Whether on vinyl or in digital form, the album has become an integral part of our cultural history. 100 Albums That Changed Popular Music: A Reference Guide tells the stories behind the most groundbreaking, influential, and often controversial albums ever recorded. Narrative chapters in this chronologically organized volume describe how the albums reflected the political, social, and economic culture of the era. Individual entries discuss these albums histories, the inspiration behind their creation, and why they continue to stand the test of time. Selected on the basis of their popular appeal, historical significance, and influence on later genres, the albums included represent a wide variety of genres, such as blues, jazz, rock, reggae, rockabilly, folk, soul, hip-hop, and country. Among the featured are releases from the hard-blues explosion of the '60s, including Robert Johnson's King of the Delta Blues Singers, a landmark album whose songs were later covered by the likes of Cream, Led Zeppelin, and the Rolling Stones. Punk made its mark in the '70s with such albums as Patti Smith's Horses and the Clash's London Calling.
In the '80s Michael Jackson's blockbuster LP, Thriller, not only topped the charts, it become the best-selling record of all time. Diversity defined the '90s, with the most influential albums ranging from Garth Brooks' No Fences, which made country one of the hottest musical genres of the decade, to Dr. Dre's debut, The Chronic, a multi-platinum smash hit that brought West Coast hip hop into the mainstream.
Chris Smith is a Vancouver-based writer and photographer whose credits range from Rolling Stone, Billboard, and MTV to the University of Chicago Magazine and the Journal of Visual Anthropology. In addition to music and film journalism, he has worked as a combat correspondent, a festival producer, a travel writer, an anthropologist, a wildlife photographer, and a musician. He is the author of two volumes of the Greenwood Encyclopedia of Rock History, (Greenwood, 2005) and currently teaches cultural criticism at the University of British Columbia.