Monday, October 28, 2013

Rolling Stone magazine's "100 Best Debut Albums of All Time"

Rolling Stone magazine recently released their picks for the 100 best debut albums.  But before they even get to the list itself, they're making excuses for the selection process.  From the magazine's website:
It was fifty years ago that the Beatles’ released their first album, Please Please Me. In honor of that world-changing LP, we’ve compiled a list of the 100 Greatest Debut Albums of All Time. A note on how we made the list: Albums got docked points if the artist went on to far greater achievements (which is why Please, Please Me and Greetings from Asbury Park, great as they are, didn't made the top ten); conversely, we gave a little extra recognition to great debut albums that the artist never matched (hello, Is This It and Illmatic!). We also skipped solo debuts by artists who were already in well-known bands, which is why you won’t see John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band or Paul Simon. We focused, instead, on debuts that gave you the thrill of an act arriving fully-formed, ready to reinvent the world in its own image.

Let's see which of these 100 albums were released during my favorite decade.  If the time span is the past five decades, 1976-85 is very well-represented with 32 entries.

98Joe JacksonLook Sharp!1979A&M
96MadonnaMadonna 1983Sire
89YazUpstairs at Eric's1982Mute
84Whitney HoustonWhitney Houston1985Arista
81Gang of FourEntertainment!1979WB
76DevoAre We Not Men? We Are Devo!1978WB
75The Go-Go'sBeauty and the Beat1981IRS
68Talking Heads Talking Heads: 771977Sire
64The English BeatI Just Can't Stop It1980IRS
63Cyndi LauperShe's So Unusual1983Epic
54MetallicaKill 'Em All1983Elektra
51The Smiths The Smiths1984Sire
50XLos Angeles1980Slash
48Modern LoversModern Lovers1976Beserkley
45The Jesus & Mary ChainPsychocandy1985Reprise
40TelevisionMarquee Moon1977Elektra
38The PoliceOutlandos d'Amour1978A&M
28The B-52'sThe B-52's1979WB
27Van HalenVan Halen1978WB
22Violent FemmesViolent Femmes1983Slash
21Elvis CostelloMy Aim is True1977Columbia
20Joy DivisionUnknown Pleasures1979Factory
16The CarsThe Cars1978Elektra
12The ClashThe Clash1979Epic
7The Sex PistolsNever Mind the Bollocks1977WB
2The RamonesThe Ramones1976Sire

As usual for a list of this nature, the results range from expected (The Sex Pistols at #7) to inspired (X at #50) to confusing (Joe Jackson too low at #98) to downright bewildering (what's Cyndi Lauper doing on this list?).  With my listening biases, I might have at least considered other great debut albums such as The Lexicon of Love by ABC, Asia, and New Order but no matter. I haven't heard all these albums (Wire and Television weren't exactly on my radar in 1977) but hope to rectify that oversight in the near future.


  1. A playlisticle after my own list-loving heart.

    My faves from the list:
    Go-Go's, Run-D.M.C., The Cars and Pretenders

    The ones I was looking for but didn't see:
    ABC (like you mentioned),
    Heaven 17's Penthouse and Pavement,
    LL Cool J's Radio,
    Frankie Goes To Hollywood's Welcome To The Pleasuredome
    and self-titled debuts byTom Petty & the Heartbreakers,Dire Straits and Cheap Trick.

    (Maybe those last three got docked too many points and fell off the list.)

    In true high school/college fashion, you could follow up this list with best Sophomore (2nd), Junior (3rd) and Senior (4th) albums. With Spotify links for those of us who are too lazy to walk over and pull the vinyl off the shelf. Many bands hit their musical stride and found their groove later on. Just like we did in high school.

    Loving this blog. The fresh layouts (although this one brought to mind slicingupeyeballs yearly countdowns), the variety of posts and the thoughts/opinions/biases/memories that tie them all together.

  2. Good catch. I lifted the format for this chart directly from our friends over at Slicing Up Eyeballs. Hope they don't mind.

  3. Thirty two from a single decade is pretty awesome. Like you guys, I would definitely want ABC there. Also, Herc, I so agree about Heaven 17 (huge fan here). I have no problem seeing Cyndi Lauper there - that was a fantastic debut album and still a favorite of mine to this day. I need to follow the link to see the rest of the list that fell out of the 76 to 85 scope.