1988’s Best Rock Albums list defined a headbanging year for the ages. It was a year in which Metal music dominated the top of the charts. Metal and hard rock’s superiority is clearly reflected in our 1988’s Top 10 rock albums list. It’s not all all metal, but it’s close. Heavy rocking bands like Metallica, Queensrÿche, Iron Maiden, Pantera, Judas Priest, Ozzy Osbourne, Megadeath, Yngwie Malmsteen, Anthrax and The Scorpions, all released spectacular bang your head against the wall albums. Bands that crossed the genres of rock and pop like Bon Jovi, Cheap Trick, Poison, David Lee Roth, Van Halen, and U2 all continued to release high quality records keeping their loyal fans happy
1988 was also a year in which we witnessed some great debut albums. Perhaps our favorite of them all was the debut album of Soundgarden. Soundgarden would become one of our favorite new bands. Soundgarden’s soaring pitch perfect vocals by Chris Cornell were lifted away by an extraordinary band that in some ways always reminded us of the spirit of Led Zeppelin more than any other rock band since Led Zeppelin broke up. And speaking of Led Zeppelin. Our 1988’s Best Rock Albums list contained solo releases from both Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. That was the one and only time that ever happened.
There were more great debut albums released in 1988. The debut album of L.A.Guns was released as well as debuts by Winger, Lucinda Williams and Living Colour. Perhaps the most surprising debut album was released by Keith Richards. The legendary Rolling Stones guitarist and songwriter released his first solo album entitled Talk Is Cheap. The album featured Keith Richard’s solo band he called the X-Pensive Winos. The band consisted of the brilliant drummer and producer Steve Jordan along with legendary guitarist Waddy Wachtel, the Nevelli Brothers Ivan Neville and Charley Drayton.
After a few critically panned 1980s releases, Elton John returned with a decent album entitled Reg Strikes Back. Still it did not compare to his iconic 1970s albums. Bruce Hornsby continued to release great music as well as R.E.M , Social Distortion, Pat Benatar, Toto and a few others.
1988’s biggest surprise was the birth of one of the greatest supergroups of all time. A band called The Traveling Wilburys featured an ex Beatle in George Harrison, one of the most influential songwriters of all time in Bob Dylan, one of the most iconic voices of the 1950’s and 60s in Roy Orbison and of course the incredibly talented Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne. What a lineup! The group would release two albums, although the band never got in the way of their own solo careers.
Once again, like we did on 1987’s list, we only created a top 50 list since there were just not enough great albums released in 1988 to warrant the supplemental list. We probably missed a few. In fact we know we did, but choices had to be made. One more year to go and then we are heading to the decade of the 1960s which will be awesome. Thanks for looking at these lists.