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50 GREATEST DEBUT ALBUMS

 

This is NME’s celebration of the best debut albums from the last 50 years. It's not a countdown. Instead, we've selected one album from each year.

Disagree with our choices? You can always vote your own favourites to the top via our debut albums reader poll, and share your thoughts on the office blog.

This article originally appeared in the November 6 issue of NME. Subscribe here, or get this week's digital issue.

 
 
 

The record that invented heavy metal. Simple as that.


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Mellower than they’d become, this debut showcased Phil Lynott’s undervalued songwriting chops.


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The album that invented ‘motorik’, it rivals the Velvets for huge-influence-versus-tiny-sales torque.


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Morrissey’s favourite record is a screeching sideswipe at Manhattan oppression from some of the coolest scumbags the city retched up.


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Roxy Music’s tech-nut creates the benchmark of avant-garde glam art-pop.


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More poet than performer, Patti Smith intellectualised ’70s proto-punk, and in the process gave rock’n’roll a genuine feminist agenda. Which isn’t too bad for your first album.


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1-2-3-4: rewrite the rules of guitar pop, invent punk, dab more speed. Easy.


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Modern guitar music’s Big Bang still sounds as if it was played on machine guns by pissed-off succubi and pressed onto discs of bile, speed’n’mucus.


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Flowerpot-wearing new wave madness that still sounds as strange today as it did in 1978.


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After 50 trillion retrospectives, exhibitions and tell-all biographies, what else is there to say about the suffocating and exhilarating ‘Unknown Pleasures’? Tony Wilson was so convinced by the band he sunk his life’s savings into making it.


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