Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 350-341


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: Stevie Wonder
AlbumMusic of My Mind
Year: 1972
Label: Motown/Tamla
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:

  • “Love Having You Around”
  • “Happier Than the Morning Sun”
  • “Keep on Running”
  • “Evil”

Thoughts: It’s kind of unfair having a greatest albums list if Stevie Wonder is allowed to participate.  And Music of My Mind was only the prelude to Wonder’s mid-70s musical dominance. It’s a testament to Wonder’s talent that this album, as great as it is, has basically become one big deep cut in his catalog.

For more thoughts on this album check out my Stevie Wonder music discovery post.



Artist
: MC5
Album: Kick Out the Jams
Year: 1969
Label: Elektra
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:

  • “Kick Out the Jams”
  • “Motor City Is Burning”
  • “I Want You Right Now”

Thoughts: I’ve heard of MC5 as being a protopunk act.  This live set  recorded from Detroit’s Grand Ballroom at the end of October 1968 does sound like it’s from a decade in the future.  But it also sounds firmly within the countercultural and leftist political culture of the time.  Either way, it sounds like it rocks really hard.


Artist: Gillian Welch
Album: Time (The Revelator)
Year: 2001
Label: Acony
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:

  • “Dear Someone”
  • “Red Clay Halo”
  • “Ruination Day, Pt. 2”
  • “Everything Is Free”

Thoughts: It’s nice to see this list recognized contemporary folk/roots/Americana music.  I’d never listened to this album before, oddly enough, despite the fact that it was released right in the middle of my Folk Music Period of roughly 1998-2003. Listening to the sad and lonesome harmonies today, I have regrets.


Artist: GZA
Album: Liquid Swords
Year: 1995
Label: Geffen
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Only by reputation
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Liquid Swords”
  • “Cold World”
  • “I Gotcha Back”

Thoughts: I somehow missed the entire Wu-Tang Clan phenomenon, which is perhaps not surprising considering my general ignorance of hip hop from Nineties and Oughts.  Liquid Swords is particularly discussed about in reverent tones, so it’s about time I gave it a listen. Consider me initiated.


Artist: Arctic Monkeys
AlbumAM
Year: 2013
Label: Domino
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Vaguely
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Do I Wanna Know?”

Thoughts: I’m starting to feel like this project is just a series of confessions of me being too lazy to listen to different artists. I remember seeing Arctic Monkey performing “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor” at the London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony. I thought that they sounded good but never followed up on listening to more of their music. This album came out a year later. AM is a nice mix of 70s classic rock sounds with 2010’s indie pop. It’s a perfectly cromulent album and I probably should’ve listened to it earlier.


Artist: Bruce Springsteen
Album: The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle
Year: 1973
Label: Columbia
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:

  • “The E Street Shuffle”
  • “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)”
  • “Incident on 57th Street”
  • “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)”

Thoughts: Bruce Springsteen and I were born in the same town although I moved away as an infant so didn’t experience a full New Jersey childhood.  I’ve always appreciated Springsteen’s anthems for the common person, but I’m more of a “greatest hits” type of listener and haven’t listened to the vast majority of his albums. This is the first of five Springsteen albums on the list so I will be getting to experience the deep cuts. This album is funkier and jazzier than I’d ever expected of Springsteen. It’s epic and fun!


Artist:  Toots and the Maytals
Album: Funky Kingston
Year: 1973
Label: Island
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Ye
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Funky Kingston”
  • “Pomps & Pride”
  • “Country Road”
  • “Pressure Drop”

Thoughts: I love when this list does things like puts two completely different albums from the same year back-to-back. Toots and the Maytals were reggae pioneers and this American release of this album helped make Jamaica’s music famous worldwide.  The songs are a mix of original reggae tunes focused on the trials and joys of ordinary Americans mixed with covers of American songs like “Louie Louie” and “Country Roads.”


Artist: Sly and the Family Stone
Album: Greatest Hits
Year: 1970
Label: Epic
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:

  • “I Want to Take You Higher”
  • “Dance to the Music”
  • “Everyday People”
  • “Hot Fun in the Summertime”
  • “Sing a Simple Song”
  • “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)”

Thoughts: I continue to the object to the inclusion of greatest hits compilations on a greatest albums list, but I’ll make an exception for this one.  First, there are two other Sly & the Family Stone albums coming up on this list.  Second, there are only four songs that overlap with one of those albums and zero with the other.  And finally, Greatest Hits includes three tracks not available on other albums.  Thus, it makes a good primer for Sly and the Family Stone’s music, and also serves as my imaginary Sly and the Family Stone Broadway jukebox musical that really needs to exist.


Artist: The Beatles
AlbumLet It Be
Year: 1970
Label: Apple
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:

  • “Two of Us”
  • “Across the Universe”
  • “One After 909”
  • “For You Blue”
  • “Get Back”

Thoughts: This album shouldn’t be as good as it is.  By January 1969, The Beatles had spent a decade of constant togetherness: gigging, touring, recording two albums worth of material per year, making films, and even going on a transcendental meditation retreat together.  They should’ve made a new year’s resolution to take a year off and go to therapy or something. Instead the started an ambitious project to “get back” to their roots, record an album, and rehearse for a concert performance all while a camera crew documented their every move.  A month later the project was abandoned among acrimonious infighting.  Then The  Beatles got together three weeks later to start creating an entirely different brilliant album.  Let It Be was released shortly after The Beatles broke up in 1970 as a quasi-movie soundtrack/live album although with Phil Spector’s production it is not really either of those things.  And despite all of that it’s a solid and unique Beatles album with some of my favorite of the band’s songs.


Artist: The Smashing Pumpkins
Album: Siamese Dream
Year: 1993
Label: Virgin
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?: Just the hits
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Cherub Rock”
  • “Today”
  • “Disarm”

Thoughts: In the early 90s, there were a lot of innovative alternative rock bands who changed the face of music.  The Smashing Pumpkins were not one of them. I don’t say this as an insult, but to emphasize that The Smashing Pumpkins were craftsmen who used took the new alt-rock sounds (and a healthy dose of 70s bombast) to churn out songs that rocked.  I never felt strongly either way about the Pumpkins but was pleasantly surprised that their tunes held up so well over 30 years.


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
  • 400, The Go-Go’s, Beauty and the Beat
  • 398, The Raincoats, The Raincoats
  • 397, Billie Eilish, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
  • 395, D’Angelo and the Vanguard, Black Messiah
  • 392, Ike and Tina Turner, Proud Mary: The Best of Ike and Tina Turner
  • 390, Pixies, Surfer Rosa
  • 388, Aretha Franklin, Young, Gifted and Black
  • 387, Radiohead, In Rainbows
  • 386, J Dilla, Donuts
  • 385, Ramones, Rocket to Russia
  • 384, The Kinks, The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society
  • 380, Charles Mingus, Mingus Ah Um
  • 378, Run-DMC, Run-D.M.C.
  • 377, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Fever to Tell
  • 375, Green Day, Dookie
  • 374, Robert Johnson, King of the Delta Blues Singers
  • 373, Isaac Hayes, Hot Buttered Soul
  • 371, The Temptations, Anthology
  • 369, Mobb Deep, The Infamous
  • 368, George Harrison, All Things Must Pass
  • 365, Madvillain, Madvillainy
  • 364, Talking Heads, More Songs About Buildings and Food
  • 363, Parliament, The Mothership Connection
  • 360, Funkadelic, One Nation Under a Groove
  • 358, Sonic Youth, Goo
  • 357, Tom Waits, Rain Dogs
  • 356, Dr. John, Gris-Gris
  • 354, X-Ray Spex, Germfree Adolescents
  • 351, Roxy Music, For Your Pleasure
  • 350, Stevie Wonder, Music of My Mind
  • 349, MC5, Kick Out the Jams
  • 348, Gillian Welch, Time (The Revelator)
  • 347, GZA, Liquid Swords
  • 346, Arctic Monkeys, AM
  • 345, Bruce Springsteen, The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle
  • 344, Toots and the Maytals, Funky Kingston
  • 343, Sly and the Family Stone, Greatest Hits
  • 342, The Beatles, Let It Be
  • 341, The Smashing Pumpkins, Siamese Dream