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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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360. Siamese Dream – The Smashing Pumpkins

On their second disc, the Pumpkins pushed further from Nineties alt-rock to a grander, orchestrated sound with multiple guitar parts, strings and a Mellotron. Despite band tension (Corgan played many of the instruments himself), the disc is packed with hits (“Cherub Rock,” “Today”).

359. Stankonia ”“ OutKast

“We call it slumadelic,” said Big Boi of OutKast’s far-reaching blend of hip-hop, funk, rock and otherworldly sounds. “Miss Jackson” was something new for rap: an apology to the mother of an ex-girlfriend. And the sadly still timely “B.O.B. (Bombs Over Baghdad)” twitches to techno beats and screeching guitar.

358. Singles Going Steady ”“ Buzzcocks

Singles collects eight British 45s into a perfect punk album. This Manchester group took the sound of the Ramones and made it jittery and even faster. Songs such as “Orgasm Addict” and “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays” define a world of permanently frustrated punk desire.

357. Honky Chateau – Elton John

After a couple of weightier singer-songwriter outings, it was delightful to hear John revel in the simple pop pleasures of “Honky Cat.” Written in four days, and utilizing his signature touring band for the first time, Chateau is a snapshot of an artist loosening up and coming into his full powers.

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356. Sketches of Spain – Miles Davis

This collaboration between Davis and arranger Gil Evans took fifteen orchestral sessions to record and six months to assemble. It wasn’t an attempt to play Spanish music but to suggest it; its muted beauty contains enormous passion. But is it jazz? Davis responded, “It’s music, and I like it.”

355. Between the Buttons – The Rolling Stones

Manager Andrew Loog Oldham called it the “most English of Stones albums.” Music-hall piano rubs up against the psychedelic soul of “Let’s Spend the Night Together” and “Ruby Tuesday.” And the lovely “She Smiled Sweetly” is offset by yet another great Chuck Berry rip, “Miss Amanda Jones.”

354. 12 Songs – Randy Newman

Newman’s second album remains one of his finest, with guitarist Ry Cooder and a few of the Byrds contributing to the loose, confident sound. The songs are prime Newman ”” caustic, funny, cynical, especially the piano rockers “Mama Told Me (Not to Come)” and “Have You Seen My Baby?” and the tormented “Suzanne.”

353. Having a Rave Up With the Yardbirds – The Yardbirds

Freed from Eric Clapton’s blues purism and spurred by Jeff Beck’s reckless exhibitionism, the Yardbirds launched a noisy rock & roll avant-garde. Partially recorded at Chess in Chicago and Sun in Memphis, this is the bridge between beat groups and psychedelia.

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352. 52nd Street – Billy Joel

The intensive road-work dictated by the success of The Stranger produced a leaner, rock-oriented follow-up, typified by “Big Shot.” Like an American Elton John, Joel assimilated whatever styles (jazz, Latin rhythms) suited his purpose. “I don’t want to limit my diet,” he said, “sampling only one vegetable in the garden.”

351. Brothers in Arms – Dire Straits

Mark Knopfler started writing “Money for Nothing” when he overheard a New York appliance salesman’s anti-rock-star, anti-MTV rant. The song, of course, became a huge MTV hit, and this album shows off Knopfler’s incisive songwriting and lush guitar riffs on “Walk of Life” and “So Far Away.”

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