I know, I know – where the hell you been Ed? It has been sometime since my last #thereisnospoonfriday and I have three “excuses”. 1) – I had a bad back for a while there (long story – totally sucked ), 2) Been really busy with work stuff and 3) creative brain-freeze (hey – it happens). With that out of the way, I’m back and ready to roll. I was having a lunch conversation with a client recently and we veered off of business and started talking tunes. We had been discussing my blog and ideas for a new post when the discussion/argument came up around “best debut albums” of all time. We started spitting out a ton – Beastie Boys, Black Crowes, The Beatles, on and on we went. However, I wanted to define the criteria a little bit more. Instead of just the “best” it literally had to be that band/rapper/whatever’s best – period. Meaning that any of their subsequent albums can’t have surpassed their debut. Now the conversation got a bit more interesting. For me, that meant excluding The Beastie Boys because Paul’s Boutique, Check Your Head and other albums they made were better than License to Ill. Black Crowes out too – Amorica, Southern Harmony are better albums. Same for other acts I love like Led Zeppelin, Prince, Public Enemy and more. With the criteria established, let’s get into my list. As with all my prior lists, these are according to me, but I love the arguments people make for their favorites or why I may be out of mind for excluding/including my picks. Bring it.
10. Van Halen – “Van Halen” – I have written about them before, but sorry all you Van-Hagar fans – the period with “Diamond Dave” was infinitely better. Really – it is not even close. While the Roth era produced some great albums, I stand by the opinion that their first was their best and remained so throughout their career even though they continued to make great music. This album was classic Van Halen and had some of their all-time tunes – “Running With The Devil”, “Ain’t Talking bout Love” and their epic cover of The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me” to name a few. Eddie was at his apex, Alex was killing it on the drums, Roth laying down some of his best vocals and Michael Anthony……1984 might have been their most successful record sales wise, but this was their best.
9. The Police – “The Police” – I am not the biggest Police fan – but I do appreciate their music. These guys, like Rush, are some of the best at their respective instruments of all time. As a drummer, Stewart Copeland is up there on my all timer list for sure. Much like 1984 for Van Halen, “Synchronicity” was the more popular album, but in my view “The Police” was their best. Featuring tunes like “Roxanne” (I think you may have heard that once or twice) and “So Lonely” among many others, this is them in their rawest form – mixing rock/punk/reggae in their own unique way. I still wish these guys were together, as I find Sting’s solo work to be “meh”.
8. Pearl Jam – “Ten” – I know a lot of my friends who think this band is the second coming. I like them – a lot – but let’s chill out on that “second coming” shit. Like Van Halen and The Police, they were most definitely not one album wonders. Their musical catalog is actually really impressive. With that said, I stand by the fact that “Ten” , their first album, remains their best. “Jeremy”, “Evenflow” and “Alive” are the hits – but there isn’t a bad tune on the whole record – for real. These guys emerged during the very crowded “grunge” era with bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden and my personal favorite of that genre – Alice in Chains. To their credit, they are the only ones who stayed together and more importantly, stayed relevant to this day. Now if they could keep their self-important preaching shit to themselves, I might even be a bigger fan. Hate that crap.
7. The Notorious B.I.G. – “Ready to Die” – This was a bomb landing on the whole rap game. Biggie is one of the GOATs, and this was his intro to the world. Yes – like the bands listed before him, he too had great albums after his debut – but his debut was his best (not at all slighting his later stuff – awesomeness). Tunes like “Things done Changed” and his biggest hit ever “Big Poppa” are here, but the lyrics on this whole album were truly revolutionary. Yes the beats were great – but this is listening to one of the best rappers ever in his absolute prime.
6. The Jimi Hendrix Experience – “Are you Experienced?” – Speaking of GOATs, I am no guitarist but I am willing to bet this guy might be the ultimate GOAT. To this day, his music is still relevant and his impact will be felt for generations to come. It is amazing to me that this guy died so young and left such an amazing body of work. This album was, in my opinion, his best. Some of his classics are here like “Manic Depression” and “Wind Cries Mary”, but like the other albums listed here there really isn’t a bad tune on the whole album.
5. The Cars – “The Cars” – I know, The Cars ahead of Jimi Hendrix?!!? This is not a list of how I would rank them as bands or artists, rather solely on the merits of their debut albums and careers after that. The Cars to me are a VERY underrated band and also from Boston – so maybe I am a bit biased. However, I defy you to listen to this album and not love it. Seriously – take the Pepsi Challenge here and tell me what you think. “My Best Friend’s Girlfriend”, “Just What I Needed” – I could go on here but these are amazing songs and a truly great album start to finish.
4. The Doors – “The Doors” – This band really causes great debate amongst rock fans. Some people love them some think they suck. I fall in the “love them” camp. This was a great band – and yes – they did make a lot of great music – but this debut album was their best. They burst onto the scene in the late 60s with a sound like no other – an organ?!? With tunes like “The End”, “Break on Through” and of course their biggest hit of their career “Light My Fire” this album delivers on the good and then some. Dark but sometimes silly and a little bit dangerous too – I can only imagine how people reacted to it when it came out (No – I am not that old to have even been alive then thank you very much).
3. Boston – ‘Boston” – Yes, I am from Massachusetts and yes – I bleed Boston sports and am a massive homer. None of that has anything to do with why this album is #3 on this list. This was clearly the best work they ever did, and the album is amazing from start to finish with tunes that, to this day, if you hear them you jam out to. This album didn’t have a single “fast forward” tune on it – “Peace of Mind”, “More Than a Feeling” and “Something About You” just to name a few. Great vocals, unique guitar sound and good songwriting all wrapped together in one album with some sort of spaceship thingy on the cover.
2. N.W.A. – “Straight Outta Compton” – Long before there was a movie, Ice Cube doing family movies (WTF?) and “The Chronic” there was N.W.A. This album was their best (of two, really) and also is one of the seminal rap albums of all time. This was unlike anything rap fans or music fans for that matter – had ever heard before, The lyrics were truly scary and raw and the beats by Dre (see what I did there?) where undeniably awesome. There are too many classics to list here, but some include “Fuck The Police” and the title track, along with “Express Yourself”. This was a must-own album back in the day, and of course led to massive careers of Cube and Dre and spawned a whole new genre within rap itself.
1.Guns N’ Roses – “Appetite for Destruction” – Look – I am not a big GNR fan, but I have to give credit where it is due – and this is the best debut album of all time. Remember, this came out when “hair metal” was the thing – and this was definitely NOT hair metal. This was something more pure rock, but a hell of a lot more raw and dangerous. Yes – they had a good run before they broke up, but if you ask me nothing measured up to this album after it. There were the hits like “Paradise City” and “Welcome to The Jungle” but for anyone who has listened to this album will tell you – that is only the beginning of the good tunes here.
It feels good to be writing these again – here’s hoping I can keep up the weekly pace moving forward like in the past. Agree with my list? Any I missed? Any that shouldn’t be on there?