Listening to and Reviewing Rolling Stones’ 500 Greatest Albums: #101-200

Welcome back to my series of listening to and reviewing every single album on Rolling Stones’ 500 Greatest Albums list. If you didn’t read the first installment where I review every album in the top 100 and explain my view of the list you can read that here.

The next 200 albums feature many records that have meant a lot to me and many that I only just heard for the first time. So let’s take a look at all of them together!

#101 In the Wee Small Hours – Frank Sinatra (1955)inthewee
I’m kind of proud of Rolling Stone putting this on the list at all considering that traditional pop seems to either be disregarded or considered anathema to them. I’m a huge Sinatra fan and this is one of his most iconic and influential LP’s. I may not play it often since its somber tone is too potent, but it is doubtless a chilling record. I played it one time after what I thought was hurtful breakup and decided after hearing this record that I wasn’t that bad off. -10
#102 Fresh Cream – Cream (1966)
Released in the first year of psychedelia’s outbreak, Cream’s debut deserved the label of fresh. It has an well balanced sound between blues rock and psychedelic pop that not many other bands were able to blend as well. -9
#103 Giant Steps – John Coltrane (1959)
My favorite Coltrane album other than A Love Supreme. Can’t really say much about it since I’m no jazz critic, but I do enjoy playing it while I’m cooking if that helps. -9
#104 Sweet Baby James – James Taylor (1970)
The best James Taylor LP I’ve heard, it features the title track and my favorite JT song “Fire and Rain.” It’s one of the most melodically memorable and laid back albums of the 70’s singer-songwriter movement. -8
#105 Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music – Ray Charles (1962)
The historical significance of this record would have to garner it a place on the list alone, seeing that it broke down black and white barriers right in the midst of the Civil Rights era. The record itself is a masterpiece of interpretation, with Charles making the songs sound like his own. It sounds a bit dated now with its sort of MOR sound, and it’s sad that Charles never really recovered from this album being such a hit and trying to repeat it. -7
#106 Rocket to Russia – The Ramones (1977)
The Ramones’s finest hour, and one of the top three or so greatest punk records ever made. I’ve probably sunk more listens into this album than anything not made by The Beatles. Taking the fun-in-the-sun enthusiasm of The Beach Boys and injecting it with the world of fringe guys from Queens made for their most fun and thorough expression of their ethos. -10
#107 Portrait of a Legend: 1951-1964 – Sam Cooke (2003)
Sam Cooke is of the top five or so greatest recorded singers ever in my opinion, and he was a phenomenal songwriter in a time where it wasn’t necessary to write your own hits. This collection is the best comp of his works I’ve ever heard. It captures what made him perhaps the greatest soul singer ever by covering the bases of his hits and most exemplary tracks in a concise time-frame. A must own for any music fan. -10
#108 Hunky Dory – David Bowie (1971)
A favorite for many Bowie fans. This record has some glam pizzazz without being quite as out there as some of his other records. “Life on Mars?” is one of the best songs he ever wrote and neophytes will recognize “Changes” (a common comment is that they didn’t know it was a Bowie song). “Queen Bitch” and “Oh! You Pretty Things” are excellent album tracks. Not as unified a collection as he would do later, but this is some of his best work regardless. -9
aftermath#109 Aftermath – The Rolling Stones (1966)
The Stones’s first album where they had written all the songs. It always makes me think of how ahead of them The Beatles were considering that The Stones had barely cobbled together this album of all originals while The Beatles were soaring on Revolver. Despite the inconsistencies, I do like this record. I could do without poorly written tracks like “Stupid Girl” or the pretty empty jam on “Goin’ Home,” but then you have truly great ones like “I Am Waiting,” “It’s Not Easy,” and all the singles. With The Stones you would expect something incredible which is why this record suffers a little, but for any other band this would be the best thing they ever did. -8
#110 Loaded – The Velvet Underground (1970)
Why was this record called Loaded? Because the record label wanted an album “loaded” with hits! After a few albums of true outsider music, Lou Reed delivered on the promise and put out the most accessible record the VU ever did. There are hits galore and songs that shoulda been. It doesn’t sacrifice Reed’s distinctive songwriting sound or vocals and it also adds in the excellent contributions of Doug Yule. -10
#111 The Bends – Radiohead (1995)
Listened to this album once several years ago and liked it well enough. It sounded a little more 90’s R.E.M. than their other works. I remember thinking that I had just discovered where alternative music really went downhill. This is the start of the abstract alternative sound mixes with the high vocals that sort of typifies everything I don’t like about modern alt music. This isn’t a horrible record from what I remember though despite its negative impact. -4
#112 If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears – The Mama’s and the Papa’s (1966)
I’m a fan of the M&P’s in general, but I find this record sort of forgettable overall besides its epochal singles and a few interesting covers. This is the start of the sound that morphed into sunshine pop. -6
#113 Court and Spark – Joni Mitchell (1974)
This album was interesting because it combined some of the folk-pop work of Mitchell’s that I was familiar with with some shades of jazz. I really enjoyed the famous single “Help Me” the most. I’ll definitely have to return to it when I’m in a Joni mood. -8
#114 Disraeli Gears – Cream (1967)disraeli
My favorite Cream album. They knew how to really add umph to the psych pop/rock sound in a way comparable to Hendrix. The record combines songs that are typical Cream like “Strange Brew” with other influences like music hall in the last track. A musically varied listen that will satisfy a desire for some prime ’67 psych that the cover promises. -9
#115 The Who Sell Out – The Who (1967)
More prime ’67 psych! As I mentioned in my last post, this is my favorite Who album and I think they went downhill after this in the studio. There’s not a bad track or performance on this album and the concept is both funny and thought provoking. -10
#116 Out of Our Heads – The Rolling Stones (1965)
I actually think this album and its American counterpart are more consistent/better albums than Aftermath. There’s so many great tracks on both versions that exemplify the mid-60’s Stones sound better than anything. The American one has more originals while the UK has more soul/RnB covers. This is the culmination of their early RnB period. -9
#117 Derek and the Dominoes – Derek and the Dominoes (1970)
Considered by many to be Clapton’s magnum opus, this sprawling double LP has some of the best blues rock playing on it ever recorded. Duane Allman shows up for every track after “Bell Bottom Blues” which in of itself insured this to be historic moment. You know from my last post that I have a harder time with long jam music but this records avoids it for the most part with superb songwriting craft and the solos not going too long. -9
#118 Late Registration – Kanye West (2005)
Well, if you know me you know I hadn’t heard this one before I went through this list! Just like any person that finds pride to be seriously off-putting I think nothing but dismissive things when West’s name comes up. This record did surprise me, after listening to a lot more hip hop lately it is noticeably accomplished in a way many others are not. West’s musical sensibilities might be the only thing to recommend of him but this is actually a solid album. I’ll have to go back to it and get to know it better. I could do without the skits, but this seems to be a hip hop album trope. What’s up with that? -6
#119 At Last! – Etta James (1960)
Etta James’s most famous album thanks to its title track and well designed cover. James serves up an excellent variety of songs that will appeal to any R&B and traditional pop or blues fans. Her performances and the Chess Records production sound is glorious. -8
sweetheart#120 Sweetheart of the Rodeo – The Byrds (1968)
This is one of my favorite and most influential albums personally. This record turned me onto Gram Parsons, the country rock “cosmic American” that has been a major influence on me since. This is the most purely country record he or The Byrds as a whole ever worked on, and it’s a beautiful expression of the genre from guys who weren’t a part of the country world but had a seriously passion for the music. A must-own and great introduction to how incredible country music is for people who are yet unaware. -10
#121 Stand! – Sly and the Family Stone (1969)
All killer no filler indeed, this was the first perfect LP Sly and his band had put out. Fans of the band’s biggest hits will find plenty of those with awesome album tracks like “Sex Machine” and “Don’t Call Me Nigger, Whitey.” For those who like their psych to have some funk and vice versa this is the ultimate album for that. -9
#122 The Harder They Come  – Various Artists (1972)
Of all the albums I discovered in 2017, this was one of the handful I fell the hardest for (ba bum tish). I saw the movie and wasn’t incredibly impressed, but the soundtrack was awesome and I went to listen to the record of it and got into it even more. All the tracks are good fun, well produced, and expertly performed. Jimmy Cliff’s tracks stand out while other like Toots and the Maytals also have excellent contributions. I would think this could turn anyone into a reggae fan. -10
#123 Raising Hell – Run D.M.C. (1986)
The album that broke hip hop into the mainstream! Run D.M.C. set the style and look for hip hop right from the start and perfected their formula on this Rubin/Simmons produced album. Most probably know the “Walk This Way” single that crossed over onto the rock chart. My favorite track is the humorous “You Be Illin’.” -8
#124 Moby Grape – Moby Grape (1967)
One of the best bands and albums that came out of the San Francisco psych scene in 1967. Moby Grape fit more in the mold of Jefferson Airplane for pure psych rock than the other more blues based bands of the time. The various songwriters make for a diverse listen that stays tight and interesting the whole way through. -8
#125 Pearl – Janis Joplin (1971)
I absolutely cannot stand Janis Joplin’s voice. She’s so obnoxious and I try to see what the appeal is but her voice is like hearing a nasty smoker lady try to sing in a bar. Do people only like her because she died young and was a symbol of the counterculture? I would venture to guess most people who buy Janis Joplin posters don’t really listen her records. “Mercedes Benz” sounds like a drunk woman that makes everybody cringe the moment she starts trying to sputter out some notes. There’s a moment where she says “everybody now!” and nobody joins in..that says it all. I give it 1 point for the instrumental she’s not on. -1
#126 Catch a Fire – Bob Marley and the Wailers (1973)
I don’t remember a lot of specifics on this album, but I do remember thinking this was some of his best songs with more variety than one would usually expect on a reggae album. I’ll have to hear it again. -7
#127 Younger Than Yesterday – The Byrds (1967)
It’s basically impossible to choose a favorite Byrds album because they’re all so good and interesting in their own way, but their entry into the 1967 musical landscape is a contender for that title. Featuring excellent proto country rock contributions from Chris Hillman, swirly David Crosby songs, and Roger McGuinn’s predictably unpredictable interests, this album did suffer a little from them losing their best songwriter (Gene Clark) but when you have guys like this picking up the slack it doesn’t matter. Some of Crosby’s tunes meander as they do, but even that meandering sound timely here. -10
#128 Raw Power – Iggy and the Stooges (1973)
I love The Stooges and I love this record, I just hate the mix! Why is there no good mix at all of this album? Iggy’s and Bowie’s BOTH sound thin and disappointing. Maybe I’ve never heard it on the right speakers or something but it just seems strange that “the loudest album ever recorded” sounds so weak. The songs and performances are great, though. -9
#129 Remain In Light – Talking Heads (1980) remain.jpg
One of my desert island discs for a while, I may have overplayed it now but this album was truly an eye opener for me when it comes to layering sounds. It sounds so intricate and yet so free. “The Great Curve” is one of their greatest unheralded songs. Extra credit for making me actually enjoy African music, which I had been skeptical of before. -10
#130 Marquee Moon – Television (1977)
I had always heard of Television as being one of the seminal CBGB New York punk bands, but I was surprised when I listened to this album how post punk it is in the year punk exploded! This is the album that set the template for guitar playing in the majority of art and new wave/post punk bands to follow them. The Edge has said everyone studied this record. There’s not really another album that sounds like it, and they only made one other (slightly lesser) album before calling it quits. -10
#131 Paranoid – Black Sabbath (1971)
Everyone reading this list probably knows this record better than I do. I’ve always been a fan of Black Sabbath as far as their singles go but have never felt to compelled to hear their albums all the time. I remember really enjoying the non-hits on this one in particular but it’s been a while. – 9
#132 Saturday Night Fever – The Bee Gees (1977)
Disco. The same year punk is making music great again (Trump meets punk, hmm) disco is all the rage. Is most of it absolute dreck that should be forgotten? Yes. But The Bee Gee’s were not dreck-makers. They had been writing great pop music for a decade by the time this album came out and they made a second wave of fans in the new fad. Since becoming a fan of their earlier works, I’ve come to appreciate their efforts here and even enjoy it despite my general distaste for the genre. You can’t deny how good songs like “Stayin’ Alive” and “How Deep Is Your Love?” are. -8
#133 The Wild, The Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle – Bruce Springsteen (1973)
Of all the Springsteen albums I’ve heard on the list this is the one that did the least for me. I’m not wild about his first two albums, but there were songs on this I really enjoyed like “Rosalita” and “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy).” Maybe I need to go back and read the lyrics and listen more, but this one just didn’t grab me like his others right off. -7
#134 Ready to Die – Notorious B.I.G. (1994)
I gotta say, of all the hip hop albums I’ve heard for this list I’ve ended up generally enjoying every one of them.. except this one. The album starts off super strong with “Things Done Changed” which is a masterful piece of poetry bemoaning the way the ghettos have gotten worse over time and where African Americans find themselves socially (if you can’t sell crack rock you gotta have a wicked jump shot, he says). Unfortunately the album seriously goes downhill from there. The rest is basically in line with Ice Cube’s “Life ain’t nothin’ but bitches and money” ethos. Biggie tells stories of committing crimes, getting arrested, and boasting in his sexual prowess. The whole concept seems immature, and to top it off a whole track is devoted to nothing but hearing a couple have sex and one track ends with the sounds of Biggie getting a blow job. Naughty fun for a teenager maybe, but obnoxious to everyone else. -2
#135 Slanted and Enchanted – Pavement (1992)
What would it sound like if Jonathan Richman of The Modern Lovers had a 90’s indie band? Something like this I’m sure! It seems a lot of folks worship the ground this band and album walk on, but I only found it mildly interesting as much as I would enjoy something I happened to hear on a Paste list this year. Excellent indie rock? Sure. Incredibly special or memorable? Didn’t seem so. -6
#136 Greatest Hits – Elton John (1974)
One of the best selling albums ever from an artist at his peak already releasing a greatest hits. How can you review a collection of Elton John’s biggest songs? They put the “great” in greatest hits, and that’s that basically. -9
replacements-tim#137 Tim – The Replacements (1985)
Of all the records that I’ve heard that were new to me in this listening experience, this one was by far one of the best. It’s like Big Star picked up where they left off on this one. I was a fan of Pleased to Meet Me but didn’t like their early hardcore stuff. This album has it all, memorable melodies with sharp writing and a deeply satisfying production. You have songs that crank the rock up, some that anticipate 90’s alt country, and some that are quiet acoustic affairs. It’s everything I wish more albums were: not afraid to show emotion while being smart, not afraid to change up styles between songs while still having a sound, and not afraid to shoot for being transcendent. -10
#138 The Chronic – Dr. Dre (1992)
Dr. Dre’s first solo album from N.W.A. is most famous for virtually inventing the sound that came to define the 90’s LA rap sound: G-funk. Dre used only a few samples per song and rerecorded the sampled tracks himself for a stronger sound. The beats and music itself is some of the most accomplished work in the hip hop, sounding just as intensely funky as a Parliament song while having the hard hitting edge of rap at the time. The unfortunate aspect of the record is the immaturity in trumpeting violence and misogyny which plagued N.W.A. and other gangsta rap (“Bitches Ain’t Shit” anyone?). I appreciated it for its influence and sound, but not something I’ll be returning to much. -4
#139 Rejuvenation – The Meters (1974)
I had only ever heard The Meter’s instrumental albums before this one so this album was a very pleasant surprise. The singing is excellent and the songs are awesome. The 11 minute funk workout “It Ain’t No Use” is as good as it gets. It’s one I plan on going back to! -8
#140 Parallel Lines – Blondie (1978)
A pure pop album for now people. Blondie was known as a definitive new wave/power pop group and while they did fit that they were much more than that narrow classification. This is a pop album through and through and it’s great for that. The songs that don’t sound like major hits at least sound like they would have been welcome on a pop nuggets collection. -9
#141 Live at the Regal – B.B. King (1965)
B.B. King’s most enduring works are in live settings, and this is his most legendary live record. I’ve only heard it once or twice many years ago and I enjoyed it, but it didn’t knock me out then. If you know King’s sound you can pretty much know what to expect. Extra credit for not having the overplayed “The Thrill Is Gone.” -7
#142 A Christmas Gift For You  – Phil Spector (1963)
1963 was Spector’s peak year as the prince of pop production, and this LP was the culminating masterpiece of all he had been working toward. More than half of this album can be heard on muzaks everywhere around Christmastime because Spector’s interpretations are the pinnacle of the early pop-rock sound that has a magic that goes beyond nostalgia and reaches the kid in everyone’s heart. Brian Wilson’s all time favorite album. Ring a linga linga ding dong ding!  -10
#143 Gris-Gris – Dr. John (1968)
The first time I heard his album at around age 13-14 was a major revelation. I had never heard something that has such a unique combination of psychedelic mania and New Orleans R&B. It sounded like what grungy streets in N’awlins ought to sound like at night. It’s not a record I remember songs from specifically, but the way it impacts me when I hear it and the visual picture it makes in my head is incredible. -9
#144 Straight Outta Compton – N.W.A. (1988)
This uber-famous gangsta rap album has gotten a new lease on fame thanks to the film of the same name from a few years ago about N.W.A. that I unexpectedly enjoyed. I didn’t get to hear the whole album itself until last week though, and I was expecting the worst after my experience with Ready to Die. This record definitely has all the gangsta rap tropes of protesting the police, boasting in your violence and sexual prowess, and strong language, but the whole thing is still much more thoughtful than I had expected. Ice Cube’s tracks were especially well performed and lyrically intriguing. On a whole better than what I expected but still not music I would listen to frequently or encourage impressionable people to hear. -4
#145 Aja – Steely Dan (1977)
I’ve tried out a few of their album listening to this list but I still can’t get on the Steely Dan cult train. Yes, they were phenomenal musicians that were able to tread the waters of jazz and rock but it just ends up sounding like 70’s yacht rock too much of the time for me. This is the best of the three or so I’ve heard recently. -4
#146 Surrealistic Pillow – Jefferson Airplane (1967)
This is one of my favorite psych-folk albums of the era, and I never walk away from hearing it not thinking even more highly of it. The songs in particular are beautiful and well-written. – 10
#147 Deja Vu – Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young (1970)
The most famous album by the supergroup folk-rock quartet, Deja Vu is their strongest set of generation defining songs that tackle everything from the hippie movement to domesticity. This album plus the four solo releases around the same time from the members ensured that this would be their golden era. While I don’t love this record as much as the trio’s debut this is still a phenomenal album, and I particularly have a soft spot in my heart for Nash’s baroque classic “Our House.” -8
#148 Houses of the Holy – Led Zeppelin (1973) zeppelin
The first Zeppelin song I ever heard was “The Ocean” and I couldn’t tell if Plant was a girl or not. It knocked me out and it wasn’t too long after I had to hear everything they did and this record got a lot of play. I love all the songs on the album and I think “Over the Hills and Far Away” may be the best acoustic ballad they did. -10
#149 Santana – Santana (1969)
This debut album by Latin rock’s crown jewel band Santana has a Woodstock jam vibe mixed with pop like “Evil Ways” that make for an interesting mix of musical modes. -7
#150 Darkness on the Edge of Town – Bruce Springsteen (1978)
Listening to every record on this list takes you through every album Springsteen released until 1987, and I’m glad it did because I might have never gotten around to hearing this incredible album for a long time. Springsteen’s themes and stories that he had been perfecting were taken for a darker turn in this album that was a working class existential cry. “You spend your life waiting for a moment that just don’t come” is sad reality for many dreamers in the troubled heartland. May we always have Bruce to keep reminding us to have faith to rise above the badlands. -10
#151 Funeral – Arcade Fire (2004)
I generally like Arcade Fire, but this is the one album of theirs that I can’t really get into. This is strange because this is by far their most critically acclaimed album but I think albums like The Suburbs and Neon Bible are so much better, so I haven’t listened to this in a while. -3
#152 The B-52’s – The B-52’s (1979)
This is one of my favorite and most influential albums. The B-52’s perfected their formula right out of the gate and never bettered it. They sounded like a twisted version of the party band in a 50’s sci -fi/horror beach film. “Rock Lobster” is one of the greatest achievements of pop art ever made. It took the kitsch novelty of surf stompers and crafted it into a surreal explosion of energy and word pictures. -10
#153 The Low End Theory – A Tribe Called Quest (1991)
Hip hop’s intellectuals outdid themselves on this genre-defining album that combined rap and jazz to the surprise of many. The wordplay and lyrical dexterity is mind boggling and the use of the double bass was inspired. -8
#154 Moanin’ In the Moonlight – Howlin’ Wolf (1959)
“Smokestack Lightnin'” is on it and the other songs sound similar to it. Good enough for me! -9
#155 Pretenders – The Pretenders (1980)
The debut album of one of punk/new wave/rock’s most respected acts. I bought it one time and listened to it a couple of times and just couldn’t like it no matter how I tried. Chrissie Hynde’s repetitively strange delivery wears out quickly. -2
#156 Paul’s Boutique – Beastie Boys (1989)
This was the first hip hop album I ever heard when I decided to give the genre a chance, and it was a good choice. On the downside I didn’t realize that this album uses an insane amount of samples compared to everyone else, which I now appreciate more hearing other records. The Dust Brother’s layering of the samples reaches sublime heights and the lyrics are exceedingly witty. -9
closer#157 Closer – Joy Division (1980)
Joy Division’s swansong after lead singer Ian Curtis’s suicide is as downbeat as you might expect, but it is also more accomplished musically than their debut. Curtis’s lyrics are even stronger and the band that would become New Order play some of their best performances ever. -9
#158 Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy – Elton John (1975)
John and Taupin tell the story of their rise to fame in this ambitious concept album. On a first listen, I thought all the songs were well written and produced but the only one that I strongly remembered after was “Someone Saved My Life Tonight.” I’m planning on going back to it sometime. -7
#159 Alive – KISS (1975)
Let me try to put this as kindly as possible. This album is AWFUL AWFUL AWFUL AWFUUUUUUUUUUUUL. GARBAGE. ROCK N ROLL SEWAGE. MCDONALD’S OF ROCK.
If I had to hear Gene Simmons saying “Does anybody out there like *fill in the blank here* one more time I think I would reach into the vinyl and strangle him. Avoid at all costs for your health and sanity. -0
#160 Electric Warrior – T. Rex (1971)
T. Rex’s most iconic cover and album lives up to the hype. Bolan’s bizarre lyrics and pre-punk glam grooving have to be heard. It’s like a hubcap diamond starred halo, you know? -9
#161 The Dock of the Bay – Otis Redding (1968)
Redding’s first posthumous LP featured his last and biggest hit alongside some B sides and singles going back a couple of years. It makes it where the sound is a bit inconsistent (the title track in particular is an odd man out), but the tracks are all great so it’s still a strong LP for being cobbled together as it is around a single going in a new direction. -9
#162 Ok Computer – Radiohead (1997)
You know the drill with Radiohead now. Cold, no sense of melody, people like them for being different but I blame them for alternative going wrong. Applies heavily to this. -1
#163 1999 – Prince (1982)
Prince’s breakout album is one of his best. The album is a lot longer than you probably remember it (70 minutes!) but it’s almost all good stuff. Prince really defined the sound of pop in the 80’s with this release, and then beat himself at his own game with Purple Rain two years later. It might be a bit much for people who aren’t Princeaholics like I am with even the singles running much longer than their radio versions, but it leaves me delirious every time. -9
#164 The Very Best of Linda Ronstadt – Linda Ronstadt (2002)
This collection was sort of an interesting problem for me, I loved Ronstadt’s performances and the sound of the early 70’s stuff especially but almost all the material is covers of artists like Roy Orbison, The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, etc. While I love those songs deeply it makes me feel like I’m listening to a covers record rather than an album proper, and I do recognize that Ronstadt was singing these songs when a whole new generation were essentially unaware of them so I give her credit for putting them back in the light in a unique way. For someone like me who knows the originals though, it doesn’t make me want to just reach for this compilation all the time. -7
#165 Let’s Get it On – Marvin Gaye (1973)
It’s sexy time! I had high hopes for this album because the title track is easily one of the best soul/funk tracks of the era. Unfortunately the record is really pretty underwhelming in delivering on more full bodied (so to say) songs. The other two singles are the most realized songs on the album whereas everything else sounds like a fragmented retread of what the title track already did. The sound of the record defined the rest of 70’s soul/rnb for better or for worse. -5
#166 Imperial Bedroom – Elvis Costello (1982) imperialbedroom
I’m a big Costello fan and this was one of his albums I was waiting for the right time to hear so I could really take it in. It blew me away when I heard it a couple weeks ago. The album was produced by Beatle engineer Geoff Emerick rather than Costello regular Nick Lowe, and the album sounds much more stately and opulent in its writing and production than anything he had done before. It’s a beautiful album and one I’m excited to hear again. -9
#167 Master of Puppets – Metallica (1986)
The most influential and famous album by the kings of thrash. It’s everything you would hope for listening to perhaps the most iconic metal album out there besides Paranoid. Not much to say about it other than that. Love the songwriting and bass playing. -7
#168 My Aim Is True – Elvis Costello (1977)
This was my favorite Costello for a while. It’s frenetic and laced with all sorts of snarky genius throughout. He was a singular, influential artist from the get-go. -10
#169 Exodus – Bob Marley and the Wailers (1977)
Of all the Bob Marley LP’s I’ve heard this one is my favorite. It has big hits on side two that you’ll recognize and great album tracks on side one like “Natural Mystic.” -9
#170 Live at Leeds – The Who (1970)
Considered by many to be the greatest live rock album ever. I’m not very biased towards that due to my lack of Who-mania, but this is a pretty ridiculously good live album that rocks out on some of their best songs from their early days. I’m not a big fan of “Magic Bus” but everything else is excellent. -8
#171 The Notorious Byrd Brothers – The Byrds (1968)
I think this is the strongest overall Byrds album, which is saying a lot. It has the pop earworms you would want from them, proto-country rock, psychedelic jams, loping folk, great production from Gary Usher, and even Crosby’s songs are actually good. -10
#172 Every Picture Tells a Story – Rod Stewart (1971)
I don’t really like Rod Stewart but this is a well played and arranged album that I actually somewhat enjoyed, which is a credit to its quality if you’re a Stewart fan. I enjoyed the roots rock feel it had with simple yet superb instrumentation. -6
#173 Something/Anything?  – Todd Rundgren (1972)
Rundgren’s double LP magnum opus is longer than anyone could usually take all at once at 90 minutes, but it is teeming with soaring pop moments mixed with rock experimentalism that must be heard. “Couldn’t I Just Tell You” is one of the best power pop songs ever written. -9
#174 Desire – Bob Dylan (1976)
I lovingly refer to this as Dylan’s “violin and Emmylou” record due to Scarlet Rivera’s album defining violin playing and Harris’s background vocals that dominant the proceedings. The set of songs contain many of Dylan’s finest writing and performances with an extremely satisfying musical sound that he never replicated. Essential -10
#175 Close to You – The Carpenters (1970)
The Carpenters set the quality standard for adult pop for many years to come after their reign over the charts in the early 70’s. With some of the very best pop songwriters ever crafting their tunes, some fine originals and brilliant arranging by Richard Carpenter, and the instantly recognizable vocals of Karen Carpenter they had a formula that worked many times over. -9
#176 Rocks – Aerosmith (1976)
My favorite Aerosmith album and my favorite hard rock album not by Led Zeppelin. The band never sounded more raw, aggressive, sexy, and virtuosic than they did here. This was the record that became a touchstone for future hard rockers and heavy metal players everywhere. You can never go wrong by going to it to “get the lead out.” -10
#177 One Nation Under a Groove – Funkadelic (1978)
I’ve only gotten to hear this once recently, but even that one time was a real knock-out. It makes other 70’s funk records sound droopy in comparison. The funk is strong with this one! -9
#178 The Anthology: 1961-1977 – Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions (1992)
I love Curtis Mayfield and his work with The Impressions, so I knew I was going to enjoy this massive two disc boxset of his work. I listened to it all through in one go and discovered that Mayfield’s distinctive falsetto, while one of his best features, gets wearisome after over two hours of it. He was one of the best songwriters and performers ever as this collection makes clear, but it was tough to make it through due to length. -8
#179 The Definitive Collection – ABBA (2001)
Speaking of over two hour long collections, this pop behemoth gives you so much Swedish pop that your brain may get confused by all the melodies it has stuck in its head and involuntarily explode. Joking aside, this is some of the most influential and memorable pop music ever made and I was much more impressed by it than I thought I would be. I would like to listen to a lot of these songs again outside of having them shoved into my brain in such dangerous quantities so quickly. -9
#180 The Rolling Stones, Now! – The Rolling Stones (1965)
This 1965 American collection is probably the strongest LP they put out of their early R&B cover days. It features some of their best work from their swampy cover of Bo Diddley’s “Mona” to their original single “Heart of Stone.” For those wanting a good idea of what the first few Stones albums sounded like this is a great mix. -10
#181 Natty Dread – Bob Marley and the Wailers (1974)
Another Bob Marley record I enjoyed when I heard but don’t remember many specifics on. It grooved as well as anything he did! -6
220px-Fleetwood_Mac_-_Fleetwood_Mac_(1975)#182 Fleetwood Mac – Fleetwood Mac (1975)
The first Fleetwood Mac album to feature Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks is almost as delightfully well written and produced as the follow-up Rumours, which is saying quite a lot. Many of my favorite Mac songs are on here and I’m discovering new things from it every time I get to spin it. -8
#183 Red Headed Stranger – Willie Nelson (1975)
Stunned record company execs heard this starkly minimalist album and thought it was a demo tape, not the final record. This is Nelson’s magnum opus and arguably the finest single studio album released by a country musician in my opinion. Using both originals and reworked country classics Nelson crafted a story about a cowboy discovering his wife’s infidelity and committing a double murder that takes on epic proportions in a decidedly quiet musical backdrop. -10
#184 The Immaculate Collection – Madonna (1990)
Capping off Madonna’s astonishing run in the 1980’s is this collection of all her greatest hits from that decade. Her multi-talented strengths shine through even on some of the less memorable tracks over a span of 73 minutes. Pop music aficionado essential -8
#185 The Stooges – The Stooges (1969)
Roughly seven years before punk music exploded across the US and UK, The Stooges were sneering their way through some of the punkiest songs ever recorded like “No Fun” and “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” Most of the record is garage proto-punk at its finest, but “We Will Fall” is an embarrassing “of the times” dirge that should be skipped. -8
#186 Fresh – Sly and the Family Stone (1973)
“Fresh” off of the brilliant There’s a Riot Going On, Sly Stone crafted this slightly more upbeat and accessible work that still retained the elements of Riot that made that record so enthralling and spooky. Miles Davis was so taken with the song “In Time” that he made his band hear it for 30 minutes straight, and Brian Eno considers this record to be where records made the shift to being rhythm section focused. It’s one of Stone’s greatest works and therefore some of the best music of the era. -9
#187 So – Peter Gabriel (1986)
For many years one of the biggest cult figures in music, Gabriel released this album and became a household name after multiple singles took off in a big way. I don’t have much to compare it to since I haven’t heard much of his works otherwise, but this was always on rotation in my house thanks to my parents. For a while the 80’s “worldbeat” genre sounded a bit cheesy and of the times to me but I appreciate it more now. -8
#188 Buffalo Springfield Again – Buffalo Springfield (1967)
I’ve listened to this record many times and I enjoy it when I do, but I have to dock it some points for being difficult to remember even when I’ve heard it as much as I have. Besides the obviously excellent Young songs here I also really like “A Child’s Claim to Fame.” -6
#189 Happy Trails – Quicksilver Messenger Service (1969)
How do I hate this album? Let me count the ways. First, you have an incredibly pretentious and obnoxious 25 MINUTE jam on Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love” which stops sounding anything like Diddley 2 minutes into its absurd runtime when it should have stopped, then you have them picking on Diddley AGAIN when you flip to side 2 which believe it or not was the most interesting part of side 2. The album is a perfect example of the totally nauseating jamming that made people sick of San Francisco hippies. Avoid at all costs. -1
#190 From Elvis in Memphis – Elvis Presley (1969)
The album everyone was waiting for Elvis to release in the 60’s. His voice sounds grittier and more soulful on this record than his late 50’s material, but it fits the music perfectly. He did not go slack on any song. The production has a perfect southern soul feel to it that really does sound like it came out of Memphis. If you’re an Elvis fan this is an indescribable delight, and if you’re not it has the power to convert you. -10
#191 Fun House – The Stooges (1970) funhouse
Described by Jack White as the greatest rock album ever, The Stooges took the sound they started on their debut and turned it into a sludgy whack in the face that sounds like it was recorded in an opium den. They make aggressive rock bands sound like cute kittens. As much as I love parts of this record, some of it is pretty challenging to listen to due to its avant nature and sometimes thin mix. -8
#192 The Gilded Palace of Sin – The Flying Burrito Brothers (1969)
One of my personal favorite records of all time. This was the peak of co-frontman Gram Parsons’s career long obsession with a concept called “Cosmic American Music.” The idea that you could mix country, gospel, folk, and psychedelic rock into a bag and get some great music. Parsons took fellow ex-Byrd Chris Hillman with him and together they wrote standards of country-rock that continue to be the benchmark of quality in the genre. -10
#193 Dookie – Green Day (1994)
For many people (myself included) this was one of the touchstone punk albums in your teens that got played a whole lot. I can’t say I remember it too well since it’s been a long time since I’ve played it, but it is without a doubt one of the best pop punk albums ever made. I’ll have to listen to it again soon. -8
#194 Transformer – Lou Reed (1972)
Lou Reed’s headfirst jump into the glam movement is a mixed bag for me. Some tracks are classic, brilliant Reed songs while some sound like a glam songwriter trying to write like Reed. It sounds like a poor man’s Bowie or Mott record in too many places. It’s not a consistent record, but its highs are some of the best songs Reed ever did. -6
#195 Blues Breakers – John Mayall with Eric Clapton (1966)
One of the best and most enjoyable albums coming out of the blue rock band craze in the mid 60’s. Clapton’s playing here set the sound and mood for most “classic rock” guitar playing after it, and for the first time through the now stereotypical combo of a Les Paul through a Marshall amp. -8
#196 Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From the First Psychedelic Era, 1965-1968 – Various Artists (1972)
This album is one of my biggest musical touchstones, as it is for many who are obsessed with obscure psych and garage records of the 60’s. While many of the songs aren’t so obscure anymore after the exposure they got here, it’s still a phenomenal compilation of almost all brilliant songs that never made it huge the way other songs of the time did. It’s always a fun listen, and even more importantly it opened up the doors for many compilation records of its kind like Pebbles that allowed many even more obscure songs to finally be heard. -10
rem.jpg#197 Murmur – R.E.M. (1983)
One of the most perfect debut albums ever released in my opinion. R.E.M. came busting out of the gate with their brilliant EP Chronic Town and this LP and for a while they were THE great new band that you had to hear if you were in the underground. It has beautiful slow songs and genre-defining jangly college rock all through Peter Buck’s signature Rickenbacker 12-string sound that he took from The Byrds and Michael Stipe’s ominously obscure lyrics and vocals. If all you know is latter-day R.E.M. and you aren’t to excited about it you have to hear this record. Alternative doesn’t get better. -10
#198 The Best of Little Walter – Little Walter (1958)
Chess Records bluesman Little Walter was a major influence on 60’s British bands, and this little compilation from 1958 showcases the excellence of his songs and especially his harmonica prowess. I’m excited to hear more of his material. -8
#199 Is This It? – The Strokes (2001)
After listening to this record I couldn’t help but ask myself: is this it?
Kidding aside, I listened to this record based on its acclaim many years ago and felt significantly underwhelmed by it. Perhaps I should give it another chance. Any fans of it out there? -3
#200 Highway to Hell – AC/DC (1979)
Bon Scott’s last album as AC/DC’s lead singer before his tragic death. The hard rocking ought to please fans of the tight and meaty sound AC/DC is known for and Scott’s vocals were perfect for the band. Unfortunately the record as a whole betrays some of the more embarrassing elements of “classic rock,” namely the objectification of women as merely sexual. Scott sings: ” I’ve been around the world, I’ve seen a million girls. Ain’t one of them got, what my lady she’s got.” What does she have? Tight dresses, backseat love power, and enough energy to wipe you out. A love song for the lusty? And then there’s a whole song about slipping into your girlfriend’s room in the dead of night that sounds intentionally creepy. As much as I may appreciate their sound I just don’t like the trashy sexuality of this stuff. At least the old bluesmen had witty ways of wording it. -3

Whew! Part two is done, and in the next installment I’ll be exploring even more music I’m unfamiliar with and some favorites. What did you agree with on me here and where do you think I had it wrong? Leave some comments and follow my blog to continue with me on this series of listening to the top 500 albums of all time according to Rolling Stone!

Here’s a Spotify playlist of tracks that I think are highlights from these records.

Love and mercy,
GC

 

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