written by Chris Familton
The curse of premature evaluation by the media and self-appointed tastemakers is a curse that has befallen many a band over the years. With instant access to the public via digital means there is almost a battle to see who can spot and announce the next great act the fastest which inevitably results in a flood of false claims. History is littered with bands who have been hailed as the next big thing and then failed to live up to the lofty expectations due to personal conflicts, lack of material or an inability to survive in the spotlight. In the 70s New York Dolls, Television, Richard Hell all delivered classic debuts but never went onto follow them up with anything to match those initial iconic records. In the 90s britpop was full of acts who promised so much and delivered little in the long term. Oasis announced their arrival with their finest moment, Suede never bettered their self-titled debut and The Stone Roses spent nearly five years working on their follow-up to their seminal first album.
First albums can be genuine landmark moments in recorded music, heralding something new and different or merely just the best of their kind yet some of the best bands still need to get their P plates before they deliver their best work, Case in point The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Nirvana, David Bowie, Neil Young and Radiohead. Many of acts like these go onto long, evolving careers that incorporate reinvention, exploration and a place in the history books. So is a successful debut album a curse or a blessing? Tellingly when Uncut magazine published their 100 Greatest Debut Albums in 2006 most of the acts didn’t have lifespans less than a decade. As a snapshot of the last fifty years though it is a strong list albeit firmly rooted in the world of rock.
10. The Stooges – The Stooges
9. Roxy Music – Roxy Music
8. Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures
7. Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin
6. The Clash – The Clash
5. The Band – Music From Big Pink
4. The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses
3. The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Are You Experienced
2. Television – Marquee Moon
1. The Velvet Underground & Nico – The Velvet Underground & Nico
What are some of your favourite debut albums?
this piece first appeared in Drum Media