425. Gram Parsons, 'Grievous Angel'
helped invent country rock with the Byrds and the , and he deepened it here. was his ideal singing partner, and their voices blend in the high-lonesome wail of "Brass Buttons" and "$1,000 Wedding." Weeks after finishing the album, Parsons was dead at 26.
Bruce Springsteen, 'The Rising'
Springsteen's response to 9/11 was an extraordinary 15-song requiem that searched for meaning in the inexplicable tragedy while saluting the grace and courage of the dead and those who mourn them. The first E Street Band album since the Eighties, it kicked off Springsteen's creative resurgence.
Diana Ross and The Supremes, 'Anthology'
In the heyday of Motown, the Supremes were their own hit factory, all glamour and heartbreak. Diana Ross high points like "You Keep Me Hangin' On" and "Where Did Our Love Go" are still spine-tingling.
The Ronettes, 'Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes'
The Ronettes were pop goddesses dressed as Catholic schoolgirls gone to hell and back, with Ronnie Bennett belting out hits like "Be My Baby" over future husband Phil Spector's Wall of Sound.
Various Artists, 'The Best of Girl Groups Volumes 1 and 2'
In the lean years between and the , girl groups like the Shirelles and the Shangri-Las kept the spirit of rock & roll alive. This series has the classics.
Buddy Holly and the Crickets, 'The "Chirping" Crickets'
was only 21 when he cut these tracks, some on an Oklahoma Air Force base. "That'll Be the Day," "Oh Boy!" and "Not Fade Away" fused country, rockabilly and R&B into epochal rock & roll.
Go! Discs, 1994
uses 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 Gibbons' brooding, pop-cabaret vocals showed to the world that you could feel real pain over a trip-hop groove.
Paul McCartney and Wings, 'Band On The Run'
Wings trekked to Lagos, Nigeria, for seven stressful weeks to make Band, regarded by many as McCartney's finest post-Beatles hour. Opening with the one-two punch of "Band on the Run" and "Jet," it proved that McCartney still knew how to rock.
Too ingenuous for punk, too unironic for New Wave, arrived on Boy as big-time dreamers with the ambition to back it up. The Dublin foursome boasted 's arena-ready voice and the Edge's echoey, effects-laden guitar, as well as anthemic songs such as the club favorite "I Will Follow."
Tom Waits, 'Mule Variations'
After five silent years, was the victorious return of ' rawboned, bluesy art rock. Using found instruments for rhythm and Smokey Hormel's angular guitar for color, Waits careers from carnival baker to croaky balladeer. The highlights: the sad but sweet "Hold On" and "House Where Nobody Lives."
Van Halen, 'Van Halen'
Warner Bros., 1978
This 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 Eddie's jaw-dropping technique, particularly on "Eruption," raised the bar for rock guitar.
The Go- Go's, 'Beauty and The Beast'
The most popular girl group of the New Wave surfed to the top of the charts with "We Got the Beat" and "Our Lips Are Sealed." And its entire debut welded punkish spirit to party-minded pop.
Minuteman, 'Doubles Nickels on The Dime'
"Our band could be your life," sing the Minutemen, perfectly articulating punk's Everyman ideal. Guitarist D. Boon and bassist Mike Watt push each other to fast, funny and agitated heights on this 45-song opus.
Wire, 'Pink Flag'
This first-generation U.K. punk band made sparse tunes that erupted in combustible snippets on its 21-track debut album. The curt mania of "12XU" had a massive influence on hardcore punk, and bands like and took to the arty blurt of songs like "Strange" and "Ex Lion Tamer."
Eric Clapton, '461 Ocean Boulevard'
returned from heroin addiction with a disc of mellow, springy grooves minus guitar histrionics. He paid tribute to and Elmore James, but his cover of 's "I Shot the Sheriff" became his first Number One hit.
Bob Dylan, 'Time Out of Mind'
The first of 's three late-career triumphs. Producer Daniel Lanois' dark, atmospheric settings envelop Dylan in a sonic fog appropriate to the isolation and distance he sings of in a ravaged, weary voice. The songs – especially "Love Sick" and "Not Dark Yet" – are ghostly but forceful.
The Doors, 'Strange Days'
set out into darker territory on their second album. The catchy single "Love Me Two Times" is overshadowed by a mood of foreboding and alienation, especially on "People Are Strange" and "When the Music's Over," which demands, "We want the world, and we want it now!"
Sinead O'Connor, 'I Do Not Want What I haven't Got'
's second LP delivers true originality and range, from "Nothing Compares 2 U" to the maternal warmth of "Three Babies" to the fiddle and beatbox of "I Am Stretched on Your Grave."
The Clash, 'Sandinista!'
's ballooning ambition peaked with this three-album set, named after the Nicaraguan revolutionary movement. Joe Strummer and Mick Jones reached beyond punk and reggae into dub, R&B, calypso, gospel and even a kids' chorus on "Career Opportunities.Ó
May 31, 2012
PJ Harvey, 'Rid of Me'
Like , she wanted to be . Unlike Patti Smith, she played guitar very, very loud. 's second album, recorded with Steve Albini, is charged with aggressive eroticism and rock fury (check the scalding title track). Rid of Me slams from blues to goth to grunge, often in the space of a single song.
Big Star, 'Radio City'
As with the , 's influence far outstripped their commercial success. On this lean, guitar-driven LP, they come up with a new, upside-down pop sound, filtering their love of the through their Memphis-soul roots. Towering achievement: the blissful, sad "September Gurls."
Dr John, 'Dr. John's Gumbo'
After a series of eerie, voodoo-stoked records, pianist Mac Rebennack – a.k.a. – returned to his New Orleans roots with spirited covers of classics such as "Iko Iko" and "Junko Partner." With his rolling piano figures and gritty vocals, he rekindled interest in the Crescent City sound.
Lynyrd Skynyrd, '(Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd)'
From the git-go, these Southern rockers played hard, lived hard and shot from the hip (with three guitars!). Discovered and produced by Al Kooper, offered taut rockers including "Poison Whiskey" and the ultimate anthem, "Freebird."
Other rappers were harder and better-armed, but nobody captured the creeping menace of life on the streets quite like this 20-year-old from New York's Queensbridge projects. With lines like "I never sleep, 'cause sleep is the cousin of death," showed more poetic style than any MC since Rakim.
Red Hot Chili Peppers, 'Californication'
Warner Bros., 1999
Turning their focus to songs instead of jams, the steered frontman Anthony Kiedis' voice into a radio-friendlier wail, and the reappearance of guitarist John Frusciante helped form beautifully composed songs such as "Scar Tissue."