Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 120-111


In September 2020, 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
470-461 370-361 270-261 170-161
460-451 360-351 260-251 160-151
450-441 350-341 250-241 150-141
440-431 340-331 240-231 140-131
430-421 330-321 230-221 130-121
420-411 320-311 220-211
410-401 310-301 210-201

Artist: Van Morrison
AlbumMoondance
Year: 1970
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:

  • “And It Stoned Me”
  • “Moondance”
  • “Crazy Love”
  • “Into the Mystic”
  • “Brand New Day”
  • “Glad Tidings”

Thoughts: I learned from the book Astral Weeks that Van Morrison is a cantankerous asshole.  In recent years he’s even revealed himself as a political reactionary with his angry tirades against government action to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But somehow, this  perpetually angry and self-centered individual expresses himself in some of the most poetic pop music ever created.  Moondance contains a lot of terrific songs and remains my favorite Van Morrison album.


Artist: Sly and the Family Stone
AlbumStand!
Year: 1969
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?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Stand!”
  • “I Want to Take You Higher”
  • “Sing a Simple Song”
  • “Everyday People”

Thoughts: I’m glad the RS 500 gave three slots to Sly and the Family Stone as musically and socially they are one of the most important bands of the Rock era, and aren’t always given their due.  I feel like I’ve coincidentally been hearing the music of Sly of the Family Stone, in movies like Summer of Soul and elsewhere, and the more I learn about the band, the more impressed I get.


Artist: Eagles
Album: Hotel California
Year: 1976
Label: Asylum
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:

  • “Try and Love Again”
  • “The Last Resort

Thoughts: I haven’t always been “the guy who hates the Eagles.” In my high school classic rock phase, I  owned and enjoyed Hotel California.  I listened to it this time hoping there was a forgotten song or two that I would still enjoy all these years later.  It turns out that “Try and Love Again” – a love song and Randy Meisner’s only track on the album – and “The Last Resort” – a preachy but accurate story of human development destroying beautiful wild places – fit the bill.


Artist: Kanye West
Album: Late Registration
Year: 2005
Label: Roc-A-Fella
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Not really
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: No
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Gold Digger”
  • “Diamonds from Sierra Leone (Remix)”

Thoughts: The RS 500 is touring me through the Kanye West discography.  This is the 4th of 6 West albums on the list, and I think I like it best so far.  Kanye sounds more like an ordinary rapper singing over cleverly-produced samples instead of the down-tempo R&B mumbling of his later work. It’s still not going to convert me to being a Kanye West fan.


Artist: The Cure
AlbumDisintegration
Year: 1989
Label: Fiction
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:

  • “Plainsong”
  • “Pictures of You”
  • “Lovesong”
  • “Lullaby”
  • “Prayers for Rain”

Thoughts: My mother had children at a fairly young age and so my sister and I grew up with a mother who enjoyed listening to all the same music we did.  Then sometime around 1989, my mom saw a picture of Robert Smith and said “That man needs a cure!”  Finally we had some music that we could be rebellious with! In the years before the Grunge explosion, The Cure were one of the powerhouses of the left-of-the-dial alternative music scene.  While I never went so far as to get a Cure album, I was pleasantly surprised with how many songs on Disintegration I was familiar with and liked.


Artist: Kendrick Lamar
Album: good kid, m.A.A.d city
Year: 2012
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?: No
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Poetic Justice”
  • “good kid”

Thoughts:  This is the second of three Kendrick Lamar albums on this list.  Since Lamar has only released 4 albums he has a better percentage than Kanye West or really any currently active artists on the list.  Unfortunately, I don’t like this album very much.


Artist: The Strokes
Album: Is This It?
Year: 2001
Label: RCA
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:

  • “The Modern Age”
  • “Someday”
  • “Last Nite”
  • “Hard to Explain”
  • “Take It or Leave It”

Thoughts: Punk finally broke in 1991, and Post-Punk/New Wave broke again in 2001 with bands like The Strokes, Interpol, Franz Ferdinand, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs leading the way.  Honestly, I wasn’t really aware of Is This It?  when it first came out but after hearing “Last Nite” for the umpteenth time in early 2002, I cottoned on to the fact that this song actually wasn’t from the early 1980s.  While not breaking any new ground musically, this was a fun time for rock music and Is This It? remains a great album.


Artist: The Smiths
Album: The Queen Is Dead
Year: 1986
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:

  • “Frankly, Mr. Shankly”
  • “Cemetery Gates”
  • “Bigmouth Strikes Again”
  • “There is a Light That Never Goes Out”

Thoughts: I like how these groupings of ten within the list of the RS 500 provide so many parallels.  Like The Cure, the music of The Smith was a bedrock of moody, black-clad teens in the 1980s.  Like Van Morrison, The Smiths’ lead vocalist Morrisey is known for his self-centered attitude and reactionary politics as much as his introspective and poetic song lyrics.  Being in a band with the likes of guitarist Johnny Marr helped reign in some of Morrisey’s worst musical excesses and lead to one of the great albums of the decade.


Artist: Elton John
Album: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Year: 1973
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?:
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Bennie and the Jets”
  • “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”

Thoughts: Elton John at the peak of his Imperial Period dropped a double album that contained some of his hard-rocking tracks as well as ballads, glam rock, soul, reggae, Beatles-esque harmonies and songs that could be show tunes.  Because everything Elton John touched turned to gold, it was of course a big hit!  Gotta admit that the title track remains one of my favorite tunes.


Artist: Janet Jackson
AlbumControl
Year: 1986
Label: A&M
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:

  • “Nasty”
  • “What Have You Done For Me Lately?”
  • “When I Think of You”

Thoughts:

This album is a statement of independence from Janet Jackson, who is escaping being under the thumb of her father’s management and the shadow of her more successful older brothers.  Not only does Janet (or Ms. Jackson if you’re nasty) take control of her life and career but she innovates a new style of dance pop for the mid-80s.


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
  • 156. The Replacements, Let it Be
  • 155. Jay-Z, The Black Album
  • 154. Aretha Franklin, Amazing Grace
  • 153. PJ Harvey, Rid of Me
  • 150. Bruce Springsteen, Nebraska
  • 149. John Prine, John Prine
  • 148. Frank Ocean, Channel Orange
  • 146. Blondie, Parallel Lines
  • 144. Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti
  • 143. The Velvet Underground, The Velvet Underground
  • 142. Bruce Springsteen, Born in the U.S.A.
  • 141. Pixies, Doolittle
  • 140. Bob Marley and the Wailers, Catch a Fire
  • 139. Black Sabbath, Paranoid
  • 138. Madonna, The Immaculate Collection
  • 137. Adele, 21
  • 136. Funkadelic, Maggot Brain
  • 135. U2, The Joshua Tree
  • 134. Fugees, ‘he Score
  • 132. Hank Williams, 40 Greatest Hits
  • 131. Portishead, Dummy
  • 130. Prince, 1999
  • 127. Ray Charles, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music
  • 125. Beastie Boys, Paul’s Boutique
  • 124. U2, Achtung Baby
  • 123. Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II
  • 122. Nine Inch Nails, The Downward Spiral
  • 121. Elvis Costello, This Year’s Model
  • 120. Van Morrison, Moondance
  • 119. Sly and the Family Stone, Stand!
  • 116. The Cure, Disintegration
  • 114. The Strokes, Is This It
  • 113. The Smiths, The Queen Is Dead
  • 111. Janet Jackson, Control

 

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