500 Greatest Albums
Here’s our list of seminal international albums including The Beatles, Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones among others
260. Buena Vista Social Club – Buena Vista Social Club
Here’s an idea for a blockbuster: Take L.A. rock guitarist Ry Cooder, stick him in a Havana studio with a crew of legendary Cuban musicians, and just let the old guys play their asses off. Against all odds, Buena Vista Social Club defied Nineties-pop formulas and became a huge word-of-mouth hit.
259. Crosby, Stills and Nash – Crosby, Stills and Nash
“I’ve seen Crosby, Stills and Nash burnin’ ass,” Jimi Hendrix declared in 1969. “They’re groovy, Western-sky music.” Hendrix knew what he was talking about. The trio first combined its golden hippie harmonies on this debut, featuring the seven-minute “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.”
258. American Beauty ”“ Grateful Dead
The Dead were never better in the studio than on the down-home stoner country of American Beauty. Released just six months after the folkie classic Workingman’s Dead, Beauty has some of the band’s most beloved songs, including “Box of Rain” and “Friend of the Devil.”
257. Stardust ”“ Willie Nelson
Stardust is Nelson’s love song to old-time American music: At the height of his country popularity, the crooner digs up his favorite Tin Pan Alley standards ”” “Georgia on My Mind,” “Unchained Melody,” “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” ”” and makes them swing as if he had just come up with them in his La-Z-Boy.
256. The Velvet Rope ”“ Janet Jackson
Jackson left behind her girl-next-door image forever with with The Velvet Rope, an album of sexy, confessional, freewheeling hip-hop soul. She fuses Joni Mitchell and Q-Tip in “Got ‘Til It’s Gone,” but the shocker is her girl-girl version of Rod Stewart’s “Tonight’s the Night.”
255. The Village Green Preservation Society – The Kinks
Having fully shed their early garage-rock grit in favor of more baroque arrangements, the Kinks made one of their loveliest and most cohesive albums with Village Green ”” Ray Davies’ nostalgic ode to British pastoral life.
254. Whitney Houston ”“ Whitney Houston
She had been a model and a nightclub singer when she cut this smooth R&B debut. Her vocal gifts and technique are astounding; even slick tracks such as “Greatest Love of All” stick. Best song: “How Will I Know,” perky synth-funk evoking Houston’s godmother, Aretha Franklin.
253. Trans-Europe Express – Kraftwerk
This German group’s sound sought to eliminate the distinction between men and machines. Kraftwerk’s robot-synthesizer grooves influenced electrodisco hitmakers, experimental geniuses such as Brian Eno and rappers including Afrika Bambaataa, who lifted the title track for “Planet Rock.”
252. Metallica ”“ Metallica
Bon Jovi producer Bob Rock helped create one of the best-selling metal albums of all time, led by “Enter Sandman” and the ballad “Nothing Else Matters.” “It’s scary to look out and see couples hugging during that song,” frontman James Hetfield said. “‘Oh, fuck, I thought this was a Metallica show.'”
251. Dictionary of Soul ”“ Otis Redding
Try a little tenderness” was a Bing Crosby hit from the Thirties until Redding turned it into pure Memphis soul. On Dictionary, he does the same with “Tennessee Waltz” and the Beatles’ “Day Tripper,” as well as his own ballads, “Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)” and “My Lover’s Prayer.”