500 Greatest Albums of All Time – Rolling Stone
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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.

495

Bonnie Raitt, ‘Give It Up’

Warner Bros., 1972

California darling Raitt headed to Woodstock to cut her second LP – only to face near-monsoon weather. “My house had sand and salamanders,” Raitt said. She took refuge in the studio and churned out gorgeous folksy blues, including a cover of Jackson Browne‘s “Under the Falling Sky.” Listen here.

494

MGMT, ‘Oracular Spectacular’

Columbia, 2008

Two hipster geeks get some rad vintage keyboards and compose a suite of synthesized heartache. You don’t have to figure out a word of “Kids” to feel the poignant kick of that massive keyboard hook. Listen here.

493

Wilco, ‘Yankee Hotel Foxtrot’

Nonesuch, 2002

Wilco‘s great leap forward was a mix of rock tradition, electronics, oddball rhythms and experimental gestures. Jeff Tweedy’s lyrics pitted hope against doubt, with all bets off. Listen here.

492

Eurythmics, ‘Touch’

RCA, 1984

Annie Lennox looked like a gender-bending cybor, but she sang with soul; producer Dave Stewart hid behind his beard and masterminded the sound. Together they made divine synth pop, especially “Who’s That Girl?,” a tale of kinked-up sexual obsession, and their massive hit “Here Comes the Rain Again.” Listen here.

491

Albert King, ‘Born Under a Bad Sign’

Stax, 1967

King’s first album for the Stax label combines his hard, unflashy guitar playing with the sleek sound of the label’s house band, Booker T. and the MG’s. Hits such as “Crosscut Saw” and “Laundromat Blues” earned King a new rock & roll audience. Listen here.

490

ZZ Top, ‘Tres Hombres’

London, 1973

A decade before the Texas blues trio became MTV stars, ZZ Top got their first taste of national fame with this disc, which features one of their biggest hits, the John Lee Hooker-style boogie “La Grange,” as well as the boozy rocker “Jesus Just Left Chicago” and the concert anthem “Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers.” Listen here.

489

Kiss, ‘Destroyer’

Casablanca, 1976

By their fifth album, Kiss were the most popular band in America, with sold-out stadium tours and eventually their own pinball machine, makeup line and a TV movie. Built around the proto power ballad “Beth,” this is a ridiculously over-the-top party-rock album that just gets better with age. Listen here.

488

Hüsker Dü, ‘New Day Rising’

SST, 1985

These three Minneapolis dudes played savagely emotional hardcore punk that became a big influence on Nirvana, among others. The Hüskers created a rorar like garbage trucks trying to sing Beach Boys songs, especially on the anthems “Celebrated Summer” and “Perfect Example.” Listen here.

487

Cyndi Lauper ,’She’s So Unusual’

Portrait, 1983

Lauper‘s first band had broken up and she was singing in a Japanese restaurant. Then this solo debut album of razor-sharp dance pop became the first by a female performer to score four Top Five hits, including “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” and “Time After Time.” Listen here.

486

Earth, Wind and Fire, ‘That’s the Way of the World’

Columbia, 1975

Before he got into African thumb pianos and otherworldly philosophizing, EWF founder Maurice White was a session drummer at Chess Studios. EWF’s sixth album is make-out music of the gods. Listen here.

485

Pearl Jam, ‘Vitalogy’

Epic, 1994

Their previous album, Vs., made Pearl Jam the most successful band in the world. They celebrated by suing Ticketmaster and making Vitalogy, where their mastery of rock’s past and future became complete. Soulful ballads like “Nothingman” are matched by hardcore-influenced rockers such as “Spin the Black Circle.” Listen here.

482

Steve Earle, ‘Guitar Town’

MCA, 1986

“I got a two-pack habit and a motel tan,” Earle sings on the title track. By the time he released his debut at 31, he had done two stints in Nashville as a songwriter and he wanted something else. Guitar Town is the rocker’s version of country, packed with songs about hard living in the Reagan Eighties. Listen here.

481

D’Angelo, ‘Voodoo’

Virgin, 2000

D’Angelo recorded his second album at Electric Lady, the Manhattan studio built by Jimi Hendrix. There he studied bootleg videos of Sixties and Seventies soul singers and cooked up an album heavy on bass and drenched in a post-coital haze. The single “Untitled (How Does It Feel?)” sounds like a great lost Prince song. Listen here.

480

Raekwon, ‘Only Built 4 Cuban Linx

Loud, 1995

The best Wu-Tang solo joint is a study in understated cool and densely woven verses. Over RZA’s hypnotically stark beats, Raekwon crafts breathtaking drug-rap narratives; it’s a rap album that rivals the mob movies hip-hop celebrates. Listen here.

479

Funkadelic, ‘Maggot Brain’

Westbound, 1971

“Play like your mama just died,” George Clinton told guitarist Eddie Hazel. The result was “Maggot Brain,” 10 minutes of Hendrix-style guitar anguish. This is the heaviest rock album the P-Funk ever created, but it also made room for the acoustic-guitar funk of “Can You Get to That.” Listen here.

478

Loretta Lynn, ‘All Time Greatest Hits’

MCA Nashville, 2002

Anyone who thinks a woman singing country music is cute should listen to “Fist City,” where Lynn threatens to beat down a woman if she doesn’t lay off her man. Seventies greats like “Rated ‘X'” and “The Pill” brought feminism to the honky-tonks. Listen here.

477

Merle Haggard, ‘Down Every Road’

Capitol, 1996

Haggard’s tough country sound was born in Bakersfield, California, a.k.a. Nashville West. His songs are full of drifters, fugitives and rogues, and this four-disc set – culled from his seminal recordings for Capitol as well as MCA and Epic – is the ultimate collection from one of country’s finest singers. Listen here.

476

The Notorious B.I.G., ‘Life After Death’

Bad Boy, 1997

Released less than a month after Biggie‘s murder, the prophetic Life After Death is two CDs of humor and bravado, no filler at all, as he tops himself in “Mo Money Mo Problems” and”#!*@ You Tonight.” Listen here.