Having listened to every album on the Rolling Stone list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, I’m making my own list. This list will be only 250 albums, although I had to make some tough cuts. The list includes a mix of works of musical genius with the pure nostalgia of some albums I’ve loved throughout my life. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts about these albums and what your favorite albums are. I will continue the countdown every other Wednesday throughout 2022.
Artist: The Avalanches
Title: Since I Left You
- Since I Left You
- Two Hearts in 3/4 Time
- Flight Tonight
- Frontier Psychiatrist
The First Time I Heard This Album …: early 2000s
Thoughts: This is by far the best album I serendipitously discovered by randomly checking it out from the library. The Avalanches groundbreaking debut is a masterpiece of “plunderphonics,” dance music, and disco that still sounds fresh today. Also, just watch the totally bonkers “Frontier Psychiatrist” video.
Artist: Marvin Gaye
Title: What’s Going On
- What’s Going On
- Flying High (In the Friendly Sky)
- God is Love
- Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)
The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1990s?
Thoughts: Marvin Gaye’s magnum opus was recognized by Rolling Stone as the number one album of all time in 2020. The song cycle of socially conscious soul and R&B remains (sadly) relevant.
Bonus Sounds: My first encounter with Marvin Gaye was his 1982 album Midnight Love, the last release before his death, which includes the classic “Sexual Healing.”
Title: Emperor Tomato Ketchup
- Metronomic Underground
- Cybele’s Reverie,
- Les Yper-Sound
- The Noise of Carpet
- Emperor Tomato Ketchup
- Anonymous Collective
The First Time I Heard This Album …: circa 2004
Thoughts: A co-worker introduced me to Stereolab and boy howdy, I’m glad he did! This album is a standout collection of a career of catchy and experimental art rock tracks with electronic loops and samples.
Bonus Sounds: My Stereolab Music Discovery has it all.
Artist: The Pogues
Title: Rum, Sodomy and The Lash
- The Old Main Drag
- The Wild Cats of Kilkenny
- I’m A Man You Don’t Meet Every Day
- A Pair of Brown Eyes
- Sally MacLennane
- Dirty Old Town
- The Band Played Waltzing Matilda
The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1991
Thoughts: The Pogues at the their most musically raw, albeit produced by Elvis Costello, while performing story songs that get at the aching heart of humanity. The album also features bassist Cait O’Riordan’s only lead vocal on “I’m A Man You Don’t Meet Every Day.”
Bonus Sounds: The Pogues peaked in the mid-to-late 80s but Peace and Love (1989), Hell’s Ditch (1990), and even Pogue Mahone (1996) have some good tracks.
Artist: The Stone Roses
Title: The Stone Roses
- I Wanna Be Adored
- She Bangs the Drums
- (Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister
- Shoot You Down
- I Am the Resurrection
The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1990
Thoughts: One of the first “alternative” albums I listened to after going through my high school Classic Rock phase. The psychedelic sound drew me in and the chiming guitars, harmonies, and anthemic song structure keeps me listening.
Bonus Sounds: The Stone Roses released only one other album that wasn’t as good as their debut, but there’s a lot of good music to be found from the late 80s/early 90s Madchester sound by bands such as Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets, the Charlatans, and James.
Title: OK Computer
- Paranoid Android
- Exit Music (For a Film)
- Let Down
- Karma Police
- No Surprises
The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2003
Thoughts: I was late to this album but it quickly became an all time favorite and Radiohead one of my favorite bands of the Nineties and Oughts.
Title: Lifes Rich Pageant
- Begin the Begin
- Fall On Me
- Underneath the Bunker
- The Flowers of Guatemala
- I Believe
- Swan Swan H
The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1989
Thoughts: R.E.M. at the peak of their “College Rock” sound before moving onto different styles and greater commercial success. The vocals are clearer for ever which is important because the lyrics are more topical and political. But the strengths are still melodies and jangling guitars.
Bonus Sounds: R.E.M.’s run of Chronic Town E.P (1982), Murmur (1983), Reckoning (1984), Fables of the Reconstruction (1985), Lifes Rich Pageant (1986), Document (1987), and Green (1988) remains one of the great opening strings of any band (and, hey, some people think their early 90s albums are good too).
Title : Homogenic
- 5 Years
- All is Full of Love
The First Time I Heard This Album …: late 90s
Thoughts: Björk’s third album is the peak of her most accessible period despite it being undoubtedly strange art rock made danceable with electronic sounds.
Bonus Sounds: My favorite Björk albums are her 90s releases Debut (1993), Post (1995), and Homogenic (1997), but she continues to make extremely creative and artistic music including this year’s Fossora.
Artist: Prince and The Revolution
Title: Purple Rain
- Let’s Go Crazy
- Computer Blue
- When Doves Cry
- I Would Die 4 U
- Purple Rain
The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1984
Thoughts: Prince rose to be the biggest thing in the world with a hit movie and a hit soundtrack that contains some his most memorable songs. I remember listening to this as a kid and being creeped out by the backmasking on “Darling Nikki.” But a lot of the rest of the album was a lot of fun and these songs remain my soundtrack of the Summer of 1984.
Bonus Sounds: OK, I’m going to make the announcement here, because there is so much of Prince’s music I haven’t even heard: in 2023 I plan to listen to every album Prince and his various band’s and projects ever released. Watch this space for the full reviews.
Title: Truth and Soul
- Freddie’s Dead
- Ma & Pa
- Deep Inside
- Bonin’ in the Boneyard
- One Day
- Subliminal Fascism
- Ghetto Soundwave
The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1991
Thoughts: This ska/funk/hardcore/et al band performed at the first “real” concert I ever attended in 1991. This album is the strongest and most cohesive album Fishbone ever released. It mixes a strong social message with a fun party vibe.
Bonus Sounds: Fishbone (1985), In Your Face (1986), and The Reality of My Surroundings (1991) are all great. After that, they got a bit too weird.