Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 410-401


Last September, Rolling Stone magazine released their most recent list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, which includes a greater variety of artists and genres than previous lists. Looking through the list, there were many albums I’d never listened to before and a few I’d never even heard of. In fact, counting it up, I found that I’d only listened to 140 of the albums, although I’d heard songs from many more. So I’ve decided my project for 2021 is to listen to 10 albums each week and write up some thoughts about each one.

Previous Posts:


Artist: The Beach Boys
Album: Wild Honey
Year: 1967
Label: Capitol
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: No
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: No
Favorite Tracks: None
Thoughts: I was not at all familiar with any of the songs on this album, with good reason.  They’re not very good.  The Beach Boys sound like they’re a 60s garage band making a 60s baroque pop album.  The vocals are very ragged, like the lead vocalist is straining to reach the high register.  And if the Beach Boys don’t have strong vocals, what do they have?  I feel like Rolling Stone is punking us by putting this album on the list.


Artist: Grateful Dead
Album: Workingman’s Dead
Year: 1970
Label: Warner Bros.
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: Yes
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Uncle John’s Band”
  • “High Time”
  • “Dire Wolf”

Thoughts:  There are two albums that come up when anyone discusses the Grateful Dead who is not a diehard Deadhead, and those two albums are the only albums by the band on this list.  I would think that a band that is known primarily for it’s live performances, and for documenting those concerts on recordings, and for people trading those concert recordings that a live album would be a good way to represent the Dead and their contributions to rock & roll on this list. There certainly are a lot of good ones to choose from.  Nevertheless, I do like the songs on this album, although not as much as I like the other one that we’ll discuss when get to #215.


Artist: Motörhead
Album: Ace of Spades
Year: 1980
Label: Bronze
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Ace of Spades”
  • “Please Don’t Touch”

Thoughts: Motörhead are the one band able to unite 80s punks and metalheads and pioneers of really fast guitar and drumming.  They are not the type of band one would expect me to like, but I find Motörhead is just find them a lot of fun.  A friend once told me “Everyone should love Motörhead! I just take that as a given,” and it’s probably true.


Artist: Neil Young
Album: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Year: 1969
Label: Reprise
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: No
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Cinnamon Girl”

Thoughts: Neil Young is one of those artists, alongside the likes of Tom Petty and Bob Dylan, for whom I have a lot of respect for what they’ve done as artists and appreciate why other people enjoy their work, but nevertheless I don’t enjoy listening to myself.  This was his second album under his own name (both all-time and in the year 1969), his first work with the band Crazy Horse, released less than a year after the final Buffalo Springfield album and less than a year before his first collaboration with Crosby, Stills, & Nash.  The dude was crazy prolific is what I’m saying.


Artist: The Magnetic Fields
Album: 69 Love Songs
Year: 1999
Label: Merge
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “A Chicken With Its Head Cut Off”
  • “The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side”
  • “The Book of Love”
  • “Parades Go By”
  • “When My Boy Walks Down the Street”
  • “If You Don’t Cry”
  • “Crazy For You (But Not That Crazy)”
  • “Washington D.C.”
  • “It’s a Crime”
  • “I’m Sorry I Love You”
  • “The Death of Ferdinand de Saussure”
  • “The Night You Can’t Remember”

Thoughts: For an album that is packed literally with 69 songs there’s a remarkable consistency of quality.  Stephin Merritt and co. create a concept album not about love, but about love songs, with homages (and more often tongue-in-cheek parodies) of various styles of love song about various types of love.


Artist: Various
Album: Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era
Year: 1972
Label: Elektra
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: Sort of
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Some
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Dirty Water” – The Standells
  • “Moulty” – The Barbarians
  • “You’re Gonna Miss Me” – 13th Floor Elevators
  • “Psychotic Reaction” – Count Five
  • “Baby Please Don’t Go” – The Amboy Dukes

Thoughts: This is the type of compilation that deserves to be on Greatest Albums of All-Time list.  Not only does it contain multiple artists but it was compiled shortly after the songs were created and helped bring attention to tunes that might otherwise have been forgotten.  The musical style is a mix of Beatles’ tribute bands + bluesy garage rock + lots of hallucinogenic substances.  It proved to be very influential to punk bands of the 1970s.  I remember listening to a version of this album as a teenager that had fewer tracks, but introduced me to great songs such as “Psychotic Reaction” and “You’re Gonna Miss Me.” It’s also fun to think of a time when “Dirty Water” wasn’t the theme song of Boston sports teams.


Artist: Anita Baker
Album: Rapture
Year: 1986
Label: Elektra
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: One
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: No
Favorite Tracks: None
Thoughts: I remember “Sweet Love” as a radio staple in the mid-to-late 80s but never gave it much thought. The album contains several more tracks with the same style of jazz-inflected R&B.  I don’t want to say its bad, but it’s definitely not my thing.


Artist: Ghostface Killah
Album: Supreme Clientele
Year: 2000
Label: Epic
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: No
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Maybe
Favorite Tracks:

  • “The Grain”
  • “Buck 50”
  • “Malcolm”
  • “Cherchez LaGhost”
  • “Wu Banga 101”

Thoughts: Yet another hip-hop artist I previously only knew by name.  I like Ghostface Killah’s rhyme style and the musical production/sampling.  I’m also amused by all the references to Iron Man well before the MCU made Tony Stark a household name.


Artist: Fela Kuti and Africa 70
Album: Expensive Shit
Year: 1975
Label: Sounds Workshop
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Expensive Shit”
  • “Water No Get Enemy”

Thoughts: Is a recording with one song on each side, an album or a single?  In the case of Expensive Shit, the two songs are a combined 25 minutes, giving it album length.  The title track is based on a true story of Kuti eating a joint to avoid arrest, but the police took him in anyway and waited for him to produce the excrement.  The album is a classic of Afrobeat, part political, part joyful, all brilliant.


Artist: Blondie
Album: Blondie
Year: 1977
Label: Private Stock
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “X Offender”
  • “In the Flesh”
  • “Look Good in Blue”
  • “Kung Fu Girls”

Thoughts: This debut album from the New York punk band looks back to early 60s pop and doo wop while setting the vanguard for 80s New Wave.  Wry lyrics bring a 70s sensibility (and sexuality) to seemingly innocent tunes.


Running List of Albums I’d Listen to Again

  • 500. Arcade Fire, Funeral
  • 498. Suicide, Suicide
  • 497. Various Artists, The Indestructible Beat of Soweto
  • 494. The Ronettes, Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes
  • 489. A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector from Phil Spector and Various Artists, Back to Mono (1958-1969)
  • 487. Black Flag, Damaged
  • 485, Richard and Linda Thompson, I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight
  • 483, Muddy Waters, The Anthology
  • 482, The Pharcyde, Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde
  • 481, Belle and Sebastian, If You’re Feeling Sinister
  • 478, The Kinks, Something Else by the Kinks
  • 477, Howlin’ Wolf, Moanin’ in the Moonlight
  • 469, Manu Chao, Clandestino
  • 465, King Sunny Adé, The Best of the Classic Years
  • 464, The Isley Brothers, 3 + 3
  • 462, The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Gilded Palace of Sin
  • 459, Kid Cudi, Man on the Moon: The End of the Day
  • 457, Sinéad O’Connor, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got
  • 456, Al Green, Greatest Hits
  • 455, Bo Diddley, Bo Diddley/Go Bo Diddley
  • 453, Nine Inch Nails, Pretty Hate Machine
  • 452, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Anthology
  • 451, Roberta Flack, First Take
  • 448, Otis Redding, Dictionary of Soul
  • 446, Alice Coltrane, Journey in Satchidanada
  • 444, Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine
  • 443, David Bowie, Scary Monsters
  • 440, Loretta Lynn, Coal Miner’s Daughter
  • 439, James Brown, Sex Machine
  • 438, Blur, Parklife
  • 437, Primal Scream, Screamadelica
  • 435, Pet Shop Boys, Actually
  • 433, LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver
  • 431, Los Lobos, How Will the Wolf Survive?
  • 430, Elvis Costello, My Aim Is True
  • 429, The Four Tops, Reach Out
  • 428, Hüsker Dü, New Day Rising
  • 427, Al Green, Call Me
  • 426, Lucinda Williams, Lucinda Williams
  • 425, Paul Simon, Paul Simon
  • 424, Beck, Odelay
  • 423, Yo La Tengo, I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One
  • 422, Marvin Gaye, Let’s Get It On
  • 421, M.I.A., Arular
  • 417, Ornette Coleman, The Shape of Jazz to Come
  • 416, The Roots, Things Fall Apart
  • 415, The Meters, Looka Py Py
  • 414, Chic, Risqué
  • 413, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Cosmo’s Factory
  • 412, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Going to a Go Go
  • 409, Grateful Dead, Workingman’s Dead
  • 408, Motörhead, Ace of Spades
  • 406, Magnetic Fields, 69 Love Songs
  • 405, Various, Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era
  • 403, Ghostface Killah, Supreme Clientele
  • 402, Fela Kuti and Africa 70, Expensive Shit
  • 401, Blondie, Blondie

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