Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 410-401


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: The Beach Boys
Album: Wild Honey
Year: 1967
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: None
Thoughts: I was not at all familiar with any of the songs on this album, with good reason.  They’re not very good.  The Beach Boys sound like they’re a 60s garage band making a 60s baroque pop album.  The vocals are very ragged, like the lead vocalist is straining to reach the high register.  And if the Beach Boys don’t have strong vocals, what do they have?  I feel like Rolling Stone is punking us by putting this album on the list.


Artist: Grateful Dead
Album: Workingman’s Dead
Year: 1970
Label: Warner Bros.
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:

  • “Uncle John’s Band”
  • “High Time”
  • “Dire Wolf”

Thoughts:  There are two albums that come up when anyone discusses the Grateful Dead who is not a diehard Deadhead, and those two albums are the only albums by the band on this list.  I would think that a band that is known primarily for it’s live performances, and for documenting those concerts on recordings, and for people trading those concert recordings that a live album would be a good way to represent the Dead and their contributions to rock & roll on this list. There certainly are a lot of good ones to choose from.  Nevertheless, I do like the songs on this album, although not as much as I like the other one that we’ll discuss when get to #215.


Artist: Motörhead
Album: Ace of Spades
Year: 1980
Label: Bronze
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:

  • “Ace of Spades”
  • “Please Don’t Touch”

Thoughts: Motörhead are the one band able to unite 80s punks and metalheads and pioneers of really fast guitar and drumming.  They are not the type of band one would expect me to like, but I find Motörhead is just find them a lot of fun.  A friend once told me “Everyone should love Motörhead! I just take that as a given,” and it’s probably true.


Artist: Neil Young
Album: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Year: 1969
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?: No
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Cinnamon Girl”

Thoughts: Neil Young is one of those artists, alongside the likes of Tom Petty and Bob Dylan, for whom I have a lot of respect for what they’ve done as artists and appreciate why other people enjoy their work, but nevertheless I don’t enjoy listening to myself.  This was his second album under his own name (both all-time and in the year 1969), his first work with the band Crazy Horse, released less than a year after the final Buffalo Springfield album and less than a year before his first collaboration with Crosby, Stills, & Nash.  The dude was crazy prolific is what I’m saying.


Artist: The Magnetic Fields
Album: 69 Love Songs
Year: 1999
Label: Merge
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:

  • “A Chicken With Its Head Cut Off”
  • “The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side”
  • “The Book of Love”
  • “Parades Go By”
  • “When My Boy Walks Down the Street”
  • “If You Don’t Cry”
  • “Crazy For You (But Not That Crazy)”
  • “Washington D.C.”
  • “It’s a Crime”
  • “I’m Sorry I Love You”
  • “The Death of Ferdinand de Saussure”
  • “The Night You Can’t Remember”

Thoughts: For an album that is packed literally with 69 songs there’s a remarkable consistency of quality.  Stephin Merritt and co. create a concept album not about love, but about love songs, with homages (and more often tongue-in-cheek parodies) of various styles of love song about various types of love.


Artist: Various
Album: Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era
Year: 1972
Label: Elektra
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: Sort of
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Some
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Dirty Water” – The Standells
  • “Moulty” – The Barbarians
  • “You’re Gonna Miss Me” – 13th Floor Elevators
  • “Psychotic Reaction” – Count Five
  • “Baby Please Don’t Go” – The Amboy Dukes

Thoughts: This is the type of compilation that deserves to be on Greatest Albums of All-Time list.  Not only does it contain multiple artists but it was compiled shortly after the songs were created and helped bring attention to tunes that might otherwise have been forgotten.  The musical style is a mix of Beatles’ tribute bands + bluesy garage rock + lots of hallucinogenic substances.  It proved to be very influential to punk bands of the 1970s.  I remember listening to a version of this album as a teenager that had fewer tracks, but introduced me to great songs such as “Psychotic Reaction” and “You’re Gonna Miss Me.” It’s also fun to think of a time when “Dirty Water” wasn’t the theme song of Boston sports teams.


Artist: Anita Baker
Album: Rapture
Year: 1986
Label: Elektra
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: One
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: No
Favorite Tracks: None
Thoughts: I remember “Sweet Love” as a radio staple in the mid-to-late 80s but never gave it much thought. The album contains several more tracks with the same style of jazz-inflected R&B.  I don’t want to say its bad, but it’s definitely not my thing.


Artist: Ghostface Killah
Album: Supreme Clientele
Year: 2000
Label: Epic
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?: Maybe
Favorite Tracks:

  • “The Grain”
  • “Buck 50”
  • “Malcolm”
  • “Cherchez LaGhost”
  • “Wu Banga 101”

Thoughts: Yet another hip-hop artist I previously only knew by name.  I like Ghostface Killah’s rhyme style and the musical production/sampling.  I’m also amused by all the references to Iron Man well before the MCU made Tony Stark a household name.


Artist: Fela Kuti and Africa 70
Album: Expensive Shit
Year: 1975
Label: Sounds Workshop
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:

  • “Expensive Shit”
  • “Water No Get Enemy”

Thoughts: Is a recording with one song on each side, an album or a single?  In the case of Expensive Shit, the two songs are a combined 25 minutes, giving it album length.  The title track is based on a true story of Kuti eating a joint to avoid arrest, but the police took him in anyway and waited for him to produce the excrement.  The album is a classic of Afrobeat, part political, part joyful, all brilliant.


Artist: Blondie
Album: Blondie
Year: 1977
Label: Private Stock
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:

  • “X Offender”
  • “In the Flesh”
  • “Look Good in Blue”
  • “Kung Fu Girls”

Thoughts: This debut album from the New York punk band looks back to early 60s pop and doo wop while setting the vanguard for 80s New Wave.  Wry lyrics bring a 70s sensibility (and sexuality) to seemingly innocent tunes.


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

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