Thursday, August 11, 2016

Rolling Stone's Top 500 Albums of All Time, Picked Apart (51-100)

By Michael Drinan

We carry on with our bashing of Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time by tackling entries 51-100. Check out my thoughts on the Top 50 of the list here.

51. Simon and Garfunkel - Bridge Over Troubled Water
52. Al Green - Greatest Hits
53. The Beatles - Meet The Beatles!
54. Ray Charles - The Birth of Soul: The Complete Atlantic Recordings
55. The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Electric Ladyland
56. Elvis Presley - Elvis Presley
57. Stevie Wonder - Songs In The Key Of Life
58. The Rolling Stones - Beggars Banquet
59. Creedence Clearwater Revival - Chronicle Vol. 1
60. Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band - Trout Mask Replica
61. Sly and the Family Stone - Greatest Hits
62. Guns N’ Roses - Appetite For Destruction
63. U2 - Achtung Baby
64. The Rolling Stones - Sticky Fingers
65. Phil Spector - Back to Mono (1958-69)
66. Van Morrison - Moondance
67. Radiohead - Kid A
68. Michael Jackson - Off The Wall
69. Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin (aka 4)
70. Billy Joel - The Stranger

Overall I like this group a lot, however it does give us more unnecessary greatest hits compilations which is just infuriating. If you’re going to go with a Ray Charles album at #54 it’s hands down Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music. It was a game changer and raised the genre of country music to extraordinary heights. You can take your pick at what Sly and the Family Stone album should be at #61 instead of their Greatest Hits. We haven’t even gotten through the Top 100 of this list and this “greatest hits issue” is already a problem.

*takes a deep breath*

Alright, I like Bridge Over Troubled Water at #51. It was such a great album by a fractured duo that it showed through even in the album’s title. As much trouble that persisted in the songs, Simon and Garfunkel expressed it in the most peaceful and emotional way.

Meet The Beatles! is in the perfect spot also. It’s such an influential album to many artists and fans alike but its placement doesn’t feel forced.

Really happy to see Guns N’ Roses’ debut album in the Top 100 at #62. It’s such a great rock album.

Billy Joel’s The Stranger coming in at #70 is also a good thing to see considering he was never a favorite among critics during this period. That album is fantastic and could be confused with a greatest hits album considering how many well-known classic songs are on there. It’s also my favorite album to play on vinyl, just has a great feel to it.

The problems I have with this list aren’t anything major. I would’ve liked to see The Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers above Beggars Banquet just because I think it's a better album. I’d also would’ve liked to see Van Morrison’s Moondance in the Top 50.

71. Paul Simon - Graceland
72. Curtis Mayfield - Superfly
73. Led Zeppelin - Physical Graffiti
74. Neil Young - After The Gold Rush
75. James Brown - Star Time
76. Prince and The Revolution - Purple Rain
77. AC/DC - Back In Black
78. Otis Redding - Otis Blue
79. Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin (aka 2)
80. John Lennon - Imagine
81. The Clash - The Clash
82. Neil Young - Harvest
83. The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Axis: Bold As Love
84. Aretha Franklin - I Never Loved Man The Way I Love You
85. Aretha Franklin - Lady Soul
86. Bruce Springsteen - Born in the U.S.A.
87. Pink Floyd - The Wall
88. Johnny Cash - At Folsom Prison
89. Dusty Springfield - Dusty In Memphis
90. Stevie Wonder - Talking Book

#76 - *sigh* Miss you Prince.

The first group without any greatest hits! This group has some of my all-time favorite albums in it, starting with Paul Simon’s Graceland. It’s for sure a Top 100 album and is still an incredible listen. Simon is one of those artists, for me, where I’ve never heard a bad song from him. Billy Joel is another one where I feel that way.

Neil Young’s After The Gold Rush is somewhat of a surprise for me. For one, I don’t think it’s a better album than Harvest but that’s nitpicking. Also, it wasn’t a well-received album when it came out. People have warmed up to it over time but it’s a little odd that they’ve warmed up to it enough to make it a Top 100 album of all time.

Led Zeppelin’s “2” clocks in at #79 which I appreciate since it’s my favorite Zeppelin album.

Aretha Franklin makes her presence known by taking back-to-back spots #84 and #85. Lady Soul is, in my opinion, a gift from the music gods. That album soars. My favorite Aretha album.

Born in the U.S.A. follows her at #86 being one of the best-selling albums of the 80s. (It might even be THE best selling album, not sure.) That may be the reason it’s in the Top 100. In my opinion, Darkness on the Edge of Town was a much better album in terms of songs, songwriting and theme. I love The Boss, so whatever.

Dusty Springfield’s album Dusty In Memphis is a great selection. That album floors me every time I listen to it. Her voice is just divine and I never get tired of listening to her.

Then, it’s Mr. Wonder and oh my lord is he ever a wonder with Talking Book. It’s an album that is so rich and multi-layered that every time you listen to it you can hear something new that you never realized was there before. It was an ambitious album and he nailed it perfectly. It’s not my favorite album of his (Songs In The Key of Life) but it’s still an album I love and appreciate.

Finally, let’s round out the Top 100.

91. Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
92. Buddy Holly - 20 Golden Greats
93. Prince - Sign O’ The Times
94. Hank Williams - 40 Greatest Hits
95. Miles Davis - Bitches Brew
96. The Who - Tommy
97. Bob Dylan - The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan
98. Elvis Costello - This Year’s Model
99. Sly and the Family Stone - There’s A Riot Goin’ On
100. The Zombies - Odessey and Oracle

#93 - *sigh* Miss you Prince.

The final 10 gives us two greatest hits albums and they’re actually pretty understandable considering how short Buddy Holly and Hank Williams’ careers were. Holly had three studio albums (one with The Crickets and the other 2 solo) before he died in 1959 and Williams had two before passing away in 1953. Both were proficient songwriters and there were a lot of unreleased songs discovered only after each passed away. Considering how influential they both were in their respective genres, I don’t mind these greatest hits on this list.

Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew should be in the forties. That’s a Top 50 album of all time. When I first heard it I didn’t like it, but after giving it a few more listens it won me over to the point where I never wanted to turn it off. Also, Dogfish Head’s tribute beer for this album is also really good too.

When I first saw Dylan’s Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan at #97 I thought it was too low. However, after looking where his albums ranked in the Top 50 I realized that I liked where it was at and am glad it squeezed into the Top 100.

#99 - great fucking funk album. Should’ve been higher.

There you have it! Not too many surprises or disagreements overall but the fun is just beginning now that we’re through the Top 100. Can’t wait to see what bullshit Rolling Stone has in store for us! Stay tuned for Part 3!

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