1988 Classic Rock Reviews
1988 Music
Although somewhat weak on emerging artists, the music of 1988 was highlighted by the revitalization of established musicians from the past. Groups like Cheap Trick, Iron Maiden, and Van Halen found their last peak of charting success while Talking Heads released their final album ever. Robert Plant reached the highest level of success in his post-Zeppelin solo career while ex-band mate Jimmy Page released his only solo LP. Topping it all was the incredible coming together of five rock legends to form Traveling Wilburys, who lived up their talent by producing our album of the year for 1988.

We featured albums from the year 1988 during July and August 2013. During this 25th anniversary celebration of this music, we have originally reviewed these albums:

*1988 Album of the Year

Below are further descriptions of each album, in the order that we reviewed them.

July 2, 2013
Kingdom Come, 1988 debut albumKingdom Come released their well-received, self-titled debut album in early 1988, and the band scored their most popular and best selling album right out of the gate. While Kingdom Come is a top-quality album by any metric, the band was plagued by constant comparisons to another classic rock act.

Review of Kingdom Come

July 5, 2013
Rumble by Tommy Conwell and Young RumblersAside from being an accomplished blues guitarist, Tommy Conwell was keenly tuned into his audience and gave them his all at every live show. Rumble was his first major label record with his band The Young Rumblers and it did a fair job of capturing a bit of this live energy in the recording.

Review of Rumble

July 10, 2013
And Justice for All by Metallica…And Justice for All was Metallica‘s most complex, ambitious work ever and a surprise commercial success, reaching number six on the Billboard charts. While it is still regarded a quarter century later, fans and critics lament the odd mixing decisions, which leave some potent compositions tarnished with a half-spectrum sound.

Review of …And Justice for All

July 14, 2013
Naked by Talking HeadsTalking Heads eighth and final album was Naked, released in 1988. The album was recorded in distinct phases and was an attempt at a quasi-concept album lyrically. Musically, achieved a world music sound by using dozens of session musicians, making it the most musically diverse album by the band.

Review of Naked

July 18, 2013
Outrider by Jimmy PageAlthough Jimmy Page had a pretty rich post-Led Zeppelin career, he only released one solo studio album, Outrider in 1988. Originally intended to be a double album, the project was pared back when Page’s demo tapes were stolen, leaving him with no pre-production material. As a result, the single LP finished product has a bit of an unpolished sound.

Review of Outrider

July 22, 2013
OU812 by Van HalenVan Halen followed up the success of 5150, with the similarly successful OU812 in 1988. This was the first album which vocalist Sammy Hagar began as a full and equal member of the group and his influence was reflected in the diversity and new direction of the music.

Review of OU812

July 25, 2013
Lap of Luxury by Cheap TrickLap of Luxury was, by most definitions, a comeback album for Cheap Trick, although it didn’t quite reach the blockbuster status of which the band and their label were attempting to achieve. Still, it brought the band back to prominence and helped them sustain their career for another two decades.

Review of Lap of Luxury

July 28, 2013
Melissa Etheridge debut albumMelissa Etheridge‘s 1988 debut album was the most intense and quality album of her long career. Etheridge found a rather unique niche and filled a rather huge void in the popular music scene of the late 1980s which totally contrasted conventional norms of the day.

Review of Melissa Etheridge

August 3, 2013
Seventh Son of a Seventh Son by Iron MaidenSeventh Son of a Seventh Son is both the last Iron Maiden of their classic era and the first release to prominently feature a progressive metal arrangement and include keyboards. This concept album is based on English folklore and worked well as the group’s seventh overall album.

Review of Seventh Son of a Seventh Son

August 13, 2013
Green by R.E.M.Green was the breakout album for R.E.M. in 1988. It follows the group’s quintet of critically acclaimed but commercially light albums earlier in the decade with a successful attempt to strike the right balance in both fields and branch out to an international audience.

Review of Green

August 17, 2013
Copperhead Road by Steve Earle Steve Earle has always woven in and out of the outlaw country genre exploring different sectors of musical territory. Back in 1988, Earle took his first major turn into what would eventually be called “Americana” with the album Copperhead Road. This hybrid of country twang and solid rock elements propelled the Texas native into an area all his own for decades to come.

Review of Copperhead Road

August 20, 2013
Now and Zen by Robert Plant Robert Plant launched his post-Led Zeppelin solo career with two fine albums but his career then got a little murky in the mid-1980s with the short-lived cover band The Honeydrippers and his bizarre third album Shaken and Stirred. 1988’s Now and Zen was a career renaissance as the vocalist and songwriter once again found his groove in eighties pop.

Review of Now and Zen

August 26, 2013
Volume I by Traveling Wilburys, 1988 Album of the Year
“Super Groups” were commonplace during the seventies and eighties, but no super group was ever more super than the Traveling Wilburys. This lineup of Harrison-Dylan-Orbinson-Lynne-Petty produced a downright brilliant debut in 1988 with Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1, which displays an incredible array of music and is easily our Album of the Year for 1988.

Review of Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1

Final 1988 Poll Results
Q: What is the best album of 1988?

1 Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 by Traveling Wilburys 29%
2 And Justice for All by Metallica 25%
3 Now and Zen by Robert Plant 18%
4 Naked by Talking Heads 11%
5 Lap of Luxury by Cheap Trick 7%
5 Kingdom Come by Kingdom Come 7%
7 Out of Order by Rod Stewart 4%

Conducted on our site, July-August, 2013

Other 1988 Albums of Note

Aside from our featured albums of 1988, there was really not much depth as far as fine albums from the year. Bob Dylan, Rod Stewart and David Lee Roth all had solo albums, while “hair” bands such as Poison, Ratt, and Scorpions all had releases which were moderately successful.

Blow Up Your Video by AC-DC Dangerous Age by Bad Company Simple Pleasures by Bobby McFerrin Everything by The Bangles Barcelona by Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballe Flying Colours by Chris DeBurgh Tracy Chapman Long Cold Winter by Cinderella Skyscraper by David Lee Roth Up Your Alley by Joan Jett GnR Lies by Guns n Roses L.A. Guns Small World by Huey Lewis Lita by Lita Ford Sur La Mer by Moody Blues Wide Awake in Dreamland by Pat Benatar Out of Order by Rod Stewart Reach for the Sky by Ratt Savage Amusement by The Scorpions Down In the Groove by Bob Dylan To Hell With the Devil by Stryper Rattle and Hum by U2 Open Up and Say Ahh by Poison  Roll With It by Steve Winwood
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