Lists. We all love 'em. They're fun! So, enjoy my top ten albums of 1979. I should note, this list is based on my favorites from that time, as I remember them. “Then,” so to speak. I could do a “now” version, which would certainly swap out a few things. For example, Joe Jackson's "Look Sharp" would be in the “now” version. Warning, geeky Maryland-centric teen memories to follow...
Honorable Mention: Cheap Trick-Dream Police. You'll see why below.
10 The Babys-Head First. Besides the blazing title track, opener "Love Don't Prove I'm Right" and side one track three gem "I was One" are melodic hard rock at their finest. John Waite still gettin' it done today.
9 Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers-Damn The Torpedoes. This album was *everywhere.* While I bused tables at the local Italian joint, there it was. At the local guitar store, some guy showed me how to play the riff to "Refugee." The soundtrack for teenage hopes and dreams.
8 AC/DC-Highway To Hell. Undeniable. Even the deep tracks where all over the radio back then. Of note, this record introduced most of our ears to producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange.
7 Led Zeppelin-In Through The Out Door. The only Zeppelin record of new material released *after* I'd become a fan. I walked home from Korvettes (best music section of any department store), paper-bagged record in hand. Playing along to "Carouselambra" made me a competent bass player.
6 The Knack-Get The Knack. It really did feel like a Beatles album. I'd stare at the picture on the back for hours. Amazing songs, production and playing. Kind of an R rated record in disguise.
5 Aerosmith-Night In The Ruts. The first new release once I'd become aware of the band (see Zeppelin, above). My theory is that records that fall within those parameters tend to hold a special place in the listeners heart. The swagger found in tracks one and two ("No Surprize"/"Chiquita") dealt absolute turntable domination. I had no clue Joe Perry wasn't even playing on half the record.
4 New England-New England. They opened for Kiss that summer. John Fannon's white Les Paul Custom was the first electric guitar I heard in an arena. Produced by Paul Stanley. Sold.
3 Journey-Evolution. This could well be the perfect melodic rock album. Neal Schon's playing amazed me, and what you can say about Steve Perry. Beyond that, I *loved* Gregg Rolie's co-lead vocal tracks. "Lovin' You Is Easy," "Just The Same Way," and "Do You Recall" could be the best side two tracks one-three ever. I'd see the band tour for this record (with The Joe Perry Project opening) the following summer.
2 UFO-Strangers In The Night. I typically don't include live records on my "best of" lists, but 1979 had the goods. I was aware of the band (they just seemed like I band I should know) when I saw them opening for Cheap Trick (wait for it...). This record is the culmination of the Schenker era for the band, and deeper album tracks like "Natural Thing," "Out In The Street," and "I'm A Loser" became part of my life blood. UFO hangs it up in 2019. Note, I loved this band before I ever knew who Eddie Trunk was. ;-)
1 Cheap Trick-At Budokan. If Kiss opened the door to the hard rock party for me, Cheap Trick where the mysterious guys doing illegal things in the bathroom. A record store in Bethesda would show the promo videos from this record on their projection screen in the back of the store (ahem, the head shop), and I would just sit and watch. A few viewings, the store manager with the Cheap Trick satin jacket, and I *had* to buy this record. Song is king, and CT had them in spades. That, and a performance that was so electrically fringed, there was no going back. Pointy guitars get made fun of, but Rick Nielsen's Hamer Standard guitar was the ultimate eye candy. I'd own quite a few of them over the years. Depending on the day, this could be my favorite band, and record of all time.