This is going to be obviously VERY subjective, however I felt like it’s high time I did this. I’ve always been drawn to the “underdogs” when it comes to music, artists, albums and even songs. Somehow, in an album, I always seem to enjoy the less popular tracks, rather than go for the released singles and ultimate hits. Same goes with albums. When it comes to rock music from the 70s and 80s, there are these extraordinary blockbuster albums that we can’t but love – for instance AC/DC’s “Back in Black”, Led Zeppelin’s fourth album, Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon”, Def Leppard’s “Hysteria”, Van Halen’s 1984, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I adore those albums with all my heart and soul but when it comes to the individual bands, I always seem to go for the less popular ones, as I said. I love seeing the beauty in the less appreciated work of musicians and believe me there are SO many underrated and underappreciated albums when it comes to classic rock music. From not so well-received comebacks to the so-called “transitional” albums (albums on which bands haven’t fully developed their distinctive sound), there’s a list of albums which I think should’ve gotten more attention and love from the public, as well as from the critics. Let me know what do you think and which other album would you put there?
Survivor – Too Hot to Sleep
Before “Too Hot to Sleep”, Survivor had major success with “Vital Signs” and “When Seconds Count” with Jimi Jamison as vocalist. And of course, before him coming to the band and before Survivor became the ultimate staple of AOR in the 80s, Dave Bickler was the voice of the smashing hit album”Eye of the Tiger” which made Survivor quite famous! But then, in 1988, after they released “Too Hot to Sleep” things changed drastically. The album was an absolute disappointment in terms of sales and chart positions and I really don’t understand why. On top of it all, after the album, the tension between Frankie and Jim – founding members of Survivor became too big to bear.
“Too Hot to Sleep” offers an excellent collection of rockers! Songs such as “Desperate Dreams”, “She’s a Star”, “Burning Bridges”, “Across the Miles”, “Here Comes Desire” ARE SO BEAUTIFUL! I wish people would appreciate the record as much as I do…
Judas Priest – Turbo
If we exclude the title track – “Turbo”, this album always remains in the shadows when we talk about Judas Priest. People were not happy when they went on and filled up their tunes with synthesizers, synthesizer guitars and electric drums. Judas were even called “sellouts” after the release of “Turbo” in 1986. I have always been defending this record because it’s so much more than just the regular “going mainstream” album. Judas Priest did a very decent job here – the songs sound good, well-polished, rhythmic and enjoyable. “Out in the Cold”, “Private Property” – all awesome rockers! “Turbo” sold relatively well, but people still didn’t receive it that well and a huge chunk of their fans were disappointed. I don’t get it but hey – we all have our differences.
Toto – Fahrenheit
The first album of Toto to feature Joseph Williams on lead vocals and somewhat always forgotten, “Fahrenheit” remains one of my favourite 80s albums of all time. It didn’t sell that well initially – it took the album almost 10 years to get to the “gold” stage. Really makes you wonder why, doesn’t it? With awesome tracks such as “Till the End”, “Can’t Stand it Any Longer” and “Without Your Love”, this album should’ve seen higher skies but it didn’t. It’s difficult to swallow up a new vocalist – I get and realize it, however if you give it a chance, you will see what I’m saying…
Van Halen – Fair Warning
“Fair Warning” remains Van Halen’s slowest-selling album from the David Lee Roth era. Commercial disappointment aside – people seem to be happy with it and enjoy the album, however it’s still somehow forgotten when we think about Van Halen. Released in 1981, Rolling Stone Magazine says that the record has “the most significant musical development is the synthesizer introduced at the end of Fair Warning, which would be exploited to greater effect on later albums.” But still, when I talk about Van Halen with other people, we never really mention Fair Warning, which is such a shame because “So This is Love?” and “Unchained” are awesome singles. The album is raw, nasty and I should listen to it more often…
Eric Clapton – August
“August” might be Eric Clapton’s best-selling LPs up to date, however, critics don’t really like it and I just cannot understand why… The album definitely failed to generate a hit single or a track as memorable or essential as “Layla” or “Cocaine”, HOWEVER, to me tunes such as “Miss You”, “It’s In The Way That You Use It”, “Run” and of course the brilliant duet with Tina Turner, “Tearing Us Apart”, will forever remain in my heart.
Whitesnake – Restless Heart
Very unpopular opinion right here, however that’s just me. This record was supposed to be a David Coverdale solo album but it ended up being released under the “David Coverdale & Whitesnake” moniker. Facts aside, it’s an awesome album and I truly enjoy it. Critics say that David failed (just like many 80s glam/pop/hard rock bands) to do the “modern-day makeover” and showcased boring and monotonous tunes with no development whatsoever. I completely disagree and will always defend the beauty of this record. Doesn’t matter if it was the end of the 90s and people were still under that grunge influence – the album was and still is precious! “Don’t Fade Away” is actually my favorite David Coverdale/Whitesnake track and will always be. I also adore “You’re So Fine” and the bluesy “Stay With Me”.
Pink Floyd – Obscured by Clouds
“Obscured by Clouds” has to be the most overlooked album from the classic days of Pink Floyd. A year after its release “The Dark Side of The Moon” kicked in and people just forgot about it, I guess. The album was transitional, signalling the future directions and ambitions of the band. Many fans don’t really consider it as a genuine Pink Floyd album because it actually is a compilation of songs for the French movie La Vallée (The Valley) by Barbet Schroeder. Soundtrack or not, the music on this album is brilliant (or at least to me). No actual standout songs from the album, but the flow is good and “Obscured by Clouds” is one of their strongest instrumentals so far!
Genesis – Duke
I’m putting Genesis’ “Duke” on the list because it was heavily and UNJUSTLY criticized for being too “commercial” and “radio-friendly”. It was the second album of Genesis as a trio and even though it was their first album to reach the number 1 position, many people were disappointed with their “descent”. Personally, I think it’s very melodic, enjoyable and the lyrics (the thing that always gets me) are brilliant. Another “transitional” album that’s worthy of your time!
Aerosmith – Done With Mirrors
This album is such a cool mess! Understandably underrated, if I may say, mostly due to some holes in the production. However, still I believe it has some quite pleasant rockers. Fans have contradicting points of view when it comes to this record – some say it’s too “lame”, others love it – It’s up to you, at the end of the day but still, if you like raw, unpolished sound, this is the album for you. The album couldn’t bring them back to the spotlight, as it took a couple of more years till they released “Permanent Vacation” but remained as an example how a bad production and guidance can cost you a lot.
Asia – Alpha
The self-titled debut album of ASIA was phenomenal – no second opinion about it. So, naturally, people had very high expectations about the follow-up album, “Alpha”. It did sell well, however according to fans and critics, it couldn’t match the influence and force of the previous album. Very familiar story that happened with many bands and artists, actually. Nevertheless, I must say “Alpha” has a lot to offer too. “Don’t Cry” is a beautiful rocker that got them a top10 spot. “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes” is a touching ballad, marking another high point of the album. Check it out!
And many many more….
P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.