The ultimate guide to the best of 2020 is in the new issue of Classic Rock

Classic Rock 283
(Image credit: Future)

What a year it’s been, eh? It’s the understatement of the century to say that it’s thrown everyone for a loop. But the more things change, the more things stay the same (thankfully). So it’s time for our annual look at what went down in rock over the past 12 months – the new albums and songs that got us excited, the reissues that put the spotlight on old favourites, and much more. 

We caught up with rock’s prime movers and shakers: Brian and Angus from AC/DC on their incredible return; Lars Ulrich tells us how he’s spent the year in lockdown (and we eavesdropped on a conversation between him and Diamond Head’s Brian Tatler); we talked to Fish about retirement, grabbed Massive Wagons to tell us about making the UK Top 10, and more. 

So, for some respite from the madness that surrounds us in the real world, please sit back, relax and join us in celebrating the Year In Rock 2020. And from all of us here at Classic Rock, we hope you have a brilliant Christmas break and a very happy – and most importantly – healthy 2021.

The end-of-year edition of Classic Rock is on sale now. And it includes a free Guitar Heroes 2021 calendar. 

Lightning bolt page divider


The Top 50 Albums Of 2020
Another year over (just about), and another one in which there were fantastic new albums and lavish reissues. We look back at the 50 best new releases and the standout reissues, and remember those who rocked our world but have sadly left us in the past 12 months. We talk to some of the artists whose albums made our lists, or for whom 2020 has been one to remember (other than for being the year of the curse of COVID, that is), including…

Positivity, big choruses and trying to write their own Billie Jean has done the British melodic veterans good, and it’s also served to get their latest album into the international charts.

Stone Temple Pilots
In 2020 the band crafted a mostly light-touch acoustic album that could well be one of their best.

Drummer Lars Ulrich on lockdown, missing live music, and what the future holds for the band.

Sweden’s melodic rock torch bearers on Eurovision, Def Leppard and the importance of ‘perfect imperfections’.

It looked like it might be all over after their last tour. But the best hard rock’n’roll band in the world don’t quit easily. We talk to Angus and Johnno about their high-voltage new album.

The Struts
Clouds and silver linings… No one wanted a pandemic to come along and tip 2020 on its head. But without the lockdown we were forced into, The Struts’ new album wouldn’t exist.

After spending the last four decades immersed in music, Fish is calling time. But with his farewell album, the prog legend is signing off with the best record of his solo career.

Mark Kelly
The Marillion keyboard player talks about his record with Marathon, lockdown and former bandmate Fish’s new album.

The Pretenders
While Chrissie Hynde has been involved in other projects, she’s always had The Pretenders. And with 2020’s Hate For Sale they returned to guitar-based rock’n’roll and came back with a bang.

Strangers In The Night (now expanded and reissued) captured a great rock band at their peak, and is one of the all-time great live albums. But by the time it was released, UFO were no longer the band who’d made it.

Diamond Head
As Diamond Head celebrate the 40th anniversary of their debut album Lightning To The Nations, guitarist Brian Tatler and long-time fan Lars Ulrich catch up over Zoom.

Keith Richards
Like everyone else, his year has been dictated by you know what. And while he’s behind on his reading, he’s found time to “sit around writing songs”.

Classic Rock 283

(Image credit: Future)


The Dirt
The Year That Was 2020: As we reach the end of a surreal year, dominated by the effects of covid-19, there are reasons to be cheerful – including new music, and renewed appreciation of gigs and those who make it all possible… Wolfgang Van Halen slams rumour that he’ll be taking dad Eddie’s place in Van Halen; Paul Stanley, Mick Jagger and Mike Portnoy among the rockers celebrating the end of Trump’s US presidency… Welcome back Albert Bouchard and Midnight Oil… Say hello to Ego Kill Talent… Say goodbye to Ken Hensley, James Broad, Paul Travis, Bones Hillman…

The Stories Behind The Songs: Jimi Hendrix
How London’s famous clock tower and Jimi’s main groupie inspired his last great song: Dolly Dagger.

Q&A: Phil Campbell
The former Motörhead guitarist on his family band, the tyranny of politicians, and what his old mucker Lemmy would have made of the pandemic.

New albums from Iron Maiden, Smashing Pumpkins, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, The Wildhearts, John Fogerty, Dream Theater, Paul McCartney, Volbeat, Warrior Soul… Reissues from Killing Joke, Manowar, The Kinks, Porcupine Tree, Graham Bonnet, George Thorogood & The Destroyers, Helloween, Chris Squire, Neil Young… DVDs, films and books on Pete Way, Thin Lizzy, Janis Joplin, Shane MacGowan, Bruce Springsteen, Frank Zappa, Brian Eno… Live reviews of Foo Fighters, Black Stone Cherry, The Bronx…

Gig Listings
Find out who’s playing where and when. Now including livestreams.

The SoundtrackOf My Life: George Thorogood
The singer/guitarist on the records, artists and gigs that are of lasting significance to him.


* Copies of the new issue of Classic Rock can be purchased online from Magazines Direct - make sure you select issue 282 from the dropdown menu. 

Classic Rock is on sale in the UK in shops such as supermarkets and newsagents, although delays are possible as stores prioritise the delivery of different lines of stock. 

* In North America, Classic Rock is available is branches of Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million, although new issues do not go on sale until a couple of weeks after they're published in The UK. 

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Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.