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"The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time" is a 2003 special issue of American biweekly magazine Rolling Stone, and a related book published in 2005. The lists presented were compiled based on votes from selected rock musicians, critics, and industry figures. The lists predominantly feature American and British music from the 1960s and the 1970s, topped by The Beatles’ 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, with a top 10 that featured four entries from The Beatles (#1, 3, 5 and 10), two from Bob Dylan (#4 and 9), and one each from The Beach Boys (#2), Marvin Gaye (#6), The Rolling Stones (#7) and The Clash (#8).
In 2012, Rolling Stone published a revised edition of the list drawing on the original and a later survey of albums up until the early 2000s. It was made available in "bookazine" format on newsstands in the US from April 27 to July 25. The new list contained 38 albums not present in the previous one, 16 of them released after 2003.
The first version of the list, published as a magazine in November 2003, was based on the votes of 273 rock musicians, critics, and industry figures, each of whom submitted a weighted list of 50 albums. The accounting firm Ernst & Young devised a point system to weigh votes for 1,600 submitted titles. The list includes a few compilations, and "greatest hits" collections.
The following authors contributed to the citations made of each album:
An amended list was released in book form in 2005, with an introduction written by Steven Van Zandt. As the editor's foreword explains, some compilation albums were removed, and Robert Johnson's The Complete Recordings was substituted for both of his King of the Delta Blues Singers volumes, making room for a total of eight new entries on the list. The Complete Recordings would be reinstated to the list in the 2012 edition.
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Writing in USA Today newspaper, Edna Gundersen described the list as predictable and "weighted toward testosterone-fueled vintage rock". The Rolling Stone 500 has also been criticised for being male-dominated, outmoded and almost entirely Anglo-American in focus.
Following the publicity surrounding the list, rock critic Jim DeRogatis, a former Rolling Stone editor, published Kill Your Idols: A New Generation of Rock Writers Reconsiders the Classics (ISBN 1-56980-276-9) in 2004. This featured a number of generally younger critics arguing against the high evaluation of various "great" albums, some of which had been included in the list, including DeRogatis taking on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which had been Rolling Stone's top choice.