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The twenty greatest songs of Classic Rock's lifetime

In the 200th edition of Classic we reveal the 200 greatest songs of the magazine's lifetime, from November 1998 to the current day, as chosen Classic Rock's writers... and by YOU. Here's the top twenty.

20. Heaven And HellBible Black (The Devil You Know, 2009)

When Dio reunited with his former Sabbath cohorts, it was almost as if they’d never been away.

19. Foo FightersIn Your Honour (In Your Honour, 2005)

Blisteringly intense (yet hugely catchy) opener to the Foos’ ambitious double release.

18. The Black CrowesKicking My Heart Around (By Your Side, 1999)

Wrapped around a slide riff of epic proportions, the Brothers Robinson proved that there was plenty of life in the Crowes.

17. Alter Bridge — _Blackbird _(Blackbird, 2007)

Tour de force title track from AB’s second album. Myles Kennedy’s incredible vocal matched only by Mark Tremonti’s guitar prowess.

16. The Gaslight AnthemThe ’59 Sound (The ’59 Sound, 2008)

The moment we fell for the New Jersey soul-punks was the title track of The ’59 Sound – specifically when the guitar crunches in anticipation of that solid-gold chorus.

15. Guns N’ RosesMadagascar (Chinese Democracy, 2008)

One of Chinese Democracy’s standouts – complete with MLK Jr’s I Have A Dream speech. Worth the wait.

14. Black Stone CherrySoulcreek (Folklore And Superstition, 2008)

Wrapped around a snarling riff with a monster ‘yeah-yeah’ pre-chorus, it’s little wonder we’ve taken BSC to our hearts.

13. Iron MaidenPaschendale (Dance Of Death, 2003)

Adrian Smith had set out to write a traditional Maiden epic. He succeeded with this WWI-inspired, prog-worthy odyssey.

12. Alice In ChainsCheck My Brain (Black Gives Way To Blue, 2009)

Alice reinvented themselves with William DuVall on the live circuit. Could they do it on record? Hell yeah.

11. Black Country CommunionOne Last Soul (Black Country Communion, 2010)

Joe Bonamassa, Glenn Hughes, John Bonham and Derek Sherinian blow the proverbial doors off this relentlessly brilliant modern rock song.

10. Rolling StonesDoom And Gloom (GRRR!, 2012)

Tagged on to the end of their triumphal, tour-coinciding, as-definitive-as-it-could-be GRRR! hits collection, this up-tempo-dizzy document of Jagger, Richards, Wood ’n’ Watts’ first recording date in seven years delivered with a casual, booty-loosening aplomb lesser bands would kill to emulate. Vintage stuff.

9. Joe BonamassaThe Ballad Of John Henry (The Ballad Of John Henry, 2009)

The US folk hero John Henry had been mined by songwriters from Bruce Springsteen to Van Morrison, but Joe Bonamassa upped the ante on a reboot that pinballs between banjo-driven verse and hammer-heavy chorus. In 2009, the bluesman was within touching distance of the huge-time; this album and title track arguably tipped him over.

8. Black SabbathGod Is Dead? (13, 2013)

The unholy nine-minute highlight of 13, God Is Dead? fused a flesh-creeping verse to an anvil-heavy chorus, and found Ozzy caterwauling his damning report on Planet Earth to unsettling effect. God might be dead, but with this song scoring a Grammy for Best Metal Performance, the Sabs return proved they were as potent as ever.

7. Velvet RevolverSlither (Contraband, 2004)

Sleazy, sneery and leery, the lead-off single from 2004’s Contraband was the song that established Velvet Revolver as more than a compensation prize for lovesick GN’R fans. With early material this strong, it’s a shame that Scott Weiland, Duff McKagan, Slash, Matt Sorum and Dave Kushner couldn’t keep it together…

6. ZZ TopI Gotsta Get Paid (La Futura, 2012)

The beards and bluesy foundations were present and correct when the Houston trio united with Rick Rubin on 2012’s La Futura, but it was this opening gambit that proved old dogs could learn new tricks, with I Gotsta Get Paid reimagining local hip-hop classic, 25 Lighters, over a riff fuzzier than the Texan trio’s arse-cracks.

5. Queens Of The Stone AgeNo One Knows (Songs For The Deaf, 2002)

When it comes to the Queens’ breakthrough single of 2002, the operative word is ‘stomp’, from Josh Homme’s chunky jackboot guitar rhythm to a guesting Dave Grohl’s grubby percussive thump. Even now, just thinking about No One Knows is making our heads bob involuntarily…

4. AudioslaveCochise (Audioslave, 2002)

Inevitably, there was a little bit of politics, with Audioslave’s debut single taking its title from the Apache chief who led an 1861 uprising against white settlers. Whatever: Cochise will be remembered for the visceral assault of Tom Morello’s monolith riff and Chris Cornell’s hopping-mad vocal.

3. The White StripesSeven Nation Army (Elephant, 2003)

Leading the charge for 2003’s Elephant, Seven Nation Army was rock’n’roll with the fat trimmed and the bones cleaned. Jack White’s descending five-note guitar motif was so boneheaded it could be bellowed by thugs on football terraces, and so simple it could be used to explain a ‘hook’ to an alien.

2. The DarknessI Believe In A Thing Called Love (Permission To Land, 2003)

Rewind to 2003, and the cock-rock misfits’ signature tune was a euphoric rocket up the arse of the morose nu metal scene. A decade later, it’s still a guaranteed party-starter, from Justin Hawkins’ starburst guitar solos to the ‘touching yooouuu’ pre-chorus that makes everyone howl like horny foxes.

1. AC/DCRock’N’Roll Train (Black Ice, 2008)

As the song that kicked off 2008’s restorative Black Ice, the only thing more thrilling than Rock’N’Roll Train tearing through your speakers was the locomotive itself clattering through the backdrop on the associated world tour. After eight years of spinning their wheels, AC/DC were back on track. The riff was magnificent, the pace propulsive, Brian Johnson could still sing (oh, thank god he could still sing) – sound proof, essentially, that there was quality steam in the old AC/DC train yet. A joyful return to the forefront of heavy rock’n’roll, school-uniformed 50-something lead guitarist included. Excellent.

You can view the entire 200 tracks in issue 200 of Classic Rock, which can be ordered online from MyFavouriteMagazines (opens in new tab).

Alternatively, you can download the Classic Rock magazine app from iTunes.

Classic Rock
Classic Rock

Classic Rock is the online home of the world's best rock'n'roll magazine. We bring you breaking news, exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes features, as well as unrivalled access to the biggest names in rock music; from Led Zeppelin to Deep Purple, Guns N’ Roses to the Rolling Stones, AC/DC to the Sex Pistols, and everything in between. Our expert writers bring you the very best on established and emerging bands plus everything you need to know about the mightiest new music releases.