Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 280-271


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:

500-491 400-381 300-291
490-481 390-381 290-281
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
410-401 310-301

Artist: 50 Cent
Album: Get Rich or Die Tryin’
Year: 2002
Label: Interscope
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:

  • “What Up Gangsta”
  • “Back Down”
  • “Lifes on the Line”

Thoughts: I’m dimly aware of 50 Cent due to jokes people make about his name and his notorious first pitch at a Mets game.  50 Cent reminds me a bit of Eminem (who appears on the album) but less horribly offensive.  The beats are good but the typical posturing and recitation of violence is tiring.


Artist: Nirvana
AlbumMTV Unplugged in New York
Year: 1994
Label: Geffen
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:

  • “About a Girl”
  • “The Man Who Sold The World”
  • “Something In The Way”
  • “All Apologies”
  • “Where Did You Sleep Last Night”

Thoughts: If you weren’t around in the early 90s, you probably aren’t aware how big the MTV Unplugged phenomenon was at the time.  I guess after all the over-produced music of the 1980s, people were eager to hear their favorite artists perform acoustic music.  Most of the concerts weren’t really all that great but a number of them were released as albums.  Nirvana shook things up from the generic formula of Unplugged concerts by playing several covers of artists ranging from Leadbelly to David Bowie and inviting members of the Meat Puppets to join them to play three of their own songs.  It still holds up more than a quarter-century later.


Artist: Led Zeppelin
AlbumHouses of the Holy
Year: 1973
Label: Atlantic
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?:
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Over the Hills and Far Away”
  • “D’yer Mak’er”
  • “The Ocean”

Thoughts: Back in my Classic Rock days I went back and forth over whether Houses of the Holy or Physical Graffiti was my favorite Led Zeppelin album.  This album has some epic tracks like “Over the Hills and Far Away” and “The Ocean,” and the silly of fun of “D’yer Mak’er” but maybe doesn’t hold together as well as an album as my teenage self thought.  We’ll see when we get to Physical Graffiti if that album has stood the test of time better.


Artist: Alicia Keys
AlbumThe Diary of Alicia Keys
Year: 2003
Label: J Records
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:

  • “Karma”

Thoughts: Alicia Keys is a name I recognize, but the only song of hers I could name is “Empire State of Mind” (and I had to look it up to verify it was her song). This smooth album shows that Keys is an artist of considerable skill but this is a musical style that doesn’t resonate much with me.


Artist: Radiohead
Album: The Bends
Year: 1995
Label: Capitol
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:

  • “Planet Telex”
  • “Fake Plastic Trees”
  • “Sulk”

Thoughts: Radiohead’s second album showed that they were more than just the band that had a hit with “Creep” and was the first of a string of terrific albums they’d release in a 12-year period.  We’ll see three more of those albums further down the list.  I don’t think Radiohead really achieved their unique sound and experimental nature until their next album.  Nevertheless, The Bends is a pretty terrific 90s rock album.


Artist: Curtis Mayfield
Album: Curtis!
Year: 1970
Label: Curtom
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:

  • “We the People Who Are Darker Than Blue”
  • “Move On Up”

Thoughts: Curtis Mayfield’s solo debut is a masterful blend of soul, psychedelia, and funk with some jazz and Afrobeat influences.  The lyrics are politically-charged and are still relevant 51 years later.


Artist: The Byrds
AlbumSweetheart of the Rodeo
Year: 1968
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?:
Favorite Tracks:

  • “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere”
  • “I Am a Pilgrim”
  • “You’re Still on My Mind”
  • “Hickory Wind”
  • “One Hundred Years from Now”

Thoughts: Sweetheart of the Rodeo is a stark change in style from the folk-rock music The Byrds made earlier in their career (and the type of Byrds’ music that still gets played on Classic Rock radio and in the soundtracks of movies set in the 60s).  The music has an old-time country feel that is different than the breezy country rock that became a plague upon the music of the 1970s.  This is the only album by The Byrds featuring Gram Parsons whose vision of Nashville country fusion informed the direction of this album before he moved on to an even better country rock album with The Flying Burrito Brothers.


Artist: Gang of Four
AlbumEntertainment
Year: 1979
Label: Warner Bros.
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:

  • “Ether”
  • “Damaged Goods”
  • “At Home He’s A Tourist”

Thoughts: As someone with a penchant for punk rock and leftist politics, I should have come to Gang of Four much earlier. But  they are just one of the many bands I didn’t get around to much to my detriment.  Better late than never, I guess.


Artist: The Velvet Underground
AlbumWhite Light/White Heat
Year: 1968
Label: Verve
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:

  • “White Light/White Heat”
  • “I Heard Her Call My Name”
  • “Sister Ray”

Thoughts: I have to confess I’ve never listened to a Velvet Underground studio album just compilations.  This album has a roughness of sound with lots of distortion, and especially on the 17-minute final track, “Sister Ray,” lots of improvisation.  There’s also oddness such as a short story read in one channel with an instrumental on the other channel on “The Gift.”  Not bad for an album with only 6 tracks.


Artist: Mary J. Blige
AlbumWhat’s the 411?
Year: 1992
Label: Uptown/MCA
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:

  • “Real Love”

Thoughts: Blige’s hip-hop/soul debut sounds very early 90s.  Not that it’s a bad thing, just an interesting the way time leaves its stamp on music.


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
  • 299. B.B. King, Live at the Regal
  • 297. Peter Gabriel, So
  • 294. Weezer, Weezer
  • 293. The Breeders, Last Splash
  • 292. Van Halen, Van Halen
  • 289.  Björk, Post
  • 288. The Modern Lovers, The Modern Lovers
  • 287. The Byrds, Mr. Tambourine Man
  • 283. Donna Summer, Bad Girls
  • 282. Frank Sinatra, In the Wee Small Hours
  • 279. Nirvana, MTV Unplugged in New York
  • 278. Led Zeppelin, Houses of the Holy
  • 276. Radiohead, The Bends
  • 275. Curtis Mayfield, Curtis
  • 274. The Byrds, Sweetheart of the Rodeo
  • 273. Gang of Four, Entertainment!
  • 272. The Velvet Underground, White Light/White Heat

 

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