Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 180-171

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:

500-491 400-381 300-291 200-191
490-481 390-381 290-281 190-181
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: Love
Album: Forever Changes
Year: 1967
Label: Elektra
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:

  • “Alone Again Or”

Thoughts: This is one of those bands I thought I knew absolutely nothing about.  But the opening track – “Alone Again Or” – seems extremely familiar.  According to Wikipedia, it was used in a key scene in the tv series Russian Doll, but I expect I’ve heard it elsewhere.  It oddly sounds like something by an indie band from 20 years ago than from 1967. Other tracks on the album have that baroque pop and psychedelic feel more common to the era. In fact, the album could be the cast recording of a late 60s Broadway musical from an alternate universe.

Artist: Notorious B.I.G
Album: Life After Death
Year: 1997
Label: Bad Boy
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:

  • “Hypnotize”
  • “Ten Crack Commandments”

Thoughts: In 2004, I visited England with my friend Anthony. On our last night in London, we decided to just board the next bus that came by and see where it went.  On the upper deck, a group of young men were blasting music from a boom box.  A group of young women sat in the front row dancing in front of the window.  Anthony, being the more talkative of the two of us, struck up a conversation with the double-decker DJs.  When they learned that we were American they insisted on playing Biggie Smalls in our honor.  No matter our country’s flaws, I always appreciate that American music is loved around the world.  Granted my experience as an American is very different from that of Christopher Wallace. The album captures a world where worldly possessions and pleasures must be enjoyed while you can and where rap beefs turn deadly.  The guests artists on this album are also an all-star team of 90s hip hop.

Artist: Otis Redding
Album: Otis Blue
Year: 1965
Label: Volt
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:

  • “Ole Man Trouble”
  • “Respect”
  • “A Change Is Gonna Come”
  • “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)”
  • “Shake”
  • “Rock Me Baby”
  • “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”
  • “You Don’t Miss Your Water”

Thoughts: Otis Blue has so many great songs on it that it could be mistaken for a greatest hits collection.  Otis Redding originals like “Respect” (later to become Aretha Franklin’s signature tune) and “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” are mixed with covers of “A Change Is Gonna Come” and two other Sam Cooke songs, The Temptations’ “My Girl,” and a version of “Satisfaction” that Keith Richards found to be an improvement on his own.  Through Otis Redding’s skills as an interpreter of songs, Otis Blue is basically a compendium of mid-60s soul music.

Artist: Rod Stewart
Album: Every Picture Tells a Story
Year: 1971
Label: Mercury
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:

  • “Every Picture Tells a Story”
  • “Tomorrow is a Long Time”
  • “(I Know) I’m Losing You”

Thoughts: When I was a kid, one of the signs of summer was a new hit song from Rod Stewart.  From the late 70s to mid-80s, Stewart followed the trends from disco to New Wave to overproduced r&b, and those songs always seemed to be playing on the radio as we drove to the pool or the amusement park.  Anyhow, this album is from much earlier in Stewart’s career and contain the type of songs that I didn’t hear until listening to classic rock radio in the late 80s. Ever the chameleon, the early version of Stewart performs bluesy roots rock.  Having never been all too impressed by Rod Stewart, I’m surprised that I like this album a lot more than I expected.

Artist: Public Enemy
AlbumFear of a Black Planet
Year: 1990
Label: Def Jam/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:

  • “Brothers Gonna Work It Out”
  • “911 Is A Joke”
  • “Welcome To The Terrordome”
  • “Fear Of A Black Planet”
  • “Revolutionary Generation”
  • “Fight the Power”

Thoughts: I received a copy of this tape for Christmas in 1990.  In the summer of that year I first heard and been awed by the “wall of sound” behind “Welcome to the Terrordome” which I still think of one of the greatest works of production and rap performance.  Then there’s “911 Is A Joke” which anticipated a widespread Defund the Police movement by only a few decades. The album closes with the ultimate anthem, “Fight the Power,” from the 1989’s Do the Right Thing.

Note: while I typically try to share a song from the album, this remake of “Welcome to the Terrordome” accompanied by electric guitars is too awesome not to post.

Artist: Kendrick Lamar
Album: DAMN
Year: 2017
Label: TDE
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?: I feel I ought to, even though I didn’t love it
Favorite Tracks:

  • “DNA.”
  • “LOVE.”
  • “XXX.”

Thoughts: You will no doubt not be surprised that like most hip hop artists from the last 30 years, I have not listened to Kendrick Lamar before.  I liked the concept behind this album where Lamar reflects on his desires to do good and bad, his relationship with God, his success, sex, and his fears all in the shadow of Trump’s election to President.  The single word titles work well as jumping off points.  And the tracks have some great beats!

Artist: Jimmy Cliff and Various Artists
Album: The Harder They Come: Original Soundtrack
Year: 1972
Label: Mango
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 Can Get It If You Really Want” – Jimmy Cliff
  • “Rivers of Babylon” – The Melodians
  • “The Harder They Come” – Jimmy Cliff
  • “007 (Shanty Town)” – Desmond Dekker
  • “Pressure Drop” – Toots & the Maytals
  • “Sitting in Limbo” – Jimmy Cliff

Thoughts: Was there really a time when reggae was unknown in the United States? I guess this soundtrack album made it hard to ignore.  While I’d never before listened to this album end to end, the songs it contains are so iconic that I’d heard them all many times before.  Half of the tracks are some of the best work of Jimmy Cliff while “various artists” including the legendary Toots and the Maytals and Desmond Dekker fill out the rest of the album.

Artist: Nirvana
Album: In Utero
Year: 1993
Label: Geffen
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:

  • “Heart-Shaped Box”
  • “Rape Me”
  • “Dumb”
  • “Pennyroyal Tea”
  • “All Apologies”

Thoughts: I never disliked Nirvana but I also wasn’t a big fan during the band’s short but brilliant career, despite the fact that it coincided with my college years.  Still, listening to this music now it’s hard not to hear the soundtrack of my generation.  And yet these songs also have a timeless quality to them, not unlike a lot of the Beatles’ best work.  Over the years I’ve grown to appreciate Kurt Cobain and Nirvana a lot more than I did at the time.

Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
Album: Bridge Over Troubled Water
Year: 1970
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:

  • “Bridge Over Troubled Water”
  • “Cecelia”
  • “The Boxer”
  • “The Only Living Boy in New York”

Thoughts: Simon & Garfunkel went out with a bang, their final studio album packed with hits.  This includes the title track which has become something of a standard of popular music.  There’s quite a variety of styles on this album too, with “El Condor Pasa” and “Cecelia” showing the beginnings of Paul Simon’s “World Beat” fusion.  Then there is “The Only Living Boy in New York” which is among my favorite songs of all time.

Artist: Sonic Youth
Album: Daydream Nation
Year: 1988
Label: Enigma
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:

  • “Teen Age Riot”
  • “Total Trash”
  • “Providence”
  • “Candle”
  • “Kissability”

Thoughts: Sonic Youth is a band that was discussed among the DJs at my college radio station and the other cool kids, but they’re yet another band that I didn’t get around to listening to at the time.  It’s a shame because this is music that I’d like to have memories of instead of coming to it later in life.

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!
  • 190. The Who, Tommy
  • 189. Sleater-Kinney, Dig Me Out
  • 185. The Rolling Stones, Beggars Banquet
  • 184. Cyndi Lauper, She’s So Unusual
  • 181. Bob Dylan, Bringing It All Back Home
  • 178. Otis Redding, Otis Blue
  • 177. Rod Stewart, Every Picture Tells a Story
  • 176. Public Enemy, Fear of a Black Planet
  • 175. Kendrick Lamar, DAMN.
  • 174. Jimmy Cliff and Various Artists, The Harder They Come: Original Soundtrack
  • 173. Nirvana, In Utero
  • 172. Simon and Garfunkel, Bridge Over Troubled Water
  • 171. Sonic Youth, Daydream Nation