lists are bread and butter to music writers; the problem with bread and butter, as we all now know post-Atkins, is that it sits in your stomach too long and makes you fat. Some of the writers here love lists, love making them, perusing them, criticising them, codifying and collating them; and some of the writers at Stylus hate lists, partly for what they represent (an attempt to mask subjective tastes as objective establishment, the stuffy domain of dullards and geeks, boredom and approval) and partly because listening to music seems like much more fun than sorting it into order. Either way though, one can’t deny the importance of them; in many ways they’re our currency, our identity, our cultural history, glimpses of where we are now so people henceforth can look back and see where we were then.

What they also are, generally, is predictable; the top ten of Rolling Stone’s recent 500 Greatest Albums Ever poll could have been picked by a computer program designed to devise the most canonical canon ever, making the exercise largely redundant. What’s the point in telling people yet again how great Astral Weeks or OK Computer or Pet Sounds are? Especially when we’re at a point in history where we’re beginning to finally realise that you don’t have to follow the canon rigidly in order to enjoy pop music; that, in fact, the canon only exists because people say it does and other people listen.

The one saving grace of lists, the thing they actually are useful for, is reminding us of the quality of things we may have either forgotten or else never known. And the parts of lists that do this most effectively are usually the dregs, the arse-ends, the bottoms and the afterthoughts. The second fifty of a Top 100 is almost always more intriguing and worth looking into than the first fifty, and with this in mind we decided to go one further, bypassing the scores of predictable choices that always end up topping these lists in favour of the ones we might not automatically think of, but which deserve attention and affection just as much, if not more. And so we did away with the first 100 altogether. After all, if you’re looking for a list of the Top 100 Albums Ever all you need to do is tap the phrase into a search engine and hey presto; 1,000,000 different variations on the hundred-club canon are at your fingertips.

But music writers are a fickle and crafty bunch: tell them to choose their favourite 101-200 albums ever and they’ll choose tactically, gerrymandering the topography of their own tastes in the belief that they’ll squeeze a personal favourite in or somehow exclude a common choice that they particularly dislike for whatever reason. So how did we go about getting them to vote honestly? We lied to them. Barefaced. We told them to pick their favourite 100 albums ever and we told them it was for a feature on their 100 favourite albums ever, intending all along to discount the first 99+1 past the post in favour of the stragglers, lames and under appreciated. Sure, it meant more work for us, having to tot-up the votes for hundreds upon hundreds of records knowing full well that the ones with most votes (which take the longest to add up!) are only going to be ignored and chucked in the bin once we’re done. But we’re quite pleased with our efforts, and we hope you are too. We’ve come up with a list of 100 records that you wont find on everyone else’s favourite hundred ever, because they’re not even our favourite 100 ever.



(Oh, and by the way; you can ask all you like, but we deleted the Top 100 as soon as we’d added up the numbers, so No, we don’t remember what was number one. You could probably guess what it was, anyway.)



So without further ado, here it is… Enjoy!





101 The Stooges – Fun House
Released in 1970, The Stooges' second album differentiated itself from its predecessor with a deteriorating band lineup, a new producer (Don Galluci (ex-Kingsmen)) and the emergence of saxophone led skronk. Forgotten between the shock and hipster cache of the John Cale-produced self-titled debut and the lionized classic Raw Power, even a ten disc box set detailing every single track recorded during its making couldn't raise its status in the minds of Iggy fans as merely the lesser of these three pillars of punk rock. [Ian Mathers]

102 The Kinks - Something Else
Laced with Ray Davies' trademark masquerade folk music and wry observations on British life, Something Else was the band’s Rubber Soul, a break with the Brit invasion stylings of their previous work. “Death of a Clown” and “Two Sisters” show a developing acuity to the band’s slanted sense of humor, while “Lazy Old Sun” and “Waterloo Sunset” prove Davies was still capable of soothing his own satirical bite. With their next two albums, Village Green Preservation… and Arthur, the band would take the themes toyed with on Something Else and tighten them into two Muswell Hillbilly masterpieces. [Derek Miller]

103 Hole - Live Through This
File along with Enter The Wu Tang in that library of long-players that certain critics pretend to like solely in order to denigrate the act’s later work. It’s an indefensible position, but even more so when directed to Live Through This, as Celebrity Skin is a more coherent, polished, and simply better album. Live Through This is the sound of a gun cocked, though, “Rock Star” in particular has a strange harbinger of what was to go down over the course of 1994, and ensure that this album would never be regarded mainly for its musical content. Despite all reservations though… those singles. “Violet”. “Miss World”. “Doll Parts”. Courtney definitely knew how to put three minutes together, but she still hadn’t worked out how to manage the other 37. [Dom Passantino]

104 Wire - Pink Flag
Twenty songs, most employing no more than three chords each; brittle, obtuse; fragmented; Wire’s splintered genius has its impetus in Pink Flag’s tantalizing melodic spurts. Though later Wire albums (Chairs Missing, 154) would eschew Flag’s airtight vitriol in favor of more agreeable, wobbly production textures, Wire’s debut features several fistfuls of classic punk songs coasting along on the faintest traces of melody and instrumentation. "Three Girl Rhumba" practically requires the listener to fill in the gaps between chords with their own loose melodic interpretations; "Ex Lion Tamer" sounds so thin and angry, that one fears it might collapse upon itself at any moment. But if later Wire records would indicate the band’s finding of their voice (or, depending on who you talk to, losing it), Pink Flag’s frenetic monotony remains an indelibly classic blueprint, if not quite the finished article. [Eric Seguy]

105 The Dismemberment Plan – Emergency & I
This album blew the fuck out of anyone who heard it back in ‘99. The result, of course, was backlash against overstated hype. No one wants to hear about how (s)he must hear the BEST POP ALBUM OF OUR TIME, WHICH HAS FOREVER CHANGED THE FACE OF MUSIC, AND IF YOU DON’T LISTEN TO IT AND LOVE IT YOU’RE NOT MY FRIEND ANYMORE. We critics have learned the following lesson time and time again: if one loves something and desires that other people do the same, one must pretend only to like it a lot. Otherwise, we’re left with magnificent albums like this one missing out on the sweet, sweet piece of the Top 100 pie it deserves. [Kareem Estefan]

106 The Boo Radleys - Giant Steps
Such an auspicious move it was for Carr and company to name their album after Coltrane and end up with an NME-approved smash. Giant Steps introduced The Boo Radleys not as a whimsy MBV-lite outfit who didn’t belong on Creation (the latter of which insult came from the label’s head, Alan McGee) but as a group vying for ambition and their place among pop music’s greats. Their eclecticism might have alienated a few people—who wants to sit through a double album of psychedelic country shoegazer singalong dub anyway?—but not most. [Sam Bloch]

107 Boards Of Canada – Music Has The Right To Children
The most acclaimed electronic album of the late 1990s is an homage to childhood, Saturday morning cartoons, and Canadian documentaries. It's a beautiful work that manages to take the grandiose concepts of progressive and psychedelic rock and channel them through hip hop beats and samples. Ironically, today, it's the beats that sound dated, not the prog rock concepts. Such is the way of life in hip hop and electronic music: what is cutting edge one year is a tired cliché the next. [Michael Heumann]

108 The Who – Who’s Next
Famously assembled out of the leavings of yet another concept album (Lifehouse) by Pete Townshend that collapsed under his nervous breakdown, Who’s Next is sandwiched in the Who’s discography between Tommy and Quadrophenia. Although not as high-profile or ambitious as those projects (and thus not quite as loved by fans), it introduced synthesizers to their sound and somehow worked; as well as boasting ‘Baba O’Reilly’ and ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’, both of which are now staples of your local classic rock station, it had the now sadly Durst-covered ‘Behind Blue Eyes’. [Ian Mathers]

109 Joni Mitchell - Blue
Joni Mitchell always seemed out of place among the laid-back hippy folkers of 70s California. Well, she was Canadian—but so was Neil Young, so that probably wasn't it. But she also seemed…well, smarter than the rest. Her music was suffused with irony and wit and a deep interest in musical experimentation. But her music was also created for and about a particular time. Blue exemplifies both of these qualities. It's a wonderful collection of songs, intelligently arranged and performed. But the lyrics seem a bit dated (especially "My Old Man"). Perhaps people are listening to the lyrics more than the songs, or perhaps the early 70s aren't cool any more (as if they ever were). [Michael Heumann]

110 My Bloody Valentine – Isn’t Anything
It’s rough being the older sibling when your younger brother is such a goddamn goody-two-shoes. Isn’t Anything has been permanently relegated to being “the one that came before Loveless,” the one that showed hints of greatness but was not great itself, the precursor, the predecessor, the rough draft. So while a bit of the glory bestowed upon top-student Loveless can’t help but spill over on to big bro, Isn’t Anything remains an unfortunately under-appreciated album of strengths entirely independent of those of that geeky little suck-up, and as such misses our top 100. [Andrew Unterberger]

111 Bob Dylan – Bringing It All Back Home
In a catalogue as massive as Dylan’s, the transitional periods are bound to be shafted in favor of a few landmark classics. In this case, Bringing It All Back Home was sort of a warm-up for Highway 61 Revisited, a bridge between the earlier folk period and the electric rock that was to follow. There’s a side of each here, and some classic songs (the groundbreaking “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” the folkie anthem “Mr. Tambourine Man”), but one could argue that at this point Dylan was still trying to satisfy both of his audiences. He made his best rock when he truly cut loose and said “fuck it” to the folkies, and his best acoustic stuff was definitely the more humorous songs on earlier albums. [Ed Howard]

112 Talking Heads – Stop Making Sense
The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads was a barnstormer of a live album, a double CDed beast capturing a band just before reaching their peak. Circa Stop Making Sense, David and the other three did reach their peak. And, really, you won’t find an album by a better band at a better moment in their career on this entire list. Unfortunately, Stop Making Sense is a film, not an album. For a stage-show arranged with Napoleonic precision, the idea to chop and screw the order and length of the endeavour seems strangely self-defeating. The 1999 Special Edition goes some lengths to repairing that damage, but by then it was too late. [Dom Passantino]

113 Can – Ege Bamyasi
As wonderful as the Krautrocker’s fourth album might be, there’s no doubting the fact that 10-minute space-rock jams fronted by Japanese buskers who ‘sing’ in a made-up language are never going to make their way into the upper echelons of the pop music canon. Even so, Ege Bamyasi is possibly Can’s most accessible work, with the likes of “I’m So Green” and “Sing Swan Song” coming close to the territory of recognisable pop songs. There’s nothing here as abstract as Tago Mago’s “Aumgn”, and equally nothing as disco-friendly as their freak UK top thirty hit, “I Want More”; but if you’re feeling brave, this example of free-wheeling experimentalism (accent on the ‘mental’) is well worth checking out. [Nick Southall]

114 Public Image Ltd. – Second Edition / Metal Box
The super-obnoxious ex-Sex Pistol John Lydon, making a lengthy album of raw, punk-influenced dub music with jagged guitars, howled vocals, and minimal, repetitious structures... Not exactly hard to figure out why this group’s second (and best-known) record still sharply divides audiences. In the right frame of mind, the group’s hard, rhythmic noise (anchored by Jah Wobble’s depth-charge bass) can be earthshaking; in the wrong frame of mind, it can just give you a headache. [Ed Howard]

115 Snoop Doggy Dogg – Doggystyle
Maybe Snoop’s star turn in Starsky and Hutch will revive interest in this classic, but in the meantime it’s no secret why Doggystyle’s gotten a critical demerit in the past few years. Not only are there a couple of No Limit shitstains on his resume, but Snoop also never managed to truly return to form commercially and critically with a Chronic 2001-style redux. Beyond that, it’s all blah blah blah misogyny blah blah artistic license blah blah blah high-horse PC rockcrit. [Josh Love]

116 PJ Harvey - Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea
Polly Jean Harvey has become something of a forgotten heroine these days, and I think this album’s relatively poor showing is at least partially due to the fact that she hasn’t released an album since (it has been three-and-a-half years since its release) and the previous record dates all the way back to 1998. In fact, until I saw this record on the list, I had all but forgotten about it, and it’s my favorite of hers by some length. In this case, I suspect absence has made the heart forget rather than grow fonder. And where the hell are you anyway, Polly Jean? The world needs you! [Todd Hutlock]

117 The Replacements – Let It Be
Let It Be was the Replacements’ breakthrough, the album that pushed them past their garage punk origins and established them as one of indie rock’s most significant and best bands. “I Will Dare,” “Unsatisfied,” “Androgynous,” and “Sixteen Blue” are irrefutable classics that easily justify the Replacements’ status as college rock cornerstones. However, this perception fails to recognize an equally apparent truth about the Replacements: they wrote a lot of crap songs. True, Let It Be has fewer embarrassments than most of the group’s albums, but try placing “Gary’s Got a Boner” on your favorite album. I guarantee you it will be out of your Top 100 in a second. [Kareem Estefan]

118 Ryan Adams - Heartbreaker
The short answer is, obviously, because everybody fucking hates Ryan Adams. As much as I still pine for the boy to return to this high-water mark, however, it’s not quite that simple. For one, the upbeat roots-rockers are too few and far between the extended segues of sad-bastard soliloquies, and all in all there are too many loose threads here to make Heartbreaker anything more than just great. Of course, even if this was the second coming of the Grievous Angel (which didn’t make our top 100 either, wtf?), Ryan’s long since alienated the hipsters with his shameless classic rock rimjobs and pop-royalty presumptuous Gap ads. Plus he's pissed off canon-keepers with his compulsive album releases, seeing as how we listmakers always prefer labors of love a decade in the making to off-the-cuff, quick-buck cut-outs. [Josh Love]

119 Ramones - Ramones
It begat the "punk rock canon." It is the punk rock canon. Well, whatever that means—what matters is that every single song on here is so perfect. But they’ll try to tell you that Ramones is garbage because every song sounds the same. Well, shit. Sorry if a zillion kids hated the fact that they knew how to play every song on this album, and best of all, they could sing along to it. All of it. But all the songs sound the same. [Sam Bloch]

120 Lilys – Eccsame The Photon Band
The career or Kurt Heasley, mastermind behind Lilys, can be divided into two phases—his dreamy, I HEART MBV, pop genius phase, and his classicist, the-last-great-album-ever-released-was-Village Green, pop perfectionist phase. Too bad that Eccsame the Photon Band, the group’s true masterpiece, doesn’t fit either of these categories. It channeled the greatness of Kevin Shields and Ray Davies, but not through direct imitation, and thus just missed out on the post-shoegaze and psych-pop periods of canonization in the mid 90s. Oh yeah, and that name’s not helping much either. Come on Kurt, give us a break. [Andrew Unterberger]

121 Autechre - Tri-Repeatae
This album. Is so. Sterile. Autechre, despite being one of the most talented and influential electronica groups of the ‘90s, arguably earned the genre its undesirable reputation of total lifelessness. Tri Repetae, duo Rob Brown and Sean Booth’s third album, is consistently great, but it is also entirely devoid of human emotion. And most of us humans like to hear human emotion, being the prejudiced, un-accepting race we are. Lesson to Autechre: be more like Daft Punk. Robots don’t make Top 100s, but robots posing as humans/humans posing as robots, that we commend. [Kareem Estefan]

122 Aphex Twin – Selected Ambient Works 85-92
The other Selected Ambient Works album (volume 2), is considered by many fans to be the definitive ambient album (even surpassing the great work of Brian Eno). This disk? Well, it's not really ambient music. It's techno music that doesn't sound too dissimilar to Orbital or The Orb or even early Autechre. None of this is to suggest that this is a bad album; a lot of people still like this work (though less than volume 2). It's just that there's been a lot of techno music released in the past decade that it's hard to hear this album against the throng of other beats. [Michael Heumann]

123 Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx
Perhaps the most criminally-minded and criminally overlooked album of the first wave of Wu-Tang releases, Cuban Linx arguably features some of RZA's best production of the era: shrill strings, detuned bass, and crisp drum loops by the hijacked truckload. Eschewing kung-fu mythology for mafia-imbued storyline, Raekwon's album doesn't fit as nicely into the Wu oeuvre as Liquid Swords or Tical, and it favors cold street verisimilitude over the hazy hallucinogenic quality that makes the other Wu albums classic. And Raekwon's gruff, machine-gun delivery doesn't stand out like Method Man's percolating flows or ODB's demented caterwauling. Never again would Raekwon put out work even comparable to his first release, hampering his legacy, but make no mistake - Cuban Linx is a classic. [Gavin Mueller]

124 Manic Street Preachers- The Holy Bible
The story is now famous: Richey Edwards writes the most disturbing songs of his career, the Manics pair them with their normal hard rock stylings, and then he disappears. That The Holy Bible is one of the most disturbing listens in rock music is both its strength and its weakness; it’s not for the faint of heart or stomach, or those who have an aversion to angst and bombast. These songs, about murderers and corrupt governments, prostitution and the Holocaust, would have been powerful even without the real-life tragedy; with that tragedy they’re so overwhelming that most prefer their triumphant, valedictory Everything Must Go, released two years later, instead. [Ian Mathers]

125 Leonard Cohen- Songs of Love and Hate
Even to his fans (and I count myself proudly among that number, though I admit he is an acquired taste to say the least), Leonard Cohen does not exactly fill you with a sense of joy or really even happiness. And Songs Of Love and Hate is no exception to that rule. As such I suspect that when compiling a list of “favorite music” that this black and slightly harrowing album didn’t exactly jump to the front of many people’s minds, especially given the tendency of most people to associate “favorite” with “happiness.” As such, I’m fairly certain that the very thing that makes some people love Cohen so likely kept some of those same people from voting for him. [Todd Hutlock]

126 Minutemen - Double Nickels on the Dime
The indie-punk scene of the mid-1980s reached its apex in 1984. That's when The Replacements released Let It Be, Hüsker Dü released Zen Arcade, and the Minutemen released this album. For some reason, Double Nickels was (and still is) considered the lesser of the three works. That's mainly due to the fact that their album wasn't filled with the kind of art-house thrash and classic rock licks of their compatriots. Instead, they wrote short, funky, beat driven (and bass heavy) abstract songs without choruses. They were as unique as any band in rock, and that uniqueness probably led to being (even today) overlooked in the larger rock universe. [Michael Heumann]

127 Jane's Addiction - Ritual De Lo Habitual
Too debauched, too laden with narcotics, too weird, too arty, too high-pitched; this flew under the radar once Nevermind impacted with seismic force, condemning Jane’s Addiction to ten years of absenteeism, Lollapalooza, Porno, rehab and whispered stories about a manager who ran a brothel and greeted record company people naked, about lesbians fist-fucking onstage, about fornication in trysts. There’s no doubt that Ritual is a marvellous album; it’s simply not for public consumption. Not when the big hit is an ode to the joys of petty theft, and the album’s centre is an eleven-minute epic about an unholy ménage-a-trois, followed by the most disjointed and sensually uneasy-verging-on-terrifying paean to heroin ever. [Nick Southall]

128 Flying Burrito Brothers - The Gilded Palace of Sin
Though Stylus as a whole has never been overly crazy about alt-country and therefore its roots in this album and others of the late-1960s, the low finish of Gram Parsons & Co.’s debut album is perhaps a question of availability. While the whole album is available as part of the Hot Burritos! two-CD anthology, it has never been available on its own CD on a U.S. record label. Another factor: Parsons only features on the first two LPs in the band’s extensive catalog, and it is a distinct possibility that some voters may have been put off by one of the later, far-inferior incarnations of the band. Oh, and it sold like shit in 1968, too. [Todd Hutlock]

129 Led Zeppelin- Physical Graffiti
Released at the mid-point of the decade of rock excess, Physical Graffiti was the last great Zeppelin album, a bruised beast that embraced an ever-widening musical lexicon while maintaining their bone-grinding blues thrust. Bloated to fifteen blunt-trauma tracks, the album gets greedy, pitting the epic prog of “In the Light” against mystical folk workouts like “Bron-Yr-Aur.” Ultimately, its double-album length feels like a need to satisfy disparate audiences, without allowing for the simple agility of forward movement. Still, the wandering daylight shanty of “Down by the Seaside” or the shovel-to-the-head strut of “Night Flight” are enough to forgive much of their overindulgence. [Derek Miller]

130 Gang Of Four - Entertainment!
Given that the style that Gang Of Four pioneered is currently being plundered heavily by the whole Rapture/DFA/Radio 4 scene, I was rather shocked to see this album not finish in the Top 10, let alone the Top 100. Then I did my research: this album has been out of print in the United States for years now (it was reissued in the UK in 2001, however). Surely if it were more accessible to the majority of the Stylus voting base, it would have finished much higher than it did. In this case, ignorance is most certainly not bliss. [Todd Hutlock]

131 Radiohead- The Bends
Reacting to the one-hit-wonder pigeonhole of ‘Creep’ with spite, malice and a fair dose of humour (to this day Thom Yorke is amazed some people don’t realize the line “I wish it was the sixties / I wish we could be happy” from the title track was a joke), Radiohead also employed arguably the biggest hooks of their career. It had tons of hits (‘Just’, ‘Street Spirit’, ‘High And Dry’, ‘Fake Plastic Trees’) and plenty of great songs, but with hindsight after OK Computer and everything else that has come since, The Bends seems just a little bit less special than it once was. [Ian Mathers]

132 Prince - Sign ‘o’ the Times
As Prince makes his way through the talk show and awards-ceremony rounds, looking palpably uncomfortable with the unkempt regularity of Jay Leno or Ellen encroaching upon his bubble-sphere of ego and genius, one should return to the apex of his prolificacy–Sign O’ The Times–to examine The Purple One at his artistic zenith. Though the double-album lacked the conceptual transcendence of Purple Rain, the concise pop songcraft of Dirty Mind, or 1999’s hedonistic sprawl, Prince applied a more sophisticated musicality and social-awareness to Sign’s tracks; "The Ballad of Dorothy Parker" employs rubbery synths and elaborate drum programming to examine the minutiae of a waitress’ seduction; "Sign O’ The Times" opens the album advocating caution in the face of AIDS, violence amongst youth, drug use, etc. As with any Prince album aside from Dirty Mind, there is simply too much material here to completely endear itself to the listener. But when what’s included is so experimental and lovely (Prince even sings as a female–"Camille"–on the explicit "If I Was Your Girlfriend")–who’s complaining? [Eric Seguy]

133 Nirvana - MTV Unplugged in New York
So what if this didn't make the top 100? It's a live album performed for MTV, for god's sake! It's amazing that it's in the top 200 at all! But it is, and for good reason; this is a first rate work. The stripped down, "unplugged" nature of this performance allows Cobain and company to recreate some of their more memorable works (but not "Smells Like Teen Spirit"). The band was even generous enough to willingly share the spotlight with their friends the Meat Puppets. This might not be the best Nirvana album (I'd go with In Utero), but it's a special record all the same. [Michael Heumann]

134 Sleater-Kinney - Dig Me Out
I’m over my riot-grrl phase, so if I come off as bitter and hostile, forgive me. Bikini Kill paved the road and Sleater-Kinney drove on it. But they drove a compact, economically efficient vehicle and were really careful not to crack the fresh cement. Dig Me Out is the band’s most fun, jump-around-in-your-panties album, but it is also completely un-risky and, in the end, unimportant. Sleater-Kinney is simply not a band made to produce a “classic” album. They make liberal-booty shaking music, and it has its place--just not on a list of timeless records. [Gentry Boeckel]

135 Elvis Costello and the Attractions - "Get Happy!!"
When looked at in the context of the near-perfect run of albums that Elvis Costello began his career with, Get Happy!! would at first glance appear to be the weak link in the chain to many—a gimmicky (20 tracks! We’re a soul combo! Clever couplets fly by mile-a-minute! Whee!) genre exercise that might not stack up well next to the emotional depths of This Year’s Model or Armed Forces. There is an embarrassment of riches available in Costello’s early albums, and they clearly can’t all be favorites. Logically speaking, Get Happy!! simply makes the most sense to leave off of (or rank a bit further down at least) any favorites list. [Todd Hutlock]

136 The Velvet Underground – Loaded
By the time this came out, Doug Yule, of all people, was basically in control, and all the “real” Velvets were AWOL. It’s an uneven album that betrays both the group’s imminent collapse and their wayward commercial ambitions – soon to be fully realized as “Sweet Jane” took off on the FM dial. The lame country of “Lonesome Cowboy Bill,” the even lamer spoken section of the otherwise pretty “I Found a Reason,” and several surprisingly average rock songs are redeemed by a handful of Lou Reed’s best pop songs. It’s the Velvets, so there’s plenty to enjoy here, but in comparison to the unstained glory of their previous three efforts, this couldn’t be anything but a disappointment. [Ed Howard]

137 GZA - Liquid Swords
Judging by the huge leap in both lyrical and musical confidence from his debut Words from the Genius and the inevitable dip of the follow up Beneath the Surface, it's possible to overlook this solo release from the second most reclusive Wu member. Much like the music on Loveless where listens reveal the depth of sound, the interplay of layers and the brand new sounds this ultimately creates, every listen to GZA’s lyrics reveal possible interpretations or instant rewind awesome lines that demand memorisation. The genuine lyrical profundity, the lack of the sillier end of hip-hop clichés and the brilliantly difficult production crafted from slices of soul, mini drones and shavings of electronica sounds (I’m still not convinced that it’s all RZA’s work) place this album almost to the far leftfield of hip-hop. [Scott McKeating]

138 James Brown - Live at the Apollo
As dynamic and breathtaking as this record is, it does have one significant trait working against its inclusion on any sort of “best albums” list: It is a “live album,” and that certainly disqualifies it from some writers’ lists right off the bat. Live albums are usually looked at as anywhere from a contractual obligation filler to a thinly veiled cash-in attempt, and usually are not thought of as great records in their own right. There are certainly exceptions to this rule—this album and Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense most prominently—but there are some things that just can’t be overcome. [Todd Hutlock]

139 Spiritualized – Ladies & Gentlemen, We are Floating in Space
From his early days in Spacemen 3, Jason Pierce could only ever write three ‘songs’; the sad one, the trippy one, and the noisy one; and they all sounded exactly the same anyway. By 1997’s Ladies & Gentlemen Pierce had refined his art though, and the result was commercial success the like of which he’d not known before. Borrowing from soul, gospel and free-jazz, Pierce combined impossible sadness with improbable pretension and impenetrable noise; it’s awesome, that’s for sure, but it’s certainly not comfortable listening. Indulgent 16-minute songs about heroin addiction that devolve into boundless noise and ghostly mariachi brass simply don’t win big crossover audiences. [Nick Southall]

140 Missy Elliott – Miss E... So Addictive
The canon of rock, like its literary antecedent, is composed largely of dead white men; no wonder then that a live black woman should always seem to slip just outside its net, especially when she’s as voluptuous in thought, word, deed and figure as Missy. That So Addictive defiantly refuses to be categorised doesn’t help; is it hip hop, is it dance, is it r&b? What it is, is hyper-modern Asiatic liquid digital pointillist dancefloor hip hop, the sound of urban America rushing to the clubs and getting their freaks on. Too black, too strong, too female, too new; too goddamned good. [Nick Southall]

141 Sigur Ros - Agaetis Byrjun
Give it a decade longer and it may jump up into the higher echelons of such “classic” lists, but right now it’s still a bit too fresh and overly grandiose. Agaetis Byrjun seems to try too hard, with its uber-gravitas, record-length limit pushing and too-sumptuous lushness (bowed guitars, for fuck’s sake!). If one argument can be made for its inclusion in the top 100, it’s that it pulled the gaze of the entire music scene from the common axis of English speaking countries and onto the netherworlds of other-language space-rock. Even if that language is made-up. [Gentry Boeckel]

142 Dr Dre - The Chronic
It’s a well-known fact that grudging rockists can only bring themselves to acknowledge two or three hip-hop albums as canon-worthy, so why bother with this sprawling, lyrically sub-classic (except for Snoop of course), misogynistic mess when you can pontificate over the fallen hero mythos of Biggie or Tupac instead? In all seriousness though, you only put this on for the singles anyway; once you get past “Nuthin’ But a “G” Thang,” shit starts to get dicey, and when Snoop takes an extended chronic break of his own between tracks 9 and 15, you’d be well advised to do the same. And this is coming from someone who can do “The $20 Sack Pyramid” verbatim. [Josh Love]

143 Nas – Illmatic
Totally out of step with current trends in commercial hip-hop, Illmatic relied on the flickering stairwell and cold NY street narratives instead of smart one liners, subliminal disses and catchy choruses. Routinely held up as one of the strongest hip-hop LPs ever and remaining his most powerful collection to date (an especially strong accolade considering that the genre isn’t known for its strengths in creating LP format), it launched Nas as the bridge between the old and new school and making lines like ‘I don’t sleep, cos sleep is the cousin of death’ amongst the most popular quotes in hip-hop ever. [Scott McKeating]

144 Sparklehorse - Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot
At the height of Sebadohic production, Mark Linkous’ carnivalesque brand of lo-fidelity unintentionally hit the main airwaves with the fluke alt. hit “Someday I Will Treat You Good.” Because of this, some fickle listener bought and then pawned the breathlessly titled debut, which is how it happened to fall into my callused fingers. Subsequent albums would be more polished, but Viva… perfectly captured the woozy, fragile and raucous elements of Linkous’ Valiumed mind. While a pleasant late night ceiling-staring record, Viva is far from the revelatory top 100. I’d bet my On the Beach LP that most people haven’t even heard Viva… in full: which makes its position on this list apt, if not overrated. [Gentry Boeckel]

145 Ride – Nowhere
A sad fate, that of Ride. Their downfall was just slightly more rapid and disappointing than that of fellow ‘gazers Catherine Wheel (who passed up a record deal with Brian Eno?!). Nowhere is their masterpiece and is one of the few shoe-gazing records that is almost universally acclaimed by people who don’t even like (or know anything about) shoegazing. Sure, it’s a pretty album of wailing guitar waves and modest, subtle melodies, and it perfectly captured all the mainstays of the genre, but it will nevertheless be forever overshadowed by the untouchable (and other universally adored shoegazing record), Loveless. But you really can’t fuck with that opener. [Gentry Boeckel]

146 Tortoise – Millions Now Living Will Never Die
Poor Tortoise. Leaders of a movement that has since peaked and is now firmly out of vogue, I was honestly surprised to even see this album—still their best work by the way—even finish in the Top 200. All that this record represents has basically fallen from grace rather awkwardly, and the few truly great albums of the whole Chicago Instrumental Post Rock Jazz Fusion scene (or whatever the fuck you want to call it) is going to have to languish in obscurity until a few years from now when some enterprising kids will discover it for the first time, recycle it with their own touches, and land themselves on the cover of Spin, as is generally the rule with these things. [Todd Hutlock]

147 The Clash – The Clash
Are you sure we didn’t count votes for the US and UK versions separately? This one’s a surefire masterpiece, but it’s not surprising to see the band’s viciously tuneful debut jilted in favor of the over-arching double album wet dream London Calling. The canon loves the idea of a bunch of Brits taking on Americana, reading Mystery Train, mourning Monty Clift, and cheekily cover-checking Elvis, but the canon (I like to treat it as an actual human entity, like Access Hollywood dipshits do with Oscar) would have to wait almost three years to get its trad-rock props. [Josh Love]

148 Tom Waits - Swordfishtrombones
The beginnings of the third stage of Tom’s evolution following his crooner and jazz beatnik years came with a radical shift in styles, content and delivery. With eccentric instrumentation and really unconventional subject matter Swordfishtrombones was sang and spoken his bar lifestyle roughened Beefheartian voice placing it firmly in the ‘is this meant to sound like this’ category. Sweeping up the detritus of alleyways, train stations and attic rooms with the purposeful noise of loose rock and roll blues guitars and graveyard/backyard percussion he managed to be disturbing, comic and heartbreakingly sad. [Scott McKeating]

149 Marvin Gaye - What's Going On
We’re not meant to talk in these blurbs about how the fact that these albums aren’t higher in the list (you know, in the boring bit we ignored) is because the rest of the voters are fools, but for What’s Going On? I must make an exception. I don’t understand. It can only be that many of the other voters are too young and too gauche to understand, or else simply that they forgot the kick drum that starts “Inner City Blues” or James Jameson’s bass in “Right On” or the accidental sax hit that opens the album – the ALBUM; the first soul album, a risk by Marvin, an indulgence to make him shut the hell up by Berry Gordy. Or maybe it’s because “Save The Children” and “Wholly Holy” have aged as well as a banana in a clay oven, that thirty years on what was open and honest and pure is now just cringe worthy? I don’t know. [Nick Southall]

150 Led Zeppelin – Houses of the Holy

An odd transitional point for Zep: this comes after the near-perfect one-two punch of III and the runes album, their acoustic record and their ultimate classic rock masterpiece. Houses is much more modest, so it lingers in the long shadows cast by its predecessors. It contains a few of the group’s best songs (“Over the Hills and Far Away,” I’m looking at you) but also one of their worst pre-Out Door (the inexplicable “The Crunge”). After this, the group retreated further from their pure blues origins into excessive rock epics like “Kashmir,” and this fine record unfortunately seems to get lumped in with their declining later years. [Ed Howard]

151 Elvis Costello – This Year’s Model
Costello’s catalog is full of enough great albums that some are sure to get left behind; when it comes to ranking the ones that Elvis put out during his heyday from 77-82 his second effort (and first with famed backing band the Attractions) is often forgotten. Why? Well, despite being much more on-point than the debut with this whole “punk” thing and containing the evergreen classic ‘(I Don’t Want To Go To) Chelsea’, This Year’s Model is so chock full of hate, spite and rage that some just can’t get into it. [Ian Mathers]

152 The Kinks- Village Green Preservation Society
Pundits are still baffled nearly 25 years since it’s release exactly why no one bought The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society upon its initial release in 1968 (it was a total sales flop) and has since languished in relative obscurity amongst their back catalog. Of course, there were no hit singles on it. And it was a bit of a concept record based around nostalgia for simpler, Victorian times and values at a time when the likes of Hendrix and Cream and the Rolling Stones were lighting the world on fire. And it is a bit genteel and precious compared to the riff-happy early Kinks of “You Really Got Me.” Well, there’s one more mystery solved then. [Todd Hutlock]

153 Echo and the Bunnymen – Ocean Rain
The self-proclaimed “Greatest Album of All Time” it may be, but to those who weren’t around at the time of its original release, Ocean Rain probably appears to be nothing more than the Bunnymen album that doesn’t really sound like the others. One can hardly blame newcomers (or longtime Bunnyfans for that matter) for preferring the more definitive slashing-guitar-atmospheric sound of albums like Crocodiles or Heaven Up Here to the orchestral triumph found here. Objectively speaking, Ocean Rain probably sounds a bit watered-down compared to those records. To each his or her own, I suppose. [Todd Hutlock]

154 Led Zeppelin - III
Led Zeppelin III has earned its place in Led Zeppelin’s catalogue as “the other one”—not as standard-setting as the first, not as heavy as the second, not as legendary as the fourth, not as sprawling as any of the others. In fact, it’s quite possibly the least characteristic Zep album—probably their only full-length that could ever be classified as subtle, with only one of the songs (“Immigrant Song”—the lead track, no less) ever becoming a true classic rock standard. Those not afraid of a little variety, however, could find some of the Zep’s all-time highlights with “Since I’ve Been Lovin’ You,” “Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp” and the album’s true gem, “That’s the Way.” [Andrew Unterberger]

155 Neil Young - Harvest
Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere and After the Gold Rush mined gritty rock anthems and folky love songs to perfection. Released two years after the latter, Harvest continued in its country-folk vein, pairing rolling laments like “Old Man” with the string-drenched domesticity of, “A Man Needs a Maid.” His most popular album, it nevertheless lacked the through-the-night-until-the-morning-after crush of its predecessors and marked the start of Young’s personal decline amidst drug-related deaths and in-band turmoil. Harvest’s popularity sealed Young’s voice-of-a-generation fate, but fortunately for his fans, On the Beach was only two years off and would prove a far more forceful statement of his talents. [Derek Miller]

156 Tricky - Pre-Millennium Tension
After deliberately chasing away Maxinquaye’s fans with the calculatingly obtuse Nearly God project, Tricky’s second proper album, Pre-Millennium Tension, was a dark, noisy, awkward and mean spirited album. The naïve yearnings and confusion of the (in retrospect) obvious polish of his debut were replaced by threats, hate, chaos and spite in a mutated bedroom demo style. This decidedly unfriendly production, plus the fact that Tricky was beginning to let his ego and temper get the better of him meant the style press and coffee table music fans took a step back from his work. [Scott McKeating]

157 Yo La Tengo – Electr-O-Pura
In the Yo La Tengo world (which, I assure you, is far more beautiful than our own), I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One reigns as the supreme, irrefutable leader. Its subjects are many, and all would make excellent rulers in separate universes, but none could be #1 when their leader so perfectly encapsulates their most appealing traits. The thing is, there’s no agreement on #2; Fakebook has his strengths and weaknesses, Painful hers, …And Then Nothing and Electr-O-Pura theirs as well. The debate has existed since the beginning of time, and for this reason, Yo La Tengo World must forever remain under single-party rule. The runner-ups just can’t win. [Kareem Estefan]

158 Michael Jackson – Thriller
“Billie Jean”! “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’”! “Thriller!” “Beat It”! “Human Nature”! “The Lady In My Life”! And then Paul McCartney turns up, which is reason enough to keep it out of the top 100. Still, 40 million Jacko fans can’t be wrong. Seven out of the nine tracks on this album charted in the US top 10. Just think about that. However, as marked an achievement that is, this leads to Jackson being viewed as a SINGLES artist, rather than an album artist. Actually, his albums are ten singles, rather than three singles and seven filler, but still the accusations remain. Too successful for albums. And, as such, you’re never going to see Thriller, Bad, or Off The Wall as a regular feature in these lists. Occasionally HIStory at a push, but even then, that’s to cement the fact that he’s a “singles artist”. You couldn’t be more wrong guys… [Dom Passantino]

159 Miles Davis – Kind Of Blue
The problem with Miles and the rock/pop canon is two-fold; firstly there is simply too much to pick from – between 1949 and 1991 Miles cut countless albums, many of which are undoubted classics, and the lack of consensus about which era of his career is the greatest leads to spread-voting which dilutes his presence on these kind of lists. Secondly, and perhaps most pertinently, it’s jazz, and that requires the rock/pop fan to develop a completely different set of listening skills. Either way though, Kind Of Blue is a beautiful, masterly piece of work – explaining why is as pointless as arguing why not though. Everyone knows this is a great record, but until the moment it truly speaks to them very few people think to remember. [Nick Southall]

160 Can – Future Days
Can’s Future Days is a brilliant record, if not a very convenient one. Whereas the tribal rave-ups of Tago Mago were of reasonable length (despite their averaging around six minutes each) and Ege Bamyasi tempered its radical experimentalism with lovely melodies and thin washes of sound, Future Days is comprised of just four pieces–"Moonshake" just three minutes, "Bel Air" pushing twenty. Which is fine; but this record, out of all the others in Can’s considerable oeuvre, demands to be listened to as a single piece. Over the course of the record, the listener is privy to the gentle sound-scapes of "Spray" (aptly titled, as drummer Jaki Leibzeit’s delicate cymbal hits generate a faint hiss that sounds like ocean vapour hitting the listener’s cheek as they drive along the coast) to the remarkable--almost psychedelic--restraint evident in "Bel Air." By merit of its intensely compositional structure, Future Days remains a bewitching anomaly in the band’s catalogue–and despite the alternating restlessness and tranquillity one experiences while listening to it–is maybe Can’s definitive expression of singular artistic talent. [Eric Seguy]

161 The Jesus and Mary Chain – Psychocandy
There’s sweetness and sourness, but very little room for an in-between. Consider the flavors of various sweet-and-sour products you may have tried: Sweet and sour chicken ends up tasting as though it were cooked in lemon-scent Lysol, and you can generally count on any sweet and sour candy to be coated in the sort of jaw-clenching acidic taste that induces migraines. The Jesus and Mary Chain’s Psychocandy is a fruition of the formula’s intended effect: Here, sunny harmonies and melodies are ruthlessly brutalized by feedback storms and bleak lyrical content, resulting in an addictive amalgam between the two acquired tastes. But far from being an ironic perversion of the timeless pop naïveté of "Just Like Honey" or "Tastes Of Cindy," Psychocandy utilizes the disparate musical qualities to great effect; the listener alternately braces his or herself against the electrical maelstorm, only to continue listening for the glimmers of pop ecstasy shining beneath the murk. There are only really six different songs here (in different variations, but still); however Psychocandy remains the first, and maybe the best, example of sweetness soured beyond recognition. [Eric Seguy]

162 The Breeders – Last Splash
The Breeders have had to endure a lot of guilt directed at them for not being The Pixies. Sure, they had that one great single, but their albums were so inconsistent, and they’ll never measure up to the greatness of Kim Deal Mach 1. And true, Last Splash is a rather confusing concept—a honeycomb of pure pop that nonetheless harbors its fair share of yellowjackets. But let’s hope that people eventually realize that this album can still go ten rounds with Doolittle or Surfer Rosa, anytime, anywhere. And trust me, the reason The Cult of Ray doesn’t make it onto this list isn’t because it made the top 100. [Andrew Unterberger]

163 Blondie - Parallel Lines
This was the "sell-out" album for Blondie, leaving punk far behind, (save one or two opening tracks) and their old fans even farther: The hooks! The disco! The high-hat! The big guitars! In hindsight, Parallel Lines is viewed as a pop classic, but it was enough then to make any self-respecting CBGB’s rat write them off immediately. This was the big break for Blondie, racking up four hit singles, including their first US Number One, "Heart Of Glass," on their third album, and effectively rocketing them out of their old punk dives and into the discos and clubs. [Sam Bloch]

164 The Allman Brothers – Live at the Fillmore East
For fans of Southern rock or jam bands, this is a must: the Allmans live at the peak of their powers, pre-tragic death of Duane Allman, and boasting monumental takes on ‘In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed’ and ‘Whipping Post’. Of course, not everyone is fan of those kinds of music, and for everyone else, no matter how good a song ‘Whipping Post’ may be, here it’s stretched out to twenty-two minutes of jamming. As far as that sort of thing goes this is pretty fat-free, but some people will be reaching for the stop button by minute ten if not before. [Ian Mathers]

165 The Clash – Sandinista!
The great misunderstood album of the modern era? Or rock’s biggest-ever flop of a follow up? Well, that’s for you to decide, but suffice to say, Sandinista! has been dividing critics, fans and polls for over twenty years now. Coming hot on the heels of what is arguably the greatest punk album of all time, the album’s thirty-six track sprawl was just about everything except punk. There was, however, dub, rap, Motown, disco, power-pop, calypso, avant-garde, and gospel to name but a few. Sandinista! truly had something for everybody, but that something might very well have only comprised about 1% of the album, so it’s had trouble finding a proper audience. But hey, everybody loves The White Album. So what gives? [Andrew Unterberger]

166 Guns and Roses - Appetite For Destruction
So, in the end, metal loses. This is the highest placing metal album in our entire poll. Notice how low it is. Nobody wants to admit in 2004 that in 1989, nothing could touch Guns N fucking Roses. They owned at that period of time. We’ve been conditioned to forget this album, to ignore the Stones viscerality of “Welcome To The Jungle” and the sneering stupid voice brilliance of “It’s So Easy” and the pompous pop-prog brilliant idiocy of “Paradise City” because, if we do remember this, then we realise that Nevermind wasn’t actually a victory. It was a huge own goal. Grunge didn’t save us from this, it divorced us from it. History is written by losers. [Dom Passantino]

167 Modest Mouse – The Moon and Antarctica
The perfect indie pop album? No. Despite its surprising lyrical depth, its catchy choruses, and its marvelous production (not to mention the astounding progression from previous Modest Mouse albums), The Moon and Antarctica is still short of a masterpiece. At the album’s center (tracks 7-9), the songs slow to a tedious stall, and although the refreshing sounds of “Wild Packs of Family Dogs” and “Paper Thin Walls” are valiant attempts at recovery, the initial excitement is irrevocable. Ultimately, The Moon and Antarctica falls short of brilliance (because of its poor sequencing and excessive length), but not too short. [Kareem Estefan]

168 The Pop Group - Y
This debut is their easiest album to find on CD (though just barely), and it’s a landmark of lunatic post-punk. That “pop” signifier is totally hypothetical; the awe-inspiring single “She Is Beyond Good and Evil” aside, this record is pretty unapproachable even for someone used to post-punk’s discordance. Melodies pop up occasionally, but they’re caged in by raw, ugly riffs, atonal sax jamming, and the hectoring, politically-minded shouts of Mark Stewart. These are political punk tunes deconstructed so that only the skeleton remains, and weaving between those bare bones are some of the nastiest sounds ever made. [Ed Howard]

169 Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
Is there anyone from the 70s less cool than Fleetwood Mac? Anyone more dreaded, more overplayed, more blamed for the general vanillazation of rock? Well, maybe The Eagles, but they’re great too. Point is, Rumours has 25 years of justifiably angry revisionist history working against it. And to some extent, it deserves it—precious songs like “Don’t Stop” and “Second Hand News” will probably grate for centuries to come---but dismissing the album altogether means you miss out on the album’s dreamier and darker side—songs like “The Chain” and “Gold Dust Woman”—which still sound a little creepy today. And that’s not even to mention songs like “Dreams” or “Go Your Own Way”—70s FM Radio Classics that merit their saturation of the airwaves. [Andrew Unterberger]

170 Elliott Smith - Either-Or
Yet another example of a perfectly good transitional album getting ignored in favor of better-known albums on either side of it. This marks Smith’s change from stripped-down guy-and-a-guitar to fully-fleshed pop-rock songwriter. He hadn’t yet got the knack of the latter yet (as he would most memorably on XO), and the few rock moments on here feel out-of-place amid the sparse, lovely songs reminiscent of his earlier work. Smith was at his best maintaining a mood of delicate desolation over the course of a full album (he does it again on the first few songs of Either/Or), and that mood is here interrupted by rocky outbursts and more upbeat melodies. [Ed Howard]

171 Bonnie Prince Billy - I See a Darkness
This is just a weird little album. The vocals are weird. The songs are weird. The lyrics are weird. It's not country or rock or even that Wilco kind of country-rock fusion. It's not folk music, either, though I'm guessing Richard Thompson is a fan (he's weird, too). It's a work that is hard to pin down or figure out, though many have tried. It's an enigma, and that's why people like it. That's also why it's not more popular. [Michael Heumann]

172 Aretha Franklin - I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You
This album was the roundhouse thrust that begat the Queen of Soul. Brimming with signature performances like the double-timed demand of “Respect” and the churning firehouse blues of “Dr. Feelgood,” it was the world’s first whiplashed notice of a budding superstar. Jerry Wexler guided Aretha through a steaming mix of covers and originals that ride the expert rhythms of the Muscle Shoals session men he assembled. Yet, in Aretha’s energetic determination, there’s a subtle lack of the knowing passion that she would bring to Lady Soul and Aretha Now. Perhaps it’s splitting hairs, but Aretha was still an album away from indomitability. [Derek Miller]

173 Orbital – Orbital II (Brown)
Arguably it was Orbital, and this album in particular, that cemented the idea of a dance long-player as a cohesive artistic statement rather than just a succession of floor-packing singles and inferior Xeroxed filler. As such it’s something of a standard-bearer, incorporating bookend concepts, spacious beauty, multi-segmented ‘songs’ and, of course, some serious dancefloor momentum. In fact if anything it’s a little too dancefloor for some tastes at times, but the breadth of vision here points towards the work that would find even greater commercial and critical success later. [Nick Southall]

174 Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin IV
Following the mossy folk mysticism of III, IV was a prison shiv to the ribs of contemporary radio. It blended blistering cock rock anthems like “Black Dog” and “Rock and Roll” with Page’s broadening fascination with minstrel music, traceable through songs like “The Battle of Evermore” and the epic “Going to California.” Thirty-three years down the line, IV is the musical equivalent of Munch’s The Scream or Rodin’s The Thinker. The modern ear cannot but hear it through the sterile sheen of Cadillac commercials and frat-house soundtracks. Association, so crippling a factor in the historical assessment of music, has indeed taken its tolls on Zeppelin’s primal behemoth. [Derek Miller]

175 The Byrds - Sweetheart of the Rodeo
The epochal nexus of 60s psychedelic jangle and proto-alt-country, Sweetheart might have been further up the list if more of the Parsons-led takes were included on the original release rather than forever remanded to remastered, repackaged, bonus-completist hell. More likely, however, you can chalk this omission up to alt-country's bad rap in a post-Dixie Chicks world, as the genre grandfathered by Parsons seems to be as dead and buried as so many of its lyrical concerns. Having peaked in the mid-90s, it’s now little more than critical marginalia, with the few remaining No Depression lifers coming off like a bunch of disengaged purists or even worse, Toby Keith haters. [Josh Love]

176 Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes
The Femmes’ Gordon Gano is an indie Peter Pan, never willing to grow up. His group has pursued the themes of adolescence – sexual longing, partying, cars, rage – for pretty much their whole spotty career, but never as effectively as on their debut. “Add It Up,” “Gimme the Car,” and “Blister in the Sun” brilliantly crystallize the emotional outlook of an insecure teen, and perhaps as a result, the album’s ultimate appeal to anyone post-puberty will be primarily nostalgic. Get into when you’re still a teen, and it’ll last in memory forever; but if you miss the boat on it at that crucial point, it’ll probably never make much sense. [Ed Howard]

177 Weezer –Weezer (Blue)
"Smells Like Teen Spirit" brought the Pixies to the mainstream; Weezer brought them back to the underground—nerdy high schoolers, of course, and lots of them. This is an album that can only be written off by the type who pretend that they didn’t exist until eighteen: every single one of Rivers Cuomo’s words were scribbled in some long-forgotten diary, and the jewel case is stacked underneath the band’s much more acceptable influences. The big guitars and hooks of The Cars and Cheap Trick sit next to Sonic Youth dissonance as 2 million people asked themselves if they were ready to become grownups or still sing along. The ‘guilt’ (fools) wins. Emotional catharsis ahoy! [Sam Bloch]

178 Wilco – Being There
I’m sure Yankee Hotel Foxtrot made the top 100, and even Summerteeth's inferior psych-pop retro routine is held in higher esteem than Being There. Nonetheless, this one is a bit bloated, as there are definite growing pains in the transition from country-rock slavishness ("Forget the Flowers") to pre-YHF pop deconstructions ("Misunderstood"). Tweedy hadn’t quite yet shaken off the stigma of being Jay Farrar’s coattail-rider in Uncle Tupelo, and if we had taken this poll in 1994 I bet you a whiskey bottle that Son Volt’s Trace would have easily made our first century, whereas nowadays it’d be lucky to even crack triple digits. [Josh Love]

179 Ghostface Killah – Supreme Clientele
Can you blame people for not latching on to a rap album with lines like "Scotty watty cop it to me, big microphone hippie / Hit Poughkeepsie crispy chicken verbs throw up a stone richie"? Supreme Clientele is a glorious mess, the contents of Ghostface's addled mind poured over eviscerated classic soul. Songs without hooks, a distinct lack of a narrative arch, impromptu off-key crooning, and enough lyrical non-sequiturs to keep Donald Barthelme's head spinning: it's clear why Supreme Clientele doesn't have the widespread acclaim of other Wu-Tang releases. But there's a reason for its cult-classic status: this is Ghost at his realest, holding nothing back (even if it doesn't make sense). Supreme Clientele marks Ghost's transition from the streets to the penthouse, and only an album as schizophrenic as this could truly capture such an extraordinary figure in such extraordinary circumstances. [Gavin Mueller]

180 The Fall - This Nation's Saving Grace
Mark E. Smith: Before he withered into a puckered, cantankerous lout, he positively lorded over the 80s–leering like the toothless prophets on shopping avenues, disturbing passers by with his garrulous atonal ranting. Picking any one Fall album from this era is an archaic gesture–is This Nation’s Saving Grace really any better than The Wonderful and Frightening World Of..., or Grotesque (Or Hex Education Hour) for that matter? No. But only This Nation’s... has the thorny guitar-work of "Barmy," or "Spoilt Victorian Child"’s bratty urgency. Smith hones his forked tongue into a sling capable of hurling insults, conspiracy theories, and threats with equal aplomb. As with any Fall record, he tends to overstuff the bombast and ideas into a sixty-minute confine, and can become unfocused and tongue-tied. But disentangle yourself from that and what you have is another fine entry from one of rock music’s most enduring cranks. [Eric Seguy]

181 Gram Parsons - Grievous Angel
The lore for this one has said so much in my stead. Overdosing before the album ever hit the shelves, Gram Parsons succeeded in pinning another footnote to the annals of seventies’ rock carnage with Grievous Angel’s posthumous release. Reaching out to a wider audience with barnstormers like “I Can’t Dance” and “Cash on the Barrelhead,” Parsons was still at his best with timeless cry-all-nighters like “$1000 Wedding” and his inimitable version of “Love Hurts.” Considering much of the material was based on covers and material written earlier in his career, the album can almost be seen as an appendix to the steadier, more consistent G.P. [Derek Miller]

182 The Congos - Heart of the Congos
Reggae fans regularly cite this as the crowning achievement of Lee Perry's Black Ark studio. And why not? Wonderful melodies, wonderful songs, and Perry's ever-present production quirks make this just about as essential as any reggae album could be. So why didn't it make our Top 100? Simple: few have heard it. Island Records passed on it back in the 70s (nice one, Blackwell), and Perry had to put it out on his tiny Black Ark label. Hence, few outside Jamaica heard this until recently, when Steve Barrow's Blood & Fire label finally reissued it. It time, it'll be on everyone's list. [Michael Heumann]

183 Eurythmics – Be Yourself Tonight
A band removed from the record books. Not alternative enough to live on in the minds of the critics, and not trapped by the kitsch of 80s pop enough to live on in 80s retro revivalism. A band crashed between two stools then, and a band whose members’ later works did nothing to endear them to the memory. A shame, because “It’s Alright (Baby’s Coming Back)” is a thousand miles away from the horrors of “Honest” and “Diva”, whilst there’s really no reason that Tommy Vercetti shouldn’t have been doing drive-bys to the sound of “Would I Lie To You?” [Dom Passantino]

184 Prefuse 73 - Vocal Studies + Uprock Narratives
Glitch-hop's not exactly a consensus-builder, so it’s surprising this even made our top 200, and since Scott Herron’s still unknown outside of indie circles, Uprock’s only chance to crack a rock-skewed canon is to replace sullied ad-whore Moby’s Play as the token electronic entrant. As it stands, One Word Extinguisher is more of his Entroducing anyway, as this one's far less consciously thematic (read: rockist) and a whole lot more frazzled and fragmentary. [Josh Love]

185 Outkast – Aquemini
Stankonia may have broken them to the world, but Aquemini made them who they were. Two albums spent practicing before this, the apex of an aesthetic, that dirty south thang down pat but two years too soon for the mainstream thinkers to fully cotton on. Don’t get me wrong, it sold its worth, but the consumers were always down with things, especially hip hop, before the critics and list makers understood. There’s a definite sense that the hype Stankonia got was partly a hangover from the hype this should have had. Whatever – you can bet your bottom dollar if this had come out last year it would’ve shot straight in to the top fifty. [Nick Southall]

186 The Stooges - Raw Power
The Stooges’ final album is also their most manic and unfettered (particularly as heard on Iggy’s all-needles-in-the-red CD master). The group had been slowly losing their inhibitions, progressing from the relatively mannered garage rock of the debut to the wild free jazz party of Fun House, to the purely unstoppable apocalypse of this one. It’s undeniably ugly, though in other hands these catchy melodies might have been pop songs – here, the songs are buried under amp-melting guitar fuzz and Iggy’s drug-spurred raving. The messiness was the whole point of the Stooges in the first place, but the total lack of control on this disc probably lost them the fans who enjoyed the, you know, music or something on the first two albums. [Ed Howard]

187 Van Morrison - Moondance
Sandwiched between the pre-dawn mysticism of the brilliant Astral Weeks and the more raunchy r-and-b workouts of His Band and Street Choir, Moondance was the work of an artist in subtle flux. More robust musically than his previous work, it alternately swooned with the wispy romanticism of “And It Stoned Me” and strutted with a bluesy swagger on “Caravan” and “Come Running.” On tracks like “Into the Mystic” you can almost see a natural progression rise to the surface, but Moondance couldn’t consistently recapture the soulful English jazz that had everyone wishing for a more-direct extension of Astral Weeks. Perhaps undeservedly, it suffered by comparison. [Derek Miller]

188 The Strokes - Is This It
Five guys bounded out of upscale Swiss boarding schools and with their first shot, made the best guitar album of the last few years—well, sort of. They’re all expensive leather and denim and they just seem so removed from you: you want to hate them. But The Strokes’ daily twelve-hour practices are so blindingly evident on Is This It: downstroked chords drop and start on the turn of a dime; Julian Casablancas moans just so melodically; basslines pounce about under the whole affair. So much so that all the haters threw whatever they had at them—Television, Lou Reed, Blondie, the Modern Lovers—and weren’t far off. [Sam Bloch]

189 Beastie Boys - Check Your Head
After the multi coloured found sound Dust brothers production and critical plaudits of Paul’s Boutique they returned to their studio to dream it all up again for themselves and did the groundwork for their second global domination of Ill Communication. These pale male MCs split the album between three way hip-hop tracks, fuzzy rap/funk shoutalongs and lounge instrumentals and it’s this fragmentary nature that’s both its strength and weakness. The excitement of being musically all over the place with distorted rough edits, live playing pressed against loops and samples dropped once and never used again can leave listeners bewildered as to what the hell is coming next. [Scott McKeating]

190 Slint - Spiderland
This is probably the album that’s responsible, more than anything else, for spawning post-rock, which is probably a major reason for the ambivalence that so many people seem to feel for it. With the first few waves of imitators from the ’90s still fresh in most people’s minds, Spiderland hardly seems as revelatory as it might’ve when it first came out. The vocals are annoyingly, self-consciously arty (which is why the group was at their best on their self-titled, instrumental EP), but the music packs a raw, angular energy. A decade or two from now, with a bit more distance from the post-rock scene, this’ll probably seem way cool again. [Ed Howard]

191 Red House Painters - Red House Painters
An oddity in Kozelek’s discography, this second eponymous LP is a little too long and dark for some. The 7:21 opener “Evil” doesn’t exactly welcome you with open arms and rose petals, being a deliriously slow monochrome glimpse of his childhood. Penultimate track “Blindfold” lasting 8:26 also gives the impression that the album is dragging. Being released only four months after their much stronger and similarly titled debut and featuring covers of both “The Star Spangled Banner” (ill advised) and “I am a Rock” (illin’) meant its impetus as a separate release was stunted. Even a song as emotive and affecting as “Uncle Joe” could appear lost under the weight of Red House Painters. [Scott McKeating]

192 Arab Strap - Philophobia
Fleshing out their palette from the extreme lo-fi sound of their The Week Never Starts Round Here debut, Arab Strap’s second album tackled the minutiae of relationships at a far more personal and expressive level. The ironic pink Mills and Boon packaging highlighted that these were real life tales with all the repentance, games and lust of real life relationships. Philophobia pushed their work into the intensity, involvement and retrospection of morning after regrets and late night revelations voiced in rage. The most common complaint with all of Arab Strap’s work is that Aidan Moffat’s vocals sound like the last order mumblings of a pissy trousered Glaswegian tramp; which is a scarily accurate description of what they are. [Scott McKeating]

193 Otis Redding - Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul
Had he lived past the age of 26, there's no doubt Redding would have produced his own What's Going On (Marvin was 32 when he released it) or Superfly (Curtis was 30) or Innervisions (OK, Stevie was just a freak). Sadly, Redding never had the chance to record that epochal “album” as actual statement rather than collection of hits, so that all we have instead are these incandescent singles and a smattering of still-stellar filler, but nothing approaching the artistic vision Redding would display on his final, should-have-been-prophetic hit, "Sittin' On the Dock of the Bay." [Josh Love]

194 Low – Secret Name
Low is a difficult band--their consistency is bewildering. Secret Name’s appearance on this list is most likely due to it being their--drumbeat--major label debut (Yes, I’m counting Kranky as “major”) and all the little changes that came with it: Albini came in to produce, and the band started using strings. These were monumental shifts for a band like Low, and they showed in the bands most consistently beautiful, aching batch of songs, which would soon be challenged as their best by 2001’s Things We Lost in the Fire. [Gentry Boeckel]

195 Galaxie 500 - On Fire
The lyrics are all mealy-mushed epigrams we’ve heard many times before about loneliness and mortality; so are the guitars. But in the case of the latter, it’s an asset, lending itself to a lost in space jangle akin to early REM or a precursor to My Bloody Valentine. But see, those bands weren’t very popular; on their second album, the group still languished in reverb-laden obscurity despite being picked up on the US end of Rough Trade. Like an antique Velvet couch, admired and beautiful with age. [Sam Bloch]

196 Zombies - Odessey & Oracle
The Zombies have always been unfairly looked at as a bit of a one-hit wonder in the United States (“Time Of The Season,” featured here, though they had other hits), and as such aren’t generally thought of as having a rich history of albums behind them. In fact, this really is the group’s only truly great long player, and when you have to compete with period groups like the Beatles and Stones, that one album suddenly gets overlooked by that many more people. Hell, the Zombies broke up before the album and song even became a hit. No wonder more people don’t know about this hidden gem. [Todd Hutlock]

197 Dusty Springfield – Dusty In Memphis
Reports of Dusty Springfield cowering in recording studios during the recording of Dusty in Memphis betray her industrial-strength turbine of a voice. But there’s something about Dusty–her plaintive romanticism, the sheer unlikelihood of a timorous Anglo-Briton reining in from deep within her gorgeous, passionate swells of longing and siphoning them into unassailable soul music–that lends credulity to these claims. It is to the listener’s benefit that Dusty managed to unfurl her golden pipes and set them loose in the mildly perverse Country/Soul amble of "Son of a Preacher Man," and the swooning paean to early morning sex, "Just a Little Lovin’". Despite her voice’s tendency to swim fallow against the overstuffed production (replete with overripe string and horn arrangements), Dusty in Memphis remains a singularly edifying listening experience, and an immaculate portrait of an artist at work. [Eric Seguy]

198 Built to Spill - There’s Nothing Wrong With Love
Is it just me or is everyone’s love of this album purely nostalgic? There’s Nothing Wrong with Love is a mature sophomore album, but it’s not nearly as striking as 1997’s Perfect From Now On, nor does it approach the pop perfection of 1999’s Keep It Like a Secret. Nonetheless, people are drawn back to the first time they heard “Twin Falls” (nostalgia seems to elicit nostalgia) and the album’s flaws are temporarily forgotten. The key word is temporarily, though, and for this reason, There’s Nothing Wrong with Love doesn’t quite make the Top 100 lists. [Kareem Estefan]

199 Tori Amos - Little Earthquakes
Stylus Magazine, what with it a) being on the internet and b) being dedicated to the minutiae of music is dominated by men, and that’s why this album is so low. Popular music criticism doesn’t extend to women (which is why “Toxic” and “Crazy In Love” are great because of the strings and horns, rather than who performs them), and that’s the sole reason this album is ranked so low. Critical reaction to Little Earthquakes, the starting pistol for the entire Lilith Fair/female singer-songwriter/Armand Van Helden as a legitimate chart entrant for three dark years scene of the 90s has barely developed further than “She was raped”, “she’s mad”, and “she’s mad because she was raped”. As such, we’re trying to tell you that there are 190 albums out there with better songs on than “Leather” and “China”. We’re wrong. [Dom Passantino]

200 The Wedding Present - Seamonsters
Woah, where did this come from? Aren’t these guys supposed to be C-86 or something? What’s with the distortion? What’s with the volume? What’s with that lead singer’s weird snarl? Jesus, how miserable and lovelorn is this guy? Is this supposed to be a Morrissey/Superchunk collaboration or what? When does this album come from? 1991, huh? Is that pre-Nirvana or post-Nirvana? Wait, Steve fucking Albini produced this album? But aren’t these guys British? Where the hell did this come from? How goddamn great is this album??? [Andrew Unterberger]


By: Stylus Staff
Published on: 2004-03-22
Comments (7)
 

 
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