Summer is about three things: shore trips, cold beer, and good music. There are plenty of great artists who put out summer-y music, but to me, classic rock will always be the best summer soundtrack.
If you're looking for a Fourth of July playlist, the perfect songs for those long drives down the shore, or just something to chill to while you sit by the pool, you can't go wrong with these albums. They're quintessential summer listening, and they'll keep the party going no matter what.
Back in Black, AC/DC (1980)
For: long drives and stormy days.
The second-best selling album of all time. The greatness of AC/DC cannot be denied, and while one may not think of Back in Black as an album for sunny weather and lazy days, it's actually perfect. When half of an album's songs become hits (five out of ten ain't bad), it seems fair to say that the album is incredible.
Back in Black includes You Shook Me All Night Long, Hell's Bells, Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution, and Shoot to Thrill, along with the famous title track. It's a darker summer album, but it's perfect for the hottest days when you're ready to say "fuck it" to everything and just drive off.
Born in the U.S.A., Bruce Springsteen (1984)
For: when you're feeling patriotic but also a little rebellious.
Springsteen's classic Born in the U.S.A. was an instant hit in the mid-80's and remains so to this day. It is one of the highest-selling albums ever, and is generally considered to be one of the greatest albums ever. In addition to commercial and critical success, it's also one of the best-known Springsteen albums, and with classic songs like Born in the U.S.A., Glory Days, and Dancing in the Dark, it's easy to see why. It's perfect for when you're really just feeling the summer vibes and need some jams.
Slippery When Wet, Bon Jovi (1986)
For: when you feel like really jamming out.
A lot of people dismiss Bon Jovi as a hair metal band... and they're probably right. But that doesn't mean you can brush aside classic hits like Livin' on a Prayer, Wanted Dead or Alive, or You Give Love a Bad Name, all of which come from the band's classic 1986 album. These songs are perfect to jam to while you're crawling down the New Jersey Turnpike in shore traffic. Who knows, you might even befriend a few of your fellow frustrated drivers! Or not... it is Jersey, after all.
A Night at the Opera, Queen (1975)
For: when you want a cold beer and some deep conversation.
This album is one of Queen's biggest hits, and it contains what may be the greatest rock song of all time: Bohemian Rhapsody. While the album also has famous songs like You're My Best Friend, it also has Brian May's sci-fi love song, '39 and Roger Taylor's bizarre ode, I'm in Love With My Car.
Regardless of the fact that Bohemian Rhapsody is one of two hit songs on the album, the entire thing gives off summer vibes and is the perfect album to listen to on warm summer nights with a cold beer and when you're down to chat about life/cars/time travel/etc.
Led Zeppelin II, Led Zeppelin (1969)
For: when you need something loud.
No list of top classic rock albums is complete without at least one Zeppelin album. This was the band's first number one album in the U.S. and the U.K., and is considered to be one of the best rock albums of all time. Choosing one favorite Zep album is sure to be controversial, but with hits like Whole Lotta Love, Ramble On, and Heartbreaker, this album is quintessential summer listening. The great men of Zeppelin sympathize with your restlessness, and there's not a bad song on the album. Best listened to at night, cranked up with your windows open.