37. Black Sabbath, 'Heaven and Hell' (1980)
Black Sabbath without Ozzy Osbourne was a nearly unimaginable thought during the first decade of the band's existence, but by 1979 the group was running out of patience with the singer's growing unreliability and chronic drug abuse (two closely related issues), so they fired him. Virtually nobody on earth was qualified to fill his shoes besides former Rainbow singer Ronnie James Dio, a diminutive man with one of the biggest voices in metal. "He could get really high and clear, but it always sounded thick and powerful," James Hetfield told Rolling Stone after Dio's death in 2010. "He sounded like he was eight feet tall even though he was quite the opposite." Dio's presence breathed new life into Black Sabbath – who had been slowly fading throughout the late Seventies – and led to incredible new tunes like the regal "Heaven and Hell," the hard-charging "Neon Knights" and the dramatic "Die Young." Dio was a lyricist, so he took some of the pressure off bassist Geezer Butler, and in the process gave the band an unprecedented grandeur. Suddenly, the group had a whole new generation of fans too young to remember the original Ozzy era in the early 1970s. "Everyone had that record," Hetfield said. "Everyone was playing the cover songs in garage bands, including me. 'Neon Knights' was like the school anthem." Black Sabbath carried on for decades more, with an endless parade of singers, but they never again quite recaptured the rejuvenated spirit of Heaven and Hell. A.G.