Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 200-191


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
450-441 350-341 250-241
440-431 340-331 240-231
430-421 330-321 230-221
420-411 320-311 220-211
410-401 310-301 210-201

Artist: Sade
Album: Diamond Life
Year: 1984
Label: Epic
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:

  • “Smooth Operator”

Thoughts: “Smooth Operator” is unquestionably one of the great smooth, romantic hits of the 1980s.  But a whole album of songs like this is a tough sell for me.


Artist: Pavement
Album: Slanted and Enchanted
Year: 1993
Label: Matador
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:

  • “No Life Singed Her”
  • “In the Mouth a Desert”
  • “Here”

Thoughts: I remember checking this album out from the library in the 1990s and kind of liking it but not remembering it to well.  It turns out that a few songs stuck in my head a lot better than I realized.  This is definitely a perfect example of an indie rock album from the early 90s, although for me I only a handful of songs stand out as something I want to revisit.


Artist: The B-52’s
Album: The B-52’s
Year: 1979
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:

  • “Planet Claire”
  • “52 Girls”
  • “Dance This Mess Around”
  • “Rock Lobster”

Thoughts: In 1989, The B-52’s hit the big time with their album Cosmic Thing (which is criminally absent from the RS 500), a quirky but accessible bit of pop music brilliance. Even though I was familiar with “Rock Lobster” (a staple of middle school and high school dances), nothing prepared me for the mind-blowing, frantic weirdness of the band’s debut album from a decade earlier. “Planet Claire” also reminds me of my sister’s delightfully weird college housemate Claire.


Artist: The Beatles
Album: Meet the Beatles!
Year: 1964
Label: Capitol
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: Essentially
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “I Want to Hold Your Hand”
  • “I Saw Her Standing There”
  • “All My Loving”
  • “I Wanna Be Your Man”
  • “Not a Second Time”

Thoughts: When I went through my Classic Rock Phase in high school, I stubbornly acquired only the official UK releases of The Beatles albums.  Meet the Beatles! is the American version of the band’s second UK album With the Beatles. While the US version has only 12 tracks to the original’s 14, it also replaces 5 cover songs with 3 Lennon/McCartney originals that were previously released as singles.  So it’s oddly a more “Original” album.  It’s definitely not as butchered as some later US releases so I’ll give it the thumbs up.


Artist: Robyn
Album: Body Talk
Year: 2010
Label: Konichiwa
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:

  • “Dancing On My Own”
  • “None of Dem”

Thoughts: Body Talk opens with the Swedish singer Robyn’s fantastic hit song “Dancing on My Own,” heretofore the only song by Robyn that I knew.  It proves to be the standout track amid an album of otherwise enjoyable dance pop.


Artist: Leonard Cohen
Album: Songs of Leonard Cohen
Year: 1967
Label: Columbia
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:

  • “Suzanne”
  • “Sisters of Mercy”
  • “So Long, Marianne”
  • “Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye”

Thoughts: Leonard Cohen charted a different course from other singer-songwriters who made impressive debut albums and had their songs covered by umpteen different artists.  As he got older, and his voice got deeper, his own recordings got even better right up until his death.


Artist: Michael Jackson
Album: Bad
Year: 1987
Label: Epic
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:

  • “Bad”
  • “The Way You Make Me Feel”

Thoughts: I may have just been a contrarian, but I never liked Michael Jackson’s music all that much.  I mean, I could appreciate the craft and liked some of his songs, but not to the level of constant exposure that Jackson’s massive fame in the 1980s entailed.  There were only four years between Thriller and Bad, but it felt like a long break from “MJ All the Time.” To Jackson’s credit his music was updated to the time and once again was able to dominate the zeitgeist.  This was probably the last time Michael Jackson was on my radar because his latter hits came when I was no longer paying attention to Top 40 radio or MTV.


Artist: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Album: Willy and the Poor Boys
Year: 1969
Label: Fantasy
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:

  • “Down on the Corner”
  • “Fortunate Son”
  • “The Midnight Special”
  • “Effigy”

Thoughts:  CCR churned out some of the best songs of the late 60s and this album contains several of my favorites. I was also impressed hearing the final track, “Effigy,” for the first time, showing that over 50 years later CCR can still surprise.


Artist: Beastie Boys
Album: Licensed to Ill
Year: 1986
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?: Maybe
Favorite Tracks:

  • “She’s Crafty”
  • “Fight for Your Right”
  • “No Sleep Till Brooklyn”

Thoughts: Beastie Boys were one of the first white rap acts and even as a kid something bothered me about how extremely popular they became (I didn’t know what cultural appropriation was at the time).  It wasn’t just that they were white, but that they were so obnoxious.  Later they revealed that they were playing obnoxious characters (which I only half believe) and proved to be more intelligent and conscientious than we were first lead to believe.  While I don’t think I’d ever listened to the whole album before, I’m amazed that I recognize pretty much every track.  I guess that was how much Beastie Boys were in the ether in 1986-1987.  And I have to admit that, in retrospect, a lot of this album really slaps.


Artist: Etta James
Album: At Last!
Year: 1961
Label: Argo
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:

  • “A Sunday Kind of Love”
  • “I Just Want to Make Love to You”
  • “At Last”
  • “If I Can’t Have You” (with Harvey Fuqua)

Thoughts: Some time in the mid-1990s, “At Last” suddenly was everywhere – movie soundtracks, commercials, first dances at weddings, inspirational montages for sports teams.  I don’t know what prompted the Etta James “At Last” revival other than it’s a great song.  Listening to the whole album for the first time makes me think that there are a whole lot of Etta James’ songs that also deserve the “At Last” treatment.


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
  • 240. Sam Cooke, Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963
  • 239. Boogie Down Productions, Criminal Minded
  • 238. Kraftwerk, Trans Europe Express
  • 237. Willie Nelson, Red Headed Stranger
  • 236. Daft Punk, Discovery
  • 232. John Coltrane, Giant Steps
  • 229. Patsy Cline, The Ultimate Collection
  • 228. De La Soul, De La Soul Is Dead
  • 227. Little Richard, Here’s Little Richard
  • 226. Derek and the Dominos, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs
  • 223. John Lennon, Imagine
  • 221. Rage Against the Machine, Rage Against the Machine
  • 220. Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, Déjà Vu
  • 215.  Grateful Dead, American Beauty
  • 213. Fiona Apple, The Idler Wheel…
  • 212. Nina Simone, Wild is the Wind
  • 211. Joy Division, Unknown Pleasures
  • 210. Ray Charles, The Birth of Soul
  • 209. Run-DMC, Raising Hell
  • 206. David Bowie, Low
  • 205. Cat Stevens, Tea for the Tillerman
  • 202. Björk, Homogenic
  • 201. A Tribe Called Quest, Midnight Marauders
  • 198. The B-52’s, The B-52’s
  • 197. The Beatles, Meet the Beatles!
  • 195. Leonard Cohen, Songs of Leonard Cohen
  • 193. Creedence Clearwater Revival, Willy and the Poor Boys
  • 192. Beastie Boys, Licensed to Ill
  • 191. Etta James, At Last!