1979’s Best Rock Albums

1979's Best Classic Rock Albums

1979’s Best Classic Rock albums list wraps up our 1970’s yearly top albums articles series. The great classic rock and roll landscape changed dramatically over a ten year period. Political, economic, technological and cultural changes throughout the seventies played an important role in shaping the music of the decade. The chaos of the nineteen sixties bathed in protest, psychedelia, peace, love and drugs spilled into the early years of the decade but was quickly filtered out with the end of the Vietnam War and the resignation of an American President. Awareness that record companies and their stable of rock stars could make fortunes if marketed correctly began to change the rock and roll being written and recorded by those very artists. It would be hard to argue that the majority of artists did not have their eyes focused on the prize of the big hit single.

Not all genres of music n the 1970s were focused on hit singles. The progressive rock format grew out the psychedelic movement of the 1960s. It would be pretty tough to edit the eighteen minute track “Close to The Edge,” by Yes for hit single status. The popularity of Punk music was fueled by a need for rebellion similar to that of the 1960 protest music. The difference was it began in the U.K with the Sex Pistols in the late 1970s as opposed to the Dylan era of the 1960s. Many artists were inspired by punk which led to the genre of new wave that only lasted a few years.

The 1979 list is very reflective of the punk and new wave movements of the late 1970s. There are still basic rock albums being released that trumped in sales most of the punk records, but there was definitely a unique sound to the last year of the decade of the 1970s.

Like our previous best albums of the 1970s lists, this article is split into three sections. There is the top 50 in which we have listed albums in random order from 50 to 10. There is the top 10 in which we have listed what we believe were the most important and greatest records of the year. Finally, there is a supplemental section that list more of 1979’s best classic rock albums. It does not include all albums released in 1979, but rather just a list of some more favorites.

Here we go for one last round…………

1979’s Best Classic Rock Albums

# 50 – Flirtin’ with DisasterMolly Hatchet

Flirtin' with Disaster - Molly Hatchet

# 49 – Night in the RutsAerosmith

Night in the Ruts - Aerosmith

# 48 – DiscoveryElectric Light Orchestra

Discovery - Electric Light Orchestra

# 47 – Dynasty – Kiss

Dynasty - Kiss

# 46 – Prince – Prince

Prince debut album

# 45 – Wave – Patti Smith

Wave - Patti Smith

# 44 – One Step Beyond… Madness

One Step Beyond... Madness

# 43 – Fear of MusicTalking Heads

Fear of Music - Talking Heads

# 42 – The Undertones – The Undertones

The Undertones Debut album

# 41 – Remote ControlThe Tubes

Remote Control - The Tubes

# 40 – Into The Music – Van Morrison

Into The Music - Van Morrison

# 39 – Black Rose: A Rock Legend  – Thin Lizzy

Black Rose: A Rock Legend  - Thin Lizzy

# 38 – Street Machine – Sammy Hagar

Street Machine - Sammy Hagar

# 37 – Get the KnackThe Knack

Get the Knack - The Knack

# 36 – It’s Alive – The Ramones

It's Alive - The Ramones

# 35 – Head Games – Foreigner

Head Games - Foreigner

# 34 – Armed ForcesElvis Costello & The Attractions

Armed Forces - Elvis Costello & The Attractions

# 33 – OverkillMotorhead

Overkill - Motorhead

# 32 – CommuniquéDire Straits

Communiqué - Dire Straits

# 31 – Eat To The Beat – Blondie

Eat To The Beat - Blondie

# 30 – Danger MoneyU.K.

Danger Money - U.K.

# 29 – You’re Never Alone with a Schizophrenic – Ian Hunter

You're Never Alone with a Schizophrenic - Ian Hunter

# 28 – Low Budget – The Kinks

Low Budget - The Kinks

# 27 –Tusk – Fleetwood Mac

Tusk - Fleetwood Mac

# 26 – The Long Run – The Eagles

The Long Run - The Eagles

# 25 – Mingus – Joni Mitchell

Mingus - Joni Mitchell

# 24 – Enlightened RoguesThe Allman Brothers Band

Enlightened Rogues - The Allman Brothers Band

# 23 – Cheap Trick at BudokanCheap Trick

Cheap Trick at Budokan - Cheap Trick

# 22 – In The Heat Of The Night – Pat Benatar

In The Heat Of The Night - Pat Benatar

# 21 – George Harrison – George Harrison

George Harrison - George Harrison

# 20 – Dream Police – Cheap Trick

Dream Police - Cheap Trick

# 19 – Evolution – Journey

Evolution - Journey

# 18 – The B-52’sThe B-52’s

The B-52's debut album

# 17 – Rust Never Sleeps – Neil Young

Rust Never Sleeps - Neil Young

# 16 – Highway To Hell – AC/DC

Highway To Hell - AC/DC

# 15 – Lodger – David Bowie

Lodger - David Bowie

# 14 – Sheik Yerbouti  – Frank Zappa

Sheik Yerbouti  - Frank Zappa

# 13 – Candy-OThe Cars

Candy-O - The Cars

# 12 – Desolation Angels – Bad Company

Desolation Angels - Bad Company

# 11 – Rickie Lee JonesRickie Lee Jones

Rickie Lee Jones debut album

#  10 – Look Sharp!Joe Jackson

Look Sharp! - Joe Jackson

#  9 – In Through The Out Door – Led Zeppelin

In Through The Out Door - Led Zeppelin

#  8 – Reggatta de BlancThe Police

Reggatta de Blanc - The Police

#  7 – Breakfast in AmericaSupertramp

Breakfast in America - Supertramp

#  6 – London CallingThe Clash

London Calling - The Clash

#  5 – Damn the TorpedoesTom Petty & the Heartbreakers

Damn the Torpedoes - Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

#  4 – Van Halen II – Van Halen

 Van Halen II - Van Halen

#  3 – Joe’s Garage, Acts I, II & IIIFrank Zappa

Joe's Garage, Acts I, II & III - Frank Zappa

#  2 – The Wall – Pink Floyd

The Wall - Pink Floyd

# 1 – Live Rust – Neil Young

Live Rust - Neil Young

Additional Selected Classic Rock Albums Released in 1979

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

This is not a complete list of albums released in 1979. It’s a selected list of great albums that should be in any rock fans classic rock collection

Best Rock Albums – January 1979

LovedriveThe Scorpions


Sleep DirtFrank Zappa

Valley of the Dolls – Generation X

Head FirstThe Babys

Life for the TakingEddie Money

No Mean City Nazareth

Best Rock Albums – February 1979

Inflammable Material – Stiff Little Fingers

FrenzySplit Enz

Scared to Dance – The Skids

Thanks, I’ll Eat It Here – Lowell George

ManifestoRoxy Music

American Boy & GirlGarland Jeffreys

Best Rock Albums – March 1979

Just a GameTriumph

Rock n’ Roll Nights – Bachman Turner Overdrive

No. 1 in HeavenSparks

Squeezing Out SparksGraham Parker and The Rumour

Gimme Some Neck – Ron Wood

Million Mile ReflectionsThe Charlie Daniels Band

Best Rock Albums – April 1979

More Miles Per Hour – John Miles

The BellsLou Reed

Cool for CatsSqueeze

New ValuesIggy Pop

Strikes Blackfoot

Best Rock Albums – May 1979

Orchestral FavoritesFrank Zappa

Three Imaginary BoysThe Cure (U.K. only)

Shades in Bed – The Records

Do It YourselfIan Dury & The Blockheads

Where I Should BePeter Frampton

Flag – James Taylor

In The Skies – Peter Green


RhapsodiesRick Wakeman

Spectral MorningsSteve Hackett

State of ShockTed Nugent

Best Rock Albums – June 1979

Labour of LustNick Lowe

Repeat When NecessaryDave Edmunds

Silent LetterAmerica

Unknown PleasuresJoy Division

MirrorsBlue Öyster Cult

Live KillersQueen

Best Rock Albums – July 1979

Nine LivesREO Speedwagon

John CougarJohn Cougar

Down to EarthRainbow


Best Rock Albums – August 1979

Ghostown – The Radiators

Chicago 13 – Chicago

Drums and WiresXTC

Slow Train Coming Bob Dylan

Eve – The Alan Parsons Project

5 – J.J. Cale

Born Again –Randy Newman

VolcanoJimmy Buffett

Best Rock Albums – September 1979

Join HandsSiouxsie and the Banshees

The Pleasure PrincipleGary Numan

StormwatchJethro Tull

Top PriorityRory Gallagher

Boogie MotelFoghat

The RavenThe Stranglers

Entertainment!Gang Of Four

London Town – Paul McCartney

Recent SongsLeonard Cohen

Legends of the Lost and Found Harry Chapin

A Different Kind of TensionBuzzcocks


Best Rock Albums – October 1979

SurvivalBob Marley & The Wailers

I’m the ManJoe Jackson

Partners in CrimeRupert Holmes

The Fine Art of SurfacingThe Boomtown Rats

Victim of Love – Elton John


Bomber – Motorhead

Hydra – Toto

Keep The Fire – Kenny Loggins

Lovehunter – Whitesnake

Best Rock Albums – November 1979

Freedom at Point ZeroJefferson Starship

Down on the FarmLittle Feat

PhoenixDan Fogelberg

DegüelloZZ Top

Best Rock Albums – December 1979

Adventures in Utopia – Utopia

1979's Best Classic Rock Albums

All Album covers are Amazon affiliate links and not stored on ClassicRockHistory.com server

Feature Photo Credits 

Jimmy Page – Heinrich Klaffs [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]

David Gilmour – Capitol Records [Public domain] Via Creative Commons

David Lee Roth – Photo: Carl Lender [CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

Frank Zappa = Photo: Helge Øverås [CC BY-SA (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)]

Pat Benatar – Photo: Heidy Escobar from VALPARAISO; LAGUNA VERDE, CHILE [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]

Supertramp – Photo: Ueli Frey [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

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

Updated May 4, 2023

1979’s Best Rock Albums article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023

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Rob De Luca of Spread Eagle, Sebastian Bach & UFO: 10 Albums That Changed My Life From humble East Coast origins to grandest stages worldwide, veteran bassist Rob De Luca has seen and done it all. De Luca first hit the local Boston rock and metal scene in the late 80s after meeting guitarist Paul DiBartolo, bonding over Van Halen before forming Bang. Regional success came quickly, but eventually, the members of Bang went their separate ways, with De Luca and drummer Tommi Gallo heading to NYC and hooking up with Ray West and, later, DiBartolo to form Spread Eagle. By 1990, Spread Eagle was on the fast track, with a contract through MCA Records and a self-titled debut album poised to crush skulls. But poor timing and MCA's sad indifference left Spead Eagle out in the cold despite being a hard-boiled answer to Guns N' Roses's West Coast sleaze. Spread Eagle's first chapter came to an end in '95. As for Rob De Luca, his nimble fingers and gift for melody and songwriting kept him moving forward. Soon, he found a gig with former Skid Row frontman Sebastian Bach and the legendary outfit UFO. And in 2010, after coupling up with Ray West and his cousin Rik De Luca, Spread Eagle retook flight. During a break from Spread Eagle's increasingly busy touring schedule, Rob De Luca dialed in with ClassicRockHistory.com to run through the ten albums that changed his life. But only after adding, "I made a playlist of these songs, including some I've written or co-written. Do you hear any of these albums' influence on me?" Listen here: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3LWJuhDrE8JmzhsmTeIDUq 10) Gentlemen by Afghan Whigs (1993) Here's an entry that was so important to me. This may be the darkest break-up album of all time. Greg Dulli has been in many projects, but I feel Gentlemen is his zenith. Somewhat undefinable at times but always profound and honest. Listen to "Gentlemen," "Fountain and Fairfax," and "What Jail Is Like." 9) In on the Kill Taker by Fugazi (1993) By this time, I had been sucked in and spit out by the major-label record industry. Glam came and went; grunge was history, too. I was searching for new sounds. When I heard Fugazi's twin guitar approach, I knew this was what was missing. Fugazi may be considered a less polished sound than the albums above; however, once you "get it," it hits you like a ton of bricks, and there's no going back. From the moment I heard Fugazi, I went to every NYC show after. It's easily some of the best concerts of my life, and possibly my favorite bassist in Joe Lally. And their DIY ethics refused to charge us more than $5 a show! In on the Kill Taker is a powerful album demonstrated in songs such as "Smallpox Champion," "Great Cop," and "Public Witness Program." 8) Appetite for Destruction by Guns N' Roses (1987) I discovered many of these albums (sometimes long) after they were released. However, I was at the right place at the right time for this one. Steve Ostromogilsky had a Berklee College of Music lunch card and used to sneak out sandwiches for me. One day, he invited me to hang out at his place and listen to music. As we got off the train, he put Sony Walkman headphones on my ears and said, "Hey, check out this brand-new group." A song like "It's So Easy" was so different from the popular Sunset Strip sound at that time. Me and about 499 other informed rockers were lucky enough to see them on their first East Coast tour at the sold-out Paradise on Commonwealth Avenue, Boston (the same street Aerosmith started on). I saw Gn'R every tour after until I took a break when Buckethead joined. Gn'R is the band I've been lucky enough to see the most times live, almost 100! Everyone on this album is just stellar. Axl [Rose] had the tones, power, melodic sensibilities, and foresight to do what no other singer did then. Slash's playing was beyond memorable. Duff [McKagan] is one of the most underrated bassists in rock history, and learning his Appetite basslines is a masterclass. Steven [Adler] had the natural swing, and Izzy [Stradlin] was the secret weapon songwriter. Everything that's been heralded about this gem is deserved and true. Check out "It's So Easy," "Out Ta Get Me," and "Mr. Brownstone.' 7) Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd (1975) Another contender for my favorite album and band of all time. Using The Beatles machine (same recording studio, engineer, record label), Pink Floyd made what I feel is their strongest, most cohesive album (my second favorite of theirs would be Animals). This list mainly consists of bands with an instantly recognizable sound. Floyd is certainly no exception to that! This album included a solid handful of undeniable rock radio classics, bookended by two halves of the mind-blowing song "Shine on You Crazy Diamond.' That song was written about former band member and founder Syd Barrett. It would be hard to live in a world without this album. Check out "Welcome to The Machine," "Shine on You Crazy Diamond (parts 6-9),' or even better yet, listen to the whole thing in one sitting! 6) Decade by Neil Young (1977) About this time, I started playing guitar. As a beginner, it was comfortable jamming to this album because the chord changes were simple—a great "first ten years" retrospective of Neil's stunning, unique songwriting. Neil is a treasure who always writes from the heart and stands up for what's right. Check out "Southern Man," "A Man Needs a Maid," "Down by The River," and "After the Goldrush." 5) Highway to Hell by AC/DC (1979) When I heard this album, I was firmly "me." My life would be 100% focused on hard rock music forever. AC/DC are like air; they're ubiquitous. Everyone knows them and their incredible songs. However, as a young teen in Wilmington, Delaware, I only had WMMR 93.3 FM Philadelphia and a few friends to inform me about the world of Rock outside my bedroom. AC/DC had not gone mainstream, and their albums were available primarily in the USA as imports. To put things more in perspective, I only knew two people in the world who had heard of AC/DC. A friend had an import that we played in Steve Buckley's basement, which sounded ripping. When Highway to Hell was released, WMMR started spinning the title track, and I immediately bought the album, listening to it every single day after school. Then WMMR announced AC/DC was coming to the Spectrum in Philly, supporting Ted Nugent! I liked Ted but loved AC/DC, so my good friend Mick Cummins and I bought tickets, and he drove us up to the Spectrum (where we saw most of our concerts). Bon Scott was in fine form, and the band went over great. Although the crowd knew Ted better, Angus [Young] wouldn't let anyone upstage him. I'll never forget it! Unfortunately, Bon would be gone in 6 months. Check out "Walk All Over You," "Touch Too Much," "Shot Down in Flames," and "If You Want Blood (You Got It)." 4) Toys in the Attic by Aerosmith (1975) By the time I heard this, I was now in my teens. I had a childhood friend up the street, Jim Linberg (we're still good buddies). His older sister had a great album collection, including Toys in The Attic. Once I heard that groove, my taste changed. I lost interest in rock music that didn't have some sort of "swing" feel to it. I think Rocks is a slightly better Aerosmith album (and possibly my favorite album of all time), but both are perfect or very close. Check out "Uncle Salty," "Adam's Apple," "No More No More," "Round and Round," and "You See Me Crying." 3) Alive! by Kiss (1975) When I was still a little kid, I asked for Cheech and Chong's Up in Smoke album for Christmas. The entire family came over for an enormous feast, and I dropped the needle. When my mother heard the content, she turned off the album and said I had to exchange it. My mom was cool, but I was young and knew much more about life than she suspected. Anyway, the next day, she drove me back to the store. In the music section, promoted on an "endcap" was a Kiss Alive! display. I had never heard of Kiss, but that cover picture told me I had to have it! My first foray into hard rock. Check out “Strutter.” I went through my Kiss phase very quickly, I believe in a matter of months because I discovered the previous entry, Aerosmith's Toys in the Attic. 2) Honky Chateau by Elton John (1972) When I was a wee lad, my parents bought a used Volkswagen camper van from my uncle Ozzie. My favorite Elton John album is Yellow Brick Road, but Honky Chateau is great and easily one of his best. It sent me down a lifelong rabbit hole of loving everything about the 1970s partnership between Elton and lyricist Bernie Taupin. 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