It wasn’t just rock music as a whole that was in a transition period as the ‘70s gave way to the ‘80s, some artists themselves were finding new footing as well. In a year when the Pac-Man video game was released and rockers were trying to navigate the world of disco and synth, Ozzy Osbourne made music without Black Sabbath for the first time and Joan Jett proved she was more than just a Runaway.
1980 also introduced the world to a quartet from Ireland that is still going strong 22 GRAMMY wins later and one of the most successful female-fronted bands of all time. There were also new albums from several other established bands who would one day find themselves in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Here’s a look back at eight memorable albums that are turning 40 in 2020.
1 AC/DC - Back in Black
Could the band survive the tragic death of frontman Bon Scott just months earlier? They proved they could with one of the most emphatic statements in rock history. 3 KEY TRACKS: "Hells Bells," "Shoot to Thrill," "You Shook Me All Night Long."
2 JOAN JETT - Bad Reputation
An unapologetic and unfiltered solo debut from the former Runaways member. The album didn't get its major label debut until 1981, but Jett released it on her own in 1980. 3 KEY TRACKS: "Bad Reputation," "You Don't Know What You've Got," "Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)"
3 JUDAS PRIEST - British Steel
The metal gods' sixth studio album is considered to be one of the most influential in the genre. Priest changed the formula by tightening things up a la punk and adding some melody to the mix. 3 KEY TRACKS: "Metal Gods," "Breaking the Law," "Living After Midnight."
4 OZZY OSBOURNE - Blizzard of Ozz
Ozzy didn't think he'd have much of a career after Black Sabbath, but he proved himself wrong with the help of his secret weapon: guitarist Randy Rhoads. 3 KEY TRACKS: "Crazy Train," "Goodbye to Romance," "Mr. Crowley"
5 THE POLICE - Zenyatta Mondatta
The band's third studio LP won them two GRAMMY awards and set them up for two more classic albums to close out their short but sweet career. 3 KEY TRACKS: "Don't Stand so Close to Me," "When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around," "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da."
6 THE PRETENDERS - The Pretenders
The Chrissie Hynde-fronted band's impressive debut included one of their greatest hits and a Kinks cover that led to Hynde's relationship with Ray Davies. 3 KEY TRACKS: "Kid," "Brass in Pocket," "Stop Your Sobbing."
7 QUEEN - The Game
Freddie Mercury and company started the decade with a tweak to their sound and their only album to reach #1 in the U.S. 3 KEY TRACKS: "Play the Game," "Another One Bites the Dust," "Crazy Little Thing Called Love."
8 U2 - Boy
It all started here for the Irish rockers that went on to produce 13 more studio albums. By the time October was released a year later, Bono and the boys were well on their way to world domination. They just didn't know it yet. 3 KEY TRACKS: "I Will Follow," "Out of Control," "A Day Without Me."