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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.

312

Jane’s Addiction, ‘Nothing’s Shocking’

Warner Bros., 1988

They thought Led Zeppelin were a funk band, and when they learned this was not true, they carried on anyway. On tracks like "Mountain Song," Jane's major-label debut rewrites pre-Nirvana rock history, reconciling punk and metal with shredding riffs on oceanic songs. And they even had a hit ballad with "Jane Says."

311

Various Artists, ‘The Sun Records Collection’

Rhino/RCA, 1994

Blues without polish, country without corn, and rockabilly played with brainless abandon from Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash – as well as obscure gems like Bill Justis' aptly named "Raunchy."

310

Red Hot Chili Peppers, ‘Blood Sugar Sex Magik’

Warner Bros., 1991

The Peppers' high point – with John Frusciante's energizing, soulful guitar riffs, a huge assist from producer Rick Rubin and the surprise hit ballad "Under the Bridge."

309

Creedence Clearwater Revival, ‘Willy and the Poor Boys’

Fantasy, 1969

The best of the six albums CCR released between 1968 and 1970; John Fogerty is your chooglin' buddy, even when he's raining down fire and doom on "Effigy."

308

Frank Sinatra, ‘Songs for Swingin’ Lovers!’

Capitol, 1956

An album that meant to deny the rock & roll that was then changing America – and succeeded. The songs were standards, most 10 or 20 years old, but Sinatra and arranger Nelson Riddle showed how timeless jazzy, hip sophistication can be.

307

The Beatles, ‘A Hard Day’s Night’

Parlophone, 1964

The Richard Lester film showed the Beatles' charm. The soundtrack deepened listeners' sense of their musical genius in the off-kilter beauty of John Lennon's "If I Fell," the rockabilly bounce of Paul McCartney's "Can't Buy Me Love," and the great leap forward of George Harrison's guitar work on the 12-string Rickenbacker.

306

Beck, ‘Odelay’

DGC, 1996

Burrowing into the studio with sampledelic producers the Dust Brothers, Beck came back with a Technicolor version of his Woody Guthrie-meets-Grandmaster Flash vision, demonstrating to his rock peers that turntables had a brighter future than refried grunge.

305

Lucinda Williams, ‘Car Wheels on a Gravel Road’

Mercury, 1998

It took three torturous years to finish this alt-country masterwork, but it was worth it. Williams writes songs that explore the rootlessness of American life, with vivid imagery and gravel-guitar beauty.

304

Jeff Buckley, ‘Grace’

Columbia, 1994

Buckley had a voice like an oversexed angel, and the songs here shimmer and twist. The fierce rocker "Eternal Life" upends Led Zeppelin's take on the blues while honoring it: Instead of a hellhound on his trail, Buckley, who drowned in 1997, evokes immortality bearing down on him.

303

Bob Dylan, ‘John Wesley Harding’

Columbia, 1967

Recovering from his 1966 motorcycle crash, Dylan took a left turn into country music and ascetic mysticism, connecting to Nashville through a host of characters from the Bible and America’s rugged history. It’s his most ominous album.

302

Public Enemy, ‘Fear of a Black Planet’

Def Jam, 1990

Public Enemy expanded their widescreen vision of hip-hop on their third album, which included the righteous noise of "Fight the Power," the uplifting sentiment of "Brothers Gonna Work It Out" and the agit-funk of "911 Is a Joke."

301

Dolly Parton, ‘Coat of Many Colors’

RCA Victor, 1971

Parton's starkest, most affecting album. The title track is about wearing rags but staying proud; on "Traveling Man," Parton's mom runs off with her man; on "If I Lose My Mind," her boyfriend has sex with another woman in front of her.

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