62. The Clash, London Calling (Epic, 1979)

Months from now, I'll probably kick myself for not placing this epochal work higher. It admittedly meant much more to me when I first heard it my Freshman year of college. Back then, I initially thought, "Huh, punk isn't supposed to sound this open and varied and tuneful!" This sprawling but incredibly consistent double album redefined what punk could be, and drove home that it was more of an attitude than a sound. But where the Sex Pistols merely said "Fuck You!" to the world, The Clash acknowledged the darkness but saw (and helped create) flickers of hope within it. Here, they sounded like they were ready to take on the world, and rarely has any band seemed so anthemic, assured and likable since.

63. Van Morrison, Astral Weeks (Warner Brothers, 1968)

Lester Bangs already wrote the definitive essay on this album (available on the essential Bangs anthology Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung). All I can add is that it's so perfect that it leaves me with no desire to check out any of the other 30+ albums Morrison's released since. Even if he didn't record "Brown Eyed Girl" or Moondance, his legend would be complete with this impassioned, tortured song cycle. Its eight songs breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out the sort of despair and occasional enlightenment only conceivable at 3:00 AM. The music's somewhere between folk, rock, and jazz, but it's Morrison's feverish, otherworldly vocals that have absolutely no precedent.