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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

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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