The 20 best albums from 1982

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1982 was a year of hard rock that saw many bands making artistic transitions, as well as strong releases from some of the biggest names in heavy metal. From The Cure's gothic rock milestone to The Clash's "sell-out record" and the first Aerosmith album of the 80s, here we compile the 20 albums which shaped 1982's musical landscape.

Aerosmith - Rock In A Hard Place

Proving that you must spend some time eating carpet to genuinely pick yourself up and try again, Aerosmith’s first album of the 1980s was recorded minus guitarist mainstays Joe Perry and Brad Whitford. Rick Dufay and Jimmy Crespo were adequate replacements and Lightning Strikes, Bitch’s Brew, Jailbait and Joanie’s Butterfly all remain unjustly overlooked Aerosmith nuggets of pure gold.

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Asia - Asia

With backgrounds in Yes, Emerson Lake & Palmer and King Crimson, nobody expected the concise, radio-friendly vivacity of Heat Of The Moment, Sole Survivor and Only Time Will Tell. However, John Wetton (Roxy Music) and Geoff Downes (Buggles) knew all about writing hit singles.

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The Clash - Combat Rock

Often dismissed as The Clash’s sell-out record, Combat Rock is unmistakably the sound of a great band falling apart at the seams. Well-known for the hits Should I Stay Or Should I Go and Rock The Casbah, it also flirts with funk, rap, tribal jazz and of course reggae, plus a cameo from poet Allen Ginsberg. Believe us, it’s better than it sounds on paper.

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The Cure - Pornography

Now belatedly considered one of Robert Smith and company’s best records, not to mention a milestone in the genesis of goth rock, Pornography was nevertheless given short shrift by the critics. Its heavy, distorted guitars, Smith’s echo-charged vocals and bleakly emotional lyrics make for some truly uncomfortable listening, certainly when compared to the jaunty pop of the group’s The Head On The Door era. But hindsight is a wonderful thing.

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Dire Straits - Love Over Gold

Testing the patience for their fans, Love Over Gold broke with a blues-rock sound Dire Straits had established with three previous albums. Containing just five songs, its 41 minutes were dominated by the epic opening track Telegraph Road, which clocked in at just short of quarter-of-an-hour. Fortunately, the gamble paid off, with the album becoming a British No.1 and spending an amazing four years in the chart.

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Rory Gallagher - Jinx

Generally regarded as the Irish guitarist/vocalist’s last great studio release, Jinx is as fiery and well-crafted a blues-rock album as you could hope to wish for. His distinguished and long-running career having ceilinged out, Gallagher vented his frustration at the music industry with Loose Talk, but is on top-notch form with Bourbon, Big Guns, Jinxed and the record’s rabble-rousing concert favourite, The Devil Made Me Do It.

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Gillan - Magic

Although Ian Gillan would later revive the band name of Gillan, Magic was the last in a string of releases that made him a regular and much-loved figure at both the Top Of The Pops bar and the nation’s concert halls. Cut by a line-up that featured the current Iron Maiden guitarist, Janick Gers, the album included an unlikely cover of Stevie Wonder’s Living For The City.

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Iron Maiden Number Of The Beast cover

Iron Maiden - The Number Of The Beast

The unpredictable Paul Di’Anno jettisoned, Iron Maiden came up with a near-definitive collection of songs. Brilliantly produced and confidently played, The Number Of The Beast allowed them to make their leap into the big league. “We knew at the time that there was something right about what we were doing,” says then new-boy Dickinson. “The stars were aligned.”

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Judas Priest - Screaming For Vengeance

Priest needed to up their game after the previous year’s disappointing Point Of Entry. Still a spectacular opening to their live show, the clarion call of The Hellion and Electric Eye was a great way to begin a heavy metal album. Screaming For Vengeance had bludgeoning credentials a-plenty, and Riding On The Wind, You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’ and the excellent title track could have all been benchmark heavy metal titles for the rest to aspire to. 

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Kiss - Creatures Of The Night

Creatures Of The Night was Kiss’ most consistently satisfying album in half a decade. War Machine, I Love It Loud and the killer power ballad I Still Love You signalled the band’s artistic re-birth, though they still removed their make-up the following year.

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Van Halen - Diver Down

VH were cranking out albums at an fast rate (one a year since ’78), so Diver Down is full of instrumentals and covers – Roy Orbison’s (Oh) Pretty Woman, The Kinks’ Where Have All The Good Times Gone and Motown classic Dancing In The Street among them. But so what? It doesn’t matter in the slightest. David Lee Roth’s ego is in orbit, and the tension between him and guitarist Eddie VH (soon to team up with Michael Jackson on Beat It) is palpable. DD is the band’s wildest and loosest album – and all the better for it. 

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Robert Plant - Pictures At Eleven

Plant was in the classic no-win situation. So instead of returning with a debut solo album that aped previous achievements with Led Zeppelin, he simply pleased himself. With the help of Phil Collins and the late Cozy Powell on drums, Pictures At Eleven was smooth, very sophisticated and full of clever, understated hooks. 

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Rainbow - Straight Between The Eyes

Deserving far better than its Alien-style sleeve art of a guitar neck bursting through somebody’s forehead, Straight Between The Eyes was the second of Rainbow’s three studio discs with Joe Lynn Turner on vocals. Songs like Stone Cold and Tearin’ Out My Heart allowed the band to continue their inroads to the American market, while Death Alley Driver retained their hold on British headbangers.

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Roxy Music - Avalon

Signalling a conclusive end to their art rock years, Avalon was Roxy Music’s second consecutive UK chart-topping album – a feat they’d not managed before. In their final activity as a group, Bryan Ferry became the consummate lounge lizard, crooning superbly to More Than This, Take A Chance With Me and While My Heart Is Still Beating

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Rush - Signals

An album that split the Canadian band’s following clean down the middle, Signals saw the trio beginning to experiment with keyboards, played by bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee. It meant that the potency of Alex Lifeson’s guitar was sometimes sacrificed. For some, this was tantamount to heresy. However, the sheer quality of songs like New World Man, Subdivisions, The Analog Kid and Countdown render such quibbles pointless.

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Simple Minds - New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)

Still on the verge of becoming a household name, Simple Minds were nevertheless delivering their end of the bargain. Marrying emotion-charged, uplifting hooks with the charismatic vocals of Jim Kerr, New Gold Dream even introduced mild dancefloor elements to the singles Promised You A Miracle and Glittering Prize. A marvellously simplistic and sincere statement.

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Bruce Springsteen - Nebraska

Stripped down to the barest bones – a human voice, acoustic and electric guitar, and sometimes a harmonica – Springsteen confounded the bosses of his record label and thrilled their accountants by releasing a set of demos as his sixth album. Unapologetically gloomy, its 10 songs related real-life tales of mass murderers and desperados, the narrative all the more compelling for its simplicity.

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Toto - Toto IV

Sweeping the boards at 1982’s Grammy Awards, Toto IV claimed six categories including Album Of The Year. Quite simply, the band’s success was the culmination of many years of graft as session musicians. Rosanna, Africa and the mega-ballad I Won’t Hold You Back all became hit singles.

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Venom - Black Metal

An album so far ahead of its time, Black Metal named an entire genre, the band responsible also calling their new CD Metal Black. The aural equivalent of being lobotomised without anaesthesia, its three Geordie-based protagonists gave out the image of being genuinely unhinged, adding to their own primitive musical rumblings.

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Whitesnake - Saints & Sinners

A stepping-stone between the Marsden and Moody era and vocalist David Coverdale’s late 1980s American assault, Saints & Sinners introduced guitarist Mel Galley, though John Sykes was to later replace him. Musically, the album is a glorious halfway house; Rough An’ Ready and Bloody Luxury juxtaposing Here I Go Again and Crying In The Rain.

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