The 50 Best Southern Rock Albums of All Time

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The 50 Best Southern Rock Albums of All Time

Growing up in Atlanta in the 1970s and ’80s, “Southern rock” meant a very specific thing: long-haired bands like Molly Hatchet, the Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynrd playing extended guitar solos with enough bluster to pick a fight at any smoky roadhouse. It was part country redneck, part psychedelic hippie, and it dominated the FM radio stations of my childhood (looking at you 96 Rock). By the ’80s, Southern rock meant ZZ Top, Georgia Satellites and The Black Crowes, reviving the guitar licks of their forebears for a new generation. But it was also starting to mean something else. In college towns like Athens, Ga., and Winston-Salem, N.C., a distinct Southern jangle was emerging, mixing the post-punk of New York, the pop of Big Star, and the roots music that bands like R.E.M., Let’s Active and The dB’s were weaned on. The branches of Southern rock began to creep outward. Today, “Southern rock” means everything from the earthy synths of My Morning Jacket to the future soul of The Alabama Shakes.

But the origins origins of rock in the South also go back much further than Duane Allman playing guitar for the R&B hitmakers at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals in the 1960s. Bo Diddley, Little Richard and Fats Domino were among the first musicians to put Southern cities on the rock ‘n’ roll map. They were quickly followed by Southern icons at Memphis’s Sun Studio like Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash, whose early singles were as much rockabilly as country.

So when we compiled the 50 Best Southern Rock Albums of All Time, we made sure the results were a little broader than the usual suspects. As long as the music was undoubtedly Southern (from Texas to the Carolinas, Kentucky to north Florida) and undoubtedly rock, it was on the table. That meant bands like The B-52’s and Of Montreal, who could have come from Mars, aren’t included. And bands like Creedence Clearwater Revival and Little Feat, who sound Southern but have no claim to these lands, are also absent. But the inclusion of early rock albums and modern torchbearers like Drive-By Truckers also means we didn’t have room for some roots rock standards like Atlanta Rhythm Section, Boz Scaggs and Dixie Dregs, which you’ll find on most every other list.

What follows are the Best Southern rock albums as voted by Paste’s music editors and writers, after long debates on what should qualify. As always for these lists, we limit each act to two albums. We think this approach results in a more interesting list, celebrating all of the South’s contributions to rock ’n’ roll. And you can tell us what we missed on our Facebook page.

Here are the 50 Best Southern Rock Albums of All Time:

texas-rock.jpg 50. Sir Doug and the Texas Tornados: Texas Rock for Country Rollers (1976)
Is Texas really part of the South? It depends on who you ask, but the answer is no. And yes. It depends. During his 30-plus-year career, Doug Sahm embodied that conundrum, melting the full range of Texan musical idioms—country, blues, Tejano, rock—into a singular (and singularly powerful) body of work. You’re probably familiar with his ‘60s band, The Sir Douglas Quintet, and might remember his early ’90s supergroup, The Texas Tornados. In 1976 he crammed those two band names together and made what might be his finest album, squarely within either the Southern-rock or country-rock traditions. It’s a laidback, ramshackle country-blues affair, with some of Sahm’s best originals (including “Give Back the Key to My Heart” and “You Can’t Hide a Redneck (Under That Hippy Hair)”), a cover of the country classic “Wolverton Mountain,” and a medley of Gene Thomas songs. —Garrett Martin

nmas-watermelon.jpg 49. North Mississippi Allstars: Electric Blue Watermelon (2005)
Luther and Cody Dickinson, the sons of legendary Memphis producer, songwriter and pianist Jim Dickinson, brought a punk-rock spirit to the Southern-rock lyricism of the Allman Brothers and reached beyond the usual influences of the Mississippi Delta region to embrace those of the state’s Hill Country: the African-sounding music of Otha Turner’s cane fifes and the droning blues vamps of R.L. Burnside. On their fourth album, those roots blossomed into the Dickinson sons’ first monumental songs, which fit in comfortably with the three Turner originals. This recording pulls off the neat trick of sounding untraceably old and urgently new at the same time. —Geoffrey Himes

kentucky-headhunters.jpg 48. Kentucky Headhunters: Pickin’ on Nashville (1989)
If ever there were an album that established a brand, the debut from the Kentucky Headhunters would certainly qualify. It not only marked a real revival of true Southern rock, but gave the band its initial success. Pickin’ on Nashville spawned four successful singles—“Walk Softly on This Heart of Mine,” “Dumas Walker,” “Oh Lonesome Me,” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Angel,” earning them a Grammy, two CMAs and top honors from the Academy of Country Music. They would be hard-pressed to achieve those distinctions again, and radio’s love affair with the band was short-lived due to the fact they proved too rocking for country and too country for rock. —Lee Zimmerman

alabama-shakes-boys.jpg 47. Alabama Shakes: Boys & Girls (2012)
Undeniably at the center of The Alabama Shakes’ debut record is Brittany Howard’s ascendant balladeering, which allows the Alabama Shakes to explore a sound made famous by the twin giants of Motown and Muscle Shoals. Her voice races from falsetto to growl to wail so quickly that she often changes direction mid-word, and that dynamism gives even the Shakes’ slowest songs a restless, animal energy that is impossible to ignore. Howard’s sound contains distinctive elements of Janis Joplin’s flint and spontaneity, Aretha Franklin’s depth and power and at times even the sweetness of Diana Ross. Despite the tendency of listeners to lump the band into the category of soul revivalists, Boys & Girls was best enjoyed not as an anachronism but as a fresh take on sounds from a bygone era. The Shakes looked to punk and hard rock as much as anything, and the melding of those influences with their rootsy, passionate appeal resulted in a style all their own, free of cynicism and brimming with vitality. —Eli Bernstein

dbs.jpg 46. The dB’s: Stands for Decibels (1981)
Two years before R.E.M. released Murmur and three years after Big Star’s Third/Sister Lover, Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey carried on the tradition of Southern jangly guitar rock with their Winston/Salem, N.C. outfit The dB’s. Stamey had played bass with Big Star’s Alex Chilton, but the combination of Stamey and Holsapple produced something equally Byrds-influenced with lovely harmonies, tight rhythm and power-pop melodies. The dB’s broke up in 1987 after four studio albums, then reunited for 2012’s Falling off the Sky.Josh Jackson

webb-wilder.jpg 45. Webb Wilder: It Came from Nashville (1986)
Although Webb Wilder was born in Hattiesburg, Miss., his solo debut focused on an auspicious homage to Nashville, the place he came to call home. The mix of deadpan humor and everyday happenstance resulted in a kind of brash irreverence, an attitude that offered the decided impression that he was given to a skewed perspective. Musically, it echoed any number of precedents—Elvis, Jerry Lee and Steve Earle (whose song “Devil’s Right Hand” Wilder rendered with added urgency), chief among them. Likewise, rockabilly, cow punk and country caress were combined in equal measure, making for a rowdy and rousing rave-up that precludes any kind of passive encounter. A definitive view of Music City from a doggedly determined point of view, It Came from Nashville fuses past with present in wholly irreverent ways. —Lee Zimmerman

johnny-winter-and.jpg 44. Johnny Winter And: Johnny Winter And (1970)
A decade before Stevie Ray Vaughan unleashed his Texas Flood, the Lone Star gunslinger to be reckoned with was Johnny Winter, an albino from Beaumont who put the blues world on notice with his first two albums, 1969’s The Progressive Blues Experiment and Second Winter. With muscular, rapid-fire guitar lines and an imposing tenor growl, Winter was quickly embraced as an heir to the Kings—B.B., Albert, Freddie—and a quintessential Texas outlaw. For his third record, he made an abrupt turn, assembling a new band co-starring himself and the pop-oriented guitarist Rick Derringer, and releasing Johnny Winter And, a mix of Derringer-derived rock songs and Winter’s searing blues. One of the great Southern Rock blueprints, Johnny Winter And puts a roadhouse spin on the riff rock of the era—Zeppelin, Hendrix, Santana. Opener “Guess I’ll Go Away” rides a Cream-like ascending guitar line. “Am I Here” slows it down with a jangly lead, organ, and some classic-rock harmonies, leading into the slide-happy “Look Up.” Elsewhere, a cover of Traffic’s “No Time to Live” and an early version of Derringer’s “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo” cemented Winter’s rock bona fides. —Matthew Oshinsky

wet-willie-smilin.jpg 43. Wet Willie: Keep On Smilin’ (1974)
From Macon by way of Mobile, Wet Willie were ‘70s mainstays on Capricorn Records, which was essentially the Motown for Southern rock. Compared with such labelmates as The Allman Brothers Band and The Marshall Tucker Band, Wet Willie were a tight, concise pop band that combined blue-eyed soul and Southern boogie woogie into slickly produced four minute pop songs. Their third album, Keep On Smilin’, is best known for the title track, an AM Gold-ready shot of pure pop positivity that cracked the top ten in 1974; all together the album is a great example of the more unabashedly commercial-minded and crowd-pleasing side of Southern rock. —Garrett Martin

jll-hamburg.jpg 42. Jerry Lee Lewis: Live at the Star Club, Hamburg (1964)
In the studio, Louisiana’s Jerry Lee Lewis was a boogie-piano-pounding, hillbilly-hollering, Dionysian force of nature. But in his early live shows he was all that doubled. There’s no better example of that than this 1964 live recording at a German nightclub. Having put the scandal of his marriage to his 13-year-old cousin behind him, Lewis was out to reclaim his place in rock ’n’ roll by pushing every song beyond any limit of filter or restraint. It wasn’t easy, but he had little choice in 1964: He was seven years from the glory of “Great Balls of Fire,” and the rock world was being overrun by British invaders. On this night, backed by a British band called The Nashville Teens, who did their best to stay with him, Lewis played not only his own hit singles but also the songs of such rivals as Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Ray Charles, recasting them as vehicles for Lewis’s own manic personality and ecstatic gifts. —Geoffrey Himes

elvis-st.jpg 41. Elvis Presley: Elvis Presley (1956)
Released in 1956, Elvis Presley’s self-titled debut was far more than a record: It was the vehicle for the creation of one of pop culture’s greatest icons. Featuring tracks from Presley’s Sun Studio sessions in Memphis and RCA studio recordings in both New York and Nashville, Elvis Presley introduced Presley’s smooth, seductive vocal style to the world. Hits like “Blue Suede Shoes” and “I Got a Woman,” though written by Carl Perkins and Ray Charles, respectively, would soon become synonymous with Presley’s sex-symbol status. Young women around the globe were never the same, and neither was rock music in the South. —Loren DiBlasi

ga-satellites.jpg 40. Georgia Satellites: Georgia Satellites (1986)
Every class needs a clown, and The Georgia Satellites played the role with panache among their Southern rock peers. Though the band had serious musical chops and an appealing fondness for blaring, dirty-sounding guitar riffs, singer and primary songwriter Dan Baird had a roguish streak that resulted in the band’s 1986 single “Keep Your Hands to Yourself.” It it was their biggest hit, but that mischievous undercurrent runs through most of Georgia Satellites, which is full of songs that are smarter than they appear. Along with the greasy rocker “Red Light” and guitarist Rick Richards’s vocal turn on “Can’t Stand the Pain,” the album includes the raucous harmonies of “Battleship Chains” by Baird’s kindred spirit, Terry Anderson. — Eric R. Danton

drivin-cryin-mystery-road.jpg 39. Drivin’ n’ Cryin’: Mystery Road (1989)
Though it might have lacked the punk freedom of their first two albums, Scarred But Smarter and Whisper Tames the Lion, Mystery Road is where the Atlanta rock band fully embraced their Southern roots for a more unforgettable sound. Starting with the fiddles on “Ain’t It Strange” and Southern crunching guitars of “Toy Never Played With” to the Red Clay power-ballad “Honeysuckle Blue” and culminating in the bad-boy anthem “Straight to Hell,” this was the pinnacle of Southern rock in the late 1980s. Even R.E.M.’s Peter Buck showed up to play some dulcimer. Kevn Kinney was a folk troubadour at heart, but bassist Tim Nielsen, guitarist Buren Fowler and drummer Jeff Sullivan all added more than a touch of Allman Brothers and Skynyrd influence to the point that follow-up Fly Me Courageous had the band touring in leather and playing arena rock. But on this album, the balance between punk beginnings, country leanings and ’70s Southern FM radio adoration was just about perfect. —Josh Jackson

james-l-dickinson-dixie.jpg 38. James Luther Dickinson: Dixie Fried (1972)
There are many routes to discovering Jim Dickinson. As an in-house producer at Ardent Studios in Memphis in the ‘60s, he later co-founded The Dixie Flyers, a group of session musicians who replaced the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section as Atlantic’s preferred backing band, where he played on early ’70s records for Aretha Franklin, Sam & Dave, Jerry Jeff Walker and more. In the mid ’70s he worked with Big Star and Alex Chilton on the gloriously ramshackle albums Third/Sister Lovers and Like Flies on Sherbert. He traversed both mainstream and underground throughout the rest of his career, working with bands as diverse as the Replacements, Primal Scream, the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Bob Dylan. Between all this he still found the time to put out a half-dozen solo albums, the first of which, 1972’s Dixie Fried, can sound as unhinged as those Big Star and Chilton albums. It’s a woozy trip through a variety of Southern traditions, from folk to country to rockabilly, with the unifying factor being Dickinson’s peculiar intensity. The album’s standout track, a dizzy, stumbling version of Dylan’s “John Brown” that constantly seems to be swallowing itself, almost recalls Pere Ubu, if they were from Memphis instead of Cleveland and played boogie instead of punk. It’s proof that even in the early ’70s there was a weirder, artier side to Southern rock. —Garrett Martin

27.KillingFloor.jpeg 37. Vigilantes of Love: Killing Floor (1992)
My arrival to Athens, Ga., to get my learnin’ on was quickly followed by my introduction to Vigilantes of Love. Bill Mallonee’s desperately confessional lyrics were the cathartic soundtrack to the joy, heartache and confusion of those college years. And on Killing Floor, with help from producers Mark Heard and R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, the band created what remained for years my favorite album, period. Even the historical songs like “Andersonville” and “Eleanor” dealt with life’s big themes of struggle and redemption. But it’s the manic tracks like “Undertow” and “Strike While the Iron Is Hot,” where Mallonee sounds like mad, raging prophet, that fill a hole for certain moods that few other songs do. —Josh Jackson

cease-to-begin.jpg 36. Band of Horses: Cease to Begin (2007)
“Southern rock” has traditionally evoked muttonchops and the devil going down to Georgia, but the genre’s tapestry certainly includes the kaleidoscopic psychedelia of early R.E.M. and the reverb-limned keening of My Morning Jacket. Band of Horses arrived firmly aligned with the latter camp, but born of Seattle’s omnipresent rainstorms and attendant coffeehouse culture. Singer/guitarist Ben Bridwell, a born Southerner, convinced his bandmates to return to his native South Carolina, a place he fled after finding himself in a “whole bunch of trouble.” The band’s sophomore release, the Churchillian-titled Cease to Begin, marked a new chapter in Band of Horses’ development, as well as a shift in Bridwell’s writing, veering from the soft-focus impressionism toward a more narrative-driven style. More than anything, Cease to Begin represents the sound of a talented writer growing more comfortable in his skin and unafraid to name a song after ex-Seattle Supersonic Detlef Schrempf despite its elegiac, unrelated subject matter. —Corey DuBrowa

mmj-z.jpg 35. My Morning Jacket: Z (2005)
Ask five fans what kind of music Kentucky’s My Morning Jacket play, and you’ll get five different answers. It’s “country-rock.” Or it’s “jam-rock.” Or it’s “space-twang.” The word “Southern” is often used as a modifier, and the word “reverb” is certain to be mentioned. But the labels frustrate My Morning Jacket, not because none of them apply, but because all of them apply at one time or another. It’s “rock ’n’ roll,” hold the hyphens, please. Frustration with the 2004 election, Jim James told Paste in 2005, ”[I’m] writing songs where I just feel really upset and angry, and I don’t know what to say all the time. So the chords are just crying for what’s going on.” Inarticulate frustration sounds like a flimsy base for songwriting, and perhaps it would be for another band, one that doesn’t rely on gorgeous pyramids of reverb vocals. But in “Wordless Chorus,” Z’s opening track, the song’s “ahs” get the point across better than language could. The album stretched the already expansive My Morning Jacket sound, while stripping out unnecessary elements and trimming some of the open-ended jamming. Everything from blue-eyed soul and Crazy Horse stomps to the Jacket’s trademark spacey textures fill Z’s 46 minutes, yet the album sounds decidedly different from its predecessors, and remains one of their best. —Reid Davis

fats-domino-rock.jpg 34. Fats Domino: Rock and Rollin’ with Fats Domino (1955)
Antione Dominique “Fats” Domino Jr. got his start in music at age 14, playing piano in New Orleans bars under the tutelage of bandleaders like Billy Diamond, who gave the youngster his nickname. But it was his early singles like “Poor Me” and “All by Myself” that got him attention, first on black radio before his crossover hit “Ain’t That a Shame,” which reached #10 on the pop charts in 1955. Those songs and nine others were collected on his first LP, Rock and Rollin’ with Fats Domino, in 1955—seven years after his recording career began. Most of the songs were co-written with trumpeter and fellow Crescent City rock and R&B pioneer Dave Bartholomew, who also served as Domino’s A&R rep for Imperial Records. The album was also released in the UK and was one of the first black rock records to be embraced by a white audience, in part thanks to the easy boogie-woogie piano and cheerful nature and partly due to Domino’s ability to churn out catchy, bouncy, unforgettable melodies. —Josh Jackson

molly-hatchet-flirtin.jpg 33. Molly Hatchet: Flirtin’ with Disaster (1979)
If you didn’t already know that Jacksonville’s Molly Hatchet occupied the harder extremities of Southern rock, with the most pronounced metal edge of any of the genre’s canonical bands, their album covers would’ve clued you in. They look like Dungeons & Dragons book covers. This one’s got some kind of battle axe-wielding viking trampling over bones and some kind of serpent. The D&D redneck is an understudied phenomenon. Hatchet started in ‘71 but didn’t get to release an album until ‘78, at which point Van Halen-style metal was ascendant (they actually lost out on their first record deal because the label signed Van Halen instead). Flirtin’ with Disaster, their second album, was produced by a metal guy, and it shows: if you replaced the Sabbath-style thump of Blue Oyster Cult or the Sunset Strip slickness of VH with some good ol’ fashioned chooglin’, it would sound just like this album. Yes, it’s the one with “Flirtin’ with Disaster” on it. It’s the name of Molly Hatchet’s best song and best album. The producer went on to work with Poison and L.A. Guns. —Garrett Martin

carl-perkins-hits.jpg 32. Carl Perkins: Original Golden Hits (1969)
Tennessee’s Carl Perkins could have been a contender. Though “Blue Suede Shoes” is remembered by most people as an Elvis Presley song, Perkins wrote it, recorded the definitive version and had the bigger hit with it. And if he hadn’t nearly died in a 1956 car crash, he might have capitalized on that initial success to become a huge star. As it was, he became a legend among musicians and record collectors, if not the general public. The Beatles recorded three of his songs, more than they recorded by any other outside writer on their original studio albums. This 1969 compilation collects the 11 best songs from Perkins’s 1955-1957 work for Sun Records, including “Blue Suede Shoes,” the three Beatles songs and the ultimate Southern-rock scorcher, “Dixie Fried.” —Geoffrey Himes

bottle-rockets-brooklyn.jpg 31. The Bottle Rockets: The Brooklyn Side (1994)
Imagine for a moment that the survivors of the Lynyrd Skynyrd plane crash in 1977 had decided to keep going and had replaced Ronnie Van Zant and Steve Gaines with The Clash’s Joe Strummer and Mick Jones. The reborn band would have had it all: redneck country-rock with in-your-face class consciousness and Cockney punk-rock with swing and guitar chops. It would have sounded a lot like the Bottle Rockets on this, their second album, The Brooklyn Side. The actual members of The Bottle Rockets hailed from Festus, Mo., and they sang about the blue-collar and flannel-shirt culture of Middle America from the inside out. When they sympathize with a welfare mother denounced by a fat-cat senator, they do so to a dobro-laced hillbilly tune and they point out that this mother’s “welfare music” is “Carlene Carter and Loretta Lynn.” But they also celebrate the exhilaration of new love with the irresistible guitar hook of “Gravity Fails” and the dizzying vocal/guitar harmonies of “I’ll Be Comin’ Around.” —Geoffrey Himes

black-oak-ak-hog.jpg 30. Black Oak Arkansas: High on the Hog (1973)
There are certain things you just have to learn to accept from Southern rock bands, especially ones from the ‘70s, that you wouldn’t be expected to tolerate from any other kind of music. (No, I’m not talking about the damn rebel flag; you never have to accept or tolerate that embarrassment.) High on the list: scrawny, long-haired white boys talking about sex, and how much sex they have, and how good they are at sex. That’s the stock in trade of Jim “Dandy” Mangrum, lead singer of Black Oak Arkansas, a band that hails from a town called, yes, Black Oak, Ark. Their fifth album, High on the Hog, is the best showcase for Mangrum’s backwoods vocals and the high-energy solos and riffing from the band’s three-guitar core. This is a record whose best three-song stretch includes such titles as “Happy Hooker,” “Red Hot Lovin’” and “Jim Dandy,” a cover of an R&B classic about a guy who—well, you can probably figure that out. There’s a certain level of raunch found in Southern rock that, along with such non-Southern fellow travelers as Aerosmith and Ted Nugent, influenced the sex-crazed hair metal of the ‘80s; High on the Hog, and Black Oak in general, overdoses on that raunch and then comes back for more. —Garrett Martin

tony-joe-white.jpg 29. Tony Joe White: Black and White (1969)
Learning that Creedence Clearwater Revival came from California and not the South is a bit like learning the truth about Santa Claus. It’s part of growing up, and something that you don’t want to believe at first. If oldies and classic rock radio did as much to keep Tony Joe White’s legend alive, we probably wouldn’t even need Creedence, much less feel betrayed when we realize they weren’t who we assumed they were. White was raised in Louisiana and since the ‘60s has been an acknowledged master of swamp rock, which is like if the blues, zydeco and hillbilly rock were all thrown into a huge pot that White then shouted nonsensical guttural exclamations into. Imagine CCR songs like “Suzie Q” and “Born on the Bayou” but made by a guy who actually was born on the bayou. White arrived fully formed on his first album, Black and White, which is full of these loping, monotonous basslines with White alternately soloing and moaning over them. The most famous song on here is “Polk Salad Annie,” which 1) is amazing, 2) is most famous for the version Elvis did in the ‘70s, and 3) could only have been written by an actual Southerner who had real-life experience eating polk salad. The only complaint I have about Black and White is that the 10 equally amazing songs on White’s other 1969 album, ...Continued, aren’t on it. —Garrett Martin

srv-in-step.jpg 28. Stevie Ray Vaughan: In Step (1989)
By 1989, Stevie Ray Vaughan had firmly established himself as the most electrifying blues guitarist of his generation with 1983’s Texas Flood and 1984’s Couldn’t Stand the Weather. But he was at something of a nadir as he approached his 1989 record In Step: Newly divorced and sober, having barely escaped the clutches of whiskey and cocaine, Vaughan set about recording In Step with clouds of doubt hanging over his career. Perhaps that’s why the album sounds so fresh. With new songwriting partner Doyle Bramhall at his side, Vaughan veered toward rock ‘n’ roll on rave-ups like “The House Is Rockin’” and “Scratch-N-Stiff,” putting more pianos and horns in his Texas gumbo and consequently earning more airplay on rock radio. He also faced his substance abuse head-on in crossover songs like “Tightrope” and “Crossfire,” the latter becoming his first and only No. 1 hit. With a new lease on life, Vaughan sounds energized and introspective on In Step, his inflammatory guitar still throwing sparks all over the place. He perished in a helicopter crash the following year. —Matthew Oshinsky

rem-fables.jpg 27. R.E.M.: Fables of the Reconstruction (1985)
Though it was recorded in London’s Livingston Studios, Fables of the Reconstruction may be the most Southern of all R.E.M. albums. All three of the singles the band released from Fables, “Cant Get There From Here,” “Driver 8” and “Wendell Gee,” along with songs like “Old Man Kensey” and “Auctioneer (Another Engine),” are odes to a rural life Atlantans singer Michael Stipe and guitarist Peter Buck would have had to make an effort to experience, but the Macon half of Mike Mills and Bill Berry were intimately familiar with. The album has a folkier feel than the band’s first two albums, and even if it’s not our second-favorite R.E.M. album of all time, it contains some of our favorite songs and felt like the one that needed to be on this list of best Southern rock albums. —Josh Jackson

BookerT.&theMG'sGreenOnions.jpg 26. Booker T. & the M.G.’s: Green Onions (1962)
In the summer of 1962, a 17-year-old organ player named Booker T. Jones was messing around at Stax in Memphis, where he, guitarist Steve Cropper, upright bassist Lewie Steinberg and drummer Al Jackson Jr. served as session musicians. When Stax president Jim Stewart hit the “record” button and released the instrumental “Green Onions,” one of the first multi-racial bands was born, and the Stax label had its first official LP release (prior Stax recordings had been issued on Atlantic Records) as well as its first No. 1 single. The full album, Green Onions, would set the template for that sweet Stax soul sound.—Josh Jackson

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