, Oasis' demise seemed like a ticking time bomb. Whilst the brothers may have not ended amicably, the band's final album left us with 'The Shock Of Lightning', 'Waiting For The Rapture' and the ironically appropriate 'Falling Down', which will be eternally recognised as Oasis classics.

  • David Bowie - Blackstar: Bowie could have delivered a smattering glam-rock-lite hits, a pastiche of his past glories - but there would be no challenge in that. It's not in his nature to make the same record twice. One can't help but feel that this may have been part of his plan all along. If The Next Day was his bridge back on to the world stage, one can't help but feel that Blackstar is him again leaping sideways into the breach. This is a far more bold, artful and fulfilling affair. Never second guess Bowie. Tomorrow never knows, especially when it comes to an artist always with one foot in the future - even when he's saying goodbye.