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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.

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.

475

Elvis Costello and the Attractions, ‘Armed Forces’

Columbia, 1979

Costello‘s third album is all tightly wound paranoia. The concept is personal politics; the original title was Emotional Fascism, and one song is called “Two Little Hitlers.” The keyboard-driven sound of “Accidents Will Happen” helped define New Wave. Listen here.

474

Manu Chao, ‘Próxima Estación: Esperanza’

Virgin, 2001

Globally, Chao had long been a Marley-size figure. But this gem gave Americans a taste of his wild-ass greatness. Chao rocks an acoustic guitar over horns and beat­boxes while rambling multi­lingually about crucial topics from politics to pot.

473

The Smiths, ‘The Smiths’

Sire, 1984

"I recognize that mystical air/It means I'd like to seize your underwear," Morrissey moans, and rock music was never the same. The Smiths' debut is a showcase for Morrissey's morose wit and Johnny Marr's guitar chime, trudging through England's cheerless marshes in "Still Ill" and "This Charming Man."