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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

Wilco Sky Blue Sky

Courtesy of Nonesuch Records

40

Wilco, ‘Sky Blue Sky’

Irony alert: the record about Jeff Tweedy’s post-rehab coolout period is by far Wilco's weediest. Elegant and mellow, rich with sweet Seventies rock scholarship, Sky Blue Sky has the best band interplay of any of their albums. On "Impossible Germany" Tweedy and avant-guitar bigshot Nels Cline noodle heavenward like a chill post-rock Steely Dan for six insanely pretty minutes, and the lyrics wrestle rough, fuzzy wisdom from everyday shit like doing the laundry and walking alone around your neighborhood, singing to yourself.

Os Mutantes

Courtesy of Omplatten‬ Records

39

Os Mutantes, ‘Os Mutantes’

Os Mutantes were kids when they made this debut: Sergio Dias Baptista was only 17, his brother Arnaldo was 20 and singer Rita Lee just 21. But their irreverent blend of Brazilian pop and Anglo-American rock (like that of their cohorts Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso) made for a wild, idea-packed ride where the tunes ("Panis et Circencis," "Baby") come as fast as the sonic surprises. It's one of the late-Sixties' most mischievous head trips, which is saying something.

Beach House Devotion

Courtesy of Carpark Records

38

Beach House, ‘Devotion’

The Baltimore duo's second album was the perfect deep-toking soundtrack for late-'00s indie kids: a drifty, velveteen set full of homemade charm, gauzy keyboards and hypnotic tunes. When Victoria Legrand repeats her "Oh, oh, oh" refrain on "Gila," it echoes around the brain, just right for times when everything else does too.

David Crosby If I Could Only Remember My Name

Courtesy of Atlantic Records

37

David Crosby, ‘If I Could Only Remember My Name’

Like a super-stoned campfire jam with an A-list of Cali hippie-rockers – including Joni Mitchell and most of the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and CSNY – this hazy solo project by the altered-consciousness overachiever sounds like it was pretty much made up on the spot. See the toasted strum-fest "Music Is Love" (with Neil Young on congas!) and "Tamalpais High," with Jerry Garcia and Jorma Kaukonen noodling around wordless Crosby-Nash harmonies. By the time it's over, you may not remember your name, either.

Fleet Foxes Fleet Foxes

Courtesy of Sub Pop Records

36

Fleet Foxes, ‘Fleet Foxes’

Conjuring guitar mass at the Church of Our Lady of Green Bud, this thickly bearded debut opens with what sounds like a wake-and-bake congregation harmonizing about a "red squirrel in the morning" and going on to sing of hummingbirds, meadowlarks and laughing children amid a swirl of strumming, flute-blowing and tambourine jiggling. Sublimely chill, the set flows like a brook; it can turn any inner-city weed-smoking party into a camping trip of the mind.

Sigur Rós Von

Courtesy of One Little Indian Records

35

Sigur Rós, ‘Ágætis byrjun’

Turn off your mind, relax and float . . . off? Up? Out? On their breakthrough album, these Icelanders kicked up sound clouds that seem to stretch across the sky, laced with Jónsi Þór Birgisson's droning, bowed guitar, icy falsetto and melodies so spacey they barely register as tunes. Ágætis byrjun is seriously drifty stuff, ideal for laying perfectly still, going totally blank and imagining every particle in your body gently separating from every other particle.

Pharcyde Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde

Courtesy of Delicious Vinyl Records

34

Pharcyde, ‘Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde’

If Dr. Dre's Cali-weed dream sometimes feels like a paranoid-gangsta nightmare, this Bay Area crew's debut (also from '92) offers a breezier, jazzier and all-around stonier alternative. From the bona-fide hit ("Passin' Me By," a West Coast take on De La Soul's funky Daisy-Age weirdness that's all-time great) to the tokers' anthem "Pass the Pipe," it's a ride you'll be psyched to take.

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.

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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