Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 190-181


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:

500-491 400-381 300-291 200-191
490-481 390-381 290-281
480-471 380-371 280-271
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: The Who
AlbumTommy
Year: 1969
Label: Decca
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: Maybe
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Sparks”
  • “Christmas”
  • “Pinball Wizard”
  • “Go to the Mirror!”
  • “We’re Not Gonna Take It”

Thoughts: I’ve always had trouble getting into The Who, which I feel bad about because I can tell that they’re a good band. Long, long ago I read Pete Townshend’s description of the rock opera, and I thought it sounded silly.  Well, finally listening to the whole thing I’ve grown to appreciate the storytelling and the variety of musical styles that accompaniment.  I may be on the way to becoming a Who fan after all.


Artist: Sleater-Kinney
AlbumDig Me Out
Year: 1997
Label: Kill Rock Stars
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:

  • “Dig Me Out”
  • “Words and Guitar”
  • “Little Babies”
  • “Buy Her Candy”

Thoughts: One of the great alternative rock albums of the 1990s and it only sounds better over time.


Artist: T. Rex
Album: Electric Warrior
Year: 1971
Label: Reprise
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:

  • “Monolith”
  • “Bang A Gong (Get It On)”

Thoughts: Confession: I love “Bang A Gong (Get It On).”  By the 1980s supergroup The Power Station.  But the original version is good too.


Artist: Ice Cube
Album: AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted
Year: 1990
Label: Priority
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:

  • “AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted”
  • “Endangered Species (Tales from the Darkside)” (featuring Chuck D)

Thoughts: The misogynist lyrics on this album are hard to get past, but Ice Cube’s flow and the expert production of The Bomb Squad make this album great to listen to. It’s definitely a transition album from the Old School rap of the 80s to the Gangsta Rap of the 90s filtered through the socially-conscious rap of Public Enemy.


Artist: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Album: Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Year: 1991
Label: Warner Bros.
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:

  • “Under the Bridge”
  • “Naked in the Rain”

Thoughts: I’ve never had strong feelings for the Chili Peppers.  I like some of their early stuff and I always liked Flea’s bass playing. This album seems to mark their transition into a band that’s just kind of boring.  The 17 tracks on this bloated album certainly emphasize the sameness of their music.  I remember liking “Under the Bridge” for a while before overexposure killed it for me.


Artist: The Rolling Stones
Album: Beggars Banquet
Year: 1968
Label: Decca
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:

  • “Sympathy for the Devil”
  • “No Expectations”
  • “Parachute Woman”
  • “Street Fighting Man”
  • “Prodigal Son”
  • “Factory Girl”
  • “Salt of the Earth”

Thoughts:  This is probably my favorite Rolling Stones album.  The band is doing what they do best, recreating Blues Rock and incorporating other Americana.  I know some of the Stones ended up getting houses in the United States, but I’m not sure how much time they’d spent America before they made this album.  Nevertheless they seemed to have a greater appreciation for American roots music than a lot of Americans at the time.  This is also the Stones at their most political, with songs like “Street Fighting Man” and “Salt of the Earth.”


Artist: Cyndi Lauper
AlbumShe’s So Unusual
Year: 1983
Label: Portrait
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: I think so, my sister had the album.
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”
  • “When You Were Mine”
  • “Time After Time”
  • “She Bop”
  • “Yeah Yeah”

Thoughts: I did not appreciate Cyndi Lauper enough when she her debut album came out, but I’m glad to revisit this gem from my childhood.  I’m actually impressed at how many of these songs were released as singles.  Doubly impressed that Lauper was able to get a masturbation anthem played on the radio in Reagan’s America.


Artist: D’Angelo
Album: Brown Sugar
Year: 1995
Label: EMI
Have I Listened to This Album Before?:
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?:
Would I Listen to this Album Again?:
Favorite Tracks: None

Thoughts: I hadn’t heard of D’Angelo before another one of his albums appeared earlier in this chart.  Now that we’ve reached the appearance of his debut album on the RS 500, I know that I’ve been ignorant of D’Angelo for 26 years. This is probably because this type of music is Not My Thing, but I’m sure it’s great for those who like it.  As an aside, there’s a recurring riff in some of these songs that makes me think of the McDonald’s jingle.


Artist: James Taylor
Album: Sweet Baby James
Year: 1970
Label: Warner Bros.
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:

  • “Sweet Baby James”
  • “Fire and Rain”

Thoughts: I’ve always had mixed feelings for James Taylor.  On the one hand, he’s an exemplar of the soft rock sound I don’t like.  On the other hand he’s written some incredibly beautiful tunes with moving lyrics.  This album is fine, but I think I’ll stick with his greatest hits.


Artist: Bob Dylan
Album: Bringing It All Back Home
Year: 1965
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?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Subterranean Homesick Blues”
  • “Maggie’s Farm”
  • “On the Road Again”
  • “Mr. Tambourine Man”
  • “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”

Thoughts: Dylan goes electric with the backing of a rock & roll band on the first side of this album (although there are some supposedly electric tracks where I don’t hear electric guitars).  This is almost a greatest hits album for Dylan since it contains songs I love in their cover versions like “Maggie’s Farm” and “Mr. Tambourine Man” (by The Specials and The Byrds respectively) and some of the best songs performed by Bob himself, “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding).”


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

 

Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 260-251


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:

500-491 400-381 300-291
490-481 390-381 290-281
480-471 380-371 280-271
470-461 370-361 270-261
460-451 360-351
450-441 350-341
440-431 340-331
430-421 330-321
420-411 320-311
410-401 310-301

THIS WEEK WE ARE HALFWAY THROUGH THE LIST!!!


Artist: The Slits
AlbumCut
Year: 1979
Label: Antilles
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:

  • “So Tough”
  • “Ping Pong Affair”
  • “Typical Girls”

Thoughts: I was aware of The Slits as band adjacent to The Clash.  I should have known better because they are an awesome punk band on their own and this album totally rocks.


Artist: Janis Joplin
AlbumPearl
Year: 1971
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?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Move Over”
  • “Cry Baby”
  • “Mercedes Benz”

Thoughts: Janis Joplin’s final solo album before her death is an excellent collection that showcases her unique voice.  I’ve never liked her most famous song, “Me and Bobby McGee,” all that much, but the rest of the album is excellent.  Peeking ahead on the list, we’ll hear Janis’ voice again on a Big Brother and the Holding Company album.


Artist: Joni Mitchell
AlbumThe Hissing of Summer Lawns
Year: 1975
Label: Asylum
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:

  • “Shadows and Light”

Thoughts: There are some interesting jazz and African fusion influences on this album, but Mitchell’s pieces are still dominated by her slow-tempo, acoustic guitar and voice approach that’s never done much for me.


Artist: Dolly Parton
AlbumCoat of Many Colors
Year: 1971
Label: RCA
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:

  • “Coat of Many Colors”
  • “The Mystery of the Mystery”
  • “Here I Am”

Thoughts: The more I learn about Dolly the more I love her.  This album features songs of family and faith, with a mix of gospel and old-time music informing her contemporary country style.


Artist: Tracy Chapman
Album: Tracy Chapman
Year: 1988
Label: Elektra
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:

  • “Talkin’ Bout a Revolution”
  • “Fast Car”
  • “Behind the Wall”
  • “Baby I Can Hold You”
  • “Mountains O’ Things”

Thoughts: I don’t know what is a bigger surprise.  That a Black woman singing heartfelt folk songs about the political and personal managed to be become such a huge hit at the tail end of the Reagan Era.  Or that in 2021, Chapman is no longer a big star and hasn’t released a new studio album since 2008.  This album is incredible though, every song seems like it should go on a greatest hits album.


Artist: Bob Dylan
Album: The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan
Year: 1963
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?: No
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Blowin’ in the Wind”
  • “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”

Thoughts:  This album catches Bob Dylan at the peak of his first incarnation as an earnest Woody Guthrie/Pete Seeger acoustic folk singer-songwriter before he went on to revolutionize rock & roll and every other one of the different lives he’s lead.  I think I like this era of Dylan the best (which probably says more about my tastes than him), and the lyrics of his songs remain sadly relevant.


Artist: Herbie Hancock
AlbumHead Hunters
Year: 1973
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:

  • “Chameleon”

Thoughts: I was aware of Herbie Hancock as a jazz great, but my knowledge of his music begins and ends with his 1983 hit “Rockit.” Just as is “Rockit” incorporates hip hop and electronic music into a jazz paradigm, Head Hunters fuses jazz with funk.  There are only four tracks on the album but they’re all really good.


Artist: Pink Floyd
Album: The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
Year: 1967
Label: EMI/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?: No
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Lucifer Sam”
  • “Interstellar Overdrive”

Thoughts: This album is fun because it is interesting to hear a band that is known for their 70s & 80s prog rock sound working in an entirely different genre of psychedelic rock.  That’s not to say that I particularly like this early version of Pink Floyd, they seem derivative of better psychedelic rockers of the era, but it is a curiousity.


Artist: Devo
Album: Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!
Year: 1978
Label: Warner Bros.
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:

  • “Uncontrollable Urge”
  • “Space Junk”
  • “Mongoloid”
  • “Gut Feeling (Slap Your Mammy)”

Thoughts:  I know Devo mainly from their “hits” but I was pleasantly surprised that this album is an extremely solid collection of punk/new wave tracks.  Plus, the album cover with an altered image of Chi-Chi Rodriguez is an all-time classic.


Artist: Elton John
Album: Honky Château
Year: 1972
Label: Uni
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:

  • “Rocket Man”
  • “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters”

Thoughts: Elton John recorded a whole lot of great songs, songs that tell stories with clever lyrics accompanied by strong piano arrangements.  Especially in the 70s.  This album includes one of my all-time favorite Elton John songs, “Rocket Man.”  But I still think of him as more of a singles artist than an album artist.  Just a whole lot of great singles.


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!

 

Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 340-331


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: Snoop Dogg
Album: Doggystyle
Year: 1993
Label: Death Row/Interscope
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:

  • “Murder Was the Case” (featuring Dat Nigga Daz)
  • “Who Am I? (What’s My Name?)”

Thoughts: This album is lyrically crude, but I do like the grooves.  Snoop Dogg openly acknowledges his predecessors like George Clinton and PFunk and Slick Rick.  As someone who is still ignorant of 90s hip hop, I’m mostly surprised that this album seems to be source of all the vocabulary still used by white dudebros online to this day!


Artist: Janet Jackson
Album: Rhythm Nation 1814
Year: 1989
Label: A&M
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:

  • “Rhythm Nation”
  • “Miss You Much”
  • “Black Cat”

Thoughts:Rhythm Nation 1814 completed the transition of Janet Jackson from the “little sister” to (imho) the most creative and talented of all the Jackson family members.  The earnestness of the lyrics addressing social injustices by “coming together” seem a little bit silly, but it’s also unsettling that the issues addressed on this album are still relevant 32 years later.


Artist: Brian Eno
Album: Another Green World
Year: 1975
Label: Island
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Almost entirely through music Eno has worked on as a producer
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • Kind of like the whole thing, but the instrumentals are better than the songs with vocals.

Thoughts: Brian Eno is one of those people constantly name checked by music nerds. I never gave much thought to what music he’d make when not producing other people’s work.  Turns out it is pretty good.  But I tend to like ambient music, at least as something to lose oneself in.  Bonus fact:  Phil Collins plays the drums!


Artist: Bob Dylan
Album: John Wesley Harding
Year: 1967
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?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “As I Went Out One Morning”
  • “All Along the Watchtower”
  • “I’ll  Be Your Baby Tonight”

Thoughts: Speaking of artists who music nerds love to name drop.  Open the Dylan hose, because there are two of his albums to discuss this week.  The album is a collection of acoustic folk tunes with minimal instrumentation, a return to this style for Dylan who had spent several years recording Blues-inflected music with electric instruments.  Dylan’s voice is less strained and nasally than I’ve typically heard him and actually pleasant to listen to.  I think I’ve finally heard a Dylan album where I get the hype.


Artist: Roxy Music
Album: Avalon
Year: 1982
Label: E.G./Warner Bros.
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: “Avalon” is the one song by Roxy Music I really know from repetitive play on Rock and then Classic Rock radio since the 1980s.  It turns out that I am also familiar with “More Than This” for similar reasons.  The band’s final album is largely an adult contemporary snooze although they sound vaguely like contemporaneous Talking Heads on “The Main Thing.”


Artist: Bob Dylan and the Band
Album: The Basement Tapes
Year: 1975
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?: Yes
Favorite Tracks: Kind of enjoyed the general vibe more than any individual songs.
Thoughts: As a Dylan skeptic, I’m finding myself surprised to be enjoying two different Dylan albums in the same post.  Much of this album was recorded in rural New York in 1967 while Dylan was recovering from a serious motorcycle crash, with some additional tracks recorded by The Band in ensuing years.  It was released in 1975 and since it was never intended to be an album it naturally doesn’t really cohere as an album.  Nevertheless, there’s an underlying relaxed and experimental feel to all the songs that dive into genres ranging from folk rock and Americana to rockabilly and country.


Artist: Santana
Album: Abraxas
Year: 1970
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?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen”
  • “Oye Como Va”
  • “Mother’s Daughter”
  • “Hope You’re Feeling Better”

Thoughts: I was familiar with the two hits – “Black Magic Woman” and “Oye Como Va” – which I learned from the Rolling Stone synopsis are both cover songs from very different sources.  It was great to listen to this album and hear the fusion of so many different styles – Afro-Latin, soul, psychedelia, Blues, etc. – all harmonizing together.


Artist: Bill Withers
AlbumStill Bill
Year: 1972
Label: Sussex
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:

  • “Who Is He (And What Is He to You)?”
  • “Use Me”
  • “Lean on Me”
  • “Kissing My Love”

Thoughts: I like Bill Withers but I’ve only listened to his greatest hits.  So I’d like to credit the RS500 for listing an original Withers studio album instead of a compilation as they are wont to do, especially with soul & R&B artists.  Of course, every song on this album sounds great so it may as well be a greatest hits compilation.


Artist: Elvis Presley
Album: Elvis Presley
Year: 1956
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:

  • “Blue Suede Shoes”
  • “I Got a Woman”
  • “I’ll Never Let You Go (Litle Darlin’)”
  • “Blue Moon”
  • “Money Honey”

Thoughts: Elvis the Celebrity, Elvis the Icon, Elvis the Self-Parody, and Elvis the Tragedy are often more than enough to overshadow Elvis the Great Rock and Roll Performer.  Listening to this debut album when I was younger was a revelation because up to that point I mainly knew Elvis as an eccentric guy who inspired battalions of Elvis impersonators. Albums were unusual for rock and roll artists at the time, and even more unusually the entire album was released as single (making it a compilation in reverse).  Sadly the contemporaneous hit single “Heartbreak Hotel” was left off the album which would have pushed this album to another level.


Artist: Madonna
Album: Like a Prayer
Year: 1989
Label: Sire
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:

  • “Express Yourself”
  • “Love Song” (with Prince)
  • “Keep It Together”

Thoughts: I was never big on Madonna’s music but I can’t deny her talent.  Not only did she have a keen ear for adapting musical trends at just the right time but from a business perspective she redefined what was possible for a woman artist taking control of her own career.  This album caps off Madonna’s domination of 1980’s pop (alongside Michael Jackson) and it right in the middle of her imperial period.  I tend to like Madonna’s earlier work the best so I was surprised when I peaked ahead at the RS500 rankings and saw that this was the earliest album release by Madonna to make the list. By the way, I never knew that Madonna and Prince collaborated.  Why wasn’t “Love Song” a bigger deal?


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

Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 420-411


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: Earth, Wind and Fire
AlbumThat’s the Way of the World
Year: 1975
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:

  • “Shining Star”
  • “That’s the Way of the World”
  • “Africano”

Thoughts: There are some great tracks on this Earth, Wind, & Fire album, including the magnificent and funky “Shining Star.”  But it also has a few tracks that sound like hippie souljazz, for lack of a better term.  I like Earth, Wind, & Fire well enough but I think I will stick to their hits.


Artist: Eric Church
AlbumChief
Year: 2011
Label: EMI Nashville
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: I’ve never even heard of this artist before
Would I Listen to this Album Again?:
Favorite Tracks: None
Thoughts: I’m not a big fan of rock & roll heavy contemporary country music and this album didn’t change my mind.


Artist: Dire Straits
AlbumBrothers in Arms
Year: 1985
Label: Warner Bros.
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:

  • “So Far Away”
  • “Money For Nothing”
  • “Walk of Life”

Thoughts: This album is front-loaded with the three big hit singles, “So Far Away,” “Money For Nothing,” and my personal favorite, “Walk of Life.”  The rest of the album is much more low-tempo and features a mix of bluesy rock, Dylan-esque folk rock, and jazzy art pop.  It’s all a bit bland, and sounds like it’s from a different band that the one that made the first three tracks.


Artist: Ornette Coleman
AlbumThe Shape of Jazz to Come
Year: 1959
Label: Atlantic
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: The whole album.
Thoughts: I don’t know much about jazz, but I know what I like, and this is it.  I’ve listened to Ornette Coleman before, but not this album, and enjoyed his wildly creative compositions and improvisations.  It’s hard to imagine how revolutionary this album sounded to people who heard it for the first time back in 1959.


Artist: The Roots
AlbumThings Fall Apart
Year: 1999
Label: MCA
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Kinda
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “The Next Movement”
  • “Dynamite”
  • “Without a Doubt”
  • “Ain’t Sayin’ Nothin’ New”
  • “Double Trouble”
  • “Adrenaline!”
  • “Don’t See Us”

Thoughts: My knowledge of The Roots is limited to the fact that they are the house band for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon (a show I’ve never watched).  So it was my surprise that they not only have a career predating their talk show antics, but it’s an excellent collection of 90s alternative rap.  The music incorporates several aspects of Black music including jazz, Afrobeat, and even old school rap from the 80s.  This is definitely something I would’ve pleased to know about in 1999, had I only been paying attention.


Artist: The Meters
Album: Looka Py Py
Year: 1969
Label: Josie
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Another band I’d never heard of before.
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Look-Ka Py Py”
  • They’re all great, actually.

Thoughts: The Meters are a super funky band from New Orleans.  They actually were among the originators of funk and served as a backing band for other New Orleans legends including Dr. John, and Allen Toussaint (the band’s lineup has also included a member of the Neville family).  And I’d never heard of them.  But I immediately loved this entire album of instrumental tracks and thoroughly believe it deserves it spot on the list.


Artist: Chic
Album: Risqué
Year: 1979
Label: Atlantic
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:

  • “Good Times”
  • “My Feet Keep Dancing”

Thoughts: Chic scored one of the last great hits of the disco era with “Good Times” in 1979 (although anyone who was around for 1979 knows it wasn’t a good time). The song and this album proved transitional as the music and production of Nile Rogers and Bernard Edwards would form the bedrock of 80s dance music, hip hop, new wave, and beyond (as discussed in a recent episode of the podcast Hit Parade). But mostly this is just an album that’s still good to put on for dancing.


Artist: Creedence Clearwater Revival
AlbumCosmo’s Factory
Year: 1970
Label: Fantasy
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:

  • “Travelin’ Band”
  • “Lookin’ Out My Back Door”
  • “Who’ll Stop the Rain”
  • “I Heard it Through the Grapevine”
  • “Long As I Can See the Light”

Thoughts: I’ve long loved CCR, a band so swampy it’s hard to believe they’re from California for their roots rock and strong political stances in their music.  I listened to their greatest hits albums over and over growing up.  I’ve been critical of the RS 500 for relying on greatest hits compilations, so now the egg is on my face.  It is amazing, nonetheless, how many greatest hits are crammed into this one album. It is missing some of my favorites – “Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” “Fortunate Son,” and “Lodi” – but it does have the trippy fantasy  “Lookin’ Out My Back Door,” the anti-war anthem “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” and a scorching cover of Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard it Through the Grapevine.”


Artist: Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
Album: Going to a Go Go
Year: 1965
Label: Tamla/Motown
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:

  • “The Tracks of My Tears”
  • “Going To A Go-Go”
  • “Ooo Baby Baby”

Thoughts: Much like Cosmo’s Factory, Going to a Go Go feels like a greatest hits album.  It features 4 top 20 hits, frontloaded at the beginning of the album.  But the deep cuts are great too.  I can always listen to Smokey’s sweet falsetto singing songs both sad or joyful.


Artist: Bob Dylan
AlbumLove and Theft
Year: 2001
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: A confession here: I don’t like Bob Dylan’s music.  Well, actually I like quite a few of his songs but I don’t like him performing them.  This late-period Dylan album is ok, but there are better collections of original Americana music out there that I’d like to listen to. This being a Rolling Stone list, I expect it to be chockful of Dylan, because geeking out over Dylan is Rolling Stone‘s bread and butter.  Amazingly this is the first of only eight Dylan albums on the list, which feels restrained for Rolling Stone.


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

Book Review: Dylan Goes Electric! by Elijah Wald


Author: Elijah Wald
Title: Dylan Goes Electric! Newport, Seeger, Dylan, and the Night that Split the Sixties
Narrator: Sean Runnette
Publication Info: Tantor Audio (2017)
Previously Read by the Same Author: Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues and How the Beatles destroyed rock ‘n’ roll : an alternative history of American popular music
Summary/Review:

Elijah Wald is one of my favorite music writers for his ability to break down commonly held beliefs about popular music and show the reality of musicians and their music in the context of their time.  Dylan Goes Electric! does the same for the notorious moment at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival when Bob Dylan played amplified rock music, the crowd was outraged, and Pete Seeger tried to cut the cables to his amplifier with an ax.  Pretty much everything told about that night is incorrect, or at least incomplete.

Dylan’s performance, significant as it was, could not provide enough material to fill an entire book.  What this book is instead a history of the Folk Revival in the 1950s and 1960s with a focus on key figures like Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie among others.  Wald also traces the history of the Newport Folk Festival and how it grew and changed in the years from its origin in 1959 to 1965.  Finally, Wald also details the early career of Bob Dylan, from his early influences in blues and R&B, to his quick rise to becoming a widely-renown folk musician, and his discomfort with fame and being the “voice of his generation.”

At the heart of all three stories – the Folk Revival, the Newport Folk Festival, and Bob Dylan – is a conflict between the ideas of authenticity and music for music’s sake, and the lowbrow ideas of pop music and commercial success.  Wald details that the Newport Folk Festival welcomed performances of electric blues and R&B bands while being uncomfortable the collegiate pop-style folk music of the Kingston Trio.  And while the festival promoted workshops that presented the music of rural folk performers, it was the young, urban and pop-oriented folk musicians drew the largest crowds.  As a result of the conflict over the meaning of folk music, new genres such as folk rock and singer/songwriter emerged.

Bob Dylan’s electric performance turns out not just to be a defining moment in Dylan’s career but part of a bigger story within American folk music, and a conflict that in many ways continues to this day. The stories of what actually happened that night are so disjointed, because the meaning of what happened is different to many of the people involved (and those who hear about in later retellings).

Recommended books: Baby, Let Me Follow You Down: The Illustrated Story of the Cambridge Folk Years by Eric Von Schmidt, Where Have All the Flowers Gone by Pete Seeger
Rating: ****