Top Twenty Hard Rock & Heavy Metal Albums of 1987

Welcome to another MONSTER list!  This time around, I present to you my favorite hard rock and heavy metal albums of 1987…

20.  Heathen – Breaking The Silence

HEATHEN_Breaking_bookletThere were three noteworthy Bay Area thrash debuts in 1987 — Testament’s The Legacy, Death Angel’s The Ultra-Violence, and Heathen’s Breaking The Silence.  Of the three, Heathen’s debut is probably the least “famous”.  Unfortunate indeed, as Breaking The Silence may well be the best album of the lot.

Breaking The Silence features thrash with a great degree of finesse.  The playing is crisp, the production is decent, and best of all, the hooks are memorable.  My favorite track is probably Goblin’s Blade, which features great lyrics, an awesome lead riff, and a catchy chorus.  The seven minute long Open The Grave is another winner, as is the cover of The Sweet’s Set Me Free (released as a single).  What I really enjoy about this album is that the chaos is under control, the riffs are smart and palatable, the solos are well-composed, and the vocals are very good (for thrash).  Easily one of my top ten thrash favorites of 1987.  My score: B+

19.  Overkill – Taking Over

Wreckage of neckage.  Overkill!  A band that could always be counted on to shove quality metal up your anus sideways.  Taking Over ain’t no different.  I consider two cuts on Taking Over to be excellent, Deny The Cross and Wrecking Crew.  Both hit like a freight train as they impact your pathetic skull.  Overkill always had a way of injecting their music with plenty of snot-nosed, punkish ‘tude.  You can thank vocalist Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth for that.

How about that In Union We Stand, huh?  Such an odd little bird in the Overkill catalog, what with its Manowar-ish lyrics and (some say) cheesy anthemic refrain.  Though not typical Overkill fodder, I kind of like the band’s clueless attempt at accessibility, because it only shows the band just couldn’t NOT be heavy.  It’s kind of funny really.  Maybe that’s why Overkill never sold out, they just didn’t know how to write wimpy tunes.  My score: B+

18.  Accu§er – The Conviction

The German thrash band Accu§er released The Conviction on Atom H Records in 1987 (catalog number 003).  Atom H Records was also the home of the thrash band Protector.

If someone were to take a look at the cheapish cover art (although I like it), and the rather unknown record label (Atom H), they may not expect much from The Conviction.  However, what lies beneath is pretty well-produced, very well-played thrash.  There are seven tracks.  All very solid.  I think what makes the album a success is the ridiculous amount of great riffs.  It seems like every song has a half-dozen or so smart and interesting riffs.  I like the guitar tone; it is dry and not over saturated.  This way, all the palm-muted notes are discernible.  The overall feel of the album is sinister and menacing without resorting to cartoonish posturing.  The vocalist has an evil atonal snarl that is tolerable and not overdone.  All the words are decipherable and his nasty delivery fits the mood of the music.

Now how about that cover, huh?  That old dude reminds me of that guy in all the Phantasm movies.  I guess that’s why I like it.  Also, I’m digging that “§” thingy in their name.  Personal faves are the ten minute track Accuser and the opening number Evil Liar.  My score: B+

17.  Manowar – Fighting The World

Manowar’s fifth album Fighting The World was their first on a major label (Atlantic Records).  Of course, some cried “sellout” at the very notion.  How could the band whose mission it was to bring death to false metal be associated with a corporate label?  I say ‘take it easy’.  Manowar have always been a walking contradiction.  Trying to figure out Manowar can only lead to a head explosion.  So why even try?  Let’s not get caught up in this idea that Fighting The World is too “commercial”.  Fact is, I didn’t really love the raw, clanky production of their poverty albums.  Fighting The World is well-produced with a glossy sheen, bombastic drums, and an even mix.  In my opinion, it allows Manowar to sound truly epic.  Finally they could give their over-the-top delusions of grandeur the proper treatment.

This particular car-battery-sized block of cheese contains the infamous mallet-headed Blow Your Speakers.  This overly simple tune berates MTV for not playing metal while, paradoxically, being an overt attempt to get some MTV exposure (there was a video).  Like I said, Manowar are a walking contradiction.  Anyhoo, Fighting The World contains two particularly awesome Manowar cuts.  First, there is Defender, a holdover from their Battle Hymns era.  Second is Black Wind, Fire And Steel, which is a full-throttle attack.  These two highlights are stark reminders as to why Manowar are a force to be reckoned with when they get it right.  Overall Fighting The World is a damn good Manowar release, but Manowar didn’t fully realize their grand vision in full until the follow-up album, Kings Of Metal.  My score: B+

  16.  Ace Frehley – Frehley’s Comet

Ace FrehleyI grew up with an older brother who worshiped KISS, so this Ace Frehley album got tons of airplay in our household back in 1987.  My brother had the tape and I remember hearing Rock Soldiers, Into The Night, and We Got Your Rock blaring from his room many times.  Years later, my brother upgraded to CD and gave me his old cassette.

What I never realized back in the day is that there are three songs on this tape that aren’t sung by Ace, but rather by guitarist/keyboardist Tod Howarth.  I guess I never heard these songs blaring from brother’s room because, being the KISS purist he was, he didn’t care for any songs that didn’t have Ace on vocals.  I discovered a few gems in Breakout, Something Moved, and Calling To You.  Howarth brought Calling To You from his old band, 707.  It’s a re-write of a tune called Mega ForceCalling To You is my favorite cut on the album, it’s a super catchy anthem that rocks in full ’80s glory.  The post-KISS Ace came back strong with this album, and he wisely enlisted the help of talented musicians and writers to get it done.  My score: A-

15.  Grim Reaper – Rock You To Hell

Grim Reaper’s third and final album here.  The cover is another grisly illustration by the late, great metal aficionado Gary Sharpe-Young (look him up).  As for the album, Rock You To Hell was produced by one of the best in the biz, Max Norman.  Max was able to wash off the layer of grime that weighed down Grim Reaper’s two previous albums (in terms of audio quality) — giving Grim Reaper the top-notch production they richly deserved.

Okay, can we talk for a minute about Steve Grimmett?  I mean, this guy is so underrated that it hurts!  It literally causes me pain.  Sure, Grimmett was a strange-looking dude.  He was a bit on the heavy side, with one of the most BOSS mullets of all time.  (It HAD to be a wig or extensions.)  And Steve had a space between his front teeth you could drive a truck through.  But DAMN, he could sing like a mother f*cker.  He may very well have had the most powerful set of pipes in all metal, period.

A toast.  To Steve.  Shine on, you crazy diamond!

Anyhoo… Rock You To Hell is a really great, really FUN album.  Every song is brimming with unbridled energy.  I must confess I have been guilty of overlooking Grim Reaper in the past… but no longer.  Recently I stumbled across this old video of Grim Reaper absolutely SLAYING a live performance in Minneapolis (1987).  It originally aired on Halloween night on MTV, I do believe.  I was forever converted to a Grim Reaper fan when I saw the video.  DAMN, they sounded great live!  Check out guitarist Nick Bowcott’s tasty guitar work!  And believe you me, Grimmett delivered the goods in person.  He wasn’t one of these guys who sounded great in the studio, but sucked live.  Nope.  Check out his scream at the end of See You In Hell at the 31:00 minute mark.  It nearly kills him.  That’s metal folks… that’s metal.  My score: A-

14.  Aerosmith – Permanent Vacation

AerosmithAerosmith’s 1985 album Done With Mirrors was supposed to be their big comeback record, but the album wasn’t a huge success.  It was 1987’s Permanent Vacation that gave Aerosmith the comeback they were hoping for.  In the midst of the hair band movement, Aersomith proved they could compete as peers with younger bands they had influenced (Cinderella and Guns N’ Roses come to mind).  They got a little help from a big name producer in Bruce Fairbairn, and a couple of outside songwriters in Desmond Child and Jim Vallance.  The three big hits were Angel, Rag Doll, and Dude (Looks Like A Lady).  Strong deep tracks include Heart’s Done Time and Magic Touch.  Steven Tyler really sounds great on this album!  If I have one complaint about Permanent Vacation it is that the album limps to the finish line with the so-so title track, a boring Beatles cover, and a filler instrumental.  My score: A-

13.  Angus – Warrior Of The World

This Dutch metal band had a nice debut in 1986 with Track Of Doom.  That album featured a killer track called The Gates.  Angus returned for a second heavyweight bout with 1987’s Warrior Of The World (Megaton Records).  This album was even better than their first.  The gargantuan title track starts the album off with an explosion of thick guitars and pummeling drums.  It is an immense song, and IMO the best of Angus’ brief career.  The guitar sound on this album (and Angus’ debut, for that matter) was quite unique, sounding almost “futuristic” (if that makes any sense).  I’m not sure how they achieved this heavy tone, but I’m guessing there was digital processing of some kind?  As for the drums, they were definitely touched up by some sort of studio magic.  I actually wonder if a drum machine was used.  Nevertheless, the drums sound extremely heavy on this LP.  For vocals, we had Edgar Lois.  The man sounded like a seven-foot tall, muscle-bound barbarian.  (In fact, he was not.)  With speed and metal might, Angus blazed through a killer set of tunes on Warrior Of The World.  Angus savagely rips your nips with songs like Moving Fast, Black Despair, and Money Satisfies.  Only one song falls a little flat (Freedom Fighter).  There’s even a well done ballad called I’m A Fool With Love.

In 2001, Sentinel Steel re-released Warrior Of The World (fully re-mixed and remastered) along with Angus’ 1986 album Track Of Doom as a 2-on-1 CD.  Unfortunately, I’m A Fool With Love was omitted.  My score: A-

12.  Breaker – Get Tough! 

This bit of coolness comes to us from Cleveland, Ohio.  The cover art was fairly atypical for an eighties heavy metal release.  One could mistake Get Tough! for a punk, hardcore, or nineties alternative album based on the cover.  But nay, this is a straight shot of eighties metal right to your nut sack.

Released by Ohio’s premiere cult metal label, Auburn Records, Breaker sounded like a band primed for major label attention.  There’s little doubt that Breaker had the skill to excel further than they did, but I guess Lady Luck wasn’t on their side.  I’m particularly impressed by the smart lyrics on Get Tough!, which stay away from the usual metal conventions of the day, allowing the album to stand the test of time extremely well.  Breaker were a long way from Hollyweird, and in this case that’s a good thing.  Breaker’s lyrics were grounded in real life — feet to the street and nose to the grindstone.  True grit straight outta Cleveland.  Throw Jim Hamar’s excellent vocals into the mix, and you’ve got yourself a real winner.  Again, this album has aged remarkably well.

Prime cuts include Ten Seconds In, Get Tough, and my personal fave Black And White.  (Check out Black And White here.)  I have Get Tough! on cassette, which adds a heavy bonus cut called Touch Like Thunder.  My score: A-  

11.  Ozzy Osbourne – Randy Rhoads Tribute

OzzyIt’s hard to argue with this live album because the material is drawn from two albums of pure gold.  Tribute includes live versions of all the songs from the Blizzard Of Ozz album, and another two from Diary Of A Madman.  (I wish there were more cuts from Diary Of A Madman, my favorite metal album of the eighties.)  Throw in some ol’ Sabbath tunes — Paranoid (yawn), Iron Man (double yawn) and Children Of The Grave (yay!), and you’ve got yourself a robust package.  All the live cuts are from the early eighties, and feature Randy Rhoads on guitar.  Rhoads, of course, was the legendary Ozzy guitarist who died during the Diary Of A Madman tour.  Rhoads fans will no doubt enjoy Randy’s live performance here.  He dresses up his playing with more bells and whistles than the studio originals.  This includes an extended solo taken during Suicide Solution.  The album closes with studio outtakes of Rhoads’ classical instrumental piece Dee (from Blizzard Of Ozz).  For his part, Ozzy sounded pretty great live.  He didn’t stray much at all from the studio versions — which is just fine by me.  Tribute was originally issued as a double LP on vinyl.  The cassette and CD versions were single units.  Tribute is as solid as they come as far as live albums go, though I admit I personally prefer studio albums to live albums as a general rule.  My score: A-

10.  White Lion – Pride

White LionWhere have you gone, Vito Bratta?  You were a hairy, Staten Island son-of-a-bitch who loved to wear big, dark sunglasses that said to the world “I love cocaine!”.  Your ugly mug looked even more so when pictured next to your Adonis lead singer, Mike Tramp.  But, GOD DAMN, you could play guitar!  You were a prodigious talent that practiced incessantly, and I consider many of your guitar solos to be the greatest of all time!  Listening to your work made me completely give up playing guitar, because I realized I will always suck after hearing your records.  That’s okay though, it gave me more time to focus on playing softball with overweight has-beens and creating this website for seven people to read.  You disappeared from the music scene after the hair era died an undeserving death.  Since then you have steadfastly refused to reunite with White Lion for some sad money grab.  I salute you for this, as the state of music today has no place for a true talent such as yours, and that is the disheartening truth.  Luckily you came along at a time when there was an audience for guitar heroes, even if you guys all looked utterly ridiculous.  Like Eddie Van Halen (who was no doubt one of your idols?), you prettied up your rhythm playing with tons of tasty tricks and fills, never playing it straight.  Your rhythm tracks were like songs within the songs, and your solos were the perfect blend of shred, flash, and taste; serving the song but still making every aspiring guitarist out there either retreat to the wood shed or throw down their axe and say “no mas”.  Your second White Lion LP, Pride, was welcomed with double platinum sales.  A just reward for your work on such greats as Wait, Sweet Little Loving, and All Join Our Hands.  Oh, and When The Children Cry?  That song would probably bring a tear to my eye if I wasn’t devoid of all human feeling.  Mike “Adonis” Tramp (is it okay if I call you that?), you helped the cause with your lady-killing good looks, even if you couldn’t sing all that well and wrote lyrics with all the wit and wisdom of a thirteen year old girl.  Together you guys made sincere, unapologetic “lite-metal” that soaked the panties of stone-washed-jeans-wearing teenage girls, and made zit-faced teenage boys want to pick up a Strat and shred.  So… Vito… I hope you are enjoying the quiet life in Staten Island.  There may not be apt appreciation for players like you in the present day music world, but such things are cyclical and someday people will re-discover your work and give your name it’s just do.  I hope you are still around when that day comes.  In the meantime, just know you still have fans from back in the day.  My score: A

9.  Vicious Rumors – Digital Dictator

Awesome album!  Vicious Rumors took on two replacement members after their 1985 debut Soldiers Of The Night; vocalist Carl (Ace) Albert and Mark (Tits) McGee.  (Okay, I made up the “Tits” nickname, but it is my belief that anyone with a last name of McGee must be called “Tits”.  That’s just a rule.)  From top to bottom this is a high quality American metal release.  The cover art is cool, the guitars blaze, and the vocals destroy.  Like most Shrapnel Records releases of the day, shredding was mandatory, and the tandem of Tits McGee and Geoff Thorpe delivered on the promise of the SHRED.  But, in the end, it was the songs that delivered the most, making Digital Dictator a fun, catchy, and power-packed album.  Nary a moment goes to waste on Digital Dictator.  Whenever Tits or Geoff Thorpe tore off a lead break, they did so without lingering too long.  In and out.  Albert soared as the new vocalist.  Drummer Larry Howe let the songs breath with a very understated performance (for a “power metal” drummer).  Highlights are many, but my favorites are Digital Dictator, Worlds And Machines, The Crest, and Lady Took A Chance (even though the part that starts at 3:47 reminds me of Safety Dance by Men Without Hats).  My score: A

8.  Def Leppard – Hysteria

Def LeppardHysteria was a blockbuster album!  Seven of the twelve songs on Hysteria were released as video singles — including every song on side one!  There was no escaping Def Leppard in 1987 and 1988.  Yet, this was as much of a Mutt Lange (producer and co-writer) album as it was a Def Leppard album.  Lange’s production went far beyond the slick commercial sounds favored by hair metal bands of the day.  Layer upon layer of vocal tracks were poured gluttonously over a cavernous electronic drum sound.  This was not the AC/DC-style Def Leppard that we once heard on the crunchy High ‘N’ Dry album.  These were cyborgs at work!  Automatons if you will.  In many ways, Hysteria does not sound like the work of a band.  Rather, Hysteria seems more like a project.  Though Lange’s masturbatory production sounded cold and inhuman, Hysteria just seemed to defy logic — winning over many a rock purist, as well as every kid aged 10-20 in those crazy late eighties years.  Pour Some Sugar On Me became an instant classic upon its release as a single.  Today it stands as the greatest strip club anthem of my lifetime.  Other personal faves include Animal and Hysteria.  There’s a few weaker moments on side two of Hysteria, so it’s not all hits, but DAMN side one is so sticky ‘n sweet that I’ve got diabetes just thinking about it!  My score: A

7.  Great White – Once Bitten

Great WhiteOnce Bitten is probably Great White’s finest hour.  Although 1989’s …Twice Shy wound up being Great White’s most successful album, Once Bitten is a slightly better record.  This album contains a nice mix of rough ‘n tough rockers and slow-burning blues.  While lead guitarist Mark Kendall is rarely considered one of the major guitar heroes of the era, he sure knew how to unfurl a blues lick with impeccable tone and smooth delivery.  His style was not as flashy as West Coast gunslingers like DeMartini and Lynch, but he deserves a little respect for his work on Once Bitten.  The best songs are Lady Red Light, Rock Me, All Over Now, Never Change Heart, and Save Your Love.  My favorite lyric is the one that opens up All Over Now“Woke up a little too rough.  Lookin’ like a quarter when a dollar ain’t enough”.  I think we all know that feeling!  My score: A

6.  Whitesnake – Whitesnake

WhitesnakeHere it is.  The big kahuna.  Whitesnake’s 1987 self-titled album is certified 8x platinum in the United States!  It is by far Whitesnake’s biggest seller.  Five of the album’s nine songs have been hard-wired into the brain of anyone who owned a radio in 1987 -1988.  Crying In The Rain, Still Of The Night, Here I Go Again, Give Me All Your Love, and Is This Love were all “hits”.

David Coverdale’s Whitesnake was kind of like a corporation of sorts.  The boss was David, and he fired and hired members of his supporting cast pretty liberally.  He was also unashamed at jumping on the commercial metal bandwagon with this album (and to some extent, its predecessor Slide It In).  There was a time when Whitesnake was a boozy and bluesy band complete with slide guitars and the jingle jangle of the piano.  Those days were no more.  Coverdale co-wrote Whitesnake with guitar hot-shot John Sykes and the final product is a prime example of commercial, corporate metal at its very best.  Old school Whitesnake fans may have been disgusted with Coverdale’s sell-out, but the bottom line is that it worked.  I find enjoyment in all of the ’80s Whitesnake albums, even though they changed their style mid way through the decade.  Yes, Whitesnake lacks the warmth and the cool swagger of old albums like Ready An’ Willing, but the songs just plain rock.

Crying In The Rain and Here I Go Again were previously recorded on Whitesnake’s 1982 album Saints & Sinners.  This time around they are beefed up into larger than life specimens.  Here I Go Again is a masterpiece, it really is.  The lyrics speak to everyone who has ever needed a little impetus to pick up the pieces and get on with life.  I’m sure every one of us has walked along the lonely street of dreams one time or another.  For example, I walked along the lonely street of dreams like six times today.  My score: A

5.  U.D.O. – Animal House

In 1987, Udo Dirkschneider left Accept.  His new band, called U.D.O., released their first album Animal House in ’87.  Interestingly, all the songs on Animal House were written by Accept and Deaffy.  (Deaffy was a pseudonym for Gaby Hauke, Accept’s manager and lyricist.)  According to metal journalist Martin Popoff, these songs were originally intended for Accept’s follow-up to 1986’s Russian Roulette.  But at the behest of their record label, Accept ditched both the songs and Udo.  So in a way, Animal House is kind of the lost Accept album.  And I actually think it’s a great record — better than Accept’s two previous (Russian Roulette and Metal Heart).

A strange-looking dude, that Udo.  He had the body of a garden gnome, the hairdo of a six-year-old, and the face of a gargoyle.  But Udo’s metal-ness was never in question.  On Animal House, the hoarse ol’ warhorse and his new band of mercenaries plowed through this blistering n’ burning set of Accept cast-offs.  What coulda-shoulda been one of Accepts best records instead flew the U.D.O. flag.  So check it out!  You better believe this one will torch your testes!  My score: A

4.  Savatage – Hall Of The Mountain King 

Savatage released six records in the 80’s.  If you can only have one, make it Hall Of The Mountain King.  The album features some of Savatage’s best songs including 24 Hrs. Ago, Strange Wings, Hall Of The Mountain King, and my personal fave… Legions!  The brothers Oliva were at the top of their game for Hall Of The Mountain King.  Jon’s mouth of madness unleashed a vocal performance straight from hell, while Criss’ heavy riffing cut through the air like napalm.  Criss was always a master riffsmith, and had one of the best guitar tones in metal.  He used a lot of drop tuning to get a dark, bottom heavy sound out of his axe.  Add to that the perfect blend of overdrive and delay, and you’ve got yourself a legendary crunch.

Hall Of The Mountain King marked the first time Savatage worked with producer and collaborator Paul O’Neil.  Eventually, the partnership took Savatage’s sound into a new direction for the 90’s.  But never you mind, because back on Hall Of The Mountain King, the ‘Tage was still pouring hot metal into a bubbling cauldron of awesome.

Note: The late, great Ray Gillen contributed backing vocals on Strange Wings.  He was rewarded for his service by having his name misspelled in the liner notes.  My score: A

3.  Anthrax – Among The Living

For my money, Among The Living is the best Anthrax album of ’em all!  Coming off the successful Spreading The Disease LP of 1985, Anthrax cemented their status as heavyweights in the world of thrash with this 1987 thrash classic.  Anthrax were easy to like (IMO) because they were not afraid to show their sense of humor or reveal their inner-geek.  Lyrics on Among The Living take their themes from comics (I Am The Law), as well as Stephen King fiction (Among The Living and A Skeleton In The Closet).  Other interesting topics include the drug-fueled downward spiral of John Belushi’s last days, and the plight of the Native Americans (a matter also tackled by Iron Maiden, Europe, and others).  Anthrax’s lyrical subject matter wasn’t the only thing that made them stand out.  They also had one of the only legit “singers” in thrash at the time (Joey Belladonna), as well as one of the best drummers in the biz (Charlie Benante).  All of it was held together by guitarist and brain-trust, Scott Ian.  Favorites include Among The Living, Caught In A Mosh, and Indians.  My score: A+ 

2.  Helloween – Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part I

The arrival of autumn here in New England is probably my favorite time of year.  As the weather gets cooler and the leaves start to fall, there is always a little magic in the air.  That’s because Halloween is just around the corner.  Sure, I’m not a kid anymore, but Halloween, and the month or so that lead up to it, still holds a special place in my heart.  Whether its eating fistfuls of candy corn, seeing the jack-o-lanterns decorating the front porches, or watching Jamie Lee Curtis being chased around by Michael Myers, there’s plenty to remind me of what it was like to be a kid at Halloween time.  And just as the intoxicating smell inside a rubber Halloween mask puts a gleam in my eye, so too does my tradition of busting out Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part I each October.  One of Helloween’s crowning masterpieces lies waiting for me at the end of this incredible album, a thirteen minute epic called… you guessed it… Halloween.  For me, Halloween season isn’t complete without my annual visit to this song, and this amazing album.

German metal masters Helloween stamped their name into heavy metal lore with Keepers Of The Seven Keys Part I.  No self-respecting metal collection should be without this album.  In the metal sub-genre now called “power metal”, Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part I is an unqualified classic.  America never really embraced power metal, not in the late eighties when Helloween pretty much invented (or at lease defined) the genre, and not in the present day where power metal is living a second life in Europe thanks to bands such as Blind Guardian, Avantasia, and Hammerfall.  So Americans may not appreciate Helloween as heavy metal legends, but in Europe it is another story.

This rather short album consists of only six proper tracks plus an intro and outro.  The listener is treated to fast-paced riffing, dual guitar harmonies, plenty of solo trade-offs, double kick drumming, and incredible soaring vocals.  Youngster Michael Kiske made his Helloween debut on vocals for Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part I.  His voice was positively bullet-proof; able to reach the highest of highs and send these glory-bound compositions blasting into the stratosphere.  Just an incredible talent in every sense of the word!  To say Kiske brought Helloween to another level would be a massive understatement.

Helloween also defied heavy metal convention by writing lyrics that were uplifting, happy, and (especially on Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part II) humorous and/or silly.  It’s that kind of “Happy Helloween!” ethos that gave Helloween albums a unique charm.

Keepers Of The Seven Keys Part I begins with a stirring intro called Initiation before the blitzkrieg of metal ecstasy begins in earnest with the über-catchy I’m Alive.  The series of tracks that follow ooze with metal might and sing-along awesomeness.  The aforementioned Halloween serves as the album’s climax.  Check out the lyrics to the second verse:

“Someone’s sitting in a field, never giving yield, sitting there with gleaming eyes, waiting for big pumpkin to arise.  Bad luck if you get a stone, like the good old Charlie Brown, you think that Linus could be right, the kids will say its just a stupid lie!”

Seriously?  Did they actually mention Peanuts and the Great Pumpkin in a heavy metal song?  Yes, yes they did.  So now we’ve got a combination of three of my favorite things; heavy metal, Halloween, and Charlie Brown in the same place?  Talk about a trifecta of kick-ass!

Bottom line: one of my favorite albums of all time right here.  As easy an “A+” as there ever was.  My score: A+

1.  Guns N’ Roses – Appetite For Destruction

Appetite For DestructionAppetite For Destruction is the best hard rock album of the late eighties.  In many ways, this album is the antithesis of the aforementioned Hysteria LP.  Appetite For Destruction is stunning for many reasons, but one of the key reasons is because it is so authentic.  The five members of Guns had a magic chemistry borne from a shared affection for decadence and recklessness.  This was a dangerous band, and it’s a miracle they lasted as long as they did (which wasn’t that long, mind you).

As I listened to Appetite For Destruction in its entirety while preparing for this review, a few thoughts crossed my mind.  First, popular music has really spiraled into a world of shit since 1987, eh?  I can’t imagine anything this good being popular ever again.  Rock music is in a pretty sad state right now.  Listening to Appetite For Destruction in 2015 really makes this point glaringly evident.  Another thought I had (while looking at the album’s iconic cover art) is how amazing it is that all five of these guys are still alive.  Granted, a lot has changed.  In 1987, the Guns were so cool.  Now?  Not so much.  Steven Adler is a sorry sack and I feel sorry for him.  Slash will sell out for a ham sandwich.  And Axl is just bat shit crazy.  If one of these guys had died young (like Bon Scott, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, or Jim Morrison) they would have been canonized in the same manner.  But they didn’t die young.  They lived.  And we are witness to what happens when our heroes DON’T die young.  If Cobain had lived, he would have worn out his welcome, too.  I’m convinced that Cobain would be no more relevant today than, say, Billy Corgan or Alanis Morissette.  My score: A+

Go back to the Top Twenty Albums of 1986

Continue to the Top Twenty Albums of 1988


6 thoughts on “Top Twenty Hard Rock & Heavy Metal Albums of 1987

  1. Awesome list Jeff done with all the humour and affection the 80s deserves. Oh yeah glad there is at least 7 of us reading your blog, keep it up you may get to 10 someday!

  2. Really good enjoy reading your lists – Definitely agree with Appetite being at the top, I think i may go as far as it being the best album of the 80s!

  3. Hey just found you out here on the internet abyss. Have to comment on band members of GNR : of course any great rocker who dies in the moment of fame is canonized, I think what is more amazing is those that survive and continue to fight to put it out there… I think Slash is doing just fine, and selling out for a ham sandwich, well that’s how the living is made these days. His albums since GNR have done pretty good and I am digging World on Fire. I think he has a solid band. He has an awesome work ethic and is out there touring and putting on great shows, and he’s 50 not 25. He and Duff came out of that fantastic surreal 80’s scene and have proven that they are still great musicians. Slash still has the riffs…. I will always be a fan. T

    • Valid point and well said. That’s a very strong argument that I honestly can’t deny. I think you exposed me as a bit more cynical than I thought I was. With rock music dying in the mainstream, I agree that we should tip our caps to the guys standing their ground and keeping old-fashioned hard rock alive. Thanks for the comment.

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