500 Greatest Albums
Here’s our list of seminal international albums including The Beatles, Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones among others
340. Damaged – Black Flag
MCA refused to release Damaged, denouncing it as “immoral” and “anti-parent.” High praise, but Black Flag lived up to it, defining L.A. hardcore punk with violent guitar and the pissed-off scream of Henry Rollins, especially on “TV Party” and “Rise Above.” Punks still listen to Damaged, and parents still hate it.
339. The Heart of Saturday Night – Tom Waits
By the time Waits made his second album, he’d fully developed his talent for growling, jazzy beatnik gutter tales, and largely dispensed with the love songs. He does it best on “Diamonds on My Windshield” and “The Ghosts of Saturday Night (After Hours at Napoleone’s Pizza House).”
338. Cheap Thrills – Big Brother and the Holding Company
Janis Joplin said, “we’re just a sloppy group of street freaks.” But these San Francisco acid rockers, one of the first Haight-Ashbury groups, were the most simpatico band she ever had, especially when its raw racket backs her up on “Piece of My Heart,” perhaps her greatest recording.
337. Aqualung ”“ Jethro Tull
Jethro Tull were hairy prog-rock philosophers who decried organized religion (“Hymn 43”) and modern hypocrisy (“Aqualung”) while managing to incorporate flute solos. With several FM-radio hits, this was the record that made Tull into a major arena band. The cover painting gave Seventies kids nightmares.
336. Superunknown ”“ Soundgarden
They were the seattle punk scene’s headbanging answer to Led Zeppelin II. But they became real songwriters on Superunknown, shaping their angst into grunge anthems such as “Black Hole Sun.” “We realized the importance of melody,” said Chris Cornell. “Maybe we’ve been listening to Bryan Ferry.”
335. Squeezing Out Sparks – Graham Parker
An angry young crank in the mode of Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson, Parker, a former gas-station attendant, rode the wave of U.K. punk. His fifth album combines bar-band rock with New Wave hooks, but his bitter paranoia also shines through on “Protection” and “Nobody Hurts You.”
334. Wild Gift ”“ X
John Doe and Exene Cervenka harmonize about doomed love over L.A. garage-rock thrash, changing the emotional language of punk. They were the White Stripes of their day, a young couple messing with country and blues in gems such as “Adult Books,” “Beyond and Back” and “We’re Desperate.”
333. Shoot Out the Lights – Richard and Linda Thompson
The British folk-rock duo’s last album together is a harrowing portrait of a marriage gone bad, made as their own marriage collapsed. The catchiest song is called “Wall of Death.” They agreed to tour, and audiences got to see Linda attack Richard onstage.
332. Help! – The Beatles
The moptops’ second movie was a Swinging London goof, but the soundtrack was a smashing time, including the classics “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” and “Ticket to Ride,” and the lovely “I’ve Just Seen a Face.” Help! didn’t break new ground, but it paved the way for the Beatles’ next stop: Rubber Soul.
331. Tonight’s The Night ”“ Neil Young
Young made this album as a tribute to two friends who died from drugs, Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten and roadie Bruce Berry. Young sounds like he’s on the edge of a breakdown in the mournful ballads “Tired Eyes” and “Speakin’ Out,” recorded with a loose, heavily emotional sound.