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Written By Jason Voorhees
Considered one of the most successful heavy metal bands in history, Iron Maiden has carved their legacy in stone despite very little mainstream efficiency.
Instead the band has mastered the underground platforms In an effort to forge an army of loyal fans and support. The band's success is due in large part to their energetic coma induced live performances that have become legendary in the metal industry.
Throughout the years Maiden has produced a catalog of some of the greatest metal albums we have ever saw. With that being said, there is widespread debate on which albums belong among their best. In this week's addition we will attempt to put aside the doubt and face the critics head on while compiling our very own ranking of Maiden's top records.
So, take a journey back to Somewhere in Time; its A Matter of Life and Death as we take this Dance of Death into the Final Frontier with Iron Maiden...
10. A Matter of Life and Death (2006)
One of the top albums during their reunion era, this classic brought the audience to a warfront stage. While infusing themes of war, death and religion the record was a lyrical and musical masterpiece. It's a spirited mix of classic Maiden epic synergy and elite songwriting. There are plenty of stone cold hits as well as some sleeper stalwarts. Tracks like 'These Colours Don't Run,' 'Brighter than a Thousand Suns' and 'The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg' belong on the same level of their most beloved classics. It's truly those hidden gems though that set this album apart among their very best. This is truly one of Maiden's most underrated albums and it was no coincidence that they chose to play it in it's entirety during the debut tour. Solid effort and definitely among the best of Maiden's catalog.
9. Brave New World (2000)
The return of Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith marked the resurrection of Iron Maiden. And this album represented a return to greatness for the band. The highly anticipated release came on the dawn of a new millennium as all of the stars aligned. When all hope seemed to be lost, Maiden proved that they could once again rise to the top as they produced this timeless classic. Musically and lyrically it followed the bands prudent formula of galloping rhythms, blistering solos and mystified story telling. The result was another epic standout of heavy metal purity. Standout tracks include 'The Wicker Man', 'Ghost of the Navigator' and 'Blood Brothers.' There was not much filler here. Fans were ready and the underground giants definitely delivered on this one. Exhilarating album at the least.
8. The Book of Souls (2015)
Often mistaken for a concept album, Maiden's latest studio album has received widespread criticism. And this is the exact reason why the record belongs so high on the list. Iron Maiden has never been afraid to experiment and test the boundaries as far as creativity goes. 'Speed of Light' was an enigmatic anthem that returned to old school Maiden of yesterday and the sound was brilliant. The album boasts many other classic style tracks that pay homage to the band's roots. I sometimes see similarities between negative attitudes of this album and Judas Priest's conceptual thriller 'Nostradamus.' These criticisms usually center around the length of many of the tracks. However; it's the longevity at the album's core that has always separated Maiden from its competition. Best album in years hands down.
7. Somewhere in Time (1986)
A progressive classic from beginning to end. The album blends synthesizer laden music with Maiden's trademark gallop riddled rhythms. A colorful epic flavor of heavy metal madness. Another underrated record in their catalog, its sometimes the forgotten step child because its buried between two seminal giants. However; the album does not lack star power as it assaults the senses musically and lyrically. When it comes to Maiden, there is always going to be an underappreciated value to all of their work and 'Somewhere in Time' is no different. "Wasted Years" is among the bands greatest tracks of all-time while "Alexander the Great" ranks among their most prized sleepers. A must own for die hard Maiden enthusiasts and if you have never listened I challenge you to take a spin; you will be pleasantly surprised.
6. Iron Maiden (1980)
The birthplace for Iron Maiden made its bed in this raw edgy debut self titled thriller. The pioneers of the new wave of British Heavy Metal made a dazzling impression with their original style and sound. If it were not for the sound production this one could have landed closer to the top. With that being said, what the album loses in sound it certainly makes up with brilliant musicianship. The album also featured the band's first lead vocalist Paul Di'Anno who could absolutely wail on the microphone. The combination of Dave Murray's stellar guitar, Steve Harris' elite bass playing, Clive Burr on Drums and Di'Anno's jaw dropping vocals was exactly what the heavy metal world had been waiting for. Some of Maiden's most cherished songs make there home here; the band's very first instant classic.
5. Killers (1981)
Although it would mark the end of Di'Anno on vocals, it did usher in the era of Adrian Smith. The duo of Smith and Murray gave Maiden their very own KK. Downing/Glenn Tipton montage and the results paid instant dividends. There was more harmony and inspiration which invoked more energy. It seemed that the group had graduated from jayvee as they joined the ranks of varsity lore. And even though the record was Di'Anno's swan song, he was leaving the band at his absolute peak and this album signified that feat. From the inglorious intro "The Ides of March" through the galloping glory of "Wrathchild" to the raucous "Murders in the Rue Morgue", the album was filled with metal magnitude of top line proportions. This was where Maiden made their jump and there was no turning back.
4. Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (1988)
This conceptual masterpiece saw Iron Maiden embrace their progressive style as they perfected the brand. As concept albums normally do, the album takes the audience on a visual journey that's more real than your most remembered dreams. Honestly, when I first heard this album I had nightmares for two weeks; that's how powerful the trance centered core screams as you listen to the album in its entirety. Its no wonder that this was one of Maiden's most successful commercial endeavors as the album charted high all over the world. An album that's littered with top notch hits and zero filler. Sounds like an excellent recipe for success to me. Tracks like "Moonchild", "The Evil that Men Do" and "Clairvoyant" provide chills while the title track is a nine minute marathon of non stop attitude. Top notch metal album from start to finish. A grand slam home run.
3. Piece of Mind (1983)
Some fans and critics say this is Maiden's best pure album. There is definitely something that can be said about the songwriting and literacy of their lyrics. Nicko McBrain made his debut behind the drums and provided a new element; that which elevated the band to new heights as they were rising to superstardom around the world. One significant characteristic that stands out is the technical tightness of the band as a whole. While its predecessor put them on the mainstream map, "Piece of Mind" truly showcased their elite status as artists. It also marked a transition from classic metal to a more progressive and novel approach. The band was maturing in front of our eyes and were truly successful in making that jump. This was the straw that stirred the drink for many years to come.
2. The Number of the Beast (1982)
If we were doing a popularity contest this one would definitely take the cake for Iron Maiden. In fact, this album is mentioned whenever top heavy metal albums are discussed. A wall to wall cataclysm that sent Maiden over the mainstream threshold and onto commercial success. The debut album for Bruce Dickinson represented the bands breakthrough. Although Di'Anno was an elite vocalist in his own right, Dickinson simply had more range and his stage presence was contagious. You can hear that endless energy throughout the album. Too many hits to list, this was definitely Maiden's calling card of epic stardom. This timeless classic is owned by heavy metal maniacs all over the world. Definitely one for the ages and one that I can still listen and jam to from beginning to end at capacity volume.
1. Powerslave (1984)
How do you follow up a record of magnitude like 'The Number of the Beast'. That answer is easy...just perfect the formula. That's exactly what Iron Maiden did when they released this bombshell. Many would consider this as a controversial pick for top album but not the true experts. These metal enthusiasts consider this the definitive album of Maiden's entire catalog. A fierce collection of big dick energy, the record consists of several top of the line giants. There are a smattering of hidden gems and sleepers. And then there's the encore "Rime of the Ancient Mariner." Wow. There is really not many words that can describe this epic giant. Not only is this Iron Maiden's Mount Rushmore, it also features some of the most elaborate artwork penned to an album cover. Phenomenal album by a killer band!
Thanks so much for taking that journey with us as we chronicled the best of the best of Iron Maiden. We certainly hope that you have enjoyed this new segment and challenge you to send in your picks; so that we can rank your favorite band's catalogs. In the meantime, we hope that you will check out Kevin Law and Johnny E Thursday evenings from 7PM-9PM as they play your favorites from past and present. I also would like to wish you and your families best wishes and pray for your continued safety during these unchartered times.
As we leave you...please enjoy this timeless classic from the Powerslave album. Until next time...rock on mates!!!
Written By Jason Voorhees
Black Sabbath is recognized as the forefathers of heavy metal music. While Sabbath may have invented the genre, Judas Priest is most responsible for being it's biggest pioneer and one that has most defined the style over the years. In fact, Judas Priest even once labeled themselves the Metal Gods and rightfully so.
2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the bands existence and they are still going strong despite some line up changes along the way.
With that being said, their catalog remains one of the most extensive in metal encompassing 18 studio albums. When reviewing most other band's top albums, the same ones usually appear at the top give or take a few. However; there is widespread debate when it comes to Priest's catalog. Ranking this bands albums will certainly be a challenge but Philly Rock Radio is up to the task.
Without further ado, here is Judas Priest's top albums ranked worst to first...
18. 'Demolition' (2001)
The 14th Studio Album by Priest was the second and also the last to feature Tim "Ripper" Owens on vocals. The follow up to 'Jugulator' was in fact not very good. Taking Rob Halford away from Judas Priest is like taking a bottle from a baby, its just not the same. This is in no way a shot at Tim Owens; who in deed did a very admirable job taking over the lead gig in Halford's stead. The album just lacked that Priest energy and upper echelon sound. Stylistically generic and over produced. Unfortunately this one missed the mark which leaves it at the very bottom of the barrel for Priest. Not a terrible album, just not the standard we have grown accustomed to with Judas Priest.
17. 'Jugulator' (1997)
'Jugulator' was the first album to not feature Rob Halford on vocals. As expected, this did not sit well with the fans and record sales suffered. The band adopted a more ferocious style in the realms of Pantera and Slayer. Judas Priest was trying to adapt to the times and the new persona showed. Overall, much better than 'Demolition' and an album that gets better with time. It sort of grows on you after you put away your preconceived stereotypes of what Judas Priest should sound like. While the album lacked melody it was replaced with a more in your face approach and the results were mixed. Nonetheless, it did have a few standout tracks including "Blood Staind" and the epic finale "Cathedral Spires." All in all this is a record that has gotten better over the years.
16. 'Rocka Rolla' (1974)
This was ground zero for Priest. The debut album was definitely edgy and raw. Although the record was not groundbreaking, it did provide a blue print that would eventually help the band strike gold. A polished work of art, this was the record that would plant the seeds of future success. Tracks like "Never Satisfied" and "One for the Road" were hard rock in its infancy and the sound was much more progressive. The album also provided a sneak peak into the dual guitar mastery that would later be the band's trademark. The songwriting was masterful as Priest was putting their stamp on the music world. A solid album overall but certainly not the same level as their heavyweights.
15. 'Ram it Down' (1988)
After their attempt at going glam with 'Turbo', Priest decided to return to their classic sound on this one. While the album still contained traces of electronics it was more synthetic. With it's long term producer Tom Allom jumping ship, the band seemed out of sync. Nonetheless, the record took on a much heavier tone as they tried once again to embrace their roots. While the songwriting suffered, the album did produce a few bona fide hits with "Ram it Down" and the epic "Blood Red Skies." Unfortunately there was more filler than sizzle as Priest was still trying to capture the flavor of yesteryear. Let's call it all or nothing as the band was still seeking elite status after this bumpy detour.
14. 'Sin After Sin' (1977)
This album would undoubtedly sit much higher if it didn't sit smack in the middle of two instant classics. The bands third album still shared that raw edgy sound of classic Priest and represents the calm before the storm. A transitional record at heart, the band had not quite hit puberty. However; tracks like "Starbreaker" and "Dissident Aggressor" hinted at that changeover to heavy metal glory. The highlight of the album was actually a cover of Joan Baez's "Diamonds and Rust" which showed the dynamic nature of the band. Another record that is littered with filler but one that predicted the bands readiness to overtake the upper echelon of metal.
13. 'Nostradamus' (2008)
Probably the most debated pieces of work ever done by Priest. A conceptual album in its purest form, opinions were widespread and split across the board. While many experts rank the record much lower due to its marathon longevity, they seem to miss the elite song writing and musicianship that is captured throughout. Concept albums tell a story and Priest brings you on a joyride into one of the most controversial figures in history. In fact, if you listen to the album straight through you can almost see the prophetic visions in sight. Standout tracks include "Nostradamus", "Prophecy" and "Pestilence and Plague." A masterpiece of art and highly underrated among the Judas catalog.
12. 'Turbo' (1986)
Judas Priest meets glam metal in this synthesizer induced coma. 'Turbo' was met with much criticism by die hard fans and music critics alike. However; even though this was a far cry from what Priest is known for, the album was actually really good. The title track was as good as any of their big name classics and is still played during concert tours till this day. While the style was much different, the songwriting was magnificent. Underrated tracks galore on this one including "Parental Guidance" and "Private Property." Critics will say that the synthesizers dumb down the music when in fact they truly emphasize the stellar guitar mastery. An instant classic even if it wasn't classic Priest.
11. 'Redeemer of Souls' (2014)
The soul of Judas Priest was redeemed by this record, one that wasn't even supposed to happen. KK. Downing had retired thus ending the career of the band. Enter Richie Faulkner. The young prodigy guitarist had played for the band during the Epitaph tour and had done such a great job. This is a record that spans the entire career of Priest as far as style goes. "Sword of Damocles" takes you back to seventies Priest while the title track and "Halls of Valhalla" scream Painkiller era. The band does not miss a beat with Faulkner on the axe and the record sizzles. "Down in Flames" has an old school 80's feel much like the Defenders era. Yes Priest was going full on back to their roots. Long live metal.
10. 'Angel of Retribution' (2004)
This was deja vu as Rob Halford was back in the band. They say lightning rarely strikes twice but that is exactly what Judas Priest did with this album. It was clearly what the fans had been waiting for and the results were marvelous. A solid metal album from beginning to end, Priest was back with a vengeance on this masterpiece. From the opening track "Judas is Rising" Halford's voice was ferocious and epic. "Deal with the Devil" and "Revolution" continued the lyrical onslaught moving right into the semi ballad "Worth Fighting For." And the classic dual guitar energy was present throughout the entire album. This release proves that you can take the band away from Halford but certainly cant take Halford away from the band. Welcome back metal god.
9. 'Point of Entry' (1981)
Quite possibly the most underrated album of their catalog. This one had huge shoes to fill as the follow up to 'British Steel' and the band did not disappoint. Although you don't see the same love or fervor for this particular record, there is no denying that its a damn good album. The opening track "Heading out to the Highway" makes you want to hop in a convertible to speed down the sunset strip. If your looking for hidden gems you don't have to look further than "Desert Plains." And if its party anthems that feed your fancy check out "Solar Angels" and "Hot Rockin." The sound was much more commercial but the attitude was still blazing. Love me some classic Priest baby.
8. 'Firepower' (2018)
Rated by many as the top heavy metal album of the past decade, 'Firepower' took the world by surprise. Maybe the biggest surprise is that Rob sounds like he has not aged a day. Amazing album from top to bottom, it displays the full Judas Priest mantra on a platter. Blistering guitar solos embody the epicenter while Scott Travis' drumming keeps the sound on point. The title track sounds like a reboot from the Painkiller album while "Lightning Strike" literally strikes fear into its audience. This is as close as you will come to Priest in their prime. Not to mention, coming in at number 5 on the billboard top 200, it was the band's highest charting album of all-time.
7. 'Killing Machine' (1978)
Released as "Hellbent for Leather" in the United States, this album was the first one to embody that classic incarnate sound. It was the gamechanger we had all been waiting for and Judas sealed the deal with a kiss. One of Priest's calling cards is their songwriting and this one defined the essence of elite. The record is littered with stalwart anthems including 'Delivering the Goods," "Hellbent for Leather;" "Killing Machine," and "The Green Manalishi." They also recorded another top line ballad with "Before the Dawn." The maturity of the band truly rang out throughout this record as their diversity shined brightly. Pretty much the straw that stirs the drink in Priest's rise to the top.
6. 'Screaming For Vengeance' (1982)
A kick ass heavy metal masterpiece. The opening one-two punch of 'The Hellion/Electric Eye" may be the greatest in heavy metal history. The dual lead guitar work is quintessential Priest at its absolute best. And the rest of the album maintains the signature style and sound that we all love. This album is always mentioned when discussing classic metal records that truly defines this genre. In fact, some critics actually rank the album as Priest's best. The only reason its not higher for me is a few useless duds. No doubt one of their seminal albums and definitely top rank worthy. Other standout tracks include "Devils Child," "Bloodstone," "Screaming For Vengeance," and "You've Got Another Thing Coming."
5. 'Sad Wings of Destiny' (1976)
The sophomore release for the metal gods may have very well cemented heavy metal at its core. In fact, some historians consider this the very FIRST true metal album. Wherever you stand on this argument, there is no doubting the albums importance to overall heavy metal lore. Lead vocalist Rob Halford showcased his screeching high pitched voice throughout the record and quickly became a fan favorite. "Victim of Changes" is an epic musical masterpiece that features multiple bridges, bends, twists and many other facets of metal mania; while "The Ripper" showcased the first example of KK/Tipton golden dual axe action. This may have been infancy but it was certainly mastery. An instant classic.
4. 'British Steel' (1980)
Judas Priest hit heavy metal bedrock with this iconic album. The band emphatically announced their arrival as the "Metal Gods" and the rest was history. Not only was this one of Priest's most important albums, its also the one that put them on the mainstream map. "Breaking the Law" and "Living After Midnight" became MTV main stays while "Metal Gods", "Grinder" and "Rapid Fire" became cult fan favorites. 'British Steel' is lean and mean to the core. No lavish double disc filler. Straight and to the point. It was at this point that The Priest decided to take on the entire world and the rest were left in the dust. One of my personal favorites and definitely near and dear to metal fans everywhere.
3. 'Painkiller' (1990)
Judas Priest redefined traditional metal with one fellow swoop when they released 'Painkiller.' Unfortunately this would be the last record to feature Rob Halford for a very long time. This was the archetype metal album on display for the entire world to see; all guns blazing! The dictionary and thesaurus for all future metal bands to forge their craft. From beginning to end this album flat out rips. The opening title track provides the narrative for the rest of the album. Loud, heavy, intense, heart pounding, and lightning fast. A superb fistful of metal at your fingertips and all you have to do is hit play. The album contains multiple hits including "Painkiller", "Nightcrawler" and "A Touch of Evil" but its the uncut gems that truly make this a standout among rulers. Now let 10,000 heavy metal maniacs scream!
2. 'Stained Class' (1978)
Speed metal was spoken into existence on this instant classic. "Exciter" was the prototype speed metal art de jour and spawned an absolute beast of an album. Finally Judas Priest had arrived at the edge of their peak and the result was a technically perfect blend of musical mastery. 'Stained Class' is the moment that The Priest announced they were kicking ass and taking names. Epic riffs, melodic symphonies, the Halford screech; this one has it all folks. And dare I say maybe the greatest heavy metal ballad ever written..."Beyond the Realms of Death" which takes the listener into another level of trance. One of the greatest pieces ever written by Priest and a flat out mortal lock in the realms of heavy metal history.
1. 'Defenders of the Faith' (1984)
Eternal debate shines its light when ranking the favorite albums in The Priest catalog. However; there is no debating which album was made at the band's absolute peak and that would be 'Defenders of the Faith.' Definitely the most polished effort they have ever recorded. The album once again is filled with masterful songwriting and the musicianship is elite. The lyrical content is top notch and the composition is legendary. The entire album is enjoyable, especially the first 8 tracks which rival most in their catalog. An innovating, inspiring performance by the entire band. "Freewheel Burning" brings the energy. "Jawbreaker" brings down the house. "Rock Had Ride Free" has one of the most glorious intros you will ever hear. And "The Sentinel" may be their best song ever. Point is, I could write a novel about just how good this album is but will settle for a paragraph. The best of the best hands down.
Judas Priest will always be near and dear to all of those that admire heavy metal.
It's no secret that they have produced one of the greatest catalogs in metal history. Hopefully you enjoyed our journey as we chronicled these albums and ranked the best. This has been an exciting new segment and we hope to continue this trip down memory lane with the greatest metal bands of past and present. We certainly would love to hear feedback and we challenge our fans to request their own personal favorite bands.
Don't forget to check out Kevin Law and Johnny E every Thursday evening from 7PM-9PM as they countdown the greatest metal from present to yesteryear! And as always, have a great week and please stay safe in light of the recent coronavirus incident and mania. Please enjoy this Judas Priest classic as we leave you until next week...Rock Hard Ride Free!!!
Written By Jason Voorhees
Welcome back to another addition of Top Album Lists here at Philly Rock Radio.
Thanks for joining us as we have taken a deep dive into some of the most iconic metal band's catalogs in history. Today that journey continues as we take a look at one of the most popular metal band's to ever grace the stage.
That band is of course AC/DC. And just like the previous bands, these guys do not need any introduction.
Their history and legacy speaks for itself. Formed in 1973 by the Scottish-born brothers Malcolm and Angus Young, AC/DC quickly forged a path of elite musicianship in their rise to the top of Mount Rushmore.
The results tell the true story...over 200 million records sold world wide; including 71.5 million albums in the United States alone. The band was named the seventh greatest metal band of all-time by Rolling Stone Magazine. VH1 ranked them at #4 on their "100 Greatest Hard Rock Artists of All-Time." Some experts have even named them the greatest rock and roll band ever. You get the point...this band is an iconic brand if we ever did see one.
Needless to say, when ranking the catalog for a band of this magnitude, the task will be incredibly difficult. However; we are confident that our expert knowledge and ears for talent will help solidify the best of the best.
One fun part about these projects is that we get to go back In time and replay the albums in their entirety. This process has been extremely rewarding and enlightening. So For those about to rock we salute you. Now let's go back in black on this highway to hell...
10. Ballbreaker (1995)
An extremely underrated album and definitely one of my personal all-time favorites. In fact, there is not one bad track on the record. One popular knock on AC/DC is that many of their tracks sound exactly the same. Well I would say that this particular release definitely spit back in the critics faces. The record was more stylistically advanced and definitely had much more variety. Overall a solid album from start to finish. The album charted at # 4 on the US Billboard Top 200 and shares a 2x platinum in sales. Key tracks include "Hard as a Rock", "Burnin' Alive", and "Ballbreaker". If you want a sleeper though check out "Hail Caesar"...wow. I think the x-factor was Rick Rubin as he initiated an absolute killer production. Obviously not the best AC/DC album ever but definitely top ten worthy!
9. Black Ice (2008)
The eight year hiatus between albums was the longest tenure in AC/DC's history. The fifteenth studio album just happened to be the bands' longest running time as well. This record truly tried to recapture the classical sound that AC/DC fans had grown to love and the band did not disappoint. "Black Ice" was a huge success as far as sales and it landed at #1 atop the billboard charts. This was the kind of comeback that fans had all been starving for. Great album with lots of energy. Unfortunately, this was also the last time you would see the "Back in Black" era gang together as one. Nonetheless, this was a solid effort that put AC/DC back on top of the musical mountain. Did not think they would ever out due 'Ballbreaker' but this one absolutely ate the cake. A must own for any of the classic era fans.
8. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (1976)
What an awesome name for an album title. Evil, raunchy and rowdy. Album title and cover aside, this is a tremendous rock and roll record. In fact, many say that this is arguably Bon Scott's best effort with AC/DC. The title track is a live show staple and has stood the test of time as an absolute stalwart at all of the band's concerts. Dirty Deeds as its known for short exemplifies the bands attitude and even more so the persona of lead singer Bon Scott. The honesty and suggestive narrative is what separates the album from mainstream melancholy. Tracks like "Big Balls", "Squealer", and "Problem Child" represent the epicenter of a band riding that bad boy mentality to pay dirt. This masterpiece is raw and relentless. Definitely one of the best albums in the catalog.
7. High Voltage (1976)
The birthplace for AC/DC in the United States. In reality, its the international version of T.N.T. which was only released in Australia. Despite this confusion, there is no doubt that this album put the band on the map for the long haul. An instant classic full of high energy tracks that is the calling card for the group. Edgy and raw rock and roll in its truest form. Although the album did not chart particularly well, it did receive critical acclaim for being original and to the point. This is what you call a plug and play as there is not one dud to be found. Many of these tracks can be found on almost any AC/DC concert set list. The staying power of this material makes it one of the most influential of the entire catalog. T.N.T its dynamite, take cover from the high voltage folks or you may get the jack. Top notch album.
6. For Those About to Rock We Salute You (1981)
As the successor to 'Back in Black' this album was pretty much set up to fail before it even began. In fact, over the years the album has endured its fair share of criticism from countless avenues. Despite the negative perception though, the album was a big hit as it scored a #1 rating on the Billboard, a feat that is sometimes forgotten. One could say that this record lives mainly off of the gargantuan hit title track and that is the easy way out. However; truth be told there are many solid songs on the album in spite of the lack of name recognition. I think its safe to say that had this record been released before its predecessor, its popularity would have been off the charts. Brian Johnson's pipes are even more glorious on this one if that can even be possible. 4 Million record sales later, it still remains a classic.
5. The Razors Edge (1990)
This was AC/DC's rebirth 2.0. Just like 'Back in Black' had done ten years earlier in revitalizing the band's career, this album was the spark that fans had been waiting for. Sometimes all it takes is a new producer with a new vision to get a band back on track. That is exactly what happened here as they now had Bruce Fairbairn in toe and the rest was revisionist history. Angus Young was given an ultimatum to travel the time machine to a place where he was once again seventeen. And the finished product was absolutely epic. The first track "Thunderstruck" is arguably the band's greatest song of all-time. And the album is compromised of many other 'A' list monsters. As other musical genres (grunge, nu-metal, etc.) were taking over, The Razors Edge saw AC/DC once again claim top dog of hard rock greatness.
4. Let There Be Rock (1977)
Widely considered the crown jewel of the Bon Scott era, Let There Be Rock is the straw that stirred the drink for the bands takeoff in popularity. This album was the antithesis to technical sound and progressive musicianship. Punk rock meets heavy metal so to speak. Angus Young truly showcased his talents on this one folks and Bon Scott's vocal words were musical magic. If you did not know any better, one might mistake this studio album for a live one as far as sound production goes. In fact, 'Hell Ain't A Bad Place to Be' was recorded completely out of tune. The sound of the record was aggressive and raw; a feature that appealed to the masses. The rest of the album smelled as good as roses...especially a 'Whole Lotta Rosie.' Everyone was going left while AC/DC went right with this instant classic.
3. Highway to Hell (1979)
The band was finally able to take the platinum plunge. AC/DC's breakthrough album busted down the highway and when the dust settled there was only hell to pay. This would be the last album that Bon Scott would ever record as he sadly passed away only one year later. Not only did the album fair better in sales and popularity, it also marked a change in production and sound quality. Definitely the most polished and technical album of the Scott led era. The title track may be the greatest arena anthem ever made and embodies the passion of the entire band. The addition of Mutt Lange as the band's producer paid huge dividends. They finally boasted a record with top of the line sound and quality. This was the high point for the band till this point a crescendo that would not last very long though.
2. Powerage (1978)
This was the album that truly showcased the dual guitar talents of Angus and Malcolm Young. The duo was brilliant and Scott's lyrics were the missing link to an incredible masterpiece. The infancy had matured in many ways, the training wheels were off and the band was rocking on all levels. However; they still enjoyed that raw and unkept flavor and that's what made this album better than its successor in 'Highway to Hell.' Most experts and many musicians consider this the best overall album of the band's catalog and cites its musical purity. Another record with attitude but with more focus this time around. You could tell that the group was trying to tell as story and the results were unanimous. They finally struck gold and this was the holy grail. This is another one you just have to crank up!
1. Back In Black (1980)
This was probably the easiest pick for a band's top album that I have ever had the chance of making. A slam dunk, grand slam, power play, pick six all in one. This album was literally the resurrection of AC/DC, as they had just lost their lead singer. Not only was this the grand daddy of all comeback records, but it is mentioned as arguably the greatest rock and roll album of all-time. The cream of the crop for the Australian Metal Gods, this represented their finest hour. The album is littered with "A" list hits. The hits keep coming fast and furious and if your looking for down time you will never ever find it. I consider this one of the greatest overall records of all time in all musical genres. The album never gets old and its one that you can still play through from beginning to end without skipping a track. Passes the ear test with flying colors. To hell with Mount Rushmore...This is more like Mount Everest.
Hope you enjoyed the walk down memory lane with AC/DC. Next up is the METAL GODS themselves...Judas Priest. Don't forget to check out Kevin Law and Johnny E every Thursday from 7PM-9PM. Let us know what you think of the new segment and don't forget to send in any requests for a band you would like us to cover moving forward. Until next time...Rock on Mates!! We leave you with a special treat from AC/DC!
Written By Jason Voorhees
We here at Philly Rock Radio certainly hope that our loyal listeners have enjoyed our latest showcase of "Top Album Lists". During each segment our favorite band's albums are rated and ranked from worst to first.
Of course we had to start with the forefathers of heavy metal in Black Sabbath. We then tackled the British legends Def Leppard for the sophomore piece. As mentioned...if any of our listeners would like us to feature a specific band feel free to speak up or give us a shout out.
In any event...
The next band up on this carousel is Van Halen. And when it comes to VH...which side of the ride you find yourself on depends on whether you prefer the David Lee Roth flavor or the Sammy Hagar variety. This is a debate that is not easily settled and definitely shares many layers.
For me personally, I have always preferred the Sammy Hagar led version of the band. With that being said, I have always maintained an objective mindset and admiration for the Diamond Dave era as well. Both versions have produced many excellent albums which will make the task of ranking them that much tougher.
Van Halen's catalog remains one of the most unrivaled in hard rock/heavy metal history in large part to the man on the axe...Mr. Eddie Van Halen.
When your band employs a guitar God you simply cannot go wrong. The band has released twelve albums in total so two will be left off of this list. Nonetheless, there will be some difficult decisions but we are definitely up for the challenge. So get your popcorn ready, crank up the volume, pull up a chair and prepare yourselves for the Top Ten VH albums of all-time...
10. Diver Down (1982)
Often mislabeled a "cover album", this release often gets negative publicity. In fact, Eddie Van Halen himself was angry at the way the album's production was rushed to get released by the label. Although this is far from their best effort, Diver Down does have a lot of positive energy. Even though the album is in fact cut in half by covers...those covers are pretty damn good! "Where have all the Good Times Gone", "(Oh) Pretty Woman", and "Dancing in the Street" are all gold standard pieces of art. And the original material is equally good as well. While the album lacks the star power of the rest of their catalog, it does not warrant leaving it off the top ten list. If this album had not been rushed, there is no telling where it could have landed. So take a dive and get down with this classic.
9. Balance (1995)
The final release of the Sammy Hagar era saw the band at the height of their maturity. While the tensions and relationships were tumultuous at best, the band was able to focus and the result was another #1 on the US Billboard Top 200. Balance saw the band take a deep dive; as far as a shift in topics and themes from what fans had grown accustomed too. The album also employed a good amount of ballads, something die hard fans remained unhappy with. Nonetheless, the band was able to release another top notch record that has stood the test of time. Mainstream radio loved the record which regularly played "Can't Stop Loving You" and "Don't Tell Me What Love Can Do." But the true gems were hidden like "Take Me Back (Deja Vu)", "Not Enough", and "Feelin". Another great VH record down.
8. Women and Children First (1980)
This was Van Halen at their most raw. Full throttle rock and metal at its core. VH's third studio album charted at #6 on the US Billboard Top 200 and was their heaviest to date. One thing that truly stands out about this record is the bands shift from commercial popularity to an all out assault on the senses and the results paid off. Timeless classics like "Everybody Wants Some" and "The Cradle Will Rock" are staples for any true Van Halen fan. I also think this was the album where David Lee Roth truly exploited his song writing prowess and lyrical mastery. No two VH albums are alike and this one was the next step in the bands rise to the top. Definitely a must own for VH enthusiasts and among the bands greatest of all-time.
7. OU812 (1988)
Welcome to the second installment of the Van Hagar catalog. The album would be hard pressed to top the success of its predecessor and rightfully so. And although this record did not have the same level of success, it was still a damn good record. In my opinion, this is the most diverse collection ever in the band's catalog. From the opening guitar riff on "Mine all Mine", through the heart pumping ballad screaming "When its Love", to the bluesy ender "A Political Blues" the album has a fine mixture of style and content throughout. Plus you can hear a focused man on a mission through Sammy's vocals. Yet another US Top 200 Billboard hit for the band, the record has since went 4x platinum...an amazing feat for a band that thought life was over after Dave.
6. For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge(1991)
A pretty straight forward album title with an even straighter approach. Less diverse than the previous two Hagar era records, this one was more guitar oriented with more in your face flavor. The results was a blend of elite craftsmanship and production. An album that can absolutely rock your socks off...one that you can put your top down too when racing down the freeway. The tracks "Poundcake", "Runaround", and "Top of the World" were tremendous hit singles that defined the band's popularity in the music world then and now. While "Right Now" became a staple on MTV for years to come as well as raising the bar to unseen levels once again. An awesome album and one of my personal favorites.
5. Van Halen II (1979)
Sequels like Rocky2 and The Godfather2 are some of the most notable cinema sequels to rival their counterparts. Well this was Van Halen's answer to their debut in music and the results were similar. Not quite as epic as the beginning but certainly high level and impactful in quality. "Eruption" meets acoustic with "Spanish Fly." The album also produced more timeless classics to add to the bands catalog like "Dance the Night Away", "Somebody Get Me a Dr.", and "Beautiful Girls." This was a killer record at a point in the band's life where it may have seemed impossible to recreate the magic of their first album. While Van Halen faced enormous expectations; they were able to silence the critics thinking they were only one hit wonders by showing that they were at the top and here to stay.
4. Fair Warning (1981)
Many Van Halen die-hard fans consider this the bands best overall piece of work. No matter where you rank it, there is no doubt that this album belongs close to the very top of the scale for VH. The band's fourth studio album is definitely their most dynamic. Although the album didn't sell particularly well at first it still made it into the top 5 on the Top 200. This album tends to portray a darker style of music than the bands previous efforts. Tracks like "Unchained" are littered with attitude and Eddie displays a more ballsy approach on the axe. I must admit, the more I listen to this record the more I grow to appreciate how truly good it is. I might as well WARN you, this album is FAIRLY addictive and will light your pants on fire. Give it a listen and you will instantly be hooked.
3. 5150 (1986)
When it was realized that David Lee Roth had left Van Halen, all hope was lost. No band is supposed to survive the loss of such a charismatic and elite entertainer of that level. Enter Sammy Hagar. When the new album was finally released, it truly was like Dave had never left. 5150 was an instant classic and cemented the idea that bands can certainly overcome a change at the helm. Sammy Hagar proved to be Van Halen's version of Brian Johnson or Ronnie James Dio, other lead vocalists that had joined star bands where the band refused to miss a beat. Not only was this album iconic for Van Halen, it also produced some absolute gems. "Best of Both Worlds", "Dreams", "Why Can't This Be Love" and "Love Walks In" are all top of the line stalwarts of their catalog. Not to mention the album is the third highest seller coming in at 6x Platinum. Not bad for a band that thought they had lost their way.
2. 1984 (1984)
This is where it all began for me as far as Van Halen goes. The first album I ever owned, and I was instantly a junkie. While their debut album put the band on the map, 1984 catapulted the band into superstardom that is rarely seen. Not only did the album chart well (#2) and sell a ton of records, it also produced three smash singles that were played out endlessly on MTV and radio. This was Van Halen's "Black" album. The record that infiltrated the bands presence into the mainstream like a shot of heroin. This was the absolute peak for the band even though it was the end of the road for Diamond Dave. Not only does the album have star power, its also riddled with sleepers like "I'll Wait", "Drop Dead Legs", "Top Jimmy", and "Girl Gone Bad." Although its 36 years old, it still has the smell of a brand new car today.
1. Van Halen (1978)
The birthplace for Van Halen, their debut album just so happens to be their best as well. Guitar god Eddie Van Halen was introduced to the world and the rest was history. Van Halen's self titled album not only put Eddie Van Halen on stage, it was the beginning of the entire band's rise to the top. "Eruption" hit the masses with a volcanic blast. "You Really Got Me" screeched louder than a lion. "Runnin with the Devil" shook people to the core. "Jaime's Cryin" had all the girls panties in a bunch. Ok...you get the point. There is not one bad track on the album and it almost tells a story...sort of like a concept album but kind of not. Anyways, I could write a book about how good this album is and it would not do it justice. This is the album that all great guitarists pay close attention to and we all know why. The crème de le crème on every level for Van Halen. Masterpiece 101.
I hope you have enjoyed this installment of Philly Rock Radio's Top Album Lists. Please stay tuned as next week we will feature AC/DC...a feature you will not want to miss. And as always...please make sure you stop by on Thursday evenings to check out Kevin Law and Johnny E from 7PM-9PM! We leave you with a special treat from the Van Halen catalog...
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