500 Greatest Albums
Here’s our list of seminal international albums including The Beatles, Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones among others
310. BloodSexSugarMagik ”“ Red Hot Chili Peppers
The band hadn’t yet broken. Anthony Kiedis was exploring acting (the evidence: his cameo in Point Break). Then the Peppers went touchy-feely (and multiplatinum) with ballads such as “Under the Bridge.” Thanks in part to producer Rick Rubin, the transition to success was remorseless.
309. Nothing’s Shocking ”“ Jane’s Addiction
They thought Led Zeppelin were a funk band, and when they learned this was not true, they carried on anyway. Initially released wrapped in ribbed rubber, Jane’s major-label debut rewrites pre-Nirvana rock history, reconciling punk and metal with shredding riffs on oceanic songs.
308. The Sun Records Collection – Various Artists
Blues without polish, country without corn and rockabilly played with brainless abandon. This collection of Fifties releases has acknowledged greats (Elvis, Johnny, Jerry Lee) and lesser-known gems (Bill Justis’ spiky “Raunchy”). Lewis’ take on the Sun sound was, “It took all of us to screw up the world.”
307. Avalon – Roxy Music
Peter Sinfield, producer of Roxy Music’s angular and wild 1972 debut, said that on Avalon they “ran out of naivete.” Their sound was now woozy and lush, horny yet mature. And also unabashedly, unironically romantic. A synth-soul landmark, Avalon was their biggest hit, their swan song and the pinnacle of rock elegance.
306. Songs for Swingin’ Lovers – Frank Sinatra
Here is an album that means to deny the rock & roll that was then changing America and succeeds. The songs were standards, most ten or twenty years old, and Sinatra and arranger Nelson Riddle were bent on jazzy, hip sophistication. “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” still stands as a Sinatra high point.
305. Odelay ”“ Beck
Burrowing into the studio with the Dust Brothers, Beck came back with a Technicolor version of his Woody Guthrie-meets-Grandmaster Flash vision, demonstrating to all his rock peers on “Devil’s Haircut” and “Where It’s At” that turntables had a brighter future than refried grunge ”” at least for the next decade.
304. Car Wheels on a Gravel Road ”“ Lucinda Williams
It took three torturous years to finish, but it was worth it; there are no bad songs on this alt-country masterwork. The title track is one of Williams’ best: Over guitars that owe more to the Stones than to the Opry, she uses country to tell a story about the rootlessness of American life.
303. Grace ”“ Jeff Buckley
Buckley had a voice like an oversexed angel, and the songs on Grace shimmer and twist and ripple. On the fierce rocker “Eternal Life,” he upends Led Zeppelin’s take on the blues, even as he honors it: Instead of a hellhound on his trail, Buckley, who drowned in 1997, sings about immortality bearing down on him.
302. The Marshall Mathers LP ”“ Eminem
Before his second album, Eminem was a shock rapper with a sense of humor; after Marshall Mathers, he was the voice of a generation. “I’m not a role model, and I don’t claim to be,” he said, but on songs such as “The Real Slim Shady,” he creates a vast, pissed-off audience.
301. John Wesley Harding ”“ Bob Dylan
Recovering from his 1966 motorcycle crash, Dylan took a left turn into country music, connecting to Nashville through a host of characters from the Bible and America’s rugged history. And with “All Along the Watchtower,” he may have written the most ominous rock song ever.