Book author Christopher P. Hilton reveals his own ‘Top 25 Hair Metal Albums’
Christopher P. Hilton, the author of the book The Rise, Fall & Rebirth of Hair Metal, recently revealed his Top 25 Hair Metal Albums as well as a few other Top 25 lists, which he admittedly explained were based on his own subjective tastes in music.
Top 25 Hair Metal Albums (from Christopher P. Hilton):
01. Guns N’ Roses — Appetite For Destruction (1987)
02. Poison — Open Up And Say…Ahh! (1988)
03. Mötley Crüe — Dr. Feelgood (1989)
04. Bon Jovi — New Jersey (1988)
05. Skid Row — Slave To The Grind (1991)
06. Whitesnake — Whitesnake (1987)
07. Bon Jovi — Slippery When Wet (1986)
08. Skid Row — Skid Row (1989)
09. Poison — Look What the Cat Dragged In (1986)
10. Def Leppard — Hysteria (1987)
11. Mötley Crüe — Shout At The Devil (1983)
12. Warrant — Cherry Pie (1990)
13. Warrant — Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich (1989)
14. Slaughter — Stick It To Ya (1990)
15. Pretty Boy Floyd — Leather Boyz With Electric Toyz (1989)
16. Cinderella — Long Cold Winter (1988)
17. L.A. Guns — Cocked And Loaded (1989)
18. FireHouse — FireHouse (1990)
19. Van Halen — Fair Warning (1981)
20. Danger Danger — Screw It! (1991)
21. Extreme — III Sides To Every Story (1992)
22. Cinderella — Heartbreak Station (1990)
23. Bang Tango — Dancin’ On Coals (1991)
24. Tesla — Mechanical Resonance (1986)
25. White Lion — Mane Attraction (1991)
Hilton did provide an explanation on how he came up with his Top 25 Hair Metal Albums as can be found via a Google sites website (with slight edits):
“In my book, The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of Hair Metal, certain albums are referenced as among the “Top 5”, “Top 10”, or “Top 25” in the genre. However, the book regrettably fails to make the full Top 25 list available in any one place (in hindsight, an unwise casualty of the assiduous editing process that trimmed the text down from its gargantuan 800-page first draft to the still-enormous 450 page version that was published).
Dozens of readers have reached out to me requesting a copy of such a list—please consider this as a pseudo-appendix to the book and a humble attempt to remedy my initial oversight.
Before we get into it, I should make perfectly clear that this Top 25 list is less of an “objective” ranking (as if there could ever be such a thing anyway), and more of a somewhat subjective exercise that is probably more appropriately classified as Top 25 “Favorites” list. Full disclosure: this evaluation is a reflection of my personal preference—no more, no less. I am entirely aware that opinions rightfully tend to differ and your mileage may vary; the esteemed David Lee Roth perhaps said it best: “Music is like girlfriends, there’s no accounting for people’s taste.”
I have also found these types of charts are apt to slant towards the time period when the appraiser “came of musical age,” so to speak. For example, if you were 16 years old in 1990, like me, you might tend to feel that Dr. Feelgood and Detonator were Mötley Crüe and Ratt’s best albums, respectively—again, like me. But if you were 16 years old farther back, perhaps in 1984, you might be more likely to feel that these band’s best records were Shout at the Devil and Out of The Cellar (which, let’s face it, they probably are).
Some folks might also justly argue several of these artists/albums don’t ever belong on any list containing the words “hair metal” in the title—I recognize the term “hair metal” is an extremely polarizing idiom among genre aficionados, and anyone who has read the book’s first chapter, “The Hair Metal Lexicon,” is well aware I am not at all a fan of the label—but for these purposes (as within the book), I will apologetically ask forgiveness and employ it for sake of overly-generalized clarity on what type of music fits within the intentionally broad scope.
All subjectivity aside, though, in a perhaps feeble attempt to indeed inject some legitimate objectivity to the exercise, I have also published a subsequent list of 25 More Essential or Impressive” Hair Metal albums below the initial “favorites” tally. What does “essential or impressive” mean? Well, these are albums that either represent landmark moments for the genre in terms of its growth and development, contain critical commercial components, tend to best represent some of the sounds and styles for which the genre was most famous, or are simply additional entries of some of the better records to come out of the era that didn’t quite make my Top 25 favorites list.
For example, I confess I am not a huge fan of Quiet Riot’s Metal Health album, but I certainly recognize it’s critical importance to the genre, being the very first “heavy metal” album to achieve the No.1 Position on the Billboard 200 Albums chart, and containing the Top 5 smash single “Cum On Feel the Noize,” which helped launch the genre into a new era of commercial acceptance and viability. On the other side of the coin, the 1990 self-titled album from the band “Heaven’s Edge” barely made any commercial noise whatsoever, but I have always felt is it one of the better under-the-radar records to come out of the scene, so on the list it goes.
Another thing I should point out is both of these lists focus exclusively on the time period covering the genre’s general birth in the early ‘80s up to its peak later that decade and stretching into the very early ‘90s. However, despite the popular opinion of the more casual fan, hair metal did not die out after grunge began to storm the castle in late 1991. And so, for completeness sake, for those brave enough to read that far, I have also included two additional “bonus” lists, just for good measure. The first of these provides ten noteworthy albums from the mid-to-late ‘90s, and the second picks 20 impressive hair metal albums from the past 20 years—again, full disclosure: both lists are entirely subjective.
All this said, even after four separate lists comprising a grand total of no less than 80 highly regarded hair metal albums, somehow there are still too many perhaps unforgivable omissions. Looking back, where are any albums from notable artists such as Aerosmith, Great White, Enuff Z’ Nuff, Ozzy Osbourne, KISS, Dangerous Toys, or Britny Fox? How about the rest of the early DLR–era Van Halen records? What of the landmark Use Your Illusion albums from Guns N’ Roses? What about so many of the more recent awesome bands and music from the so-called “New Wave of Hair Metal,” like Crazy Lixx, Crashdïet, Reckless Love, Santa Cruz, and so many others. All of these artists and albums are unquestionably more than worthy of consideration. But, at the end of the day, there is only so much room to go around, and hard choices have to be made—just as with the painful editing-out of over 400 pages from the first draft of the book.
Speaking of the book, some may notice that the rankings below may not exactly align with its references, mostly because the bottom quarter of the “favorites” list admittedly tends to vary in rank (and sometimes even content) depending on my mood and what I happen to be listening to during any given day or week. Apologies for this seemingly inconsistent variable, but that is part of the beauty of music—at any given time something can always rise up above the rest and rekindle a special spark.
Finally, I am well aware that publishing any such lists is basically opening myself up to instant faultfinding and criticism from those that will disagree with the rankings, particularly given the subject matter—one of the best things about hair metal fans is that we tend to be very passionate about the bands and music we love. As stated, I don’t purport to allege these tabulations are in any way definitive; just my two cents as a devoted uberfan of the hair metal genre for the past 35 years.
So please don’t fret if you fail to see your favorite album on the lists—don’t worry, odds are I probably dig that record too! Better yet, drop me a line and let me know about it… one thing these types of publications always seem to be good for is to kick-start some great conversation and a wide view of opinions from which I always seem to learn something. I would love to see your personal Top 25!
And so, without further ado, let’s peel back the curtain and check out the lists…”
Sleaze Roxx stated the following in its review of Hilton’s book The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of Hair Metal: “Overall, The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of Hair Metal is a fun read and strong from 1986 to 2001 but seriously lacking for the time periods from 1980 to 1985 and from 2002 onwards. You can pick up the book from Amazon in kindle or paperback format.”