Top 10 Albums of 2008
Although results may vary slightly from year to year, classic rock never really hurts for compelling new releases, and 2008 was no exception. In fact, if anything singled out that year, it was the major band comebacks -- both unexpected and long anticipated. Check out our list of the Top 10 Albums of 2008 for all the proof you need.
This somewhat controversial, but diplomatically named, collaboration features legendary Free and Bad Company frontman Paul Rodgers with two of the three surviving Queen members -- guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor (bassist John Deacon declined to interrupt his happy retirement). Whether you view the resulting ‘The Cosmos Rocks‘ as triumph or travesty, there’s no denying the combined star power behind it.
Barely nipping Big Elf’s superlative, retro-rocking ‘Cheat the Gallows' for inclusion in the Top 10 Albums of 2008 is this barn-burning bruiser of a debut by Australian hard rockers Airbourne. Yes, the quartet led by the O’Keeffe brothers bears many similarities to another sibling-led hard-rock band from the land Down Under (see further down on this list), but with songs as strong as 'Stand Up for Rock 'n' Roll' and 'Runnin' Wild,' who gives a %#%$?
- 8The Crue’s ninth album was a godsend for the band’s long-suffering fans, ending an eight-year hiatus from recording and reuniting the fearsome founding foursome of Vince Neil, Mick Mars, Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee in a studio for the first time in more than a decade. More importantly, ‘Saints of Los Angeles‘ came damn close to resurrecting the musical imprint, if not quite the timeless songs, that made the band L.A.’s glam-metal sleaze kings a quarter-century earlier.
Speaking of comebacks, we're not forgetting about Alice Cooper’s 25th album, which boasted cameos by Ozzy Osbourne, Slash and Jani Lane, and earned the shock-rock king his highest placing on the charts in nearly two decades, all the while reviving his penchant for conceptual storytelling. Here, he writes about a serial killer named Spider, who's busy “harvesting” legs from eight victims to complete his arachnid transformation. Yuck.
- 6Speaking of reunions, none seemed as improbable as the Robinson brothers’ reconciliation, which required a few years of cautious, on-the-road healing before spawning the Black Crowes' first album in seven years. But the wait was well worth it, because ‘Warpaint’ found the retooled band returning to action, bluesier and earthier than ever before.
- 5Amid all of these lengthy recording droughts, it sure is nice to have a band you can actually depend on to kindly rip your head off every other year or so. Like Lemmy's bunch, first established in 1975 and cranking out amphetamine-fueled slabs of speed metal goodness at a frantic pace ever since -- to the tune of 19 studio efforts (and counting) in 2008.
- 4By the time it finally sashayed into record stores, virtually without warning after an astonishing 17-year gestation, ‘Chinese Democracy’ had gone down as the most anticipated album in rock 'n' roll history -- to the point that its actual musical contents hardly mattered in the grand scheme of things, even though they were, by and large, impressive enough in their ambitious schizophrenia. And the fact that China actually embraced democratic reforms before GNR got around to finishing Axl Rose’s magnum opus is, of course, priceless.
AC/DC fans had to wait a much shorter, though equally tortuous, number of years between their heroes’ 2000 album, ‘Stiff Upper Lip,’ and its 2008 successor, ‘Black Ice.’ But the latter’s generous 15 cuts of prime-grade boogie rock truly satisfied the hungry. What’s more, ‘Black Ice’ settled any doubts about who was the world’s greatest hard-rock band by outselling ‘Chinese Democracy’ nearly 10-to-one on its way to becoming one of the year’s best-selling albums.
Metallica's ‘Death Magnetic’ was a bid to win back the trust of jilted fans who felt betrayed by the historic blunder that was ‘St. Anger.’ It took an assist from super-producer Rick Rubin, and a mass swallowing of pride, to undertake the back-to-thrash-basics endeavor that effectively rescued their credibility and allowed millions of fans to anticipate future albums (whenever they may come) with excitement instead of dread.
We’re sticking with the reunion theme in our list of the Top 10 Albums of 2008 with a debut album that was 35 years in the making. Although Tom Petty and Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell swapped band names shortly after Mudcrutch’s sole single release in 1974, their reunion with old sparring partners who never made it into their more famous band produced a stunning collection of laid-back and rustic southern roots rock.