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500 Greatest Albums of All Time

Rolling Stone’s definitive list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

The RS 500 was assembled by the editors of Rolling Stone, based on the results of two extensive polls. In 2003, Rolling Stone asked a panel of 271 artists, producers, industry executives and journalists to pick the greatest albums of all time. In 2009, we asked a similar group of 100 experts to pick the best albums of the 2000s. From those results, Rolling Stone created this new list of the greatest albums of all time.

140

Blondie, ‘Parallel Lines’

Chrysalis, 1978

New Wave's big pop breakthrough, Parallel Lines is a perfect synthesis of raw punk edge, Sixties-pop smarts and downtown-New York glamour. Debbie Harry created a new kind of rock & roll sex appeal that brought New York demimonde style to the mainstream. Madonna was surely watching.

139

The Meters, ‘Rejuvenation’

Reprise, 1974

New Orleans producer Allen Toussaint built hit records with a taut Morse-code style of rhythm guitar rooted in the marching-band and party beats of the Crescent City. That funky discipline defines this LP; the Meters perfect a balance of funk, rock and Dixie R&B on gems such as "People Say" and "Hey Pocky A-Way."

138

Dr. Dre, ‘The Chronic’

Death Row, 1992

Dr. Dre had already taken gangsta rap mainstream with N.W.A. On The Chronic, he funked up the rhymes even further with samples of old George Clinton hits, a smooth bass-heavy production and the laid-back delivery of then-unknown rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg.

137

The Replacements, ‘Tim’

Sire, 1985

On the Mats' major-label debut, singer-guitarist Paul Westerberg segues brilliantly from heroic power-chord swagger ("Bastards of Young") to shabby contemplation ("Here Comes a Regular"). No pre­Nirvana band did it better.

136

Elton John, ‘Greatest Hits’

MCA, 1974

This single-disc collection – released during John's creative and commercial peak – includes nearly every Top 10 single he had during that era, from "Your Song" to "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me." It documents why the piano man was one of the biggest-selling pop stars of the Seventies.

135

Pavement, ‘Slanted and Enchanted’

Matador, 1992

The quintessential American indie-rock album. The playing is relaxed, the production primitive, the lyrics quirky, the melodies seductive. But the noise-streaked sound is intense, even as Stephen Malkmus displays his love of Seventies-AM pop.

134

The Notorious B.I.G., ‘Ready to Die’

Bad Boy, 1994

B.I.G. (a.k.a. Biggie Smalls) took the gritty life experience of his hard-knock Brooklyn youth and crammed it into Ready to Die, hip-hop's greatest debut. "Big Poppa" is the hit sex jam, "Juicy" made you laugh as you danced, and on "Things Done Changed" and "Everyday Struggle," he relates gangsta tales in a voice as thick as his waistline.

133

Bruce Springsteen, ‘The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle’

Columbia, 1973

Springsteen's second album shook the "New Dylan" tag and applied his Jersey-bar-band skills to some of the loosest, jazziest, funniest songs he'd ever write – such as "Rosalita" and "Kitty's Back."

132

Original Soundtrack, ‘Saturday Night Fever’

RSO, 1977

Disco at its megaplatinum apex: The Bee Gees' silvery-helium harmonies melt into creamily syncopated grooves, and the Trammps' hot-funk assault "Disco Inferno" and Tavares' yearning "More Than a Woman" affirm disco's black-R&B roots.

131

Black Sabbath, ‘Paranoid’

Warner Bros., 1970

Sabbath ruled for bummed-out Seventies kids, and nearly every metal and extreme rock band of the past four decades owes a debt to Tony Iommi's granite-fuzz guitar, the Visigoth rhythm machine of Bill Ward and Geezer Butler, and Ozzy Osbourne's agonized bray in "Paranoid," "Iron Man" and "War Pigs."

130

Television, ‘Marquee Moon’

Elektra, 1977

Television were the guitar mystics on the CBGB scene, mixing the howl of the Velvet Underground, the epic song lengths of Yes and the double-helix guitar sculpture of Quicksilver Messenger Service. Their debut was as exhilarating in its lyrical ambitions as the Ramones' first album was in its brutal simplicity.

129

Talking Heads, ‘Remain in Light’

Sire, 1980

On this New Wave watershed, the avant-punk avatars became polyrhythmic pop magicians. David Byrne and Co. combined the thrust of P-Funk, the kinky grooves of Afropop and the studied adventurousness of producer Brian Eno – and they still had a pop hit with "Once in a Lifetime."

128

Iggy and the Stooges, ‘Raw Power’

Columbia, 1973

Iggy Pop had dyed silver hair and a hard-drug habit when David Bowie helped get the rudderless Stooges a deal with Columbia. Pop and new guitarist James Williamson responded with hellbent ferocity on punk eruptions like "Search and Destroy" and "Gimme Danger."

127

The Byrds, ‘Younger Than Yesterday’

Columbia, 1967

Amid internal strife, the former Next Beatles made their first mature album, a blend of space-flight twang and electric hoedown infused with the glow of 1967 yet cut with realism.