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Top 10 Second Albums

The Beatles
Hulton Archives, Getty Images

The sophomore album can be the do-or-die proving ground for bands and artists looking to have long, successful careers. Here are the Top 10 Second Albums, according to Ultimate Classic Rock:

Bad Company Straight Shooter

'Straight Shooter'

Bad Company

Three months after issuing their self-titled debut, Bad Company was back in the studio to lay down material for their next album, which would be released less than a year later in April of 1975. There were only two official singles released from the album, 'Good Lovin' Gone Bad' and 'Feel Like Makin' Love,' the latter of which charted on the Billboard Top Ten. However 'Shooting Star,' an album cut lamenting the loss of rock stars who had died before their time, quickly became a fan favorite that receives frequent radio airplay to this day.

Allman Brothers Band Idlewild South

'Idlewild South'

The Allman Brothers Band

Dickey Betts stepped up to claim his place as a key songwriter for the Allmans with this album, contributing side one's signature ending track 'In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,' which followed Gregg Allman's 'Midnight Rider' in one of the best one-two album side wrap-ups that you'll ever hear.

Metallica Ride the Lightning

'Ride The Lightning'


Recorded in Denmark, 'Ride The Lightning' continued the heavy metal assault of Metallica on unsuspecting audiences worldwide. Former member Dave Mustaine of Megadeth grabs a co-writing credit on the title track, long after his dismissal from the group. 'Ride The Lightning' also found the group venturing into new territory with the contemplative, acoustic-based 'Fade to Black' and 'The Call of Ktulu,' a stunning nine-minute instrumental track.

The Black Crowes the Southern Harmony and Musical Companion

'The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion'

The Black Crowes

After wrapping up touring for their debut album, the Black Crowes came back around quickly with 'Southern Harmony.' Their second album found the band opening up both lyrically and musically, stretching their legs with a release that proved their legitimacy with watershed moments like 'Thorn in my Pride' and the back porch blues shuffle of 'Remedy.'

The Beatles Meet the Beatles

'Meet The Beatles'

The Beatles

Despite being tagged as their “first album” on its cover, this was actually the second Beatles album released in the United States, with portions having been released previously as 'With The Beatles' in the UK. The album opening 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' provided additional fuel for the growing 'Beatlemania' that was happening worldwide.

Van Halen II

'Van Halen II'

Van Halen

Van Halen's second album began to materialize less than 48 hours after the quartet had finished up touring in support of their monster self-titled debut. Featuring cuts like 'Dance The Night Away,' 'Beautiful Girls' and 'Somebody Get Me A Doctor,' Van Halen proved that the good times were just beginning with this record.

Ozzy Osbourne Diary of a Madman

'Diary Of A Madman'

Ozzy Osbourne

Less than a year after his solo debut 'Blizzard of Ozz,' Ozzy Osbourne released 'Diary,' parts of which had been incubating at the same time that 'Blizzard' was completed. Post-Sabbath, Osbourne had seemingly found a new creative muse in young guitarist Randy Rhoads, but the partnership would be sadly short-lived with the tragic death of the guitarist during the 'Diary' tour.

Led Zeppelin II

'Led Zeppelin II'

Led Zeppelin

Amazingly, Led Zeppelin unleashed their second album, one of the most important in rock history, the same year as their debut album. Together, the first two Zep albums would provide the template for the entire next generation of rock n' rollers. Anyone who had questions about whether or not Led Zeppelin was the real deal quickly had them put to rest with the release of 'II.'

Black Sabbath Paranoid


Black Sabbath

The ominous thumping of Bill Ward's drumming on 'War Pigs' serves as the opening moment for one of the best second albums ever released by a rock band. The album's landmark title track came together in 25 minutes when, according to Ward, the band was wrapping up the session and realized that they still needed more material to complete the album.

AC/DC Let There Be Rock

'Let There Be Rock'


Despite a number of prior Australian and international releases, 'Let There Be Rock' was the second official album released in the U.S. by controversial Aussie rockers AC/DC. As was the case with their debut 'High Voltage' album, AC/DC goes straight for the jugular with future classics like 'Problem Child' and the unforgettable 'Whole Lotta Rosie.' The swagger of Bon Scott's vocal style was uniquely described by Lemmy of Motorhead as sounding like he was 'f--king somebody while singing.”


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