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Heavy Hitters: Quiet Riot, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi & Guns N' Roses

Paul Gargano celebrates four classic albums that helped hard rock rule the '80s

Last week’s Heavy Hitters focused on bands that changed the metal landscape – this week, Metal Edge revisits four albums from the ‘80s that took hard rock to the next level. If any of these albums aren’t in your vinyl collection, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered… 

QUIET RIOT Metal Health 

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“Bang your head, metal health will drive you mad…” If there were a 10 Commandments of Rock, that line would be chiseled right atop the tablet. And justifiably so, as Quiet Riot don’t get the recognition they deserve for kicking open the doors to radio for every band that followed. Literally, every band. Don’t believe me? Read Nothin’ But a Good Time, the definitive tome that chronicled the era of tight spandex, big hair and other-level fun, as told by the bands that played the music, lived the debauchery and made it cool for a guy to have longer hair than his mother. Myself included, though I’m still waiting for the cool part to kick in… Come on, feel the noise – and while you’re at it, girls, rock your boys. Love doesn’t have to be a bitch, I swear. Metal Health is literally the album that started it all. 

DEF LEPPARD On Through the Night 

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Def Leppard are one of the biggest bands to emerge from the ‘80s hard rock scene – they didn’t just sweeten the pot, they had the lyrical audacity to ask us whether we wanted one lump or two. On Through the Night predates their Mutt Lange-led swan dive into pure pop splendor, which is what makes the album such a magnificent curio for fans of the hearing-impaired, phonetically-inspired band of New Wave of British Heavy Metal-inclined wonderkids from across the pond. We wouldn’t have “Rock of Ages” without “Rock Brigade,” and we had “Sorrow is a Woman” a good seven years before “Women.” This may not have been a breakout debut that set the world on fire upon its 1980 release, but it sparked a pile of kindling that erupted into one of the biggest bands to ever shred their jeans and tease their hair. We have two versions for sale in the store, the standard vinyl and a limited edition in translucent blue.  

BON JOVI Slippery When Wet 

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I know this 1986 classic as well as I know my iPhone password. It’s like muscle memory – throw Slippery When Wet on, and ever song catamarans to the forefront of our consciousness like a milestone that we never want to forget. You can’t deny the anthems. “You Give Love A Bad Name” and “Livin’ On a Prayer” are part of our cultural zeitgeist, their choruses as undeniable as Jon Bon Jovi’s boyish charm and chiseled features, a molten combination that made him the perfect face for hard rock as it exploded in the late ‘80s. If ballads are your thing, ‘Wanted Dead or Alive” is a timeless ode to life on the road, and “Never Say Goodbye” delivers an unparalleled blast of high school nostalgia. Me? I’m a big fan of "Raise Your Hands” and “Wild in the Streets” – the first because it reminds me of a day when I could raise my hands without my back seizing, and the latter because, living in Los Angeles, wild in the streets has become an ode to trying to find street parking. If this vinyl isn’t in your collection, we can’t be friends.

 GUNS N' ROSES Appetite for Destruction

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I remember buying Appetite for Destruction the day before it came out in 1987 – not because I knew who the band was, but because the guy working in the record store in Trumbull Mall told me that if I liked L.A. Guns, I should check out this new band whose album was going to come out the next day. “Tracii Guns was the original guitar player,” he told me. So he went in the back, came back and handed me the cassette. Appetite became the soundtrack to my junior year of high school – so much so that by the time “Sweet Child O’ Mine” became a breakthrough single, it was played out to me and my friends. It’s amazing how now, 35 years later, the album never gets played out. It’s one of the greatest albums of all time, bar none, and should be in every vinyl collection. The version available in the Metal Edge store is the first-ever remaster from the original analog recordings, and comes in a double-album set with a limited edition foil slipcase and a hologram of the Gn'R logo on side four.