500 Greatest Albums
Here’s our list of seminal international albums including The Beatles, Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones among others
300. Fear of a Black Planet – Public Enemy
Coming two years after the ground-breaking It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, Public Enemy’s third album should have been a victory lap. But “Welcome to the Terrordome” ignited charges of anti-Semitism. The lyrical flap couldn’t overwhelm PE’s widescreen vision of hip-hop, which included the righteous noise of “Fight the Power,” the uplifting sentiment of “Brothers Gonna Work It Out,” the chiding soul of “Pollywanacraka” and the agit-funk of “911 is a Joke.”
299. Coat of Many Colors – Dolly Parton
Parton’s starkest, most affecting album. The title track is about wearing rags but keeping your pride. The rest is more hard country: On “Traveling Man,” Parton’s mom runs off with the singer’s boyfriend; on “If I Lose My Mind,” her boyfriend has sex with another woman in front of her.
298. Master of Reality – Black Sabbath
The greatest sludge-metal band of them all in its prime. Paranoid may have bigger hits, but Master of Reality, released a mere six months later, is heavier. The highlight is “Sweet Leaf,” a droning love song to marijuana; and the vibe is summed up by the final track, “Into the Void.”
297. Weezer (Blue Album) ”“ Weezer
When it came out, Weezer’s debut was merely a cool, quirky power-pop album with a couple of hit singles: “Buddy Holly” and “Undone (The Sweater Song).” But Rivers Cuomo’s band became a major influence on young sad-sack punkers who today claim Weezer as one of emo’s pioneers.
296. We’re Only in It for the Money – The Mothers of Invention
“What’s the ugliest part of your body?” asked Frank Zappa. Answer: your brain. Only in It for the Money is a milestone of studio mischief and a merciless satire of anything that pissed Zappa off during flower power’s heyday ”” drippy hippies, the Establishment, whatever.
295. Meat is Murder – The Smiths
Inspired by can riffs, bookended by lengthy, brutal songs about corporal punishment and the horrors of the cattle industry, the Smiths’ 1985 disc is the darkest entry in the U.K. group’s catalog. On “How Soon Is Now?” Morrissey sums up with great pathos and hilarity what a drag it is to be shy. More pathos would come.
294. Kick Out the Jams – MC5
It’s the ultimate rock salute: “Kick out the jams, motherfuckers!” Recorded live in Detroit by Rob Tyner and his anarchist crew, Kick Out the Jams writhes and screams with the belief that rock & roll is a necessary act of civil disobedience. The proof: It was banned by a Michigan department store.
293. Greatest Hits – Simon and Garfunkel
Released in the wake of a brief reunion for a George McGovern campaign benefit concert in 1972, Greatest Hits combines big Simon and Garfunkel hits and live tracks, and summarizes nearly everything great about the duo: intimate harmonizing, observant lyrics, innovative arrangements and singular tunes.
292. White Light/White Heat – The Velvet Underground
The most extreme album in the Velvet Underground’s extreme catalog, the New York band’s second effort contains six feedback-laden, neighbor-annoying tracks about amphetamines and shooting heroin with a transsexual. It reached 199 on the Billboard Top 200.
291. The Basement Tapes – Bob Dylan and the Band
The bulk of this set was recorded in 1967 in the basement of the Band’s Big Pink house and was never intended for distribution. The sessions were released eight years later, after bootlegs and other versions turned originals such as “This Wheel’s on Fire” into revered classics.