Thursday, September 19, 2019

Hello, I Love You: The Best Debut Albums Of All Time

My friend and long time reader and supporter Bruce H. had this to say on his Facebook page-

"The death of Ric Ocasek (RIP) got me thinking about the greatest rock/pop/R&B/rap debut albums of all time, of which "The Cars" is for sure one. A top 10 of killer debuts? My criteria are one, that the album be pretty much killer all the way through; two, it could arguably be considered the act's best album; and three, that the act have more than one album. Thus, for me, while "Please Please Me" and "My Aim Is True" are great debuts, I wouldn't include them. Ditto for "Never Mind the Bollocks," since that's essentially the Sex Pistols only album. Also, I'm not saying all of the following ARE the act's best album, just that it wouldn't be insane to think so.

"Are You Experienced"- Jimi Hendrix
"Music from Big Pink"- the Band
"First Take" - Roberta Flack
"The Cars" - The Cars
"The Clash"- The Clash
"B-52s,"- The B-52s
"License to Ill"- The Beastie Boys
"Three Feet High and Rising" - De La Soul"

I'm sure there are dozens I'm not thinking of, and examples I'm missing because I'm blinded by my taste and age. What say you?"

I say:
Pink Floyd- Piper At The Gates of Dawn, because it's one of my three favorite albums of all time.

Television- Marquee Moon, because on the right day, it's one of my ten favorite albums of all time.

Cheap Trick- Cheap Trick (1977), because see "Marquee Moon."


Ken D said...

The second criteria adds a difficult twist.
But I'll suggest John Prine's and Marshall Crenshaw's debuts.

pp said...


Unknown said...

My Aim Is True

Bill said...

Look Sharp--Joe Jackson
Howling Wind--Graham Parker & the Rumour
The Velvet Underground

And though it's not technically his first, I'd put Warren Zevon's eponymous album here too.

Seconded on the Pretenders.

Rob said...

Can't Buy A Thrill - Steely Dan (Still love that album start to finish.)
Quicksilver Messenger Service (They never got better than that first outing - Happy Trails not withstanding as it's live.)
Murmur - R.E.M. (We could argue about it being their best but still a terrific hit the ground running debut.)
Life's A Riot With Spy Vs Spy - Billy Bragg (Was there ever a better way to spend 16 minutes?)

Totally agree with your choice of Marquee Moon - still sounds extraordinary.

Anonymous said...

I had the Pretenders, too. Just off the top of my head-

The Sound - Jeopardy
Shawn Colvin - Steady On
Flash - s/t
Chicago Transit Authority
Osibisa - s/t

Kirke said...

Pretenders gets my vote too.
Pete Townshend Empty Glass (is that cheating?)
Devo Are We Not Men?

jeff said...

Blood, Sweat and Tears - Child is the Father
Jackson Browne - Saturate
Rickie Lee Jones
Poco - Pickin Up the Pieces

jeff said...

a few more that came to mind, some are a stretch, I agree but:

the ramones
Cyndi lauper
Allen sherman - folk singer
Steve Forbert - Alive
Bob Schneder - Lonelyland

Anonymous said...

Andy Pratt - S/T
Bad Company - Bad Co.
Chris Whitley - Living With The Law
Counting Crows - August & Everything After
Jason Falkner - Presents Author Unknown
Jo Jo Gunne - S/T
Joe Walsh - Barnstorm
Jules Shear - Watchdog
Myracle Brah - Life On Planet Eartsnop
Nils Lofgren - S/T
Ozark Mountain Daredevils - S/T
Rickie Lee Jones - S/T


Ramone666 said...

Patti Smith - Horses
Modern Lovers - s/t
The Stooges - s/t
Roxy Music - s/t
Dr. John - Gris Gris
Pere Ubu - The Modern Dance
Culture - Two Sevens Clash
Moby Grape - s/t
The Feelies - Crazy Rhythms

daudder said...

agree with the list, and would add...
-The La's s/t
- Yazoo 'Upstairs at Erics"
- Hothouse Flowers "People"

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

aren't you forgetting one, Sal?

Rocket said...

I agree with many of the Debuts listed already...
Off the top of my head, one omission:

Boston - Boston (1976)

All three criteria met, I believe!

Susan Donimus said...

Are you really ready to argue that Music From Big Pink is better than The Band?

If you ever ask about killer sophomore albums, that's a shoo-in.

Shriner said...

Well, you know my answer: Get The Knack! It's really the only answer to this question. All the other answers are pretenders (no pun intended) to the throne.

"Look Sharp" is right up there, though. So is "Permission To Land". As is Devo's debut -- all mentioned above.

Albums I would add to this pantheon for All Killer, No Filler and better than any other album:

"#1 Record" by Big Star
"Concrete Blonde" -- nothing the band did was better than this debut.
"Beauty and the Beat" -- The Go-Gos"
"Appetite For Destruction"
"Employment" -- Kaiser Chiefs
"Bat Out Of Hell"
"The Romantics"
"Van Halen"
"Weezer" (the blue album)

kevin m said...

That first Psychedelic Furs record is a classic in my humble opinion.

mauijim said...

The Doors for me. Their blueprint was completed. They rarely strayed from it.
50th anniv for Santana debut. A really unique sound not achieved by anyone else.
Ramone666 alraedy mentioned Patti's Horses. a big one for me. Didn't have anything like that in my collection.

neal t said...

no way on the Clash. Sandinista and London Calling way better than most anything including all the other Clash records. The first Cars record has always been my answer to your excellent topic.

Sal Nunziato said...

A few random comments:

I think each Concrete Blonde record got better, with "Bloodletting" being the real winner. And "Beauty & The Beat?" Really all killer no filler?

I always thought the first Roxy was groundbreaking, but didn't quite nail it the way "For Your Pleasure" did. That whole #2, "arguably the best" loophole, makes this really difficult.

@Susan Dominus
That second Band album is better than most everything, even books, movies, food. It's THAT good. But as a debut, "Big Pink" is pretty...pretty good.

Anonymous said...

I've thought about this over the years, so come prepared to this knife-fight: Concrete Blonde, The Beat (the L.A. one), The Knack, The Pretenders, Blasters, CSNY, Dancing Hoods, Red House Painters, The Cars, Imperial Teen, Chris Isaak, Morphine, My Morning Jacket, Poi Dog Pondering, Modern Lovers, Stone Roses, Stray Cats (their actual debut, not the comp that became their "debut" in the US), Traveling Wilburies, Caesars (might be cheating, as they changed their name a couple times, but the debut under this name is a garage classic), Van Halen, Violent Femmes, Los Lobos, Arcade Fire, Strokes, Leaving Trains, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Kansas, King Crimson, Bad Company.
Some of these are my favorite records period, like Deja Vu, The Beat, 12 Jealous Roses, Well Down Blue Highway, The Pretenders, The Cars, Silvertone, Traveling Wilburies Vol 1, Tennessee Fire, Poi Dog Pondering, Funeral, Concrete Blonde.
John Fogerty's self-titled album is one of my all-time favorites, but he released his actual debut under the name Blue Ridge Rangers. I love Murmur, but I can't choose between it and Lifes Rich Pageant.
Would counting The Sun Sessions be cheating, since they were Elvis' earliest but weren't released as a whole til later? If it can count, count me in on that one, too.
C in California

Sal Nunziato said...

Okay, let's get a grip.

If you all don't know by now, I think "The Who Sell Out" is the greatest record ever made. That is what I think. But, if you even pay a little attention, you should know I wouldn't dare put that record up against many of the proven classics, if only to avoid the berating, but mostly, because I get the fact that I love it. Me. If we are going to "argue" the merits of "The Clash" and their debut, maybe suggesting "Poi Dog Pondering" is indeed a "knife fight." Great album? Maybe. Maybe not. But damn, it can't just be a debut. Everyone has a debut.

The Sound?
Poi Dog Pondering?
Imperial Teen?
Dancing Hoods?
Red House Painters?

This is not a condemnation on any of those bands, or the fact the anyone loves those bands. But we are talking about greatest debuts of "all time."

roryg said...

Definitely Joe Jackson Iggy's The Idiot, Wishbone Ash s/t and Smithereens' Especially For You. And Andrew WK's I Get Wet because, you know, PARTY. How about a band with a great three album run for another blast?

rick said...

Chicago Transit Authority
All Things Must Pass
Astral Weeks

Anonymous said...

I agree that The Doors first album is the perfect example of the first as the best.

Sal - You and I are in total agreement about "The Who Sells Out!". For whatever reason I think the album in magical!

Captain Al

Shriner said...

I relistened to the entire "Concrete Blonde" discography recently and my mind hasn't changed on it. It's a fabulous debut album and better than Bloodletting (which is #2 -- and a strong #2)

And, yes, I think "Beauty and the Beat" is all killer. It's definitely their best album. Give it another spin sometime. I would have put "All Over The Place" by the Bangles, but the last song on the album leaves a bad aftertaste.

I will give you perhaps not "best debuts of all time" for it -- perhaps. Maybe along with "Employment" -- though I think the first 7 songs are so super strong that the last 5 don't really matter.

And I like "Pretenders II" better than the debut. I'm one of "those" people. :-)

I will fight for all the rest I listed, though!

Jeff in Denton TX said...

I agree with many of those already mentioned. Here's a few I didn't catch on anyone else's lists:
Tori Amos - "Little Earthquakes" (None of her other albums moved the needle for me)
Bee Gees' 1st
Marillion - "Script for a Jester's Tear"
Foreigner s/t
Toto s/t
Iron Maiden s/t
Richard & Linda Thompson - "I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight" (their first as a duo)
Ambrosia s/t
Christopher Cross s/t (Shut up! It's great!)
Elton John s/t
The Alan Parsons Project - "Tales of Mystery and Imagination:

rick said...

If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears

Unknown said...

Marquee Moon/Television
All Over the Place/Bangles
Can't Buy a Thrill/Steely Dan
Marshall Crenshaw

Dave said...

I concede that “The Doors” is the prototypical answer, because, like the Knack, they appeared fully formed, but for me it’s “Marshall Crenshaw” and “Bee Gees 1st.”

Dave F.

Dr Wu said...

Great topic! Would like to add Montrose S/T and Suede S/T debuts. Both highly influential and incredibly solid. Everyone has shared some great listening opportunities/reminders. Much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

taking the Big Pink and The Clash choices further - License to Ill over Paul's Boutique? First Take over any of Flack's arguably perfect next three albums? B-52's? forget best of all time, these aren't even their best albums.

Sal Nunziato said...

"forget best of all time, these aren't even their best albums."

Agree, but the post did say, "but it wouldn't be insane to think so."

It's not unreasonable or insane to think The Clash is a better album than London Calling."

Joe said...

I won't repeat the many great choices already identified. I will add:
Carlene Carter - Carlene Carter
Jesse Winchester -Jesse Winchester
Average White Band - White album

Sal Nunziato said...

AWB is a great record, but it's not their debut.

Joe said...

Wow, I didn't know that. Thanks

Anonymous said...

One more:

The American version of Procol Harum's first album. Procol Harum created many fine albums but their first is extremely magical to me. Side two many be my favorite 20 minutes of music ever.

"But Captain tell us how you really feel!"

Captain Al

Sal Nunziato said...

re: Procol
I'm with you.
Might have to listen to it right now.

A guy called Tak said...

Pretenders first - definitely their best.
Music From Big Pink/The Band - I know many people prefer 2nd but I still like Big Pink.
Vanilla Fudge - also its cover design.

Robin said...

Great list Sal (De La Soul!), and mentions by everyone. I came here to say "The Pretenders" but a few folks beat me to it. It's just so perfect, a true distillation of Chrissie and the band's talents and like "The Cars" it just commands attention. Run DMc debut, Flying Burrito Brothers "The Gilded Palace of Sin". There are many but running through them in my head, I can't say the band/group didn't achieve greater afterward (Beastie's "Licensed to Ill" comes up on lists of great debuts a lot, and it is but "Paul's Boutique" is well one of my favorite's of all time and better I think).

Sal Nunziato said...

I just want to echo all the love for "Paul's Boutique." I've had countless discussions/arguments with many who refuse to even listen. That record is a masterwork, a true piece of art.

Shriner said...

Hey, I think "Ill Communication" is better than "Licensed To Ill". So what do I know?

Anonymous said...

Modern Lovers
Straight Outta Compton
Stone Roses
Yes on Procul, but I only have UK version.

How about a best last album one - true last album, not found tapes, etc.

- Andy

Jim H. said...

Big Star, #1 Record.

mauijim said...

has there been a mention yet of Dire Straits ? another fully formed sound. Enhanced on Making Movies.

Anonymous said...


The American version of the first Procol Harum album has this difference from the UK version: drop Good Captain Clack and substitute in A Whiter Shade of Pale. It's also sequenced a little better.

Captain Al

I too am anonymous. said...

Very nice choices here!

A guy called Tak said...

Ooops! I forgot about Procol's first. I bought a Japanese LP back then. It's the same as US version. Perfectly sequenced album.
Sal, maybe we should do 'The Beast Second Album'? Just a suggestion.

kevin m said...

And may I include Oasis "Definitely Maybe"?

Anonymous said...

I inspired a Burning Wood post! True bucket list moment! Lots of great adds here. CSN and Pretenders, of course! The Doors. I subsequently realized I'd add Blondie's self-titled debut, a credible rival I think to Parallel Lines and Eat to the Beat.

Bruce H

Ken D said...

Thanks to those commenters who reminded me about the Jesse Winchester, Dire Straits, and Blondie debuts.
Been too long since I've heard those but all worthy additions to this list.

Dr Wu said...

Brilliant conversation going. Thank you, Sal! Add a couple more to the discussion: Ryan Adams ‘Heartbreaker’, Pavement ‘Slanted & Enchanted’, Sinead O’Conner ‘Lion and the Cobra’, LLoyd Cole and the Commotions ‘Rattlesnake’, Steve Earle ‘Guitar Town’, Belle and Sebastian ‘If You’re Feeling Sinister’, These albums continue to be in regular rotation for me. Believe these all represent some of the finest work of these artists, with a few even being genre defining albums. Certainly worthy of an argument, if not a knife fight. Thanks for all the recommendations from everyone. Enjoying the first Procol Harum now. Well done to both the band and those who suggested.

Anonymous said...

Does anybody here remember Terence Trent D’arby? Introducing to the hardline...
Also, Ten by Pearl Jam in spite of the dated sound of the drums

Michael Giltz said...

Good heavens, if someone refuses to even listen to "Paul's Boutique" by the Beastie Boys, clearly they have no right to discuss its merits and Are the sort of person you should never waste a moment talking with!

kevin said...

How the fuck did I neglect to include 2 of my favorite bands with their debut records; The Black Crowes (if they were mentioned prior, sorry) and The Wonder Stuff.

And Anonymous is right about Terence Trent D'arby.