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.


Buffalo Springfield, ‘Buffalo Springfield Again’

ATCO, 1967

Their second record has masterful L.A. folk rock from Stephen Stills, pioneering country rock from Richie Furay and two Neil Young gems: the raw "Mr. Soul" and the suitelike "Broken Arrow."


Peter Gabriel, ‘So’

Geffen, 1986

Gabriel got funky on the 1982 single "Shock the Monkey." It took him four years to follow up, but So delivered with the visceral "Sledgehammer," the upbeat "Big Time," the gothic love ballad "In Your Eyes" and the inspirational "Don't Give Up," a duet with Brit art thrush Kate Bush.


Sly and the Family Stone, ‘Fresh’

Epic, 1973

As the Seventies unfurled, Stone became progressively dissolute. But he had one more ace up his sleeve: the intoxicating "If You Want Me to Stay," surrounded here by idiosyncratic gestures like a ragged take on Doris Day's "Que Sera, Sera."


The Stooges, ‘The Stooges’

Elektra, 1969

Fueled by "a little marijuana and a lotta alienation," Michigan's Stooges savagely gave the lie to hippie idealism. Ex-Velvet Underground member John Cale produced a primitive debut wherein Iggy Stooge (né James Osterberg) snarled seminal punk classics such as "I Wanna Be Your Dog," "No Fun" and "1969." 


Madonna, ‘The Immaculate Collection’

Sire/Warner Bros., 1990

A perfect Madonna CD: You get timeless pop such as "Holiday," provocations like "Papa Don't Preach," dance classics like "Into the Groove" and a then-new Lenny Kravitz-produced sex jam, "Justify My Love," which samples Public Enemy.


Willie Nelson, ‘Red Headed Stranger’

 Columbia, 1975

This trailblazing concept album became one of Nelson's biggest hits – a lyrically ambitious, musically stripped-down, riveting and heartfelt tale of murder and infidelity.


Fleetwood Mac, ‘Fleetwood Mac’

Reprise, 1975

Mick Fleetwood, John McVie and his missis Christine's first album with California couple Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks generated big radio songs such as "Say You Love Me" and "Rhiannon" and patterned the rich harmonies and sheer melodies they'd perfect on Rumours


Bob Marley and the Wailers, ‘Natty Dread’

Island, 1974

The first Wailers album to give Marley top billing was multifaceted rebel music – from the call-to-arms opening, "Lively Up Yourself" (about dancing or revolution or both), to the gospel-flavored "No Woman, No Cry," an anthem of struggle and hope. 


The Rolling Stones, ‘The Rolling Stones, Now!’

London, 1965

A charming exuberance pervades the Stones' third U.S. release, with its hot-rod takes on Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Willie Dixon and Muddy Waters. And their "Heart of Stone" introduces a crucial Stones element into the mix: menace.


Abba, ‘The Definitive Collection’

Universal, 2001

These Swedish pop stars became the world's biggest group in the Seventies. Global hits like the double-divorce drama "Knowing Me, Knowing You" and the war-torn "Fernando" undercut sparkly melodies with Nordic despair.


Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions, ‘The Anthology 1961-1977’

MCA, 1992

Mayfield taught sociocultural awareness while dispensing fine ballads ("Gypsy Woman"), inspirational anthems ("People Get Ready," "Move On Up") and edgy street narratives ("Superfly"). 


Funkadelic, ‘One Nation Under a Groove’

Warner Bros., 1978

Funkadelic's first million-seller perfectly distills George Clinton's gospel of mind-altering groove music – from the monster title track to the cosmic make-out soul of "Into You" and the scatological philosophizing of "The Doo Doo Chasers." 


Aerosmith, ‘Rocks’

Columbia, 1976

After Toys in the Attic proved that Aerosmith were more than a Stones caricature, the band flexed its muscles on the boastfully (and aptly) named Rocks, a buffalo stampede of rave-ups and boogies. In an era of arena bombast, songs like "Back in the Saddle" and "Last Child" kept it low to the ground and swinging.


The Carpenters, ‘Close to You’

A&M, 1970

With their lush music and thoroughly wholesome image, Richard and Karen Carpenter epitomized the early-Seventies mainstream. Years later, as soft rock became a hipster touchstone, the chaste elegance of ballads like "Close to You" and "We've Only Just Begun" influenced many cooler, scruffier indie bands.


Bob Dylan, ‘Desire’

Columbia, 1976

In typical Dylan style, the follow-up to Blood on the Tracks was mostly bashed out in one all-night New York session, fueled by tequila. "Sara," his account of his crumbling marriage, and the politically charged "Hurricane" highlight the last great album he'd make for many years


Todd Rundgren, ‘Something/Anything?’

Bearsville, 1972

On this tour-de-force double album, Rundgren demonstrates his command of the studio, unfurling his falsetto over a kaleidoscope of rock genres – including the white pop-soul of "Hello It's Me."


Rod Stewart, ‘Every Picture Tells a Story’

Mercury, 1971

Stewart's best disc is loose and warm, rocking hard with mostly acoustic instruments. "Mandolin Wind" is the moving ballad; the title tune is a boozy romp; "Maggie May" went Number One.


The Byrds, ‘The Notorious Byrd Brothers’

Columbia, 1968

The horse on the cover (reportedly) replaced David Crosby, who'd just been fired. But despite the internal drama, the Byrds made