Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 290-281


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
480-471 380-371
470-461 370-361
460-451 360-351
450-441 350-341
440-431 340-331
430-421 330-321
420-411 320-311
410-401 310-301

Artist: OutKast
Album: Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
Year: 2003
Label: LaFace
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:

  • “Bowtie (feat. Sleepy Brown & Jazze Pha)”
  • “Spread”
  • “Hey Ya!”

Thoughts: One thing I’m learning from this project is that Southern hip hop may be my favorite form of hip hop.  But this album is a little too much of a good thing.  It’s essentially two albums, one driven by Big Boi and the other by André 3000 for a total of 39 tracks!  I suppose like The White Album, paring it down into one album would have been a Sisyphean task, but I felt like I was enduring this album more than enjoying it.


Artist: Björk
AlbumPost
Year: 1995
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:

  • “Army of Me”
  • “Hyperballad”
  • “It’s Oh So Quiet”
  • “Isobel”
  • “Possibly Maybe”
  • “I Miss You”

Thoughts: I haven’t listened to Björk in a long while and forgot just how amazingly good this album is.  I ranked Post at #83 on my 2009 list of favorite albums which feels low in retrospect.  Of course, I ranked Homogenic higher as did Rolling Stone, so we’ll see about that when we get there.


Artist: The Modern Lovers
Album: The Modern Lovers
Year: 1976
Label: Beserkley
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:

  • “Roadrunner”
  • “Pablo Picasso”
  • “Modern World”
  • “Government Center”

Thoughts: “Roadrunner” is the unofficial anthem of Massachusetts and one of my all-time favorite songs, but I hadn’t given The Modern Lovers as much attention as they deserved up until now. Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers might need to be a future Music Discovery project.


Artist: The Byrds
Album: Mr. Tambourine Man
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:

  • “Mr. Tambourine Man”
  • “I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better”
  • “The Bells of Rhymney”
  • “I Knew I’d Want You”

Thoughts:  The Byrds covered songs by Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger but I feel that they were at their best with their original songwriting, such as Gene Clark’s “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better.” The Byrds were hailed as the mid-60s American response to the British Invasion, but songs like this are timeless.


Artist: Red Hot Chili Peppers
AlbumCalifornication
Year: 1999
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?:
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Scar Tissue”

Thoughts: Red Hot Chili Peppers have always been a band for me that sound good on first listen but my appreciation for them deteriorates on repeat listening.  Unfortunately, Red Hot Chili Peppers are a band that has been overexposed and repeat listenings are impossible to miss.  I’m surprised to see a 1999 album here instead of one of the band’s earlier works since they’d kind of become a parody of themselves by this point. At any rate, this album was just fine to listen to for this project, but knowing what I know, I wouldn’t want to listen to it again.


Artist: Big Star
AlbumThird/Sister Lovers
Year: 1978
Label: PVC
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:

  • “Kizza Me”
  • “Thank You Friends”
  • “Jesus Christ”

Thoughts: Big Star, the ultimate critics’ band, has their entire discography of three albums on this list.  On the previous two albums, I didn’t see what the big deal was, but I’m starting to see the appeal on this album.  Ironically, there isn’t agreement on whether this is even should be a Big Star album as it was mainly a project of band members Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens.  The album has been released under two different names with 7 different track listings.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t listen to the same version ranked by Rolling Stone since “Kanga Roo” was not the last track, but I suppose I got the gist.


Artist: Merle Haggard
Album: Down Every Road 1962-1994
Year:1996
Label: Capitol
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:

  • “Sing Me Back Home”
  • “Mama Tried”
  • “Old Man From The Mountain”

Thoughts: I’ve grumbled before about this list including compilations, but this takes the cake. Down Every Road 1962-1994 is a boxed set with 100 songs on it and almost five hours of material.  How can this even compare with other albums on this list that are discrete collections of an artist’s work from one particular time in their career?  I’ve made the executive decision to instead listen to the 26-track Hag: The Best of Merle Haggard (2006).


Artist: Donna Summer
AlbumBad Girls
Year: 1975
Label: Casablanca
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:

  • “Hot Stuff”
  • “Bad Girls”
  • “Dim All the Lights”

Thoughts: Boston’s own Donna Summer was already the Queen of Music when she took on the music world with this album she could dominate any musical style.  I learned a lot about Donna Summer and gained a lot of respect for her work and influence from listening to the Slate Hit Parade podcast. You can really hear the influence on dance music and electronic music to this day (“Our Love” could’ve been covered by Erasure with little changes). On the downside, the ballads also anticipate cheezy R&B hits of the 1980s, and a number of the songs are overlong and repetitive.

 


Artist: Frank Sinatra
Album: In the Wee Small Hours
Year: 1955
Label: Capitol
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:

  • “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning”
  • “I See Your Face Before Me”
  • “This Love of Mine”

Thoughts: The LP record was introduced in 1948, and 7 years later Frank Sinatra and Capitol Records innovated how the LP could be used to package a collection of popular music.  In the Wee Small Hours is even called the first concept album since all the songs deal with themes of failed romance, loneliness, and late nights.  Sinatra’s voice sounds great and Nelson Riddle’s arrangements are lushly orchestrated.  The downside is that since every song is slow-tempo and remorseful that there isn’t much variety in the album.


Artist: Harry Nilsson
Album: Nilsson Schmilsson
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?: No
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Gotta Get Up”
  • “Jump Into the Fire”

Thoughts: Harry Nilsson is a name I know, primarily from his “Everybody’s Talking” being played repeatedly in Midnight Cowboy.  My first thought listening to this album is that he should have written for Broadway musicals (he didn’t) or have a jukebox musical created of his work (none exists to my knowledge).  His music has been used in lots of movies and tv shows and my feeling that he is similar to Randy Newman is justified by the fact that I found Nilsson actually recorded an entire album of Newman tunes.  Twice on this album, I exclaimed “That’s who sings this song!” for “Without You” and “Coconut.”  Unfortunately, I don’t like either of those songs but the rest of the album is pretty good especially the opening track “Gotta Get Up.”


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

 

Podcasts of the Week Ending December 2


The Story Collider :: The Bats and the Bees

A reluctant field researcher finds purpose in showing drunk 17-year-olds how to tag bats with microchips, and a bee researcher who is allergic to bees.  Science!

Radiolab :: Stereothreat

Research into the effects of negative stereotypes and the difficulty of replicating that research.

Hit Parade :: The Queen of Disco Edition

Things I learned about Boston’s own Donna Summer: 1. she got her start in the Munich production of Hair where she became fluent in German, 2. she wrote or co-wrote most of her songs, 3. she and her producers basically invented electronic dance music, and 4. she continued to have club hits into the 2010s.

Afropop Worldwide :: A Brief History of Funk

A brief but beautiful story of funk with many funky classics and interviews with Bobby Byrd and George Clinton.

Slow Burn: A Podcast About Watergate

A new podcast that tells the story of the Watergate scandal with an as-it’s-happening approach focusing on long-forgotten key players in the scandal.

30 for 30 Podcasts :: The Lights of Wrigleyville

The story of the contentious battle between theChicago Cubs and their residential neighbors to install lights in Wrigley Field in the 1980s.

More Perfect :: Mr. Graham and the Reasonable Man

The story of a legal case that underlies our current crises in policing in America, and the legal fiction of the “Reasonable Man.”