1984’s Best Rock Albums

1984's Best Rock Albums

All Photo Credits at end of article

1984’s Best Rock Albums defines a year that stands as one of the best years of the decade for music. Of course that always subjective. However, looking back there were so many great records released by a wide variety of artists covering multiple musical genres.1984 saw debut albums by future superstar bands such as Queensryche and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.The band The Police who were on top of the world with their 1983 album Synchronicity would play their final concerts together and never release another studio album under The Police name. The only exception was the 2007 reunion tour and live album. The great Irish rock band Thin Lizzy would also break up to only see Phil Lynott pass away two years later in 1986. Van Halen would release their final album with David Lee Roth who would leave the band for a solo career. They did reunite in the 2010s for a new album and tour

Metal music would continue to flourish with great albums released by Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Metallica. Stevie Ray Vaughan continued to light up the concert stage becoming one of the most exciting guitar players in rock and roll. Madonna’s second album Like A Virgin would utilize the slick production of Nile Rogers making it one of the biggest selling albums of the year and a fixture on MTV. The band U2 released an album that many U2 fans argue was the bands greatest record. They had no idea of what the band had on the horizon with The Joshua Tree. Although some U2 fans still argue that The Unforgettable Fire remains their best work.

The biggest musical story of the year was the mass cultural dominance of both Prince and Bruce Springsteen. Prince released an album that would become his signature record with Purple Rain. The album also served as the soundtrack to his incredible successful film Purple Rain. You could not go through the day in 1984 without hearing a song from the record on the radio or seeing a commercial or a poster pertaining to the film Purple Rain.

Bruce Springsteen already had a massive cult following before he released Born In The U.S.A, However with the release of Born In The U.S.A. Bruce Springsteen had become one of the biggest rock stars in the world. Along with Purple Rain, the Born In The U.S.A. album would become two of the biggest selling albums of the years. Nonetheless, the biggest selling album of the year was defined by an album released in 1982. Michael Jackson’s Thriller album not only sold more records in 1984 than any other 1984 release, it became the biggest selling album of all time surpassing the previous record held by Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon.

1984’s Best Rock Albums list is of course subjective. However, our picks were made based on the quality of the albums, the impact they had on the time period, and how they inspired future generations of artists.

# 50 – The Warning – Queensrÿche

The Warning - Queensrÿche

# 49 – Mother’s Spiritual – Laura Nyro

Mother's Spiritual - Laura Nyro

# 48 – Fistful of MetalAnthrax

Fistful of Metal - Anthrax

# 47 – Heartbeat CityThe Cars

Heartbeat City - The Cars

# 46 – Aural SculptureThe Stranglers

Aural Sculpture - The Stranglers

# 45 – TropicoPat Benatar

Tropico - Pat Benatar

# 44 – Thing Fish – Frank Zappa

Thing Fish - Frank Zappa

# 43 – The Honeydrippers: Volume OneRobert Plant

The Honeydrippers: Volume One - Robert Plant

# 42 – Glorious Results of a Misspent YouthJoan Jett

Glorious Results of a Misspent Youth - Joan Jett

# 41 – No Tellin’ LiesZebra

No Tellin' Lies - Zebra

# 40 – Go Insane – Lindsey Buckingham

Go Insane - Lindsey Buckingham

# 39 – The TopThe Cure

The Top - The Cure

# 38 – Reckless – Bryan Adams

Reckless - Bryan Adams

# 37 – WarriorScandal

Warrior - Scandal

# 36 –The Last In Line – Dio

The Last In Line - Dio

# 35 – Goodbye Cruel WorldElvis Costello

Goodbye Cruel World - Elvis Costello

# 34 – Building the Perfect BeastDon Henley

Building the Perfect Beast - Don Henley

# 33 – ReckoningR.E.M.

Reckoning - R.E.M.

# 32 – Let It Be – The Replacements

Let It Be - The Replacements

# 31 – Zen Arcade – Husker Du

Zen Arcade - Husker Du

# 30 – Them Or Us – Frank Zappa

Them Or Us - Frank Zappa

# 29 – Rising ForceYngwie Malmsteen

Rising Force - Yngwie Malmsteen

# 28 – Too Tough to DieRamones

# 27 – Street TalkSteve Perry

Street Talk - Steve Perry

# 26 – Flex-AbleSteve Vai

Flex-Able - Steve Vai

# 25 – Grace Under PressureRush

Grace Under Pressure - Rush

# 24 – No BrakesJohn Waite

No Brakes - John Waite

# 23 – Ammonia AvenueThe Alan Parsons Project

Ammonia Avenue - The Alan Parsons Project

# 22 – VOA – Sammy Hagar

VOA - Sammy Hagar

# 21 -Stop Making Sense – Talking Heads 

Stop Making Sense - Talking Heads 

# 20 – Agent ProvocateurForeigner

Agent Provocateur - Foreigner

# 19 – Milk and HoneyJohn Lennon & Yoko Ono

Milk and Honey - John Lennon & Yoko Ono

# 18 – Three of a Perfect PairKing Crimson

Three of a Perfect Pair - King Crimson

# 17 – About FaceDavid Gilmour

About Face - David Gilmour

# 16 – Out of the CellarRatt

Out of the Cellar - Ratt

# 15 – Tonight – David Bowie

Tonight - David Bowie

# 14 – The Smiths – The Smiths

The Smiths album

# 13 – Stay Hungry – Twisted Sister

Stay Hungry - Twisted Sister

# 12 – Defenders of the FaithJudas Priest

Defenders of the Faith - Judas Priest

# 11 – Powerslave – Iron Maiden

Powerslave - Iron Maiden

# 10 – Perfect StrangersDeep Purple

#  9 – The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking – Roger Waters

The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking - Roger Waters

#  8 – Learning to CrawlThe Pretenders

Learning to Crawl - The Pretenders

#  7 – Love at First StingScorpions

#  6 – Ride the LightningMetallica

Ride the Lightning - Metallica

#  5 – Couldn’t Stand the WeatherStevie Ray Vaughan

Couldn't Stand the Weather - Stevie Ray Vaughan

#  4 – The Unforgettable Fire – U2

The Unforgettable Fire - U2

#  3 – 1984Van Halen

1984 - Van Halen

#  2 – Purple RainPrince

Purple Rain - Prince

#  1 – Born In The U.S.A. – Bruce Springsteen

It’s a shame that a lot of fans have turned against Springsteen because he has never been afraid to speak his mind in the modern day. The guy was raised in the 1960s when so many artists weren’t afraid to speak up. We had an entire generation of music that came from that period that stands as some of the greatest artists and albums of all time because of the genuine passion behind the music. Creedence Clearwater, Bob Dylan, Jefferson Airplane, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, the list is long. It’s also a shame that so many people misinterpreted this song. Nonetheless, this album was as big as it got in 1984 because it was freaking great. There’s no way we weren’t going to put it at number one.

Born In The U.S.A. - Bruce Springsteen

More Fantastic Classic Rock Albums Released in 1984

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

Best Rock Albums – January 1984

Christine McVieChristine McVie

Christine McVie album

SoftwareGrace Slick

Software - Grace Slick

Tour de Force38 Special

Tour de Force - 38 Special

Best Rock Albums – February 1984

Into the GapThompson Twins

Into the Gap - Thompson Twins

Keep MovingMadness

Keep Moving - Madness

Metal Queen – Lee Aaron

Metal Queen - Lee Aaron

All Over The Place – The Bangles

All Over The Place - The Bangles

Dead Can DanceDead Can Dance

Dead Can Dance - Dead Can Dance

DeclarationThe Alarm

Declaration - The Alarm

It’s My LifeTalk Talk

It's My Life - Talk Talk

Parting Should Be PainlessRoger Daltrey

Parting Should Be Painless - Roger Daltrey

Rhyme & ReasonMissing Persons

Rhyme & Reason - Missing Persons

Best Rock Albums – March 1984


Fugazi - Marillion

Love LifeBerlin

Love Life - Berlin

Talk ShowThe Go-Go’s

Talk Show - The Go-Go's

Great WhiteGreat White

Great White - Great White

My WarBlack Flag

My War - Black Flag

Best Rock Albums – April 1984

New SensationsLou Reed

New Sensations - Lou Reed

The SwingINXS

The Swing - INXS

The Allnighter – Glen Frey

The Allnighter - Glen Frey

Like A Virgin – Madonna

Like A Virgin - Madonna

Best Rock Albums – May 1984

Civilized ManJoe Cocker

Civilized Man - Joe Cocker

Chicago 17Chicago

Chicago 17 - Chicago

Boulez Conducts Zappa: The Perfect StrangerFrank Zappa

Boulez Conducts Zappa: The Perfect Stranger - Frank Zappa

Best Rock Albums – June 1984

A Pagan PlaceThe Waterboys

A Pagan Place - The Waterboys

Bon JoviBon Jovi

Bon Jovi - Bon Jovi

The MagazineRickie Lee Jones

The Magazine - Rickie Lee Jones

Projects in the Jungle – Pantera

Projects in the Jungle – Pantera

Seasons – Dion DiMucci

Seasons – Dion DiMucci

Best Rock Albums – July 1984

Condition CriticalQuiet Riot

Condition Critical - Quiet Riot

Right By You – Stephen Stills

Right By You - Stephen Stills

Signs of LifeBilly Squire

Signs of Life - Billy Squire

Best Rock Albums – August 1984

The Red Hot Chili PeppersThe Red Hot Chili Peppers

The Red Hot Chili Peppers - The Red Hot Chili Peppers

W.A.S.P. – W.A.S.P.

W.A.S.P. - W.A.S.P.

Best Rock Albums – September 1984

Under WrapsJethro Tull

Under Wraps - Jethro Tull


Animalize - Kiss


Perspective - America

Best Rock Albums – October 1984

The Wonderful and Frightening World Of…The Fall

The Wonderful and Frightening World Of... - The Fall

The Big ExpressXTC

The Big Express - XTC

Big Bam BoomHall & Oates

Big Bam Boom - Hall & Oates

ValotteJulian Lennon

Valotte - Julian Lennon

Penatrator – Ted Nugent

Penatrator - Ted Nugent

Welcome to the PleasuredomeFrankie Goes to Hollywood

Welcome to the Pleasuredome - Frankie Goes to Hollywood

Girls with GunsTommy Shaw

Girls with Guns - Tommy Shaw

Italian X RaysSteve Miller Band

Italian X Rays - Steve Miller Band

Best Rock Albums – November 1984

Thunder Seven  Triumph

Thunder Seven  Triumph

Lights Out – Peter Wolf

Lights Out – Peter Wolf

Through the Fire – Hagar Schon Aaronson Shrieve

Through the Fire - Hagar Schon Aaronson Shrieve


Isolation - Toto

Best Rock Albums – December 1984

Dancin’ on the Edge – Lita Ford

Dancin' on the Edge – Lita Ford

Windows and Walls – Dan Fogelberg

Windows and Walls – Dan Fogelberg

Vulture CultureThe Alan Parsons Project

Vulture Culture - The Alan Parsons Project

All album covers are Amazon affiliate links and are not stored on the Classicrockhistory.com server.

Photo Credits :

Bruce Springsteen – Bill Ebbesen / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

Prince – penner / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

The Edge – en:User:Y2kcrazyjoker4 / CC BY-SA (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)

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

Stevie Ray Vaughan – Scott Newton – / Public domain

1984’s Best Rock Albums article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023

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