To celebrate National Album Day and its 1980s theme we’re counting down 10 of the decade’s undisputable classics.
But do you agree with our top picks? Head over to our Facebook page to join the debate! Like and follow the Rushonrock page, name your top 80s record and you’ll stand a chance of winning a very special prize related to our favourite era.
10 Giant – Last Of The Runaways (A&M Records)
Long before Dann Huff became Nashville’s hottest property as Music City’s go-to hitmaker and producer, the multi-talented singer songwriter honed his craft as a melodic rock master.
Last Of The Runaways is a remarkably assured debut and the A side of a truly exceptional record features two of the finest songs of the 80s in the shape of I’m A Believer and I’ll See You In My Dreams.
Huff hits all the right notes and drips melodic rock cool on two titanic anthems – the latter guaranteed to make grown weak go weak at the knees.
Last Of The Runaways is exactly why the 80s is untouchable as rock’s ultimate decade.
9 Andy Taylor – Thunder (MCA Records)
He started the decade as the playboy six-stringer adding a cutting edge to Duran Duran’s pop classics and finished it returning to his rock and roll roots in typically ebullient style.
Andy Taylor always had this bullish album in his locker and singles I Might Lie and Don’t Let Me Die Young have stood the test of time as FM-friendly bangers: both should have been much bigger hits for the genial Geordie.
Taylor followed up this 1987 solo debut by producing the band of the same name and The Almighty’s Soul Destruction. A new solo album is due soon.
8 Iron Maiden – Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son (EMI)
Concept albums were super cool in the mid 80s and Maiden’s masterwork remains one of the band’s most ambitious and accessible back catalogue triumphs.
A typically vivid album sleeve saw Eddie rising from the frozen sea of a polar landscape and the stadium-ready anthems came thick and fast.
Lead single Can I Play With Madness reached number three in the UK singles charts and caused a few Top Of The Pops fans to choke on their popcorn when the video got a surprise Thursday night airing.
The Evil That Men Do delivered another top five hit for Bruce Dickinson and co..
But it was the spic title track that showcased Maiden’s unswerving ambition and rock solid balls. Just brilliant.
7 AC/DC – Back In Black (Atlantic)
Right at the start of the decade a band reborn set the tone for 10 years of top quality riffage and radio-friendly choruses.
AC/DC might have been mourning the loss of Bon Scott but Back In Black turned grief into glory.
Mutt Lange’s polished production, new boy Brian Johnson’s infectious enthusiasm and the Young family’s determination to stay true to the brand made for one of rock’s most legendary albums.
Opener Hells Bells rang in a brave new era for the Aussie wrecking crew but picking a standout track is nothing short of torturous. It can’t be done.
Shoot To Thrill, You Shook Me All Night Long and the brilliant title track are back catalogue standards and three of the 80s’ most memorable anthems.
6. Van Halen – 1984 (Warner Bros.)
Jump. Panama. Hot For Teacher.
And that’s just scratching the surface of a record that captured the combined talents of charismatic frontman Dave Lee Roth and the late, great Eddie Van Halen in all of their 80s glory.
The genius album cover – featuring a toddler with angel’s wings, smoking a fag – grabbed attention and hit the headlines even before anyone had the chance to slip on the vinyl.
But the euphoric music took Diamond Dave and superfast Eddie to a whole new level.
Producer Ted Templeman left nothing to chance on what proved to the perfect pop rock template for Bon Jovi, Europe, Def Leppard and more.
1984 had shifted more than 10m copies in the US alone prior to this week’s tragic events.
Expect that figure to rise steeply in the coming weeks and months.
5. Queensrÿche – Operation: Mindcrime (EMI)
A band with an umlaut and an album title with a colon.
Join the dots and it’s clear why Queenrÿche’s Operation: Mindcrime caught the attention of Rushonrock’s grammar obsessed editor even before he really had any idea about Geoff Tate’s progressive metal masterpiece.
This immersive and frequently challenging album was a game changer for a uniquely talented band and it’s fair to say Queensrÿche never quite reached the same creative and sonic heights again.
Follow drug addict Nikki on his tragic journey and it’s easy to lose yourself in Tate’s carefully crafted world of corruption and political intrigue – a world soundtracked by Revolution Calling, I Don’t Believe In Love, Eyes Of A Stranger and more.
More than 30 years down the line and Mindcrime is still essential brain food for the cerebral metalhead.
4. Yngwie J Malmsteen – Odyssey (Polydor)
If only twisted genius Yngwie was able to set his ego to one side and actually get on with a talented frontman for any length of time.
The dextrous Swede’s joyous collaboration with Joe Lynn Turner could – and should – have been a match made in soft rock heaven but one album is all the pair have got to show for a brief but brilliant mid 80s association.
And what a record Odyssey is.
Fusing Malmsteen’s peerless fretwork with former Rainbow vocalist Turner’s pin sharp pipes, it’s like Van Halen’s 1984 purified, distilled and shot straight into the bloodstream.
Lead single Heaven Tonight was made for MTV and how this magnificent hair metal anthem failed to dent the upper reaches of singles charts the world over remains one of rock’s greatest mysteries.
Delicious ballad Dreaming (Tell Me) and six minute instrumental Krakatau offer further compelling evidence that when Malmsteen got it right he was utterly untouchable.
3. Metallica – …And Justice For All (Elektra)
The bridge between the band’s explosive thrash metal roots and the polished commercial hard rock to come, …And Justice For All is the perfect amalgamation of heavy and light.
Bruising opener Blackened cedes to the titanic title track (14 seconds short of 10 minutes) and in a blink of an eye you’re riding the ultimate heavy metal rollercoaster at breakneck speed.
Skip to Eye Of The Beholder and then there’s One. A one off.
These days it’s not too difficult to imagine Metallica penning such a measured, thought provoking and truly powerful song but in 1988 the band’s boundary-stretching anti-war anthem offered a thrilling hint of the bold ambition to come.
…And Justice For All also boasts some of the decade’s very best artwork in the shape of Stephen Gorman’s blindfolded Lady Justice.
The striking image perfectly captured the fragmented mood of a record which cracked the top 10 on both sides of the Pond.
2018’s deluxe box set reissue is probably the best investment our editor ever made (after paying for his Richard Marx fan club membership).
2. Guns N Roses – Appetite For Destruction (Geffen)
Do debut albums get any better?
Maybe that’s a debate and a list for another day.
But make no bones about it – Appetite For Destruction was the wildest and most wonderful thing rock fans had ever heard when it burst out of the Sunset Strip’s sleaze-soaked scene in 1987.
That it transcended the debauchery of LA’s drug-fuelled back alleys and became a critically acclaimed commercial success makes the story of Guns N Roses first – and greatest – record all the more compelling.
For a while it bubbled under, going nowhere.
Tensions within the band were there from the start and while Axl was fully focused his band mates were more about the party than the profession.
A lukewarm tour of the UK – where support Faster Pussycat stole the show – didn’t help but Appetite was a slow burner.
And when it finally reached boiling point the true genius of chart busting singles Welcome To The Jungle, Sweet Child O’ Mine and Paradise City saw the band explode.
1. Def Leppard – Hysteria (Phonogram)
The sound of 80s rock? We think so.
Where Bon Jovi (Slippery When Wet) and Europe (The Final Countdown) led, Leppard followed a year later.
And Hysteria was a triumph on every level as four lads from Sheffield and a razor-sharp Cockney delivered an era-defining classic that’s sold more than 20m copies worldwide.
Spawning SEVEN singles and sparking a series of global tours – including the legendary In The Round shows – this pop rock masterpiece left the opposition trailing.
Über-producer Mutt Lange’s masterplan was to make the rock version of Michael Jackson’s Thriller and, after years of false starts and tragedy, Hysteria did the job.
And then some.
Lead single Animal roared into the charts on both sides of the Atlantic and became the band’s first UK top 10 hit.
But it was only when ‘anthem for the strippers’- Pour Some Sugar On Me – began sweeping America and dominating MTV airplay that Hysteria‘s sales finally rocketed.
Both ahead of its time and of its time, Leppard’s nod to 80s excess stands alone as the decade’s most outstanding rock record.