1987’s Best Rock Albums

1987's Best Rock Albums

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

Our 1987’s Best Rock Albums list defines a year in which we saw the stunning debut album by Guns N’ Roses and the U2 masterpiece The Joshua Tree. Pink Floyd released their first studio album without Roger Waters entitled A Momentary Lapse of Reason while Rogers countered with his own album entitled Radio K.A.O.SThe break up of Pink Floyd stands as one of the low points in rock and roll history as fans lost one of classic rock’s greatest musical acts of all time. Nonetheless, with every band that breaks up, another band gets back together.

1987 saw the return of the surviving members of Lynyrd Skynyrd reunited for a tribute tour with Ronnie Van Zant’s younger brother Johnny Van Zant singing lead vocals. The tour would inspire the band to continue. A few years later they released a new record in 1991. The group has continued to tour and release records since the 87 reunion with only Gary Rossington left as one of the band’s original members. With the reunion of Lynyrd Skynyrd and the arrival of Guns N’ Roses, 70s-style classic rock on a somewhat limited basis returned in 1987.

Other legendary 70s rock bands also staged major comebacks in 1987. The Doobie Brothers had said farewell in 1983 as they promoted their 1983 final tour five years earlier. Nonetheless, in 1987 the band reunited and toured once again. Aerosmith had finally made their way back to being relevant again at least from a commercial standpoint as their 1987 record Permanent Vacation would become a huge success fueled by multiple hit singles.

The return to prominence of some old school classic rock styles was not the only story that defined 1987’s best rock albums. So called alternative rock bands such as R.E.M and The Replacements continued to release great records that began defining a new generation of rock fans while welcoming the older generation, or at least those open-minded enough to enjoy it. Metal continued onward and the hair metal bands like Motley Crue kept having more fun causing more chaos than a Keith Moon army. One can also not write about 1987 without mentioning great new albums by Sting, George Harrison and David Bowie. Three incredible artists that never let their fans down. And of course, 1987, saw journeyman singer David Coverdale have the most successful year of his career with the 1987 Whitesnake album fueled by massive airplay on MTV featuring his girlfriend at the time Tawny Kitaen.

While 1987 had some great rock albums, we found the overall amount of rock albums beginning to dwindle. There were simply not enough really good albums to even add the supplemental honorable mention list this time. So in the end we just went with a top 50 albums of 1987 list. Two more years to go and then we are heading to the 1960s which should be fun.

# 50 – Into The Fire – Bryan Adams

Into The Fire - Bryan Adams

# 49 – Door to DoorThe Cars

Door to Door - The Cars

# 48 – Poetic Champions ComposeVan Morrison

Poetic Champions Compose - Van Morrison

# 47 – Exiles – Dan Fogelberg

Exiles – Dan Fogelberg

# 46 – Join the Army – Suicidal Tendencies

Join the Army - Suicidal Tendencies

 # 45 – Pleased to Meet MeThe Replacements

Pleased to Meet Me - The Replacements

# 44 – Crazy Nights – Kiss

Crazy Nights - Kiss

# 43 – Primitive CoolMick Jagger

Primitive Cool - Mick Jagger

# 42 – Bring the FamilyJohn Hiatt

Bring the Family - John Hiatt

# 41 – Big GeneratorYes

Big Generator - Yes

# 40 – Surfing with the AlienJoe Satriani

Surfing with the Alien - Joe Satriani

# 39 – Robbie Robertson – Robbie Robertson

Robbie Robertson album

# 38 – Pride – White Lion

Pride - White Lion

# 37 – Halfway to SanityThe Ramones

Halfway to Sanity - The Ramones

# 36 – Got Any Gum?Joe Walsh

Got Any Gum? - Joe Walsh

# 35 – The House of Blue LightDeep Purple

The House of Blue Light - Deep Purple

# 34 – Franks Wild YearsTom Waits

Franks Wild Years - Tom Waits

# 33 – Dream EvilDio

Dream Evil - Dio

# 32 – Sentimental HygieneWarren Zevon

Sentimental Hygiene - Warren Zevon

# 31 – Crest of a KnaveJethro Tull

Crest of a Knave - Jethro Tull

# 30 – Inside InformationForeigner

Inside Information - Foreigner

# 29 – Meet Danny Wilson – Danny Wilson

Meet Danny Wilson - Danny Wilson

# 28 – In the DarkThe Grateful Dead

In the Dark - The Grateful Dead

# 27 – The Lonesome JubileeJohn Mellencamp

The Lonesome Jubilee - John Mellencamp

# 26 – Frehley’s CometAce Frehley

Frehley's Comet - Ace Frehley

# 25 – Rock ‘n’ RollMotörhead

Rock 'n' Roll - Motörhead

# 24 – Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss MeThe Cure

Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me - The Cure

# 23 – Document – R.E.M.

Document - R.E.M.

# 22 – Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough)Tom Petty

Let Me Up (I've Had Enough) - Tom Petty

# 21 – ElectricThe Cult

Electric - The Cult

# 20 – Tango in the NightFleetwood Mac

Tango in the Night - Fleetwood Mac

# 19 – Bad Animals – Heart

Bad Animals - Heart

# 18 – Unchain My HeartJoe Cocker

Unchain My Heart - Joe Cocker

# 17 – Girls, Girls, GirlsMötley Crüe

Girls, Girls, Girls - Mötley Crüe

# 16 – Sammy Hagar ( I Never Said Goodbye) – Sammy Hagar

Sammy Hagar ( I Never Said Goodbye) - Sammy Hagar

# 15 – Radio K.A.O.S.Roger Waters

Radio K.A.O.S. - Roger Waters

# 14 – A Momentary Lapse of ReasonPink Floyd

A Momentary Lapse of Reason - Pink Floyd

# 13 – KickINXS

Kick - INXS

# 12 – Cloud NineGeorge Harrison

Cloud Nine - George Harrison

# 11 – Whitesnake – Whitesnake

Whitesnake Album

# 10 – Never Let Me Down – David Bowie

Never Let Me Down - David Bowie

#  9 – Tunnel of LoveBruce Springsteen

Tunnel of Love - Bruce Springsteen

#  8 – …Nothing Like the SunSting

...Nothing Like the Sun - Sting

#  7 – Permanent VacationAerosmith

Permanent Vacation - Aerosmith

#  6 – Hold Your Fire – Rush

Hold Your Fire - Rush

#  5 – Tribute – Ozzy Osbourne and Randy Rhoads

Tribute - Ozzy Osbourne and Randy Rhoads

#  4 – Sign o’ the TimesPrince

Sign o' the Times - Prince

#  3 – HysteriaDef Leppard

Hysteria - Def Leppard

#  2 – The Joshua TreeU2

The Joshua Tree - U2

#  1 – Appetite for Destruction – Guns N’ Roses

Appetite for Destruction - Guns N' Roses

It was a tough battle for first place on this list between a band that had become legendary in less than a decade and had just released a masterpiece and in reality, a new band who just released a major label debut album that turned the rock and roll world upside down. So it came down to simply which was a better album. From an artistic standpoint, it was The Joshua Tree. However, from a rock and roll stance, Appetite for Destruction kicked your teeth out through the back of your neck. Rock fans could not get enough of it. Guns N’ Roses delivered a legendary album that still sounds amazing and fresh over twenty-five years later. That’s rock and roll.

Updated May 2, 2023

1987’s Best Rock Albums article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023

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