25 Years Ago! Our Favorite Albums Of 1986
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With 2011 coming to a close, a bunch of us here at Geeks of Doom, along with some Friends of Doom, decided to take a look back at some of our favorite albums that celebrated their 25th anniversary this year.

The year 1986 was a fantastic one for music, with pivotal albums from metal bands like Metallica and Slayer and rap artists like The Beastie Boys and Run-DMC. There was also great music topping the charts from artists like Genesis, Janet Jackson, and Van Halen. Oh and let’s not forget the soundtracks!

Check out our picks below for Our Favorite Albums Of 1986.

Contributed by Empress Eve

Slayer: Reign In Blood

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In 1986, I was pretty much in all my glory when it came to music. I was [and still am] a massive metalhead, and there was so much good metal and hard rock rock albums that year, it was insane. There was Iron Maiden’s Somewhere In Time — a highly anticipated album for me at the time, which I bought on vinyl and starred at the intricate Easter Egg-filled cover for hours on end); there was Metallica’s Master Of Puppets, which blew me away – something I didn’t think possible, as Ride The Lightning was my favorite metal album at the time and I couldn’t imagine how they could possibly come close to it. Ozzy Osbourne’s The Ultimate Sin was a welcomed follow-up to Bark At The Moon; and Megadeth was kicking my ass with Megadeth: Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying, the band’s sophomore effort that completely below away their debut album. Now while all the aforementioned albums were awesome, there was one album released in 1986 that I feel propelled one band from an underground favorite to metal giants: Slayer’s Reign In Blood.

Reign In Blood is a perfect album from its Holocaust-themed opening track “Angel Of Death” frenzied closer “Raining Blood” with its haunting bam-bam-bam interlude, which leads into a double-bass drum assault. Speaking of double bass drums — AWESOME DOUBLE BASS!!!!!!! Drummer Dave Lombardo is easily not only the greatest metal drummer ever, but he’s one of the greatest metal musicians period.

The only disappointing aspect of the album is that it clocks in at just under 30 minutes — there should be more! There’s no a bad song or even a boring/interesting tune on the album, which I recommend you listen to from start to finish, no breaks, no skipping, no shuffling. Reign In Blood is a masterpiece.

Contributed by The Canadian Titan

Queen: A Kind of Magic

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In 1986 there were a lot of good albums/soundtracks released. But one of my favorite from that year is A Kind of Magic by Queen. Queen has been a favorite band of mine for many years now. And what makes this album even better for me is that it is considered the quote/unquote “unofficial soundtrack” for one of my favorite movies of all time Highlander. It has songs like “Princes of the Universe,” “Who Wants to Live Forever,” and “A Kind of Magic” among others (there were nine songs total for this album). Queen has always held a special place for me and always will. Believe it or not between Highlander and Wayne’s World, this was my first introduction to the group years ago as a kid. With it being the 25th anniversary for this album. It feels good to know they are still known and loved today. And I hope someday my kids will have the same love for them that I do. A few honorable mentions I have for other albums are The Final Countdown by Europe, Master of Puppets by Metallica, and the soundtrack for Top Gun.

Contributed by cGt2099

Vinnie Vincent: Invasion

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KISS fans initially had a quiet year in 1986. There was no album from KISS themselves, it would be a year before Ace Frehley would get his next album out, and nobody knew where Peter Criss was. Vinnie Vincent, on the other hand, was ready to unleash the shred. The newly formed Vinnie Vincent Invasion released their debut album, which was a long-awaited album by 1980’s KISS fans. Many had heard rumors of tunes such as Boyz Are Gonna Rock and Back on the Streets circulating the KISS camp around 1982, but they never surfaced – until the Vincent co-written songs launched on this album. Full of angry guitar solos to make your ears bleed, and screaming vocals from Robert Fleischman, the album would mark another step in KISStory, but would also eventually lead into Dana Strum meeting next vocalist Mark Slaughter who would go on to form the band, Slaughter.

Contributed by The Rub

Beastie Boys: Licensed to Ill

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Whether you immediately loved it or dismissed it as obnoxious white kids making noise, it’s tough to deny that the Beastie Boys’ debut album changed the face of rap music forever. Licensed to Ill defined the term crossover by marrying elements of hip-hop, rock, and punk, and making rap music, a genre that was still in its infancy, instantly and legitimately accessible to all corners of the country for the first time. From the first single, the still relevant party anthem “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)”, to the ridiculous “Girls,” to instant classics like “Paul Revere,” their irreverence and self-depreciating humor defied you not to like them, while also providing the very reason you did. The legacy of Licensed to Ill wouldn’t be completely realized until later in the Beastie Boys’ career, but would eventually position itself as one of the great rap albums of all time and introduced the genre to a legion of followers that may not have otherwise been given the chance.

Contributed by Frank Ramblings

Genesis: Invisible Touch

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With Phil Collins firmly established as a popular solo act, 1986 was the year when Genesis found the perfect blend of pop and progressive rock in the form of their most commercially successful album, Invisible Touch. Personally, I prefer the Peter Gabriel era of Genesis, but this album is definitely not a disappointment. With five hit singles including “Land of Confusion,” “Throwing It All Away,” and the title track, the band showcased their ability to write infectious melodies. But longer, more complex tracks like “Domino” and “The Brazilian” showed loyal fans that the trio had not forgotten their art rock roots. Overall, Invisible Touch is a perfect primer for anyone thinking about checking out Genesis’ legendary catalog. From ballads and foot-tapping pop singles to progressive rock fan service, it brilliantly displays their expert musicianship and flexibility. If you’re not familiar with Genesis, this is an awesome place to get started!

Contributed by Neverwanderer

Soundtrack: Top Gun

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Quick! Name the first movie song that pops into your head!

It’s not a stretch to say the 1980s was the decade when movie soundtracks really took off. The Rocky series. Beverly Hills Cop. Flash Dance. Footloose. Ghostbusters. These flicks are equally (if not more) remembered for their music as they are for the movies themselves. Arguably the most memorable among then was 1986’s Top Gun. Featuring tracks like Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone” and Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away,” it made for some of the most popular singles and iconic movie moments of the decade. One needn’t have even seen the film to be able to hum a few bars from it.

Like the scores of John Williams, Top Gun‘s soundtrack is ingrained in the collective pop-culture unconscious, only instead of blaring orchestral anthems, it’s a collection of relentless rock melodies and atmospheric ballads; scoring through compilation. Not the first of its kind, but certainly the most influential. And if my earlier question left visions of afterburners and burgeoning film careers dancing in your head, then you know exactly what I mean.

Contributed by Dark Eva

New Order: Brotherhood

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I’m the first to admit that I’m a huge ’80s aficionado. From the moment I saw Sixteen Candles when I was in eighth grade, the ’80s became a huge part of my identity. I devoured Duran Duran, Judas Priest, and Billy Idol.

But my favorite 1986 album is Brotherhood by New Order. Although Low-Life (1985) just plain kicks musical ass, Brotherhood‘s pop and electronic hooks inspired Scissor Sisters, Kylie Minogue, and others. What I love about the tracks is that they’re upbeat by New Order standards. The beats are quick, the synth pop danceable, and the most memorable song is, of course, “Bizarre Love Triangle.” The lyrics are deep but it makes me want to dance, too. As much as I love the deep bass lines and gloomy melodies that Depeche Mode did, sometimes I’m in the mood for something more energizing and invigorating, which Brotherhood is.

Contributed by The Insomniac

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band: Live 1975-1985

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Let me be clear: there is no way to properly capture a Springsteen live performance. It’s like attempting to bottle pure rapture. But the fact that it doesn’t completely capture that experience is unimportant. The eighties for Springsteen had been defined by 1984’s Born in The USA, with its fist pumping, stadium friendly anthems. Don’t get me wrong; Live 1975/1985 has plenty of those: from “Cadillac Ranch” to “Badlands” to the iconic “Born to Run.” But the album reminded fans of Springsteen’s eclectic musical roots, from the beat poetry inspired “It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City,” to the shucking and jiving of “10th Avenue Freeze-Out.” Where the album really shines is when it takes us into the shadowland of Springsteen’s darker America with “Nebraska,” “My Hometown,” and “The River.” These songs litter the landscape of Springsteen’s musical imagination and reveal his true depth and development a songwriter.

Contributed by Obi-Dan

Poison: Look What The Cat Dragged In

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1986 was the year that rock and metal music became colossal. Albums like Slippery When Wet, Master of Puppets, and The Final Countdown sold roughly a gazillion copies each. But none of these spring to mind when I think of 1986 because my favorite album of that year is Look What The Cat Dragged In by Poison. I don’t care that it didn’t go a thousand times platinum or incorporate mind-meltingly complex songs because Look What The Cat Dragged In is fun!

Poison looked like men in drag (which they were!), but they were a party band. So strike me down with fluorescent-colored spandex if “I Want Action” doesn’t make you move; perm my hair if “Look What The Cat Dragged In” doesn’t make you want to party; smother me in lipstick if “Let Me Go To The Show” doesn’t make you feel good; and, baby, “Talk Dirty To Me.”

Contributed by CrueChik

Since I was in full hair metal party mode in 1986, there are a plethora of albums for me to choose from. My first thought landed on Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet, which boasts four of the bands biggest hits of all time — “You Give Love a Bad Name,” “Living on a Prayer,” “Wanted Dead or Alive,” and the requisite ballad, “Never Say Goodbye.” However, in further perusing my collection, I realized that my nod had to go to Poison’s Look What the Cat Dragged In. Poison’s first album, it helped launch the Hollywood Sunset Strip era (even though the band members are from the East Coast), where the party was as much on the street as in the clubs along the Strip. The title track, with its immediately recognizable intro, still makes me squeal like the 18 year old I was the year it came out, although admittedly I am no longer wearing my homemade Poison pants to the shows (yes, I really did wear them, and proudly). Hands down my favorite, and probably most recognizable tune from this album is “Talk Dirty to Me”… yes, I would still like Bret Michaels to do just that, I wave my freak flag, and I wave it proudly. Tracks like “I Won’t Forget You,” “Cry Tough,” and “I Want Action” round out this 80’s metal classic. This album is simply fun, no hidden messages, no political causes, get down, have some beers in the back seat of my daddy’s station wagon and steam up the windows with my hot long haired boyfriend… oh how I miss those sweet, simple days.

Contributed by Cinema Junkie

Megadeth: Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying

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I listened to Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying every day from its release date until the next Megadeth album, So Far So good So What, came out. It seems like another era and time, but I really embraced thrash metal from its inception until the early 9’0s like no one’s business. (I would really love to also write about Slayer’s Reign In Blood, another great album released in 1986, but that’s another story.) I never bought Peace Sells… on CD, just had the cassette so the auto-reverse could kick in in the car and at home. :)

Contributed by Merkader

Van Halen: 5150

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1986 was an interesting year in music. A lot of very different music, many of them memorable, from Genesis’s Invisible Touch to Poison’s Look What the Cat Dragged In. One release however stands heads and shoulders above the rest: 5150 by Van Halen. The track listing for this album is incredible, “Why Can’t This be Love,” “Love Walks In,” “Get Up,” and “Summer Nights,” just to name a few. On top of that, have you seen the cover? It’s ridiculous, but the kind of ridiculous you would want on a t-shirt. This is an important album for another reason. It’s the first Van Halen album to feature Sammy Hagar on vocals. I was a big David Lee Roth fan, I still think he is an amazing frontman, but Sammy Hagar doesn’t get enough credit, and the albums he put out with Van Halen are amazing. This is the one that started, what we lovingly call, Van Hagar.

Contributed by The EnviroGeek

Metallica: Master Of Puppets

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My favorite album of 1986 is easily Metallica’s Master of Puppets. Not only is this album my favorite from that year, but it is one of my favorite albums of all time! A unique musical masterpiece. Catchy, aggressive, original, and cool. It was the peak of Metallica’s career. It was also bassist Cliff Burton’s last recording, before the tragic tour bus accident that killed him. Cliff was a respected and talented bass player, but extremely underrated. Makes me wonder the direction Metallica would have taken if Cliff was still with the band. This album was my companion as I dealt with what was going on in my life at the time. I wore my Master of Puppets t-shirt so many times it was virtually see-through! I imagine this “reuse” could be a good place to segue into an environmental theme. I also remember running to the local music store the day the sheet music hit the shelves. Master, Master!

Honorable mention goes to:
Bad Brains – I Against I
Cromags – Age of Quarrel
Iron Maiden – Somewhere In Time
Ozzy – The Ultimate Sin
Slayer – Reign In Blood

Contributed by Seaberry

Prince: Parade – Music From The Motion Picture Under The Cherry

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I have very fond memories of Prince’s album Parade. I remember when the first single “Kiss” came out, and me, my brother, and all my cousins sang along to such lyrics as “You don’t have to watch Dynasty to have an attitude”. Parade is also the soundtrack to Prince’s second film Under the Cherry Moon. The title track is sweet yet ominous and the lyrics “I’ll die in your arms under the cherry moon” was a bit of foreshadowing about the film. “Girls and Boys” is another funky jam that I still love to this day. I also have fond memories of watching the “Mountains” video, which also plays over the closing credits of Under the Cherry Moon. Also, “Anotherloverholenyohead” is an unabashedly funky jam that is too awesome for words. Ironically, the ballad, “Sometimes It Snows in April” was a song I overlooked in my youth, but I love it now. This album would also prove to be the swan song for Prince’s original band The Revolution, but Wendy and Lisa’s writing on this album would lead to them scoring movies and TV shows such as Dangerous Minds and Heroes. Parade is another solid effort showcasing the musical genius of Prince Rogers Nelson

Contributed by MrBabyMan

Paul Simon: Graceland

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Once I saw the list of albums released in 1986, there really was only one clear choice: Paul Simon’s Graceland. For me, it was an epiphany in music. Never before had I heard Western pop combined with pure African rhythms in such a way. I mean, the mere concept for me was previously inconceivable, but Simon effortlessly took the melodic pop he’d mastered for years, and added this dynamic Ladysmith Black Mambazo sound — a sound you could feel in your body — and the sum became exponentially greater than its parts. It was alchemy, and it launched a desire in me to dive in and completely devour world music from that point on. It literally opened the world of music up to me. So, more than just my favorite album of 1986, it’s, hands down, one of the most influential albums I’ve ever heard.

Contributed by Mark Carras of RockMyMonkey

Ozzy Osbourne: The Ultimate Sin

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The reason The Ultimate Sin stood out so much for me was the title. Being from an overly zealous Christian home I was taught that sin was bad. The idea that we were talking about the ULTIMATE sin was very intriguing. Once I saw the videos for the title track and “Shot In The Dark,” I got a friend to play his copy of the album during lunch. I loved it all! My christian Metal didn’t sound like this? This had a darkness to it that was very enticing. What really hooked me though was the play on words. When I studied the words I found out he wasn’t actually talking about sin in the sense that I knew about sin. It was another perception. My eyes were opened and I started looking at other things from a different perception. So blame Ozzy, Mom. It’s his fault!

Contributed by Desmond Osorio

Kreator: Pleasure To Kill

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Pleasure To Kill as a record that offered Metal fans an onslaught of pounding rhythms and scorching leads by guitarists Mille Petrozza and Jörg Trzebiatowski. Songs like “Ripping Corpse,” “Death Is Your Saviour,” “Pleasure To Kill,” and “Riot of Violence” were fast, pounding, and catchy. Pleasure To Kill was an instant classic; able to stand alongside the offerings of the major American bands. As a fan of Kreator, Pleasure To Kill is one of my favorite albums. It has a magic to it that is indescribable. The rhythms are infectious and make you want to move, to smash things, to utterly pull your hair out! Playing the album with friends has led to violent, fumbling, yet fun as Hell mosh pits. Where someone eventually takes a shot in the face and we all hang out, embracing each other and headbanging with smiles on our faces. It is unreal how a few basic chords and some speed can produce such power that 25 years later the album sounds as fresh and new as the day it was released.

Contributed by Jedi Of Doom

Europe: The Final Countdown

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My pick for my favorite album of 1986 is The Final Countdown by the band Europe. It’s featured song is “The Final Countdown” and it is the band’s most famous song. Not only was that song featured on the album but many others as well. This album was so popular that its songs were featured in the Andy Samberg comedy Hot Rod. When it was released it went to #8 on the Billboard charts for rock album. The other standout songs included on the album were “Rock The Night,” “Carrie,” “Cherokee,” and “Love Chaser,” which was only released in Japan. Not only was this one of the biggest albums of 1986 it’s one of the biggest albums of the 1980s. With awesome music and great talent this is one album I highly suggest you listen to.

Contributed by Baadasssss

Bad Brains: I Against I

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The mad genius pioneers of hardcore punk rock, straight from the streets of our nation’s capital, Bad Brains was one of the first groups to experiment with fusing the ragged fury of punk with the gentler but no less caustic whimsy of funk, hip-hop, and reggae. They never met a genre they couldn’t obliterate and rebuild into something wild yet sonically harmonious. Without these guys groups like Black Flag, Fishbone, and The Beastie Boys would have no reason to exist. For their third studio album I Against I, the gentlemen who broke out of the D.C. punk underground mainstreamed their sound a bit, but the result was the greatest work of their career. It was also their biggest-selling release and still remains a influential album in punk rock history. The album’s accessibility makes it a good means to introduce yourself to the music of Bad Brains. You never saw any teenagers in 1980″˜s movies listening to Bad Brains, which is one of the main reasons why I generally can’t stomach teen movies from the 80″˜s, or any teen movies whatsoever (‘cept for Dazed and Confused — love that flick). “Re-Ignition” was sampled by Hive for their song “Ultrasonic Sound” on the soundtrack to The Matrix. Best tracks: “Sacred Love,” “Re-Ignition,” the title track.

Contributed by Vactor

Janet Jackson: Control

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This was a pivotal album for Ms. Jackson (yes, I’m nasty). Although it was her studio album, I grew up thinking it was her first. For a long time it was the only album of hers I owned and I really only had it because of her connection to her famous brother Michael (who I am a fanatic of). The thing that makes the album special is the collaborations with songwriters/producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Much like the pairing of Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones, the Jackson/Jam/Lewis team fit together like a rhinestone glove. Anytime I can listen to an album from start to finish without skipping any tracks, I count that as a special album and Control definitely falls into that category. Five singles, including “Nasty” and “What Have You Done for Me Lately,” peaked within the top five of the Billboard Hot 100 and became essential 80’s hits and the album went on to sell over 14 million copies worldwide. This is the album I put on when I want to be in Control!

Contributed by Zombie8

Iron Maiden: Somewhere In Time

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I was sixteen when this Iron Maiden album came out in the Fall of 1986 and I would listen to it a couple times every day in my Walkman on the way to and from school, and of course as part of my regular rotation when I was home too. In fact I bought it on CD too and that was when CDs were still kinda new. Back then I had the same albums all on CD, cassette tape, and vinyl record! It’s hard to decide on a favorite track from that album, but one that for some reason always stood out to me most was “Deja Vu.” I also love the title track and “The Loneliness of The Long Distance Runner” a lot too. I remember drawing the band’s mascot Eddie on my Trapper Keeper and practically on every other page in my notebook as well! A lot of people didn’t like the fact that at the time Iron Maiden had switched to using synthesizers with their music, but I liked it just the same as any of their earlier music. Also, I love that the artwork on the cover has incredible references thrown in — Doctor Who, Blade Runner, Led Zeppelin, oh, and Bruce Dickinson holding Eddie’s brains! And a ton of nods to their earlier albums and cover art as well! This album will always hold a special place in my heart.

There were plenty more albums that we didn’t get around to talking about, like Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet, Run-DMC’s Raisin’ Hell, Alice Cooper’s Constrictor, Peter Gabriel’s So, Paul McCartney’s Press to Play … the list goes on. Leave a comment and let us know what YOUR favorite albums of 1986 are.


  1. One of my favorite albums of 1986 was Joe Jackson’s “Big World”. It was unique in a couple of respects: first of all, it was a double album with music on only three sides. You heard me. Stranger still, Jackson recorded it at the Roundabout Theater in New York in front of a live audience who were instructed to make NO NOISE AT ALL. He wanted to capture the energy of a live performance without all that pesky crowd sound. It was recorded live to two-track and in record stores (remember those?) only a couple of months later. The results speak for themselves; it’s one of my favorite Joe Jackson albums. And it’s been out of print in America since the 90’s.

    Comment by West — December 31, 2011 @ 9:31 pm

  2. Wow, My best fríènd ,she just has annóuncéd hér wÄ“ddÄ«ng wÄ«th a mÄ«llionairÄ› mān who is a cèlèbrìty !They mèt via~~~S’u’c’c’e’s’s’f’u’l`m`i`n`g`l`e.C/0/M~~~~ ..it is the lārgÄ“st and bÄ“st clúb for cÄ›lêbrÄ«ty and theìr àdmirèrs to chát ōnlìnè. …You do nÇ’t hávè to bê rÄ«ch ór fāmóùs. ,bùt yōu cān meÄ“t yóùr trùē lòvê , It’s wòrthy ÇŽ try!

    Comment by Jennifer — January 7, 2012 @ 2:02 am

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