The 100 Best Rock Albums, 2002 Edition (91-100)
- 91. Rubber Soul - The Beatles : With Rubber Soul, The Beatles largely left behind the classic Liverpool sound they had created in favor of more experimental fare. Here, those excursions into the musical unknown were largely more folk and acoustic based than they would be later, but the songwriting matched the music, and the music was some of the most organic, warm sounds they would ever create. The killer set of songs, including Drive My Car, Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown), and Nowhere Man, may well have been their best up to this point. If The Beatles had broken up before Rubber Soul, they would largely be remembered as a great band that created a new sound for rock. With this album, they began their journey to become rock innovators of the nth degree. Luckily, the fans bit their finely crafted hooks and were trailed along with them.
- 92. Tri Repetae ++ - Autechre : This may not be the future of music, but you can bet the music of the future will steal from it for quite a long time. Completely electronical, Tri Repetae manages to hone the band's strange, nonorganic noise into long, flowing song structures that can both excite and soothe. Machines simply shouldn't sound this warm or alive, but on Tri Repetae, they breath. Of course, they also crank, sputter, and steam, but that's part of the miracle.
- 93. Her Wallpaper Reverie - The Apples (in stereo) : What if Magical Mystery Tour was created in the late 90s? Perhaps it would sound similar to this obscure EP. Songs lurch from psychedelica to pure pop, cemented by odd instrumental pieces between. It may sound slight and familiar, but the songs are impossible to forget, and the catchiness of the melodies masks an experimental spirit underlying the entire album. Pick up this short album, recently released with bonus tracks, and make a new friend today.
- 94. The Criminal Under My Own Hat - T Bone Burnett : Criminally overlooked, this startling album represents the peak of Burnett's amazing output. Writing slightly cryptic songs that resonate with universal appeal, T Bone managed to create an album both atmospheric and deeply rooted in terrific songs at once. The lyrics and melodies are beyond brilliant, and Burnett gently stretches modern folk to its limits. If you missed this jewel the first time around, dig for it now. There's treasure deep inside Burnett's dark, mysterious mountains.
- 95. Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 - Bob Dylan : The first set may contain more hits and well-known material, but this second volume of Dylan's work paints a much more complete picture of the man and his wild, inspired music. Most of these songs were never really hits, but every one should have been. From folk to folk-rock to blues-rock to country to - well, what would you call Lay, Lady, Lay? - Dylan's breadth of style and consistent quality should impress even die-hard Dylan haters. Two discs of pure genius.
- 96. We’re Only in It for the Money - Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention : Imagine flipping radio stations in a world ruled by radical satirists. That's pretty much the experience this disjointed album offers. Zappa never wrote better songs than here, and his gleeful skewering of hippies, oppression, and other hot issues of the late 60s provokes both thought and laughter. As fun as most albums get.
- 97. Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs - Derek & the Dominos : If it wasn't for this album, Eric Clapton may well have gone down in rock history as the most ill used talent ever. While he can certainly play a guitar, his songs are usually quite weak, and he has strewn the few great tunes he has penned throughout his wildly erratic body of work. With this disc, however, he finally pulled it all together. Drafting in Duane Allman to play slide guitar was the best idea he ever had, as his new partnership, along with longed-for love, seems to have caused Clapton to explode. Passion is slung out all over this album, and rather than sounding stiff or like a talented copycat, Clapton for once tears out with a unique, flaming style all his own. He never sounded this connected to an album before or since, but he at least he left us one great work while he still burned out of control.
- 98. Unknown Pleasures - Joy Division : Songs from the depths of hell, perhaps, if hell was an abandoned concrete warehouse full of old recording equipment and a synthesizer or two. The friction of this album's instruments jarring against each other creates a gravity that utterly sucks a listener into the group's stripped world of pain and alienation. Ian Curtis sounds more doomed than Trent Reznor ever could.
- 99. Tonight’s the Night - Neil Young & Crazy Horse : Wrecked by the deaths of close friends that he partly blamed himself for, Young heroically gave birth to this beast. Strained voices, loose playing full of mistakes, and unpolished with sharp, rough edges that threaten to slice deeply - Tonight's the Night finally stared down Young's demons and wrestled them until they surrendered. Every song is a battle, and by the end of the album, it is obvious that Young has won. Not easy listening, but essential.
- 100. Goodbye Jumbo - World Party : Prince, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, and the energy of punk get whipped up in a blender and poured into this incredibly melodic and inventive album. Somehow, Wallinger has managed to create an unique sound from all of these obvious influences, and the album spins like the masterpiece it is. Way Down Now should have been a number one hit for months. If Beck began recording before rap's rise, he might sound like this. If he was lucky.
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.