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The 100 Greatest Lesbian Albums (of All Time): 100-76

The 100 Greatest Lesbian Albums (of All Time): 100-76

According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, an album is a collection of songs, but it is also “ a book with blank pages used for making a collection.” And that is the definition that most intrigues for our purposes in compiling The Greatest Lesbian Albums (Of All Time) – the idea that a collection of recordings has the power to create an indelible impression on the listener. Certainly, lesbian music fans have lovingly co-opted albums for decades to help provide aural snapshots of their lived experiences. Please enjoy our list, which includes Sarah McLachlan, Blondie, Garbage, Girl in a Coma, Disappear Fear, Kelly Clarkson, Lucinda Williams, t.A.T.u., Rent, Grace Jones and more...

According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, an album is a collection of songs, but it is also “ a book with blank pages used for making a collection.” And that is the definition that most intrigues for our purposes in compiling The Greatest Lesbian Albums (Of All Time) – the idea that a collection of recordings has the power to create an indelible impression on the listener. Certainly, lesbian music fans have lovingly co-opted albums for decades to help provide aural snapshots of their lived experiences.

While spectacularly crafted albums –or thoughtful collections of music ordained by the artist, whether on 8-track, cassette, CD or iPod – can elicit visceral responses from listeners universally, it feels even truer for the LGBT listener, who continually turns over a phrase, a lyric, a harmony to infer a sense of solidarity with the artist.

In endeavoring to nail down The 100 Greatest Lesbian Albums (Of All Time) we enlisted the help of dozens of lesbian friends, colleagues, musicians and entertainers spanning in age from their late teens to early sixties and asking them to name the 10 albums that provided the soundtrack to their lives as gay women.

From singer songwriters of the seventies, to punk divas, new-wave goddesses, gutsy rockers, jazz chanteuses and synth pop darlings, please enjoy our list, beginning below with albums 100-76. SheWired will roll out 25 each week until we hit number one, so if you don’t see your favorite album this week you may see it in the weeks to come.

Editors’ Note: We fully acknowledge that there are male artists whose albums have been influential for gay women and we will be honoring them with a side bar in the weeks to come. But for our main list we felt it was important to honor the women artists who are so worthy of recognition.

Here's the next installment of numbers 75-51.

100. The Donnas, Spend The Night (2002)

Mainstream success finally found The Donnas on their fith album, thanks to the pop-punk power of hit single, "Take It Off." Full of fun instead of fury, the girls-only rock party starts up anytime you pop in their CD.

99. Garbage, Garbage (1995)

"Stupid Girls" who were "Only Happy When It Rains" found an album to identify with, and, a grunge rock goddess to lust after in Scottish lead singer Shirley Manson.

98. Kelly Clarkson, Breakaway (2004)

The original American Idol blew away any misconceptions about her musical chops with this hugely successful second pop album. The beautiful brunette with the big pipes picked up two Grammy's and we danced extra hard everytime "Since U Been Gone" came on at Pride.

97. Michelle Malone, Home Grown (2000)

Atlanta native Michelle Malone had a hardcore indie fanbase with underground hits like "Butter Biscuit" but the Indigo Girls' contemporary broke out and really showed her musical chops with 1999's Homegrown. Her flair for gospel, blues and good ole folk came together perfectly with this thoughtful collection of songs.

96. Jefferson Airplane, Surrealistic Pillow (1967)

When Grace Slick joined in 1966 to replace original lead singer Signe Anderson, she brought with her two songs that would become penultimate classics: "Somebody to Love" and "White Rabbit." Talk about a woman who influenced rock music; Slick helped establish it and the girls in the sixties and early seventies could not get enough of her soaring vocals.

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95. Dolly Parton, Jolene (1974)

This country legend and darling has been churning out mountain music hits for 40 years. Her ability to be at once fully self-aware and teeming with irony about her over-the-top appearance, combined with her stellar musical abilities and ardent support of LGBT rights lands Dolly in the enviable spot of being equally loved by lesbians and gay men. Her paean to the other woman "Jolene" and her ultimate love song "I Will Always Love You" off of the album Jolene are enduring classics.

94. Edith Piaf, La Vie En Rose (1999)

The only thing more tragically beautiful than her songs was the truth about her own love life and personal demons. Luckily, she transfered that pain into her music to become one of the most beautiful and enduring voices before her death at age 47. A woman whose career was firmly rooted in pathos, her song stylings speak to all who've ever experienced outsider status or heartbreak.

93. T.A.T.u., 200KM/H In The Wrong Lane (2002)

The Sapphic sexuality may have been a little (definitely?) fake; but damn—was it sexy when Russian pop duo Lena Katina and Yulia Volkova were soaking wet and all over each other in the video for their hit single, “All The Things She Said.” C’mon, they were in schoolgirl uniforms!

92. Rent, Original Broadway Cast Recording (1996)

IF you were by chance a theater geek, RENT was a required obsession in the late 90s. Not only did it address AIDS/HIV and the creative frustrations of the generation; it also carved a special place in the hearts of lesbians with the sexually charged woman-on-woman love song, "Take Me Or Leave Me," orginated on Broadway by a young Idina Menzel.

91. Girlyman, Little Star (2005)

This amazingly outspoken queer folk trio featuring Ty Greenstein, Doris Muramatsu and Nate Borofsky at the time they released Little Star were break-out hits on the folk circuit and to a diehard fanbase.  At a time when so much music was headed toward autotune this trio kept it real with stunning harmonies and thoughtful songwriting. They have since added J.J. Jones to their roster.

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90. Grace Jones, Warm Leatherette (1980)

Breathtakingly beautiful in her androgyny Grace Jones was the perfect diva to usher in 80's new wave. Irreverant and fearless Jones inspired a generation of new wave girls fly their freak flag proudly. Warm Leatherette gave Jones the opportunity to interpret Roxy Music and Pretenders' hits through a queer lens that resonanted for lesbians and gay men.

89. Sheryl Crow, Tuesday Night Music Social Club (1993)

When Sheryl Crow came on the scene in 1993 there was nothing quite like her sound on the radio. "Leaving Las Vegas" soulful ode to moving on juxtaposed with the pure joy depicted in "All I Wanna Do" became must-haves on many a gay girls' mixed tape. And remixes of "All I Wanna Do" blared through lesbian clubs for a good chunk of the early 90's.

88. God-Des & She, Stand Up (2008)

Midwestern born and bred hip-hop and unabashed queer duo God-Des & She met in the late 90's and hit it big with their appearance on The L Word in 2005 singing the wildly irreverant ode to lady parts "Lick It" at Shane's bachelor party. Since then they've been continually busy touring and recording. But 2008's Stand Up is the duo at its in-your-face and humorous best and includes the break-out naughty song "Lick It."

87. Girl in a Coma, Both Before I'm Gone (2007)

A girl rock trio that hails from San Antonio sisters Nina and Phanie Diaz and Jenn Alva debut album, released on Joan Jett's record label is, at turns, bad-ass, sensual and sweet, essentially appealing to just about everything gay girls are and love.  Aside from their take-no-prisoners rock style Phanie publicly acknowledged she is a lesbian in 2010.

86. Pat Benatar, Crimes of Passion (1980)

A classically trained coloratura soprano, Benatar landed on budding gay girls' radars with 1980's Crimes of Passion, which featured kick-ass girlpower anthems including "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" and "Treat Me Right." In 2008 she played those songs, along with her other hits, to a screaming crowd of lesbians at Club Skirts The Dinah, thereby introducing herself to an entirely new generation of young women. 

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85. Bitch, Make This/Break This (2006)

Formerly of Bitch and Animal the six-foot tall violinist and ukelele player, vocalist, writer and performance artist released the terrific Make This / Break This featuring the beautifully haunting "Two Girls Strong." Bitch proved her musical prowess with this stellar release and continues to play to her queer fans throughout the country.

84. Lucinda Williams, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (1998)

Winner of the Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album for Car Wheels, Williams is widely considered one of the greatest living songwriters with her brand of blues, country and rock that showcases her at times soulful and whiskey-hard vocals. Her breakthrough album, Car Wheels hailed a popular return to acoustic roots and rock that appealed to so many gay women of the generation.

83. Blondie, Parallel Lines (1978)

Debbie Harry had style, appeal and a killer voice. At the height of disco she was a refreshing sound for the girls who wanted something with a bit more of an edge. The band's third album featured hits "One Way or Another" and "Heart of Glass" along with the whimsical "Sunday Girl," cementing the band -- and especially its frontwoman--as perennial favorites.

82. Sia, Some People Have Real Problems (2008)

Strikingly unguarded and beautifully brutal in her lyrics, the 2008 third album from queer-leaning Australian performer Sia Furler found success in the States. She first gained popularity after the inclusion of her song “Breathe Me” in the 2006 finale of Six Feet Under.

81. Tret Fure, Tret Fure (1973)

Considered one of the original wave of 'Women's Music' Tret Fure was a renegade lesbian artist recording for Olivia Records at the height of the feminist movement but not necessarily at the height of any sort of lesbian acceptance movement. Her heartrending self-titled release was a pouring out of her soul but also a political statement at a time when lesbian visibility was completely on the fringe.

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80. Sarah McLachlan, Surfacing (1997)

At the height of her Lilith Fair fame Sarah McLachlan released Surfacing, which garnered four hits including "Building a Mystery," "Adia," "Angel," and "Sweet Surrender," and became the summer soundtrack for many a young lesbian lucky enough to have caught the lovely McLachlan live at her women-only concert event of the decade Lilith Fair. Surfacing marked McLachlan's wide turn into the mainstream but also created a sea change for women in music with Lilith Fair's success, proving that women could headline and support sold-out concerts for an entire tour.

79. Aimee Mann, Magnolia Soundtrack (1999)

Writer/ director Paul Thomas Anderson actually crafted the film, in part, around the inclusion of Aimee Mannn’s haunting and affecting music. Disillusioned with the meddling of record companies commercialism; Mann founded her own record label and created the indie L.A. music center at The Largo with Fiona Apple. Her affecting song from the album "Save Me" had just the right out amount of pathos to appeal to disaffected lesbians nationwide.

78. Dido, No Angel (1999)

A world wide hit, Dido’s sweet and airy debut album was totally the soundtrack to many a make out sessions at the turn or the century. Her hit song "Thank You" serving as the soundtrack for Ellen DeGeneres' and Sharon Stone's big sex scene in HBO's If These Walls Could Talk 2.

77. Disappear Fear, Disappear Fear (1994)

Formed in 1987 this Baltimore-based band featured Sonia Rutstein and Cindy Frank before adding guitarist Howard Markman. Sonia married her partner in California prior to Prop 8's passing in 2008 but Disappear Fear was on the forefront advocating for LGBT rights since its early days, including with their self-title album which garnered them a GLAAD Award the year it was released. It was that melnage of great song writing and politicism that won them legions of lesbian fans.


76. Amy Ray, Didn't It Feel Kinder (2008)

Indigo Girl Amy Ray had been churning out hits with her musical partner Emily Saliers for a few decades before going solo and baring her edgier punk and rock tendencies. Her fourth solo endeavor Didn't Feel Kinder runs the gamut from rock an jazzy stylings and features queer themes including "Birds of a Feather" that has one openly gay friend encouraging a closeted friend to run away together to better place as well as the joyful "Cold Shoulder" that proudly proclaims of "hanging with the deviants."

Check back next week for another installment of SheWired's Essential Albums, 75-51.

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