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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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370. Volunteers – Jefferson Airplane

Guitarist Jorma Kaukonen called Paul Kantner’s revolutionary cheerleading “naive,” but that didn’t prevent the band from delivering this album with anthemic fervor. Also here: The gorgeous “Wooden Ships” and “Eskimo Blue Day,” where Grace Slick famously sings, “The human name doesn’t mean shit to a tree.”

369. Regatta de Blanc – The Police

The Police may have snuck in through punk’s back door, but Sting said the mission was always to “sell great music to masses of people.” They did that with Regatta, an album best known for “Message in a Bottle” but distinguished by the mutant reggae of “The Bed’s Too Big Without You” and “Walking on the Moon.”

368. Rage Against the Machine – Rage Against the Machine

“I believe in this band’s ability to bridge the gap between entertainment and activism,” declared Zack de la Rocha, whose radical politics found sympathetic muscle in Tom Morello’s howling one-guitar army, making a furor unheard since the MC5 and the Clash.

367. Is This It ”“ The Strokes

The objective of Is This It, said Strokes singer Julian Casablancas, “was to be really cool and non-mainstream, and be really popular.” Recorded literally under the streets of New York, this revivifying blast of guitar-combo racket passionately reconciled those seemingly contradictory aspirations and accomplished both.

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366. Mott ”“ Mott the Hoople

David Bowie’s All the Young Dudes had revived Mott’s career, but Ian Hunter “wanted people to know that David didn’t create this band.” Producing themselves, they weathered skepticism and studio fistfights to record this self-referencing examination of rock as “a loser’s game”; Mott became their greatest success.

365. Louder Than Bombs ”“ The Smiths

Designed to whet interest in the U.S. while the Smiths completed a new record, this dazzling assortment of singles and album tracks became an unintended epitaph when the band dissolved. While it lasted, however, even the dour Morrissey had to admit that “the union was perfect.”

364. American Recordings ”“ Johnny Cash

After a decade of neglect by the country establishment, Cash returned with a stark acoustic album produced by Rick Rubin. “There was nothing to hide behind, and that was scary,” said Cash. With everything from gospel to a Danzig cover, it was a reminder that a giant still walked among us.

363. Ray of Light ”“ Madonna

For her first post-motherhood disc, Madonna and producer William Orbit showed the world that electronic music doesn’t have to be cold. Songs such as the title track and “Nothing Really Matters” are beat-driven but restrained, filled with warmth and wonder. Ray also features her best singing ever.

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362. L.A. Woman – The Doors

Jim Morrison said that the Doors wanted to “get back to what we did originally: just be very primitive in our approach, very relaxed.” Recorded in their rehearsal room with Morrison’s mike set up in the bathroom, this was a bluesier, confident Doors, including “Love Her Madly” and “Riders on the Storm.” Morrison died soon after.

361. Substance – New Order

This assemblage of twelve-inch singles and remixes charts New Order’s transformation from gloom rockers to electrodisco pioneers. The highlights ”” club hits including “Blue Monday” and “Bizarre Love Triangle” ”” are full of bass melodies that young bands such as Interpol are still trying to figure out.

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