Honorable Mention - A Bigger Bang, Rolling Stones
When considering The Rolling Stones in this day and age, one has to adopt an appropriate set of expectations. You just have to know that when you buy the new album, you're not gonna get Beggars Banquet. You're not gonna get Let It Bleed. You're not gonna get Exile on Main Street, or Some Girls, or even Tattoo You. Sure, there was a time when the Stones really were the greatest rock and roll band on the planet, and each of their albums held the promise of becoming a landmark in rock history - or at least within shouting distance of that standard. By my reckoning, that time ended around 1973, with the release of Goat's Head Soup.
So we've established that the standards need to be lowered. Having said that, I think it's fair for the consumer to expect that they're getting some value for the $13.95 or so that they're shelling out for a CD. And for quite some time, the Stones couldn't even meet that expectation. Sure, they released a pretty cool live (almost unplugged!) album in the 1990s, but their recorded product, Bridges to Babylon and Voodoo Lounge, was wholly unmemorable. Sitting here writing this, I literally cannot think of a single song on either album. Sure, if I ran over to the CD player and threw one of them on, I'm sure that something would catch my ear. But why bother?
But I'm nothing if not loyal, and when A Bigger Bang came out in 2005, I bought it. And I'm happy to say that, for what it's worth, it was the best album the Stones had released in over 20 years - probably all the way back to Tattoo You, from my college days. It's a very good, even excellent, album - the production by Don Was is crisp, Charlie Watts sounds great as always, Keith and Ronnie produce a dual guitar attack that hasn't sounded this good in decades, and even Mick sounds like he is trying. It's not in the same league (hell, it's probably not even on the same planet) as some of the legendary discs mentioned earlier, but it sounds really good, and it's the Stones.
Sometimes, that's all you need. It doesn't quite break the Top 25, but A Bigger Bang is definitely worth an honorable mention.