We’re wrapping up our month-long big anniversary look-back with one last list: the best rock albums from 1984.


This is the last in a series of five 12-Inch Polls that celebrate albums with anniversary years in 2024. I kicked off the year with the Class of ’94, which is absolutely stacked. Then I moved on to the 25th anniversary albums from 1999. Not so good. I took you back to ’89, which was better, then back to ’79, which was another banner year in rock. Now, it’s all albums from 1984 that turn 40 this year.


If you’re a regular listener and reader, you know I’m a Gen X kid. Born in ’77, grew up in the ’80s, spent high school and college in the ’90s. So the ’90s are really my musical wheelhouse: I was spending every available dollar I had on records, tapes, and CDs. And it’s also when I started my broadcasting career, volunteering at Northeastern’s WRBB and working part time at the late, great WFNX.


The Best Rock Albums From 1984: What’s Your Favorite?

All that to say, 1984 is an in-between year for me. It’s not like ’79, when I was 2 years old and really had to lean more on history than lived experience to put together a killer list of rock albums. I have some rock memories from ’84 and even owned a few records of my own at that young age. But for this list, I’m leaning heavily on Erica Banas’ great piece highlighting big rock albums from 1984.


Some picks from Erica’s list landed on mine, then I supplemented with a few personal favorites. I think you’ll be pleased with the way it all shook out and find it easy to find a fave or two of your own to vote for. So scroll and vote and, as always, hit the ROCK 92.9 Facebook page if you want to add another record to the mix or just make your case.


  • Bruce Springsteen ‘Born In The U.S.A.’

    The album of 1984? That’s for you to decide! Released on June 4, 1984, this is the definitive Boss album. His highest-seller, his most beloved, and the album that comes to most folks’ minds when they think of Springsteen.

  • The Cars ‘Heartbeat City’

    This one’s dear to me. Released on March 13, 1984, I received the album on cassette tape with my first Walkman that Christmas from my Uncle Michael. It’s still, to this day, my favorite Cars album.

  • Dio ‘The Last In Line’

    Dio released his second solo effort on July 2, 1984. While I don’t think it’s as solid as his debut album, I think it still warrants a spot on this list.

  • Don Henley ‘Building The Perfect Beast’

    Released on November 19, 1984. Wow, I’d forgotten how big solo Henley was in the ’80s. The singles on these were absolute monsters on the radio.

  • Iron Maiden ‘Powerslave’

    1984 was a banner year for metal (keep scrolling; you’ll see). Powerslave, released on September 3, 1984, isn’t just a fan-fave Maiden album, it’s a fan fave metal album in general.

  • Judas Priest ‘Defenders Of The Faith’

    Released on January 13, 1984. Look, it’s not their best album. But how am I not going to put a Priest album on one of these lists if I have a chance to?

  • Metallica ‘Ride The Lightning’

    Metallica dropped their sophomore album on July 27, 1984. Critically acclaimed, beloved by fans, a near-perfect metal album.

  • The Pretenders ‘Learning To Crawl’

    Some fans forget how much of the ’80s was owned by The Pretenders. Learning To Crawl released on January 13, 1984 and the singles were all over rock radio and MTV.

  • Prince And The Revolution ‘Purple Rain’

    Released on June 25, 1984. Is the Purple Rain Soundtrack the biggest, best album of ’84? It might just be! And it’s not the only soundtrack on the list!

  • R.E.M. ‘Reckoning’

    Released on April 9, 1984. It’s R.E.M.’s second album, so they’re not yet on everyone’s musical radar. But they’re getting there.

  • The Replacements ‘Let It Be’

    This should be a top vote getter on this list. I don’t think it will be, but it should. It was released on October 2, 1984, and it has my second-favorite Replacements song of all-time.

  • Rush ‘Grace Under Pressure’

    Ten albums in and Rush were still making compelling rock. Grace Under Pressure was released on April 12, 1984 and I can’t say the title of the album without hearing it in Jim Irsay’s voice.

  • Scorpions ‘Love At First Sting’

    It took these German rockers a long, long time to break in the U.S., but they finally did in ’84. Released stateside in March of 1984, the album yielded four charting singles. 40 years on and we’re still playing this one.

  • The Smiths ‘The Smiths’

    Released on February 20, 1984. It’s their debut album. I never liked The Smiths. I never liked Morrissey. But I respect their importance.

  • Talking Heads ‘Stop Making Sense’

    Yes, it’s a soundtrack to a concert film, released in September of ’84. But it’s essential to this list, as it was one of the biggest musical moments of 1984. It’s even getting a 40th anniversary run back in theatres and re-release.

  • Twisted Sister ‘Stay Hungry’

    While ’84 was, as I mentioned above, a banner year for metal, it was also a breakthrough year for hair metal. Twisted Sister’s breakthrough third album, released on May 10, 1984, was a big part of that.

  • U2 ‘The Unforgettable Fire’

    Released on October 1, 1984. I feel like The Unforgettable Fire is, ironically, the most forgettable album of U2’s early era. It shouldn’t be; it’s a damn fine record and has one of their Top 5 songs of all time on it.

  • Van Halen ‘1984’

    Van Halen wasted no time, releasing the album they named after the year on January 9, 1984. It was David Lee Roth’s last album with the band for their original run, and it’s arguably the greatest album in their entire catalog.

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