125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years

SPIN's editors rank the top releases since the magazine's beginning in 1985.

125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years
WRITTEN BY
SPIN Staff

125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years - SPIN's editors rank the top releases since the magazine's beginning in 1985
70 Pearl Jam Ten
Pearl Jam's Ten roared and muttered to the higher rungs of grungedom after catching on in the wake of Nirvana. Some of the guys had played together in the Seattle band Mother Love Bone, but it was a certain frontman by the name of Eddie Vedder who made them cohere. Vedder had small-band values: "How can you have a religious experience watching a band in a place this size?" he asked while showing SPIN a 10,000-seat venue in 1993. But he made Pearl Jam a big-band draw with a tightly controlled handle on his role as what the magazine later called "the voice of grunge autism."

SPIN Archive on Google
- Pearl Jam cover (December 1993)
- Pearl Jam profile (May 1998)

125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years - SPIN's editors rank the top releases since the magazine's beginning in 1985
69 The Stone Roses Stone Roses
Without this Manchester, England, quartet's debut, Britpop — Oasis, Blur, Radiohead, et al. — wouldn't exist. The album, "a real cotton candy rush'n'run with loose, drippy rain guitars," SPIN wrote in 1989, marked a colossal shift in British music with its groovy, funky, neo-psychedelic sound and the dance and rave scene it ignited in Northern England. "Black kids always had something going," singer Ian Brown later remembered. "1989 was the year white kids woke up."

SPIN Archive on Google
- Stone Roses Q&A (March 1989)
- Stone Roses feature (June 1993)

125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years - SPIN's editors rank the top releases since the magazine's beginning in 1985
68 Raekwon Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...
When SPIN reviewed this Wu-Tang Clan member's solo album back in 1995, cinematic analogies seemed more appropriate than musical ones. Cheo Coker compared Raekwon's 18-track epic to the work of action filmmaker John Woo, full of "tales filled with gunshots ('Glaciers of Ice'), assassins with their own special codes of morals ('Incarcerated Scarfaces') and a beautiful woman mourning the loss of a lover caught up in the drama ('Rainy Dayz')." And as SPIN noted in a rundown of the Wu's collective output, this wasn't empty hip-hop posing. "The hardest hitting Wu member, Raekwon, isn't gangster, he's gangster."

SPIN Archive on Google
- Wu Tang Clan feature (July 1997)
- Wu Tang Clan feature (December 2007)

125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years - SPIN's editors rank the top releases since the magazine's beginning in 1985
67 Tom Waits Rain Dogs
Tom Waits was a decade deep into his career — and already sounded 1,000 years old — when he made Rain Dogs, a shambling roadshow of a record remembered later by SPIN as Waits' "clattering and martial" masterpiece. The album is full of croaky beat poetry and drunken tambourines, and upon its release, Waits was no less a total enigma than he would become decades hence. In an interview from 1985, he told Glenn O'Brien how he liked to watch Mr. Rogers on TV with his two-year-old daughter: "I make her watch it with me. I do subtitles. I do a Fourteenth Street version of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood where everybody's out of work and selling drugs on the corner."

SPIN Archive on Google
- Waits Q&A (November 1985)
- Waits live review (December 1999)

125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years - SPIN's editors rank the top releases since the magazine's beginning in 1985
66 Arcade Fire Funeral
This sprawling, emotive Canadian band helped jump-start the great Montreal resurgence of the oughts, paving the way for other hyperbolic rockers like Wolf Parade. In 2005, SPIN branded them "a Brechtian circus of twinkling piano, mournful violins, and gasping, dramatic vocals." A live review from 2006 proved the band could translate that energy to the stage, creative percussion and all. The highlight? "The clanging, showstopping 'Neighborhood #2 (Laiki),' during which guitarist Richard Reed Perry maniacally drums away on a motorcycle helmet — often while it's on his head."

SPIN Archive on Google
- Arcade Fire article (January 2005)
- Arcade Fire live review (September 2006)

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