Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 250-241


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
480-471 380-371 280-271
470-461 370-361 270-261
460-451 360-351 260-251
450-441 350-341
440-431 340-331
430-421 330-321
420-411 320-311
410-401 310-301

Artist: Buzzcocks
Album: Singles Going Steady
Year: 1979
Label: I.R.S.
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:

  • “Orgasm Addict”
  • “What Do I Get?”
  • “Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve?)”
  • “Everybody’s

Thoughts: Buzzcocks proved that punks could write melodic songs about love (and orgasms) too.  I was impressed by how many hit songs were on the album until I realized that it was a compilation of the band’s first 8 singles.  The album was released in the US to introduce the band to American audience.  So in the sense it’s like The Beatles’ early American albums which straddled the line between compilation and new studio albums.  Either way, it’s a terrific collection!


Artist: Whitney Houston
AlbumWhitney Houston
Year: 1985
Label: Arista
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?: No
Favorite Tracks:

  • “How Will I Know?”

Thoughts: It’s hard to listen to this album made when Whitney Houston was so young and full of promise considering how tragic her life became.  There was a time when I was younger before I was “too cool” for Top 40 that I liked Whitney Houston so there’s a bit of nostalgia here for me.  The high point of this album is that Houston’s voice is given room to shine even among the chintzy 1980s production.  The low point is that “Saving All My Love For You” really gives me the creeps.  But “How Will I Know?” is pure joy.


Artist: Green Day
AlbumAmerican Idiot
Year: 2004
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:

  • “American Idiot”
  • “Extraordinary Girl”

Thoughts: Green Day were off my radar in 2004, so I never gave this album a listen.  I remember hearing “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” overplayed and rolling my eyes at the series of cliches strung together to make a song.  Maybe if another track like the title song received the same level of exposure I might have been drawn to checking out the complete rock opera of discontent in the time of the Bush administration’s warmongering.  It’s interesting, but maybe doesn’t grab me as much finally hearing it 17 years later.


Artist: Sade
AlbumLove Deluxe
Year: 1992
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?:
Favorite Tracks: None

Thoughts: Speaking of off my radar, I never gave Sade much thought after the band’s 1984 hit “Smooth Operator” and 1985’s “The Sweetest Taboo.” 1992’s Sade sounds similar, smooth ambient music spotlighting Sade Adu’s silky vocals.


Artist: LL Cool J
Album: Mama Said Knock You Out
Year: 1990
Label: Def Jam/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 Boomin’ System”
  • “Cheesy Rat Blues”
  • “Farmers Blvd. (Our Anthem)”
  • “Mama Said Knock You Out”

Thoughts: I remember hearing the title track a lot during my senior year at high school.  LL Cool J seemed very angry about it being called a comeback which makes sense since he’d just been all over the radio with hits like “Going Back to Cali” and “I’m That Type of Guy.”  Maybe those songs were just bigger in the suburbs? I get the sense that LL was less of a presence after this album than before, but it’s a great last gasp for original style New York hip hop before gangsta rock took over in the 1990s.  And Run the Jewels got their name from lyrics on this album!


Artist: Cocteau Twins
Album: Heaven or Las Vegas
Year: 1990
Label: 4AD
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:

  • “Iceblink Luck”
  • “Heaven or Las Vegas”
  • “Fotzepolitic”
  • “Frou-Frou Foxes in Midsummer Fires”

Thoughts: Cocteau Twins are another band I was aware of that I should’ve spent the time to get to know better.  The dream pop sound with ethereal vocals has always been my aesthetic (except when it’s not).  Cocteau Twins opened the door for similar Scottish indie bands with the same vibe like Belle and Sebastian and Camera Obscura.


Artist: Kanye West
Album: 808s & Heartbreak
Year: 2008
Label: Roc-A-Fella
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:

  • “Say You Will”
  • “Love Lockdown”
  • “Paranoid”

Thoughts: Wonders never cease, here’s a Kanye West album I kind of like.  I recently listened to a Hit Parade podcast tracing the gradual trend of “rap” artists who actually sing rather than rap. Part of this trend was in the late Oughts when rappers modified their voices with autotune, something very present on 808s & Heartbreak.  The experimentalism and strangeness makes for some great tracks although stretching out the same style over the entire album makes it grow stale pretty swiftly.


Artist: The Zombies
Album: Odessey and Oracle
Year: 1968
Label: Date
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:

  • “Time of the Season”

Thoughts:  In my teenage Classic Rock phase, I really liked several songs by The Zombies, but none no more than “Time of the Season.”  I imagined singing it a to a girl I liked.  Not surprisingly, I didn’t date in high school.  “Time of the Season” still slaps! The rest of the album is decent British Invasion pop with a touch of psychedelia, but nothing really memorable.


Artist: The Velvet Underground
AlbumLoaded
Year: 1970
Label: Cotillion
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:

  • “Who Loves the Sun”
  • “Sweet Jane”
  • “Rock and Roll”
  • “Head Held High”
  • “Oh! Sweet Nuthin'”

Thoughts:  As noted earlier in this project, I’ve listened to a lot of The Velvet Underground but never before listened to their original studio albums.  This 1970s album was their last release with members of the original lineup (Lou Reed, in fact, left before the album was completed), before they became a Boston bar band.  Despite all the trauma and strife in making it, the album’s songs have a sunny, pop sound (the lyrics are not always so).


Artist: Massive Attack
Album: Blue Lines
Year: 1991
Label: Wildbunch/Virgin
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:

  • “Unfinished Sympathy”

Thoughts: In an earlier post I noted that I didn’t really know anything about Massive Attack, not even the style of music they played.  Thus I’m kind of surprised that they have a second album in this chart.  They do seem to be more popular in Britain, though, and if the Rolling Stone description is correct that they effectively invented the genre of trip-hop, I guess they could be considered influencers.  To me this album sounds like something a “hip” coffee shop plays in the background.


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
  • 267. Minutemen, Double Nickels on the Dime
  • 266. The Beatles, Help!
  • 263. The Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night
  • 262. New Order, Power, Corruption & Lies
  • 261. Beastie Boys, Check Your Head
  • 260. The Slits, Cut
  • 259. Janis Joplin, Pearl
  • 257. Dolly Parton, Coat of Many Colors
  • 256. Tracy Chapman, Tracy Chapman
  • 254. Herbie Hancock, Head Hunters
  • 252. Devo, Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!
  • 250. Buzzcocks, Singles Going Steady
  • 246. LL Cool J, Mama Said Knock You Out
  • 245. Cocteau Twins, Heaven of Las Vegas
  • 242. The Velvet Underground, Loaded

 

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