Top 10 Bob Rock-Produced Albums
With a stage name like Bob Rock, the man born Robert Jens Rock on April 19, 1954, had two obvious career alternatives: rolling boulders around a quarry or producing rock and roll albums. Luckily for many of the genre's most famous acts, Rock pursued the second vocation and earned multiple platinum-selling awards for himself and his superstar clients. So many, in fact, that we felt compelled to celebrate his efforts with a list of Top 10 Bob Rock-Produced Albums.
Before he stepped out on his own, Bob Rock put in a long apprenticeship as studio engineer for already established producer (and fellow Canadian) Bruce Fairbairn. Choosing from among the duo’s many successful pairings, we’ll start our list of Top 10 Bob Rock Albums with Swiss hard rockers Krokus’ fondly remembered U.S. breakthrough, The Blitz.
More recently, Bob Rock put his now lengthy experience to work on behalf of veteran rock queen, Joan Jett, whose last official U.S. release backed her faithful Blackhearts had been released over a decade earlier. But, with Rock’s assist, Jett compiled a selection of songs recently issued in Japan and worthy covers into 2006’s well-received Sinner.
When Diamond Dave Lee Roth was fighting to save his ailing solo career, he tapped the red-hot Bob Rock to produce his third album — and first sans guitar hero Steve Vai — A Little Ain’t Enough. But, while it earned a Gold certification within just a few months of release, consumer interest in the album quickly fizzled, along with DLR himself — though, through no fault of Rock’s.
If any album engineered by Bob Rock signaled his eventual graduation to super-producer status, it was Loverboy’s Top 10 smash, Get Lucky, which catapulted the Canadian pretty boy rockers to stardom on the strength of four million copies sold and one of the definitive summer hits of 1981 in the anthemic "Working for the Weekend."
To many classic rock fans, guitarist John Sykes’ short-lived late ‘80s supergroup, Blue Murder, featuring bassist Tony Franklin (the Firm) and legendary drummer Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge, Rod Stewart) seemed like a dream come true. But of course it couldn’t last, and the power trio’s bombastic, Bob Rock-produced debut would not be matched by future efforts.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Bon Jovi were at the top of the hair metal heap at this time (though Guns n’ Roses would soon change that), and after topping the American charts with 1986’s Slippery When Wet, their follow-up album, New Jersey, essentially crowned their hot streak with even bigger sales overseas. Oh yeah, and who was the engineer crafting the “magic” behind the studio glass? Bob Rock.
Metallica fans who hate Load simply because it wasn’t the Black Album 2.0 are even sillier than Metallica fans who hate … And Justice for All because it tried to be Master of Puppets 2.0. Fact is, Bob Rock’s second production job for Metallica contains by far the most satisfying deviations from safe metallic ground of the band’s career. You can blame the band for some of the questionable career decisions that followed, but not Rock.
As we near the finish line in our list of Top 10 Bob Rock Albums, you may think that 1989 was the “year of Rock." At least based on the first of two smash LPs he produced that would dominate conversations, airwaves and, uh, video-waves, during that calendar year: the Cult’s Sonic Temple. Who else but Bob Rock could help a onetime goth rock band turned psychedelic curiosity and then blue collar rockers fulfill their arena rock destiny?
Of course that other 1989 LP delivered by Bob Rock was Motley Crue’s fifth and final studio effort before the you-know-what hit the fan, Dr. Feelgood, which sold an incredible six millions copies in the U.S. alone and earned the band their first (and only) No. 1 chart topper. Indeed, had Bob Rock’s career wound down following this remarkable success story, his legacy as a hit-making producer would have been secured, but it wouldn’t had gone stratospheric as it did when he worked on Metallica's monster Black Album.
Thrash metal heavyweights Metallica came calling in the hope that Bob could help them streamline their sound in a bid to convert the entire friggin’ universe to their cause, rather than merely every denim-and-leather-clad individual moshing across Earth’s surface. This, as we all know, was duly accomplished by 1991’s watershed Black Album, which remains the a heavy metal benchmark and the one of the bestselling albums of the past 25 years.