The 20 Greatest Debut Albums Of All-Time


Some are born to sweet delight,
some are born to endless night.
” – William Blake


Some artists just get it right the first time. The debut album is meant to be a stepping stone to future greatness, but sometimes the pieces come together and magic is made on the first try. A great debut is no guarantee of future success (Moby Grape, NY Dolls, Dr. Feelgood), and conversely some legendary artists have coughed up sub-par debuts (Neil Young, Prince, Radiohead), but is there anything more exciting than hearing a lights-out debut album by an exciting new band?

One ground-rule: solo debuts by artists in well-known groups were not considered here. The two most wrenching exclusions under this provision were Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks (he’d been part of Irish R&B sensation Them) and George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass (Harrison was the guitarist for a band from Liverpool who’s name I’m presently forgetting). Alas, the lines had to be drawn somewhere.

Here then are 20 debuts that captured a musical moment in time, launched a great career, or simply rocked from front to back, over and over again…

The Doors | The Doors (1967)

Introduced the world to the dark charisma of Jim Morrison through hits like ‘Light My Fire’ ‘Break On Through (To The Other Side)’ and ‘The End’. But the entire album is an assured and accomplished run through the sound that would make this group one of the biggest acts in rock.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience | Are You Experienced? (1967)

The electric guitar would never be the same after Jimi Hendrix dropped this love letter/anarchist manifesto on the world. ‘Purple Haze’ ‘Third Stone From The Sun’ and ‘Love Or Confusion’ are sonic assaults, while ‘The Wind Cries Mary’ and ‘Manic Depression’ show a masterful depth of touch. The axis of Jimi’s work would forevermore trace a line between boldness and loveliness.

Moby Grape | Moby Grape (1967)

Columbia Records loved Moby Grape so much that they decided to take the unprecedented step of releasing five singles at the same time. This so confused the record-buying public that the album tanked, sending the band into an artistic spiral from which it wouldn’t recover.

Captain Beefheart | Safe As Milk (1967)

From the blues/rock of ‘Sure Nuff ‘N Yes, I Do’ and ‘Zig Zag Wanderer’ to the straight doo-wop of ‘I’m Glad’ and ‘Call On Me’ to the savant ramblings of ‘Autumn’s Child’ and ‘Dropout Boogie’, Safe As Milk serves as a roadmap to the many places the good Cap’n would visit during his eccentric career.

The Band | Music From Big Pink (1968)

Music From Big Pink is a timeless masterpiece that changed the direction of rock music in the late 60’s. The Band eschewed psychedelic noodling in favor of solid roots rock, and inspired albums such as Sweetheart Of The Rodeo, Let It Bleed and the White Album.

Led Zeppelin | Led Zeppelin (1969)

Led Zep’s brand of bombastic blues rock may have sounded radical in the late 60’s, but it became the cornerstone for harder bands to come. The first of four self-titled albums is overshadowed by later releases, but ‘Dazed And Confused’ and ‘Communication Breakdown’ are among their heaviest songs, and ‘Babe I’m Gonna Leave You’ and ‘I Can’t Quit You Baby’ among their purest blues.

Nick Drake | Five Leaves Left (1969)

Nick Drake sang melancholy, confessional folk songs that came from the bottom of his heart. Five Leaves Left is light as a feather, but cuts like a scalpel, and while it sounds rather spare, it has much more musical accompaniment than either of the other two albums Drake would release during his short life.

Black Sabbath | Black Sabbath (1970)

If Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Goode “could play the guitar just like a ringing a bell” then Sabbath guitiarist Tony Iommi played the guitar just like he was ringing the bell of doom. Ozzy Osbourne sang like a demented loon, and Black Sabbath helped build the temple of heavy metal. This is the first brick…

John Prine | John Prine (1971)

Prine was among the unfortunate handful of talented singer/songwriters of the late-60’s to be hung with the title of the “New Dylan”. On his debut, Prine showed the songwriting chops to earn that comparison, but songs like ‘Illegal Smile’ ‘Hello In There’ and ‘Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore’ flashed a wit that Dylan would rarely display after Highway 61 Revisited.

Steely Dan | Can’t Buy A Thrill (1972)

In the grand tradition of Tropicalia music, Steely Dan disguised biting social commentary as mainstream pop fluff. ‘Do It Again’ raps about addiction, ‘Kings’ compares Nixon and JFK, ‘Midnite Cruiser’ is about growing old – and that’s just part of side one of Can’t Buy A Thrill. The Dan would create more sophisticated music, but none that sounded better.

Patti Smith | Horses (1975)

“Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine” might just rank as the greatest opening line of any debut album in rock history. With that vivid declaration, poet/priestess Patti Smith expanded the scope of what constituted rock and who could be a rock star, and brought a genuinely artistic attitude to a genre (punk) that prided itself on artlessness.

Ramones | Ramones (1976)

By reducing rock and roll to its base elements – 2 minute songs, leather jackets, and absolutely no solos – the Ramones led the way for a fledgling musical movement called punk rock. In 14 songs and just less than 29 minutes, their debut album revolutionized and breathed new life into popular music.

Sex Pistols | Never Mind The Bollocks (1977)

John Lydon understood that everyone loves a good villain, and he did his best to oblige. The Pistols were provocative, but they also made great music – Steve Jones’ layered guitar amounts to a Phil Spector-ish wall of punk, and still sounds fresh three decades later. A musical supernova, this group left behind just one perfectly anarchist album. Bollocks!

Van Halen | Van Halen (1978)

Van Halen was a four-headed rock and roll beast that came roaring out of the Los Angeles club scene during the mid-70’s. By the time they released their self-titled debut album, they were a well-seasoned live band, and Eddie Van Halen was a guitar god on arrival. Van Halen is loaded with great riffs, amazing tunes, and plenty of David Lee Roth’s groaning and gyrating. A classic party starter…

Joy Division | Unknown Pleasures (1979)

Ian Curtis was one glum dude. He dabbled in Nazi imagery, suffered from severe epilepsy and depression, and hung himself at age 23 in May of 1980, on the eve of Joy Division’s first tour of the United States. Unknown Pleasures is the sound of a bad dream, a horror movie, a primal scream – and just another day in the short, unhappy life of Ian Curtis.

Dead Kennedys | Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables (1980)

Jello Biafra really knows how to piss people off. Like Jonathan Swift, Biafra is a social satirist of the highest order, matching his uber-liberal lyrics with the Kennedys’ high octane punk to startling effect. ‘Kill The Poor’ ‘Holiday In Cambodia’ and ‘California Uber Alles’ constituted some of the best political commentary of the 80’s. The band would eventually end up fighting obscenity charges in a lengthy court case that bankrupted them.

Guns ‘N Roses | Appetite For Destruction (1987)

When punk rock cornered the market on nasty in the late-70’s, regular rock-n-roll lost its swagger for the next decade. It took Appetite For Destruction to reintroduce rock fans to razor blade guitar riffs, scandalous lyrical content, and a lead singer who just didnt’ give a f*ck. It felt damned good, and songs like ‘Mr Brownstone’ ‘It’s So Easy’ and ‘Rocket Queen’ still have the power to kick your ass.

Eric B & Rakim | Paid In Full (1987)

Paid In Full isn’t just one of the best debut albums of all-time, it’s also one of the greatest Hip-Hop albums ever produced, period. This masterpiece saw MC Rakim Allah displaying an effortless yet incredible verbal dexterity on the mic, while DJ Eric B spun pioneering beats that popularized the sampling of James Brown records. This album is so good that it’s a natural dividing line between Hip-Hop’s old and new schools.

Massive Attack | Blue Lines (1991)

Massive Attack’s debut seemingly came from a new place – half hip-hop and half electronica – that charted a fresh course for both genres. Tricky, Horace Andy, and Shara Nelson each took thrilling turns behind the mic for this shape-shifting musical entity. And while the album was a radical departure in its time, ‘Safe From Harm’ ‘Be Thankful For What You Got’ and ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ are slow-burning gems that still sound contemporary.

Jeff Buckley | Grace (1994)

Every track on Grace cuts to the quick about love lost (including the definitive reading of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’) and the entire album is nothing less than the sound of a human heart falling to pieces, one fragile, intricate piece at a time. Buckley drowned during a midnight swim the day before he was due to record his second album, so we’ll never know what kind of music he might have made. But Grace is such a unique and lovely masterpiece that it’s hard to see how he could have topped it.


And 40 more outstanding debuts…

Elvis Presley | Elvis Presley (1956)
Rolling Stones | England’s Newest Hit Makers (1964)
The Byrds | Mr. Tambourine Man (1965)
Fred Neil | Bleecker & MacDougal (1965)
Neil Diamond | Just For You (1967)
Dr. John | Gris Gris (1968)
Funkadelic | Funkadelic (1970)
Lynyrd Skynyrd | Pronounced Leh*Nerd Skin*Nerd (1973)
Bob Marley & The Wailers | Catch A Fire (1973)
New York Dolls | New York Dolls (1973)
Tom Waits | Closing Time (1973)
Dr. Feelgood | Down By The Jetty (1975)
The Modern Lovers | The Modern Lovers (1976)
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers | Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (1976)
The Clash | The Clash (1977)
Talking Heads | Talking Heads: 77 (1977)
The Cars | The Cars (1978)
Dire Straits | Dire Straits (1978)
The Undertones | The Undertones (1979)
Black Flag | Damaged (1981)
Metallica | Kill ‘Em All (1983)
Stevie Ray Vaughan | Texas Flood (1983)
Beastie Boys | Licensed To Ill (1986)
Public Enemy | Yo! Bum Rush The Show (1987)
Nirvana | Bleach (1989)
Stone Roses | Stone Roses (1989)
The Black Crowes | Shake Your Money Maker (1990)
Pearl Jam | Ten (1991)
PJ Harvey | Dry (1992)
Wu Tang Clan | Enter The Wu Tang (36 Chambers) (1993)
Nas | Illmatic (1994)
DJ Shadow | Endtroducing… (1996)
Queens Of The Stone Age | Queens Of The Stone Age (1998)
The Strokes | Is This It (2001)
Kings Of Leon | Youth & Young Manhood (2003)
Arcade Fire | Funeral (2004)
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah | Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (2005)
LCD Soundsystem | LCD Soundsystem (2005)
Bon Iver | For Emma Forever Ago (2008)
Fleet Foxes | Fleet Foxes (2008)


Further reading… – Instant Karma: 10 Great Debut Albums
Uncut – The 100 Greatest Debut Albums
Listology – Greatest Debut Albums

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87 Responses to “The 20 Greatest Debut Albums Of All-Time”

  1. vitoc Says:

    This is a nice list you put together, and I agree with large parts of it.

    I’d place “The Clash” and “The Modern Lovers” amongst the first twenty, and remove The Sex Pistols and Van Halen, but really, this is just minor…

    One serious thing is missing though, and that would be a very serious contender for the best debut album (and maybe even the best rock album ever) – Television’s “Marquee Moon”.

  2. MoistW Says:

    I was going to offer some disagreements/agreements, but then I thought to myself that this is one of those lists that will always differ for every person. Sort of made me think, what’s the point of throwing in my 2¢ when you should simply get kudos for putting in the time and effort to assemble a ‘best of 20’ list and a longer list of worthy candidates? It would be like watching a person wax their car and then pointing out the one little speck that they missed.

  3. World B. Furr Says:

    The only one I see missing is Chris Whitley’s Living With The Law.

    Simply incredible.

  4. dkpresents Says:

    Hey MoistW,

    I totally appreciate the sentiment, but I’d also be curious what albums you’d include. This is such an open category – any band that released an album is eligible – that there’s no way to catch everything. So let’s have ’em…

  5. World B. Furr Says:

    And Slayer’s Show No Mercy

  6. Arlo Chingaderas Says:

    Cypress Hill’s 1991 self-titled debut would be my top pick.

    I let that tape rock ’til that tape popped, for real…

  7. dkpresents Says:

    Great pick Arlo. Can’t believe I forgot that one…

  8. Julien Peter Benney Says:

    There are many that you have forgotten. It is nonetheless an interesting list, but where were:

    – Joanna Newsom’s “The Milk-Eyed Mender”
    – Godspeed You Black Emperor’s “F#A#”
    – Portishead’s “Dummy”
    – Television’s “Marquee Moon”
    – Steeleye Span’s “Hark! The Village Wait”

    I could think of a low of ther very obscure ones, but those five are a start for key omissions.

  9. Foo Says:

    Dude – awesome list and a great idea. I just know you had my voice in the back of your head on several of these and I do like the Dead Kennedys inclusion, but I cannot forgive the Bad Brains overlook. That is the finest album ever made. I would have added Soundgarden to this list also.

    A couple other quibbles would be to leave Black Flag off the list. Although Damaged was their first studio album, they were already widely known and had released multiple singles and EPs by the time Rollins joined the band. I would also agree about swapping the Clash with the Sex Pistols.

    The fact that you left Billy Joel off this list shows that you have no appreciation for the finer things in life. Cold Spring Harbor is one of the most under-rated albums in the history of music.

  10. Nick Says:

    Good call on Moby Grape and Patti Smith!

    Think I’d add in:

    Jackson C Frank – Blues Run the Game
    The Smiths – The Smiths
    The Modern Lovers – The Modern Lovers
    De La Soul – 3 Feet High and Rising
    Burial – Burial (maybe too early to tell on this one?)
    Dr Octagon – Dr. Octagonecologyst (does this count as a debut?!?!?)

  11. dkpresents Says:

    Thanks for all the suggestions…

    I have to say that Television’s ‘Marquee Moon’ was not an oversight, rather, that’s just an album I’ve never been able to get my ears around. If that makes me a bad person then so be it.

    Bad Brains was an oversight, however – thanks for pointing that one out.

    For my feelings on Joanna Newsom, please see my post entitled “Purge”…

    Here are five more that were on my worksheet, but didn’t make the final list:

    R.E.M. – Murmur
    The Police – Outlandos d’Amour
    Gang Of Four – Entertainment
    Kinks – Kinks
    Basement Jaxx – Remedy

  12. James Osterberg Says:

    Great list, dk! Of course, I wouldn’t be doing my avatar any justice if I didn’t point out The Stooges debut in 1969.

  13. dkpresents Says:

    Eh. Thought about that one, but it’s so badly overshadowed by ‘Fun House’ and ‘Raw Power’ that I decided it was out. But it’s certainly worthy of being in the conversation, so thanks for bringing it up…

    And thanks to Nick for mentioning The Smiths. Like ‘Marquee Moon’, that’s a debut that scores high on many critical lists, but just doesn’t get a lot of burn around here. Call it a blind spot, but I actually considered it for a few seconds before passing. But it’s another album that definitely deserves to be in the conversation.

  14. Brendan Says:

    Freak Out!

  15. jkg Says:

    wow. great post. i cant think of any omissions aside from a few already mentioned in the comments. if i do think of any, surely you will get an email from me.

    on a completely unrelated note. i somehow discovered a hot new song on Prince’s Sign ‘o the Times album today. i dont know how i’d missed it this whole time. as if i never saw the forest for its trees. and i love that album too. curious.

  16. RexnFX Says:

    I think the list is also missing Boston’s debut “Boston”album. Rock classic!

  17. saucy626 Says:

    I’d say ‘Illmatic’ ranks higher than “Paid in Full”, but that’s just imo. I found this article on google image search while looking for a decent-size picture of the Doors’ debut. This looks like a great blog, I might have to send the article to my dad.

  18. dkpresents Says:

    Thanks Saucy, we always appreciate the word of mouth…

  19. Koen Says:

    If you leave out Astral Weeks because Van Morrison played in Them, shouldn’t you do the same with Led Zepplin because Jimmy Page played with almost everybody before forming Led Zep?

    (Don’t omit Led Zep, just give Astral Weeks a chance)

  20. dkpresents Says:

    You make a great point. I tend to think of Page’s pre-Zep time as studio work, but he was in The Yardbirds. He should have been excluded by the criteria I laid out.

    Just to be clear, Astral Weeks is one of my very favorite albums, and I took no pleasure in leaving it off this list. And although I cited Them as the reason I left Van out, there’s some confusion over which album is actually his first. I’ve heard Astral Weeks referred to time and again as his debut, but lists Blowin’ Your Mind as his first album. Strange…

    Anybody have an answer on this one??

  21. Jason Says:

    I’m appalled that Boston’s self-titled debut album isn’t in the top ten. EVERY SINGLE SONG ON THAT ALBUM WAS A HIT.

  22. Dow Says:

    I was surprised that it took as long as it did for me to scroll down the comments and find someone (eventually two people) who agreed with me that Boston’s debut album would be a glaring omission from any list like this one. To paraphrase another post, “different strokes for different folks.”

  23. pannonica Says:

    Time for me to rush to the rescue on another George Ivan controversy!

    I believe Astral Weeks is commonly regarded as his debut because Blowin’ Your Mind came about when he was brought over to the U.S. for Bert Berns’ Bang label, under serious contractual restraints and couldn’t excercise much artistic control. (This is brought home wonderfully if you listen to Morrison’s long-unreleased recordings to fulfill his obligations, improvised and mailed in on the spot. They’re available on any number of latter-day compilations.)

    I have to disagree with your inclusion of Jeff Buckley’s Grace. This guy was overrated from the start and his stature only grew after the tragic-young-death ploy incident. I prefer the album’s predecessor, the Live at Sin-é EP. However, the best thing on that was his reconfigured cover of (check out this bit of niftiness) Van Morrison’s “The Way Young Lovers Do.” Imagine my displeasure when I heard an extremely similar (and of course better) arrangement on a bootleg (It’s Never Too Late) from Morrison’s 1974 Caledonia Soul Orchestra Tour, the material that was used for the great It’s Too Late to Stop Now double live album!

    To make amends for the harshness of the criticism (and the tortuous run-on sentences) I’ll offer up two superb debut albums by artists who have never made a proper second album. Mary Margaret O’Hara’s Miss America (1988) and Willis Alan Ramsay’s self-titled album (1972). They both also go by three names, for what it’s worth.

  24. dkpresents Says:

    Unfortunately “artistic control” wasn’t a variable I could take into account when putting this list together. It was based more on chronology and who’s name was on the front of the record jacket. I understand that Van doesn’t care for Blowin’ Your Mind, and I agree, I don’t like it much either, especially in light of what was to come. But just because Van would like Astral Weeks to be considered his solo debut doesn’t mean that the former album can be overlooked.

    I’m now going to take out my kazoo and play a little tune for all the Boston fans. It’s called ‘Top Ten Hits Don’t Mean Squat, And Boston Grates On My Nerves’. I think you’ll like it…

  25. pannonica Says:

    Clarifying. I wasn’t claiming to be an adherent of the Astral Weeks-as-debut-album camp.

    If you put the kazoo away I’ll lower my nose flute and we can go about our business all peaceful-like.

  26. tommy amoeba Says:

    some that would be on my list:
    devo – q: are we not men…
    roxy music – roxy music (i guess eno is excluded)
    pink floyd – piper at the gates of dawn
    the who – sings my generation
    elvis costello – my aim is true
    leonard cohen – songs of leonard cohen
    replacements – sorry ma… (actually my favorite mats)
    big star – #1 record
    king crimson – in the court of the crimson king
    violent femmes – violent femmes
    thomas dolby – the golden age of wireless
    weezer – weezer
    b-52’s – b-52’s
    the doors – the doors
    frank zappa – freak out
    butthole surfers – psychic… powerless… another man’s sac
    the cure – three imaginary boys / boys don’t cry
    velvet underground – velvet underground and nico
    dead milkmen – big lizard in my backyard
    joe jackson – look sharp!
    r.e.m. would be in my top 10 and i respectfully
    disagree about neil young’s debut… oh and uh
    i’m going to go ahead and mention the 500 lb.
    gorilla in this room that everybody is ignoring:

    • dkpresents Says:

      Thanks for the additions Tommy. There are some great names on that list…

      Regarding Meet The Beatles: In spite of the introductory title, it’s not their debut. lists it as their fourth album, no less. Were it their debut, it would be in my Top 20 for sure. Thanks for weighing in!

      • tommy amoeba Says:

        i stand corrected. (and i knew i should have double-checked that.)
        please please me deserves consideration as well, though.
        and, d’oh, i totally missed the 1st album on your list. mea culpa.
        thanks for not rubbing my face in it… :^)

  27. tommy amoeba Says:

    a couple more:
    the pixies – surfer rosa
    pavement – slanted and enchanted

  28. Kenne Says:

    Alice in Chains – Facelift & Stone Temple Pilots – Core should have made the honorable mention list.

  29. oboe Says:

    I guess you’re just not a who fan or something? But I would say it’s impossible to have a list of the 60 best debut albums in history and not include The Who Sings My Generation. You must just personally dislike them I’m guessing, because in terms of musical importance it is in any top 10 of debuts.

    It would be as ridiculous as having this list and not having Are You Experienced.

    Whether you think The Stones & Beatles were better, The Who had the best debut album. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t agree with that. BTW, I love all three.

    • dkpresents Says:

      I’m not a big Who fan, but I don’t personally dislike them. Tommy has always left me scratching my head, but I have enough sense to recognize Who’s Next as a masterpiece. That said, I’ve never thought much of their debut – it has some great songs (‘The Ox’ ‘La La La Lies’ and ‘My Generation’), but the James Brown covers (‘I Don’t Mind’ and ‘Please, Please, Please’) are pure filler, while ‘Instant Party’ and ‘The Good’s Gone’ sound flat to my ears – like a band who hasn’t quite found its sound. Part of the problem here was producer Shel Talmy, who didn’t recognize what he had on his hands, and kept turning the band toward a more pop sound. It’s easy to imagine The Who blasting out killer live versions of these songs 6 years after their release, but the studio takes don’t knock my socks off. Call it an oversight if you must, but it’s an oversight I can live with…

  30. Danny B. Says:

    Dear friends,

    What about Mike Olfield’s fantastic debut Tubular Bells?
    Does it deserve a place among the 20? Or where else? :D

  31. Shawn Says:

    Forgetting a BIG one……Counting Crows – August and Everything After

  32. mircea Says:

    god, you who wrote this and the other commenters are so f***ing stupid ! Oasis – Definitely Maybe (the best debut album ever aknowledged by any real music critic), where is it ? you pillocks

    • dkpresents Says:

      Not an oversight – I loathe that band with every fiber of my being. If you took Ringo Starr’s vomit and heated it up in a microwave it would have more artistic integrity than Oasis’ latest piece of plastic Brit Poop.

      If by “pillocks’ you mean a lumbering, hairy beast who bites the heads off rodents and terrorizes small children, I’m afraid you’ve got me nailed…

      And here I’ve always thought of Oasis fans as wee-brained, adolescent ignoramuses – thanks for correcting my impression!

    • Flava Furr Says:

      I agree. Oasis sucks balls. Limey Künts.

  33. Al777 Says:

    I am all with MoistW, but here’s a few I didn’t see discussed:

    Brooks and Dunn
    The Pretenders
    The B-52s
    First Take (Roberta Flack)

  34. alejandro Says:

    Some favorites that “should have been contenders” for this list, in my opinion…

    The La’s: The La’s
    The Smiths: The Smiths
    The Stone Roses: The Stone Roses
    R.E.M: Murmur
    Pixies: Surfer Rosa (not sure if it counts…)
    Isaac Hayes: Hot Buttered Soul

  35. Maria de Zayas Says:

    “Off The Wall”

    • dkpresents Says:

      Off The Wall was actually Michael Jackson’s third solo album. I can see a good case for Madonna’s debut, but she’s never really been my cup of tea. Thanks for weighing in…

      • Sebastian Barcelone Says:

        what ya mean madonna is not your cup of tea, I beat off to that album while looking at the cover as a teenie bop. But Anyways, this is supposed to be The 20 Greatest Debut Albums Of All-Time! NOT ” Your personal preference” of The 20 Greatest Debut Albums Of All-Time!

    • Sebastian Barcelone Says:

      what ya mean madonna is not your cup of tea, I beat off to that album while looking at the cover as a teenie bop. But Anyways, this is supposed to be The 20 Greatest Debut Albums Of All-Time! NOT ” Your personal preference” of The 20 Greatest Debut Albums Of All-Time!

  36. greg-not-gregg Says:

    First-off, kudos for the list and generating the discussion.
    I too agree with MoistW.

    I just have to ask though — did you give any consideration to “The Allman Brothers Band”?

    Not a huge fan, but it just struck me that it might fit. I’ve a few others for consideration, but let that be. Thanks again for what you’ve done here!

    • dkpresents Says:

      The Allman Brothers Band is a great call. If I were creating this list today, that one would easily be in my top 20. Thanks for mentioning it…

  37. Johnny Says:

    Stone Roses – Stone Roses. And Television – M.M. For sure. Pink Floyd – Piper, and probably kill me for this Tears for Fears: The Hurting.

    A great list though dude.

    Just the Van Halen a sore point there ;) but I guess no 2 people will ever have exact same tastes.

    Out, later.

  38. Jake Says:

    I agree with the guy who said Oasis, Definitel Maybe is fantastic. The behaviour of the band member’s doesn’t take away from the sheer talent in almost every track on that album.

    • dkpresents Says:

      You know what Jake, I would agree with you on this in almost every other case. The subhead of my blog is “it’s all about the music” and I generally look past human failings and misdeeds and concentrate on the music. But I was raised in a house where The Beatles were close to religion, and once the Oasis lads started slagging on George Harrison, they were dead to me. I was only marginally impressed with the music before they started spouting off, but after that? Pfffffffft – a bunch of fucking wankers.

      • Adam Hearsey Says:

        No offense dkpresents, but if you can’t separate your personal feelings towards the band and the high quality of this debut album, then you really shouldn’t be replying or making lists like this in the first place. I accept the Gallagher’s have always been arrogant and obnoxious and they will never hide from that, but as a fan I’ve never let that affect my feeling towards the quality music they’ve put out. People who are offended by them obviously aren’t thick-skinned enough especially as most rock stars in rock history have pretty much always acted above themselves. And I love The Beatles, but aside from their musical genius, they were far from perfect either..

  39. Corkee Says:

    I’ve got some others here that aren’t usually discussed.

    Todd Rundgren – Runt
    Laura Nyro – More Than a New Discovery
    Judee Sill – Judee Sill
    Gram Parsons – GP
    The Flying Burrito Brothers – The Gilded Palace of Sin
    Nico – Chelsea Girl
    Peter Gabriel – Peter Gabriel (Car)
    Tom Waits – Closing Time

  40. Chiedozie Says:

    Where is RAGE on this list? Their first album was great.

  41. captjack Says:

    I certainly agree with The Pretenders, The Police, King Crimson, and Elvis Costello deserving a place.

    I’m afraid I completely missed on the Ramones/Patti Smth/Sex Pistols “bad musicianship as art” thing, but I hear a lot of that.

    I’d also add Crowded House and (yes, the first one was great) Ambrosia.

    But even with the Punk disagreement, a pretty good list. Hey, I just got through reading Time’s Greatest 100 Albums which DIDN’T include “Who’s Next”! Takes all kinds!

  42. Masterpiece: Moby Grape « dk presents… Says:

    […] eight tons, purple and floats in the sea?” In 1967, Moby Grape dropped one of the greatest debut albums of all-time, and then were savaged by every form of bad luck known to hit a rock band, save having […]

  43. Ron Burgundy Says:

    A bit old school for my taste. I’ve made a more modern version:

    • dkpresents Says:

      I guess this is where we agree to disagree – Oasis, Alanis Morissette, Weezer and Third Eye Blind wouldn’t make my Top 5,000 debut albums of all-time…

  44. foo Says:

    Weezer? Wake up dk.

  45. dkpresents Says:

    Weezer’s first album was released in 1994 – we’re not exactly talking about last week’s flavor here. Kids in high school weren’t even born when that album was released…

  46. dkpresents Says:

    And over the last couple of years I’ve loved debuts by BlakRoc, Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, Them Crooked Vultures, MGMT, and many others…

  47. Silent Dan Says:

    Dexys midnight runners – ‘Searching for the soul’ rebels is an underated classic, their ‘Come on Eileen’ fiddles and dunagrees image overshadows a fine debut with breathtaking horn arrangments.

    ‘In the City’ by the Jam also deserves a mention, a raw sound that put a stylish and more considered take on surburban punk.

    There’s always going to be a personal element to the best debuts, which is why I would included U2’s ‘Boy’ – the unpolished production and rawness and some great riffs is part of my growing up. I’d put The Cures ‘Boys don’t cry’ in that catagory too.

    The first Doves, Ride, Franz Ferdinand and The Music albums also do it for me, their follow ups have never quite captured that initial energy. I would also like to put up Laura Marlings debut which is the most delicate and moving set of compositions I’ve ever heard….

    I’d happily Recommend De La Soul, The strokes, The Beatles, Portishead, Massive attack, Stone Roses and Nick Drake all still leave me breathless.

    I’m very surprised by the omission of the first and best Oasis Album too – they have a lot to answer for, especially in regards of their occasional beatles plagerism, comments, subsequent lacklustre albums and idiocy but ‘Definately Maybe’ has some of the very best pop anthems you’ll ever here – trust me.

  48. DonSimon Says:

    Great list – good to see Moby Grape loud and proud. I would second Tommy Amoeba’s suggestion of The Violent Femmes’ self-titled debut, it’s incredible. Also some Australian classics: The Saints – I’m Stranded, and Radio Birdman – Radios Appear.

  49. dkpresents Says:

    @ Adam Hearsey – I’m not exactly sure how I’m supposed to undertake a subjective exercise like this without letting my personal opinion come through. If it makes you feel any better, I’m unimpressed with Oasis’ music, and they wouldn’t have made this list even if I thought they were a swell bunch of guys…

    • hearsz Says:

      Fair enough, though you’re personal opinion of Oasis is based on your sheer hatred for the band rather than the music.
      A great album is a great album, it’s as simple as that and the people who bought that album the week it was released in their several thousands, really showed how significant it was for British music. The fastest selling debut album (up until the Arctic Monkeys release of 06), and they did it without being manufactured, nor any internet hype. Like The Stokes debut, it changed people’s lives and albums like them still do.
      I feel that if you are going to put a “greatest ever” list together, you should have either stated this was you’re personal opinion at the top of the page, and at some point stated why you omitted not just “Definitely Maybe” (even though it’s held in such high regard by not just the fans but also critics and fellow artists), but debut albums by Boston, The Kinks and Television’s “Marquee Moon”. Though in saying all that, most music polls and greatest ever lists are a pointless exercise as they are forever changing and how can one really define that one album is better than another? This is your list, but you should at least leave personal hatred out of your reasoning to omit any artist from your lists in the future.
      And just on the George Harrison thing, even he came out and slagged off Oasis twice just before his passing so even the “silent Beatle” couldn’t help himself…

  50. The Missing Nose Flute Amp Says:

    […] The 20 Greatest Debut Albums Of All-Time « dk presents… One serious thing is missing though, and that would be a very serious contender for the best debut album (and maybe even the best rock album ever) – Television's “Marquee Moon” MoistW Says: 17 August 2008 at 18:26 pm | Reply pannonica Says: 11 May 2009 at 18:26 pm | Reply. Clarifying. I wasn't claiming to be an adherent of the Astral Weeks-as-debut-album camp. If you put the kazoo away I'll lower my nose flute and we can go about our business all peaceful-like. […]

  51. Trent Says:

    ♫ But one thing we all must heed, Sony Walkmans keep us walking, De La Soul can help you breathe. ♫

    MF DOOM and Black Star also had fantastic debuts.

  52. lowell grace Says:

    Beatles,Quicksiver Messenger Service, Santana, Malo, Them,Pretenders,Green Day, Stone Roses, Gin Blossoms…etc ad nauseum…The trick is to to have a great 2nd LP…thanks-loved reading the comments

  53. morawsk!d Says:

    Cool, I don’t have many major issues with the list. Here’s a half-suggestion that has more disqualifying technicalities than anything else I can think of, but…

    The Mars Volta – ‘De-Loused In The Comatorium’

    It is my favourite album of all time (no others even come close, and if they did it would probably be the other 4 TMV albums!), and I consider it a supremely beautiful, haunting, special and unique record. However, due to At The Drive-In, and the potentially disqualifying ‘Tremulant EP’ I can see why it wouldn’t feature on this list.

  54. ellas Says:

    u2 boy album …made by teenagers…ahead of its time

  55. Mike Says:

    One of my favourite debut albums of all time is The Bluetones – Expecting to Fly. I think that it has some great tracks, as well as a superb sleeve design.

  56. DWHarper Says:

    No “Freak Out”? Probably the most influential album of all time and the album that inspired Sgt. Peppers.

  57. @supercool Says:

    Definitely Maybe – Oasis

    Suck It!

  58. furry cucumber Says:

    I love Never Mind the Bollocks but you are missing Definitely Maybe, probably the definitive album of pop music from 93-97.

  59. kalico812 Says:

    for the love of all that is good – Molly Hatchet’s freshman offering was phenomenal

  60. SrHerrDerr Says:

    What about Hybrid Theory by Linkin Park? That’s around 1st or 2nd greatest selling debut albums of the 21st century

  61. TheActualTodd Says:

    Loved the list, an most of the conversation following it, but a definite swing-and-miss by excluding “My Aim Is True” by Declan Patrick MacManus. While I agree that Oasis should make the cut, Lord knows they did enough to alienate the planet from their music after the fact. I’ll throw one out that I personally love and haven’t seen mentioned: Smashing Pumpkins’ “Gish”.

  62. KILLDOG Says:

    Where the fuck is BOSTON ? Ever heard of it?

  63. kalico812 Says:


    • PJA_master Says:

      Great list. Well done. A couple that I would put in is temper trap – conditions, silverchair – frogstomp. I definately agree with counting crows – August and everything after. Fantastic start to finish. And my sneaky one in is high voltage (international release) by ACDC but they had 2 albums previously but were only released in Australia. High voltage although their first international release was kind of a best of cd.

  64. Chris Shane Alston Says:

    “Vivid” by Living Colour is one of the best debut albums ever!Also “Harder Than You” by 24-7 SPYZ is an all time great debut album.

  65. Jacques Says:

    Son Volt -Trace

  66. Barolojoe Says:

    Hello from Heidelberg,

    well, I agree with many pickings on the list (Doors, Captain Beefheart, Joy Division, JImi Hendrix…) but not with everything.

    For example Lep Zep I: I don’t think that it was ‘somehow radical’ in early 1969. Check out for example the Free debut ‘Tons of sobs’ , released already a few months before in 1968, and you will find out that Page & Plant were not very innovative and copied many of the ideas from Rodgers, Kossoff & Co.

    Apart from that, I think that Led Zep I is nonetheless by far the best Led Zep record. I share the opinion of some Rock critics who call the later output of the group even more overrated.

    Look for the book ‘Hall of Shame – the greatest errors of Rock history’ by Jim Derogatis. Led Zep IV has an own chapter in this book, and not a very flattering one. The writer goes in deep into the plagiarism of JImi Page – and reveals that Stairway to Heaven and songs more were at least partly “borrowed” from other artists. Even if the song material would be truly original (it is not , of course) – the songs/melodies/lyrics are still heavily overrated in my humble opinion….

    Greetings from Germany

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