10. 1984 (1984)-Van Halen
In the mid-1980’s, Van Halen was the biggest rock band in the world. Their immense ability combined with a fun “tongue and cheek” approach made them popular with hardcore rock fans and casuals alike. “1984” was the prime example of this, combining blazing songs like “Panama” with more light-hearted fare such as “Jump.”
9. Pyromania (1983)-Def Leppard
Def Leppard really hit its stride with “Pyromania.” Their sound was a perfect blend of hard rock and lyrical genius. Further, the band had a sound that could resonate with all fans. There were a number of hits from this album, “Rock of Ages” was the major standout.
8. Synchronicity (1983)-The Police
Who says you can’t go out with a bang? That’s exactly what The Police did with their final studio album. The band deviated away form their pre-ska sound and embraced more of a pop/rock bent. “Every Breath You Take” is obviously awesome, but “King of Pain” tops this one.
7. Slippery When Wet (1986)-Bon Jovi
Much of hair metal was disposable crap, but Bon Jovi proved that talent shines through even the worst fashion sense. Jovi was mega-talented and we got out first glimpse of that with “Slippery When Wet,” as well as two of the band’s biggest hits in “Wanted Dead or Alive” and “Livin’ on a Prayer.”
6. …And Justice for All (1988)-Metallica
This is one of Metallica’s more lyrically driven works. It tells the classic tale of injustice and power gone awry. The band brings the heat big time in one of the vestiges of their speed metal days. Afterward, Metallica would transform into something much more mainstream.
5. Back in Black (1980)-AC/DC
AC/DC has always been a hard-rocking band, but hadn’t garnered the mainstream success they might have hoped for. “Back in Black” did exactly that, and without sacrificing their rock roots. This one is a greatest hits list from start to finish and skyrocketed the band’s international stardom.
4. Appetite for Destruction (1987)-Guns N’ Roses
There are few albums in rock history that actually change the course of the genre. “Appetite” is one of those select few. Deviating from hair metal, GnR brought a gritty, hard-edged sound into mainstream music. “Paradise City” and “Sweet Child O’Mine” are awesome, but “Welcome to the Jungle” is the lasting hit.
3. The Joshua Tree (1987)-U2
While U2 wouldn’t hit their peak in popularity until the 1990’s, “The Joshua Tree” cemented them as a band on the rise. As many others on this countdown, the album expertly fused their indie roots and mainstream rock. The entire runtime is chalked with hits, but “With or Without You” is timeless.
2. Born in the U.S.A. (1984)-Bruce Springsteen
This one plays like a greatest hits album, with many of Springsteen’s standards littering the playlist. What’s sad, is that many listeners can’t feel the cynicism and irony that cut like a binaural knife. There’re so many quality songs, it would take to too long to talk about them all. But for me personally, “Downbound Train” is a lasting image of this album.
1. London Calling (1980)-The Clash
This one’s cheating a bit, as the album was actually released in Europe in 1979, but not rolled out in the States until 1980. Nevertheless, the album is an absolute classic. The title track gets all the pub, but “Rudie Can’t Fail” is the class of the album.