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The Overlooked (but Not Forgotten) Top 25

September 27, 1998

Here's Robert Hilburn's list of the 25 best albums from the rock 'n' roll era that didn't appear on any of the other lists.

1. Elvis Presley's "Sun Sessions"

More than any other single collection of songs, this album defined rock 'n' roll as a mass cultural phenomenon.

2. Bob Dylan's "Bringing It All Back Home"

From the hauntingly beautiful "Love Minus Zero / No Limit" to the lyrically dazzling "Subterranean Homesick Blues," this album documents the arrival of a new pop consciousness.

3. John Lennon's "Plastic Ono Band"

Still the standard for liberating and unflinching soul-searching.

4. U2's "The Joshua Tree"

If this Irish band had been around in the '60s, it would have challenged the Beatles, the Stones and the Who creatively at every turn.

5. The Beatles' "Rubber Soul"

Lennon and McCartney became masters of the studio in "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," but this is where they hit their stride as songwriters.

6. Public Enemy's "It Takes a Nation of Millions . . . "

The "Highway 61 Revisited" of rap.

7. The Rolling Stones' "Let It Bleed"

You can sometimes get what you want.

8. Bruce Springsteen's "Nebraska"

A bleak, despairing jab at the Me Generation.

9. Bob Marley's "Live"

Marley lifted reggae to a new, international level.

10. The Band's "The Band"

Amid all the psychedelic haze and studio experimentation of the late '60s, the Band reached into the roots of folk and country music for an album that remains unsurpassed for its sheer eloquence and grace.

11. Joni Mitchell's "Blue"

Music that is marvelously intimate and superbly designed.

12. Paul Simon's "Graceland"

Unmatched pop craft.

13. Prince's "Purple Rain"

This took Prince's maverick sex 'n' salvation message to the mainstream.

14. Van Morrison's "Astral Weeks"

Still magical and mystical.

15. The Clash's "London Calling"

Punk's finest moment.

16. The Who's "Who's Next"

Who's best.

17. David Bowie's "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust"

It's an album that reminded rock 'n' roll of the importance of personality and imagination.

18. James Brown's "Live at the Apollo"

A lighting bolt on tape.

19. Johnny Cash's "Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison"

The country music equivalent of "Live at the Apollo."

20. The Flying Burrito Brothers' "The Gilded Palace of Sin"

Gram Parsons laid down the blueprint for "Hotel California."

21. The Eagles' "Hotel California"

Don Henley, Glenn Frey and crew turned that blueprint into a pop landmark.

22. Elvis Costello's "Armed Forces"

His most forceful and liberating work.

23. Neil Young's "Tonight's the Night"

A captivating look at disillusionment.

24. Otis Redding's "Otis Blue"

Sweet and soulful.

25. The Sex Pistols' "Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols"

The rebirth of rock.

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