1983’s Best Rock Albums

1983's Best Rock Albums

Pjoto: Raph_PH / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

Our 1983’s Best Rock Albums list defines a year in rock and roll that showed a dramatic improvement in the quality of music released as opposed to to the previous year. While rock music continued to steer towards more of the pop side of things, metal continued to become even more popular as many hard rock fans of the 70s were turned off by the MTV generation that was in full swing. Even metal started to cross the genres of glam and rock as an entire wave of new bands would fuel a new genre often referred to as the 80s hair bands.

Rock and roll legends that arrived in the 1960s such as The Kinks, The Rolling Stones and Ex-Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr all released new material. Elton John continued his yearly release schedule with one of his strongest albums of his 80’s period. The band U2 continued to get better with every album while The Police released the album of their career which would also prove to be their last. Billy Joel released a tribute album to the past composed of new materiel. Interestingly, Jim Steinman had a huge hit single without the help of Meat Loaf via the vocal chords of Bonnie Tyler.

New Wave music that born our of the punk era also continued to shift towards a more friendly pop sound or maybe it was just that mass culture began to accept the genre on a wider scale. One of the highlight of the year was the debut of the first Stevie Ray Vaughn album. SRV proved that great rock and roll and blues never gets old. And of course, we have to mention that 1983 saw the debut of Metallica’s first album.

1983’s Best Rock Albums crossed many musical genres and styles. There were many great albums released by bands old and new. While 1981 and 1982 were disappointing years, 1983 seemed to be another turning point in music. The following years from 1984 to 1988 would present fans with some powerful new groups and classic albums that would go down as some of the best of all time. 1984 was an exceptional year and we are really looking forward to doing that one. However, for now, we think you will find some great ones on this list.

# 50 – Outside InsideThe Tubes

Outside Inside - The Tubes

# 49 – Script for a Jester’s TearMarillion

Script for a Jester's Tear - Marillion

# 48 – Cuts Like a KnifeBryan Adams

Cuts Like a Knife - Bryan Adams

# 47 – Ark – The Animals

Ark - The Animals

# 46 – Uh-HuhJohn Cougar Mellencamp

Uh-Huh - John Cougar Mellencamp

# 45 – Infidels – Bob Dylan

Infidels - Bob Dylan

# 44 – Midnight Madness – Night Ranger

Midnight Madness - Night Ranger

# 43 – Baby Snakes – Frank Zappa

Baby Snakes - Frank Zappa

# 42 – MurmurR.E.M.

Murmur - R.E.M.

# 41 – Album – Joan Jett

Album - Joan Jett

# 40 – Money and CigarettesEric Clapton

Money and Cigarettes - Eric Clapton

# 39 – Born Again – Black Sabbath

Born Again - Black Sabbath

# 38 – The Present – The Moody Blues

The Present - The Moody Blues

# 37 – Never SurrenderTriumph

Never Surrender - Triumph

# 36 – Seven and the Ragged TigerDuran Duran

Seven and the Ragged Tiger - Duran Duran

# 35 – Lick It Up – Kiss

Lick It Up - Kiss

# 34 – Flick Of The Switch – AC/DC

Flick Of The Switch - AC/DC

# 33 – Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)Eurythmics

Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) -Eurythmics

# 32 – Too Low for ZeroElton John

Too Low for Zero - Elton John

# 31 – Genesis – Genesis

Genesis album

# 30 – Hearts and Bones – Paul Simon

Hearts and Bones - Paul Simon

# 29 – Rebel Yell – Billy Idol

Rebel Yell - Billy Idol

# 28 – No Parole from Rock ‘n’ RollAlcatrazz

No Parole from Rock 'n' Roll - Alcatrazz

# 27 – Speaking in TonguesTalking Heads

Speaking in Tongues - Talking Heads

# 26 – Undercover – The Rolling Stones

Undercover - The Rolling Stones

# 25 – Pipes of Peace Paul McCartney’

Pipes of Peace - Paul McCartney'

# 24 – Little RobbersThe Motels

Little Robbers - The Motels

# 23 – Confusion Is SexSonic Youth

Confusion Is Sex - Sonic Youth

# 22 – Shout at the Devil – Mötley Crüe

Shout at the Devil - Mötley Crüe

# 21 – Metal HealthQuiet Riot

Metal Health - Quiet Riot

# 20 – The CrossingBig Country

The Crossing - Big Country

# 19 – State of Confusion – The Kinks

State of Confusion - The Kinks

# 18 – Bark at the Moon – Ozzy Osbourne

Bark at the Moon - Ozzy Osbourne

# 17 – Piece of MindIron Maiden

Piece of Mind - Iron Maiden

# 16 – Thunder and LightningThin Lizzy

Thunder and Lightning - Thin Lizzy

# 15 – The Principle of MomentsRobert Plant

The Principle of Moments - Robert Plant

# 14 – Holy Diver – Dio

Holy Diver - Dio

# 13 – The Wild Heart – Stevie Nicks

The Wild Heart - Stevie Nicks

# 12 – Let’s DanceDavid Bowie

Let's Dance - David Bowie

# 11 – SwordfishtrombonesTom Waits

Swordfishtrombones - Tom Waits

# 10 – FrontiersJourney

Frontiers - Journey

#  9 – Sports – Huey Lewis & The News

Sports - Huey Lewis & The News

#  8 – 90125 – Yes

90125 - Yes

#  7 – Kill ’em AllMetallica

Kill 'em All - Metallica

#  6 – Texas FloodStevie Ray Vaughan

Texas Flood - Stevie Ray Vaughan

#  5 – The Final CutPink Floyd

The Final Cut - Pink Floyd

#  4 – EliminatorZZ Top

Eliminator - ZZ Top

#  3 – WarU2

War - U2

#  2 – SynchronicityThe Police

Synchronicity - The Police

#  1 – PyromaniaDef Leppard

Pyromania - Def Leppard

More Fantastic Classic Rock Albums Released in 1983

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

Best Rock Albums – January 1983

Feline – The Stranglers

Feline - The Stranglers

Nena – Nena

Nena Album

Trouble In Paradise – Randy Newman

Trouble In Paradise - Randy Newman

The Law of Devil’s Land – Loudness

The Law of Devil's Land - Loudness

The Art of Falling ApartSoft Cell

The Art of Falling Apart - Soft Cell

What’s Funk?Grand Funk

What's Funk? - Grand Funk

Best Rock Albums – February 1983

Porcupine – Echo & The Bunnymen

Porcupine - Echo & The Bunnymen

Lucky – Marty Balin

Lucky - Marty Balin

Somewhere in AfrikaManfred Mann’s Earth Band

Somewhere in Afrika -Manfred Mann's Earth Band

Kilroy Was HereStyx

Kilroy Was Here - Styx

Making ContactUFO

Youngblood – Carl Wilson

Youngblood - Carl Wilson

Best Rock Albums – March 1983

Legendary HeartsLou Reed

Legendary Hearts - Lou Reed

Dazzle ShipsOrchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

Dazzle Ships - Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

True – Spandau Ballet

True - Spandau Ballet

No Rest for the WickedHelix

No Rest for the Wicked - Helix

The Man from UtopiaFrank Zappa

The Man from Utopia - Frank Zappa

Europe – Europe


The Abominable ShowmanNick Lowe

The Abominable Showman - Nick Lowe

Inarticulate Speech of the HeartVan Morrison

Inarticulate Speech of the Heart - Van Morrison

No Guts…No GloryMolly Hatchet

No Guts...No Glory - Molly Hatchet

Best Rock Albums – April 1983

Faster Than the Speed of NightBonnie Tyler

Faster Than the Speed of Night - Bonnie Tyler

Violent FemmesViolent Femmes

Violent Femmes cd


Headhunter - Krokus

Whammy!The B-52s

Whammy! - The B-52s

KihnspiracyGreg Kihn Band

Kihnspiracy - Greg Khin Band

Cargo – Men at Work

Cargo - Men at Work

Havana – Santana 

Havana - Santana 

Midnight at the Lost and FoundMeat Loaf

Midnight at the Lost and Found - Meat Loaf

Best Rock Albums – May 1983

Life’s a Riot with Spy vs SpyBilly Bragg

Life's a Riot with Spy vs Spy - Billy Bragg

With SympathyMinistry

With Sympathy - Ministry

Zig-Zag Walk Foghat

Zig-Zag Walk - Foghat

You Bought It, You Name ItJoe Walsh

You Bought It, You Name It - Joe Walsh

BruiseologyThe Waitresses

Bruiseology - The Waitresses

The Eleventh Hour  – Magnum

The Eleventh Hour  - Magnum

Head FirstUriah Heep

Head First - Uriah Heep

Listen – A Flock of Seagulls

Listen - A Flock of Seagulls


Siogo - Blackfoot

Best Rock Albums – June 1983

Your MoveAmerica

Your Move - America

London Symphony Orchestra, Vol. 1Frank Zappa

London Symphony Orchestra, Vol. 1 - Frank Zappa

Body Wishes – Rod Stewart

Body Wishes - Rod Stewart

Old Wave – Ringo Starr

Old Wave - Ringo Starr

Keep It Up – Loverboy

Keep It Up - Loverboy

Suicidal TendenciesSuicidal Tendencies

Suicidal Tendencies cd

Best Rock Albums – July 1983

You and Me BothYazoo

You and Me Both - Yazoo

Alpha – Asia

Alpha - Asia

Everybody’s Rockin’Neil Young and the Shocking Pinks

Everybody's Rockin' - Neil Young and the Shocking Pinks

All of the Good Ones Are TakenIan Hunter

All of the Good Ones Are Taken - Ian Hunter

Drastic MeasuresKansas

Drastic Measures - Kansas

Out For BloodLita Ford

Out For Blood - Lita Ford

Balls to the WallAccept

Balls to the Wall - Accept

Best Rock Albums – August 1983

Lawyers in LoveJackson Browne

Lawyers in Love - Jackson Browne

Punch the ClockElvis Costello and the Attractions

Punch the Clock - Elvis Costello and the Attractions

An Innocent ManBilly Joel

An Innocent Man - Billy Joel

Subterranean JungleRamones

Subterranean Jungle - Ramones

Rant N’ Rave with the Stray CatsThe Stray Cats

Rant N' Rave with the Stray Cats - The Stray Cats

Passionworks – Heart

Passionworks - Heart

Bent Out Of Shape – Rainbow

Bent Out Of Shape - Rainbow

Best Rock Albums – September 1983

Heads or TalesSaga

Heads or Tales - Saga

DaDaAlice Cooper

DaDa - Alice Cooper

Mean StreakY&T

Mean Streak - Y&T

Once a Rocker, Always a Rocker – The Joe Perry Project

Once a Rocker, Always a Rocker - The Joe Perry Project

More Fun in the New World X

More Fun in the New World - X

Best Rock Albums – October 1983

She’s So UnusualCyndi Lauper

She's So Unusual - Cyndi Lauper

Bay of Kings – Steve Hackett

Bay of Kings – Steve Hackett

Best Rock Albums – November 1983

Walk Into Light – Ian Anderson

Walk Into Light - Ian Anderson

Best Rock Albums – December 1983

Show No MercySlayer

Show No Mercy - Slayer

Bad Influence – Robert Cray

Bad Influence – Robert Cray

Mommy’s Little Monster – Social Distortion

Mommy's Little Monster – Social Distortion

Updated May 3, 2023

1983’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. The simple beauty of voice, the master songwriting, the perfect backing band, the clear, unobtrusive recordings, and always Bernie's incredible lyrics. The day this album was released, Elton became an unstoppable force that conquered the music industry. Check out "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters" and "Rocket Man." 1) Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles (1967) Another tape that was included in the VW Camper. The van had a bunch of music tapes, and one was Sgt Pepper. I was too young to understand the sophistication of the music, but that was one of the many skills of The Beatles. They attracted listeners at every level, even little kids. I still feel that immediate connection to Sgt Pepper; now, I hear so much more. It's an album that changed the world and the world of music. Check out "Lucy in The Sky with Diamonds," "A Day In The Life," and "Fixing a Hole."
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