1986’s Best Rock Albums

1986's Best Rock Albums

Photo: Vento di Grecale / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)

Our 1986’s Best Rock Albums list presents rock fans with a far superior list than 1985’s.That was a tough year, but 1986 was a year that showcased many great records that have stood the test of time. There were many new bands that would have huge hits and then quickly fade away within a year or two. However, there were some great new groups that would release debut albums that would serve as the start of long glorious careers.

In 1986 we saw David Lee Roth unveil his amazing new band featuring the virtuoso guitar talents of Steve Vai. The David Lee Roth Band also included renowned musicians Billy Sheehan and Gregg Bissonette defining a new band that lit up the rock and roll world with an incredible rock record that spurned on the great divide among Van Halen fans. Van Halen’s new lineup featuring Sammy Hagar also delivered a smoking new album fueled by Sammy Hagar’s spectacular vocal talents and some of the best playing that Eddie and the boys had ever laid down on vinyl.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame held their first inductee ceremony placing legendary musical artists Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Robert Johnson, Little Richard, James Brown, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Everly Brothers, Jimmy Yancey, Jimmy Rogers and disc jockey Alan Freed. Johnny Hammond and Sam Phillips were also inducted.

1986 could also be defined as the year hair and glam met in full swing with debut albums by the bands Cinderella and Poison further cementing the 80s hair bands legacy. Metal continued to sell well with great new records by Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Megadeath, Queensrÿche, Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath and Metallica.

While we try and stay away from live albums on these list because of space constraints and the desire to present only new materiel, we could not ignore two huge ones that were released. Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Live Alive was a two record set that showcased his passionate blues and rock roll playing that blew us all away even more than his great studio albums had already done. This was a killer live album that could not be ignored on this list. Bruce Springsteen’s 3 CD set Live 1975-85 served as the follow up release to Born In The U.S.A. It has long been argued that Live 1975-85 was the release that helped put the CD into the hands of the masses for the first time.

It’s always tough to do these list. It’s even more difficult deciding which ones to put in the top 50 and which to place in the honorable mentions list. But at a certain point you just have to decide or we will never finish them. We hope you enjoy 1986’s best rock albums list. Thanks for continuing  to check these out.

# 50 – PremonitionPeter Frampton

# 49 – The Final Countdown – Europe

# 48 – Crowded HouseCrowded House

# 47 – Album – Public Image Ltd.

# 46 – Color in Your Life – Missing Persons

# 45 – Vinnie Vincent InvasionVinnie Vincent Invasion

# 44 – Slippery When WetBon Jovi

# 43 – ConstrictorAlice Cooper

# 42 – Not of This Earth – Joe Satriani

# 41 – Landing on WaterNeil Young

# 40 – Cooker – Joe Cocker

# 39 – Third Stage – Boston

# 38 – SkylarkingXTC

# 37 – Blah Blah Blah – Iggy Pop

# 36 – Look What the Cat Dragged InPoison

# 35 – Night SongsCinderella

# 34 – Dancing UndercoverRatt

# 33 – Lifes Rich PageantR.E.M.

# 32 – OrgasmatronMotorhead

# 31 – The Bridge – Billy Joel

# 30 – Power – Kansas

# 29 – GTR – GTR

# 28 – The Queen Is DeadThe Smiths

# 27 – Different Light – The Bangles

# 26 – Emerson, Lake & PowellEmerson, Lake & Powell

# 25 – Seventh Star – Black Sabbath

# 24 – Raised on RadioJourney

# 23 – Turbo – Judas Priest

# 22 – The Other Side of LifeThe Moody Blues

# 21 – Invisible Touch – Genesis

# 20 – August – Eric Clapton

# 19 – Rage for OrderQueensrÿche

# 18 – A Kind of MagicQueen

# 17 – Who Made Who – AC/DC

# 16 – Like A Rock – Bob Seger

# 15 – Press To Play – Paul McCartney

# 14 – Parade – Prince

# 13 – Tuff Enuff – The Fabulous Thunderbirds

# 12 – The Ultimate SinOzzy Osbourne

# 11 – Somewhere in TimeIron Maiden

# 10 – Live Alive – Stevie Ray Vaughan


# 8 – Live 1975-85 – Bruce Springsteen

# 7 – The Way It Is – Bruce Hornsby

#  6 – So – Peter Gabriel

#  5 – Master of PuppetsMetallica

#  4 – Graceland – Paul Simon

#  3 – Back in the High LifeSteve Winwood

#  2 – 5150 – Van Halen

#  1 – Eat ‘Em and SmileDavid Lee Roth

More Fantastic Classic Rock Albums Released in 1986

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

Best Rock Albums – January 1986

Made To Broken – Soul Asylum

Does Humor Belong in Music?Frank Zappa

Best Rock Albums – February 1986

Lives in the BalanceJackson Browne

King of AmericaElvis Costello

Marilyn Martin – Marilyn Martin

Best Rock Albums – March 1986

Twitch – Ministry

Rapture – Anita Baker

Innocent Eyes – Graham Nash

Candy Apple GreyHüsker Dü

Little Miss Dangerous Ted Nugent

The Pack Is Back – Raven

Shot in the Dark – Great White

Best Rock Albums – April 1986

Animal Magic – The Blow Monkeys

Tinderbox – Siouxsie and the Banshees

Russian Roulette – Accept

Strength in Numbers38 Special

Best Rock Albums – May 1986

Secret Dreams and Forbidden Fire – Bonnie Tyler

Standing on a Beach – The Cure

Poolside – Nu Shooz

Tom Cochrane & Red Rider – Red Rider

Truthdare Doubledare – Bronski Beat

Mistrial – Lou Reed

Best Rock Albums – June 1986

Wonderland – Erasure

Change of Address – Krokus

Every Beat of My HeartRod Stewart

Fight for the Rock – Savatage

Bend SinisterThe Fall

Emerald City – Teena Marie

Velvet & Steel – Dion DiMucci

Lyle Lovett – Lyle Lovett

Best Rock Albums – July 1986

Knocked Out LoadedBob Dylan

QR IIIQuiet Riot

No Guru, No Method, No TeacherVan Morrison

Especially for You – The Smithereens

Best Rock Albums – August 1986

Kicking Against the Pricks – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds


Three Hearts in the Happy Ending Machine – Daryl Hall

Guitar Town – Steve Earle

Best Rock Albums – September 1986

Bouncing off the SatellitesThe B-52’s

The Sport of Kings – Triumph

Blood & ChocolateElvis Costello and the Attractions

This Side of Paradise – Ric Ocasek

True Colors – Cyndi Lauper

Peace Sells… but Who’s Buying?Megadeth

Fore!Huey Lewis and the News

Best Rock Albums – October 1986

Whites Off Earth Now!! – Cowboy Junkies

Count Three & Pray – Berlin

Rock the Nations – Saxon

Mosaic – Wang Chang

Whiplash SmileBilly Idol

To Hell with the Devil – Stryper

Best Rock Albums – November 1986

Leather JacketsElton John

They Might Be GiantsThey Might Be Giants

Trilogy – Yngwie Malmsteen

Jazz from HellFrank Zappa

Licensed to Ill – Beastie Boys

Think VisualThe Kinks

Strong Persuader – Robert Cray

Best Rock Albums – December 1986


Good MusicJoan Jett and the Blackhearts

Mechanical Resonance – Telsa

Raising Hell – Run-D.M.C.

Best Albums of The Year Series

1970’s Best Classic Rock Albums List

1971’s Best Classic Rock Albums List

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1974’s Best Classic Rock Albums List

1975’s Best Classic Rock Albums List

1976’s Best Classic Rock Albums List

1977’s Best Classic Rock Albums List

1978’s Best Classic Rock Albums List

1979’s Best Classic Rock Albums List

1980’s Best Rock Albums List

1981’s Best Rock Albums List

1982’s Best Rock Albums List

1983’s Best Rock Albums List

1984’s Best Rock Albums List

1985’s Best Rock Albums List

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