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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.

106

Ramones, ‘Rocket to Russia’

Sire, 1977

The Ramones' third album took the gospel of three chords, a jackhammer beat and ripped denim beyond New York. Rocket to Russia was a polished bottling of the quartet's CBGB-stage napalm, bursting with Top 40 classicism and deepened by the lonely-boy poignancy of Joey Ramone's vocals.

105

Ray Charles, ‘Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music’

ABC-Paramount, 1962

Charles' biggest-selling record was the audacious racial-boundary-smasher its title promised, applying gospel grit and luscious soul-pop strings to standards by Hank Williams and Eddy Arnold.

104

James Taylor, ‘Sweet Baby James’

Warner Bros., 1970

Taylor went through a private hell on the way to recording his hugely successful second album – including two stays in a psychiatric institution (a fellow patient's suicide inspired "Fire and Rain"). But the confessional lyrics, spare melodicism and quiet strength in his voice made the album a model of Seventies folk-pop healing.

103

John Coltrane, ‘Giant Steps’

Atlantic, 1960

Coltrane made two giant steps in 1959: playing on Miles Davis' Kind of Blue and recording his first classic. He played flying clusters of notes that declared new possibilities for jazz improvisation and predicted the ferocious, harmonically open lyricism of his mid-Sixties albums.

102

Cream, ‘Fresh Cream’

ATCO, 1966

Bassist Jack Bruce, drummer Ginger Baker and guitarist Eric Clapton – rock's first supergroup – put a psychedelic pop spin on the blues. Their debut is tight and concise, a blueprint for the band’s onstage jams, where they stretched these tunes into quarter-hour improvisations.

101

Frank Sinatra, ‘In the Wee Small Hours’

Captiol, 1955

The first set of songs Sinatra recorded specifically for an LP sustains a midnight mood of loneliness and lost love – it’s a prototypical concept album. Listen close and you'll hear the soft intake of his breath.

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