Aerosmith’s Rocks was released 42 years ago today (May 3), and in its own right, it’s a classic album, but it certainly had a lot to live up to considering it was released a little over a year after Toys in the Attic.
Naturally, this got us thinking about other instances where bands were faced with the daunting question of, “Well, how do we top this?” In honor of the anniversary of Rocks, here are eight rock albums that had hard acts to follow.
Aerosmith – Rocks (1976)
Considering the breakout success of 1975’s Toys in the Attic, pressure had to be high on Aerosmith to deliver, but they did that and then some with Rocks, which yielded classics like “Back in the Saddle” and “Last Child.”
Pearl Jam – Vs. (1993)
They say you have your whole life to write your first album, and in rock and roll, the “Sophomore Slump” is a very real thing, especially when you release a critical and commercial smash like Ten. However, Pearl Jam more than managed to deliver an incredible second studio album.
AC/DC – For Those About To Rock We Salute You (1981)
When an album sells four million copies, you’d think it would be a big deal. But when it follows an album that has gone on to sell 22 million copies like Back in Black, it’s a different story altogether. Regardless, we salute this AC/DC LP with all cannons in existence.
Fleetwood Mac – Tusk (1979)
Similar to For Those About To Rock…, Tusk had a nearly impossible task in following Rumours. Sure, reception was mixed back in 1979, but history has been a little kinder to Tusk than most were when it was first released.
Metallica – Load (1996)
Metallica (“The Black Album”) was some kind of monster. (Thanks! We’ll be here all week, and don’t forget to tip your server.) Following it was going to be difficult for any band, and while Load would go on sell five million copies in the U.S., it’s still one of Metallica’s most controversial albums since it’s more hard rock than metal. Of course, it didn’t help when people bitched and moaned because of their new haircuts.
Bon Jovi – New Jersey (1988)
When you think about the success of 1986’s Slippery When Wet, it’s amazing just how strong its follow-up New Jersey is. From “Bad Medicine” to “I’ll Be There For You” to “Lay Your Hands On Me” and “Born To Be My Baby,” Bon Jovi really had no business releasing a follow-up this good!
Def Leppard – Hysteria (1987)
Pyromania was a massive hit and breakthrough for Def Leppard. So, how does a band top it, especially after their drummer gets into a car accident that resulted in the loss of his left arm? Write an album so good it pretty much reads as a greatest hits album.
Linkin Park – Meteora (2003)
Think of Meteora as the Vs. of the rap rock/Nu metal genre. The band’s debut Hybrid Theory was a massive success selling 11 million albums in the U.S., and thanks to songs like “Numb” and “Breaking The Habit,” Meteora debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 charts moving 810,000 in its first week of release.
Erica Banas is a rock/classic rock blogger that loves the smell of old vinyl in the morning.