Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 170-161


A year ago, 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
480-471 380-371 280-271 180-171
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: Cream
Album: Disraeli Gears
Year: 1967
Label: Reaction
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:

  • “Sunshine of Your Love”
  • “Tales of Brave Ulysses”

Thoughts: Disraeli Gears is always hailed as the big album for Cream, but I much prefer the more straightforward blues approach of their debut Fresh Cream, as well as songs from later in their career like “Badge,” “Crossroads,” “Anyone for Tennis,” and “I’m So Glad.”  But none of that makes the RS 500 list, so I’ll have to admit that “Sunshine of Your Love” and “Tales of Brave Ulysses” are great, if overplayed, tunes.


Artist: Billy Joel
AlbumThe Stranger
Year: 1977
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:

  • “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)”
  • “Just the Way You Are”
  • “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant”
  • “Only the Good Die Young”

Thoughts: The very first album I owned (co-owned with my sister) was Billy Joel’s Glass Houses, which sadly does not make this chart. But early in my Billy Joel fandom I came to the realization that The Stranger is undoubtedly the peak album of his career.  Anyhow, I know it’s fashionable to hate Billy Joel, but I’m glad that Rolling Stone acknowledged his place in rock/pop history.


Artist: Steely Dan
Album: Can’t Buy A Thrill
Year: 1972
Label: ABC
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: none

Thoughts: Despite finding guilty pleasure for “Yacht Rock,” I draw the line at Steely Dan, who I have never, ever liked.  This album turns out to have a number of classic rock radio staples that I didn’t know were by Steely Dan.  I still don’t like them.  I do wonder though, since Billy Joel is someone whose style of music doesn’t fit in with what I typically like, what would’ve happened if I’d been given a Steely Dan record as a child?


Artist: Depeche Mode
Album: Violator
Year: 1990
Label: Sire
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:

  • “World in My Eyes”
  • “Personal Jesus”
  • “Enjoy the Silence”
  • “Policy of Truth”

Thoughts:  Before Nirvana spearheaded the breakthrough of grunge, electronic music/synthpop bands from the U.K. were the dominant force in “alternative music.” Violator was basically a soundtrack to my high school years (as was Erasure’s The Innocents which Rolling Stone has somehow, uh, erased from the greatest albums list).


Artist: Buddy Holly
Album20 Golden Greats
Year: 1978
Label: 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?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “That’ll Be The Day”
  • “Words of Love”
  • “Everyday”
  • “Not Fade Away”
  • “Oh Boy!”
  • “Maybe Baby”
  • “Rave On”

Thoughts: Buddy Holly was one of the great rock & roll pioneers and his tragic death occurred before LP records became an artistic goal of R&R artists, so I’ll excuse the compilation in this case.  Every song on this album is truly a “great” and there’s a stunning number of songs that later great rock artists made their own.


Artist: R.E.M.
Album: Murmur
Year: 1983
Label: I.R.S.
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:

  • “Radio Free Europe”
  • “Pilgrimage”
  • “Talk About the Passion”
  • “Moral Kiosk”
  • “Sitting Still”
  • “We Walk”

Thoughts: There are surprisingly few R.E.M. albums on this list apart from Murmur, their brilliant debut album, and a later album I’ve never liked.  I could make the case for Life’s Rich Pageant, Document, and Green all being on the list, but alas, I’m not a RS500 voter.  At any rate, I can’t imagine what it was like for listeners trying make sense of Murmur in 1983.  It’s too melodic for punk, too folk for New Wave, and too cryptic for pop.  Despite not being of its time, the songs on Murmur have a timeless quality.


Artist: Johnny Cash
AlbumAt Folsom Prison
Year: 1968
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:

  • “Folsom Prison Blues”
  • “I Still Miss Someone”
  • “25 Minutes To Go”
  • “The Long Black Veil”
  • “Flushed From the Bathroom of Your Heart”
  • “Jackson”
  • “Greeen, Green Grass of Home”

Thoughts: Johnny Cash took seriously the teaching of Jesus Christ to visit the prisoner. This album recorded in a prison contains songs about prison, by prisoners, and most importantly, to entertain prisoners.  The enthusiastic response of the audience of imprisoned men complements the perfect performances of these songs by Cash along with June Carter, Carl Perkins, and the Tennessee Three. You can feel the disappointment when the prisoners are dismissed at the end.


Artist: Various Artists
AlbumSaturday Night Fever
Year: 1977
Label: RSO
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?: Just the good songs
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Stayin’ Alive” – The Bee Gees
  • “How Deep Is Your Love?” – The Bee Gees
  • “Night Fever” – The Bee Gees
  • “If I Can’t Have You” – Yvonne Elliman
  • “You Should Be Dancing” – The Bee Gees
  • “Disco Inferno” – The Trammps

Thoughts: Disco does not suck.  The Bee Gees had an imperial period in the 1970s by basically appropriating Black and Latin American dance music.  This album contains many of the Bee Gees greatest disco hits. But I also appreciated that other disco artists like Yvonne Elliman (singing a song penned by the Gibb Brothers) and The Trammps are represented. I’m less impressed by the ponderous instrumental tracks especially the silly tracks like “A Fifth of Beethoven” and “Night on Disco Mountain” which contributed to disco’s bad reputation.


Artist: Pulp
AlbumDifferent Class
Year: 1995
Label: Island
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:

  • “Mis-Shapes”
  • “Common People”
  • “Sorted for E’s & Wizz”

Thoughts: Pulp is another band I missed out on by being oblivious to the whole Britpop phenomenon.  Although that’s not entirely true, because I always liked “Mile End” from the Trainspotting soundtrack and I sort of recognize “Common People” from this album (Actually, I recognize it because of a cover by William Shatner, of all people!).  Anyhow it’s a pretty good album to discover 25 years too late.


Artist: Crosby, Stills & Nash
Album: Crosby, Stills & Nash
Year: 1969
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?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”
  • “Guinnevere”
  • “You Don’t Have to Cry”
  • “Pre-Road Downs”
  • “Long Time Gone”
  • “49 Bye-Byes”

Thoughts: Crosby, Stills & Nash introduced the supergroup and soon pioneered arena rock as well.  This was followed by group in-fighting and a severe decline in musical quality.  But their debut album displays their absolute peak songwriting and gorgeous harmonies.


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
  • 170. Cream, Disraeli Gears
  • 169. Billy Joel, The Stranger
  • 167. Depeche Mode, Violator
  • 166. Buddy Holly, 20 Golden Greats
  • 165. R.E.M., Murmur
  • 164. Johnny Cash, At Folsom Prison
  • 162. Pulp, Different Class
  • 161. Crosby, Stills & Nash, Crosby, Stills, & Nash