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Women Who Rock: The 50 Greatest Albums of All Time

The fiercest albums that female musicians have given the world

From Blondie to Beyonce, from Aretha to Adele, these are just 50 of the fiercest albums that female rock & rollers have given the world. There are plenty more where these came from – but these are all essential musical statements. Including, but not limited to: girl-group glamazons, guitar warriors, blues wailers, country cowgirls, disco queens, rappers, folkies, gold dust women, sweethearts of the rodeo, funky divas, punks and poets and pop stars. A little toot toot. A lot of beep beep. And of course, Lady Gaga.

10

Bikini Kill, ‘The Singles’

Kill Rock Stars, 1998

These punk rock hellions blasted out of the Pacific Northwest, setting off the riot grrrl explosion. No band this side of the Clash could top them for savage rage and humor.

Essential moment: "Rebel Girl," an air-guitar rant for a grrrl with the revolution in her hips.

9

The Supremes, ‘Anthology’

Motown, 2001

If any group ever sounded like clothes, it was the Supremes: three ghetto-fabulous Motown singers fluttering queen-size eyelashes and teetering on their heels as they sang of love and its torments.

Essential moment: The sighing and crying of "Come See About Me."

8

Blondie, ‘Parallel Lines’

Crysalis, 1978

Deborah Harry and her crew might have started out as CBGB punks, but her voice was clearly always meant for the big time. She poses and preens, with a heart of glass and a heart of stone.

Essential moment: "Hanging On The Telephone," when she growls, "I can’t control myself."

7

Missy Elliott, ‘Under Construction’

Elektra/Wea, 2002

The Virginia hip-hop freak-master drops her loudest bomb, mixing old-school rap, double-dutch playground chants, and avant-garde funk.

Essential moment: "Work It," as Missy puts her thing down, flips it and reverses it.

6

Adele, ’21’

XL, 2011

The British belter had a timeless source of inspiration – as she put it, "a rubbish relationship." But she turned her fiercely wounded heart and soul-on-fire voice into the hugest pop success of our time, doing for rubbish relationships what Thriller did for zombies.

Essential moment: The window-rattler chorus of "Rolling In The Deep."

5

Patti Smith, ‘Horses’

Arista, 1975

Rock & roll poetry was a bore until this Jersey girl showed up – suddenly, it was all sex and sweat and switchblades and Jesus in black leather and horses and sweet young things humping the parking meter. And she had a really sick drummer.

Essential moment: "Gloria," a six-minute blast of fast, filthy garage rock with "1-2-3-4! " energy.

4

Fleetwood Mac, ‘Rumours’

Warner Bros., 1977

Anyone even remotely tempted to date a guitarist should be required to investigate Rumours first, as Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie report from their free-love commune of the damned.

Essential moment: "Gold Dust Woman": Nicks takes a silver spoon to dig a grave for the Seventies.

3

Dusty Springfield, ‘Dusty in Memphis’

Atlantic, 1969

Sixties pop songbird combines with the orchestrations of master producer Jerry Wexler and the soft girlie glow of Gerry Goffin and Carole King's songwriting. Result: British soul masterpiece.

Essential moment: The sweet ruffles and stiletto swing of Dusty's vocals on "Son of a Preacher Man."

2

Joni Mitchell, ‘Blue’

Reprise, 1971

An acoustic tour de force with a swinging cast of beautiful losers, cafe romantics, sugar daddies, drunkards, liars and Rolling Stone-reading jet-setters in Spain. The one-liners cut sharp enough for a Preston Sturges film.

Essential moment: "Carey," a jaded love ditty.

1

Aretha Franklin, ‘I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You’

Atlantic, 1967

The greatest rock, pop or soul singer ever steps to the mike and clears her throat. Franklin was shocking in 1967, and still is: Nobody has ever sung with more intensity, more swagger, more soul.

Essential moment: "Respect," which never stops kicking your ass.

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