Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 310-301


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:

500-491 400-381
490-481 390-381
480-471 380-371
470-461 370-361
460-451 360-351
450-441 350-341
440-431 340-331
430-421 330-321
420-411 320-311
410-401

Artist: Wire
AlbumPink Flag
Year: 1977
Label: Harvest
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?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Pink Flag”
  • “Mannequin”

Thoughts: In the heady days of the early 90s Alternative Rock explosion, I remember seeing the band name Wire while DJ’ing at my college radio station.  I didn’t know until now that they were a band that stretched all the way back to the 1970s Punk explosion.  Either way, I haven’t listened to Wire up until now, and I missed out.  For a UK band they sound more like an American punk band of the 70s than, say, the Sex Pistols or The Clash, and for an album released in 1977 it still wouldn’t sound out of place in the early 90s.  I guess that’s why it’s classified as “Influential.”


Artist: Joy Division
Album: Closer
Year: 1980
Label: Factory
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:

  • “Isolation”
  • “A Means to an End”
  • “Heart and Soul”

Thoughts: In the band’s short career, Joy Division released two albums.  Joy Division also has two albums on the Rolling Stone 500.  I’m not sure if any other band has achieved the feat of having all their albums on the list, but I’m happy for Joy Division, whose members often weren’t happy.  This album was released two months after band leader Ian Curtis died by suicide after struggling with epilepsy and depression.  It’s a brilliant album despite coming through such suffering.


Artist: Brian Eno
Album: Here Come the Warm Jets
Year: 1974
Label: Island
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Only from listening to Another Green World three weeks ago
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Needles in the Camel’s Eye”
  • “On Some Faraway Beach”
  • “Here Come the Warm Jets”

Thoughts: As I noted in a previous entry, I was only familiar with Brian Eno’s work as a producer before listening to Another Green World, the first of two Eno albums on the RS 500. This album redefines “music from 1974” for me and in a good way.  At the base it’s Bowie-esque glam rock, but there’s a whole lot of weird stuff layered on top from Beatles-esque harmonies to atmospheric drones.


Artist: Sam Cooke
Album: Portrait of a Legend
Year: 2003
Label: ABKCO
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:

  • “You Send Me”
  • “Cupid”
  • “What a Wonderful World”
  • “Chain Gang”
  • “Summertime”
  • “Bring it on Home to Me”
  • “Twistin’ the Night Away”
  • “Shake”
  • “Having a Party”
  • “A Change is Gonna Come”
  • “Jesus Gave Me Water’

Thoughts: Sam Cooke has been one of my favorite singers since childhood when I heard his music on the oldies stations my parents  listened to in the car.  We also had The Best of Sam Cooke, a smaller compilation album from 1962,  at home and as a teenager I copied the LP onto tape and listened to it a lot.  Cooke’s voice sounds good even with record crackles and tape hiss.  Also as a teenager, I learned about “A Change is Gonna Come,” a song not on on that compilation, from a Rolling Stone list of greatest songs of all time.  Having recently watched One Night in Miami…, this is the perfect time to listen to this excellent compendium of Cooke’s career.


Artist: Al Green
Album: I’m Still in Love With You
Year: 1972
Label: Hi
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:

  • “I’m Still In Love With You”
  • “I’m Glad You’re Mine”
  • “Love and Happiness”
  • “Simply Beautiful”
  • “One of These Good Old Days”

Thoughts:  What a treat it is to listen to two of the greatest soul music vocalists sequentially like this.  To borrow a song title, this album is “Simply Beautiful.”


Artist: Kiss
AlbumAlive
Year: 1975
Label: Casablanca
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?:
Favorite Tracks: Not a one.
Thoughts:  The good trend couldn’t last.  I remember Kiss as a presence in my early childhood, mostly because their makeup and leather & studs get-up grabbed attention.  As a kid, I found Kiss alternately scary and funny.  But honestly, before today I couldn’t tell you if I ever heard an actual Kiss song.  It’s definitely a case of a band where image precedes everything else. It sounds pretty much as expected though, extremely campy hard-rock/proto-Metal with lots of guitar solos.  Basically the music that people who grew up to become MAGAs listened to when they weren’t chanting “Disco Sucks!”


Artist: Bill Withers
Album: Just As I Am
Year: 1971
Label: Sussex
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:

  • “Harlem”
  • “Ain’t No Sunshine”
  • “Grandma’s Hands”

Thoughts: Aah…back to the more sonically pleasant  sounds of 70s soul. The RS500 list contains two Withers’ albums that feel like greatest hits compilations without being greatest hits compilations.  This album has a folk-music feel with many story songs about everyday people.  It also includes my all-time favorite Withers’ track “Ain’t No Sunshine.”


Artist: ABBA
Album: The Definitive Collection
Year: 2001
Label: Universal
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: All too well
Would I Listen to this Album Again?:
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Waterloo”
  • “S.O.S.”
  • “Mamma Mia”
  • “Dancing Queen”
  • “Take a Chance on Me”
  • “The Winner Takes It All”

Thoughts: There are two sides to the 70s bombastic, over-the-top, theatrical era of music. One side is Kiss, the other is ABBA.  ABBA is kind of silly, but I have a grudging respect for them.  Their songs certainly have staying power, spawning a Broadway musical and two movie spinoffs that people seem to love.  And it’s irresistible to sing along with their best work.


Artist: Neil Young
Album: Tonight’s the Night
Year: 1975
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:

  • “Come On Baby Let’s Go Downtown”

Thoughts: Based on the album title and cover photo, I feared this was Neil Young’s tribute album to Rod Stewart.  Thankfully that is not the case, although the truth is much darker.  This album is Young’s outpouring of grief over the death of two friends.


Artist: New York Dolls
AlbumNew York Dolls
Year: 1973
Label: Mercury
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:

  • “Personality Crisis”
  • “Trash”

Thoughts: I once saw David Johansen past within a few feet of me on Coney Island’s Boardwalk.  That’s my main connection with the New York Dolls, one of the earliest bands credited with creating punk rock.  Can’t argue with this album’s enshrinement as a rock & roll classic and a relic of the sleazy 70s.


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
  • 338. Brian Eno, Another Green World
  • 337.  Bob Dylan, John Wesley Harding
  • 335. Bob Dylan and the Band, The Basement Tapes
  • 334. Santana, Abraxas
  • 333. Bill Withers, Still Bill
  • 332. Elvis Presley, Elvis Presley
  • 330. The Rolling Stones, Aftermath
  • 329. DJ Shadow, Endtroducing…
  • 328. Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires of the City
  • 326. Prince, Dirty Mind
  • 323.The Clash, Sandinista!
  • 320. X, Los Angeles
  • 319. The Stone Roses, The Stone Roses
  • 317. Billie Holiday, Lady in Satin
  • 316. The Who, The Who Sell Out
  • 310. Wire, Pink Flag
  • 309. Joy Division, Closer
  • 308. Brian Eno, Here Come the Warm Jets
  • 307. Sam Cooke, Portrait of a Legend
  • 306. Al Green, I’m Still In Love With You
  • 304. Bill Withers, Just As I Am
  • 301. New York Dolls, New York Dolls