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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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390. Elephant ”“ The White Stripes

Jack and Meg White’s minimalist garage rock proves it has more depth and power than even their more optimistic critics expected. On tracks such as the slow-burning “Seven Nation Army” and “The Hardest Button to Button,” Jack White’s songwriting talent finally matches his blues fan-boy, art-school shtick.

389. The End of the Innocence – Don Henley

Returning to the theme of “Desperado” and much of his past work, the former Eagle hitched some of his finest melodies (especially on the gentle title track) to sharply focused lyrical studies of men in troubled transition ”” from youth to adulthood, from innocence to responsibility.

388. A Hard Day’s Night ”“ The Beatles

This soundtrack to the Richard Lester film cemented all that U.S. listeners had heard about the Beatles genius in the off-kilter beauty of John Lennon’s “If I Fell” and the rockabilly bounce of Paul McCartney’s “Can’t Buy Me Love.” A humbling footnote: The album was recorded in one day.

387. Country Life ”“ Roxy Music

The ultra-cool mur-mur of Bryan Ferry’s voice could not be better suited to the warm musical setting offered by guitarist Phil Manzanera. Country Life brims with romantic pop and sleek arrangements that hint at a lifestyle of luxury, style and erotic allure; “Thrill of It All” is a high-water mark for art rock and glam rock.

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386. Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers – Wu-Tang Clan

East-coast hip-hop made a return in 1993, thanks to a troupe of Staten Island, New York, MCs with a fascination for Hong Kong martial-arts mythology and producer RZA’s love of menacing atmospherics. Hip-hop had been harder, but it had rarely been this dirty.

385. Pretzel Logic – Steely Dan

Here they make their love of jazz explicit, covering Duke Ellington and copping the intro of “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” from hard-bop pianist Horace Silver. The guitars on their third album are dialed back, for a sound that’s slick and airtight without being cold. And the lyrics? As twisted as ever.

384. Pyromania – Def Leppard

A perfect balance of melodic hooks and metal: Before he met Shania Twain, producer Mutt Lange crammed an arena-ready sound and stacks of choruses onto Pyromania. “The choruses on things like ‘Rock of Ages’ were enormous,” said singer Joe Elliott. The band was written off by critics, but the kids understood.

383. A Quick One (Happy Jack) – The Who

The Who were caught in the middle of an experimental phase, and the results were fascinatingly quirky. The cover of the theme from Batman shows the quartet having fun, and Pete Townshend’s mini-opera “A Quick One While He’s Away” foreshadows his songwriting ambition and greatness.

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382. More Songs About Buildings and Food – Talking Heads

Spawned in the punk scene of 1970s Manhattan, the Heads struck out in a surprising direction with their second album, weaving in funk and gospel (including Al Green’s “Take Me to the River”) and announcing themselves as the newest of the New Wave bands.

381. Modern Lovers ”“ Modern Lovers

Jonathan Richman moved from Boston to New York as a teenager in hopes of sleeping on Lou Reed’s couch. That influence shows on the two-chord anthem “Roadrunner.” Recorded in 1972 but not released until 1976, Modern Lovers turned the tough sounds of the Velvets into an ode to suburban romanticism.

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