So today, I’m cracking out another top ten list for you all! This time, I’ll be looking at the top ten albums in rock, punk and metal that I feel are underrated for the quality they are at. These are the albums that, what they lack in exposure, they more than make up for in quality. Just to be clear, I’m only taking one album per artist to try and encapsulate the wide range of sound that rock (and metal and punk) have to offer. And, again, these are all just my personal opinion – if you have any suggestions feel free to leave them below!
So, without further ado, let’s get cracking with some honourable mentions that just missed out on the top ten…
– AC/DC – The Razors Edge (1990)
– Aerosmith – Done With Mirrors (1985)
– Dire Straits – Dire Straits (1978)
– Electric Light Orchestra – A New World Record (1976)
– Iron Maiden – Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son (1988)
– Kasabian – Empire (2006)
– Nirvana – MTV: Unplugged In New York (1994)
– Queen – Queen (1973)
– The Struts – Everybody Wants (2014)
– Toto – Fahrenheit (1986)
10 – Clutch – From Beale Street To Oblivion (2007)
When I attended Download Festival in 2015, I had never ever heard of the band Clutch. I was blown away by the sheer energy put behind the blues riffs this hard rock band are known for, including one song I did immediately recognise (though, at first, not by name) – ‘Electric Worry’, partially written by the late Mississippi Fred McDowell. If you want a party, put this one on.
9 – Coldplay – Parachutes (2000)
Now, before I get a lot of stick for even considering Coldplay for this list, let me explain – before Coldplay got too high on their own success, even as early as the release of their second album ‘A Rush Of Blood To The Head’, they were a band with nothing to lose and all the sound to experiment with. To this end, I consider their debut album at the very least listenable – at most, actually entertaining.
8 – Green Day – Nimrod (1997)
Most people will give you one of two answers when it comes to the question – what is Green Day’s best album? It’s either going to be ‘American Idiot’, or ‘Dookie’ – the answer depends on who you ask. However, between these two came an absolute stonker of an album – ‘Nimrod’ – in which Green Day expanded their sound to crazy new levels whilst still retaining that punk edge for much of its playing time.
7 – Weezer – Weezer (2008)
The third Weezer self-titled album, the 2008 edition (commonly known as ‘The Red Album’), this album takes on a far more autobiographical tone. With recent efforts such as ‘Maladroit’ and ‘Pinkerton’ being more distant, this returns to the subject matter topics recently covered in the self-titled debut album, and also in the ambitious ‘Make Believe’. Plus, EVERYONE needs to hear Everybody Get Dangerous from this album.
6 – Black Sabbath – Sabotage (1975)
Recorded at a time in which the band were experiencing legal issues with their former management, this album – Sabbath’s sixth – is notable for being a lot more aggressive than the albums that came before. Songs like Symptom Of The Universe crunch through thunderous riffs and Ozzy actually penned some lyrics himself, something he rarely did for Sabbath. A very innovative album.
5 – Metallica – Reload (1997)
Some Metallica albums are great. Others, not so much. Reload falls into a weird negative zone where most, if not all the songs, are actually really great – however, coming as the second part of a double album release that started with ‘Load’ (which wasn’t as great), nobody really gave this the time of day, which is a shame. Fuel will forever remain as one of my favourite Metallica songs of all time.
4 – The Fratellis – Costello Music (2006)
Absolutely raucous and a huge lot of fun, this album featured standout tracks like Chelsea Dagger, Henrietta, Flathead and Whistle For The Choir that broke out into the mainstream. The reason I’ve put it here, however, is that those songs and every song in between come together cohesively to make what I consider one of the strongest, and definitely most fun, debut albums to come out of Britain. Definitely from Scotland.
3 – Pink Floyd – The Division Bell (1994)
Ahhh, Pink Floyd. Commonly cited as the band with the greatest album ever made (‘The Dark Side Of The Moon’, although I prefer ‘The Wall’) – this, however, I think far better encapsulates what Pink Floyd were about, from the very beginnings right up to the release of this album. Yes, ‘The Endless River’ followed this album two decades later, and isn’t a bad album, but this was the perfect send-off to a legendary rock band.
2 – Judas Priest – Turbo (1986)
Controversial at the time, amid accusations of Judas Priest ‘selling out’ through the use of more conventional riffs and the addition of guitar synthesisers, the album still proves very strong today. Lyrically different through the use of more grounded subjects such as love, rather than sci-fi and fantasy elements, this proved a nice contrast to the sound of the band. Rob Halford and the boys at their best.
1 – David Bowie – Diamond Dogs (1974)
Being the first original Bowie album following ‘Ziggy Stardust’ and ‘Aladdin Sane’ is never going to be an easy task. However, with songs like Rebel Rebel and Sweet Things, this album more than punches it weight. It’s easily my favourite Bowie album. Based on George Orwell’s 1984, this album featured raw guitar that many saw preceded the British punk movement a few years later. Absolutely seminal, criminally underrated.
And there you have it – my top ten underrated rock/punk/metal albums. Check back soon for my next post, and thanks for reading! – Bertie x