So you call yourself a hard rock music fan? You can bang your head with the best of them, you know who invented the horns, and you love to rock and roll all night and party every day. As an expert in the field of hard rock, what 10 albums would you recommend to someone that was just starting their collection? Tough question, huh?
While this subject is up for endless debate, there are certain albums that must be a part of every hard rocker’s music collection. Whether it’s on vinyl, CD, or MP3, these are 10 essential albums that belong in every hard rock fan’s music collection.
AC/DC – Back In Black
I’ve already discussed in a previous post how I feel that Back In Black is a perfect album. From start to finish, it is one of the greatest hard rock albums of all time. With songs like Hells Bells, You Shook Me All Night Long, and Rock And Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution this is one record that any metal head can’t live without. While Angus Young blisters away on the guitar, and Brian Johnson screams his heart out on vocals, Back In Black hits the ears hard in an enjoyable way. It’s timeless, it’s classic, and it’s an absolute definite for any hard rock record collection.
Black Sabbath – Paranoid
While their debut album is an incredible one, it was the sophomore effort of Paranoid that really put Black Sabbath on the map. Filled with incredible classics like War Pigs, the title track, and Iron Man, Paranoid is the one Black Sabbath album that every metal head should own. Dark, deliberate, and oh so amazing, this is Black Sabbath at the height of their powers. Sure, Volume 4 is a fantastic record in its own right, but if I were directing a newbie on which Sabbath album to add to their upstart collection, Paranoid would win hands down.
Guns N Roses – Appetite For Destruction
Without any debate, this is possibly the best debut album ever recorded by a hard rock band. Better than Van Halen’s debut (which we will cover later in this list), better than Black Sabbath’s debut album, and better than most heavy metal records out there, Appetite For Destruction is a pure eargasmic delight. 5 young, hungry, and crazy lads banded together to record a masterpiece that went on to become one of the best selling albums of all time. There is not one rock fan out there who doesn’t know of this record and I would venture a guess that most of them own it.
Iron Maiden – The Number of the Beast
In 1982, Iron Maiden lost a singer in Paul DiAnno, but gained a rock god in Bruce Dickinson. While the band was somewhat popular before Dickinson’s foray into the group, they took over the world with him at the helm. The Number of the Beast was the album that started the takeover. Short in length (at only 8 songs), The Number of the Beast sold quality over quantity. Every song is a potential hit. Hallowed Be Thy Name, Run To The Hills and the ever popular title track, are all amazing songs. And these don’t even scratch the surface of what’s contained on the entire record. The Number of the Beast is a hard rock masterpiece.
Judas Priest – British Steel
I’m well aware of the fact that Judas Priest recorded some fine albums prior to and after British Steel. But, if you ask any rock fan to name just one Judas Priest album, this is the one they will pick. Is that because it’s the most popular? Maybe. I like to think that it is because it’s their greatest album. British Steel is a phenomenal record where Judas Priest really found their stride in the studio. With two of their best known tracks (Living After Midnight and Breaking The Law), British Steel is pure heavy metal. To paraphrase Scott Ian of Anthrax, British Steel was the first album to really define heavy metal. Those words ring true to many a metal head, myself included.
Kiss – Destroyer
Undoubtedly the best album Kiss ever recorded, Destroyer showed the world a whole new side of Kiss. Producer Bob Ezrin went into the studio with four youngsters that were still hungry to find their true sound. He left the studio with four men who had become seasoned musicians. With ageless songs like Detroit Rock City, Shout It Out Loud, and the poetic ballad, Beth, Destroyer is an amazing record. For the beginning fan, this should be the first hard rock album they purchase.
Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin IV
Arguably the best work Led Zeppelin ever recorded, Led Zeppelin IV is a hard rock record that can’t be equaled. Stairway To Heaven alone makes this a must own record. Overplayed as it is, Stairway To Heaven is still one of the greatest rock songs ever. By the time Zeppelin went to record their fourth album, they were all well seasoned veterans of the scene. Between the raunch, the rock, and the live performances, Led Zeppelin really figured out what they wanted their sound to be. The end result is one of the greatest albums of all time, Led Zeppelin IV. If you were just starting your hard rock record collection, how could you leave this one out?
Yes, you could make an argument that the first three studio albums by Metallica should start any hard rock collection. Yes, you could make an argument that Metallica (aka The Black Album) is the one album to own by Metallica. No, you wouldn’t be wrong in either of those statements. However, when starting a music collection, diversification is key (which rules out buying the first 3 albums in one shot). And while The Black Album is one of the most well known and popular Metallica album, it is not their best. That honor goes to 1986’s Master Of Puppets. The title track alone is one of the greatest songs in Metallica history and worth the price of the record. Add in amazing songs such as Welcome Home (Sanitarium) and Damage, Inc., and it’s a no brainer. Master Of Puppets is a must own for a hard rock record collection.
Motley Crue – Shout At The Devil
In 1983, Nikki Sixx was fooling around with some black magic and dark studies. This influenced his writing and the end result was Shout At The Devil. With the eerie, haunting introduction of In The Beginning, a hard rock music fan knows that something different is about to be played. Once the drums of Shout At The Devil crash in and kick start the record, this thought is confirmed. One of the hardest albums Motley Crue ever recorded, Shout At The Devil is as groundbreaking today as it was when it was first released.
Van Halen – Van Halen
Another outstanding debut album that rivals Appetite For Destruction as one of the best ever is Van Halen’s eponymous debut. Discovered by Gene Simmons of Kiss and polished by Ted Templeton in the studio, Van Halen was a raw talent that is found once in a generation. With the ax wizard Eddie Van Halen at the helm, and the over-the-top, glamorous showboater David Lee Roth as the front man, Van Halen was a band destined for greatness. Their debut album shows just how amazing they were. From the innovative (and never duplicated) Eruption, to one of the best cover songs of all time (You Really Got Me), Van Halen is a record that every teenage boy needs to hear. Amazing in every way, this is a must for any collection.
And there you have it. 10 essential albums to start any hard rock record collection. Let the debates begin!