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The 40 Greatest Stoner Albums

From Pink Floyd and the Grateful Dead to Massive Attack and the Flaming Lips

40 Greatest Stoner Albums

In celebration of Rolling Stone‘s pot-centric new issue, we present this fully-baked list of the 40 best stoner albums ever. Our picks range from 1970s black-light warhorses to keyboard-drenched, slow-toke faves from the 2000s, with enough variety to soundtrack any kind of weed buzz. Our criteria? We wanted albums that were especially great for blazing along with, but also just plain great, period – meaning they also had to sound awesome when you’re not high as a giraffe.

By Jon Dolan, Patrick Doyle, Joe Gross, Will Hermes, Christian Hoard, Michaelangelo Matos and Jonathan Ringen

Massive Attack Protection

Courtesy of Virgin Records

21

Massive Attack, ‘Protection’

Protection is where these Bristol, England trip-hop masters refined their singular blend of beat science, soul music and the part of rave culture that happens at 5 a.m. after the dancing is over, when you are trying to calm down. And if you like this (and living in a blue cloud), you'll love this album's brilliant spin-offs, like Mad Professor's remix LP No Protection and Tricky’s Maxinquaye, a.k.a. the best one-night-stand-while-fucked-up album ever.

Black Sabbath Paranoid

Courtesy of Vertigo Records

20

Black Sabbath, ‘Paranoid’

For more than 40 years, Paranoid has been perfect for a miserable, rainy afternoon – just you and your dragon-shaped bong. One of the greatest heavy metal albums ever made, with one of the oddest covers (a war pig!), it features such lumbering metal classics as "Iron Man," "War Pigs" and "Fairies Wear Boots," written while Ozzy Osbourne and Geezer Butler were reportedly high as monkeys. And then there's the title, that sad side effect of too many such afternoons.

Augustus Pablo East Of The River Nile

Courtesy of Message Records

19

Augustus Pablo, ‘East of the River Nile’

Dub music might be the most accurate-ever musical translation of stoned brainwaves. In the hands of Augustus Pablo, who transformed his signature instrument, the melodica, from kindergarten singalong helper to the sonic equivalent of an indica-packed ice bong, dub reached its most sublime heights. This instrumental set is his chill-out masterpiece, with productions by dub's two grandmasters, King Tubby and Lee "Scratch" Perry, along with grooves by a Seventies reggae A-team and occasional vocal fragments that surface like half-formed thoughts before slipping away again. Potent.

Talking Heads Remain in Light

Courtesy of Sire Records

18

Talking Heads, ‘Remain in Light’

A few generations have been blown away by this record, from Eighties post-punks to early '00s Brooklynites, who ripped it off mercilessly. (Phish loved it, too, once covering the whole album live.) The heady mix of quasi-African and Arabic rhythms, New Wave twitchiness and David Byrne's existential crises ("Once in a Lifetime" is only the most famous) somehow also seem joyous and even blissful. An album designed for both deep contemplation and maximum head-nod.

Kraftwerk Trans Europe Express

Courtesy of Kling Klang

17

Kraftwerk, ‘Trans Europe Express’

It was recorded in 1977, but this cornerstone of both hip-hop and EDM still sounds like the future – as imagined by a bunch of well-groomed Germans chilling in an Amsterdam hash bar. "Europe Endless" conjures a procession of chrome-plated cyber-gnomes, "Showroom Dummies" sounds like a wake 'n' bake trip to the Berlin’s KaDeWe superstore. But the title track, which informed Afrika Bambaataa's "Planet Rock" and a generation of breakdancers, is like sneaking vaporizer one-hits on the Acela train en route to . . . damn yo, what's our stop again?

DJ Shadow Endtroducing

Courtesy of Mo' Wax Records

16

DJ Shadow, ‘Endtroducing . . . ‘

Still the gold standard for rap-less hip-hop head trips, Josh Davis assembled this funky, hallucinogenic record entirely from samples of obscure old recordings. The miles-deep result is a locust swarm of tune fragments, odd timbral references, turntable scratches, sound effects,and suggestive spoken word tidbits that build their own fully-furnished universe. But it’s the fat, fusion-flavored drum breaks that carry the day; they’re the head-nodding equivalent of a chronic-powered rollercoaster ride.

Allman Brothers Live at Fillmore

Courtesy of Capricorn Records

15

Allman Brothers Band, ‘Live at Fillmore’

This double-LP classic of jammed-out blues and rock is, like any good trip, guided by a spirit of adventure and full of surprises. Many of the best parts come courtesy of the guitar tandem of Duane Allman and Dickey Betts, who are either locked in liquid harmony or taking off on jazzy flights of fancy. When they get seriously cooking on "Whipping Post" and "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed," all you can do is shake your head and say, "Siiiiiiiiiick."

Funkadelic Maggot Brain

Courtesy of Westbound Records

14

Funkadelic, ‘Maggot Brain’

"I have tasted the maggots in the mind of the universe" utters an ominous voice from what sounds like the bottom of a giant bong floating through outermost space. So begins the title track of the ultimate P-Funk head trip, followed by a soaring, echo-drenched, 10-minute Eddie Hazel solo journey that stands with the headiest electric guitar displays ever recorded. The rest of set is white-knuckled Black Power acid funk that will have you dancing in your head even if you can't get out of your chair.

Spiritualized Ladies and Gentleman We Are Floating in Space

Courtesy of Dedicated Records

13

Spiritualized, ‘Ladies and Gentleman We Are Floating in Space’

Everything about this Brit band’s third album screamed "DRUGS!!!!" – right down to the sleeve made to look like prescription meds. Soaked in layers of horns, piano and strings, mixing up fuzzy guitar roar and orchestral bliss, Space was the apex of leader Jason Pearce's efforts to blend God (well, "No God Only Religion") and drugs ("Cop Shoot Cop") while worshiping one just like the other.

Brian Eno Another Green World

Courtesy of Island Records

12

Brian Eno, ‘Another Green World’

Eno’s 1975 LP is a stunner, as impressionistic as any pop record of the Seventies. Wobbly synths and tiny blippy tunes power more or less proper songs such as "St. Elmo's Fire" and "I'll Come Running," while gorgeous instrumentals such as "The Big Ship" and the title track are zone-out breaks to get lost in. Eno discovered a new psychedelia; rarely has an album title been more appropriate.

Wu Tang Clan 36 chambers

Courtesy of Loud Records

11

Wu Tang Clan, ‘Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)’

"You'll definitely like our shit more when you're high," RZA said a few years ago. "Our shit is high music." Ya think? On their epochal 1993 debut, weed smoke pretty much rolls out of your speakers as you listen to RZA's stanky soul samples and cavernous, slow-rolling beats. The Shaolin mythology could only have come from stoned Saturdays hanging out watching kung fu movies, and on "C.R.E.A.M." Raekwon even offers sound advice on the perfect chemical highball to enhance your buzz: "No question I would speed, from cracks and weed/The combination made my eyes bleed." Disclaimer: If you actually do this, you might die.

Beck Mellow Gold

Courtesy of DGC Records

10

Beck, ‘Mellow Gold’

Named after an especially gnarly strain of California weed, Beck's breakout record is where Dylan's Blonde on Blonde and the Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique met in the bathroom between class and got hiiiiiiiiigh as the Himalayas. The mix of hazy, sampledelic beats, futon-soiling folk tunes and angelically blitzed lyrics like "So get out your lead-pipe pipe dreams/Get out your 10-foot flags/The insects are huge/And the poison's all been used/And the drugs won't kill your day job/Honey," made this a zooted masterpiece of Nineties alterna-hip-hop bowl-passing bullshit. Any album that celebrates a girl who can "talk to squirrels" makes this list easy.

Bob Marley African Herbsman

Courtesy of Trojan Records

9

Bob Marley, ‘African Herbsman’

This Seventies collection of Jamaican recordings, most crafted by legendary ganja-cloud dub producer Lee Perry, was too spacey, it seems, to get an American release. But early versions of "Lively Up Yourself," "Small Axe," "Trenchtown Rock," "Kaya" and "Sun Is Shining," among others, are warmer, woozier, and waaaaaaaaay more stoned than the U.S. releases. The harmony vocals on "Duppy Conqueror" are an instant contact buzz. As Marley sings on "Kaya" amid deep tokes, "I’m so high, I even touch the sky."

Animal Collective Merriweather Post Pavillion

Courtesy of Domino Recording Company

8

Animal Collective, ‘Merriweather Post Pavillion’

This classic of new-school psychedelia was named after a Maryland outdoor concert spot where generations of kids have gotten high while watching package tours. The Brooklyn(ish) band combined drifty tunes made with junk-shop samples, layered, tossed-off Beach Boys melodies and crispy, crunchy noise, tossing in odes to girls and being high in a field.

Grateful Dead Live/Dead

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Records

7

Grateful Dead, ‘Live/Dead’

It may be a collage of concert clips, but this masterpiece still reads as the ne plus ultra of second-set Dead jams, in a handy format that could turn any suburban bedroom into the Fillmore West. Opening with a 20-minute "Dark Star," the band’s hash-pipe pinnacle, it morphs into "St. Stephen" and then, with a beat-matching edit that would do the most discerning techno DJ proud, jumps into a scalding version of "The Eleven" that will have couch potatoes clutching their cushions while noodle dancers rock it al dente. And that’s just the first half. Smoking, as they say.

Radiohead Kid A

Courtesy of Capitol Records

6

Radiohead, ‘Kid A’

You know that thing that happens when you smoke too much pot and you get all, "Do I seem weird? Why does everyone else seem totally fine? Oh shit, that person said 'Hey man, what’s up' to me, what the fuck do I do?" Well, that's pretty much how Kid A feels all the time. The slow-mo majesty and ambient ooze that make Kid A one of the greatest albums of its time also make it manna for stoners looking for a distinctly 21st century mind-blower. It's a work of tweaky paranoia that feels like a cocoon to cuddle up in.

Beatles Rubber Soul

Courtesy of Capitol Records

5

Beatles, ‘Rubber Soul’

The laughing plant began to seep into the Beatles' sound not long after they famously smoked it with Dylan in 1964. On Rubber Soul they seep turned into a torrent, from the sitar-drone wanderlust of "Norwegian Wood" to the joint-passing deep-outs "Think for Yourself" and "Nowhere Man" to the introspective isolation of "You Won't See Me" and "I'm Looking Through You." "Rubber Soul was the pot album and Revolver was the acid," John Lennon said in 1972. "The drugs are to prevent the rest of the world from crowding in on you."

Beastie Boys Paul's Boutique

Courtesy of Capitol Records

4

Beastie Boys, ‘Paul’s Boutique’

Featuring one of the juiciest bong hits ever laid to vinyl (on "Shake Your Rump"), Paul’s Boutique not only has more rhymes that Jamaica’s got mangos, it also has more weed references than Peter Tosh had dreadlocks. "I smoke cheeba, it helps me with my brain/I might be a little dusted, but I'm not insane," the late, great MCA raps on "3 Minute Rule." The Beasties and L.A. production crew the Dust Brothers reinvented hip-hop in their own bong-distorted image in this freewheeling masterpiece, throwing anything from Seventies funk to hip-hop to Bob Dylan to Bob Marley to Elvis Costello to the Ramones to Pink Floyd into the blunted B-boy bouillabaisse.

Pink Floyd The Dark Side of the Moon

Courtesy of Capitol Records

3

Pink Floyd, ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’

Pink Floyd's magnum opus hit just as pot was becoming mainstream in suburbia. It had everything you'd ever want from a stoner symphony: Grand, transporting melodies, synapse-ripping synth experiments and sound collages, intricate musicianship, state-of-the-art studio sound and John Lennon-meets-Thom Yorke lyrics like "The lunatic is on the grass/Remembering games and daisy chains and laughs/Got to keep the loonies on the path." Dark Side was a terrifying depiction of mental illness and capitalist excess and a withering assessment of the British class system. But prom committees throughout America couldn't resist selecting "Time" as their senior class theme song – perhaps because they were all so amazingly high.

Portishead Dummy

Courtesy of Go! Beat

2

Portishead, ‘Dummy’

This noirish 1994 LP sounds especially good around 4:20 because few producers have paid such obsessive attention to detail as Portishead's Geoff Barrow. Vocalist Beth Gibbons' cold-water siren songs could induce melancholic inner gazing all by themselves. Barrow, meanwhile, worries over every beat and sample till they reach maximum bloom, transforming the songs into set pieces from a spy movie ("Sour Times") or near-burying them in hip-hop dub ("Wandering Star"), and always leaving you craving more.

Jimi Hendrix Axis: Bold as Love

Courtesy of MCA Records

1

Jimi Hendrix, ‘Axis: Bold as Love’

Hendrix's second album is Sixties rock's finest psychedelic odyssey, a bowl-sparking masterpiece whose 13 songs are a virtual banquet of stoner delights: the trippy sound collage from a fake radio station that opens the album, woozy studio tomfoolery, epic dragonfly flights like "Spanish Castle Magic" and "If 6 Was 9," freak-power Google News-alerts ("white collar conservative flashing down the street pointing their plastic finger at me") and, of course, guitar playing that pretty much perfected the idea of rock & roll as interstellar escape pod.

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