Top 100 Albums
100. Ramones, Ramones (1976)
Take teen angst and heartbreak, add glue sniffing, then repeat-repeat-repeat until the neighbors complain. Now, that's rock & roll!
99. Erykah Badu, Mama's Gun (2000)
A freethinking, all-weirdos-welcome basement confessional, buoyed by backroom-juke jazz ("Green Eyes"), guitar heroics ("Penitentiary Philosophy"), and Badu's slinky warble.
98. Queens of the Stone Age, Songs for the Deaf (2002)
Calling it "stoner rock" is reductive, but it's also apropos: Songs for the Deaf offers all the brain-buzzing joys of a peyote-fueled walkabout — without the sunburn or scorpion stings.
97. Dusty Springfield, Dusty in Memphis (1969)
So much more than "Son of a Preacher Man." Dusty is a husky-honeyed Tennessee postcard as sun-dappled and bittersweet as anything. When she cooed lines like "Just a little lovin'/Early in the mornin'/Beats a cup of coffee/For starting off the day," you knew you'd never need Folgers again.
96. Dixie Chicks, Home (2002)
Their fiddle-sawing, flag-waving neo-bluegrass masterpiece holds up so goddarn well, we'll bet George W. Bush is secretly harmonizing along with it right now.
95. Various artists, Saturday Night Fever soundtrack (1977)
The definitive disco album, heavy on latter-day Bee Gees hip-shakers: "Stayin' Alive." "Night Fever." "Juve Talkin'." Polyester melts, but this Fever still burns.
94. Beyoncé, B'Day (2006)
Sasha was two years away from achieving her full official Fierce-ness, but here, she has something even funkier: a killer mix of dance-floor scorchers ("Déjà Vu," "Ring the Alarm") and to-the-left-kiss-offs ("Irreplaceable").
93. N.W.A., Straight Outta Compton (1988)
"You are now about to witness the strength of street knowledge..." And with those words, gangsta rap was born. A profrane, rat-a-tat distress call from South Central.
92. Elliott Smith, Either/Or (1997)
In a voice barely louder than a whisper, the preternaturally gifted, emotionally fragile folkie (in 2003, he died at 34 in a possible suicide, though the circumstances of his death remain murky) unfurled one of the most quietly devastating bedroom records ever made.
91. Sly and the Family Stone, There's a Riot Going On (1971)
This zonked-out funk bummer is full of bad vibes and molasses tempos—the sound of a tattered genius trying hard to keep it together.
90. The White Stripes, White Blood Cells (2001)
A 16-song rampage of bleeding-raw guitar riffs and carnal rhythms honored the roots of blues rock while dragging it into the 21st century by the seat of its red-and-white pants.
89. Sleater-Kinner, Dig Me Out (1997)
How do you start a grrrl-punk riot? With just words, drums, and guitars, the Olympia, Wash., trio delivered an underground classic that sounds as ferocious as the day it was made.
88. New Order, Power Corruption and Lies (1983)
Shimmering hooks + lingering Joy Division moodiness= a definitive dance-punk classic.
87. Dolly Parton, A Coat of Many Colors (1971)
Never mind the wigs and sequins; Parton could dazzle with nothing but hard-won tales of joy and heartbreak, sung in a voice as high and clear as Appalachian mountain air.
86. PJ Harvey, Stories From The City, Stories From the Sea (2000)
Lush orchestration. Backup vocals by Thom Yorke. Alove song for Vincent Gallo. Of all this album's great surprises, the best one is this: Harvey never sounded so happy.
85. Tom Waits, Rain Dogs (1985)
Not just a collection of lovingly battered cabaret jams, Dogs gave birth to Waits' oft-copied archetype: the shape-shifting troubadour always on the hunt for a cigarette and a bad idea.
84. Patti Smith, Horses (1975)
Insisting that Jesus died for somebody's sins but not hers, Smith treats rock & roll like the only true religion — with all the agony and ecstasy that implies.
83. James Brown, In the Jungle Groove (1986)
This speaker-rattling comp has some of the Godfather of Soul's best work, including the endlessly sampled ''Funky Drummer."
82. Pavement, Slanted and Enchanted (1992)
81. Pixies, Doolittle (1989)
80. Elton John, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973)
79. Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin IV (1971)
78. Björk, Post (1995)
77. My Bloody Valentine, Loveless (1991)
76. Talking Heads, Remain in Light (1980)
75. Elvis Costello, My Aim is True (1977)
74. Amy Winehouse, Back to Black (2006)
73. Various artists, The Harder They Come soundtrack (1972)
72. Beastie Boys, Paul's Boutique (1989)
71. The Kinks, The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society (1968)
Though considered a British Invasion band, the Kinks never yearned for musical imperialism like some of their louder, showier peers. Instead, their prettily crafted pop quietly looked inward, simultaneously lampooning and honoring the English culture that made them, like the best kind of satirists.
70. Iggy and the Stooges, Raw Power (1973)
''I'm a street-walking cheetah with a heart full of napalm,'' the inimitable rock animal Iggy Pop snarls at the beginning of this ferocious blast of proto-punk energy (a brief sampling of parent-terrifying song titles: "Search and Destroy," "Penetration," "Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell"). Nihilism doesn't get any better.
69. Sonic Youth, Daydream Nation (1988)
68. Public Enemy, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988)
67. Neil Young, After the Gold Rush (1970)
66. Hole, Live Through This (1994)
65. Love, Forever Changes (1967)
64. Nine Inch Nails, The Downward Spiral (1994)
63. Television, Marquee Moon (1977)
62. The Replacements, Let It Be (1984)
Mixing scrap-metal guitars with tenderhearted melodies, this bar-punk classic makes it okay to shotgun your beer and cry in it, too. "Look me in the eye/Then tell me that I'm satisfied," Paul Westerberg howled hoarsely on "Unsatisfied." We wouldn't dare.
61. De La Soul, 3 Feet High and Rising (1989)
Who knew that what hip-hop really needed during the ascendance of gangsta rap was an album that sampled Hall & Oates and the Commodores and riffed on game shows and dandruff? These Native Tongues champs did.
60. Beck, Odelay (1996)
59. Metallica, Master of Puppets (1986)
58. Dr. Dre, The Chronic (1992)
57. Alicia Keys, Songs in A Minor (2001)
56. Arcade Fire, Funeral (2004)
55. Nas, Illmatic (1994)
54. R.E.M., Life's Rich Pageant (1986)
53. The Flaming Lips, Soft Bulletin (1999)
52. A Tribe Called Quest, Low End Theory (1991)
51. Chuck Berry, The Great Twenty-Eight (1982)
The man practically invented rock & roll; it took this late-arriving compilation to put the evidence of his impact in one raw, electrifying place.
50. The Smiths, The Queen Is Dead (1986)
With serrated guitar hooks and wry lyrical wit, Morrissey and Marr sent a bat signal to the Reagan/Thatcher-era youth on stunners like "The Boy With the Thorn in His Side," letting them (and generations hence) know that their angst and alienation had a voice — an aching, unforgettable voice.
49. LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver (2007)
James Murphy's poignant elegy to losing your indie-rock cred, this dance-punk heartbreaker dares to ask a generation of aging hipsters: Are we growing old before we grow up?
48. OutKast, Stankonia (2000)
47. The Cure, Disintegration (1989)
46. The Beatles, Rubber Soul (1965)
45. Radiohead, OK Computer (1997)
44. Michael Jackson, Off the Wall (1979)
43. Madonna, Madonna (1983)
Of all her iterations — fame martyr, yoga mascot, ABBA-sampling electro queen — the Material Girl's best is still her first: the tough-talking Michigan native—turned downtown NYC minx, jerry-rigging shimmering R&B beats and Casio-pop hooks into ageless party jams like ''Holiday'' and ''Lucky Star.''
42. AC/DC, Back in Black (1980)
''You Shook Me All Night Long.'' ''Hells Bells.'' ''Shoot to Thrill.'' This is the goes-to-11 playlist of men behaving badly the world over...Angus Young short-pantsed schoolboy uniforms and heartfelt tributes to American thighs optional.
41. Eminem, The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
Possibly the best battle-rap gauntlent ever thrown down — on classics including "Stan" and "The Way I Am," Em's bipolar flow dots between clownish bons mot, cinematic psycho-dramas, and hair-trigger rage too immediate to be a put-on.