500 Greatest Albums of All Time Reviews- An Introduction

In 2003 Rolling Stone magazine published a special issue that listed the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.  It was voted on by musicians, critics, and others in the music business.  In 2005, Rolling Stone published a book version of the list.  The book made a few changes to the list, mostly combining the votes for a few albums that had separate entries even though their track listings were similar (e.g. With the Beatles and Meet the Beatles.)  The book list added eight new albums at the bottom of the list.  In early 2012, Rolling Stone’s website updated the 500 list again as they added in the votes for albums that showed up on their 100 Greatest Albums of the ’00s list and removed a few from the book list.  However, it is the book version of the list that I am using as my source.

I received the 500 Greatest book for my birthday in 2006.  Immediately I wanted to collect all of the albums on the list.  I already owned many of the albums on CD, but still a majority were albums I did not have and some albums I’d never even heard of.  I then had the idea of collecting the albums on vinyl records.  After buying one album, I abandoned the idea.  I eventually downloaded the bottom (500-250) half of the list onto my mp3 player.  My idea was to listen to each album and eventually write reviews of each one.

While I did listen to probably the bottom 75-100 albums, I listened to many of them while I was at work, so I didn’t really get a chance to “take in” the album, and I just didn’t have the motivation or time at that period in my life to complete a big project like that.

Early in 2012 I decided to start back my abandoned idea of collecting the albums on vinyl (when available.)  I have collected nearly all of the bottom 100 and now that I have them I will do my own reviews of the albums.

I have no real qualifications for reviewing music other than the fact that I have been a fan of music and have collected CDs and records for 20 years now.  I did record two albums GOAT (2002) and Expect the Unexpected (2003) although I play no real instruments. I consider my albums to be comedy as I parodied things such as hidden tracks, backwards masking, and avant garde music.  My reviews will be from the perspective of someone who just loves listening to music.  I also love everything that goes with pop culture, and I will definitely pepper my reviews with whatever pop culture reference pops into my head.

The way that I will structure my review will be as follows:

The Artist: I will give a brief biography if it is the first time I have reviewed one of their albums.  The most important part of this section is trying to explain the context within which the album was recorded.  To do this, I will try to listen and give a brief overview of which albums led up to the album I am reviewing.  In my opinion the where, when, and why the album was recorded is just as important as what the album sounds like.

The Album Cover: Especially when reviewing vinyl record versions of albums, the artwork chosen for an album is very important in fully understanding that album.  To me the entire package (the music, the cover, whatever inserts are included) is one complete piece of art.

The Album:  I will try to do a track by track review of every album.  While listening to the album, I will try to put into words how it makes me feel, plus I will try to add little pieces of information that I came across while researching the album.  Most of all I want to make my reviews fun and I will reference whatever weird pop culture or real life thing that the song reminds me of.

Aftermath: I give information of what happened after the release of the album and whether it was a hit or not.  If the artist has a subsequent album on the list, I will only talk about what happened up to the recording of that album, if not, I will tell what has happen to them up to the present time.

My take on Rolling Stone’s take: I will quote what Rolling Stone says about the album in the book and then give my thoughts on what they say about it. I’m just doing this for comparison’s sake.  Sometimes I think whoever wrote the blurbs really doesn’t know that much about the album and just gives a blanket statement.

Conclusion: I will give my final thoughts and give each album a star rating on the 1 to 5 star scale.

5 stars-Perfect rating

4.5 to 4.75 stars-highly recommended

4 to 4.25 stars-recommended

3.5 to 3.75 stars-recommended with some reservations

3 to 3.25 stars-mild recommendation

2.5 to 2.75-not recommended, but don’t avoid

2 to 2.25-avoid with some reservations

1.5 to 1.75-avoid

1 to 1.25-toss the album into the blazing fires of hell

The last part of the review will be my thoughts on where the album should rank in relation to the other albums that I have already reviewed.  My idea is to ultimately re-rank every album on the 500 list.  Some albums I probably will feel are not “worthy” of top 500 status, so once I have completely re-ranked the entire 500 I will remove those that I don’t like as much and add ones that weren’t on the list so that I’ll have my own definitive 500 Greatest Albums list.

Ultimately I assume that this project will probably take, conservatively, about 5 years to complete.

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