Okay, right off the bat, I have to be honest. I really, really, really want to include Aerosmith's 1973 debut album on my (personal) 3 x short list of Great Debut Albums. I want to... but I can't. That's integrity, huh? In a game of backtracking, even I can acknowledge that while Aerosmith's 1973 album is awesome, it's not an arrival of sound. Sure, there's 'Dream On', 'Mama Kin' (and my favorite 'Make It'), but there's that sense that it's a band still cranking into gear, still finding its way. A definite feeling of, 'You gotta watch out for these guys.' And, yep, the whole band evolved from 'Get Your Wings' to the fantastically awesome 'Rocks' (one of my favourite records of all time). Evolution, baby. As said, Aerosmith's debut album is an incredible record.... a punch of promise (okay, I feel kinda dirty speaking ill of Aerosmith... give me a moment or two). Okay, anyway, I mention Aerosmith's debut album as an example, a record that doesn't justify a nod on my personal list of 3. But there are bands that explode on the scene from the get-go with such double take moments that you can't help but notice. Are they commercially successful? No, not always. Hell, sometimes it's all in reflection, as their career builds. Are they wildly off kilter from the norm of the sound that is? Well, again, not always. Sometimes it's taking what is, turning it on its head and making it their own.
Anyway, enough with the rambling. Getting personal, here's my (at the moment) top three Great Debut Albums.
APPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION - GUNS N' ROSES (1987)
I did say I was getting personal, didn't I? I didn't ride the wave of G N' R's debut album upon initial release, but my ears eventually cottoned on. Use Your Illusion II kicked me into gear, specifically a certain track that featured in some cyborg film I watched about a dozen times (you do not get more honest than that!). When you look at 80s rock, you can pinpoint moments. And Appetite For Destruction was a huge moment, an explosion in a same-same crowded sea. The vocal stylings of W. Axl Rose and the guitar work of Slash... it couldn't be ignored. As a band, G N' R took the current status quo of metal and hit the gas, fueling it with their own sense of polish and distinctive sound. They had arrived. 'Rocket Queen' will always be my favourite track... not to get all schmaltzy, but it's a fitting last song. The resulting silence is deafening.
VAN HALEN - VAN HALEN (1978)
Again with the track-back. But it was Jump! and being hot for teacher that flicked the switch on my time machine. And while Van Halen's 1984 was full of outlandish polish and amped up Roth cheekiness, it was Van Halen's selt-titled 1978 debut album that slithered. It oozed a husky, sexy cool. And, of course, it unleashed the guitar work of the Eddie Van Halen. The cheekiness is there, awake and ready to build on. But it's less tinsel, more full-tilt drive. Raw. Still, the fun pulsates... it's a combined effort, a band working as one. Pure rock. The standout track, without a doubt: 'Ain't Talkin' Bout Love.'
:77 - TALKING HEADS (1977)
It was a 'Road To Nowhere' that brought me here. A wild journey, a journey that stretched my eyelids back, my eyeballs locked into a wild, wide stare. Yes, I was (and still am) obsessed with Talking Heads. Such an eclectic mix of sound. Incredibly exciting sound. Remain In Light is the mood of the moment but I'm sure More Songs About Buildings And Food will make an appearance. As a kid, when I finally got my hands on a copy of Talking Heads' debut album :77, I played it like I was prying open the Ark of the Covenant. I had seen their future and was now dancing with their past. I can only imagine :77's arrival onto the American punk scene, one that ushered in the likes of Television and Blondie... with Byrne's manic, desperate vocals it must have been some kick. And while many will point to 'Psycho Killer' as the groundbreaking moment, I'm calling out my favourite tracks: 'No Compassion' and 'Pulled Up'.
Written by D.L. Bugeja