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
40 Tricky Maxinquaye
This former member of Massive Attack jumbled his influences and, along with barely legal singer Martina Topley Bird, made one of the few trip-hop albums that still sounds vital. "Imagine the cracked-out vibe of vintage Schoolly D generated by a black British outcast who loves Billie Holliday and PJ Harvey as much as he digs sluggish beats and singsong melodies," SPIN wrote in 1995. And the eccentric maestro would continue to push the envelope after this masterpiece. "Musically, I definitely mislead people," he told SPIN in 1996. "They hear one album, they think they know what's coming next."

SPIN Archive on Google
- Maxinquaye (June 1995)
- Tricky feature (December 1996)

125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years - SPIN's editors rank the top releases since the magazine's beginning in 1985
39 Public Enemy Fear of a Black Planet
A lot happened to Public Enemy in the two years between their epic triumph It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back and Fear of a Black Planet. Controversy involving anti-Semitic talk by Professor Griff had swirled out of control, and the rest of PE was exhausted by the hubbub. "Let's talk about something else, let's talk about basketball," Chuck D told SPIN's John Leland. None of that changed just how dense and resolutely modern Fear would wind up sounding after everything settled, though. Another piece in the magazine noted how PE had d

SPIN Archive on Google
- Public Enemy profile (September 1990)
- Public Enemy Q&A (September 1989)

125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years - SPIN's editors rank the top releases since the magazine's beginning in 1985
38 Run-DMC Raising Hell
Run-DMC's third album raised many things in addition to hell. One was the stock of Rick Rubin, whose work as a producer managed to prick curious ears while also moving serious units. Another was the prospect of "rap-rock," which shot to popularity on the strength of the Run-DMC/Aerosmith collaboration "Walk this Way." And yet another thing was, well, hip-hop, which had been solidly established by 1986 but not on the scale that Raising Hell would tip. "They know that they've got a motherfucker in the can," said SPIN's John Leland before the album dropped in 1986. They were right, of course — enough so that, two years later, they wound up on SPIN's cover with a tag as "the world's greatest rock'n'roll band."

SPIN Archive on Google
- Run D.M.C. profile (August 1986)
- Run D.M.C. cover (May 1988)

125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years - SPIN's editors rank the top releases since the magazine's beginning in 1985
37 Liz Phair Exile in Guyville
In the early '90s, Liz Phair's simultaneously bold and plainspoken songs dug deep in the context of a dude-intensive indie-rock scene. Full of searing and searching lyrics about sadness and sex, her triumphant debut "deconstructed relationships with an insight that didn't seem mortal," said SPIN's Chuck Klosterman. There was a calmness in the chaos, too, as the magazine noted in a live review at the time: "The sublime bile that's made her a goddess in guyville rises only when she finally closes her eyes, forgets about busking for the creepy guys and sensitive poetry chicks at her feet, and bares her fangs in fierce spurts like 'Divorce Song.'"

SPIN Archive on Google
- Liz Phair live review (July 1994)
- Exile in Guyville review (April 1993)

125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years - SPIN's editors rank the top releases since the magazine's beginning in 1985
36 The Jesus and Mary Chain Psychocandy
There's fuzz and then there's fuzz. The Jesus and Mary Chain favored the latter on Psychocandy, an album that sounds like the melding of a million different memories of the '60s as the decade went down in garages and dive bars and stoned-out suburban rec rooms. SPIN's John Leland did not dig the idea in 1985, when he described the grating guitar noise underlying the band's would-be surf songs as "sort of like when the dentist's drill obscures the Muzak." But many others dug, indeed, including a slew of English bands who latched onto JAMC and later drifted into the hazy, dazy sound to be known as shoegaze. Bandmember Jim Reid explained in 1985: "We have no intention of being the new Sex Pistols. We're better than them."

SPIN Archive on Google
- Song Review (July 1985)
- JAMC feature (November 1985)

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