Another trip in the Wayback Machine to celebrate another batch of anniversary records. This week, it’s the best rock albums from 1979.


If you’ve been following this series, you know that last week, we looked at the end of the ’80s with all the 1989 records that turn 35 this year. The week before that, it was a bit of a slog with the 25th anniversary releases from 1999. I initially thought of going 50 years back to 1974, but upon further review, 1979 is a much more interesting year, musically. So 45th anniversary albums it is.


A thanks up front to Erica Banas, who does some pretty amazing and well-researched work for ROCK 92.9. At the beginning of every year, she puts together a series of round-ups of that year’s big anniversary releases. I’ve been using those as a jumping-off point for my 12-Inch Polls, the supplementing with a few of my personal favorites. Check out Erica’s list of 24 albums that turn 45 in 2024.


The Best Rock Albums From 1979: What’s Your Favorite?

Now that we’ve reached back almost 50 years, I can’t really rely on my firsthand musical experience. I turned 2 in 1979, so the filter through which I’m viewing this list is one of legacy. ’79 was an important year in the growth of punk. Seminal metal and new wave releases dropped that year, too. But it was still the ’70s, so what we now call Classic Rock was still ruling the roost.


Take a look at my list, press play on a few of the songs to jog your memory if you need to, then cast your vote. And by all means, if you have a glaring omission you need to chide me for, clap back on the ROCK 92.9 Facebook page. I’d link out to our Twitter, but no one really hangs out there anymore, thanks to Elon’s army of bots and bluecheck trolls taking over.

  • AC/DC ‘Highway To Hell’

    You know the story by now. Highway To Hell drops on July 27, 1979. AC/DC frontman Bon Scott dies on February 19, 1980. Months later, the band has found their new frontman and recorded and released a follow-up that’s on par with this essential.

  • The B-52’S ‘The B-52’S’

    The Athens, GA outfit dropped their self-titled debut on July 6, 1979. 45 years on, it still stands up. Both timeless and of its time.

  • Blondie ‘Eat To The Beat’

    Does this September 28, 1979 Blondie release have their big hits on it? No. But it might very well be their best overall album. And the leadoff cut is a big reason why.

  • The Cars ‘Candy-O’

    A Boston rock essential. Released on June 13, 1979, The Cars’ sophomore album continued to make them a household name outside of the Boston area.

  • Cheap Trick ‘Dream Police’

    I love Cheap Trick. It’s hard to explain how huge they were in the late ’70s and into the ’80s if you weren’t there. This album, released on September 21, 1989, is aces, and the title track still rips.

  • The Clash 'London Calling'

    Released on December 14, 1979. One of the most important punk albums of all time. One of the greatest albums of all time. Having a hard time believing you’d want to vote for anything else.

  • Eagles ‘The Long Run’

    We could argue for days about which band owned the ’70s. It would probably come down to Eagles and Led Zeppelin. Interesting that both released their final albums (at the time) in ’79. This one dropped on September 24.

  • Joy Division ‘Unknown Pleasures’

    Fun fact: that t-shirt design you like with all the wavy lines? It’s based on this album cover! Joy Division released Unknown Pleasures on June 15, 1979. Less than a year later, singer Ian Curtis killed himself.

  • Led Zeppelin ‘In Through The Out Door’

    Is it the best Led Zeppelin album? No. But it’s the last Led Zeppelin album, released on August 22, 1979. And that counts for something.

  • Neil Young With Crazy Horse ‘Rust Never Sleeps’

    Last week, I was crowing about Neil Young’s Freedom as a big release from ’89. A decade earlier, he was on the charts with this one. It released on June 22, 1979.

  • Pat Benatar ‘In The Heat Of The Night’

    Released on August 27, 1979. This was Pat Benatar’s debut, and the album (and hit single) that would make her one of the biggest names in rock throughout the ’80s.

  • Pink Floyd ‘The Wall’

    Released on November 30, 1979, the rock opera has gone on to sell over 30 million copies around the globe in the last 45 years. Talk about legacy.

  • The Police ‘Reggatta De Blanc’

    The Police grew into one of the biggest acts of the ’80s after planting their seeds in the late ’70s. Their second album released on October 5, 1979.

  • Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers ‘Damn The Torpedoes’

    Crazy to think that on October 19, 1979, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers released their third album and it just might be the best album in their entire catalog. A veritable hit parade.

  • Van Halen 'Van Halen II’

    Van Halen didn’t waste any time following up their 1978 debut. II came just over a year later, on March 23, 1979. And all it did was build on their existing momentum.

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