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The 20 most influential albums
1 The Velvet Underground, The Velvet Underground & Nico Hardly anybody bought it, as the saying goes, but everyone who did formed a band.
2 Beatles, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band Created the idea of using the recording studio as an instrument.
3 David Bowie, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars The arrival of postmodernism in rock’s most glamorous self-fulfilling prophecy.
4 Patti Smith, Horses Pioneered vast new territories for women in popular music.
5 Beach Boys, Pet Sounds The instrumentation, the harmonies, the arrangements, the sheer ambition.
6 Beatles, Revolver Goodbye “pop group”, hello “rock band”.
7 The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced? Shaped our sonic world – the template for guitar heroes everywhere.
8 Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited How does it feel? Like a whole new world just opened up.
9 Public Enemy, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back Hip-hop comes of age.
10 Sex Pistols, Never Mind the Bollocks... Rendered the rock dinosaurs extinct (for a while).
11 Kraftwerk, Trans-Europe Express It sounded like the future then; eerily, it still does now.
12 Michael Jackson, Thriller The last quarter of a century of R&B starts here.
13 Nirvana, Nevermind Rendered the rock dinosaurs extinct (again).
14 NWA, Straight Outta Compton Created the template for gangsta rap.
15 Aretha Franklin, I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You A soul masterpiece, and an album whose anthems radiated out into the wider culture.
16 Ramones, Ramones Rock’s ultimate palate-cleanser. Generations of punks started here.
17 Marvin Gaye, What’s Going On Motown finds its social conscience.
18 The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Gilded Palace of Sin It was largely ignored at the time, but where would alt-country be without it?
19 Bob Marley and the Wailers, Live! Reggae goes global.
20 Joni Mitchell, Blue Searching for sensitive singer-songwriters? Here’s the source.
Finally, a list I have remarkably few problems with.
Although I would put something like Closer or Surfer Rosa, maybe one of those Pavement albums, to include the current indie subculture.
And I might put Public Enemy a little higher, because rap dominated American music pop culture for years.
Good list. The only objection I have is that I believe Prince's 1999 is every bit as influential on current R & B as Thriller, but Thriller probably deserves the nod for its unprecedented success.