Ranking The 10 Classic Rock Sophomore Albums

Robert Plant at 6 Music Live performing Whole Lotta Love Photo Credit: YouTube / BBC Radio 6 Music

The second album is just as crucial as the first. Second or sophomore albums are defining factors in careers. This ensures the continuity of a musician or a band.

Fans will see if there is anything interesting or new with their favorite artists. Are they just a one-hit wonder? Or is it just the same rabble, scrambled, and reheated?  Sophomore albums are do-or-die.

Here are the top 10 classic rock sophomore albums:


  1. Candy-O (1979) – The Cars

Though The Cars’ sophomore album didn’t reach the same popularity as it’s predecessor, it still boasts hypnotic and youthful compositions. Featuring a pin-up girl cover art by painter Alberto Vargas, Candy-O hints an alluring content.  

The Cars’ guitarist and vocalist, Ric Ocasek, blended rocky rhythm with new wave. Their tracks alter from art rock, new wave, and pop. The album begins with the catchy “Let’s Go”, which scored their first Top 20 hit. Candy-O contains underrated tracks like “It’s All I Can Do” and “Night Spots”.


  1. Paranoid (1970) – Black Sabbath

Recognized as one of the most reputable albums in the heavy metal scene, Paranoid takes the 131 spot in Rolling Stone’s The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Kerrang! magazine notes the album at No. 39 in 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Album of All Time. Tracks like “War Pigs” and “Planet Caravan”  treats fans to a dark subliminal rock and roll experience. 


  1. Diary Of A Madman (1981) – Ozzy Osbourne

After his dismissal from Black Sabbath, The Prince of Darkness Ozzy Osbourne builds his own career. And Diary Of A Madman sets Osbourne back in the rock and roll scene.

Following the success of his debut album, Blizzard of Ozz, Diary Of A Madman proved that Osbourne’s fame wasn’t just good luck. Initially, Diary received poor reviews from Rolling Stone magazine on its initial release, it would change years later. Track hits like “Flying High Again”  shows that Osbourne can keep the audience wanting more


  1. Van Halen II (1979)- Van Halen

Music critics call the album as a “carbon copy” of their 1978 debut counterpart. Though rarely recognized, Van Halen II is one of the band’s finest works. With hits like “Dance the Night Away” and “Beautiful Girls” , The Rolling Stone Album Guide commends the album for its delightful and festive tracks.


  1. Ride The Lightning (1984)- Metallica

Heavy metal band Metallica found their identity with the release of their sophomore album Ride The Lightning in 1984. It propelled the band into superstardom of heavy metal rock in the modern times.

Ride The Lightning expanded Metallica’s boundaries, explored new ventures, and refined the band’s style. Along with it, the album had received critical acclaim from music critics everywhere. Guitar World commended the album for “resetting the course of metal itself”. 


  1. Led Zeppelin II (1969) – Led Zeppelin

Right after the release of their debut album, Led Zeppelin didn’t waste any time giving their fans more of their music. Before Led Zeppelin II hit the shelves, it had a preorder of 400,000 copies.

Led Zeppelin II starts off with the classic “Whole Lotta Love” which conquered the Billboard 100 in 1970. With tracks “Ramble On”, “What Is and What Should Never Be” and “Moby Dick” in tow, Led Zeppelin had drawn out the design of hard rock in the next years.


  1. Axis: Bold as Love (1967) – Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix continues to dazzle his fans with Axis: Bold as Love. Hendrix’s style sizzles the music scene with an exciting mixture of jazz, rhythm and blues, and hard rock. Though some critics cite that Axis is the least memorable, it still climbed its way to the #5 spot in the UK and #3 in the US. Hendrix heats up the music scene with tracks like “You Got Me Floatin’” and “Bold As Love”.


  1. The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1963)- Bob Dylan

The young musician nearly faded to oblivion after his failed debut album, Bob Dylan. However, that all changed with his second one, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. It showed the singer in a whole new light.

Songs such as “Blowin’ in the Wind”, “Talkin’ World War III Blues”, “Masters of War”, and “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” expresses despondent, angry, and overt political views. Dylan was becoming a candid social critic. By the time he was 22, he was considered a notable figure in music in America. He represented the youth speaking out against the Civil Rights Movement and nuclear disarmament.


  1. With The Beatles (1963) – The Beatles

Following their success with their first album, The Beatles prove they still got something up their sleeves.

In 2003, With The Beatles was ranked 420 on Rolling Stone’s The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The album cover is in monochrome and fashion photographer Robert Freeman captures four young men with serene expressions. But the tracks contained were far from serene: they were euphoric, upbeat, and coy. Their tracks burst with rough-house rhythm and zesty beats. This cover art would then be emulated numerous times by different artists.

With The Beatles features original compositions by Lennon-McCartney and Harrison’s first recorded solo. The quartet sang their own version of Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven”. This album would introduce the world to Beatlemania.



  1. Queen II (1974)- Queen

Queen’s second album remains to be an all-fan favorite. Though overshadowed by other works, Queen II is one of the band’s finest accomplishments. The album showcased the band’s musical diversity and has since become a pivotal work in shaping metal and glam rock. Queen II has amassed numerous awards and accolades over the years.

Queen II features tracks like “The March of the Black Queen”, “White Queen (As It Began)”, and “Ogre Battle” which are the gems of metal rock.