Girlschool — Hit and Run (1981)
Championed by Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead, Britain’s first all-girl heavy metal band burst onto the rock scene in 1979 when they toured with their mentors on Motörhead’s Overkill run. Known for their contagious hooks and wild stage presence, Girlschool’s Hit and Run is the band’s biggest, best album, a nonstop rush of pure, heart-thumping rock that makes you want to drive dangerously fast on a freeway heading out of town.
Nazareth — Razamanaz (1973)
Scottish hard rock legends Nazareth broke the mold with their 1975 album Hair of the Dog, but the real jam is its predecessor, Razamanaz. This baby is nothing less than perfection, from the title track to “Bad Bad Boy” to “Woke Up This Morning” (produced by Deep Purple’s Roger Glover). A parade of hits and feel-good rock ’n’ roll that keeps you feeling young and stoked.
Ace Frehley — Ace Frehley (1978)
When KISS finally had enough of each other’s egos, they all decided to head off and record their own solo albums in a weird, passive-aggressive competition to see who could outsell the other. The Spaceman’s album outshone his bandmates, and for good reason. This first solo effort is a total banger. Songs like “Rip It Out,” “Snow Blind,” and “Wiped-Out” will remind you of the good ol’ days of rock ’n’ roll, while “New York Groove,” written by England’s Russ Ballard, is a straight-up summer classic.
Thin Lizzy — Bad Reputation (1977)
It wouldn’t be summer without some Thin Lizzy, and Bad Reputation is one of their most ferocious records. Even though there was a lot of internal drama surrounding the recording process (guitarist Brian Robertson left the band and was only credited on three tracks), this lean, dangerous rock album has stood the test of time. Play it loud, boys.
Silverhead — Silverhead (1972)
A British glam rock band, Silverhead might have had an abbreviated run, but these skinny, raunchy party boys—led by singer-actor Michael Des Barres—made some killer music before parting ways. Their self-titled 1972 release is a hidden treasure of sexy, classic rock, with dirty lyrics and sparkling production. From the first song “Long Legged Lisa” to “Rolling With My Baby” to the stand-out track “Sold Me Down the River,” it’s no wonder these talented skanks were primed to be the next Slade.
Rory Gallagher — Tattoo (1973)
Tattoo is a rare gem of Irish blues delivered by guitarist Rory Gallagher. Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Queen’s Brian May, and Johnny Marr of The Smiths all praised Gallagher for his music, even though he never hit the mainstream the way these musicians did. Tattoo will send you into a swirling spiral of blues guitar rock, mixing heavy hitters and soothing tracks perfect for long summer drives.
John Prine — Sweet Revenge (1973)
This record just makes you want to kick off your boots, lay down by a lake or river, sip on a beer, and let your mind float away. So, do just that. Lose yourself listening to a country-folk classic that juiced Prine’s career. Brain pillow, indeed.
David Allan Coe — Penitentiary Blues (1970)
Before he solidified himself as the swampland’s dirtiest country singer, David Allan Coe released Penitentiary Blues, a seedy amalgam of country, blues, and rock ’n’ roll. This surprising album is a rare collection of twangy blues riffs about the down-and-out days Coe spent locked up in the South. References to heroin, “Monkey David Wine,” death row, alligators, and “eating meat with a spoon” all flow into place as this underrated masterpiece chugs through you. “Let’s go to the jungle now….”