Five Terrific Debut Albums

velvetunderground1Sometimes, a band or artist just delivers right out of the gate. No development or growth needed; it’s almost like pulling at a patch of green that turns out to be the surface-level component of a massive tuberous root. This complete and fully-formed object has been ripening underground for a long time, directly beneath thousands of pairs of unsuspecting eyes. We had no idea they existed, but that hardly matters. They knew well enough.

Here’s Five Terrific Debut Albums.

Note: This refers to LPs, and not EPs or singles. Please deal with this. 

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5. Elvis Costello – My Aim is True (1977)

Recorded with a hastily assembled backing band (members of the California group Clover) in just about 24 hours, Costello’s stellar material shines through. Costello’s songwriting, immediately top-notch, is sharp and witty. This is a must-listen for fans of punk and new-wave.

4. Ramones – Ramones (1976)

Loud, rude and constantly threatening to fall apart completely, this album slapped fancy progressive rock fans right in the Moog. But then, it’s over, just as soon as it starts.

3. Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground and Nico (1967)

I talk about this album a lot, so I’ll keep it brief: I can’t in good conscience talk about debut albums without mentioning this complete game-changer. If you haven’t listened to it already, what the hell are you doing at this site?

2. Arcade Fire – Funeral  (2004)

Before the Grammies and international acclaim, this Montreal group was just the best band in North America. Funeral, possibly still their best record, is a moving collection of songs loosely based around the recent deaths of several band members’ loved ones. The raw wounds still ache today.

1. R.E.M. Murmur (1983)

R.E.M. began as a jangly college rock group from Athens, GA with a borderline-inscrutable lead singer. In eight years they would drop “Losing My Religion” and become the biggest band in the world. It all started with Murmur, which stands among the group’s best albums all these years later.

Check out my companion piece to this article about less-auspicious debuts. Send me your favorites!

Photo: Velvet Underground; By Name, Billy (eBay) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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