15 Favorite Rock Albums that Celebrate a 30th Anniversary This Year

I get excited just by thinking of this year – the marvelous year of 1987!!! So many people on social media asked me which I think was the best year for rock music. I always say 1987 with no hesitation. Why? Check my list and you will certainly find out why!

All those outstanding releases are celebrating a 30th anniversary this year (2017) and I really wanted to list all my favorites together, in one place. Of course, I might have missed some of your favorites and yes, Appetite for Destruction is not in my top15 (surprise surprise!) but it is what it is. From Great White to Treat and Def Leppard, I honestly and straightforwardly am telling why exactly I love these albums with the idea to celebrate them and remember that it might have been 30 years since they were released, but the love and excitement over them hasn’t gone anywhere.

Don’t forget to tell me what do you think and which one is your favorite album released in 1987!?

 


Great White – Once Bitten

great white save your loveOnce you hear the mesmerizing ballad “Save Your Love” or the hard-rocking opener “All Over Now”, you will understand why Great White’s junior album deserves a place in your collection. The album came out in the hot summer of 1987 and quickly made a fuss around the band, eventually reaching a platinum status just a year after its release. The highlight and the most-instantly recognizable song from the album has to be “Rock Me” – I bet you know it. “Once Bitten” is actually my favorite Great White album and this song is a pretty solid reason behind my choice.


TNT – Tell No Tales

tnt-tell-no-tales“Everyone’s a Star”, “10 000 Lovers (In One)”, “As Far as the Eye Can See”…and on and on. TNT’s junior album is one of the best releases of 1987 and no one can take that away from it. As biased as I am (obviously), you can’t actually deny the power of vocalist Tony Harnell or the brilliance of guitar player Ronni Le Tekrø who make the perfect dream team. I got “Tell no Tales” in a record store as a “blind purchase” and this turned out to be the best decision of my life!! There are still so many people out there who haven’t discovered the greatness of this band so I urge them to do it now!


Dokken – Back for the Attack

Dokken back for the attackDokken’s fourth studio release also happens to be their best-selling album of all time and certainly one of the most interesting and captivating hard rock gems of 1987. “Prisoner”, “Night by Night” and of course the legendary “Dream Warrior” – the theme song for the horror film “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors” are just a few of the stunning rockers on “Back for the Attack”. Some critics and fans don’t consider this album as Dokken’s finest hour but then again I never actually cared about that. The album is full of jaw-dropping rockers and it deserves its place in my list.


White Lion – Pride

white-lion-prideWhite Lion’s sophomore album is an absolute classic and a musical piece that cannot really be described with words. Though my favorite White Lion album is “Mane Attraction”, “Pride” gets the honorable second place! “Wait” and “When the Children Cry” are the hits that came out of it, though I gotta go with “Hungry” as my favorite song from the album. Mike Tramp and Vito Bratta can craft some serious magic and this is one of their strongest products, for sure.


Strangeways – Native Sons

strangeways-native-sons“Native Sons” remains one of the forgotten and highly underrated representatives of the large AOR scene of the late ‘80s, despite the admirable qualities and superb songwriting it showcases. Thankfully, there are still people like me (and you) who know that picking up an apple from the top of the basket doesn’t mean that it’s the best apple of the bunch. “Native Sons” is a melodic bliss from start to finish. “Dance with Somebody”, “Only a Fool”, “So Far Away”…go check for yourself if you have never listened to these songs. Vocalist Terry Brock is one of the strongest voices of melodic rock and this is his finest hour.


McAuleySchenker Group – Perfect Timing

msg perfect timingA predictable choice, don’t you think? I mean of course I will include the debut album of the Michael Schenker and Robin McAuley, released in the fall of 1987. This project and this album represent one of my favorite collaborations in rock music. Those two were a match made in heaven and once you play songs like “Gimme More” or my personal favorite “Follow the Night” you will get what I’m saying. “Perfect Timing” deserves all the love and attention you have and I’m not “just saying it”. 


Treat – Dreamhunter

treat-dreamhunter-1987I’ve been introducing those amazing guys to fans who have a very little idea how much more there is to the world of AOR. “Dreamhunter” is the third studio album of Swedish rockers TREAT and it’s one of those underrated gems that should’ve been way bigger. It didn’t leave a big impact on the world of music but it left a tremendous impact on me and my little rocknroll heart. “Sole Survivor”, “Take Me on Your Wings” and “You’re The One I Want” are some of the stand outs from “Dreamhunter”, all impressing with great production value and brilliant melodies.There’s absolutely no way this album can’t win over any melodic/AOR fan.


Foreigner – Inside Information

inside information foreignerSometimes when we talk about the great Foreigner, this album gets left out of the conversation and I’m not quite sure why. I mean, yes – when you have enormous era-defining albums like “4” and “Agent Provocateur”, the follow-ups might get forgotten sometimes. In fact, though, (honesty hour) the sixth studio album of Foreigner – “Inside Information” might be my favorite release by Foreigner. “Say You Will”, “Can’t Wait” and the title songs are some of their greatest works, indeed. One more thing – it’s the last album to feature the 80’s core lineup of Gramm, Jones, Wills and Elliott, making it quite relevant.


REO Speedwagon – Life as we Know It

reo life as we know itHuge REO fan right here so no surprises that their 1987 album “Life as we Know It” is in my list of favorites. The twelfth studio album of the beloved band features some outstanding music, including “That Ain’t Love”, “New Way to Love” and “In My Dreams” – all beautifully written and highly pleasing tunes, solidifying REO Speedwagon’s position as melodic rock giants. Things after this release were never quite the same in terms of commercial performance and popularity and that could be traced back to the growing tensions between the members of the band; however we do have this fine piece of music and I’m so glad it saw the light.


Helix – Wild in the Streets

helix wild in the streetsHelix might as well be my favorite Canadian band so I just had to include their highly underrated sixth studio album “Wild in the Streets”. The beginning of their career was pretty strong but by the time this album was released, the fire was already fading out. The release is filled with memorable, close-to-my-heart rockers, including “She’s too Tough”, “Never Gonna Stop the Rock” and the gorgeous cover of Nazareth’s ballad “Dream On”. Never understood why this release wasn’t that big but that never prevented me from falling in love with it. 


Pink Floyd – A Momentary Lapse of Reason

Pink Floyd - A momentary lapse of reason front“A Momentary Lapse of Reason” is often misunderstood and extremely underrated record, despite magnificent songs such as “Learning to Fly”, “Sorrow” and “On The Turning Away”. I often clash with lack of objectivity when it comes to this album but then again, everyone has their own opinion and views. For me, the magic started when David Gilmour took over and released “A Momentary Lapse of Reason” and “The Division Bell” which instantly became my favorite PF albums. I love the classics and Roger Water is indeed a genius but this album right here is the PF release I connected with on a very personal level.


Tommy Shaw – Ambition

tommy shaw ambitionI wish more people would know of this album, because Tommy Shaw truly deserves it. His third solo release, “Ambition” is like a gentle autumn leaf touching your skin. Honestly, it was this beautiful piece of music right here that fully opened my eyes to his musical abilities. Not that I wasn’t appreciating him in Styx but I was always drawn to his melodic rock releases and especially this one. “No Such Thing”, “Dangerous Game” and of course – that magical cover of Survivor’s “Ever Since the World Begin” are offering a memorable experience that can make you a fan of Tommy in an instant.


Fleetwood Mac – Tango in the Night

fleetwood macFleetwood Mac forever blurred the lines between pop and rock in the ’70s with relevant releases like “Rumors”. Their style didn’t change that much in the ’80s as well. “Tango in the Night” is probably my favorite release by the legendary band and “Big Love”, “Seven Wonders” and “Little Lies” might make you agree with me. “Tango in the Night” is their 14th studio album (wow, you read right, don’t worry) and the last studio album from the band’s most successful line-up of Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood. This release certainly is more pop than rock but …it’s the late ’80s we are talking about after all! 


Whitesnake – 1987

Whitesnake WhitesnakeDo I actually have to introduce or talk about this album? I don’t think so, but here we go…

Whitesnake’s most essential and internationally recognized record till today remains their seventh self-titled studio album. Released back in 1987, “Whitesnake” turned into a major successful hit, producing timeless rock tunes like “Is This Love”, “Looking for Love” and “Still of the Night”. What made this album such an impressive masterpiece is the unique combination of classic solid rock and melodic rhythms. This all became true due to the great songwriting collaboration between singer David Coverdale and guitarist John Sykes. Melody, energy, passion and outstanding production are just some of the characteristics of the album that contributed to its phenomenal success.


Def Leppard – Hysteria

hysteria coverI saved the best (and my all time favorite album) for last. No need for me to tell you why this album is here and what it means to me because you probably know all about it. The monstrous game-changing and history-defining record turned into one of the highlights of the era, not only because of its production values, 7 hit singles and multi-platinum status, but also because it symbolized the strength of the human spirit and how with a little bit of faith and tons and tons of hard work, you can achieve anything. “Love Bites” is certainly my favorite song from “Hysteria”, though every second of it is like a heaven on Earth.


References:
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Overview of REO SPEEDWAGON’s Smashing Hit Album,”Wheels Are Turnin'” (1984)

REO Speedwagon

A story…

A few weeks ago I went to this huge bookstore where they sell CDs and Vinyl records; I was looking for a REO Speedwagon CD and I asked one of the staff about it. (Not) Surprisingly, the person I asked had no idea who they were and while searching for the CD, they asked me about the band. I thought about it for a second – like, how do I introduce this American old-school rock band to a young European who doesn’t know anything about them. I just said that they are a melodic rock band and moved on (they didn’t have the CD I wanted either ways).

This made me think about it. Similar bands like Foreigner, Journey, Boston, etc. were quite popular in my country (and still are) but somehow REO Speedwagon didn’t really become a thing over here. Anyhow, I just really felt like dedicating a little something to one of my most beloved melodic rock bands and the first album of theirs I heard back in the day. My American readers would of course be well-aware of the band and their career but for the others, I hope you discover something life-changing!

REO Speedwagon formed in the late ‘60s even though many people might think that they are just one of the many ‘80s melodic rock bands. Yes, the early-to-mid ‘80s were indeed the heydays of their career, but they go way back! It would be somewhat difficult to go through every stage of the band and the numerous line-up changes that occurred throughout the years. Ultimately, what you need to know about them is that their early years were quite shaky (but very charming) and REO Speedwagon often reo speedwagon hi infhad a different frontman for every new release. The bell of success rang in the late ‘70s with their “You Can Tune A Piano, But You Can’t Tuna Fish” album. Their melodic rock/pop turn was fully made by the early ‘80s with staple rock albums like “Hi Infidelity” and “Good Trouble”. Both these albums, especially “Hi Infidelity” (1980) set the tone for the early ‘80s music scene and brought tons of recognition to the band. It was that same album that arguably defined the career of the band and remained their most beloved and critically acclaimed release.

“Wheels Are Turnin'”

reo speedwagonStill, if someone who has never heard of REO Speedwagon asks me to recommend him/her an album to start with, I’d pick “Wheels are Turnin’” in a heartbeat. Not only it’s one of their best-selling albums but it also contains some of the catchiest, most uplifting classic rock tunes that came out in the ‘80s. As a matter of fact, it was the first REO Speedwagon album I grabbed and where it all started from me.

The album did make quite the splash on the charts and spawned evergreen rock classics, including that “ballad” everyone knows the words to, “Can’t Fight This Feeling”. Many fans refer to “Wheels are Turnin’” as a “guilty pleasure” – back in the day, releasing a synthesizer-oriented album that early in the decade was still frowned upon; still, I’m certain that everyone was criticizing it but secretly listening to it ( you just cannot NOT fall for those magical melodic rock hooks). Keyboardist Neal Doughty wasn’t just your regular keyboardist; he was a true visionary and his elegant keyboard style was one of the main reasons why REO Speedwagon caught the attention of fans all over the world.

“Wheels are Turnin’” is so much more than the smashing hit single “Can’t Fight This Feeling”. I won’t argue though, this song is one of the main reasons why I was sold back in the day. The moment you hear “I can’t fight this feeling any longer…and yet I’m still afraid to let it flow,” you just start singing and you feel your heart filling up with joy and happiness. Every song on that album has a similar effect on me. The opening track, “I Do’ Wanna Know” is a personal favorite maybe because it has that early-REO Speedwagon vibe, mixed with modern elements. It’s actually the best of both worlds – raw and melodic. It’s most certainly a song that should’ve gotten more attention and recognition. “One Lonely Night” is another worthy track; Kevin Cronin was just born to sing for this genre. “Rock ‘N Roll Star” is an often forgotten rock anthem despite being a fantastic piece of a puzzle. The rest is just as appealing; from start to finish, “Wheels are Turnin’”, is a beautiful melodic bliss. If you are in a mood and need a little cheer, don’t go to the store for a huge box of ice-cream; instead, play REO Speedwagon’s “Live Every Moment” which has to be one of the liveliest and most positive songs I’ve ever heard. The album wraps things up with the title track which to me sounds as if it was made in the mid ‘70s, (that’s a great thing, of course). I’m unconditionally inlove with the piano touches and the riffs on this one.

REO Speedwagon flourished on their 11th studio album, “Wheels are Turnin’”. The guys just wanted to craft a satisfying piece of rock music and they did it. The album is breezy and atmospheric, overflowing with fantastic instrumentation, gratifying riffs and superb vocals. This album is as warm as an afternoon coffee with extra marshmallows.

Now, it’s time to listen to it….


“One Lonely Night”

“Can’t Fight This Feeling”

“I Do Wanna Know”


References:
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Cheers~