500. Outkast, ‘Stankonia’ (2000) LaFace Records.
Canadian electro producer Grimes comments ”I really enjoyed Outkast as a kid, I don’t know why. Obviously back then I wasn’t like, ‘Oh the production’s amazing’ or anything; it’s just that the whole record is totally solid. ‘Bombs over Baghdad’ is pretty sweet; it’s like a rap/drum&bass sound.”
499. Belly, ‘Star’ (1993) Sire/Reprise.
Signalling a change from the grunge-rock dominated airwaves in the early 90s, Tanya Donelly’s band took a more pop-stylised sound in the alternative scene. The lyrics aren’t easy to swallow, but merged with their pop sensibilities leave ‘Star’ a timeless classic.
498. Lou Reed, ‘Berlin’ (1973) RCA.
Few albums manage to envisage the languish and pain that the artist struggle to express, but ex-Velvet Underground member executes it strikingly. Although Reed isn’t a paramount vocalist, his abrasive delivery works wonderfully with the tone of the record.
497. Daft Punk, ‘Random Access Memories’ (2013)
The French duo with their latest electro-dance album claimed huge success, full of undeniably catchy hooks like ‘Get Lucky’ and dance tunes such as ‘Doin’ It Right’ featuring Panda Bear.
496. Girls, ‘Album’ (2009) True Panther Sounds.
There are some bands that just ooze musicality, and Girls fits into this description. They have a charming lo-fi sound that captures the San Francisco slacker scene.
495. The Killers, ‘Hot Fuss’ (2004) Lizard King/Vertigo.
The Las Vegas stadium fillers broke onto the scene with this massively successful debut album. It brought us the indie-essential tracks ‘Mr Brightside’ and ‘Somebody Told me’ which remain to be some their best work to date.
494. The Cure, ‘The Head On The Door’ (1985) Fiction.
One of the more accessible albums from The Cure, the alternative band reached a point in the career where their sound was evolving. ‘Inbetween Days’ shows this awareness of maturing, “Yesterday I got so old, I felt like I could die, yesterday I got so old, it made me want to cry”.
493. This Mortal Coil, ‘Blood’ (1991) 4AD.
Blood is the final LP from the dream-pop collective of artists, headed by it’s creator Ivo Watts-Russell. Featuring newcomers to the project such as Caroline Crawley and Kim Deal, the album is a rare glimpse into the artists performances outside of their expected realms.
492. These New Puritans, ‘Hidden’ (2010) Domino.
In the midst of new indie bands of muddled, reverb-happy recordings, These New Puritans have a refreshingly clean-cut sound thats joyous to hear.
491. Pet Shop Boys, ‘Actually’ (1987) Parlophone.
Over 4 million copies sold, the title comes from the fact they use that word a lot. Chris said at the time “We were thinking of calling it ‘Jollysight’, actually.” It contains one of the greatest pop songs of all time, ‘What Have I Done To Deserve This’ featuring Dusty Springfield.
490. MC5, ‘Back In The USA (1970) Atlantic.
The lo-fi garage rocker’s studio debut album is all about noise, which seems obvious but MC5’s sound pushes the boundary of what music can be. It’s volatile, angry and so so appealing. How can you not like the coarse protopunk cover of Little Richard’s ‘Tutti Frutti’?
489. The Wedding Present, ‘George Best’ (1987)
A founding father in the C-86 Brit-rock scene, The Wedding Present draw the best from The Buzzcocks and The Smiths to amalgamate a standout album brimming with killer tracks.
488. Leonard Cohen, ‘I’m Your Man’ (1988) Columbia.
Marking a move into a more contemporary style of music, romantic singer-songwriter drawls his tantalising deadpan vocals over the well-produced synth-pop.
487. The Jam, ‘Sound Affects’ (1980) Polydor.
Paul Weller’s move towards a fresher brit-funk noise results in the album possessing a rejuvenating soundscape laced with smooth 60’s psychedelic rock, a homage which pays off well for the mod revival band.
486. Bjork, ‘Homogenic’ (1997) One Little Indian
Bjork is wierd, but it’s an insatiable wierd. Homogenic is a an album of grandiose scale, embracing her iceland roots, and epic orchestral moments that make it such a dramatic listen.
485. Kendrick Lamar, ‘Good Kid M.A.A.D City’ (2012) Top Dawg Entertainmen/Aftermath Entertainment.
The East Coast rapper’s first big budget album, but importantly doesn’t forget his roots. ‘Backseat Freestyle’ sets the standard for an incredibly well-produced beat, matched only by Kendrick’s unstoppable flow.
484. Bruce Springsteen, ‘The River’ (1980) Columbia.
The River is the peaking moment of the rock and roll legend’s stretching career. The double album allows Springsteen to exert the array of his eclectic sounds, with highlight such as ‘Cadillac Ranch’ and ‘Point Blank’.
483. Elvis Costello And The Attractions, ‘Blood And Chocolate’ (1986) Demon Records.
The King of America returns to his snarling punk records, to deliver his most stark and menacing releases of yet.
482. Billie Holiday, ‘Lady In Satin’ (1958) Columbia.
The Jazz singer treats us to delightful renditions of ‘For Heaven’s Sake’ and ‘I’m A Fool To Want You’. The musical arrangement coupled with the powerfulness of Holiday’s vocals are stunning.
480. Aretha Franklin, ‘I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You’ (1967) Atlantic.
The breakthrough album for soul diva Aretha Franklin. A absolute timeless classic, who’s voice still make your hairs stand on end.
479. Throwing Muses, ‘The Real Ramona’ (1991) 4AD.
Throwing Muses’ last album recorded with Tanya Donelly, who provides the hypnotising , piercing vocals on a record of great pop songs.
478. The National, ‘Trouble Will Find Me’ (2013) 4AD.
The gloomy brooklynites come back with their most personal album yet. It features ‘Pink Rabbits’, the bands greatest love song to date.
477. Crystal Castles, ‘Crystal Castles’ (2008) Lies Records.
The experimental electric duo took dance music from a euphoric genre, and twisted it in their own unique way to create a nihilistic encounter. The album peaks at ‘Courtship Dating’ a song about human taxidermy.
476. Foo Fighters, ‘Foo Fighters’ (1995) Capitol Records.
The album is a testament to the scope of Dave Grohls talent, having written and recorded the majority of it by himself. The albums opener ‘This Is A Call’ sets the magnificent tone for the rest of the record.
475. Kurt Vile, ‘Smoke Ring For My Halo’ (2011) Matador.
Philadelphian songwriter’s second album is a thing of strange and reluctant beauty with a strong focus of folk-esque musings.
474. Fuck Buttons, ‘Tarot Sport’ (2009) ATP Recordings.
The album creates a world of unabashed playfulness and is driven by Fuck Buttons euphoric-tinted melodies. This electro duo is as inventive as they come.
473. The Verve, ‘A Storm In Heaven’ (1993) Hut Records.
The skillful guitarist Nick McCabe ties this album together with his masterful fretwork, and Verve push boundaries of sound, demonstrating mind-bending audio techniques without being pushed into a box of shoegazing knockoffs.
472. Smashing Pumpkins, ‘Melon Collie And The Infinite Sadness’ (1995) Virgin.
Michael Angaelakos, Passion Pit: “It’s one of the few double albums that actually worked – that’s one of the most incredible achievements, I think. I’m very Billy Corgan inspired; I covered ‘Tonight, Tonight’ a while ago.”
471. MGMT, ‘Oracular Spectacular’ (2007) Columbia.
Psychedelic, prog-rock, delicious melodies are throughout MGMT’s debut album. Take a trip (as band surely did so too) along the flowing soundscapes of stunningly crafted tracks such as ‘Time To Pretend’ and ‘Electric Feel’.
470. Kanye West, ‘Graduation’ (2007) Roc-A-Fella Records.
Dizzee Rascal: ”To me this is the pinnacle of music. I listened to it and thought ‘fucking hell man, that’s the one’. It’s like an electronic-bass-hip-hop album. It’s still sample-based but Kanye’s got really electric. It’s different to normal hip-hop. It changed my world.”
469. The Beach Boys, ‘Holland’ (1973) Brother/Reprise.
The sound of East Coast America ripples through this album of classic Beach Boys sound. The album is centered around a trilogy saga of California themed songs, and credits the band irresistibility to the world of music.
468. The Shins, ‘Chutes Too Narrow’ (2003) Sub Pop.
The inventiveness of the Shin’s repertoire of songs is something to be admired, and James Mercer’s vocals are sublime to listen to.
467. Iggy Pop, ‘The Idiot’ (1977) RCA.
Leaving the Stooges behind, ‘The Idiot’ is Pops solo debut. Collaborating with David Bowie to produce a number of the tracks, its credited to be Iggy Pop’s finest work.
466. The Wu-Tang Clan, ‘The W’ (2000) Loud Records.
Third album from the talented American MC collection. The talent of the MCs is audibly improved from their first efforts. Tracks such as ‘Gravel Pit’ and ‘Protect Ya Neck (The Jump Off)’ are forever accoladed in the hip-hop sphere.
465. The National, ‘High Violet’ (2010) 4AD.
Broody, dark and enigmatic, The National’s comeback album is as immediate as their debut. Subtle orchestral crescendos, and aching harmonies tie this album together beautifully.
464. Kings Of Leon – ‘Because Of The Times’ (2007) RCA.
Sealing KoL as one of the greatest American rock bands of our time, ‘Because Of The Times’ is the epitome of their talent. We can’t get enough of their no-bars-held guitar smashing rock coupled with the howling cries from lead singer Caleb.
463. The Breeders, ‘Pod’ (1990) 4AD.
A band formed from a creative project between Kim Deal (Pixies) and Tanya Donelly (Throwing Muses) and their debut is an explosion of talent fusion.
462. Metallica, ‘Master of Puppets’ (1986) Elektra Records.
A defining record of the thrash metal genre, James Hetfield and co. Each song has a vitality of epic proportions, telling a story and establishing a real hard rock anguish only Metallica can produce.
461. Manic Street Preachers, ‘Generation Terrorists’ (1992) Columbia.
The 18-strong album kicked off welsh rockers career, its injected with punk-fueled teenage angst with a streak of anti-establishment. It’s melodic rock goodness.
460. Nirvana, ‘Bleach’ (1989) Sub Pop.
This was the debut album for one the most iconic bands of a generation. It’s raw, it’s uncouth and it’s all Nirvana.
459. Jay-Z, ‘The Black Album’ (2003) Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam.
Hov’s eighth (and supposedly final) album is hands down one of Jay-Z’s greatest. The big beat ’99 Problems’ will always be instantly recognisable, and raw rapping ‘Lucifer’ produced by Kanye West is a standout track.
458. Wilco, ‘Yankee Hotel Foxtrot’ (2002) Nonesuch.
The album see’s the country-rock band strip their sound down to its barebones. The result is a challenging, but beautiful album.
457. Goldfrapp, ‘Black Cherry’ Mute
This synth heavy, trip-hop album from Goldfrapp does well blending retro electro-pop with a contemporary twist.
456. Frank Sinatra, ‘September Of My Years’ (1965) Reprise.
Recorded in the year of his 50th birthday, the released album created another surge of popularity to the legendary singer.
445. Vampire Weekend, ‘Vampire Weekend’ (2008) XL.
It’s the debut album that made Vampire Weekend one of the best bands of their genre. Full of jangly guitar twangs, Afrikan drum beats, and unique, enthralling vocals.
454. Destiny’s Child, ‘The Writing’s On The Wall’ (1999) Columbia.
Kele Okereke (Bloc Party) notes “It’s a really glossy R&B and pop record. Parts of it, primarily the tracks produced by Timbaland, sound like nothing on this planet – they still sound light years ahead of so much music”
453. The House Of Love, ‘The House Of Love’ (1988) Creation.
The House Of Love are a band of potential, some argued never realised but their debut proved that they had the credentials. Terry Bickers tantalising guitar playing on the album is particularly impressive.
452. The B-52’s, ‘The B-52’s’ (1979) Island.
The eponymous debut for the new wave band is the epicentre of their archetypal kitschy sound. Their signature tune ‘Rock Lobster’ takes pride and place on the album.
451. Big Star, ‘Third/Sister Lovers’ (1978) PVC Records.
Almost an uncomfortable listen, but that what it’s charm resides in. Big Star’s third album is delphian and obscure to such a degree that it results in a mesmerising experience.
450. PJ Harvey, ‘Rid Of Me’ (1993) Island.
The intimacy of this album is the key to its integrity. It’s a personal expression of Polly Jean’s life, and makes for a intense and consuming listen. Half-way through find out how we compiled the list.
449. Arctic Monkeys, ‘AM’ (2013) Domino.
The boys from sheffield knocked out another raucous LP, with hip-hop laced stylisations in tracks such as ‘Why Do You Only Call Me When Your High’ and back to grittyness with the noisey ‘R U Mine’.
448. Suede, ‘Sci-Fi Lullabies’ (1997) Nude.
This two disc compilation of classic B-sides from the singles of their first three albums can be argued to be the best of Suede wrapped up into one. The first disc alone could be seen as a definitive fourth album for the alt rockers.
447. David Bowie, ‘Diamond Dogs’ (1974) RCA.
The conceptual classic from 70’s Bowie with a thematic twist of George Orwell’s novel ‘1984’. It’s a kind of magic that only he could produce, full of mythology, dark and twisted feels.
446. Hot Chip, ‘The Warning’ (2006) Astralworks/DFA.
The electro-funkers push all the right buttons with this one, and the insatiable catchy ‘Over And Over’ will never fail to get the club dancing.
445. Fleetwood Mac, ‘Tusk’ (1979) Warner Bros.
The follow up to the massively popular ‘Rumours’, Tusk often falls into the trap of the underrated. However this experimental effort embraces punk and new wave auras, and refusal to go with conventions makes it a classic in their discography.
444. Depeche Mode, ‘Violator’ (1990) Mute.
This is by far the landmark album of the electronic group’s extensive career, with the timeless hit ‘Personal Jesus’.
443. Bill Callahan, ‘Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle’ (2009) Drag City
The cynical wit of Bill Callahan’s lyrics on this album are brilliantly written, with crackers such as “All my fine memories are fucking me down” on ‘Eid Ma Clack Shaw’
442. Al Green, ‘Al Green Is Love’ (1975) The Right Stuff Records.
Oozing with love and feeling, Al Greens ninth album is a soulful and emotional venture. The perfect album to set the mood.
441. Abba, ‘Arrival’ (1976) RCA/Polydor/Atlantic/Epic.
I don’t think there is a single person that doesn’t know the words to at least one of the songs off Abba’s greatest albums. ‘Dancing Queen’ remaining a mothers favourite to chorus after a couple glasses of vino.
440. Billy Bragg, ‘Life’s A Riot With Spy Vs Spy’ (1983) Charisma.
Fifteen minutes of passionate Essex protest poetry that gave us ‘A New England’ and, very nearly, a new England.
439. The Futureheads, ‘The Futureheads’ (2004) 679.
O-ey-o-ey-o! Jerky, jolty Geordie yelpers make marvelously angular debut full of reinvigorated Kate Bush covers and sentences that! Stop and! Start in unex! Pected places!
438. Kings Of Leon, ‘Aha Shake Heartbreak’ (2004) RCA.
Even with ‘Soft’ owning up to penile dysfunction, The Kings rose to the second-album occasion with smackers like ‘King Of The Rodeo’, ‘Taper Jean Girl’ and ‘The Bucket’.
437. TV On The Radio, ‘Dear Science’ (2008) 4AD.
Mike Skinner: ”I was reading a lot about them on Hype Machine. I like the fact that it’s rock music and still sounds experimental.”
436. Battles, ‘Mirrored’ (2007) Warp.
The singing gnomes and propulsive beats of ‘Atlas’ drove Battles’ debut to eviltronic greatness.
435. Patti Smith, ‘Easter’ (1978) RCA.
Songs of death, resurrection and rebellion – oh, and Springsteen’s ‘Because The Night’ – broke Patti big.
434. Prefab Sprout, ‘Steve McQueen’ (1985) Kitchenware.
In which Paddy McAloon’s indie pop janglers revved their way to critical acclaim.
433. Dr. Dre ‘2001’ (2001) Aftermath/Interscope.
Matt Helders, Arctic Monkeys: “I loved listening to this, and still do. production-wise, he nailed the beats perfectly – not only on that album but beyond. He’s not best known for his voice, but I like it – it sounds like he’s been arguing! I’ve been messing around with hip-hop stuff myself, I did a Roots Manuva remix.”
432. Tindersticks, ‘Tindersticks’ (1993)
Soaked in blood and whiskey and slumped drunk on fag-pocked formica, Tindersticks’ superb debut was a knife-edge portrait of the wrecked urban poet musing on murder, heartbreak and cheap red wine.
431. Soundgarden, ‘Badmotorfinger’ (1991)
The grunge bawlers’ commercial peak, thanks to throwing their ‘Jesus Christ Pose’.
430. Scott Walker, ‘Scott 4’ (1969) Fontana.
It was the album that lost him his mainstream audience, but 4, with its baroque songs inspired by Ingmar Bergman and Joseph Stalin, saw Walker’s singular muse in flower.
429. Jimmy Eat World, ‘Bleed American’ (2001) Geffin.
After eight years of hard-touring toil, this Arizona emo crew cracked the mainstream with this album of breezy pop angst. Peaks with the anthemic ‘The Middle’.
428. Bruce Springsteen, ‘Born In The USA’ (1984) Columbia.
Its title track was widely interpreted as a patriotic anthem, but Springsteen’s magnum opus spoke of struggle and hard times, blown up to arena-sized widescreen.
427. Brian Eno, ‘Here Come The Warm Jets’ (1974) Virgin.
An elegantly bizarre collection of exploded glam and post-Velvets guitar pop that made the alien-looking dude from Roxy Music a solo recording star in his own right.
426. Sonic Youth, ‘Goo’ (1990) DGC.
The NYC noiseniks sign to a major, but the sinister Raymond Pettibon cover and the raucous ‘Kool Thing’ (featuring Chuck D) signaled they weren’t selling out yet.
425. Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood, ‘Nancy And Lee’ (1968) Reprise.
Faris Badwan, The Horrors: “‘Some Velvet Morning’ was one of my favourite songs when I was little, along with Lee Marvin’s ‘Wandering Star’ and Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘The Boxer’. This original is one of the best songs ever written. Slowdive also did a great shoegaze cover which is on the reissue of their ‘Souvlaki’ album.”
424. U2, ‘The Joshua Tree’ (1987) Mercury.
Simon Neil, Biffy Clyro: “I know a lot of people hate U2, but you can’t argue with the quality of the songs. This was when Bono was becoming the biggest rock star in the world, but still had the tunes to back it up rather than preaching about how to live your life, or trying to teach America about the blues.”
423. The Who, ‘Live At Leeds’ (1970) Universal.
Live albums are usually afterthoughts or contract-fillers, but not this. Frenzied takes on ‘Substitute’ and ‘My Generation’ sound like a band at the peak of their powers.
422. Dexy’s Midnight Runners, ‘Too-Rye-Ay’ (1982) Mercury.
Dictatorial pop genius Kevin Rowland leads his band of dungaree-clad believers in Dexy’s magnum opus of new wave pop, rowdy trombone, and testifyin’ Celtic soul.
421. Big Star, ‘Radio City’ (1974)
Big Star are perhaps the cult band of the ‘70s, and ‘Radio City’ is Alex Chilton’s deranged power-pop masterpiece, a future inspiration on REM and Teenage Fanclub.
420. A Tribe Called Quest, ‘People’s Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm’ (1990) RCA.
Jazzy gem in the crown of hip-hop’s golden age, Tribe’s debut is a feast of Afrocentric knowledge and goofball rhymes (plus bona fide party classic ‘Can You Kick It?’)
419. Spiritualized, ‘Let It Come Down’ (2001) Arista.
It’s goodbye smacky space-rock, hello art-rock symphonies, as Jason Pierce goes full-on Phil Spector with the help of the London Community Gospel Choir.
418. Eels, ‘Electro-Shock Blues’ (1998) DreamWorks.
E’s had a rough time of it. His sister killed herself. His mum died of cancer. But here, Mark Everett transmutes personal tragedy into inventive, life-affirming pop.
417. Ash, ‘1977’ (1996) Infectious.
It starts with a roaring TIE-fighter. It ends with the bassist throwing up. In between, 12 tracks of warp-speed power punk peak with the mighty ‘Girl From Mars’.
416. Animal Collective, ‘Merriweather Post Pavilion’ (2009) Domino.
James Ford, Simian Mobile Disco: “They have slowly developed their own unique sonic world through their albums, and it really comes together on this record. I think it’s great futuristic psychedelic pop music that sounds like nothing else.”
415. Chet Baker, ‘Chet Baker Sings’ (1956) Pacific Jazz.
His career was derailed by heroin addition, but vocalist-trumpeter Baker was king of the west coast “cool school” of jazz, and he never sounded better than here.
414. Chemical Brothers, ‘Dig Your Own Hole’ (1997) Virgin.
Noel Gallagher, Beth Orton and Mercury Rev turn out to assist brothers in rave Ed Simons and Tom Rowlands for this masterclass in block-rocking beats.
413. Happy Mondays, ‘Pills ‘N’ Thrills And Bellyaches’ (1990) London Records.
“Son, I’m 30/I only went with your mother cos she’s dirty…” Shaun, Bez and friends collide acid house, funk and all the drugs in Manchester. And it’s great, yeah?
412. DJ Shadow, ‘Entroducing’ (1996) FFRR.
Serge Pizzorno, Kasabian: “Everything changed for me when I heard that album – it opened my mind to so much more music. I’d go round my mate Dan’s house, he was into Blackalicious and Shadow and he’d play me that, and I was like, ‘Wow’.”
411. Madvillain, ‘Madvillainy’ (2004)
Stoner humour and mind-bending beats from a hip-hop dream team. MF Doom and Madlib might not have invented underground rap, but they damn well perfected it.
410. Interpol, ‘Antics’ (2004)
So ‘Turn On The Bright Lights’ was no fluke. The New Yorkers return with clammy post-punk jitters like ‘Narc’ that feel like a gloved hand at your throat.
409. Can, ‘Tago Mago’ (1971)
Scholarly German avant-rockers hole up in a castle with Japanese busker Damo Suzuki for a mantric percussion workout that would define Krautrock.
408. Pavement, ‘Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain’ (1994)
Lo-fi progenitors peel back the hiss to let Stephen Malkmus’ wry, collegiate songs shine. ‘Cut Your Hair’ and ‘Range Life’ do smart with heart.
407. Ride, ‘Going Blank Again’ (1992)
Taking the airy atmospherics of their debut and pumping them full of swirling noise steroids, Ride’s second album was shoegazing in steel-toed biker boots.
406. Queens Of The Stone Age, ‘Rated R’ (2000)
Joshua Homme, Nick Oliveri and Mark Lanegan do psychedelic desert rock par excellence. The feel-good hit of the year 2000 is still in our bloodstream.
405. Otis Redding, ‘Otis Blue’ (1965)
Redding’s third studio LP is a high watermark for ‘60s soul: eleven covers, classics and standards recorded with unparalleled grit, sorrow and sensuality.
404. Gene Clark, ‘No Other’ (1974)
It bombed on its release, but the former Byrd’s fourth solo album ranks approaches ‘Pet Sounds’ in its visionary twining of country rock, gospel and soul.
403. Björk, ‘Vespertine’ (2001)
“I love him, I love him!” Björk calls down heavenly choirs, samples cutlery, wears a swan dress and makes the most emotionally resonant music of her career. On Blogs: NME staff choose their favourite Top 10 records of all time.
402. Mystery Jets, ‘Twenty One’ (2008)
Liam Fray, The Courteeners “I heard the single [‘Young Love’] and I absolutely love Laura Marling [who guests on it]. But the best one is ‘Two Doors Down’. I saw it on the NME stereo in the mag stand and I thought, ‘You’ve got to be fucking joking’, but I went out and bought it. It’s never off the tourbus stereo.”
401. Throbbing Gristle, ’20 Jazz Funk Greats’ (1979)
Industrial music progenitors soften their seedy churn with exotica, pop & disco. Continue reading numbers 400 – 301.