Well hello there. If you’re new to this, you might want to go visit the ‘What is this?’ tab at the top for more details. Can’t be bothered? Fair enough. The short version is that I’m listening to all the albums of the Rolling Stone Top 500 Albums of All Time list, for reasons surpassing understanding at this point.
Sure I could give you reasons why I've been away, but frankly, just look at the first few albums on this list and you'll understand why I had to have a while off.
225 Green Day – American Idiot: That’s right. American Idiot is the 225th greatest album of all time. American Idiot. By Green Day. American Idiot is the 225th greatest album of all time. AMERICAN IDIOT IS THE 225TH GREATEST ALBUM OF ALL TIME.
BY GREEN DAY.
At this point the entire staff of Rolling Stone Magazine should consider purging themselves with fire, just to be sure; be really sure. This is a festering pustular boil of an album, every bit as fun as being sick into your hands.
224 Neil Diamond – The Neil Diamond Collection: Not exactly the most rip-roaring time you can have listening to music; the music of Neil Diamond is music to pacify the elderly for the most part. But hey he’s got a few good tunes here and there, he’s got a good voice and oh look I’m turning into my Grandma even as I type this. Get down from there, you’ll scuff the plastic. I’ve just hoovered that bit. Go and play outside will you?
223 U2 – War: Oh for… Every now and again I realise what a stupid thing this is to try and do. What a completely meaningless waste of my time and yours. What a waste of electrons and matter and thought and time. I could literally stand naked in the street and piss into my car through a shattered windshield and it would be as useful to society. Funnily enough those moments seem to come around every time I hear Bono’s stupid, tax-dodging, faux-humanitarian, faux-emotional, faux-human-being lizard voice.
222 Professor Longhair – New Orleans Piano: I’ve never heard of this previously, and it turns out to be a boozy bar-room bluesy boogie woogie album. The Professor himself sounds like he’s recorded this somewhere in the middle of a bottle of moonshine, but that’s not remotely to the detriment of the album’s sound. You can imagine this being recorded in some smoky Louisiana club, and what a night that would have been. Great stuff, although by the end I’m starting to wonder if my hangover hasn’t come a bit early.
221 My Bloody Valentine – Loveless: Well this is rather lovely, all shimmering indie shoegaze, ethereal vocals and a general sense of warmth. It’s almost got rid of the lingering urge to burn the world that I got from that U2 album.
220 The Meters – Look-Ka Py Py: This largely instrumental funk is, well, funky as hell. It’s like someone sat down and decided ‘well shit, one day someone will invent hip hop, we should write an album of samples for when they do.’
219 Beastie Boys – Licensed to Ill: The Beastie’s first album is an enjoyable enough listen after all these years, but even the band themselves would be faintly embarrassed that it has made it anywhere near this list, given how inferior to the rest of their output it is. Terrible production, some incredibly questionable lyrics and the worst solo that Kerry King has ever committed to tape; if you genuinely think this deserves a place on this list then I feel sorry for you.
218 The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead: As soon as I started listening to this I opened up BBC News and read that Morrissey has gone and gotten himself dropped from his record label, so excuse me while I go back to that U2 album to see if I can’t also rid the world of Bono with my newfound magic powers. It’s a sacrifice worth making. Oh Jesus, it led to a new U2 album being launched. I'M SORRY.
217 Bobby Bland – Two Steps From The Blues: Just as I’m starting to lose the will to live entirely, along comes this, a staggeringly good meld of blues and Motown soul that is over far too quick for my liking. Fantastic stuff.
216 Bo Diddley – Bo Diddley / Go Bo Diddley: Another terrific gem that I’d never heard before. I thought I knew Bo Diddley, but apparently I knew no Bo. I knew Diddley. This is Rock’n’Roll from 1959, but wildly more inventive than anything else I’ve heard from that era. Really good stuff.
215 New York Dolls – New York Dolls: This is all good clean proto-punk fun, but you rather suspect that if you take the shambolic charm away from it that the songs are not really up to much. Looking back on it an hour later it’s left as much of an impression on me as my lunch, and I’ve already forgotten what I’ve had for lunch. Starting to worry about my memory.
214 Ike & Tina Turner – Proud Mary - the Best of Ike and Tina Turner: On the one hand you have a domestic abuser; on the other hand a survivor of domestic abuse and glamorous icon and some pretty damn good songs. This collection largely pre-dates the ‘self-parody and big hair’ era, so it’s pretty much excellent. It also has a song called ‘funkier than a mosquita’s tweeter.’
213 The Rolling Stones – Tattoo You: I just can’t get into the Stones. Every album I hear sounds more and more like a parody of what you expect The Rolling Stones to sound like. Not sure what it is (it’s Jagger) but I should love the Stones really, but every album of theirs is just such hard work.
212 Pavement – Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain: Ironically, another album with a marmite singer, except I’ve no problem with the dulcet screech of Malkmus and his lo-fi band of merry hipsters. Gloriously loose and achingly cool, this makes the little alt 90’s fanboy inside me very happy indeed.
211 Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here: One of the best examples of the Floyd’s lo-key proggy wonderfulness, this is so bloody good that I found myself looking at the ranking with a slightly arched eyebrow. That’s right, Rolling Stone, you caused me to arch my eyebrow. Think about that for a second.
210 Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere: I recently underwent a total binge of Neil Young, listening to his entire discography, which is remarkably high quality given its vastness. I then went and ruined it slightly by reading his autobiography, which is the most boring book ever written by man. This is Young’s second album, his first with Crazy Horse, and it’s a belter.
209 Pearl Jam – Ten: Oh hi there, most important album in my own personal musical journey! What are you doing languishing down here in 209th place? Do they not know? Objectively speaking this all sounds a bit dated now, but I still adore it, even if I now know it so well it’s like an old pair of DM’s; their worn though soles rendering them unwearable, but kept in the cupboard nonetheless, long past the time when all other footwear is discarded.
208 Cat Stevens – Tea For The Tillerman: This folk pop classic contains ‘Father and Son’, the song butchered by Boyzone so hideously that it actually soils the original beyond redemption, which ruins somewhat the overall pleasures to be found here. It’s all a bit hit and miss, but there’s some excellent folk scattered about, and Stevens has a great voice.
207 Santana – Abraxas: Noodlier than eating noodles in a noodle factory while watching Noodle from Gorillaz eat Pot Noodles with Noodles from Wu Tang Clan. This is one of those ‘I’ll get around to it eventually’ albums for me, and now if nothing else I’ve gotten round to it. It’s fairly enjoyable, with some enjoyable noodle to it, but it’s pretty dull as a whole.
206 Prince – Dirty Mind: I’m sure there’s an argument to be made for Prince’s brilliance, but please don’t make it to me right now because I’m too busy trying to wash the 80’s synthesised pop dross out of my brain right now.
205 Cream – Wheels Of Fire: Like Led Zeppelin without the histrionics, this lays down the foundations for that modern stone rock that’s so en vogue at the moment every bit as much as those first four Sabbath albums. It’s a vaguely shambolic delight, all underpinned by arguably the best drummer of the age.
204 Bob Dylan – Modern Times: I think Rolling Stone writers are addicted to Bob Dylan like he’s some kind of heroin. No matter how diminished the hit is as they go through time, they jones for it, need it, to the point where they’re willing to decree that this latter output of the once great man is somehow able to hold its own against the greatest albums of all time. They just keep searching for a hit, blindly sticking needles into long dead veins; telling themselves it’s just as good as it’s always been.
203 Michael Jackson – Bad: Despite the unsavoury taste left by his later life and death, and the obligatory dismal 80’s sound you can’t help but marvel at the consistency of this album. It’s so goddamned catchy, with almost every single song a bona fide pop classic.
202 Simon & Garfunkel – Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme: I’ll freely admit that I have no recollection of listening to this album the day after I actually listened to it. I like Simon and Garfunkel, but this left zero impact on me, leading me, not unreasonably, to believe it must have been pretty unremarkable.
201 Nine Inch Nails – The Downward Spiral: I’m going to go out on a limb and declare this to be a perfect album. Every song is a lean nugget of angst and anger; a perfect distillation of the 90’s alternative scene but sounding like nothing else that came out of that time. After a decade of electronics utterly ruining the sound of seemingly all music, here was an album that was driven by that same electronica but hit like George Foreman; all bass and rich tones and ooooof. Couple that to an inventiveness that sees it spanning jazz beats, dance rhythms, riffs of god-like status, 80’s pop songwriting and a deep ocean of melancholy, and you have a complete classic. In fact, let’s crown this number one and call the whole thing off. No?
So there you go. 300 albums done, 200 remaining. See you next time.