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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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230. A Night at the Opera ”“ Queen
“Queen will be the Cecil B. DeMille of rock,” proclaimed singer Freddie Mercury, and this is where the band let its over-the-top tendencies loose, with heavy metal (“Sweet Lady”), pop (“You’re My Best Friend)” and the most operatic of all rock songs, “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

229. Nick of Time ”“ Bonnie Raitt
After being dumped by her previous label, blues rocker Raitt exacted revenge with this multi-platinum Grammy-award winner. Producer Don Was helped her sharpen the songs without sacrificing any of her slide-guitar fire. And as Raitt herself pointed out, her tenth try was “my first sober album.”

228. Toys in the Attic ”“ Aerosmith
This is where Aerosmith perfected their raunchy blues-rock sound, with guitarist Joe Perry laying down some of the Seventies’ most indelible riffs on “Walk This Way” and “Sweet Emotion,” and Steven Tyler stepping up with an album full of unforgettable songs about his favorite topic: sex.

227. Paid in Full – Eric B. and Rakim
Ice-grilled, laid-back, diamond-sharp: Rakim is a front-runner in the race for Best Rapper Ever, and this album is a big reason why. Paid in Full was one of the first hip-hop records to fully embrace Seventies funk samples on stone hip-hop classics such as “I Know You Got Soul” and the title track.

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226. Doolittle ”“ The Pixies
Kurt Cobain himself acknowledged the Pixies’ influence on the soft/loud dynamic that powered “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Doolittle is a mix of the band’s earlier hardcore storms, Black Francis’ self-described “stream of unconsciousness” rants and the strange melodicism that flowered in his Frank Black solo records.

225. The Complete Hank Williams ”“ Hank Williams
This ten-disc anthology includes virtually every known piece of tape the country great recorded, including demos, outtakes and radio shows. You can hear country music coming to life in songs such as “Cold, Cold Heart,” “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” and “Hey, Good Lookin’.”

224. Nebraska ”“ Bruce Springsteen
Recorded on a four-track in Springsteen’s bedroom, Nebraska‘s songs were acoustic demos that he decided to release “bare.” Packed with hard-luck tales of underdogs, this album established Springsteen as more than mere rock star; he was a daring artist and a true heir apparent to Bob Dylan’s throne.

223. Howlin’ Wolf ”“ Howlin’ Wolf
Known as “The Rocking Chair Album,” Wolf’s second Chess LP features an outrageous set of sex songs written by Willie Dixon, including “Shake for Me,” “The Red Rooster” and “Back Door Man.” In 1971, on The London Howlin’ Wolf Sessions, Wolf finally taught an enraptured Eric Clapton how to play “The Red Rooster.”

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222. The Neil Diamond Collection ”“ Neil Diamond
This pop-rock star cut some of his best material from 1958 to ’73 ”” the era this anthology documents. His melodramatic delivery is a guilty pleasure that never gets less pleasurable ”” or less guilty ”” than when he’s belting “Sweet Caroline,” “Cherry, Cherry” or “I Am . . . I Said.”

221. War ”“ U2
U2 were on the cusp of becoming one of the Eighties’ most important groups when War came out. It’s the band’s most overtly political album, with songs about Poland’s Solidarity movement (“New Year’s Day”) and Irish unrest (“Sunday Bloody Sunday”) charged with explosive, passionate guitar rock.

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