Michael Sweet is the lead singer of Stryper so you think I would do a Stryper ranking first, but nope. I decided to do Michael Sweet’s solo releases before I go through all the Stryper albums. Michael has been rather prolific with his music lately between the Stryper albums, his solo work and his Sweet & Lynch albums there has been a ton of new music. I think he has also been getting better with age both vocally and lyrically.
He has a new album solo coming out soon called ‘Ten’ and before that was released I started listening to his older Solo albums and then one thing lead to another and I went through all of them. So why not rank them from the ones I liked the least to the ones I liked the best and here we are. Eventually I will get to the Stryper albums, but that could be awhile as there are so many to get through, but I will make it eventually. For now, let us get through these. Enjoy…
THE WORST – TOUCHED (2007):
Okay, the album is beautiful. He sounds amazing and I know the album was dedicated to his wife Kyle who was suffering from cancer. It is a love song for her and that is incredibly touching. The album is a collection of his songs and covers that were for his wife and all are ballads and not rocking at all. I am not saying this album is bad, I am just saying I couldn’t enjoy it without that rocking side to go along with it.
I found it a little dull and boring at times and it was really hard for me to make it through it. This is one you have to be in the mood for. You have to be willing to relax and be laid back and hope you won’t fall asleep. There are a lot of piano ballads and they are hypnotic and lovely and hard to take a whole album of it. However, it is a wonderful showing of love and heart and was probably very therapeutic for him to do for his wife. It is the one album I go to the least so that is why it is at the bottom.
#8 – HIM (2006):
‘Him’ is Michael’s fifth studio album and is a collection of traditional Hymns that Michael rearranged and re-wrote for the album. This one is a slight step-up from ‘Touched’. It is a little on the light side as well with a few occasional bump ups in tempo and style. There are couple on here that I listen to more regularly and are in my essentials playlist for Michael. It is another you have to be in the mood for like the last one.
I do like a few songs. “I Know” is a great hymnal song and this one has a little more uptempo, a nice drum beat and Michael’s vocals really shine on the chorus. You feel the power in his voice. I also got in to “Gilead” and “Take My Life” as they were both done well. There were too many overly sappy songs and some with not enough life to make the whole album shine brightly.
#7 – REAL (1995):
‘Real’ is Michael’s second solo album and after the success of the first one, this one for me was a little of a let down. Now, it did have a couple of #1 songs and did receive a Dove award, for me it didn’t have the songs. The whole album had too much filler and not enough songs with some meat on the bone.
There was an acoustic version of the Stryper song “Always There For You” that was incredible. And you can’t pass up songs like “Second Chances” and the brilliance of the title track “Real”. It was one of those albums that was so close to being incredible, but for some reason missed the mark.
#6 – SWEET & LYNCH – UNIFIED (2017):
George Lynch of Dokken and Michael Sweet joined forces for a 2nd time thanks to Frontiers Records knack for bringing people together to form supergroups. After the stellar release of their debut, this one fell short for me. It didn’t feel as cohesive, it felt rushed and it felt like they were capitalizing on the success of the first one.
That doesn’t mean it was all bad. Michael’s vocals are sensational (aren’t they always though) and George’s playing is fantastic. You get such great songs as “Afterlife”, “Promised Land” and “Bridge of Broken Lies” to name a few. And I would throw in “Walk” as one of the better songs. I will admit that George isn’t the draw for me to these albums, it is really Michael and only Michael.
#5 – I’M NOT YOUR SUICIDE (2014):
Okay, from this point on, you can’t go wrong with any of these. This is where it got hard for me on how to rank them, but I finally decided and I hope you agree. The album is full of guest musicians and vocalist including Tony Harnell, Chris Jericho, Kevin Max and Electra Mustaine. It had Kenny Arnoff on drums and it was all brilliant. From the opener “Taking on the World Tonight (Tony Harnell)” to the closer “Heart of Gold” with Electra Mustaine it is all a blast.
Some of my favorites were “The Cause”, “I’m Not Your Suicide” and “Strong”. It was also cool to have Robert Sweet and Timothy Gaines on the song “How to Live” which is a wonderful ballad. The only reason it is this low is that I liked the others just a little better when laying them side by side. You wouldn’t be wrong to pick this one higher if you so choose.
#4 – SWEET & LYNCH – ONLY TO RISE (2015):
From the opening track “The Wish” you knew you were for something special. With the electrifying guitar playing of George Lynch and those awe inspiring vocals of Michael Sweet you knew this was going to rock from beginning to end and it does that and then some. Michael’s vocals get better with age and which I don’t know how that is possible.
“Dying Rose” and “Love Stays” are some of the best, however, you can’t exclude songs like “Me Without You”, “Only to Rise” and “Time Will Tell” from that conversation either. It all is pure magic and thanks to Frontiers Records for bringing these two together even if it won’t be too often they put out music together.
#3 – ONE SIDED WAR (2016):
Now I know a lot of people think this might be the best one. At least Michael said that when he released it, but I have two more I like a little better. This one is the heaviest of the 3 remaining albums. It is a beast of an album. Michael sounds fantastic and the energy and power are turned up a notch which makes this thing shine and could easily be #1 on many people’s list.
The opening “Bizarre” completely is in your fact rock & roll and a fantastic opening track. I also love the songs “One Sided War” and “Radio” which keep me returning to this album. The guitar work on this one is awesome as well with Joel Hoekstra on lead guitar and helps take it up another notch. I also dig “Can’t Take This Life” and “Who Am I” which isn’t as heavy but still as strong. Just a heavy, rocking an album and makes me excited about what his new one to see if he can top this one.
#2 – TRUTH (2000):
Michael’s third solo album was actually a demo’s release in 1998 until a record company picked it up and they polished it off, slicked it up and re-released as a full fledged release. And thankfully the did. This was a beauty for me. It was a showcase of Michael’s vocal talents as he hit some crazy notes on this one. The release is more melodic and not as heavy as we seem him today and I am okay with that. I have loved this album for 20 years now and keeps getting better.
The opening “Distracted” sets the tone for the rest. There are so many great songs including a few of my favorite Sweet songs including “I Am Adam” and “Wool & Chiffon” and of course “Blue Bleeds Through” which has Michael hitting a note only dogs can hear and glasses shatter. The heaviest song “Save Me” is a classic as well and has a wicked riff and groove. The whole album is great and it could easily be #1.
#1 – MICHAEL SWEET (1994):
The debut and self-titled solo album from Michael Sweet is still my favorite and is for two reasons. One, the songs obviously. Two, it was my reintroduction to him and Stryper after the band went on hiatus. This was really the album that turned me back on and has made me a life long fan. With Gregg Fulkerson from Blue Tears helping to produce, we get a fantastic, melodic and Christian album.
The songs are fun and rocking, there are ballads and they all fit nicely together making it an enjoyable music experience. And this was 1994, the music was depressing, sad and awful. This was the shining light. Songs like “Together”, “Take Me Home”, “J.E.S.U.S.” and “Ain’t No Safe Way” kept me rocking. While songs like “Tomorrow, Tonight” and “Someday” helped me remember that power ballads are still awesome. You might not think it is #1, but it is #1 in my heart and that is what matters to me!!
And there you have it, the Michael Sweet studio albums in order of how I rank them from the worst to the best. Let me know what you think. Where did we differ and where did we agree. What is fun about these list is how differently each album impacts people. What I like, you might not, but we like the same artist and that is all that matters really. And if as a result, you find something new, then my job is done!!!