Every rock fan has their favorite album. The 1980s gave rock a whole host of old faves and new artists expanding the genre. These are the top rock albums of the 1980s.
The Clash – London Calling
Starting the decade strong, 1980’s London Calling was a wakeup call to both rock and roll and the West. The angry British band screamed a mixture of styles on this powerful double album. In doing so they set the tone for the 10 years that would follow.
Ghost In The Machine – The Police
In 1981 The Police released their fourth studio album. At the time, Rolling Stone viewed it as the band taking a closer look at itself. Ghost In the Machine reflected themes that would become hallmarks of the 1980s. Namely, media explosion, the global village, and serious lyrics. Though much of the album reflects these weighty themes, the joyful single “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” stands as a bright beacon of these rock-pop ambassadors’ true spirit. Sting would leave the band five years later, having secured a lasting rock legacy.
Kill ‘Em All – Metallica
Metallica burst onto the rock scene in 1983 with Kill ‘Em All. Though it’s metal, this LP belongs on any list of the best 1980s rock albums. They were spokesmen for a new generation of thrash metal. No song announced this louder than “Whiplash”. In some ways, it’s the definitive song of the genre. The record is aptly named, due to the pure fury and energy in the 200 beats per minute song. The listener is forced to furiously bob their heads in a tribute to the lyrics that go “Heads are bobbing all around”.
Brothers In Arms – Dire Straits
Right in the middle of the decade in 1985, Dire Straits released the beautifully crafted and produced album Brothers in Arms. “Money for Nothing” is the standout hit single. Sting co-wrote this tour de force, which has enviable guitar riffs, and an electronic sound that was futuristic at the time. Its success can no doubt also be attributed to its animated music video that hit right when MTV was at its peak. The song was an international hit, and ironically, the lyrics deal with the objections of an underdog to money and fame.
The River – Bruce Springsteen
It wouldn’t be a list of 1980s rock icons without The Boss. Though his later album Born in the USA is iconic, it was on the massive two-part album The River that his legend status was solidified. The album has over 50 tracks and more that are unreleased. What made this album iconic was that it recorded the band live in the studio. This captured the reason many people fell in love with the E Street Band in the first place.
Since there are so many songs to choose from, the album is a journey, from the more serious “Jackson Cage”, to the lighter “Hungry Heart” which topped the charts, to the party-starter “Crush on You”.