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The Hilltopper

The student news site of Highlands High School

The Hilltopper

Debating Rolling Stone’s Top 20 Albums Of All Time (Part 3 of 4)

Debating Rolling Stone’s Top 20 Albums Of All Time (Part 3 of 4)

Hello again. This is the third part in the quadrilogy of reviews that I’m making on Rolling Stone Magazine’s top 200 albums of all time, where I focus and dissect the top 20 from said list. 

I’ve had a lot of fun with this so far, but of course, if you disagree with my opinion, so be it.

#10: Lauryn Hill- “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” (1998)

Album cover for “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.”

In her only solo album, Lauryn Hill dropped an instant classic in 1998 that would not only define her career but also break barriers for all female rappers along with R&B artists. “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” was the first solo female rap album to debut at #1 on the Billboard 200. 

Hill famously wrote, recorded, and released ‘Miseducation’ while she was pregnant. The lyrics all throughout the album touch on her pregnancy, peace, love, and her issues with her former group, “The Fugees.” 

Every beat is well crafted, and Hill’s vocals are always top-notch. Everything about this album feels like a big deal, and Lauryn’s charisma is second to none. Tracks like ‘Ex Factor,’ ‘Doo Wop (That Thing,),’ ‘To Zion,’ and ‘Final Hour’ really make the album feel like a whole well-crafted movie. 

My only gripe with this album is the length. Of course, Hill’s formula is amazing, and this album may never be replicated in the female R&B scene, but after 77 minutes, it’s hard to keep writing banger after banger. 

There’s a reason why this album is beloved by so many, so there should be no shame in its spot at #10 on Rolling Stone’s list.

My personal rating for “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill:” 9/10. 

#9: Bob Dylan- “Blood on the Tracks” (1975).

Album cover for “Blood on the Tracks.”

Another classic from the legend, Bob Dylan places at #9. After a less-than-lackluster run at the beginning of the 70s, Dylan dropped what many consider to be his best. 

Though it wasn’t received well upon its initial release, as time passes, “Blood on the Tracks” gets more and more praised. Conceptually, the album highlights his personal issues and inner turmoil, especially with his failing marriage with his wife, Sara Dylan. 

Musically, Dylan doesn’t do anything too different for his standards. As for the highlights, the entire first half is pure gold, however, the second half doesn’t keep the same pace and it somewhat lost listeners on the first few listens. 

Now, that’s not to say that this is a bad album at all, because it’s great. However, there have been albums listed and unlisted that are better than “Blood on the Tracks.” In fact, his much better album that I talked about in part 1, “Highway 61 Revisited” is much more deserving of its spot in the top 10. 

With all that being said, “Blood on the Tracks” is another great outing for a great artist, but I don’t believe that it is very deserving of its spot here. 

My personal rating for “Blood on the Tracks:” 8/10.

#8: Prince & The Revolution- “Purple Rain” (1984).

Album cover for “Purple Rain.”

Although “Thriller” may be considered to be the magnum opus of 80s pop, no pop album quite stands the test of time like “Purple Rain.”

Prince long stands as one of the most innovative and revolutionary artists of our generation, and he knew that. “Purple Rain” was a soundtrack made for the legend’s life, but it’s much more than just a soundtrack.

Just like Prince himself, this album is one of the most grand things of all time. Prince does an excellent job at making himself be a big deal, causing an unavoidable feeling of admiration throughout the project.

Prince said it himself: “I think Purple Rain is the most avant-garde, ‘purple’ thing I’ve ever done.”

From the opening track, ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ to the hauntingly beautiful ‘Purple Rain,’ the album is unadulterated perfection. Also found here are tracks like ‘When Doves Cry,’ ‘The Beautiful Ones,’ and ‘Computer Blue.’

I can’t praise this one enough. There is a reason Prince is so fondly looked back upon. His artistic vision is unparalleled compared to anyone before and since. His spot in the top ten of the list is thoroughly warranted.

Also, on an unrelated note, if you haven’t watched his Super Bowl performance, please do that.

My personal rating for “Purple Rain:” 10/10.

#7: Fleetwood Mac- “Rumours” (1977). 

Album cover for “rumours.”

I grew up with a mother who adored Fleetwood Mac, and especially the female vocalist Stevie Nicks. So, of course, I heard loads of them in my childhood. In fact, I spent lots of my childhood listening to this album in particular. 

Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” was released on February 4, 1977, and was instantly a smash hit that was praised by just about every news source that was available. According to “Rumours” is the best-selling album of the century.” 

While this album is known for ‘Dreams,’ ‘The Chain,’ and ‘Go Your Own Way,’ it achieved legendary status for the turmoil in the band itself. John McVie, the bass player, and Christine McVie, the keyboardist/vocalist divorced after being married for eight years and yet still produced this album together. Also, vocalist Stevie Nicks and vocalist Lindsey Buckingham frequently fought because of their on-and-off relationship. 

Yet with all the problems that the band faced with each other, they released one of the greatest albums of all time. 

The music, while it reflects the commotion, isn’t quite as good as I remember. While I do have nostalgic memories for the tracks I mentioned earlier, it must be known that there is some filler. 

Songs like ‘Songbird,’ ‘I Don’t Want to Know,’ and ‘Oh Daddy,’ are decent and mediocre. However, it’s not like these ruin the album. It’s still enjoyable and easy to listen to, so it makes a lot of sense that it has sold so much. 

While the backstory is great and the music is good, I’m not confident that this is a top-ten album of all time. I love Fleetwood Mac, but this just isn’t right. 

My personal rating for “Rumours:” 8/10.

#6: Nirvana- “Nevermind” (1991).

Alternate cover for “Nevermind.”

Perhaps of all the albums covered so far, Nirvana’s “Nevermind” is the least in need of an introduction. It’s an instantly recognizable cover with some instantly recognizable tracks, but is it what it’s made out to be?

Absolutely. Apart from being the defining rock/grunge album of the 90s, the feeling of listening to “Nevermind” in 2024 still holds up without fault. Of course the well-known tracks like ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and ‘Come As You Are’ are much better in an album setting instead of a radio play, but other tracks like ‘In Bloom,’ ‘Lithium,’ ‘Drain You,’ and ‘Polly’ range from insane fun to immensely dark. 

Among all the great things about “Nevermind,” the most impressive to me is the emotional range in writing. Kurt Cobain flips the pace and feeling of the album track by track, and here, it works flawlessly. Examples include the change of pace between ‘Lithium’ and ‘Polly,’ as well as at the end of the album with ‘On A Plain’ to ‘Something In The Way.’

While some tracks are really well produced, the more raw-sounding ones are the songs that I come back to this album for. It’s a perfect blend between the gritty sound of the early 90s, as well as a smoother alternative flow. 

In the end, “Nevermind” is not a perfect album. I wasn’t alive in 1991, but I’m sure if I were, I’d appreciate this record much more than I do today. I can absolutely see why it’s listed just outside the top five, but I don’t entirely agree with it. 

My personal rating for “Nevermind:” 9/10.

So, with another slate of five albums removed, next up is the grand finale, “the top five albums of all time according to Rolling Stone Magazine.” This set of five compared to the others is strong, but not quite as strong as the group in part one of this series. 


My ranking for the five albums covered here:

  1. Prince & The Revolution- “Purple Rain,” best songs include: ‘Purple Rain,’ ‘Let’s Go Crazy,’ ‘When Doves Cry,’ ‘Darling Nikki.’
  2. Lauryn Hill- “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” best songs include: ‘Doo Wop (That Thing,)’ ‘Ex-Factor,’ To Zion,’ ‘Forgive Them Father.’
  3. Nirvana- “Nevermind,” best songs include: ‘In Bloom,’ ‘Lithium,’ ‘Polly,’ ‘Lounge Act.’
  4. Bob Dylan- “Blood on the Tracks,” best songs include: ‘Tangled up in Blue,’ ‘Simple Twist of Fate,’ ‘Idiot Wind,’ ‘Shelter from the Storm.’ 
  5. Fleetwood Mac (sorry mom)- “Rumours,” best songs include: Dreams, The Chain, Go Your Own Way, Gold Dust Woman


Among all the groups of albums that I’ve covered now, this was no doubt the most difficult to place in order of what I liked most. If you haven’t heard these, please do yourself a favor and do so. As for me, I’m ready for this top five. 


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