Top 10 Debut Rock Albums
Rock and roll was never the same after these acts released their first albums. When it comes to critical and commercial success, its impact on the band or its influence on future artists, they all made their mark and set the tone for all of the rock music to come. In this video, WatchMojo.com counts down down our picks for the top 10 rock debut albums in history.
For this list, we’ve chosen two entries per decade based on a combination of the album’s critical and commercial success, its impact for the band and its influence on future artists. We’ve also omitted the more overtly punk and heavy metal releases.
#10 – Boston - Boston (1976)
Classic rock wouldn’t be what it is today without Boston’s eponymous debut. Even though they were barely known to the public, Boston took over rock radio airwaves with the massive single, “More Than a Feeling,” which helped the album reach number three on Billboard. The multi-platinum-certified Boston became the fastest selling debut for an American act and the second best-selling debut album in the U.S.A.
# 9 – Arcade Fire - Funeral (2004)
Arcade Fire’s Funeral was a hauntingly beautiful and dramatic indie rock effort that had critics extolling the band’s use of strings in their pop and folk-influenced tunes. Dealing with love, hope and mortality, the disc earned a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Music Album. It also nabbed the number one spot on multiple year-end and decade-end lists.
#8 – The Strokes - Is This It (2001)
With Is This It, The Strokes managed to create a stunning guitar-driven opus, which they complemented with pop influences. Clocking in at a little over 30 minutes, the band’s debut reached the second position of the UK charts thanks to their gritty and melodic sound, and helped shape modern rock in the new millennium.
#7 – Oasis - Definitely Maybe (1994)
On the strength of three top forty singles, Definitely Maybe topped UK charts during its first week of release and became the United Kingdom’s fastest selling debut ever. Critics praised the album’s catchy hooks, hopeful themes and the Gallagher brothers’ lyrical and vocal abilities. As the band’s fame and popularity spread around the world, Definitely Maybe ensured their music would live forever as part of the Britpop music scene.
#6 – The Stone Roses - The Stone Roses (1989)
Before Britpop, there was madchester. The Stone Roses’ debut soon became a landmark in this genre despite a lack of early critical and commercial recognition. By mixing dance, alternative and psychedelic rock, the album subsequently influenced rock music of the 1990s and is often named one of the greatest British records in history.
#5 – Elvis Costello - My Aim is True (1977)
Without the dirty and intimate sound of pub rock as found on Elvis Costello’s My Aim is True, punk rock as we know it may never have existed. Backed by a band called Clover, Costello showed off his skills as a musician and as a songwriter on the record: his songs incorporated elements of folk, blues and reggae and were accompanied by some of pop music’s most clever and biting lyrics.
#4 – Pearl Jam - Ten (1991)
Besides Nirvana’s Nevermind, there was no other album that popularized grunge and alternative rock among the masses as much as Pearl Jam’s Ten. Its blend of classic, hard and post-punk rock featured memorable hooks and choruses that were set among socio-politically driven lyrics sung by Eddie Vedder’s signature vocals. Though sales were slow at first, Ten eventually reached the Billboard 200’s second spot and went on to mold the sound of rock for decades to come.
#3 – Guns N' Roses - Appetite for Destruction (1987)
Guns N’ Roses’ first LP overcame poor initial sales to eventually top the Billboard Hot 100 thanks to the smash single, “Sweet Child o’ Mine.” With 18 million copies sold, it is now the best selling debut in the U.S. With its hard rock and heavy metal tunes, Appetite for Destruction brought sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll back to the mainstream and showed us why Guns N’ Roses would become known as the most dangerous band in the world.
#2 – Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin (1969)
Rock had never been merged with blues and folk quite like this. On the legendary English band’s debut, Zeppelin delivered some of the heaviest tracks of the ‘60s, and reached the top 10 of the UK and U.S. charts in the face of early lackluster reviews. The self-titled masterpiece altered the sound of hard rock and heavy metal and later had critics hailing it as one of the greatest albums in history.
#1 – The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Are You Experienced (1967)
Thanks to the R&B flavors and bluesy riffs of Are You Experienced, plus the feedback and distortion-heavy tunes, The Jimi Hendrix Experience reached number two in the UK and had the U.S.’ best-selling album in 1968. The psychedelic tour de force also introduced Jimi Hendrix’s unparalleled talent as an electric guitarist and is such an important musical work it was preserved in the American National Recording Registry.
Do you agree or disagree with our list? Which is your favorite rock debut album of all time? For more entertaining top 10s, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.