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500 Greatest Albums

Here’s our list of seminal international albums including The Beatles, Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones among others

Rolling Stone India May 19, 2011
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400. Illmatic ”“ Nas

A stone-cold East Coast hip-hop classic. Other rappers were harder and better-armed, but nobody captured the creeping menace of life on the streets like this twenty-year-old from New York’s Queensbridge projects. Deploying lines such as “I never sleep, ’cause sleep is the cousin of death,” Nas displayed more pure poetic style than anyone since Rakim ”” but unlike Eighties rappers, Nas was responding to a city where “crews without guns are goners.”

399. Californication ”“ Red Hot Chili Pepers

Turning their focus completely to songs instead of jams, the Red Hot Chili Peppers steered frontman Anthony Kiedis’ voice into a radio-friendlier wail on Californication. That, and the reappearance of guitarist/ secret weapon John Frusciante helped form beautifully composed songs such as “Scar Tissue.”

398. Anthology ”“ The Temptations

Indisputably the greatest black vocal group of the modern era, this quintet created masterpiece after masterpiece of chugging, gospel-tinged soul. Anthology captures a slice of the Temps’ prime, including “My Girl,” “I Can’t Get Next to You” and “I Wish It Would Rain.” What’s not to like?

397. Rain Dogs ”“ Tom Waits

“I like weird, ludicrous things,” Waits once said. That understatement plays out most clearly on Rain Dogs, his finest portrait of the tragic kingdom of the streets. Waits abandons his grungy minimalism on the gorgeous “Downtown Train” and gets backing by Keith Richards on “Big Black Mariah.”

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396. Eliminator ”“ ZZ Top

Pure Americana: this song cycle about burning rubber, high heels and adrenaline took fuzzed-out Texas blues guitar and lashed it around rollicking boogie. ZZ Top’s mega-platinum album also had a high-gloss Eighties sheen and singles such as “Sharp Dressed Man” that would help it sell some 10 million copies.

395. Blue Lines ”“ Massive Attack

One of the most influential records of the Nineties, Blue Lines was perhaps the first post-hip-hop masterpiece: a combination of rap, dub and soul that gave birth to what used to be called trip hop, and now we just call chill-out. “What’s important to us is the pace,” said the band’s 3D, “the weight of the bass and the mood.”

394. For Your Pleasure ”“ Roxy Music

Keyboardist Brian Eno’s last album with Roxy Music is the pop equivalent of Ultrasuede: highly stylish, abstract-leaning art rock. The collision of Eno’s and singer Bryan Ferry’s clashing visions gives Pleasure a wild, tense charm ”” especially on the driving “Editions of You” and “Do the Strand.”

393. Good Old Boys ”“ Randy Newman

Newman draws on his roots in the blues and New Orleans boogie to uncork this blistering portrait of the American South. He shows that he was pop’s most cutting satirist on “Rednecks” ””a song that doesn’t spare Northern or Southern racism; Newman said he still gets nervous playing it in some U.S. cities.

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392. Willy and the Poor Boys – Creedence Clearwater Revival

Sharp social criticism (“Fortunate Son”) and party music (“Down on the Corner”) take a ride on the Creedence bandwagon. John Fogerty’s ability to wed rockabilly and swamp rock into catchy, complex arrangements gives Willy a durability few rock albums can match.

391. The Pretender ”“ Jackson Browne

The confident, easy pulse of Southern California folk rock mutated into something far more weighty with Browne’s fourth album. His first wife committed suicide while he was writing these songs; they took a bitter turn. “Say a prayer for the pretender,” he sings, “who stared out so young and strong, only to surrender.”

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