Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 470-461


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: Juvenile
Album400 Degreez
Year: 1998
Label: Cash Money
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: We begin this week’s listening to an album and artist active in my own adult life who I have no recollection of.  I thought by listening to the album, I might recognize some of the songs, but that did not happen. I read some positive reviews of this album that emphasized that this album made Southern hip hop relevant and kicked off a run of success for New Orleans’ Cash Money Records. But unlike the critics, I don’t hear anything interesting or innovative in this album.  I do hear a lot of misogynistic lyrics and the n-world sprinkled liberally, though. I guess I’ll just chalk this one up as “Not For Me.”


Artist: Manu Chao
AlbumClandestino
Year: 1998
Label: Virgin
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:

  • “Bongo Bong”
  • “Luna y sol”

Thoughts: I don’t know what I was up to in 1998, because this is the second album in a row where I have never heard of this artists.  I did recognize one track on this album – “Bongo Bong” – because it was played at my kid’s preschool!  Manu Chao is a multilingual French-born Spanish musician who brings a busker’s perspective to his Latin music/reggae fusion. This album was a chart success across Europe, but not in the US and UK, which makes it’s appearance on the RS 500 a surprise.  But I found it a fun and refreshing change of pace.


Artist: Rolling Stones
AlbumSome Girls
Year: 1978
Label: Rolling Stones
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?: Not really
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Miss You”
  • “Shattered”

Thoughts: 33 albums into the list and we’ve finally reached one that I’ve definitively listened to before. As far as the Rolling Stones go, I’ve long considered them a good singles band who made some classic albums between 1966 and 1972, and then about one compilation album worth of good songs from 1973 to the present. Some Girls may be the Stone’s best album in the post-Exile on Main Street era, but the competition isn’t very strong.  On the other hand, they do deserve credit for trying something new on an album, for what would be the last time. On “Miss You” they do a great job of incorporating disco, while “Shattered” is Mick’s tribute to his gritty adopted home of New York City in the troubled late 70s.  The rest of the album for me is “meh” (and the title track is downright awful),  but your mileage may vary. There are five more Rolling Stones albums coming up on this list and I expect will enjoy them all more.


Artist: Maxwell
AlbumBLACKsummers’night
Year: 2009
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?: No
Favorite Tracks: None
Thoughts: The 460s have not been good to me because once again we have an artist and album I have never heard of, and I don’t recognize any of the tracks either.  Maxwell sings silk-smooth, mid-tempo r&B.  And I don’t find it all too interesting.  So on to the next album.


Artist: The Beach Boys
AlbumThe Beach Boys Today
Year: 1965
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?: No
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Help Me, Rhonda”

Thoughts: On this album The Beach Boys moved on from songs about surfing  and fast cars to more introspective pieces, and probably began regretting their silly band name.  The lyrics still focus on teenage love and love lost, but from the perspective of a more thoughtful teen. I’m not a big fan of the Beach Boys outside of their Pet Sounds‘ era peak, but the arrangements and instrumentation on this album show that they are on their way up that mountain.


Artist: King Sunny Adé
Album: The Best of the Classic Years
Year: 2003
Label: Shanachie
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Somewhat
Would I Listen to this Album Again?:
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Sunny Ti De”
  • “Afai Bowon”
  • “Adena Ike”

Thoughts: King Sunny Adé is a Nigerian singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist who can great fame in his home country, and then in the 1980s achieved crossover success in Europe and North America. He is credited with kicking off the World Music boom that followed later in that decade. Once again Rolling Stone selects a compilation album for their list, but according to Adé’s discography on Wikipedia, he’s released 123 albums, so I guess that they can be excused for having difficulty narrowing it down.  This album collects a sampling of songs from Adé’s early years, 1967-1974.


Artist: The Isley Brothers
Album: 3 + 3
Year: 1973
Label: T-Neck
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:

  • “That Lady”
  • “Sunshine (Go Away Today)”

Thoughts: I’ve always liked the songs I’ve heard by the Isleys over the years, but I wasn’t familiar with the content of this album going in.  Or so I thought, because I immediately recognized Latin-style soul opening track “That Lady.” The bigger surprise is that about half of this album is covers of songs by the likes James Taylor, The Doobie Brothers, Jonathan Edwards, and Seals & Crofts, not the immediate source of inspirations one would expect for a soul band. But they demonstrate that they are excellent interpreters, making the songs their own.


Artist: Laura Nyro
Album: Eli & the 13th Confession
Year: 1968
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:

  • “Sweet Blindness”
  • “Lonely Women”

Thoughts: First of all, I just want to note how contemporary Laura Nyro looks on that album cover.  Like, it almost looks like Billie Eilish with dark hair.

My familiarity with Nyro was basically “Wedding Bell Blues” and some other songs. This album contains Nyro’s Brill Building song-writing which build up to her belting out the lyrics sounding like the lost cast recording of a 1960s Broadway musical.  Unfortunately, I found myself liking songs at first but with all the dramatic changes and emotiveness it all became too much and just left my brain spinning.


Artist: The Flying Burrito Brothers
Album: The Gilded Palace of Sin
Year: 1969
Label: A&M
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Just the name of the band
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Christine’s Tune”
  • “Sin City”

Thoughts: I’ve heard of The Flying Burrito Brothers as being one of the many country rock acts of the 60s and 70s to grow out of The Byrds. In fact, I’ve considered doing a Music Discovery of The Byrds and their spinoff country rock bands, because I’ve read a lot about them but have never really heard any of them.  Anyhow, this band lead by Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman is fascinating in that it sounds both old-time country with psychedelic rock playing over it and somehow the two genres harmonizing with one another.  And then they cover an Aretha Franklin song and make that work too! It’s definitely a treat for the ears and not what I’d expected.


Artist: Bon Iver
AlbumFor Emma
Year: 2008
Label: Jagjaguwar
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: I routinely listen to NPR Music programming because I’m a living stereotype of a coastal, liberal, white man.  But one thing I’ve never been on board with is the NPR Music staffs’ adoration of Bon Iver. Like every album in this list I made sure to give it a fair shake, and I didn’t totally hate it.  But I still find it incredibly boring music.  So you’re going to have forgive me Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton.


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

Movie Review: Keith Richards: Under the Influence


Title: Keith Richards: Under the Influence
Release Date: 2015
Director: Morgan Neville
Summary/Review:

This Netflix documentary follows Keith Richards as he works in the studio on new songs and travels through America to sites connected with American music. Theses scenes are intercut with archival footage of Richards and the Stones. The influences in this movie are musical – Blues, Country, & Reggae – and Richards talks about his love for music and how he creates his own. Musicians talking about music is the best kind of music documentary. It has all the joy and none of the bitterness of Richard’s autobiography.  As an added bonus, Tom Waits appears for a few scene-stealing interviews.
Rating: ****