40. The Velvet Underground: Best of…Words and Music of Lou Reed
This is the only time on this list I am including a greatest hits compilation for a band whose legitimate albums I know very well. But this compilation was huge for me.
I've already told my story about how Elliott Smith pulled me out of listening to only punk. All of a sudden, a world of music was open to me. I had grown up with the Forrest Gump soundtrack, and I liked almost everything on it. It's sad to say now, because the song is really pretty lame, but I really liked The Youngbloods' "Get Together." So I decided I was into 60s hippie music. The problem is that, at that point, I didn't really know any of it.
So I'm over at my friend's house, talking about music, and his dad says he has something for me. He burns me a copy of this compilation and says that it is some of the best stuff to come out of the 60s. I absolutely loved it. Here's the funny part: I was completely under the impression that this was 60s music, and that these guys were a bunch of hippies. I laugh now, because this couldn't be further from the truth. What The Velvet Underground was doing was the very antithesis of what was going on in their time. Ironically, this was the punk rock of the 60s. So where I really thought I was getting into some new stuff, I had really just gone back to the roots of a style with which I was very familiar. In any case, I can't stress enough how much I loved this compilation, especially after I found out that Elliott Smith was a big fan of the Velvets.
39. The White Stripes: Get Behind Me, Satan
Okay, so I know I just said that Elephant was their best album, but I like this one more. This is the first White Stripes album I heard. I originally thought they sounded like a cross between Led Zeppelin and The Beatles, but now I don't know what I was thinking. I stand by my belief that while a limited guitar player, Jack White is a hell of a songwriter, and "The Denial Twist" and "My Doorbell" indicate that this is most definitely the case. And I still think he's Johnny Depp in disguise.
38. Matisyahu: Shake Off The Dust…Arise
I don’t even have to mention Matisyahu's music for you to know this is a great album. Just look at his beard.
37. Bob Marley and the Wailers: Live!
This album gives us what are basically the definitive versions of two great songs: "No Woman, No Cry" and "Trenchtown Rock." However, I gave it a large brevity penalty, as it is only seven songs long.
36. David Bowie: Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
David Bowie has done some great songs over the years, but to me, this is the only full album worth owning. Almost every song is fantastic. It almost makes the spandex suits forgivable.
35. Bob Marley and the Wailers: Babylon By Bus
In all honestly, Live! is probably a better album than this. But this one has so many good songs that it doesn't get the brevity penalty, so it scores slightly higher. Also, you have to love the attitude of Bob Marley to refer to the places he toured as "Babylon."
34. Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin II
Besides "Stairway to Heaven," the first Led Zeppelin song I heard was "Ramble On." Thus, it will always have a special place in my heart. "Whole Lotta Love," "The Lemon Song," and "Thank You" are also fantastic. The only downside to this album is "Moby Dick." Drum solos have no place on studio albums. Period.
33. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova: Once
This is the only soundtrack to make this list, and for good reason. Sure, it's a soundtrack, but if the movie had never been made, this could have been released as an album and no one would have ever suspected it was for a movie. All the songs on the disc are very strong, and Marketa Irglova offers a nice, calming presence to Glen Hansard's passionate belting.
32. The Beatles: A Hard Day's Night
This is one of the highlights of The Beatles' suit-and-mop-top period, as some of their best songs are on this record.
31. Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin
Debut albums are usually one of, if not the, best albums a band records, and there is no exception with Zeppelin. "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" is my favorite Zeppelin song. And I just learned something new! While checking to see if a comma went after "Babe" (the answer is no), I found out that it is a cover! I feel slightly ashamed to have not realized this before, but I can't know everything (or can I?!). In any case, their original material is just as good. "Dazed and Confused," of course, isn't a cover, but absolute theft. Does this make Zeppelin any less awesome? Quite the opposite, my friends, quite the opposite.