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Dec 10 2016

The best debut albums

Preface

The most (great) bands reach their potential around their third album. The first songs, which were composed and frequently played during the founding years of the band in the clubs, are scattered over the first two albums. That (oftentimes) means that from album number 3 onward it becomes clear if a band/artist can/will be more that the average.

However, there are band who leave such a big impression with their first album, that whatever comes next, will always be regarded as less. The question whether this is a blessing or a curse leads to two answers.

A blessing, because everyone want to make a tunning impression.

A curse, because expectations get so high, that disappointment is inevitable. As band/artist you are forever doomed to keep on playing songs you wrote when you were 18 (or younger). Eddie Van Halen will have to play Eruption until his retirement (or death), even though the song is almost 40 years old…

This led me to compile a list of the best debut albums. Rules for becoming a part of the list:

  • It must be the first album of several albums (released during their existence/life). Bands/artists, who released just one album, are excluded;
  • The debutalbum must be the best album within their career (so far);
  • The debutalbum must be an album; EP’s and/or singles are excluded;
  • When applicable, other albums are named if they can approximate the debutalbum.

My definitive list of best debut albums is:

 

The Doors - The Doors (thedoors.com)

The Doors – The Doors

1967

The first album by The Doors was a revelation at the time. Musically deviating from the rock norm. Lots of jazz-influences and of course Jim Morrison’s lyrics.

A lot of the Doors’ most well-known songs are on thsi album, including Break On Through (To the Other Side), Light My Fire, Back Door Man and The End.

The last song in particular is impressive: This Is The End, My Olny Friend, The End, containing a theater-like performance of the Oedipus-complex.

Equally important: L.A. Woman

 

The Stooges - The Stooges (ebay.com)

The Stooges – The Stooges

1969

Revolutionary album. The first punk album? This one, stemming from 1969. Nihilist music with just as nihilistic lyrics, but the expressiveness! Great songs, of which many are considered classic, like 1969, I Wanna Be Your Dog, No Fun and Real Cool Time

Produced by John Cale, this album was way ahead of its time and (therefore) wasn’t successful.

Equally important: Funhouse & Raw Power

 

Ramones - Ramones (allmusic.com)

Ramones – Ramones

1976

The first Ramones album defined the Ramones formula for all time. Every next album was a logical extension of this album.

A classic in the (history of) punk, containing a lot of songs that the Ramones would play live until their last concert: Blitzkrieg Bop, Beat on the Brat, Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue and Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World.

Equally important: It’s Alive

 

Van Halen - Van Halen (neongods.com)

Van Halen – Van Halen

1978

The first Van Halen is a rock classic: one of the best albums in the entire pop history and within Van Halen’s body of work. Sensational guitar playing by Eddie Van Halen, steady rhythm section and the fantastic singing of David Lee Roth. Hooked ever since I saw Runnin’ With The Devil on TV-show Toppop.

Songs Van Halen will be playing until the(ir) end of time: the already mentioned Runnin’ With The Devil and Eruption, supplemented with You Really Got Me, Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love, Atomic Punk, Jamie’s Cryin’ and Ice Cream Man.

Equally important: Women And Children First & 1984

 

Dead Kennedys - Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables (discogs.com)

Dead Kennedys – Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables

1980

Important punk album from the United Stated (see also: Dead Kennedys).

Lots of classic punk songs: Kill The Poor, Forward To Death, Let’s Lynch The Landlord, Chemical Warfare, California Über Alles, I Kill Children & Holiday In Cambodia.

Equally important: In God We Trust, Inc. (EP)

 

David Sylvian - Brilliant Trees (davidsylvian.com)

David Sylvian – Brilliant Trees

1984

David Sylvian’s first solo-album. After the disbanding of Japan (see article about Tin Drum). Preceding the album was single Red Guitar. It’s a beautiful album. The album’s B-side is particularly impressive. The song Brilliant Trees is highly recommended.

One of the may top releases of 1984.

Equally important: Gone To Earth

 

Ice Cube - AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted (theboombox.com)

Ice Cube – AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted

1990

Ice Cube’s first solo-album. After leaving N.W.A., Ice Cube got to work with Public Enemy’s production team The Bomb Squad. It resulted in one of the best rap/hip-hop albums of all time. Violent, raw and (sometimes) crass; unfortunately still very applicable to today’s situation(s), maybe more than ever. A sad observation…

Equally important: Death Certificate

 

After the disbanding of Hüsker Dü, Bob Mould released solo-albums. In 1992 he started Sugar. A three-piece band (just like Hüsker Dü) who released three albums and one EP. By 1995 it was all over. But Sugar did release Copper Blue: a beautiful album, which contains all Mould songs. The re-release from 2012, containing lots of extra’s is the definitive Sugar compilation and a must-have.Equally important: Beaster

Sugar - Copper Blue (pitchfork.com)

Sugar – Copper Blue

1992

 

Lauryn Hill - The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill (last.fm)

Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill

1998

An essential hip-hop classic. Lauryn Hill would, after the disbanding of the Fugees, go solo and all eyes were on Hill’s debut album. She delivered. She even topped all (mighty high) expectations. It all came together on this album. The tour following the album was one of the best tours ever.

Unfortunately, after the tour it all fell apart. A live album would follow in 2002, containing all new music. It was a big disappointment. A follow-up is yet to be released. Halfway through 2015 there was talk of it being released. But no…

 

Arcade Fire - Funeral (musictech.net)

Arcade Fire – Funeral

2004

Arcade Fire debuted in 2003 with the EP Arcade Fire, a year later followed by the stunning album Funeral. It has not one bad (or less) song. Despite the album’s production, it is one of the best albums of all time. It is almost inconceivable that a band can debut like this and maintain the (high) level on their next releases.

Arcade Fire’s complete body of work comes highly recommended: topband!

Equally important: Neon Bible, The Suburbs & Reflektor

 

In closing

Do you know other classic debutalbums? If so, which ones? Let me know!

 

Compliments/remarks? I´d love to hear them!