10. The Velvet Underground & Nico
Known for the peelable banana sticker that graced its front cover -- courtesy of the band's mentor and part-time manager, Andy Warhol -- this self-titled debut created the template for the sparse, foreboding sound that the Velvets would purvey throughout their existence. It's an ominous intro, but in the prepunk world of the late '60s, it established a style that was neither attractive nor accessible but, instead, a reflection of life's ugly realities cast in musical mayhem.
The most controversial track off that much-admired first album, "Heroin" captured in graphic detail the rush and wreckage that comes with a junkie's ultimate indulgence. A real-life tale of excess and agony, it's both revolting and intriguing, as shocking now as it was when first released. Clearly, one of rock's most transcendental offerings.
8. Metal Machine Music
Perhaps the most hated album in history, this double disc of noise and clatter was Reed's way of revolting against record company restrictions. Although it's almost entirely unlistenable, it represents a new freedom of expression that innumerable artists took as both a call to arms and an invitation to improvise and indulge their most brazen and bizarre inclinations. It also further affirmed Reed's reputation for refusing to compromise or to adjust his intents for the sake of easy accessibility.