This is the 20th post in this series, and the final post in our countdown of our Top 500 albums of all-time. Click here to start from the beginning: Inhailer's Top 500 Albums of All-Time: (#500-476)
Well, here we are! Every Friday for the past 6 months, Inhailer has been counting down our totally objective, completely undisputed, most-correct list of the Top 500 albums of all time. We've done so in bite-size chunks of 25 albums (nobody has the energy in their thumbs to scroll through 500 albums in one sitting). Last week we continued our countdown with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, The Stooges, and Kate Bush. This week we finish our list with Nos. 25-1. The ask was simple: excluding compilation albums, what are the 500 best albums of all-time, ranked? Here's the twentieth and final list in the countdown:
25. R.E.M - Murmur (1983)
This dense and enigmatic debut album is miles away from "Shiny Happy People" and "Losing My Religion." It has been appropriately called a film noir for the ears.
24. Big Star - #1 Record (1972)
This shimmering power pop cult classic, completely unknown in its day, perfectly balances rock bravado and acoustic vulnerability.
23. Talking Heads - Remain in Light (1980)
For the new wave genre, this album was a pure, pivotal musical evolution. Listen for Eno's slick production, Frantz' booming kick drum, and David Byrne's top-tier vocal arrangements.
22. Lauryn Hill - The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)
The perfect blend of neo-soul and hip hop, Hill's ~70 minutes of self-produced magic is a sea change in the music industry; hip hop was no longer a niche genre, but a mainstream product still relevant today as black feminism earns its place.
21. The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Are You Experienced (1967)
The ultimate debut album? Jimi symbolically and literally changed the way people held the guitar. (The U.S. track-listing and packaging are far superior to the U.K.)
20. Nick Drake - Pink Moon (1972)
For just over 28 minutes, Drake's slender frame sits on a stool in an recording studio. There are only two instruments, his guitar & his voice. Save a ten second piano overdub, that's all Pink Moon is. And it inspires awe.
19. My Bloody Valentine - Loveless (1991)
If Hendrix reinvented the guitar for the '70s, Kevin Shields of MBV re-reinvented it for the '90s and beyond. The godfather of shoegaze and dream pop introduced near guitar vibrato, alternate tuning, and samplers all staples of pop music today.
18. Funkadelic - Maggot Brain (1971)
Starting your album with a ten minute guitar solo is beyond gutsy. But when you're Eddie Hazel, it works. Ranging from the deep grooves of psychedelic funk to a frenzied soul, here's what came of George Clinton's LSD trip.
17. Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young - Déjà Vu (1970)
Making the top 25 and pleasing dads everywhere, the greatest super group of all-time combined vocal chords for "Teach Your Children," "Our House," and "Carry On" among others.
16. Miles Davis - Kind of Blue (1959)
Kind of Blue is rightfully the most iconic jazz album of all-time. Davis assigned each performer, including Cannonball Adderley, Bill Evans, and John Coltrane, a set of scales that fit their strengths, creating an entire project with modalities.
15. Jeff Buckley - Grace (1994)
Jeff Buckley was a shining star with a 4+ octave range & a visceral style, but this studio album was all he needed. Grace lives in the shadows of Buckley's 'mystery white boy' persona, capturing an earnest and sensual mood like no other.
14. Violent Femmes - Violent Femmes (1983)
Against all odds, this album basically invented the seemingly-paradoxical genre of folk punk in unorthodox, rapid-fire yelps.
13. The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead (1986)
One part effortless and two parts quirky, Morrissey's obsession with obscure cultural allusions resulted in "Bigmouth Strikes Again," "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out," and Cemetry Gates."
12. The Zombies - Oddessey and Oracle (1968)
The Zombies had already broken up by the time that, over a year later, "Time of the Season" shot towards the top of the chart. They were too late for the Summer of Love, but their masterpiece is now being discovered and revered over and over.
11. Fleetwood Mac - Rumours (1977)
What hasn't been said about this record? When Silver Springs is your outtake, you've got a hell of a record.
10. The Beatles - Revolver (1966)
This revolutionary psychedelic pastiche was the first record to popularize double tracking, tape loops, and back-masking, techniques you've heard on nearly every record since then.
9. Bob Marley and the Wailers - Exodus (1977)
Marley recorded this album while recovering from an assassination attempt, shifting his focus toward a more rock-influenced sound. The Wailers added horns, piano, and a heavier beat while featuring Marley's best songwriting.
8. The Stone Roses - The Stone Roses (1989)
The most compelling record to bid the 1980's adieu, Ian Brown and John Squire capitalized on the indie dance scene, bringing a sharper punk edge to danceable pop beats.
7. Nas - Illmatic (1992)
Arguably the most complex hardcore hip hop album to hit mainstream airwaves, Illmatic is intense throughout, defining the genre of East Coast rap as one that tackles gang rivalry, cultural oppression, police brutality & poverty.
6. Elliott Smith - Either/Or (1997)
Smith picked up somewhere between Nick Drake, The Kinks, and Big Star, '90s alternative sweetheart delivered a whispery-thin depression that continues to haunt you...somehow beautifully.
5. Carole King - Tapestry (1971)
#5 stands for five bucks you can at least hum every track on this timeless record. With Telemachus by her side, King broke free from her silent songwriter days and became a feminist symbol for women everywhere choosing their own destiny.
4. Television - Marquee Moon (1977)
The tightest and most melodic album ever to be labeled "alternative." Television quotes French poets, borrows jazz chords, and drops double entendres without hesitation.
3. Stevie Wonder - Songs In the Key of Life (1976)
Pop perfection sometime takes almost two hours to accomplish. Split across 2 LPs & a bonus 7" EP, Stevie Wonder's emotive perception is captured in a profuse collection of luscious R&B, instinctive soul, modern jazz & understated funk.
2. The Velvet Underground - The Velvet Underground and Nico (1967)
Lou Reed and Co. set the scene for generations of alternative rock with their debut album and almost (key word: almost) nobody noticed.
1. Radiohead - OK Computer (1997)
After the accessible pop rock of their first two albums, Thom Yorke risked losing a majority of his fanbase with an album has defined the new age of sonic experimentalism in music.
Want to listen to our choice cuts from this list? Follow our countdown playlist on Spotify!
That's all for Inhailer Radio's totally objective, completely undisputed, most-correct list of the Top 500 Albums of All-Time! Disagree with our rankings? Definitely don't @ us on our Facebook and Instagram.