As this group of 50 got closer to #300, it seemed to get better. The 2010s choices got better, but a couple of them are way too low. The albums that I have ranked the lowest here are still fairly strong and mostly wouldn’t be near the bottom in her groups of 50. 18 out of 50 albums here were from the ’70s, which confirms it will be the most-represented decade here as expected.
Big Artist Updates:
- The Beatles – Let It Be is the first of theirs to show up, and it’s still hard to gauge how many will get in exactly. Help! and Please Please Me are the most in question
- Miles Davis – Still no Miles Davis. I assume it’s going to be three from him, but Sketches of Spain was #358 in 2012; it would have to move up into the top 300 which goes against the flow with how jazz has been treated thus far.
- Brian Eno – He got two in this group, and I’m afraid that’ll be it for him. It’s the same two as in 2012, and they’re right beside each other again.
- David Bowie – After Scary Monsters showed up early, I figured Bowie would be all over this list. That could still be the case with Low, Hunky Dory, Heroes, Ziggy Stardust, Station to Station, and Aladdin Sane all still out there.
- Kanye West – Still no Kanye West. I expect him to have 5 on here but 7/8 is not out of the realm of possibility.
Greatest Hits Compilations:
- ABBA – The Definitive Collection
- Jerry Lee Lewis – All Killer, No Filler
- Sam Cooke – Portrait of a Legend
- Sly & the Family Stone – Greatest Hits
46. New York Dolls – New York Dolls (1973) — I’ve never understood the appeal for this band; their brand of rock is pretty innocuous.
45. The Who – Live at Leeds (1970) — Live albums are tough to pin down as necessary or great listens. The artist has to make a spectacle out of it, but this album just feels like The Who going through the motions.
44. Santana – Abraxas (1970) — Santana’s talent and influence is undeniable, but it doesn’t result in that great of music.
43. Gillian Welch – Time (The Revelator) (2001) — I just can’t get over how many 21st century albums this ended up in front of. Too one-note to ever be included.
42. Arctic Monkeys – AM (2013) — It’s crazy how popular this album is, so if you go with the theory that this is ultimately a popularity contest for albums, then this makes sense. It’s not even their 2nd best album though.
41. PJ Harvey – Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea (2000) — This is a great album that I have praised in the past. It’s not good enough as maybe her fourth best album to be justified this high.
40. The Rolling Stones – Aftermath (1966) — I’ve never loved this album like their main four, so I would cast this one aside on any all-time list.
39. Bob Dylan and the Band – The Basement Tapes (1975) — Rolling Stone’s love for Bob Dylan remains undeterred; he had the most in 2012 with 11 inclusions. I expect 10 this time which will be the most.
38. The Clash – Sandanista! (1980) — There are just too many tracks here that go nowhere. I’m probably in the minority in the belief that only one Clash album should make it.
37. Elvis Presley – From Elvis in Memphis (1969) – This is easily Elvis’ best ’60s album, but at the same time, it’s hard to look at everything great in 1969 and prioritize Elvis for this list.
36. Bob Dylan – John Wesley Harding (1967) — This is in the same boat as Aftermath — too much of a dropoff from his best work to include in this list.
35. Madonna – Like a Prayer (1989) — This is the most respected Madonna album and in that way, it’s a safe pick. It takes itself a little too seriously for my taste. I’d go with her debut over it.
34. Stevie Wonder – Music of My Mind (1972) — The great Stevie Wonder period starts here with a huge change in sound, but the true classics start after this.
33. X – Los Angeles (1980) — Pretty straightforward punk that is pretty great — a step below the classics that should all comprise this list.
32. Coldplay – A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002) — If I’m being critical, some of the lyrics and Martin’s overall presence is barf-worthy. I still mostly love it though.
31. Roxy Music – Avalon (1982) — This is their best album and would be strongly considered.
30. Bruce Springsteen – The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle (1973) — I don’t know if I could find a space for Springsteen’s fifth best album on here, but it has some of his best work.
29. Rosalía – El Mal Querer (2018) — Is Rosalía already a significant enough music figure to warrant this placement? Not this high, but 500? I could agree with that.
28. The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses (1989) — Though British music moved away from much of the sounds the Stone Roses brought to the masses with this album, it still works all the way through.
27. GZA – Liquid Swords (1995) — I don’t like this album as much as all the other Wu-Tang classics, but I’m glad to see it and a bit surprised it’s this high.
26. Toots and the Maytals – Funky Kingston (1973) — The best display of classic rocksteady from this act is an easy inclusion.
25. The Beatles – Let It Be (1970) — Yeah, “Get Back” and “Let It Be” are overplayed, but many underrated Beatles tracks pop up here as well.
24. Wire – Pink Flag (1977) — An album that is 21 tracks in 35 minutes wasn’t really a thing before Wire, and you can hear their influence all over ’80s punk.
23. The Who – The Who Sell Out (1967) — Who-concept-album-fatigue is real, which highlights how fun this one is in hindsight.
22. The Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream (1993) — This album could benefit from not being hyped as potentially the best rock album of the ’90s; it’s a delightfully weird album from a weird artist.
21. KISS – Alive! (1975) — KISS never made a great song in their long, successful career, which makes how exciting their live album is so stunning.
20. Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell (2019) — It’s recent but it’s still good enough for inclusion.
19. Snoop Dogg – Doggystyle (1993) — This album has way too many skits, but it’s certainly not the only rap album to have that problem. The classic songs and production is there.
18. MC5 – Kick Out the Jams (1969) — Live albums become classics when it best represents a band’s spirit and that’s exactly what this accomplishes.
17. Janet Jackson – The Velvet Rope (1997) — This is one of the best produced albums of the ’90s and deserves more critical love such as this.
16. Elvis Presley – Elvis Presley (1956) — Despite some second-rate covers, Elvis’ first album is a great display of what made him so beloved.
15. Bill Withers – Still Bill (1972) — This is the first time Bill Withers has appeared on the Rolling Stone list and for one of the greatest singers of all time, it’s about damn time.
14. Brian Eno – Here Come the Warm Jets (1973) — For avant-garde rock Eno, Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) is better, but this is a classic nonetheless.
13. Al Green – I’m Still in Love With You (1972) — This being ranked higher than Call Me might actually be the right move as its Green’s best collection of songs.
12. Aaliyah – One in a Million (1996) — It’s ridiculous how disregarded this album has been as a pop classic in an era where it wasn’t that common.
11. Prince – Dirty Mind (1980) — Everyone agrees on the four Prince classics that should be on this list, and Dirty Mind is a good pick as fourth best out of them.
10. Neil Young – Tonight’s the Night (1975) — If you look at the Spotify plays for this album, you would think this is an inessential flop. The truth is it’s some of Young’s most heartfelt difficult recordings.
9. Bill Withers – Just As I Am (1971) — Withers is now the first artist to have multiple albums appear while not having any in 2012. His critical reappraisal in in motion.
8. Janet Jackson – Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989) — As one of the greatest and most impactful pop albums of all time, it should be higher. We’ll see if Control gets on this list at all.
7. Billie Holiday — Lady in Satin (1958) — This is a debut appearance for Billie Holiday, one of the greatest and most influential singers of all time.
6. DJ Shadow – Endtroducing… (1996) — Good news/Bad News: This album makes a debut appearance for Rolling Stone, but it can’t even reach the top 300 despite unanimous praise and long-lasting influence.
5. Joy Division – Closer (1980) — You can tell we’ve reached the point where I’m furious about how low these albums are in the list. This is one of the most refined and energetic post-punk releases ever, and it’s 8 spots behind the New York Dolls.
4. Solange – A Seat at the Table (2016) — Since its release four years ago, no new album has been better, but it looks like it’s going to be behind a few of them.
3. Brian Eno – Another Green World (1975) — No mid-’70s release sounds as modern as this one. The sounds, the idea, the vision — it has everything that’s so wonderful about Eno and these voters don’t value him enough.
2. Neil Young – On the Beach (1974) — This is another album making a debut appearance, which is stunning as Young’s best work. It makes my top 50 and doesn’t end up behind an ABBA compilation.
1. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City (2013) — I listened to this one in full yesterday — the first time in a while. I sang every word like I recently studied them. It’s perfect enough to be in front of Young’s and Eno’s best work and quite possibly the best pop rock album of my lifetime. In other words, not #328.