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Top 5 Debuts

January 14, 2014

What qualifies as a ‘Top’ debut?

Culturally significant?  Genre-defining?  A band’s peak?  A completely unprecedented sound?  A debut that doesn’t sound like a debut because the band is just so polished from the start?

Too many questions, too few satisfactory answers.

Instead, I’ll rank them based on the most quantifiable measure I have:  by the amount of times the album re-enters the listening rotation.

Even though I’ve still got 725 prescribed albums to explore over the next several years, these 5 will invariably keep making appearances.  Enjoy!

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5. The Libertines – Up The Bracket (2002)
A sloppy debut, not as strong as their sophmore self-titled effort.  But what a first half!

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4. Rage Against The Machine – Rage Against The Machine (1992)
Speaking of strong starts, how about the intros to tracks 1-2-3 here?  That’s how to make an entrance.

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3. Jeff Buckley – Grace (1994)
Celebrating Anniversary #20, still sounds remarkably fresh.  The title track has found its way into my top 5 songs of all-time.

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2. GNR – Appetite For Destruction (1987)
Only #2?!

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1. Weezer – Weezer (1994)
10 perfect songs.  Can’t beat that.

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21 Comments
  1. Not much of a fan of #’s 4 & 5, but hard to argue about the others (even though they wouldn’t make my Top 5). Thinking off the top of my head, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Pretenders, Joe Jackson, Boston, The Police, The Cars, Van Halen, Television, REM, Big Country & The Band would all be contenders. I know I’m forgetting dozens of others.

    What are your thoughts on Weezer’s “Pinkerton”? As a huge fan of the debut, my first two listens of the follow-up were not pleasant ones, but it eventually became just as important to me as the Blue Album. I’m glad its reputation has grown over the years. I recently got the 180-gram 4-LP version with all the bonus tracks from the Deluxe Edition CD. Looking forward to digging into that soon.

    • Van Halen I was certainly an explosion out of the gates – kicking off a career with Runnin with the devil/eruption/(and speaking of the Kinks)You really got me. Not a bad start!

      I actually prefer Pinkerton to the blue album. A very different listen of course (my wonderful wife isn’t a fan of it, believing Rivers is being too whiny) but that midsection of Why Bother/Across The Sea/The Good Life is exceptional. Matt Sharp is the unsung hero of that record, I really don’t think they’ve been the same since he left the group.

      And I have to admit to being envious about your recent acquisition, that’s stellar! It looks like there are a few solid b sides from the 90s on there, they had a bunch of brilliant stuff that didn’t make the studio albums from that era.

      • Nice to find another Pinkerton fan. For a few years, before their resurgence with the Green album, I thought I might be in the minority, but now it’s obviously one of those secretly great albums to those in-the-know fans. I missed the opportunity to get the 4-LP version a couple of months ago when a website that was selling it at a reasonable price (under $40) sold our before I made the decision to buy it. When it became available again a couple of weeks ago I didn’t waste any time placing my order.

        I agree about Matt Sharp being an unsung hero of Weezer. I like a lot of their later material, but I’ve never been as passionate about them as I was with the first two.

        By the way, I want to add King Crimson’s debut album, In The Court Of The Crimson King, to my list. It’s a contender for Top 5 of all time.

      • You probably won’t be surprised to hear In The Court is safely on the 1001! That and Lark’s Tongues.

        I know we’ve discussed the phenomenon of ‘the music you listened to at age 17’ – for me, I listened to those two Weezer albums fanatically (and tuned down my guitars the required 1/2 step!) during that stage so they’ll forever be essential in my books.

        Interesting you mention a set purchasing price point for the LPs – I saw they did a tour a couple years ago of The Blue album + greatest hits. It was tempting, but the price point of $70+ per ticket for an outdoor general admission & the 3 hour drive each way diminished the appeal.

        Now if it was a Blue + Pinkerton show, both albums played in their entirety with Matt Sharp as a special guest? I’d be there in a heartbeat!

  2. Up The Bracket is brilliant. The only two songs I wouldn’t put in a top-1000-songs-of-my-whole-life list are ‘Vetigo’ and ‘Radio America,’ but its more or less a flawless record.

    • Although I like Dirty Pretty Things & Babyshambles, there was a synergy when Barât and Doherty played together that for me make the Libertines one of the better groups of the 2000s.

      Do you prefer up the bracket to the 2nd libertines album?

      • Ooooh, tough choice, it varies almost daily.
        I love them both. I’d say I like the slef-titled more overall.

        I’m one of those obsessive fans who has every single B-Side and multiple bootlegs, and posters up in my room. I used to be in a band that covered ‘Arbeit Mach Frie’ too.

        I agree, I have all the spin-off bands and guest-appearances, but nothing is as magical as The Libertines themselves.

      • That would be a fun one to cover, lots of energy.

        I’d probably say the self-titled is more consistent but Up The Bracket has perhaps my favourite songs (Time For Heroes, Death on the Stairs, Boys in the Band)

  3. I would not have picked this top five personally, although I would be really hesitant about dropping GN’R!

    I dunno. This is very difficult. For me, Black Sabbath is in there. I’d like to include Queen, and Led Zeppelin. Beyond that…yikes! I don’t know! Sure, Rage and GN’R. I’ll go with you on that.

    • I think that’s why I went with the ‘most likely to be found on my stereo’ ranking.

      I was discussing Slumdog Millionaire with a student today. Great movie? Sure. One of my favourites that I’d rewatch? Not so much.

      So there are some debuts that are undeniably potent (N.W.A. was one that came to mind for me) but I can’t say they would show up as frequently on our home stereo.

      I don’t have the first Queen – I was impressed by its followup though!

      • Slumdog Millionaire is a great example. There are numerous movies that I think are really great, that I don’t have any desire to watch. I have a collector’s edition Schindler’s List DVD here that has never been played.

        I have Queen II in my car right now 🙂 It’s on the rotation…I just listened to A Night at the Opera and Five Live with George Michael last week!

      • The decision to wrap up Queen II with Seven Seas was an inspired choice – great closer.

        And nice on the others as well! If I had to pick a favourite Queen it would probably be Night at the Opera (the Marx Brothers reference would be a good tie breaker) but Sheer Heart Attack & Queen II would probably join them on the podium.

      • I’m a big fan of News of the World. I absolutely love that album, I think it’s perfect. There are a handful I still don’t have — A Day At the Races is a particularly glaring gap in my collection. Queen II is so good though. Ogre Battle made last year’s Sausagefest list. That’s the first song from Queen II that I heard.

        For later Queen I think Innuendo is a very underrated album.

      • haha – I forgot about Sausagefest, what an appropriate name for what sounds like a great event.

        Ogre Battle would be one of those hidden gems that people would probably hear and say “good call!”

        Admittedly there are many gaps in my Queen discography – they’re one of those groups like Rush that I have the utmost respect for the musicianship – Freddie & the lads could play!

  4. So many great debuts to choose from! I’d agree with Rich in picking the first King Crimson. Off the top of my head I’d probably throw in Black Sabbath… Iron Maiden… and how about a couple of wild-cards? Sabbat’s ‘History of a Time to Come’ and Venom’s ‘Welcome To Hell’. But really there are so many that I could pick and still be happy with! G n’ R and Van Halen are definitely strong contenders too.

    • Oooh I forgot Van Halen.

    • That Venom one is not on the 1001 list but its follow-up Black Metal is – I’m thinking of doing a sophomore month in February so I’ll try to check it out then.

      Sounds like it’s unanimous about King Crimson – that’s a priority for this month!

  5. Asia’s Asia? Iron Maiden’s Iron Maiden? Bluesbreakers’ Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton? (Counts as a debut since it is the first studio album.)

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