Based on the successes of our “Top 100 Heavy Metal Albums“, and our “Top 50 Extreme Metal Albums” we decided to devote a top list to the maligned style of glam metal. For this top 50 list, we pretty much agreed that glam metal albums had to be albums on which the band also maintained, to some degree, a glam metal image. That is why you’ll see the Crue’s THEATER OF PAIN album listed but not the darker (musically and image-wise) SHOUT AT THE DEVIL ranked here. It is also why you’ll see some more controversial additions below from bands that are never really always considered glam metal, but who we included here because for the album in question the band did have more of a glam metal image and style. We also omitted anything that is glam ROCK such as the influential New York Dolls or early David Bowie.
We scored a list of approximately 200 albums to determine this top 50. There is absolutely nothing scientific about the ranking that appears below; it is simply the collective opinion of a group of true metalheads. Not everyone will agree with the list or all the items in it, and that’s fine. This is not meant to be the only definitive list in existence, but it does reflect the common interests of nearly everyone who writes for this webzine as of DECEMBER 2003.
The Top 10
#1. Skid Row – Skid Row
With their very first release from 1989, Skid Row turned heads. From out of the blue, this Jersey quintet took on the Sunset Strip juggernauts (Crue, Poison, GNR, etc.) and held their own. Armed with such hits as “Youth Gone Wild,” “18 and Life” and “I Remember You,” Skid Row soon commanded the airwaves and ruled over the wild, headbanging youth of the free world. Certainly, circa 1989, you couldn’t scan the magazine section of your local grocery store without seeing a few pictures of Sebastian Bach reflecting off the covers of Circus, Hit Parader, Metal Edge or RIP magazine. Skid Row at number one? Well, the collective view of the Metal Rules staff seemed to think so. It cannot be argued, however, that Skid Row, supported by some great riffs and an amazing voice, released one of the best albums of the late 80’s!
#2. Cinderella – Night Songs
Like Skid Row, Cinderella did not emerge from out of the Hollywood sleaze factory. Philly’s finest glam export first shook the genre in 1986 with, you guessed it, “Shake Me.” Despite the fact that this song sounded like a slightly updated version of KISS’s “Take Me,” we all knew that this band was something special. Sure enough, NIGHT SONGS was loaded with metallic rockers (e.g. “Somebody Save Me”). Also, this album contained one eerie, moody ballad called “Nobody’s Fool.” No other ballad from this era was quite this empowering. Sure, the song was melancholy, but it assured the listener that they weren’t weakened by love lost; they were STRENGTHENED!!! And, above all, they were NOBODY’S FOOL!!! Suffice to say, Cinderella helped to mend a few broken hearts back in the 80’s. If you’ve never had A SHOT OF GASOLINE, run out and grab this classic Cinderella album.
3. Ratt – Out of the Cellar
Behold, the unbeatable OUT OF THE CELLAR!!! The greatest glam metal album of all time! Hell, it’s one of the greatest, straight-up metal albums of all time! What’s that you say? It’s number three on the list? Blasphemy! With the exception of Motley Crue (sadly, the Crue didn’t make the top ten), nobody came close to matching ’em. We defy you to find an album that contains this many hooks per second. Every single song is perfection; the solos, the vocals, the whole freakin’ package is flawless. If you don’t own it, buy it. If you own it, throw it on the ol’ turntable. They just don’t make albums like this 1984 classic anymore.
4. Poison – Look What the Cat Dragged In
While Skid Row’s occupation of the top spot may be debatable, Poison at the top o’ the heap is not. With the release of their 1986 debut, LOOK WHAT THE CAT DRAGGED IN, Poison seemed to symbolize the entire glam metal genre. To be sure, the songs, the riffs and the entire glam soaked image fused into one cohesive package of perfection. Many people slam these guys without ever having heard the first album. That’s a shame, cuz the first one contains enough pure rockin’ energy to launch 1000 glam bands.
5. Twisted Sister – Stay Hungry
Twisted Sister went from actually participating in the 1970’s New York glam scene, to pushing a retooled metallic glam vision into the 1980’s with the unrelenting UNDER THE BLADE. The infectious choruses found on their third album, STAY HUNGRY (1984), catapulted the Sisters into the mainstream and provided them with a permanent place in pop culture. Go to any sports arena today and you’re almost certain to hear such anthems as “We’re Not Gonna Take It” or “I Wanna Rock.” Without a doubt, nobody has ever been as glamorously ugly as these Sick Mother Fuckers!
6. Poison – Open Up and Say”Ahh!
This is one of those “must-have” glam albums. The boys weren’t quite as overtly feminine on their second album, but they still had the mile-high hair, makeup and fluorescent clothes. “Nothin’ But a Good Time,” “Love On The Rocks,” and their cover of “Your Mama Don’t Dance” epitomized the 80’s glam movement. However, their mega hit ballad, “Every Rose Has its Thorn,” ironically, was yet another nail in the glam image coffin, seeing as how Brett and gang dressed down for the video. That said, this 1988 release is one of Poison’s best albums and it’s safe to say that any glam fan’s collection is incomplete without it.
7. Def Leppard – Pyromania
PYROMANIA really got the ball rolling for Def Leppard in 1983 and is still one of the best-selling albums OF ALL TIME! Mutt Lange (pre-Shania) brought his Midas touch to the album and there isn’t a filler song to be found. “Photograph,” “Rock of Ages” and “Foolin'” have become heavy metal anthems. Def Leppard were among the most powerful and successful bands of the 1980’s, thanks in no small part to PYROMANIA. Glam? Again, it’s debatable. To be sure, Def Leppard weren’t as metallic as their NWOBHM counterparts and gradually drifted toward a more rockin’, glam-styled sound.
8. David Lee Roth – Eat ’em and Smile
This is Diamond Dave’s first solo outing from 1986 after leaving the mighty Van Halen at their peak. With Steve Vai on guitar and Billy Sheehan on bass, this musically blessed band gave these songs some real flair. Dave’s conversation with Vai’s guitar at the beginning of “Yankee Rose” is still unique within the world of metal. Also, the videos from this era captured Dave’s always tongue-in-cheek approach to life and contain enough Aqua-net and spandex to make a Sunset Strip hooker feel underdressed!
9. Dokken – Tooth and Nail
Dokken is one of the most under-appreciated bands of the 80’s. Despite George Lynch’s technically marveled solos and Don Dokken’s voice, it’s a crime that this band never quite reached the top. TOOTH AND NAIL (1984) is THE Dokken album to own, with such hits as “Alone Again,” “Into The Fire,” “Just Got Lucky” and the rippin’ title track.
10. Ratt – Invasion of Your Privacy
Sneaking into the top 10 is INVASION OF YOUR PRIVACY (1985), the second full-length release from Ratt. Building on the momentum of 1984’s OUT OF THE CELLAR, the band released yet another album sportin’ a big-haired, half naked model on the cover (a trend that would be copied by many bands throughout the 1980’s). Warren DeMartini’s impressive solos and Stephen Pearcy’s dripping-with-sex lyrics helped to further define the Ratt sound, while songs like “Lay It Down” and “You’re In Love” assured the band a presence on the radio and MTV. Not many guys can get away with wearing makeup, fishnet gloves and spandex without getting their asses kicked, but Ratt brought a certain “toughness” to the genre.
Dokken – Under Lock and Key
Dokken – Back for the Attack
Bon Jovi – Slippery When Wet
Motley Crue – Theatre of Pain
Cinderella – Long Cold Winter
L.A. Guns – S/T
Whitesnake – S/T
Faster Pussycat – S/T
Guns N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction
Warrant – Cherry Pie
Warrant – Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich
Ozzy Osbourne – The Ultimate Sin
White Lion – Pride
Twisted Sister – Under the Blade
Poison – Flesh And Blood
W.A.S.P. – Inside The Electric Circus
Twisted Sister – You Can’t Stop Rock ‘n Roll
Great White – Once Bitten
Ratt – Dancing Undercover
Def Leppard – Hysteria
Keel – The Right to Rock
Slaughter – Stick It To Ya
Great White – Twice Shy
Def Leppard – High N’ Dry
Europe – The Final Countdown
Whitesnake – Slide it In
Love/Hate – Blackout In The Red Room
Whitesnake – Slip Of The Tongue
Judas Priest – Turbo
Pretty Boy Floyd – Leather Boyz With Electric Toyz