1978’s Best Classic Rock Albums

1978's Best Classic Rock Albums

1978’s Best Classic Rock albums list defines a year in which The Rolling Stones and The Who released two spectacular albums that stood as some of their best work. In a year in which old school meets new school, debut albums by The Police and The Cars set the stage for a change in musical direction that would last into the mid 1980s. However, Van Halen’s debut album seemed to argue that pure rock and roll amped up to eleven and defined by the incredible talents of Eddie Van Halen would inspire musicians to practice,practice, practice.

The band Blondie released the album of their career while Elvis Costello’s follow up album entitled This Years Girl proved he was a talent to be reckoned with. Boston finally released their follow up album to their stunning debut in 1976 and Bruce Springsteen settled his legal troubles to allow him to release the highly anticipated follow up to Born To Run. A powerful new progressive rock band called U.K. released an incredible album showcasing the guitar genius of the late Alan Holdsworth that only lasted for one studio album.

The landscape of late 1970s rock and roll was far different than the earlier part of the decade. So many genres of musical styles continued to resonate and attract new fans. Mass communication and the spread of cable networks helped showcase many new artists. We were still a couple of years away from the birth of MTV, but there’s no denying that the success of albums like Frampton Comes Alive and Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours the previous two years had convinced record companies that mass marketing of artists could prove to be highly profitable.

1978’s Best Classic Rock albums list may prove to be the most diverse yet. There are some great ones here. Numbers 50 through 10 are in random order. The top 10 is based on the order in which we think were the best and most influential albums released in 1978. We have also included a supplemental list of so many other great 1978 rock albums.

1978’s Best Classic Rock Albums

# 50 – Lionheart – Kate Bush

Lionheart - Kate Bush

# 49 – Return to Magenta – Mink DeVille 

Return to Magenta – Mink DeVille 

# 48 – Brother to BrotherGino Vannelli

Brother to Brother - Gino Vannelli

# 47 – Backless – Eric Clapton

Backless - Eric Clapton

# 46 – PyramidThe Alan Parsons Project

Pyramid - The Alan Parsons Project

# 45 – City to CityGerry Rafferty

City to City - Gerry Rafferty

# 44 – Alive on Arrival – Steve Forbert

Alive on Arrival – Steve Forbert

# 43 – Shakedown Street Grateful Dead

Shakedown Street - Grateful Dead

# 42 – Stage – David Bowie

Stage - David Bowie

# 41 – Heaven TonightCheap Trick

Heaven Tonight - Cheap Trick

# 40 – Caravan to Midnight – Robin Trower

Caravan to Midnight – Robin Trower

# 39 – InfinityJourney

Infinity - Journey

# 38 – London TownPaul McCartney and Wings

London Town - Paul McCartney and Wings

# 37 – A Tonic for the TroopsThe Boomtown Rats

A Tonic for the Troops - The Boomtown Rats

# 36 – Long Live Rock ‘n’ RollRainbow

Long Live Rock 'n' Roll - Rainbow

# 35 – Heavy Horses – Jethro Tull

Heavy Horses - Jethro Tull

# 34 – Toto – Toto

Toto debut album

# 33 – Living in the U.S.A – Linda Ronstadt

Living in the U.S.A - Linda Ronstadt

# 32 – Comes a TimeNeil Young

# 31 – Don’t Look BackBoston

Don't Look Back - Boston

# 30 – Stone BlueFoghat

Stone Blue - Foghat

# 29 – MisfitsThe Kinks

Misfits - The Kinks

# 28 – Life Beyond L.A. – Ambrosia

Life Beyond L.A. – Ambrosia

# 27 – This Year’s ModelElvis Costello

This Year's Model - Elvis Costello

# 26 – Zappa in New YorkFrank Zappa

Zappa in New York - Frank Zappa

# 25 – Minute by MinuteThe Doobie Brothers

Minute by Minute - The Doobie Brothers

# 24 – From Rats to Riches – Good Rats

From Rats to Riches – Good Rats

# 23 – Jazz – Queen

Jazz - Queen

# 22 – Hermit of Mink HollowTodd Rundgren

Hermit of Mink Hollow - Todd Rundgren

# 21 – Hearts Of Stone  Southside Johnny & Asbury Jukes

Hearts Of Stone  Southside Johnny & Asbury Jukes

# 20 – 52nd Street – Billy Joel

52nd Street - Billy Joel

# 19 – Road To Ruin – The Ramones

Road To Ruin - The Ramones

# 18 – Blue ValentineTom Waits

Blue Valentine - Tom Waits

# 17 – Wavelength – Van Morrison

Wavelength - Van Morrison

# 16 – Stained ClassJudas Priest

Stained Class - Judas Priest

# 15 – PowerageAC/DC 

Powerage - AC/DC 

# 14 – You’re Gonna Get It!Tom Petty and Heartbreakers

You're Gonna Get It! - Tom Petty and Heartbreakers

# 13 – Stranger in TownBob Seger

Stranger in Town - Bob Seger

# 12 – Dire StraitsDire Straits

Dire Straits debut album

# 11 – Hemispheres – Rush

Hemispheres - Rush

# 10 – Outlandos d’AmourThe Police

Outlandos d'Amour - The Police

#  9 – U.K.U.K.

U.K. Debut Album

#  8 – But Seriously, Folks…Joe Walsh

But Seriously, Folks... - Joe Walsh

#  7 – The Cars – The Cars

The Cars debut album

#  6 – Double VisionForeigner

Double Vision - Foreigner

#  5 – Parallel LinesBlondie

Parallel Lines - Blondie

#  4 – Who Are You – The Who

Who Are You - The Who

#  3 – Darkness on the Edge of Town – Bruce Springsteen

Darkness on the Edge of Town - Bruce Springsteen

#  2 – Some GirlsThe Rolling Stones

Some Girls - The Rolling Stones

#  1 – Van Halen Van Halen

Van Halen - Van Halen

More Fantastic Classic Rock Albums Released in 1978

These are listed in chronological order in which they came out throughout the year

Best Rock Albums – January 1978

Excitable BoyWarren Zevon

White MusicXTC

Attention Shoppers! – STARZ

Double Live Gonzo!Ted Nugent

I’m ReadyMuddy Waters

Best Rock Albums – February 1978

EarthJefferson Starship

All This and Heaven Too – Andrew Gold

Bring It Back AliveThe Outlaws

Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush – Live – Mahogany Rush

Street Action Bachman–Turner Overdrive

Street Hassle – Lou Reed

What Do You Want from LiveThe Tubes

Best Rock Albums – March 1978

…And Then There Were Three…Genesis

EasterPatti Smith Group

Southern Winds – Maria Muldaur 

Another Music in a Different Kitchen – Buzzcocks

You Can Tune a Piano, but You Can’t Tuna FishREO Speedwagon

Generation XGeneration X

Champagne Jam Atlanta Rhythm Section

Jesus of CoolNick Lowe

A Song for All SeasonsRenaissance

Son of a Son of a SailorJimmy Buffett


Waiting for Columbus – Little Feat

What IfDixie Dregs

Best Rock Albums – April 1978

For YouPrince

The Last WaltzThe Band



Heat in the Street – Pat Travers

Adventure – Television

Boys in the Trees Carly Simon

Please Don’t TouchSteve Hackett

Best Rock Albums – May 1978

Black and WhiteThe Stranglers

The Man-MachineKraftwerk

David GilmourDavid Gilmour

Best Rock Albums – June 1978

Live and DangerousThin Lizzy

Octave – The Moody Blues

Street-LegalBob Dylan

NestedLaura Nyro

Best Rock Albums – July 1978

More Songs About Buildings and FoodTalking Heads

Americana – Leon Russell

Best Rock Albums – August 1978

Along the Red LedgeHall & Oates

Are We Not Men? We Are Devo! – Devo

All Night LongSammy Hagar

Twin Sons of Different MothersDan Fogelberg and Tim Weisberg

Luxury You Can Afford – Joe Cocker

White, Hot and BlueJohnny Winter

Best Rock Albums – September 1978

Bloody Tourists10cc

Pieces of EightStyx

Molly HatchetMolly Hatchet

Skynyrd’s First and… LastLynyrd Skynyrd

Studio TanFrank Zappa

The Kiss Solo Albums

Ace Frehley – Ace Frehley

Ace Frehley solo album

Gene SimmonsGene Simmons

Gene Simmons solo album

Paul StanleyPaul Stanley

Paul Stanley solo album

Peter Criss Peter Criss

Peter Criss Solo Album


Never Say Die!Black Sabbath

NicoletteNicolette Larson

Back on the StreetsGary Moore

Flamin’ Groovies Now Flamin’ Groovies

Some Enchanted EveningBlue Öyster Cult

Weekend WarriorsTed Nugent

Best Rock Albums – October 1978

Photo-FinishRory Gallagher

Hot StreetsChicago

M.I.U. AlbumThe Beach Boys


So Alone – Johnny Thunders

Dog & ButterflyHeart

Killing MachineJudas Priest

If You Want Blood You’ve Got ItAC/DC

A Single ManElton John

Thoroughfare GapStephen Stills

Inner SecretsSantana

Live! BootlegAerosmith

Pain KillerKrokus

Playin’ to WinOutlaws

Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller)Captain Beefheart

Trouble – Whitesnake

Two for the ShowKansas

Best Rock Albums – November 1978

Midnight OilMidnight Oil

All Mod ConsThe Jam

Give ‘Em Enough RopeThe Clash

The Scream Siouxsie and the Banshees

Blondes Have More FunRod Stewart

From the InsideAlice Cooper

Legend – Poco

Move It On OverGeorge Thorogood & The Destroyers

Best Rock Albums – December 1978

Quiet Riot IIQuiet Riot 

Return of the Wanderer – Dion DiMucci

Public Image: First Issue –  Public Image Ltd

American Dreams –  – Jesse Colin Young

Back to the BarsTodd Rundgren

Feature Photo Credits:

1978's Best Classic Rock Albums

Eddie Van Halen – Photo: Carl Lender [CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

Keith Richards – Photo: Gorup de Besanez [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

Blondie – Jean-Luc [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]

John Entwistle – Center of the Universe [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]

Sting – Helge Øverås [CC BY-SA (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)]

Ric Ocasek – Adanne Osefoh [CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

Joe Walsh – Jim Summaria [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

Updated May 5, 2023

1978’s Best Classic Rock Albums article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023

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