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As I wrote for my essential metal albums list I believe great music is meant to be shared over and over and over again. So, one of the great joys in my life is to share the music I love with the people I love. Friends, family, fellow music lovers, the wife. Whomever loves music, whomever may learn to love metal and hard rock, whomever appreciates true talent, hard work , grit and those who’ve paid their dues in order to become successful. I believe heavy metal and hard rock music is rooted in that ethic.

One of the first ways great new music and artists were shared with me other than the once great WCMF-FM in Rochester, NY was and still is best of lists. As a decades long metal fan I’ve always loved best of lists of metal and hard rock artists. Whether it was Guitarist of the Year in Guitar Magazine or one of a myriad of lists that Metal Edge magazine did so freakin’ well for all the glory years of metal in the 80’s and early 90’s. Nowadays, like most metal fans out there I’ve learned to use the web to find out what new albums are out there, what some of my favorite bands are up to and what’s new in the world of hard rock and metal. I also look for hard rock and heavy metal websites and blogs that inform and entertain me.

This site is a way for me to connect my passion for metal and hard rock music with others and maybe pass along some knowledge but more importantly share some great music that has gotten lost along the way. Some great new music that deserves to be heard and classic riffs that may be forgotten.

One way I’d like to share my love of hard rock and heavy metal music and the attitude that comes with it is to develop my own “best of”, “essentials”, “must own” , and “best player” lists .

For list #2, I believe it’s fitting to follow up my previously posted Essential Metal Albums with what I consider my 20 Essential Hard Rock Albums.

Here is the criteria I used to compile my list:

1. It has to be a true hard rock album, not heavy metal. That’s why Black Sabbath and Kill ‘Em All, as well as 18 other heavy metal masterpieces aren’t on this list. That list is already posted.

See link above.

2. This is “my” Top 20 Hard Rock Albums, the masterpieces I see as required listening for any true hard rock fan and the albums I consider essential to understanding hard rock music.

3. I have to own the album. If I don’t like it enough to spend my own hard earned money it, sometimes in many formats over the years, then it doesn’t belong on the list.

I’ll begin with my 20 Essential Hard Rock Albums in chronological order of release

1. Jimi Hendrix- Are You Experienced May 12, 1967 UK August 23, 1967 (US)Product Details

2. Led Zeppelin II October 22, 1969Product Details

3. Led Zeppelin- IV November 8, 1971Product Details

4. Aerosmith- Toys In the Attic April, 1975Product Details

5. KISS- Alive September 10, 1975Product Details

6. Rainbow- Rising May 17, 1976Product Details

7. Boston August 8, 1976Product Details

8. Van Halen February 10, 1978Product Details

9. Cheap Trick- At Budokan October 1978 (Japan), February 1979(US)Product Details

10. Queen- LIVE Killers June 26, 1979Product Details

11. AC/DC- Highway to Hell August 3, 1979Product Details

12. AC/DC- Back in Black July 25th, 1980Product Details

13. Rush- Moving Pictures February 12, 1981Product Details

14. Scorpions- Blackout March 29, 1982Product Details

15. Def Leppard- Pyromania January 20, 1983Product Details

16. Motley Crue- Shout at the Devil October 26, 1983Product Details

17. Van Halen- 5150 March 24, 1986Product Details

18. Bon Jovi- Slippery When Wet August 18, 1986Product Details

19.Guns ‘N’ Roses- Appetite for Destruction July 21, 1987Product Details

20. Queensryche- Operation Mindcrime April 27, 1988Product Details



    For the most part I will agree with you as there are plenty of “Must Have Albums” on this list. At one point I had 18 of the 20 Albums you have on your list. The 2 that were missing in my collection were missing for a reason, The ones that just didn’t make the cut with me were #17 “Van Halen- 5150″ and #18 ” Bon Jovi- Slippery When Wet”. In my humble opinion 5150 was just too commercial sounding for me and not the Guitar Rock Van Halen of old. Although Commercially Successful, it just wasn’t heavy enough and rockin’ for me. And the same goes true for the Bon Jovi Album. Other than maybe “Runaway”, there really isn’t any Bon Jovi song that makes me want to listen to it from start to finish. I will say that “Slippery When Wet” was a fine album that had mass appeal and it truly was commercially successful, however I wouldn’t put it in the same league as the other selections on your list.


    • Thanks for the comments my friend. I tend to agree that the quality of “Slippery When Wet,” and “5150,” probably aren’t the same caliber as the other selections but for a true understanding of the history of hard rock for those less enlightened than you and I, they need to be included. They had huge success, and for better or worse, a huge impact on the nature of hard rock from those albums on.
      Therefore, “Essential,” in the sense that you need to be familiar with them in order to get the truest sense of what hard rock really is, as opposed to “classic rock,” and “heavy metal,” or any other form of popular music.


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