50 Best Debut Albums Ever


1961: The Shadows, ‘The Shadows’. Without Elvis-for-virgins Cliff pouting and flouncing over his music, Hank Marvin proved himself a rather shit-hot surf guitar geek hero, and not merely cockney rhyming slang for ‘starving’.


1962: Bob Dylan, ‘Bob Dylan’. He wasn’t yet a virtuoso songwriter, but Dylan’s seldom-heard debut is a lesson in interpretation – greatness soon followed.


1964: Dusty Springfield, ‘A Girl Called Dusty’. The diva destroyed all the lame-assed Cillas and Petulas with one husky hoof through ‘Anyone Who Had A Heart’.



1965: The Who, ‘My Generation’. Largely ignored upon its initial release, the album has gone on to become one of the bedrocks of art-rock and a sacred musical text – it instantly makes you wish you were part of the Velvets’ nihilist gang of miscreants.


1967: The Velvet Underground, ‘The Velvet Underground and Nico’. Largely ignored upon its initial release, the album has gone on to become one of the bedrocks of art-rock and a sacred musical text – it instantly makes you wish you were part of the Velvets’ nihilist gang of miscreants.


1968: The Band – ‘Music from Big Pink’. Dylan’s backing band came good with this roots rock benchmark; ‘The Weight’ alone became a staple of every redneck bar scene of ’70s cinema.


1969: The Stooges, ‘The Stooges’. Formulating their attack in the basement of the Asheton’s childhood home, the band only had five tracks to include on their debut. The other three songs – ‘Real Cool Time’, ‘Not Right’ and ‘Little Doll’ – were written overnight and recorded the next day.



1971: Thin Lizzy – ‘Thin Lizzy’. Mellower than they’d become, this debut showcased Phil Lynott’s undervalued songwriting chops.


1973: New York Dolls, ‘New York Dolls’. Morrissey’s favourite record is a screeching sideswipe at Manhattan oppression from some of the coolest scumbags the city retched up.


1974: Brian Eno, ‘Here Come The Warm Jets’. Roxy Music’s tech-nut creates the benchmark of avant-garde glam art-pop.


1978: Devo, ‘Are We Not Men? We Are Devo!’. Flowerpot-wearing new wave madness that still sounds as strange today as it did in 1978.



1980: Killing Joke, ‘Killing Joke’. While Blondie and The Jam took punk in poppier directions, ‘Killing Joke’ employed the genre’s Sturm und Drang to create modern industrial rock, inspiring everyone from Nirvana and Metallica to MBV.


1982: ABC, ‘Lexicon of Love’. A stone cold suave-pop classic from a band seemingly made entirely of sequins and gold lamé.


1983: REM, ‘Murmur’. Muddy and ephemeral, ‘Murmer’ set the blueprint of US indie for the next three decades.


1986: Beastie Boys, ‘Licence to Ill’. The sound of three definitely-non-Buddhist New York brats crashing their punk-rock jetfighter into hip-hop’s mountain lair, getting out and wiggling their bums lasciviously.


1988: My Bloody Valentine, ‘Isn’t Anything’. Before the tribulations of ‘Loveless’, ‘Isn’t Anything’’s fuzzy otherworldliness set the template for the whole shoegaze genre.


1999: The Stone Roses, ‘The Stone Roses’. Madchester’s defining milestone and the advent of indie-dance, it’d take Squire and company five years to comprehensively fail to follow it.


1990: The La’s, ‘The La’s’. While the world went baggy, Lee Mavers’ ’60s revisionism ultimately proved more influential – no La’s, no Britpop.


1991: Massive Attack, ‘Blue Lines’. As rave peaked, this was its lamplit counterpoint – the soundtrack to a national 4am moment.


1993: Suede, ‘Suede’. Sassy, seductive and high on the heady thrills of youth – hard drugs, rampant narcissism and delectably deviant sex – ‘Suede’ was the first ballsy blaze of Britpop.


1994: Oasis, ‘Definitely Maybe’. So what if Oasis never bettered it? Sixteen years on, only a handful ever have.


1996: Super Furry Animals, ‘Fuzzy Logic’. Their 1996 debut was one of the Britpop-saturated era’s most off-kilter and inventive efforts, an idiosyncratic work of weirdness that sounded like nobody else around.


1998 Lauryn Hill, ‘Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’. The first refugee from The Fugees, Hill’s solo debut was a thorough reinvention of modern soul, taking in gospel, R&B, hip-hop and a sly chunk of The Doors. An education in genre-splicing indeed.


2001: The Strokes, ‘Is This It’. Rescued rock’n’roll from the torpor of nu-metal in 36 near-perfect minutes. Not bad.


2002: Libertines, ‘Up the Bracket’. Before The Libertines all the best post-millennial rock’n’roll was being made by Americans, Scandinavians, Antipodeans… anybody but us Brits. ‘Up The Bracket’ changed all that, and its influence remains massive.


2003: Dizzee Rascal, ‘Boy in da Corner’. Before the talent show slots, the Calvin Harris hook-ups and the ‘Bonkers’ pop bangers, Dizzee’s debut was the ultimate grime breakthrough, a cranky shiv to the mainstream’s heart.


2004: Kanye West, ‘The College Dropout’. It still bounces out of the speakers with freshness and brio: from ‘Jesus Walks’ to ‘The New Workout Plan’, it was evident that Kanye had energy to burn. If only we’d known quite how much…


2005: Arcade Fire, ‘Funeral’. Seldom has sadness sounded so utterly euphoric as on the grand chamber-post-punk gems contained within the Canadian collective’s debut.


2007: Klaxons, ‘Myths of the Near Future’. The tribal punk totem of new rave, ‘Myths…’ was an adventurous and imaginative debut; by turns brutal, beatific and making noises like unicorns exploding in an air raid.


2009: The XX, ‘XX’. ‘xx’ is one of those rare debut albums that sounds like the work of a band cresting the peak of their powers, not the result of four teenagers recording in a Notting Hill garage for the first time.