The 100 Best Rock Albums, 2002 Edition (71-80)
- 71. Woodface - Crowded House : Americans may have abandoned them, but Crowded House actually reached their peak with 1991's Woodface. The Finn brothers finally combined their talents, and their voices and songwriting create a synergistic wonder that easily surpasses their earlier efforts. If the Beatles had formed in the 90s, they may have made Woodface. They didn't, but Crowded House did, and any fan of melodic pop perfection cannot afford to miss this disc.
- 72. Singles - The Smiths : The Smiths are very deceptive. Their songs are so well crafted that on first listen the melodies and vocals can seem like perfectly normal pop tunes. Listen closer, however, and you discover Johnny Marr's unique, angular guitar chords and Morrissey's bizarre, pseudo-tragic odes to very unusual topics. This disc collects every one of their singles in chronological order and provides a surprisingly invigorating rush of pure alternative pop perfection.
- 73. Fossil Fuel: The XTC Singles 1977-1992 - XTC : XTC is a dazzling pop band. Since 1977, they have run the gamut from quirky, edgy new wave through luscious, folk-flavored tunes to blissful melodies of beautiful music and smooth lyrics, often with many jagged edges cleverly hidden within. This out of print collection wisely collects all 31 singles from the band and lays them out in chronological order. As a result, one can hear the band’s stylistic changes (not necessarily progressions) over the years. Despite this service, don’t think this is too analytic of an approach. These songs are so strong and consistent, they could almost pass disguised as a best-of collection for radio hits of the years listed on the box. Except, sadly, few of these ever receive airplay. If the wonderful, out-of-nowhere hit, “Dear God,” intrigued you, use these delicious discs to dive a bit deeper. (Is this too tough to find? Upsy Daisy Assortment will at least get you half the way there…)
- 74. Greatest Hits - Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers : Tom Petty never set out to shatter the conventions of rock & roll; he simply wanted to be one of the best rockers ever. This disc makes a pretty good case for his attempts, including such great songs as American Girl, Refugee, Waiting, and Into The Great Wide Open. For once, one of the bonus tracks on a compilation (Mary Jane's Last Dance) is easily among the artist's best work.
- 75. Who’s Next - The Who : Few 60s pop / rock bands other than the Who, the Rolling Stones, and the Beatles were able to enter the realm of album rock and create some of their greatest work. Who's Next began as a musical, but the band eventually gave up on the concept and kept the songs. Amazingly, the album still gelled into a mighty whole, and while they may have made better songs, they never pulled off a single album so teeming with blues, folk, and rock gems. Even the non-single album tracks received massive radio airplay, a tribute to an album without a weak link.
- 76. The Best of Van Morrison - Van Morrison : Few artists have continued to create excellent music over the course of decades, but Morrison's marvelous muse spreads over enough time to make this compilation necessary. From his early rock / R&B singles such as Baby Please Don't Go, to the strange, lovely Sweet Thing, to his smooth, jazzy standard Moondance, this CD provides ample proof of Van the Man's mastery of odd pop singles that only grow greater with time. Mysterious, moody, and at times joyous beyond belief, these songs should make a fan out of any listener. Now give this man a boxed set already!
- 77. The Beatles [White Album] - The Beatles : Just how wild can a double album get and still manage to hold together as a unified work? Perhaps The White Album is an answer of sorts. The Fab Four were now individuals more than a group, and the personality of each bursts from these songs. Some of the songs are brilliant, some are fair, and some are entirely too short to be judged on their own. Somehow, though, they somehow manage to merge for the most part, creating a massive album that is quite unlike anything else in their large body of work. As the post-modern age proceeds, spewing forth eclectic talents such as Beck and World Party, this album sounds less and less fragmented and more and more triumphant.
- 78. 1965 - Afghan Whigs : They always strove for it - the perfect grunge-soul album. They came very close, but with grunge waning and disappointing releases such as Black Love, the chances of success seemed to fade into oblivion. Then, from nowhere, BLAM! They did it. 1965 is an invigorating, lustful album that manages to lasso soul's emotional longing and pain and to rustle it into the fold of grunge / post-grunge music. Greg Dulli sings with libido and arrogance, but on this fantastic album, he delivers the goods. Few bands have ever rocked with such purpose.
- 79. Shoot out the Lights - Richard & Linda Thompson : Richard and Linda carved this album down like to a sharp focus, a wooden knife, and like that whittled weapon, Shoot out the Lights cuts deep. While the Thompsons have not created an entirely dark work, even the lighter songs seem to provide a depressing contrast to the stark songs of heartbreak and sorrow, and both artists sang with disturbing conviction. Oh, did I mention that Richard can play the guitar?
- 80. The Stone Roses - The Stone Roses : Managing to sound like classic rock and alternative rock both at once, The Stone Roses were, for an all-too brief moment, unbeatable. Ian Brown sounds like a veteran rock star, the band mixes novel touches of dance music into their layers of rock-solid rhythms and guitars, and the songs equal any classic pop cuts from the 60s. This album hasn't dated a second, and its influence on British rock music of the 90s is beyond measure.
Influence and historical importance mean nothing here. Each and every album is ranked based solely on its own artistic merits. All official releases are fair game; only bootlegs are not considered. This is it - the best rock albums ever.
I will be adding entries as time allows. The list is complete, but I wish to write a bit about each album, so it may be a week or two until all albums are listed. I hope to add at least two or three entries each weekday and more if I have the chance.
Creating this list hurt. Great albums were left on the cutting room floor, and sadly, I fear albums near the bottom of the list may be looked down upon. Make no mistake - any album on this list is a fantastic work well worth your time. The difference between closely ranked albums was microscopic at best.
To prevent this list's size from becoming prohibitive, I am breaking the hundred entries into blocks of ten.