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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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490. Entertainment! – Gang of Four

Formed in 1977, Gang of Four combined Marxist politics with punk rock. They played staccato guitar-driven funk, and the stiff, jerky aggression of songs such as “Damaged Goods” and “I Found That Essence Rare” invented a new style that’s still influencing young bands such as the Rapture.

489. Guitar Town ”“ Steve Earle

“I got a two-pack habit and a motel tan,” Earle sings on the title track. By the time he released his debut at thirty-one, he had done two stints in Nashville as a songwriter, and he wanted something else. Guitar Town is the rocker’s version of country, packed with songs about hard living in the Reagan Eighties.

488. Voodoo – D’Angelo

D’Angelo recorded his second album at Electric Lady, the Manhattan studio built by Jimi Hendrix. There he studied bootleg videos of Sixties and Seventies soul singers and cooked up an album heavy on bass and drenched in a post-coital haze. The single “Untitled (How Does It Feel?)” sounds like a great lost Prince song.

487. Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness – The Smashing Pumpkins

Billy Corgan indulged his love of Seventies prog-rock on this double disc of alt-rock epics built around James Iha’s ethereal guitar and Corgan’s anguished keen; “Tonight, Tonight” and the New Wave tribute “1979” are the Pumpkins at their finest.

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486. Maggot Brain – Funkadelic

“Play like your mama just died,” George Clinton told guitarist Eddie Hazel. The result was “Maggot Brain,” ten minutes of Hendrix-style guitar anguish. This is the heaviest rock album the P-Funk crew ever created, but it also made room for the acoustic-guitar funk of “Can You Get to That”

485. All Time Greatest Hits – Loretta Lynn

Anyone who thinks country music is cute should listen to “Fist City,” where Lynn threatens to beat down a woman if she doesn’t lay off her man. The White Stripes worship this coal miner’s daughter, and so should anyone with a taste for country gals who kick ass.

484. Branded Man – Merle Haggard

Haggard’s tough country sound was born in Bakersfield, California, which became known as Nashville West. His songs are full of drifters, fugitives and rogues, and he’s not kidding in the title track when he talks about holding his head up after getting out of prison ”” he did time in San Quentin for robbery.

483. Life After Death – The Notorious B.I.G.

As the Roots’ Ahmir Thompson put it, “Rakim is the Father, Biggie’s the Son, and Jay-Z’s the Holy Ghost.” Released less than a month after Biggie’s murder, Life After Death is two CDs of humor and bravado, no filler at all, as Biggie tops himself in “Mo Money Mo Problems” and “#!*@ You Tonight.”

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482. Armed Forces – Elvis Costello and the Attractions

Costello’s third album is wound tight, full of paranoia and anger. The concept is personal politics; the original title was Emotional Fascism, and one of the songs is called “Two Little Hitlers.” The keyboard-driven sound of “Accidents Will Happen” helped define New Wave.

481. The Smiths – The Smiths

“I recognize that mystical air/It means I’d like to seize your underwear,” Morrissey moans, and rock music was never the same. The Smiths’ debut is a showcase for Morrissey’s morose wit and Johnny Marr’s guitar chime, trudging through England’s cheerless marshes in “Still Ill” and “This Charming Man.”

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