Top 10 Debut Albums
One of the most amazing things about the golden age of classic rock music is the number of bands whose debut albums have stood the test of time. Years of absorbing disparate music influences and honing their skills in sweaty nightclubs clearly had all these artists ready to make strong, powerful statements. As our "Great Starts" week wraps up, here's a list of the Top 10 Debut Albums, as presented by Ultimate Classic Rock:
Originating pretty much fully formed from guitarist, producer and all-around genius Tom Scholz's home studio in July of 1976, Boston's self-titled debut album invaded radio stations like an army of spaceships. Every one of these songs are still getting massive airplay over thirty years later, and 'More Than a Feeling' still sounds like a breath of fresh air every time you hear it.
Boston, the city, had it going on musically in the '70s, huh? Two years after its namesake band (above) took over classic rock radio with their first album, the Cars and their cool, hooky brand of new wave pop-rock followed with eternal classics such as 'Good Times Roll,' 'My Best Friend's Girl,' and 'Just What I Needed.' You know what's really mind-boggling? Those are just the first three tracks on the first side of the record.
The first Rolling Stones record largely featured cover versions of soul, rock and blues songs, but their fiery takes on tracks like Buddy Holly's 'Not Fade Away' made it clear that Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and company had a unique voice and style, and were obviously headed for much bigger things.
Always a bit ahead of the Stones in their early years, the Fab Four's 1963 debut album contained eight original Lennon / McCartney songs. Included among these, of course, were songs like 'Love Me Do' and the title track, which launched "Beatlemania" and pretty much changed the face of popular music as we know it.
The family tree of modern heavy metal music was planted right here. Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Bill Ward and Geezer Butler emerged from Birmingham, England in 1970 with a dark, sludgy, primal riff-based sound whose influence has yet to be burned out despite countless bands mining its resource material over the last four decades.
Hard-living poet Jim Morrison and fellow film student Ray Manzarek led the unconventionally arranged Doors (no bass player!) as they 'Break on Through' to the uncharted dark side of popular music. Morrison's sultry croon blended with exotic guitar and organ lines to hypnotic effect on groundbreaking classics such as 'Light My Fire' from their 1967 freshman effort.
Hard rock guitar was changed forever by Eddie Van Halen's revolutionary style when Van Halen's first album, well, forgive us... erupted in 1978. But it would have been all sizzle and no steak if it weren't for irresistible, club-tested songs such as 'Runnin' With the Devil,' and creative flourishes like the barbershop quartet vocal breakdown on 'I'm the One.' "Bop ba da, shoo-be doo-be doo-be doo-whaaa!"
Guns N' Roses at least temporarily freed hard rock music from an over-reliance on glitzy imagery and saccharine pop influences with their 1987 masterpiece. The singles -- 'Welcome to the Jungle,' 'Sweet Child O' Mine' -- weren't nearly as important as the fact that the direct line to dirty, unapologetic rock and roll had been reconnected to a mass audience.
Nobody has yet successfully proved that Jimi Hendrix wasn't from outer space. The psychedelic 1967 masterpiece that is his trio's first album finds the revolutionary guitarist pulling and stretching blues riffs all over the cosmos on songs like 'Manic Depression' and 'Stone Free.' We're lucky he visited us, even if it was for a such a short time - in earth years, anyway.
You're gonna find Led Zeppelin at the top of a lot of our lists here on Ultimate Classic Rock, and it's pretty hard to find a debut album that was more cohesive, wide-ranging or powerful than this 1969 tour de force. From the twisting, diving riffs of 'Good Times, Bad Times' to the heavy groove and group improvisation of 'How Many More Times,' about the only thing as amazing as this record is, well, later Zeppelin records.