Given that the mighty Warpaint are on the cover of the mag this week, and since their recently released ‘The Fool’ is the debut album of the year (stream it below), we thought it was a good time to look at the greatest opening salvos in rock history.
Greatest debut albums – vote in our reader poll
Crafting a debut album that nails the zeitgeist can be a bittersweet achievement. Some debuts are so staggeringly perfect – think of The Stone Roses’ self-titled LP, or Guns N’Roses’ ‘Appetite For Destruction’ – they overshadow a bands’ entire career. Their creators can never recapture the magic, sometimes can’t even quite work out how they did it.
Then there are the debut albums that grow in stature over time. U2’s ‘Boy’ was not particularly well received at the time. It peaked at Number 53 in the UK charts. But it’s instructive to listen to it now, in the wake of what the band later achieved – you can hear them feeling their way tentatively towards a particular sound.
It’s worth noting, too, that debut albums are far more important to an artist’s career now than they used to be. U2, R.E.M. and Bruce Springsteen were all able to release two or three commercial flops before they hit their creative stride.
That kind of slow-burn happens only very rarely now. The industry is a less forgiving place, and if your first release bombs, you probably won’t be invited to make a second.
But that may be no bad thing. There’s a unique excitement that comes with a band getting it right at the first attempt: taking over the world with songs they wrote in bedrooms and rehearsal rooms, when no-one knew who they were.
Our 50 greatest debut albums as a playlist
Stream Warpaint’s debut album ‘The Fool’: