Greatest albums from each year: 1975 – 1989

You can see the in-depth post and explanations from 1970 – 1974 here:

In a time where kids my age listen to Lady Gaga, Green Day, and Macklemore, I have always been a bit of a music outsider. I have always listened to what my parents listened to, rock and metal. This list has some of my all-time favorite albums (yes, I call them albums).

When I started my list of the greatest albums from each year, I wanted to write up a blurb for each one to explain why I chose that particular album. This time around, I feel that I should keep it as a list. I will only offer some insight on certain albums that I feel like discussing.

Enjoy the second part of this collection, or don’t, your choice.


1. Physical Graffiti – Led Zeppelin

It’s Led Zeppelin. While that answer should cover every explanation needed, Physical Graffiti does deserve some extra praise because of its length, being a double album, and because it was their best album following IV. Led Zeppelin’s final two albums, Presence and In Through the Out Door, while awesome, were not quite enough to top Physical Graffiti, making it Led Zeppelin’s last big hit studio album.

2. Toys in the Attic – Aerosmith

Toys in the Attic is Aerosmith’s most successful studio album to date. That being said, it contains many fan favorites and hit songs. The album starts off with the fantastic title track, and then into the well-crafted songs “Adam’s Apple” and “Uncle Salty.” “Walk this Way” may be Aerosmith’s most recognizable song, especially after being covered by Run DMC in the late 1980s. “Sweet Emotion” is another hit song and fan favorite from the album that you can’t help but sing along to. “You See Me Crying” may be one of the most raspy and raw ballads ever recorded, although the song is often overlooked in Aerosmith’s massive catalog.

Honorable Mention: Fleetwood Mac – Fleetwood Mac



1. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap – AC/DC

AC/DC claims both top spots for 1976. Let’s just get this out of the way now: whenever there is an AC/DC album, it always makes the top two on my list (except in 1977). You will definitely get used to seeing them. AC/DC is the best band that has ever existed, and maybe ever will.

Dirty Deeds and High Voltage were AC/DC’s first studio albums, and they definitely started the AC/DC legacy of straight forward, simple rock n roll songs that stand the test of time. How can AC/DC not make you want to sing along/ be happy?

2. High Voltage – AC/DC

Honorable Mention: Rocks – Aerosmith



1. Rumours – Fleetwood Mac

Rumours is one of the best albums ever recorded. It captured the raw emotions that Fleetwood Mac endured while everyone in the band suffered from break-ups with other band members, cheating, divorce, and other problems. All of it ended up in the songs. Stand outs definitely include the hit “Dreams” and the fan favorite “Go Your Own Way.” However, the album’s real gem is a Stevie Nicks’ song called “Silver Springs,” which was left off of the album until the 2013 reissue. Stevie Nicks’ vocals in the song are her best, especially during the last part of the song where she wails and yells “I’ll follow you down ’till the sound of my voice will haunt you!” Perhaps the song was left off because guitarist Lindsey Buckingham got Nicks’ message and tried to prevent it from haunting him. I suppose it all came back to bite him in 1997’s live album, The Dance, where the song was performed live and Stevie Nicks sang the song to him with all of its force.

2. Love Gun – KISS

Honorable Mention: Bat Out of Hell – Meat Loaf



1.  Powerage – AC/DC

2. The Cars – The Cars

The Cars’ debut album is a force strong enough to prevent Van Halen from making the top two, which is a very notable achievement. Who can really resist the powerful chorus of “My Best Friends Girl” and “Just What I Needed”? The answer could very well be no one. The Cars were left with instant fame and the struggle to try and outdo their first album, a feat they never did accomplish in sales, although their 1984 album Heartbeat City came very close (and also made my list).

Honorable Mention: Van Halen – Van Halen

Honorable Mention: Some Girls – The Rolling Stones



1. Highway to Hell – AC/DC

AC/DC’s final album before the death of vocalist Bon Scott was definitely noteworthy. This album brought AC/DC to worldwide fame and brought rock n roll some of its finest tunes. “Highway to Hell” has ruled the radio waves for decades, becoming a staple of AC/DC’s catalog. “Touch Too Much” is a contender for the best AC/DC song and the rest of the album contained songs that all had the ability to become hits.

2. Van Halen II – Van Halen

While Van Halen may have been a fan favorite and worldwide hit album, it was not their best musically from the David Lee Roth era. That title belongs to their second album, Van Halen II.



1. Back in Black – AC/DC

Back in Black was the commercial highlight of AC/DC’s career. With sales of over 22,000,000 in the United States alone, it is one of the best selling albums ever (and I believe the 2nd best selling rock album). It was the first album with the current vocalist, Brian Johnson. Everyone knows the hit AC/DC songs “Back in Black,” “You Shook Me All Night Long,” and “Hells Bells.” Additional fan favorites from the album include “Shoot to Thrill,” “Givin’ the Dog a Bone,” and “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution.”

2. Women and Children First – Van Halen



1. For Those About To Rock – AC/DC

2. Don’t Say No – Billy Squier

Billy Squier’s second album was a hit. I first heard this album two or three years ago when my mom bought a CD copy of it and played it in the car. I loved it from the very first song. “In the Dark,” “The Stroke,” and “My Kinda Lover” have all become massive rock hits and are still played on my local rock radio. Billy Squier never did match this album’s success. He released a follow-up that produced his biggest hit song, but then his fourth album contained only a minor hit.

Honorable Mention: High n’ Dry – Def Leppard



1. Screaming for Vengeance – Judas Priest

Screaming for Vengeance may be Judas Priest’s most successful album to date, but it is not their best. That being said, it is a strong competitor that even beats out Thriller for 1982. “Electric Eye,” and “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'” were memorable rock hits that are still held in high regard today. Judas Priest was different from the other heavy metal bands in that its songs were similar to hard rock and glam metal.

2. Thriller – Michael Jackson



1. Pyromania – Def Leppard

Pyromania was one of the most defining albums of the 1980s. It also launched Def Leppard’s career into super-stardom, reaching #2 on the US Billboard charts and selling over 10,000,000 copies in the US. Pyromania is the last album to feature Def Leppard’s heavier sound, and boy was it good. Every song on the album had the potential to become hits, and many did. Hits included “Photograph,” “Too Late for Love,” “Foolin’,” and “Rock of Ages.” Other notable songs are “Rock Rock (Till You Drop),” the fun and entertaining “Stagefright,” and the overlooked masterpiece “Comin’ Under Fire.” This album, and its 1987 successor Hysteria prove why Def Leppard ruled the 1980s.

2. Flick of the Switch – AC/DC

Honorable Mention: Shout at the Devil – Motley Crue



1. 1984 – Van Halen

1984 is the last Van Halen album until A Different Kind of Truth in 2012, or whenever it came out, to feature vocalist David Lee Roth. The album went on to tell over 10,000,000 copies in the US and included the hits “Jump,” “Hot for Teacher,” “Panama,” and “I’ll Wait.”

2. Heartbeat City – The Cars

The Cars really cemented their status as international superstars with their fifth album, Heartbeat City. It is their second-best selling album to date and featured their biggest hit sings “Drive,” “Magic,” “Hello Again,” (my personal favorite) and “You Might Think.”

Honorable Mention: Defenders of the Faith – Judas Priest



1. Fly on the Wall – AC/DC

Fly on the Wall was an especially raw sounding album, even for AC/DC. The growls and mumbles of Brian Johnson were intensified on this album, which may have been the reason it sold so few copies compared to their other albums. It did, however, contain the minor hits “Sink the Pink” and “Shake Your Foundations.” The album itself is a real treasure.

2. Heart – Heart

Heart is one of those special bands that has always been good. Their self-titled 1985 album was their commercial peak and boasted many of their best known hits. Heart is the ultimate woman rock band and they still kick butt live.

Honorable Mention: Under Lock and Key – Dokken



1. Slippery When Wet – Bon Jovi

While Slippery When Wet is not my favorite Bon Jovi album (that title goes to his debut album, Bon Jovi in 1984), it was the stand out from 1986. It contained his best known hits “Livin’ on a Prayer,” which is an ultimate ’80s song, “Wanted Dead or Alive,” and “You Give Love a Bad Name.” It ended up selling over 12,000,000 copies in the US alone, reaching #1 on the Billboard charts.

2. 5150 – Van Halen

Van Halen’s first album with Sammy Hagar as vocalist rocked. I am a big fan of Sammy Hagar: solo, with Van Halen, and with Chickenfoot. While many Van Halen fans did not appreciate the change in musical direction that Hagar brought, I loved it. It brought Hagar’s supreme vocal abilities to the forefront of a worldwide audience and meshed well with Eddie Van Halen’s guitar techniques. The album included the hits “Dreams,” “Why Can’t This Be Love,” “Best of Both Worlds,” and “Love Walks In.”

Honorable Mention: Turbo – Judas Priest



1. Hysteria – Def Leppard

Hysteria was the ultimate album of the 1980s. It was Def Leppard’s commercial peak following the already super-successful Pyromania. It sold over 12,000,000 copies in the US and reached #1 on the Billboard charts. It contained some of Lep’s finest songs such as “Women,” “Animal,” “Love Bites,” “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” “Armageddon It,” “Rocket,” “Excitable,” and “Hysteria.” Hysteria still remains the greatest glam/pop/hair metal album ever made.

2. Girls, Girls, Girls – Motley Crue

Girls Girls Girls was an album that should have been a number one hit. Motley Crue created a fine collection of blues infused glam metal, producing the hits “Wild Side,” and “Girls Girls Girls.” Every song on the album is made to perfection.

Honorable Mention: Permanent Vacation – Aerosmith



1. Open Up and Say…Ahh! – Poison

2. Blow Up Your Video – AC/DC

Honorable Mention: OU812 – Van Halen



1. Dr. Feelgood – Motley Crue

Motley Crue’s greatest album through and through. Every song offers the most powerful glam metal punch with great guitar riffs and solos and excellent whines by vocalist Vince Neil. Dr. Feelgood was the right way to end the ’80s, with legendary songs such as “Dr. Feelgood,” “Kickstart My Heart,” “Without You,” “Don’t Go Away Mad,” and “Same Ol’ Situation.” I will be seeing Motley Crue again this Saturday for their final tour, sad to see that these legends are going to stop rockin’.

2. Pump – Aerosmith

Honorable Mention: Skid Row – Skid Row


Author: Chase Charaba

Hello there! I'm Chase, an ambitious, aspiring young novelist and YouTuber who hopes to get a novel published one day. I'm also trying to produce the highest quality YouTube videos by constantly learning new ways to film and edit. I've been involved in journalism for 5 years, including 1 year as co-editor of a national award-winning high school newsmagazine and 1 year as the co-editor of an award-winning college newspaper. I write mainly epic/high fantasy, but I also mess around with science fiction, horror, and realistic fiction.

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