500 Greatest Albums
Here’s our list of seminal international albums including The Beatles, Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones among others
420. With the Beatles – The Beatles
The album cover photo is the same as their U.S. debut, Meet the Beatles!, but in the U.K. this was the Beatles’ second album. It celebrates Motown with rocked-up versions of the Miracles’ “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me,” the Marvelettes’ “Please Mr. Postman” and Barrett Strong’s “Money.”
419. Dummy ”“ Portishead
Portishead used some of the same building blocks as fellow Bristol, England, trip-hoppers Massive Attack ”” woozy break beats, jazzy samples, live guitar, girl singer/guy programmer dynamic ”” but Beth Gibbon’s brooding, pop-cabaret vocals showed to the world that you could feel real pain over a trip-hop groove.
418. Band on the Run ”“ Wings
Paul McCartney and Wings trekked to EMI’s studio in Lagos, Nigeria, for seven stressful weeks to make Band, regarded by many as McCartney’s finest post-Beatles hour. Opening strongly with the one-two punch of “Band on the Run” and “Jet” (named after Paul’s dog), it proved that McCartney still knew how to rock.
417. Boy ”“ U2
Too ingenuous for punk, too unironic for New Wave, U2 arrived on Boy as big-time dreamers with the ambition to back it up. The Dublin foursome boasted Bono’s arena-ready voice and Dave “the Edge” Evans’ echoey, effects-laden guitar, as well as anthemic songs such as the club favorite “I Will Follow.”
416. Mule Variations ”“ Tom Waits
After five silent years, Variations was the victorious return of Waits’ rawboned, bluesy art rock. Using found instruments for rhythm and Smokey Hormel’s angular guitar for color, Waits careers from carnival barker to croaky balladeer. The highlight: the sad but sweet “Hold On.”
415. Van Halen ”“ Van Halen
Van Halen’s debut gave the world a new guitar hero (Eddie Van Halen) and charismatic frontman (David Lee Roth). Tunes such as “Runnin’ With the Devil” and “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” put the swagger back in hard rock, and Van Halen’s jaw-dropping technique, particularly on “Eruption,” raised the bar for rock guitar.
414. Greatest Hits ”“ James Brown
This single-cd distillation of the four-disc Star Time is the Brown compilation to own. You won’t get more bang for your buck on any CD than these twenty high-energy soul and funk workouts; sixteen were R&B chart-toppers. Brown remains the most sampled artist in history; this album will show you why.
413. Beauty and the Beast ”“ Go-Go’s
The most popular girl group of the New Wave surfed to the top of the charts with this hook-y debut. Everyone knows “We Got the Beat” and “Our Lips Our Sealed,” exuberant songs that livened up the Top Forty, but the entire album welds punkish spirit to party-minded pop.
412. Mezzanine – Massive Attack
Tricky had split, and three years had passed since Massive Attack’s last proper album, but Mezzanine returned the Bristol, England, collective to prominence. Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Fraser was the designated chanteuse, and her icy voice stands out against the earthy backdrops of songs such as “Teardrops.”
411. Double Nickels on the Dime – Minutemen
“Our band could be your life,” sing the Minutemen on “History Lesson ”” Part 2” and never did a lyric better articulate punk’s Everyman aesthetic. Guitarist D. Boon and bassist Mike Watt push each other to fast, funny and agitated heights. Sadly, Boon would die a year later in a van accident.