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
65 Eminem The Marshall Mathers LP
The Beastie Boys may have laid the groundwork, but it was this quick-witted, Detroit-born white boy who made hip-hop a real rainbow coalition. With lurid story-songs like "Stan" — about a deranged rap fan — Eminem's third album created its own universe. In an August 2000 cover story, Slim Shady flaunted his (legal) gun, cruised Amsterdam, and scoffed at anyone who thinks music can make you into a monster. "I was listening to 2 Live Crew when I was 11 years old, and there's nothing wrong with me," he told SPIN. "Right?"

SPIN Archive on Google
- Eminem cover story (August 2000)
- Eminem interview (May 1999)

125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years - SPIN's editors rank the top releases since the magazine's beginning in 1985
64 The Flaming Lips The Soft Bulletin
"On The Soft Bulletin, the band replaced its familiar gonzo guitar rock with a brilliant new brand of lo-fi orchestral pop," SPIN wrote in a 2002 feature. "[Wayne] Coyne veered away from his old Dadaist lyrics to express heartfelt sentiments about love and devotion." The new Lips vision is obvious from the album's opener, "Race For The Prize," with its rush of romantic strings. Reviewing the record, SPIN saw a new musical solar system: "Stare into the sonic firmament that is The Soft Bulletin, and it will engulf you."

SPIN Archive on Google
- Soft Bulletin review (July 1999)
- Flaming Lips feature (August 2002)

125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years - SPIN's editors rank the top releases since the magazine's beginning in 1985
63 R.E.M. Fables of the Reconstruction
"The sound just crumbles," SPIN's Barry Walters wrote about this diaphanous third album by a young band that already knew the romance of ruins. He was thinking out loud in a cover story on R.E.M. in 1986, and there was a lot to think about. Here was a rock band fronted by an art-bent poet from Georgia who described his feelings for pine trees as "lachrymose and weepy," and who went on to praise the way the act of typing "kind of explodes me and scatters me around." All of that played an evocative role in a haunting, impressionistic, and impressively eclectic record by a band then ripe to grow big — "a pop band," in the estimation of SPIN reviewer Sue Cummings, "big enough to pull together the divergent strains of folk, rock, and country, and with the presence to inject the mix with mysticism."

SPIN Archive on Google
- R.E.M. cover (October 1986)
- Fables review (July, 1985)

125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years - SPIN's editors rank the top releases since the magazine's beginning in 1985
62 U2 The Joshua Tree
Bono was a young and eager gentleman named "Bono Vox" when U2 first appeared in SPIN in 1985, but he was already the bigger and bolder Bono we all know by the time The Joshua Tree made U2 unassailably huge. The band's fifth album spit out hits like crazy, and they were unusually searching hits, each with a pointed political edge. "The time I spent in El Salvador and Nicaragua earlier this year showed me another side of America," Bono told SPIN. "The Joshua Tree is about that other side."

SPIN Archive on Google
- U2 Q&A (May 1985)
- U2 profile (June 1987)

125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years - SPIN's editors rank the top releases since the magazine's beginning in 1985
61 Smashing Pumpkins Siamese Dream
Billy Corgan has never been one for understatement, but it was really with the second Smashing Pumpkins album that he announced himself as a true maker of epics. Smashing Pumpkins appeared on the cover of SPIN's 100th issue, and writer Jim Greer deemed Siamese Dream "a fit vehicle to deliver the band to rock godhead." It pretty much did, thanks to Corgan's thematic sweep and a Butch Vig-produced sound that drew on what the magazine's review called Smashing Pumpkins' "enormous bag of tricks, a lot of them discovered...on cannabis-heavy mid-American afternoons where their teenage selves reimagined the music of Deep Purple and Blue Öyster Cult without the preen-rock frills."

SPIN Archive on Google
- Siamese Dream review (August 1993)
- Smashing Pumpkins cover (November 1993)

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