Clive's Album of the Year, 1977-1980

On we go, come on come on, keep up, I haven't got all day, you know.

1980

Honourable mention

Van Halen - Women and Children First

When Van Halen burst onto the scene they undeniably took it apart (more on that later), and they were still pretty much at the top of their game by the third album. Punchy. Top track: "Everybody Wants Some!!"

Winner

AC/DC - Back in Black

AC/DC - Back in Black

Well. I know I'm going to get into trouble in some quarters, but for me AC/DC has a Geordie singer with a flat cap. I know, I know, and all you O.G. Bon Scott loving fans can go right ahead and tell me how wrong I am, but I'll just smile and stick this album on again. Of course it's a tragedy how BS died, of course he was taken too early, naturally he was a huge part of how the band achieved their success to begin with. I'm not arguing with any of that. But for me, this is THE AC/DC album, and no amount of "Beating Around the Bush", "Big Balls" or "TNT" is going to change that.

Top tracks: "Hells Bells", "You Shook Me All Night Long", "Back in Black"

1979

Honourable mentions

AC/DC - Highway to Hell

Now that's not to say that I don't like Bon Scott, by the way… I just prefer Johnson. But on this, Scott's final album, he was pretty damned amazing and Angus is fucking out of control. Top track: "Highway to Hell"

Van Halen - Van Halen II

Ah, Van Halen, you say? Well yes. Their second album has some crackers on it, and the musical pyrotechnics of EVH are if anything a little more harnessed than on the debut. Just a little filler here, but mostly killer. Top track: "Light Up the Sky"

Winner

Pink Floyd - The Wall

Pink Floyd - The Wall

So you thought you might like to go to the show?

If you're going to concept album, this is how you do it. (I'm looking at you, Dream Theater.) An introvert odyssey into isolation and what boils down to PTSD and depression, this 81-minute cheery tale of one young man's breakdown and consequent regression inside himself is a prog masterpiece, one of the few of the era that I can actually tolerate, laden as it is with drama and melody from the get-go. Total boner-fido classic, and the only example that comes to mind of a justifiable double album. Go on, name one other (discounting live albums and soundtracks) that wouldn't be better boiled down to a single album… You can't. But this is worth every second.

Top tracks: "Comfortably Numb", "Mother", "Another Brick in the Wall pt. 2"

1978

Honourable mentions

Dire Straits - Dire Straits

This may in fact be my favourite Dire Straits album. There's a prowling moodiness to the lyrics and Mark Knopfler's lead guitar crackles throughout. "Sultans of Swing" indeed. Top track: "Down to the Waterline"

Brian Eno - Ambient 1: Music for Airports

Ambient music is not for everyone, but if it is even mildly your bag then you need this. High water mark. Top track: "1/1"

Winner

Van Halen - Van Halen

Van Halen - Van Halen

Are you fucking kidding me? I frequently wax lyrical about the greatest debut album of all time being Appetite For Destruction in 1987, which it is, but this has to be right behind it.

I can't imagine being the rock music industry when this thing hit it. I imagine it must have had to go and have a bit of a lie down.

Top tracks: "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love", "Atomic Punk", "Runnin' With the Devil"

1977

Dishonourable mention

The Sex Pistols - Never Mind the Bollocks…

I was never into punk, not even a little bit, but it definitely happened, of that much we can be sure. It transpires that this is actually pretty good, even now. Top track: "Pretty Vacant"

Winner

Fleetwood Mac - Rumours

Fleetwood Mac - Rumours

Retroactively, for sure, though many of the Mac tracks I grew up loving seem to have come from this album, so why not? Wikipedia tells me that following the previous eponymous album the band's two couples – Christine & John McVie and Buckingham/Nicks – had split up (as well as drummer Mick Fleetwood going through a divorce of his own), lending a certain frisson to the writing process for this, later claimed to be their most important album of all time (and the band's 11th overall).

Whether you have any time for Fleetwood Mac or not, they were one of the bigger bands of this era and I grew up with many of these songs on the radio, and I still love them. So there.

Top tracks: "Dreams", "Go Your Own Way", "The Chain"