Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 370-361


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:


Artist: Lil Wayne
Album: Tha Carter II
Year: 2005
Label: Cash Money/Universal
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: None
Thoughts: Welp, here’s my first time listening to Lil Wayne!  This project is really making me realize how much I’m out of it when it comes to hip hop and rap.  Overall  I found this album a bit dull.  Your mileage may vary.


Artist: Mobb Deep
AlbumThe Infamous
Year: 1995
Label: Loud
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:

  • “Survival of the Fittest”
  • “Give Up the Goods (Just Step)”
  • “Up North Trip”
  • “Trife Life”

Thoughts: I am not familiar with the music of Mobb Deep either, but I like it a whole lot more.  It sounds like the East Coast conscious rap I liked in the 80s, but updated for the mid-90s.  There’s a lot of good beats here too.


Artist: George Harrison
Album: All Things Must Pass
Year: 1970
Label: Apple
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:

  • “Isn’t It A Pity”
  • “What Is Life”
  • “If Not For You”
  • “Beware of Darkness”
  • “Apple Scruffs”
  • “Awaiting On You All”

Thoughts: George Harrison had a lot of songs in him and let them all out on a 3-record collection that was his first post-breakup release.  He had a lot of friends to help him out on what ended up being one of the best of the former Beatles albums from top to bottom.  “What Is Life?” is probably my all-time favorite George song, but you can’t really go wrong on this album.

More thoughts on this album in my The Beatles Go Solo music discovery series.


Artist: Drake
AlbumIf You’re Reading This It’s Too Late
Year: 2015
Label: Cash Money
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:

  • “10 Bands”

Thoughts: Drake is someone whose music I have actually heard before, although not anything from this album. This is Drake eschewing his r&b/soul style for a more straight-up rap album, although it is still very melodic.


Artist: Aerosmith
Album: Rocks
Year: 1976
Label: Columbia
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: Confession: despite being a long-time resident of Boston, I’ve never liked Aerosmith.  I mean as a generic rock band following the paths  previously blazed by the Rollings Stones and Led Zeppelin, they’re fine, but definitely not my thing.  The upside about listening to this album is that it doesn’t contain any of the Aerosmith tracks that have been beaten to death through overplay.  The downside is that I don’t like any of them anyway.


Artist: Madvillain
Album: Madvillainy
Year: 2004
Label: Stones Throw
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: All of them
Thoughts: We’re once again in the territory of groups I’ve never heard of before.  In this case I feel a little be better that Madvillain was an underground, experimental hip hop act that produced only one album.  Madvillain was a collaboration of  MF Doom and Madlib, who I have heard of.  In fact, I reviewed Madlib’s most recent release earlier this year.  Like J. Dilla’s Donuts, this album is a collection of shorter tracks that are more vignettes than typical song structure. It’s something you need to listen to as a whole to fully absorb.


Artist: Talking Heads
AlbumMore Songs About Buildings and Food
Year: 1978
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:

  • “With Our Love”
  • “Warning Sign”
  • “I’m Not In Love”
  • “Stay Hungry”
  • “Take Me To The River”
  • “The Big Country”

Thoughts: This album is early Talking Heads at their weirdest and quirkiest.  And their genre-redefining cover of Al Green’s “Take Me To The River.”  To my knowledge, most of these songs are not about buildings or food.


Artist: Parliament
Album: Mothership Connection
Year: 1975
Label: Casablanca
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:

  • “P-Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up)”
  • “Mothership Connection (Star Child)”
  • “Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker)”

Thoughts:

Parliament are at their space-age funkiest with this science fiction concept album. George Clinton is an interstellar DJ letting the people of earth have the party anthems they want with an underlying social message of defiance against discrimination against Black people and their music.

More thoughts on The Mothership Connection in my P-Funk music discovery series.


Artist: Luther Vandross
AlbumNever Too Much
Year: 1981
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?: No
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Never Too Much”

Thoughts: This was the debut album for Luther Vandross as a solo artists.  I feel like the title track is vaguely familiar, but the rest of the album was completely new to me.  Nevertheless the sound reminds me of the bouncy and super cool soul crooning style of the early 80s.  I feel this album is good but not great.  I know there are some Vandross songs out there that I really like but I’m not going to hear them in this project because this is the only Vandross album on the list.


Artist: My Chemical Romance
AlbumThe Black Parade
Year: 2006
Label:Reprise
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?:
Favorite Tracks: none

Thoughts: We’ll finish out this week’s 10 albus with yet another band that I know nothing about.  I guess I wasn’t listening to emo in the Oughts as well as hip hop. The album sounds like the Smashing Pumpkins doing a musical revue of songs by Electric Light Orchestra and Queen.  Since I like none of those bands, I guess that’s a bad thing.  Your mileage may vary.


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

Podcasts of the Week Ending February 24


Twenty Thousand Hertz :: Emergency Alert System

I’ve always had an fascination for those tests of the Emergency Broadcast System. I taped one off the radio as a kid, I actually did them as a college radio DJ, and about 20 years ago I heard one that was NOT a test (warning for intense thunderstorms, which was both a relief and a bit underwhelming).  Here is the story behind how they work.

Planet Money :: The Blue Pallet

Pallets are ubiquitous, overlooked, and seemingly hard to improve.  This is the story of how CHEP pallets revolutionized the industry.  My wife writes about pallets and her enthusiasm is infectious, so I loved this story.

The Nation – Start Making Sense :: It’s Time to Break Up Amazon

Reporting on the dangers of Amazon’s monopoly powers, as well as how mandatory non-compete agreements have helped corporations keep low-wage workers from getting better jobs.

Slate’s Hit Parade :: The Year Rap Music Broke

1986 is a significant year in rap music history, mainly due to RUN-DMC’s crossover hit “Walk this Way” which inadvertently helped revive the fortunes of the rock band Aerosmith (I was one of the kids who knew RUN-DMC well, but never heard of Aerosmith before their collaboration).  Chris Molanphy tells the story of Def Jam Recordings, founded by Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons, and how in 1986 they unleashed not only RUN-DMC’s hit album Raising Hell, but also Radio by one of rap’s first solo acts with wide appeal, LL Cool J, and Licensed to Ill by the bratty white kids the Beastie Boys.  Molanphy doesn’t end the story in 1986 though, but follows the ongoing careers of all four acts.