The 100 Best Debut Albums Ever

70. The Stooges - The Stooges

With uncharacteristic efficiency, the Stooges blagged $25K from Elektra, roped in John Cale to produce and knocked out their so-raw-it’s-bleeding debut in four days. It’s pretty much their live set – plus extras rush-written to fill the tracklist – and almost as thrilling on seedy standouts like I Wanna Be Your Dog. Needless to say, it tanked.

Throughout, the band weren’t aware of the impact this seminal album we would have. “We really didn’t think we were making history,” remembers Ron Asheton. “We were like anybody that went in to make their first record, every band hopes that ‘something really good will happen for us, this might be something.’"

And what was the real effect of their debut besides influencing at least five generation of musicians, and providing a handbook for legions of disaffected outsiders? “I think our greatest influence was we put an end to the 60s,” Iggy Pop said in 1977.

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69. Masters Of Reality – Masters Of Reality

MOR’s debut is one of the pivotal albums of the stoner genre, but “We never thought of ourselves as stoner,” says mainman Chris Goss. “What we were doing was hard rock, but we added in our own twists. You can tell I’m a fan of Yes.” 

It's also one of the less heralded gems in the Rick Rubin canon. MOR’s MO was a blues-pumping simmer with flashes of psychedelia, ominous doom-rock sustain and elliptical songs about public hangings, black spiders and wanton sex. The Doors, Zeppelin and Cream all burrowed their way into the band’s sound, with Rubin’s production bathing things in the kind of glowing warmth that made you hanker for the golden era of classic rock. The Blue Garden was trippy progishness, while Domino and The Eyes Of Texas proved they could do heavy with real aplomb.

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68. The Strokes - Is This It

The Strokes seemed determined to bring back the spirit and sound of post-punk when they landed, but this album is much cleverer than a mere re-hash. The songwriting is top-notch and the playing superb, but it’s the no-frills, almost deliberately naive production which brings the package together and gives the record its charm.

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67. Jeff Beck Group - Truth

On July 29, 1968, Jeff Beck, along with a kick-around vocalist, a future Rolling Stone, and a drummer with a lot of bash released Truth. The album was a miracle of fury and berserk beauty, a testament to the jaw-dropping chops of a 24- year old guitarist who, over the course of 10 tracks and around 40 minutes, ran the gamut from electric blues and modified R&B to psychedelically influenced rock, classical, and even a little heavy-metal instrumentalism.

With Truth, released just months before Led Zeppelin’s debut – and with songs and personnel in common – Jeff Beck, singer Rod Stewart, bassist Ronnie Wood, and drummer Mickey Waller (the core band) made an album that would become every guitar player’s bible and every hard rock band’s Holy Grail.

There are those who believe that this was a better album than Zeppelin’s first. Both had a similarly innovative approach to mixing heavy sounds and blues, and a mix of originals and covers. With Rod Stewart giving one of the best vocal performances of his career, this was inspirational. “I knew it inside out,” says Boston leader Tom Scholz.

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66. Alter Bridge - One Day Remains

Following Creed’s meltdown in 2004, guitarist Mark Tremonti regrouped his former rhythm section that same year – pointedly swapping out divisive frontman Scott Stapp for newcomer Myles Kennedy – and something astonishing happened. Where Creed had been lumpen and pious, Alter Bridge were lean and hooky, and planted the hard-rock flag deep into the modern age.

If Kennedy appeared to be something of a doormat when he was unveiled, then the band’s debut One Day Remains revealed a more tangible reason for Tremonti choosing him: that voice. It’s a gravity-defying, gale-force, octave-straddling bulldozer of a larynx. And one that instantly quashed conspiracy theories – fuelled by the addition of Creed bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips – that Tremonti wanted someone who sounded like Scott Stapp but who caused less friction.

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65. Mötley Crue – Too Fast For Love

Self-produced by the group and recorded over just three days, the Too Fast For Love album was made for the miserly sum of $2,500. But despite the budget and the rather scratchy results, the album fizzed along with lascivious aplomb and proved that Crue were a young band way ahead of the game.

Originally issued via the band’s own label Leathur Records in 1981, the Crüe’s debut was remixed by Queen producer Roy Thomas Baker for its international major label release a year later. But no amount of polish could smooth off is rough edges, and the band’s barely competent performance is an integral part of the album’s tacky appeal.

Nikki Sixx is an avowed fan of British glam rock legends Slade and The Sweet, and those influences are in evidence on Too Fast For Love, especially in the terrace-style chants of the title track. But the Crüe also had a cutting edge: a raw, coke-fuelled bovver-boy aggression, felt in the supercharged cowbell-clunking yob-rock of Live Wire. Plainly, these dudes had balls.

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64. The Temperance Movement - The Temperance Movement

One of the best rock debuts of recent years, melding sensual blues with funky rock and soulful beats. It’s catchy and energetic throughout, the musicianship is solid, gravel-throated frontman Phil Campbell has a voice to die for, and the band really know how to play the blues.

Classic Rock crowned them Best New Band at the mag’s 2013 awards show. “We never expected to win," says guitarist Paul Sayer. "We just went along thinking it might be fun, and we’d get to meet Jimmy Page. It was a fairly heavy night. I got very drunk. I know it’s a cliché, but we really didn’t think we’d win it… So much so, that when it came to our award, Phil was in the toilet!

"Without wanting to sound too dramatic, when we got together and wrote these songs, it felt like a redemption. We’d all been searching for this band."

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63. Kate Bush – The Kick Inside

Although underpinned by conventional song structures and of-its-time muso embroidery, Kate Bush's debut album The Kick Inside boasted enough of her personality and vision to set it apart. 

Inspired by a traditional ballad, the title track concerned an incestuous relationship between brother and sister, sung before the pregnant girl commits suicide. Them Heavy People name-checked Greek-Armenian Sufi mystic Gurdjieff, among other teachers. L’Amour Looks Something Like You revealed her astonishingly mature attitude to sex in a smoky haze. 

While rock often dealt with the subject at the most basic levels of fumbling macho trouser trumpeting, Bush was already exploring the sensual world with intoxicatingly descriptive powers – much of the album dealt with her own sexual awakening. This was new ground for female singer-songwriters, which wouldn’t really be appreciated until the fuss over her more obvious traits had died down. 

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62. The Damned – Damned Damned Damned

On February 18 1977, Stiff Records released the first British punk album. Damned Damned Damned combined the heads-down, no-nonsense approach of The Ramones with the demented, frantic aggression of The Stooges, and screeched to a fizzing climax in just under 30 minutes. Legendary BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel celebrated the album’s arrival by playing five tracks on his show, and shortly after the band jetted off to New York to become the first punk band to embark on a US tour.

Four decades on, and The Damned’s legacy is obvious. They’ve influenced everyone from Bad Brains to Black Flag and Guns N’ Roses (who covered debut single New Rose on “The Spaghetti Incident?”), and BMG re-released Damned Damned Damned as a special 40th anniversary edition. The new version features sleevenotes by punk journalist John Ingham, had written their first review as well as the first interview with The Sex Pistols (for Sounds magazine in 1976).

“It captured the essential part of the band,” says singer Dave Vanian. “The essence, the excitement. Everything was there, and that’s why it still sounds good.”

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61. Gillan – Mr Universe

A record no record label would initially touch, Mr. Universe is better than several of the albums Deep Purple recorded after his departure from the band. It’s aggressive, it’s a whole bundle of fun, and in Vengeance, Roller and Message in a Bottle it finds the singer in stunning voice.

“We actually recorded the whole album without a record deal," says Gillan. "Once it was done, myself and my co-managers, Phil Banfield and Carl Leighton Pope, phoned up every label and music publishing company trying to get interest in the album. But nobody wanted to know. Until we finally got in contact with Acrobat, who said they’d take it. 

"So, they released it, but within a week it had disappeared; the company hadn’t paid the pressing plant. However, it had done well enough just in that one week to convince all those labels who had rejected us to get back in touch and say they now wanted Mr. Universe! In the end, we signed to Virgin, who did a great job in marketing the record.”

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