10. Nirvana, Nevermind (1991)
9. The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds (1966)
8. Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)
7. Aretha Franklin, Lady Soul (1968)
6. Bob Dylan, Blood on the Tracks (1975)
Supposedly inspired by the collapse of his marriage, Dylan’s 15th album is a mellow-dude detonation of anger, regret, and acceptance that features some of his most soulful singing and enduring melodies. ”It’s hard for me to relate to?people enjoying that type of pain,” he later said in an interview. But it’s harder to imagine anyone not getting swept up in this masterpiece of deeply emotional songwriting.
5. The Clash, London Calling (1979)
4. Michael Jackson, Thriller (1982)
3. The Rolling Stones, Exile on Main Street (1972)
Given the legendarily louche circumstances in which Exile on Main Street was made (heroin! French villa! More heroin!), it’s a miracle this double set of blues-, country-, and gospel-infused rock contains any great songs. In fact, they’re all great songs — even the one called ”Turd on the Run.”
2. Prince, Purple Rain (1984)
Sexiest album ever? The PMRC thought so. The watchdog group was literally formed in response to this paisley-funk heavy breather, which builds to one awesome climax after another. How fitting that the movie the album was made for charts the Kid’s rise to fame: The moment Prince sang ”Baby I’m a Star,” he was one.
1. Beatles, Revolver (1966)
Not only did Revolver establish the enduring rules for long-players (hot stuff up front, difficult tunes in the back, swirly ones just before you flip it over), it also conveyed the full narrative of the Beatles over 14 songs, from the hands-up garage jam ”Taxman” to the sunny beach romp ”Good Day Sunshine” to the churning psychedelic space walk that is ”Tomorrow Never Knows.” Most important, Revolver pioneered the idea of a rock album as a singular, complete entity, one that had made the transition from bursts of teenage sugar to a cohesive whole that could be analyzed, dissected, obsessed over, and indulged in — you know, art.
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