The best moments in the above list of 1986's Best Rock Albums weren't just signature moments that year. They were career achievements.

As you click through the gallery, you'll find iconic albums from acts as disparate as Peter Gabriel, Metallica and Paul Simon – projects that have ranked at or near the top of their respective discographies ever since. You'll also find records that solidified musical reputations from the likes of Megadeth and Steve Winwood, gutsy attempts to keep going in the face of steep obstacles from Queen and John Fogerty – and not one, but two studio projects from Elvis Costello.

At the same time, 1986 marked a period of transition for some of classic rock's biggest names. The Rolling Stones limped through a period of disconnection between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Could Bob Dylan overcome his '80s-era creative struggles? Had Chicago and Journey reached the end of a period when both had been commercial juggernauts? You had Judas Priest and Iron Maiden introducing new technology in an attempt to keep up with changing music tastes, even as new faces like Poison and Bon Jovi made big waves. Van Halen and Boston were starting over, while David Lee Roth and Tesla enjoyed fresh beginnings.

Could famous figures from the '70s like Eric Clapton, Eddie Money, Ozzy Osbourne, Jackson Browne and Bob Seger survive, much less thrive, along side fresh-faced contenders like Cinderella and the Georgia Satellites? Our list of 1986's Best Rock Albums suggests that they could. But how would a traditional Top 40 countdown shape up? Who'd end up at No. 1? Click through the above gallery to find out.