5. Unvarnished by Joan Jett: We now move to a couple of albums that weren’t just good albums but showed a deep, personal side of the music artist. Unvarnished is the newest album by Joan Jett. She had not made an album in fifteen years and during that time both of her parents had died. Joan Jett, who is very loyal to her friends and family, made this album after dealing with those hardships and the result was not only one of the most poignant albums I’ve ever heard but also one of the most inspirational and bravest. Not to mention it has the classic Joan Jett, spunky, rebellious sound to it, too.

4. Slang by Def Leppard: This album ironically used to be my least favorite Def Leppard album but has risen recently to my favorite one. Def Leppard had made a couple of incredibly popular albums during the 1980s with Pyromania and Hysteria, which were primarily about good times. Their good times ran out, though, with their lead guitarist dying from alcoholism, their drummer losing an arm and a couple of band members getting in trouble with the law. Slang was a bare bones, gritty, grungy 1990s album represented so incredibly well by the album cover. The album did an effective job of showing the angst and brooding that Def Leppard was going through.

3. Chicago’s Second Album: Chicago’s second album had around twenty songs on it and had a lot of variety. It had rockers like 25 or 6 to 4, ballads and experimental songs. The instrumentation and atmosphere from Chicago were at their best on this album. It’s a comfortable, versatile album that could just as easily set the mood while walking outside during the day or reading a good book indoors at night. It’s not really what you could call a hard rocking album, but sometimes rock should take a break from the usual heavy guitars and go for something a little more substantial like this album.

2. Paradise Theater by Styx: Paradise Theater boasted some big singles like the rock anthem Rocking the Paradise, amusing Too Much Time On My Hands and poignant Best of Times. The filler songs are all great, too, such as the atmospheric Snowblind, few songs are better for a cold, dark winter’s night than that one, and the upbeat She Cares. The message of the album is great, too. It’s about a theater that opens in 1928 but goes out of business thirty years later because people no longer appreciate fine arts. The final two short songs on the album both convey a powerful feeling of changing times.

  1. How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb by U2: For somebody who appreciates classic rock and roll as much as I do, it might be surprising that my favorite album was made after 2000, but I feel like few things represent pop rock of the early 2000s or make me more nostalgic for my growing up years as much as this album does. Vertigo of course is a great rocker with a good solo, but Love and Peace has some nice, distorted guitar, City of Blinding Lights is a poignant tribute to New York City and the rest of the songs on the album all convey an interesting atmosphere as well.