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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

The Congos Heart of the Congos

Courtesy of Black Ark Records

33

The Congos, ‘Heart of the Congos’

Plenty of classic reggae albums came in instrumental dub versions, remixed for maximum hypnagogic effect. But this Lee Perry-produced classic by vocal duo Cedric Myton and Roydel Johnson is one of the peaks of Jamaican roots music in large part because it came pre-baked. The mesmerizing grooves and transporting tunes of "Fisherman" and "Congoman Chant" are layered with studio muck that grabs and holds whether you're feeling irie or not.

Herbie Hancock Head Hunters

Courtesy of Columbia Records

32

Herbie Hancock, ‘Head Hunters’

Jazz keyboardist Herbie Hancock began the Seventies by cutting a heady trio of electronics-laden albums, backed by a volatile sextet. For Head Hunters, he eased up on the mood and made an ultra-groovy funk odyssey that kicked off with a burbling, riffy 15-minute jam perfect for some heavy-lidded wiggling. The album went on to sell a half-million copies, which is an awful lot of black-light soirées.

King Sunny Ade The Classic Years

Courtesy of I.R.S. Records

31

King Sunny Ade, ‘The Classic Years’

Recorded from 1967 to 1974 – well over a decade before the master of Nigerian juju was being billed as "the next Bob Marley" – these lush, iridescent workouts are simply some of the sticky-ickiest jams ever recorded anywhere on earth, in any genre. King Sunny’s guitar rolls resplendently over a plush, constantly shifting undergroove on tracks that keep unveiling "whoa, dude" mysteries, even as they languidly bliss out for as long as 18 minutes. It can evoke everything from surf rock to the Grateful Dead, but comparisons only get you so far – he's gliding through his own stratosphere, high on his own supply.

Flaming Lips Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Records

30

Flaming Lips, ‘Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots’

Two decades into their career, the Flaming Lips sounded like they were discovering the world for the first time – or like they had just smoked some really good Sour Diesel. Amid bright orchestration, spacy electronic excursions, and even some animal sounds, Wayne Coyne sings about a robot-fighting karate expert named Yoshimi, all the while pondering big-picture questions about love, the universe and paranoia. The album's most famous lyric is familiar to anyone who's been on a burn-turn gone dark: "Do you realize that everyone you know someday will die?"

Meat Puppets Up on the Sun

Courtesy of SST Records

29

Meat Puppets, ‘Up on the Sun’

These Arizona punk rockers started out as snarling punks, but by the time they recorded their third album, they'd come out of the smoke-billowing neo-hippie closet to expose a serious Grateful Dead side. Up on the Sun is utterly golden, inventing their own strand of desert mysticism on bell-ringing guitar zoneouts like "Maidens Milk" and "Two Rivers." Singer-guitarist Curt Kirkwood sounds like Jerry Garcia hitting up the skate-park, and his bong was clearly always close at hand as he penned cotton-mouthed poetry like "Up in my head there's an animal kingdom/I am the king of the animals there." Extra stoner points for ending the album with a song called "Creator," about how religion is weird.

‪Dr. Dre The Chronic‬

Courtesy of Interscope Records

28

‪Dr. Dre, ‘The Chronic‬’

Dr. Dre's solo smash was named after a particularly potent strain of weed, which was fitting: With its bottomless bass vortices, Snoop Dogg's just-hit-the-bong flow and a laid-back vibe signaling a new kind of gangsta cool, The Chronic felt like an endless toke on a hot summer afternoon. A generation of stoners found it all but impossible not to smoke up their cars when "Let Me Ride" and "Nuthin But a 'G' Thang" came on the radio.

Miles Davis Bitches Brew

Courtesy of Columbia Records

27

Miles Davis, ‘Bitches Brew’

Recorded in August 1969, only hours after Hendrix closed Woodstock with the "Star-Spangled Banner," this big bang of jazz-rock fusion rarely gets credit for also being a psychedelic watershed. Horns and keyboards float and storm like electric clouds in a monsoon sky, their movements warped by echo, reverb, tape edits and loops. It turned the bebop innovator into a hippie-era superstar, gigging alongside the Grateful Dead at venues like the Fillmore West, while its trippy gatefold LP sleeve was a mandatory dorm room weed-cleaning tool for a generation.

OutKast Aquemini

Courtesy of LaFace Records

26

Outkast, ‘Aquemini’

The most famous songs on Outkast's third album – the singles "Rosa Parks" and "Skew It on the Bar-B" – are party tracks for passing the dutchie from coast to coast. But they're just part of what makes Aquemini such a red-eyed blast. Mind-erasing Southern-slacker funk suffuses the whole enterprise, from the water-pipe bubbles in the title track to cruising-the-streets soul of "West Savannah" and "Liberation" to the reggae flourishes on "SpottieOttieDopaliscious." They never sounded this smartly spaced-out again.

Kyuss Welcome to Sky Valley

Courtesy of Elektra Records

25

Kyuss, ‘Welcome to Sky Valley’

The muzzy sound of four very high young men hanging out in Palm Desert, Cali, just making one of the all-time great stoner metal albums, nbd. Future Queens of the Stone Age leader Josh Homme provides the headache fuzz-tone and swinging grooves, and the CD version of the album provides a clue it's meant for deep listening, possibly while too baked to move: The 10 tracks are only playable as three "movements."

D'Angelo Voodoo

Courtesy of Virgin Records

24

D’Angelo, ‘Voodoo’

This stoned-soul masterpiece unfurls grooves that sneak up on you like kush cookies, with Questlove's funky one-beats appearing and disappearing like peas in a street-corner hustler's shell game. Sparkling with red-eyed tape effects, turntable tricks, handclaps and finger-snaps, its weedhead cred is capped on "Left and Right" with a baked MC turn by Redman and Method Man, who sets the standard for stoned-loverman Seventies TV-quoting free association: "Baby you got me like Joanie had Chachi/Until she got high and went and fucked Potsie."

My Morning Jacket Z

Courtesy of ATO Records

23

My Morning Jacket, ‘Z’

Underappreciated as vapo-session soundtrackers, MMJ have actually made a few classic 4:20 LPs. But this is the most perfectly-realized. "Gideon" is resplendent with meteor-shower guitars; "Dondante" is a slo-mo joint that explodes your head halfway through. But most surprising are the reggae grooves of "Off the Record" and "Wordless Chorus" – the latter an unlikely dub session filled with Jim James' ecstatically post-verbal falsetto wailing. Puff enough, and dude's gorgeous gibberish will sound like the wisdom of the ages.

My Bloody Valentine Loveless

Courtesy of Creation Records

22

My Bloody Valentine, ‘Loveless’

Is it the ultimate shoegaze album? Absolutely. But also perfect for sitting on the couch, cranking it to 11 and the letting shuddering guitar noise ("Only Shallow"), proto-jungle drum breaks ("Soon") and enormous waves of fuzz and howl (pretty much all of it) amplify your high. The vocals are just buried enough to both inspire a few rounds of "what did she just say?" and then make you realize you don’t much care.

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.