Jul 232020

22. Nine Inch Nails – Pretty Hate Machine

21. King Crimson – In The Court Of The Crimson King

20. Heart – Dreamboat Annie

19. The Band – Music From Big Pink

18. Steely Dan – Can’t Buy A Thrill

17. Linkin Park – Hybrid Theory

16. Oasis – Definitely Maybe

15. Smashing Pumpkins – Gish

14. Rage Against The Machine – Rage Against The Machine

13. Temple Of The Dog – Temple Of The Dog

12. Nirvana – Bleach

11. Pearl Jam – Ten

10. The Police – Outlandos D’Amour

9. The Cars – The Cars

8. The Beatles – Please Please Me

7. The Velvet Underground & Nico – Velvet Underground

6. The Doors – The Doors

5. The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Are You Experienced?

4. Guns N’ Roses – Appetite For Destruction

3. Van Halen – Van Halen

2. Boston – Boston

1. Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin

And there were some honorable mentions:

The Black Crowes – Shake Your Money Maker

Eagles – Eagles

STP Core

The Sex Pistols – Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols

Ozzy Osbourne – Blizzard of Ozz

Of course, this is nonsense. Only a body such as Rock Town Hall could settle, once and for all, the top Debut Rock Albums of All Time.

What’s on your list? Make it 5, make it 10, make it 20, even make it 22; it’s up to you. Just so it’s consistent, let’s follow the criteria here as closely as we can, which says to me we are not necessarily talking about the greatest debut albums from a quality of music point of view.


  25 Responses to “Top Debut Rock Albums of All Time”

  1. I ya hafta say who its by, you weren’t there…still listenable if not top 22, in no peculiar order:

    – Chicago Transit Authority
    – Inner Mounting Flame
    – My Aim is True
    – Little Feat
    – Runt
    – John Prine
    – Fresh Cream
    – Dire Straits

  2. H. Munster

    My top 11:
    11. Daddy Who? Daddy Cool
    10. A Long Time Comin’ – The Electric Flag
    9. The Romantics
    8. Funkadelic
    7. Truth – The Jeff Beck Group.
    6. The Cramps’ Gravest Hits
    5. Blood Sweat and Tears – Child is Father to the Man
    4. The Stooges
    3. The Cars
    2. Songs of Leonard Cohen
    1. Marshall Crenshaw

  3. diskojoe

    1. Meet the Beatles
    2. England’s Newest Hitmakers/Rolling Stones
    3.VU w/Nico
    4. Are You Experienced/Jimi Hendrix Experience
    5. Songs of Leonard Cohen
    6.The Modern Lovers
    7.Fleetwood Mac (debut of Buckham/Nicks lineup)
    8. Boston
    9. Never Mind the Bollacks, It’s the Sex Pistols
    10. Damned, Damned Damned
    11. Bat Out of Hell/Meat Loaf
    12. The Cars
    13. The B-52s
    14.Marshall Crenshaw
    15. Appetite for Destruction/G ‘n R
    16. Definitely Maybe/Oasis
    17. Tigermilk/Belle & Sebastian
    18. The White Stripes


  4. Happiness Stan

    In no order, approximately twenty:
    Unknown Pleasures
    The Modern Lovers
    Songs of Leonard Cohen
    Bee Gees First
    Mary Margaret O’Hara – Miss America
    Another Music in a Different Kitchen
    Traveling Wilburys Volume 1
    God Bless Tiny Tim
    George Best
    Just Another Diamond Day
    Five Leaves Left
    Dubstar – Disgraceful
    Yerself is Steam
    Marquee Moon
    Definitely Maybe
    Primitives – Lovely
    Ride – Nowhere
    Tiger – We Are Puppets
    The Poppy Family – Which Way You Goin’ Billy
    Roxy Music
    Piper at the Gates of Dawn

  5. BigSteve

    Some that maybe have not been mentioned yet:

    My Aim Is True
    Here Come the Warm Jets
    Vintage Violence
    I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight
    Blank Generation
    Mr. Tambourine Man
    Days of Wine and Roses
    Los Angeles
    Ry Cooder self-titled
    Saturate Before Using
    Music from Big Pink
    Guitar Town
    Sincerely (Dwight Twilley Band)
    Jesus of Cool
    Franz Ferdinand self-titled
    I Just Can’t Stop It
    Safe As Milk
    Burial self titled
    Los Angeles
    Jesus of Cool
    Pretenders self titled
    Total Destruction to Your Mind
    Pink Flag
    #1 Record
    Stands for Decibels
    Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!
    LCD Soundsystem.self titled
    Crazy Rhythms

  6. I think some people are forgoing the criteria.

  7. Happiness Stan

    Al, I think the original video forgoes the criteria, but point taken

    As an aside, just heard that Peter Green has died

  8. mockcarr

    I would bring up:
    Elvis Presley
    The Chirping Crickets
    Kick Out The Jams
    The Undertones
    The Specials
    Outlandos D’Amour

  9. BigSteve – That is some list.

    Everything on there that I’m remotely familiar with, are completely convincing under the criteria. About a third of them represent a really great album that was never matched by any of the followups, particularly Entertainment, Pink Flag and most of all Crazy Rhythms.

    How the hell did the Feelies manage to make such a sophisticated and unique debut record? It’s listed as produced by Million and Mercer with Mark Abel. Does anybody know anything about this Abel guy? I looked him up expecting to find that he was some capable but unknown journeyman producer, but that isn’t the case. He was a fairly young rock musician working around NYC, (He plays guitar on a song on Tom Verlaine’s debut.) and is now working as a classical composer. Might he be the secret sauce that made that album so tasty?

  10. Stan, he lists the criteria right at the beginning, 20 seconds in.

    Geo, I think I’m interpreting the criteria differently than you and BigSteve. I’ll agree that there are some great albums in there. And I’ll confess that I am clueless as to the artist of many of them which I’m egotistical enough to say almost eliminates them from the list.

    But what new genres did Jesus Of Cool (so important it is listed twice 😊), Dwight Twilley, #1 Record, and Stands For Decibels create/inspire (or, to use the other term for the criterion that he uses, were “transformative”)? You gotta have some really finely tuned genres to have all four listed.

    And as for Safe As Milk, as you and I have discussed for decades, 50 years down the line, Captain Beefheart is still ahead of his time. I don’t think you inspire a genre when you are alone in that genre because nobody else has caught up to you.

    Others have mentioned great great albums that I don’t think qualify for other reasons. If one of the criterion is “important for the rest of the band’s career”, doesn’t that eliminate the Sex Pistols? Really, they only had their debut album, they had no “rest of their career”. If you want Johnny Rotten on the list then have Public Image. From a career point of view, it’s allmost the same thing for The Traveling Wilburys (and what genre did they create/inspire/transform?).

    And maybe The Poppy Family were more transformative in the UK.

    Come on Rock Town Hall, to quote the great (but not transformative) Archie Bell, let’s “tighten up” on this so it can be settled once and for all.

  11. Happiness Stan

    Hey Al, I admit I let you watch it so I didn’t have to, I’m not in an argumentative mood and don’t want to comment on the choices of others. I put the Poppy Family in to see if anyone would rise to it, having debated the merits of Terry Jacks in the Hall long ago. Brief summary, Stan in favour, Mr Mod and others less so. I doubt I know a single other human being who has ever heard of them, so I’ll grudgingly concede that one, although it would have been so cool if a whole scene of bleak, dark and heartrending pop had been born from its unstintingly glum vision. And the Traveling Wilburys. Vashti Bunyan, Mary Margaret O’Hara and Tiger I’ll drop too, although again the world would have been a better place if they had, and are no more outlandish than the original list, of whom I’d argue about four meet the criteria.

    I read your post as agreeing, but I’d even make a very strong case for the exclusion of the first Beatles albums for starters, they were a singles band until Rubber Soul and to argue otherwise seems gross revisionism. Van Halen? Boston? Smashing Pumpkins? Who the hell are Temple of the Dog?

    Apart from possibly creating a genre of album covers for pubescent boys to contemplate alone in quiet moments I’m not sure where Heart enter the equation. Unless it’s a cultural thing and I’ve missed a whole genre of Boston copyists, in which case I consider I’ve got off lightly.

  12. Happiness,

    I’d like a world where Mary Margaret O’Hara had followed up Miss America!

  13. diskojoe

    Happiness Stan, the reason why I put the first Boston album on my list was that it was a very popular album (it was CBS Records biggest seller prior to Thriller), many of its songs are still a staple of Classic Rock Radio & I felt that it was influential even though personally I’m not really a fan. Also, the lead singer, the late Brad Delp, was from the same area as me (the North Shore of Boston) & had been the lead singer of a local garage band called the Monks (not the other band from Germany) in the 1960s.

  14. Happiness Stan

    Hey DJ, I wasn’t having a dig at you, sorry. It was on the original list and I was using it as an example of why the original list didn’t work. I hadn’t clocked it was on yours as well, as I said above, I’m not in the mood for a fight today and should have been more awake.

    I think Boston have only had one hit over here, and to me it just about represents everything I find intolerable about hair rock. I am woefully avoidant of classic rock radio type music, and really shouldn’t pass judgement on it in public.

  15. Hello all, I’m back from a week in a cabin in Maine with my lovely wife. I thought I’d have time for RTH stuff, but the weather was too nice. Not a rainy day all week, a rarity up there!

    I’ll think about this in more depth. It’s hard for a band to come out of the gates popular, innovative, AND influential. Many of the selections by the video guy are ridiculous (eg, Ozzy’s first solo album, which doesn’t seem to be much more than a continuation of Black Sabbath’s already popular, innovative, and influential debut. I don’t know if the first Sabbath album was a big seller, however, but that seems to fit.

    In fact, I think variants on metal and hard rock make a lot of sense here. I don’t like that stuff, but Guns ‘n Roses’ debut seems to fit all that is asked. Metal seems to progress in great stylistic leaps based on new “Olympic” qualities brought to the mix: someone figures out how to play much faster than everyone else, and it’s lauded and copied. Metal doesn’t seem to turn out Captain Beefheart types. The first Megadeath album probably qualifies.

    Another genre that respects, rewards, and copied innovation out of the gates is soul, in all its shades. Is Dirty Mind the first Prince album? How about D’Angelo’s debut. Soul artists can make great strides and become highly copied right from the start.

    In various shades of rock… that’s tough. I think someone questioned Van Halen, but I think they totally qualify. Outside of hard rock/metal…I think The Police might fit. It’s not that the world was suddenly littered with Police copycats, but a number of dinosaur bands took a cue from their sophisticated take on New Wave and got haircuts, ditched their flares, and lopped extraneous minutes off their songs. I think Rush, Peter Gabriel, and Phil Collins are examples of the Old Guard finding a new way in.

  16. mockcarr

    The fact there was a separation of taste between the US and UK shouldn’t disqualify Please Please Me as an important album sInce it spent 30 weeks at #1 on the British charts, and was knocked off only by the second album. That success is responsible for the British Invasion sound that took over the charts, inspired bands to write and sing their own songs, saved a whole generation from greasy kid stuff on their heads, and revitalized the concept of self contained units without studio musicians. It’s only their short live sets and prolific songwriting that stopped songs like I Saw Her Standing There from being concert staples. They played their cover of Twist and Shout for a long time though. There might be some good things about that album I left out…

  17. I don’t see how the Beatles couldn’t be on the list either. They check all the boxes as delineated. Was it the best Beatles album? Of course not. It sure as hell redefined an genre. It redefined pretty near everything, didn’t it? So much so that it really eliminates any other British Invasion band from consideration.

    Stan, I now understand what you meant by the video foregoing the criteria. I had thought you meant he didn’t list them, that I did. I totally agree that any number of his choices don’t meet them.

    People’s submissions are very interesting. Telegasm, I think I could make strong cases for all of your list given the criteria. Then comes H. Munster’s lists and I think “Can Blood, Sweat, & Tears and Chicago Transit Authority both qualify?”.

    Some other hit & run comments –
    * I think Marshall Crenshaw’s debut is just about perfect, to me the ideal power pop album. But did it redefine anything? It set an incredibly high bar for power pop (one I don’t think bands like Dwight Twilley, the Romantics, or Nick Lowe can compete with) but that’s different.
    * Marshall Crenshaw or the dBs? That’s choice I’m glad I don’t have to make
    * God Bless Tiny Tim belongs in the category with Captain Beefheart – and I think we can all agree that no one has ever made that statement before – that is, can you inspire a genre if there is no one else in it? Or do we count Leon Redbone?
    * Not sure what I think of Fleetwood Mac on the list if it’s not the original incarnation and I don’t know that that grouping belongs much as I love Peter Green. Sure, it became something completely different but where do we draw the line on band member changes being allowed? Better to draw a clean line.

  18. Happiness Stan

    Geo, and a third and possibly even a fourth would have been good, too!

    I take your point, but personally I’d disqualify it on the grounds of it being padded out with filler. It’s one of the few Beatles albums I still own but despite hearing it many times, there are songs on there I can’t remember, as well as a couple of real needle lifters. Misery, Anna, Chains, Boys, a Taste of Honey, Baby it’s You, There’s a Place, not one of them making an argument for classic status. I’d go so far as to say that half the album’s more than a bit rubbish, and always was.

    It doesn’t seem outlandish to make an argument for A Quick One being the first British rock album to take the format seriously, I can’t think of any prior to that which weren’t two good songs and a dozen hovering somewhere between mediocre and sweepings from the studio floor.

    I’m not counting folkies, Donovan’s first stands up well, and I don’t know enough about jazz to have an opinion.

    A Hard Day’s Night would be another candidate, although being a film soundtrack changed the dynamic of the way it was put together, exposed by the way Beatles For Sale reverted to the previous formula of a few good songs, a couple of stinkers and the rest throwaway covers.

  19. Happiness,

    Just in case you’ve never seen this….


    This show is enough to forgive David Sanborn for both his bad hair and the sax sound on Young Americans.

  20. What is Mary Margaret O’Hara’s deal? A few months ago I finally heard her one and only (?) album from ages ago. I was able to dog it, despite it getting into so many areas I don’t usually like. Then, I spent a couple of hours on a deep dive on her, finding an interview on a relatively recent Canadian talk show. It seems like she was still performing at that time and she was a bit off center, but not much more than her brilliant comedic big sister Catherine.

  21. My favorite debut LP hands down is Are Your Experienced. Why? For your everyday 60s pop fan, the response was most probably, “Jesus, did you hear that fucking thing?!!” And for any musician, the response was most probably, “Christ almighty, why even try?”

    I don’t think that can be said for my other fave debuts like the Chirping Crickets, Please, Please Me, England’s Newest Hitmakers. i.e, other obvious choices. Again, a lot of kids bought those records and couldn’t wait to try something similar. It appeared to be a doable thing. Not so with the Hendrix LP. Putting the guitar in the closet and going to college for a teaching degree didn’t seem like such a bad idea after all,

  22. Happiness Stan

    Mr Mod, not sure about Mary Margaret O’Hara either, I guess she only had the one album in her. I don’t really know much about her, but that record arrived when I was at a very strange point and it spoke to me, as you say, even though it sounded like music I didn’t like.

    I’ve been thinking since you posted about other artists, usually women, who make a stellar album, which usually made little impact, and then go of to do something else, looking after kids, usually.

    Vashti Bunyan springs to mind, although she made another album almost forty years later, which is pretty damned good, and sounds like it was recorded straight after.

    Linda Thompson had clearly had enough after Richard, I love his music but struggle to forgive him for depriving the world of more records by his ex, even though she has.

    MMO’H seemed to land over here and become what looked like the next big thing at roughly the same time that PJ Harvey and Tori Amos got noticed, I suspect all three listened to a lot of Dory Previn and Judee Sill, and neither of them seemed happy in the limelight.

  23. Mr. Mod,

    I’m not sure what O’Hara spends most of her time doing. The fact that her first album took about five years to see the light of day probably indicates that she is not particularly ambitious. She seems to show up in a lot of different places including several Hal Willner collections, and guest vocals with The Henry’s. One of my favorite things by her is linked below, which was a song she sings on a Gary Lucas album. Even better might be her back up vocal on the title track of Bob Wiseman’s “In Her Dreams” record, but I couldn’t find that on YouTube.


  24. I may own that Bob Wiseman album!

  25. That’s one of those oddball albums that seem to have disappeared from everyone’s radar that I still treasure to this day. Imagine when WXPN was still wide open enough to play the song “Bhopal” about a disaster at an American owned chemical plant in India that killed a town full of its unfortunate neighbors. Pull that sucker out and give it a listen!

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