45 Best Summer Albums Of All Time Part 1: Counting down the most summer-tastic albums ever made.
Last year I made the Ultimate Alternative Summer Playlist, where I listed songs that embodied summer. But what about full albums that imbue the same sunny spirit?
Well, now that summer time has arrived again, I’ve made my list of best summer albums of various genres.
Not only am I covering those iconic songs that deliberately reference beaches, heat and R&R, but I’m also listing many albums that were released in the summer months of yesteryear, defining many sun soaked personal memories for myself.
Being a middle-aged working dude, summer isn’t what it used to be. But hearing some of these albums takes me back to all that was both idyllic and angst ridden, hormonal and rebellious during those brief respites from junior high, high school, and higher education. I’ve also listed stock-in-trade summer album classics that any generation can enjoy.
I made a few ground rules for inclusion, and they are as follows:
- Albums were released during summer months, or just prior, to qualify for summer listening material.
- Or they were recorded during the summer, capturing the vibes of the season.
- Or they just sound like summer, you know?
So without further ado, here’s part one of the 40 Best Summer Albums Of All Time, encompassing alt-rock, metal, hip-hop, soundtracks, surf rock, punk, new wave, reggae, classic rock, glam, techno and more.
If you’d like to own any of these albums on Amazon just click on the album art, and if you’d prefer iTunes, just click on the album title, highlighted in blue.
And we’re off:
45. A New Stereophonic Sound Spectacular- Hooverphonic (July 29th, 1996)
[amazon_image id=”B000002BVY” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Hooverphonic: A New Stereophonic Sound Spectacular[/amazon_image]
The Belgian trip-hop group’s début album is much sunnier than their competition on 60’s spy-noir tracks like ‘2 Wicky’, the soothing ‘Inhaler’ and the tropical ‘Barabas.’
44. The Lost Boys Soundtrack (July 31st, 1987)
[amazon_image id=”B000002ILE” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Lost Boys: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack[/amazon_image]
Neither the movie, or some of the music has aged very well (Eddie and The Tide, or Mummy Calls anyone?), but it signified the summer of 1987 for me, with the awesome Echo & The Bunnymen Doors cover ‘People Are Strange’, INXS’s ‘Good Times’, and Gerard McMann’s ‘Cry Little Sister.’
43. Powertrip – Monster Magnet (June 16th, 1998)
[amazon_image id=”B000007QDK” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Powertrip[/amazon_image]
Monster Magnet’s breakthrough disc is full of stoner anthems galore, either about macho self-mythologizing ‘Space Lord’ or the simple wish-fulfillment of the title track; ‘I’m never gonna work, another day in my life, I’m way too busy power tripping…”
42. Coming Up – The London Suede
[amazon_image id=”B000002BSV” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Coming Up[/amazon_image]
Suede’s Britpop slacker anthem collection came out in the fall in U.K. but it didn’t hit the states until near summer of 1997. And while it had limited US impact, it connected with disconnected Anglophiles with tracks like ‘Trash’, ‘Lazy’, and ‘Picnic By The Motorway.’
41. Rubberneck – Toadies (August 23rd, 1994)
[amazon_image id=”B000001Y6E” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Rubberneck[/amazon_image]
The Toadies bluesy version of alt-rock was as a hot as Texas asphalt, and they were hometown heroes in my childhood home of Fort Worth, making their impact even bigger on a local level. Whether it was a psychopath trying to abduct a victim to Mexico (‘Tyler’) or evolutionary refreshment (‘I Come For The Water’) their landmark album ‘Rubberneck’ delivered (can you believe it turns 20 this year?)
40. California – Mr. Bungle (July 13th, 1999)/Angel Dust- Faith No More (June 8th, 1992)
[amazon_image id=”B00000JG41″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]California[/amazon_image][amazon_image id=”B000002LRX” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Angel Dust[/amazon_image]
Mike Patton owned two different summers with two different bands; 1999’s ‘California’ was Mr. Bungle’s ADD take on the Beach Boys, and Faith No More’s ‘Angel Dust’ was perfect summer listening for weirdos; late summer nights watching bad TV=’Land of Sunshine’, a lewd take on school spirit (‘Be Aggressive’), and a spot-on cover of the Commodore’s chill out classic.’Easy’. ‘Midlife Crisis’ felt like a song for old-farts way back then. Sigh.
39. Danzig III – How the Gods Kill – Danzig (July 4th, 1992)
[amazon_image id=”B000068GA3″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Danzig 3: How the Gods Kill[/amazon_image]
Danzig’s first three albums all came out in the summer, but ‘How The Gods Kill’ feels linked to summer heat, be it the hellfire drenched ‘Godless’ or the surf-tinged ‘Dirty Black Summer.’ I recall many lazy afternoon’s watching the H.R. Giger themed video for the title track on ‘The Jukebox Network’ (remember that?)
38. Surrender – The Chemical Brothers (June 21st, 1999)
[amazon_image id=”B00000J8EK” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Surrender[/amazon_image]
The techno duo conjured sunny, psychedelic textures on tracks like ‘The Sunshine Underground’ and ‘Let Forever Be’ (feat. Noel Gallagher), and Ecstasy soaked bliss on ‘Hey Boy Hey Girl’ and ‘Out of Control’ (feat. Bernard Sumner)
37. Portrait of an American Family – Marilyn Manson (July 19th, 1994)
[amazon_image id=”B000001Y5X” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Portrait of an American Family[/amazon_image]
Hey summer’s aren’t all sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes goth mallrats need to hide their pasty skin from the roasting sun, being surly in shopping malls and late night eateries, and giving old folks the creeps. Marilyn Manson’s nihilistic début album perfectly fueled that sentiment with tracks like ‘Lunchbox’, ‘Dope Hat’ and ‘Cake and Sodomy.’
36. Stay Hungry – Twisted Sister (May 10th, 1984)
If you were in junior high in 1984 (i.e. me), this was the album that signified getting out of school, and away from the tyranny of adults, be it the iconic flipping the bird to authority (‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’) or the (at the time) blasphemous ‘Burn In Hell’ featured in the summer film classic ‘Pee Wee’s Big Adventure’:
Twisted Sister seem cartoonish and dorky now, but it had parental groups freaking out in the 80’s, How times have changed…
35. Sketches of Spain- Miles Davis (July 18th, 1960)
Miles Davis’ Spanish flavored jazz classic just exudes an idyllic, balmy, summer vibe.
34. 3 Ft High and Rising-De La Soul (March 3rd, 1989)
[amazon_image id=”B000000HHE” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]3 Feet High & Rising[/amazon_image]
It came out in the spring, but it made for ideal summer listening for the summer of ’89. Sampling kids TV themes, 70’s FM rock and soul classics and more, it was a Kaleidoscope of sound for chilled out good times.
33. Live Killers – Queen (June 22nd, 1979)
One of the best concert albums ever, ‘Live Killer’s gives Queen’s anthems even bigger scale, and made for perfect highway driving hedonism. My personal fave? The fast, guitar fueled version of ‘We Will Rock You’:
32. Substance-New Order (Aug 17th, 1987)
[amazon_image id=”B000002LCK” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Substance[/amazon_image]
One of the best compilations albums ever, features plenty of iconic post-punk dance classics to soundtrack your summer (‘Blue Monday’, ‘Temptation’, ‘True Faith’,’1963′, ‘The Beach’, etc, etc.)
31. Singles-Soundtrack (June 30th, 1992)
The soundtrack from Cameron Crowe’s romantic comedy was steeped in gloomy Seattle rain. But it wasn’t all dourness; Chris Cornell’s acoustic ‘Seasons’, Pearl Jam’s ‘Breathe’, and Smashing Pumpkin’s ‘Drown’ had moments of soothing warmth.
30. Synchronicity – The Police (June 1st, 1983)
The Police’s reggae/new wave rock sound was perfectly suited for summer, and ‘Every Breath You Take’ is possibly the most misunderstood song lyric ever. While it chronicled many summer adolescent crushes, it’s one of the darkest tracks of unrequited love ever made.
29. British Steel- Judas Priest (April 14th, 1980)
This metal album is ideal for summer hell-raising, be it ‘Breaking The Law’, or ‘Living After Midnight’. Perhaps no other metal band is as synonymous with summer rocking thanks to the hilarious time capsule ‘Heavy Metal Parking Lot’: