Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 50-41


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:

500-491 400-381 300-291 200-191 100-91
490-481 390-381 290-281 190-181 90-81
480-471 380-371 280-271 180-171 80-71
470-461 370-361 270-261 170-161 70-61
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
420-411 320-311 220-211 120-111
410-401 310-301 210-201 110-101

Artist: Jay-Z
AlbumThe Blueprint
Year: 2001
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?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “The Ruler’s Back”
  • “Takeover”
  • “Hola’ Hovito”
  • “Heart of the City (Ain’t No Love)”
  • “Never Change”

Thoughts: This album is full of bops (that’s what the kids say these days, right?).  If you’ve been reading this series you are well aware that I hadn’t listened to much Jay-Z before I started this experiment.  But this album is clearly great, even if it took me 20 years to listen to it.  Of course, it helps that the samples come from classic R&B artists like Bobby Byrd,  Bobby Blue Bland, and David Ruffin.


Artist: Outkast
Album: Aquemini
Year: 1998
Label: LaFace
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:

  • “Rosa Parks”
  • “Synthesizer” (featuring George Clinton)
  • “Mamacita”
  • “SpottieOttieDopaliscious”
  • “Chonkyfire”

Thoughts: This Outkast album, on the other hand, is okay, but I don’t like it as much as Stankonia, but it has it’s high points.  Bonus points for a member of an Atlanta-based outfit wearing a Mets jacket in the video.


Artist: Bob Marley and The Wailers
Album: Legend
Year: 1984
Label: Island
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:

  • All of them!

Thoughts: This is the highest-ranking compilation/greatest hits album on the RS500, and for once I won’t argue with the selection.  When I was in college, Legend was one of two albums that almost every student had in their collections regardless of their taste in music. (The other one was Squeeze’s Singles 45’s and Under, which was slighted by Rolling Stone). The legacy of Legend endures in that at the time I’m writing this, it is ranked #98 on the Billboard 200, 37 years after it’s release.  I suspect I could still find this in college students’ music collections to this day.


 

Artist: Ramones
AlbumRamones
Year: 1976
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:

  • “Blitzkrieg Bop”
  • “Beat on the Brat”
  • “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue”
  • “53rd & 3rd”
  • “Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World”

Thoughts: The Ramones debut album is 14 tracks of pure raging pop music in 30 minutes!  I’m a little sad that the Ramones only made it on this list twice, but loving what I’m hearing.


Artist: Paul Simon
AlbumGraceland
Year: 1986
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:

  • “The Boy in the Bubble”
  • “Graceland”
  • “I Know What I Know” (with General MD Shirinda and The Gaza Sisters)
  • “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes” (with Ladysmith Black Mambazo)
  • “You Can Call Me Al”
  • “Homeless” (with Ladysmith Black Mambazo)

Thoughts: Graceland had an effect on my life as it prompted a lifelong interest in what is awkwardly called “world music.” Musically, the songs on this album sounded nothing like the popular music of the 80s.  And it was a fresh sound for an artist whose songs from the 60s & 70s were already being played on Oldies stations.  The album is marred by the fact that Paul Simon is a documented asshole who allegedly stole the credit for some of these songs from his collaborators.  But clearly he stole from the best!


Artist: Prince
Album: Sign O’ the Times
Year: 1987
Label: Paisley Park/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:

  • “Sign o’ the Times”
  • “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker”
  • “Starfish and Coffee”
  • “Slow Love”
  • “Hot Thing”
  • “U Got the Look” (feat. Sheena Easton)
  • “If I Was Your Girlfriend”
  • “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man”
  • “It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night”

Thoughts: Prince was so prolific in the mid-to-late 1980s that almost seems unfair that he was still able to put out a double album that is uniformly excellent with songs representing a variety of musical genres from rock to funk to soul to dance pop, and beyond.  I also love that song with the lyric “boy versus girl in the World Series of Love” was a hit in the same year that Prince’s hometown team, the Minnesota Twins, won the World Series of Baseball.


Artist:  Nas
AlbumIllmatic
Year: 1994
Label: Columbia
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:

  • “N.Y. State of Mind”
  • “The World Is Yours”
  • “Halftime”
  • “It Ain’t Hard To Tell”

Thoughts: Another brilliant album that I missed the first time around.  Hip hop can be a lot of things but Illmatic is kind of like the Platonic ideal of hip hop against which all else is measured.


Artist: A Tribe Called Quest
Album: The Low End Theory
Year: 1991
Label: Jive
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:

  • “Verses from the Abstract”
  • “Show Business”
  • “Vibes and Stuff”
  • “Check the Rime”
  • “Jazz (We Got)”
  • “Scenario”

Thoughts: Jazz was the first widespread African American popular music but by the end of the 20th century it had been elevated to art music.  A Tribe Called Quest used hip hop, the newest African American popular music, to revive jazz.  I remember this album being big when I was in my first year at college and I’m kicking myself for not getting my own copy, but albums were expensive, and I made some poor choices regarding which ones to acquire or not.


Artist: Radiohead
AlbumOK Computer
Year: 1997
Label: Capitol
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:

  • “Paranoid Android”
  • “Exit Music (For a Film)”
  • “Let Down”
  • “Karma Police”
  • “No Surprises”

Thoughts: I came to Radiohead a little bit late, at the time they released Hail to the Thief (an underrated album, imo) in 2003, but quickly made sure to get their earlier works, which weren’t all too old at the time.  OK Computer was and is the best, so I’m not surprised to see it ranked so highly on the RS 500.


Artist: Rolling Stones
AlbumLet It Bleed
Year: 1969
Label: ABKCO
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:

  • “Gimme Shelter”
  • “Let It Bleed”
  • “Midnight Rambler”
  • “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”

Thoughts: The artistic peak for Rolling Stones came with a string of four albums released from 1968 to 1972.  Let it Bleed was the second of these four albums, and probably my least favorite, but it is nevertheless a terrific Blues rock collection.  The Stones are lyrically grim and bawdy, which makes the album a bit unsettling but the songs are also reflective of the time.


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
  • 109. Lou Reed, Transformer
  • 108. Fiona Apple, When the Pawn …
  • 107. Television, Marquee Moon
  • 104. The Rolling Stones, Sticky Fingers
  • 103. De La Soul, Three Feet High And Rising
  • 102. The Clash, The Clash
  • 101. Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin
  • 99. Taylor Swift, Red
  • 98. Lucinda Williams, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road
  • 94. The Stooges, Fun House
  • 92. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Axis: Bold as Love
  • 88. David Bowie, Hunky Dory
  • 87. Miles Davis, Bitches Brew
  • 86. The Doors, The Doors
  • 85. John Lennon, Plastic Ono Band
  • 84. AC/DC, Back in Black
  • 83. Dusty Springfield, Dusty in Memphis
  • 82. Sly and the Family Stone, There’s a Riot Goin’ On
  • 81. Beyoncé, Beyoncé
  • 80. The Sex Pistols, Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s the Sex Pistols
  • 78. Elvis Presley, The Sun Sessions
  • 77. The Who, Who’s Next
  • 76. Curtis Mayfield, Superfly
  • 75. Aretha Franklin, Lady Soul
  • 73. My Bloody Valentine, Loveless
  • 71. Bob Marley and the Wailers, Exodus
  • 68. Kate Bush, Hounds of Love
  • 66. John Coltrane, A Love Supreme
  • 65. James Brown, Live at the Apollo
  • 64. OutKast, Stankonia
  • 61. Eric B. and Rakim, Paid in Full
  • 60. Van Morrison, Astral Weeks
  • 59. Stevie Wonder, Talking Book
  • 58. Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin IV 
  • 56. Liz Phair, Exile in Guyville
  • 54. James Brown, Star Time
  • 53. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Electric Ladyland
  • 52. David Bowie, Station to Station
  • 51. Chuck Berry, The Great Twenty-Eight
  • 50. Jay-Z, The Blueprint
  • 49. OutKast, Aquemini
  • 48. Bob Marley and the Wailers, Legend
  • 47. Ramones, Ramones
  • 46. Paul Simon, Graceland
  • 45. Prince, Sign O’ the Times
  • 44. Nas, Illmatic
  • 43. A Tribe Called Quest, The Low End Theory
  • 42. Radiohead, OK Computer
  • 41. The Rolling Stones, Let It Bleed

 

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