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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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130. Paranoid – Black Sabbath

You think the massive idiot-box success of The Osbournes was a fluke? Try taking a time machine back to the early 1970s and telling rock critics they’ll still be writing about Paranoid in 2003. But nearly every heavy-metal and extreme rock band of the last three decades ”” from Metallica and Nirvana to Marilyn Manson, Slipknot and all of those acts lining up each year to play Ozzfest ”” owes a debt of worship to Tony Iommi’s crushing, granite-fuzz guitar chords, the Visigoth rhythm machine of Bill Ward and Geezer Butler, and Ozzy Osbourne’s agonized bray in “Para-noid,” “Iron Man” and “War Pigs.”

129. 40 Greatest Hits – Hank Williams

Like blues legends Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters, country titan Williams was blazing the rock & roll trail long before Elvis Presley stepped up to the mike at Sun Records in Memphis in 1954. But it wasn’t until this package was released in 1978 that the rock crowd got hip to the danger and poetry in Williams’ voice and songs. The album was an infant format when Williams died on New Year’s Day 1953, so no single Williams LP combines the punch and scope of his genius like this all-hits set, which features, among other dynamite, “Move It On Over,” “Lost Highway” and “Hey, Good Lookin’.”

128. Marquee Moon – Television

When the members of Television materialized in New York, at the dawn of punk, they played an incongruous, soaring amalgam of genres: the noirish howl of the Velvet Underground, brainy art rock, the double-helix guitar sculpture of Quicksilver Messenger Service. As exhilarating in its ambitions as the Ramones’ debut was in its sim-plicity, Marquee Moon still amazes. “Friction,” “Venus” and the mighty title track are jagged, desperate and beautiful all at once. As for punk credentials, don’t forget the cryptic electricity and strangled existentialism of guitarist Tom Verlaine’s voice and songwriting.

127. If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears – The Mamas and the Papas

“California Dreamin’,” this album’s first hit and a warm breeze of melody that was the road song for hippie migrants to the West Coast in the late 1960s, was started by Papa John Phillips on a dreary New York day in 1963 ”” at the height of the Greenwich Village folk revival. Eyes and Ears is more of the sweet same: sunshine pop with a rustic heart, the Beach Boys for folkies. Breathtaking harmonies and Phillips’ studio wizardry transformed the group’s covers of “Spanish Harlem” and the Beatles’ “I Call Your Name.” Another reason to feast your ears: the luscious sadness of “Monday, Monday.”

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126. Remain In Light – Talking Heads

David Byrne said that Remain in Light “was done in bits and pieces, one instrument at a time.” The result was a New Wave masterpiece powered by contradiction, the combined thrust of a P-Funk dance party, the ancient-to-the-future rhythm hypnosis of Nigerian funkmaster Fela Kuti and the studied adventurousness of the album’s producer and Heads co-conspirator, Brian Eno. Remain in Light marked Talking Heads’ transformation from avatars of the punk avant-garde to polyrhythmic magicians with hit-single appeal. Just try not dancing to “Once in a Lifetime.”

125. Raw Power – The Stooges

Iggy Pop had dyed silver hair and a hard-drug habit when David Bowie took the rudderless Stooges under his wing and helped get them a deal with Columbia. “With Bowie,” Pop wrote in his 1982 book, I Need More, “I didn’t feel compelled to go to sleep every time something unpleasant happened.” Under Bowie’s aegis, the Stooges ”” with new guitarist James Williamson, who co-wrote all the material with Pop ”” cut this proto-punk-rock classic, originally issued in a cloth-eared-Bowie mix. But the wafer-thin sonics couldn’t conceal the hellbent ferocity of “Search and Destroy,” “Penetration” and “Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell.”

124. Younger Than Yesterday – The Byrds

Two years after being hailed as America’s answer to the Beatles, these folk-rock pioneers were unraveling, commercially and internally ”” a situation Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman addressed with this album’s rousing, ironic opener, “So You Want to Be a Rock ‘N’ Roll Star.” David Crosby, whom McGuinn would later fire, contributed a ravishing noir ballad, “Everybody’s Been Burned,” and Hillman bloomed as a writer, simultaneously reviving the Byrds’ early magic and foreshadowing their adventures in country rock with “Time Between.” “My Back Pages,” the obligatory Dylan cover, is the album’s elegiac centerpiece.

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123. Catch a Fire – Bob Marley and the Wailers

Catch A Fire hit the white rock audience with the force of revelation. At the time, the Wailers were truly a band, fronted by three extraordinary singers in Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingston, and the rhythm section of Aston and Carlton Barrett defined the power and sensuality of the reggae beat (anchored by the kick-drum thumping on the two and the four). “Stir It Up” and “Kinky Reggae” sway like hammocks under the Jamaican sun. Island boss Chris Blackwell subtly overdubbed and remixed the original Jamaican sessions for international ears without diluting the band’s exotic power.

122. Pearl – Janis Joplin

By the time Joplin had scored her first Number One album, Cheap Thrills, with Big Brother and the Holding Company, she had outgrown the group’s punk-blues sound. After an uneven solo bow, I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama! (1969), Joplin joined Doors producer Paul Rothchild to make this more assured and intimate album, digging into quality soul such as “Get It While You Can” and Kris Kristofferson’s “Me and Bobby McGee” with the combined authority of Billie Holiday and Big Mama Thornton. Joplin did not live to enjoy her triumph. She died of a drug overdose in 1970, before the album was completed. She was twenty-seven.

121. Moby Grape – Moby Grape

What a beautiful mess Moby Grape were, and what an amazing noise they made on their debut album, a stunning artifact of San Francisco rock at its ’67 peak. Jerry Miller, Peter Lewis, Don Stevenson, Bob Mosley and Skip Spence all sang like demons and wrote crisp pop songs packed with lysergic country-blues excitement. And the band’s three guitarists ”” Miller, Spence and Lewis ”” created a network of lightning that made songs such as “Omaha,” “Changes” and “Hey Grandma” shine and sizzle. Columbia hyped this album to near death (issuing five singles at once), but the music is just as thrilling now as it was in ’67. This is genuine hippie power pop.

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