The RS 500 was assembled by the editors of Rolling Stone based on the results of two extensive polls. In 2003, Rolling Stone asked a panel of 271 artists, producers, executives and journalists to pick the greatest albums of all time. In 2009, we asked a similar group of 100 experts to pick the best albums of the 2000s.From those results, Rolling Stone created this new list of the greatest albums of all time.
500. OutKast, 'Aquemini'
At a time when formulaic albums by Master P and Puff Daddy
topped the charts, unleashed an explosive hip-hop
that deployed live musicians, social commentary and a heavy
dose of deep funk. Hits like "Rosa Parks" put the duo's hometown
"Hotlanta" on the rap map.
B.B. King, 'Live in Cook County Jail'
was enjoying a career renaissance when he played
this Chicago jail in 1970. He won over the hostile prisoners
with definitive versions of his blues standards and his
crossover hit "The Thrill Is Gone."
The Stone Roses, 'The Stone Roses'
For a few glorious moments, looked like
they might lead another British Invasion. Instead, they fell
apart – but first they made this incredible album, highlighted
by the ecstatic eight-minute-long "I Am the Resurrection."
It single-handedly launched Nineties Brit pop.
The White Stripes, 'White Blood Cells'
Sympathy for the Record Industry, 2001
The third album by Jack and Meg White was the right
dynamite for a mainstream breakthrough. Jack's Delta-
roadhouse fantasies, Detroit-garage-rock razzle and
busted-love lyricism, as well as Meg's toy-thunder
drumming all peaked at once.
Boz Scaggs, 'Boz Scaggs'
The stone-solid grooves on this underrated gem come courtesy of the Muscle Shoals rhythm section; the soulful guitar comes courtesy of Scaggs and guest Duane Allman. Together, they made "Loan Me a Dime" an FM-radio classic – more than 10 minutes of knockout blues pleading and wailing.
Bonnie Raitt, 'Give It Up'
Warner Bros., 1972
California darling headed to Woodstock to cut her second LP – only to face near-monsoon weather. "My house had sand and salamanders," Raitt said. She took refuge in the studio and churned out gorgeous folksy blues, including a cover of 's "Under the Falling Sky."
MGMT, 'Oracular Spectacular'
Two hipster geeks get some rad vintage keyboards and compose a suite of synthesized heartache. You don't have to figure out a word of "Kids" to feel the poignant kick of that massive keyboard hook.
Wilco, 'Yankee Hotel Foxtrot'
's great leap forward was a mix of rock tradition, electronics, oddball rhythms and experimental gestures. Jeff Tweedy's lyrics pitted hope against doubt, with all bets off.
Annie Lennox looked like a gender-bending cybor, but she sang with soul; producer Dave Stewart hid behind his beard and masterminded the sound. Together they made divine synth pop, especially "Who's That Girl?," a tale of kinked-up sexual obsession, and their massive hit "Here Comes the Rain Again."
Albert King, 'Born Under a Bad Sign'
King's first album for the Stax label combines his hard, unflashy guitar playing with the sleek sound of the label's house band, Booker T. and the MG's. Hits such as "Crosscut Saw" and "Laundromat Blues" earned King a new rock & roll audience.
ZZ Top, 'Tres Hombres'
A decade before the Texas blues trio became MTV stars, got their first taste of national fame with this disc, which features one of their biggest hits, the John Lee Hooker-style boogie "La Grange," as well as the boozy rocker "Jesus Just Left Chicago" and the concert anthem "Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers."
By their fifth album, were the most popular band in America, with sold-out stadium tours and eventually their own pinball machine, makeup line and a TV movie. Built around the proto power ballad "Beth," this is a ridiculously over-the-top party-rock album that just gets better with age.
HŸsker DŸ, 'New Day Rising'
These three Minneapolis dudes played savagely emotional hardcore punk that became a big influence on , among others. The HŸskers created a rorar like garbage trucks trying to sing songs, especially on the anthems "Celebrated Summer" and "Perfect Example."
Cyndi Lauper ,'She's So Unusual'
's first band had broken up and she was singing in a Japanese restaurant. Then this solo debut album of razor-sharp dance pop became the first by a female performer to score four Top Five hits, including "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" and "Time After Time."
Earth, Wind and Fire, 'That's the Way of the World'
Before he got into African thumb pianos and otherworldly philosophizing, founder Maurice White was a session drummer at Chess Studios. EWF's sixth album is make-out music of the gods.
Pearl Jam, 'Vitalogy'
Their previous album, , made the most successful band in the world. They celebrated by suing Ticketmaster and making , where their mastery of rock's past and future became complete. Soulful ballads like "Nothingman" are matched by hardcore-influenced rockers such as "Spin the Black Circle."
Mott the Hoople, 'All the Young Dudes'
Mott were a hard-rock band with a fixation until got ahold of them. He penned the androgyne title track and had them cover 's "Sweet Jane." Mott would sound more soulful but never more sexy or glittery.
Gang of Four, 'Entertainment!'
Warner Bros., 1979
Formed in 1977, combined Marxist politics with punk rock. They played staccato guitar-driven funk, and the stiff, jerky aggression of songs such as "Damaged Goods" and "I Found That Essence Rare" invented a new style that influenced bands from the to .
Steve Earle, 'Guitar Town'
"I got a two-pack habit and a motel tan," sings on the title track. By the time he released his debut at 31, he had done two stints in Nashville as a songwriter and he wanted something else. Guitar Town is the rocker's version of country, packed with songs about hard living in the Reagan Eighties.
recorded his second album at Electric Lady, the Manhattan studio built by . There he studied bootleg videos of Sixties and Seventies soul singers and cooked up an album heavy on bass and drenched in a post-coital haze. The single "Untitled (How Does It Feel?)" sounds like a great lost song.
Raekwon, 'Only Built 4 Cuban Linx
The best solo joint is a study in understated cool and densely woven verses. Over RZA's hypnotically stark beats, Raekwon crafts breathtaking drug-rap narratives; it's a rap album that rivals the mob movies hip-hop celebrates.
Funkadelic, 'Maggot Brain'
"Play like your mama just died," George Clinton told guitarist Eddie Hazel. The result was "Maggot Brain," 10 minutes of -style guitar anguish. This is the heaviest rock album the ever created, but it also made room for the acoustic-guitar funk of "Can You Get to That."
Loretta Lynn, 'All Time Greatest Hits'
MCA Nashville, 2002
Anyone who thinks a woman singing country music is cute should listen to "Fist City," where threatens to beat down a woman if she doesn't lay off her man. Seventies greats like "Rated 'X'" and "The Pill" brought feminism to the honky-tonks.
Merle Haggard, 'Down Every Road'
Haggard's tough country sound was born in Bakersfield, California, a.k.a. Nashville West. His songs are full of drifters, fugitives and rogues, and this four-disc set – culled from his seminal recordings for Capitol as well as MCA and Epic – is the ultimate collection from one of country's finest singers.
The Notorious B.I.G., 'Life After Death'
Bad Boy, 1997
Released less than a month after 's murder, the prophetic Life After Death is two CDs of humor and bravado, no filler at all, as he tops himself in "Mo Money Mo Problems" and"#!*@ You Tonight."