15. Spinal Tap
This Is Spinal Tap soundtrack (1984)
Rob Reiner's brilliant mock-rockumentary sends up longstanding hard-rock obsessions like Druids and getting super-heavy. (Aspiring local hair-metal god Paul Shortino of Rough Cutt even makes a cameo in the film.) Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer seethe with bewildered sexuality on tracks like "Sex Farm," "Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You Tonight," and "Big Bottom." (You know: "My baby fits me like a flesh tuxedo.") Some of the old vets like Aerosmith didn't appreciate the joke, but a new generation embraced Tap as one of their own. Their trick was transcending the parody label, which they did in part by touring as a real band. They even scored an invite to the metal answer to "We Are the World" - famine relief benefit Hear 'n Aid. -Steve Appleford
Operation Mindcrime (1988)
A rock opera in the tradition of Pink Floyd's "The Wall," Operation Mindcrime tells the story of Nikki, a heroin addict who -- through his involvement with a cult -- is forced to carry out the missions of one Dr. X. When he wakes up to find his true love murdered, Nikki imagines he is responsible for her death. Sounds and dialogue carry this story though ethereal and violently emotional songs. Highlights "Breaking The Silence," "I Don't Believe In Love" and "Eyes Of A Stranger" make this -- Queensyche's magnum opus -- a masterpiece. -Chris Lane
13. Twisted Sister
Stay Hungry (1984)
Stay Hungry has the requisite shout-along anthems ("We're Not Gonna Take It," "I Wanna Rock"), but Twisted Sister had an edge that made them feel more dangerous than other bands featured on this list. Poison and Cinderella, for example, most certainly did not have a "Burn In Hell" in them. Even power ballad "The Price" takes a darker outlook than the slow songs of their contemporaries. All in all, Stay Hungry is satisfyingly bleak. -Jason Roche
12. Bon Jovi
Slippery When Wet (1986)
Bon Jovi's third album seems to have sprung from a real-life hit factory. New Jersey's be-coiffed superstars created an album of rousing, stadium-status workouts that is still without peer. "You Give Love A Bad Name" was followed by "Livin' On A Prayer," which is as beloved by teens today as it was 25 years ago. Jon Bon Jovi today cringes when reminded of his hair metal roots, but there's no doubting his prayers sent many to hard rock heaven. -Phillip Mlynar
Night Songs (1986)
Cinderella was essentially discovered by Jon Bon Jovi, and the Philadelphia rockers toured in support of his band following Night Songs. While the music on that work bears some stylistic similarities to Bon Jovi, singer and guitarist Tom Kiefer has inarguable chops. At heart, he's a bluesman, evidenced in his guitar work and in his unmistakable sandpaper vocals that approach Janis Joplin territory on songs like the title track and "Nobody's Fool." -Linda Leseman
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