Top 10 Debut Rock Albums of All Time To Listen And Enjoy

Tags: #GunsnRoses ,   #TheDoors ,   #BestRockAlbums ,   #PearlJam

Dan N. Scarborough

Dan N. Scarborough

Last updated:  2022-01-10 17:58:08

Building a successful musical career is a long and hard road. It takes a lot of talent, practice, and willpower to achieve at least some level of recognition. To make matters worse, having all the necessary elements for success doesn't guarantee you'd actually succeed - at least not right away. However, there are some rare cases that bands hit the gold from the get-go. Brilliant first albums are true gems of the music industry, as they show the genius of the featured musicians. Here are some of the best debuts in rock history. 

10. The Beatles, 'Please Please Me' (1963)

Liverpool quartet turned a lot of heads with their first album

It sounds weird from this perspective, but the Beatles started their career as a cover band. As they grew more popular, they realized they needed an original album as the next logical step. Thus their first one, 'Please Please Me,' came to be. The record starts strong with "I Saw Her Standing There," and it just gets better as it goes on. 

This album features some of the most recognizable Beatles covers, such as "Twist and Shout," "Chains," and "Baby It's You," imbued with their characteristic energy and joy. There were also the original songs like "Do You Want to Know a Secret," "Please Please Me," and "Love Me Do." All of them contained hints of brilliance and upcoming popularity. It's even more impressive, considering the recording process took just 12 hours.      

9. The Killers, 'Hot Fuss' (2004)

The Killers brought synth-rock back to the limelight

It was the summer of 2004, and the biggest hits belonged to Beyonce, Usher, and OutKast. However, then The Killers dropped their first album, "Hot Fuss," out of nowhere. At the time, no one would expect that this would be the most beloved album of the year. Four guys from Las Vegas, obsessed with Duran Duran and New Order, brought back the sentiments that haven't been heard since Depeche Mode. 

Their first single, "Mr. Brightside," swept England at a scary pace, nesting at the top of every playlist. No wonder, as the song was a pure synth-rock with dark undertones, both sorely missed at that time. Soon after, the world was the playground for the Las Vegas quartet. A few months later, the second single, "Somebody Told Me," hit the charts and topped the first one in every way. The Killers became rock gods with the first two songs, and their gigs became huge parties.   

8. Nirvana, 'Bleach' (1989)

It took "Nevermind" for people to appreciate "Bleach"

When Nirvana's debut album, "Bleach," first appeared in 1989, it didn't make a lot of fuss. Instead, the charts were topped by the likes of Paula Abdul, Mötley Crüe, and Bobby Brown. Apparently, the mainstream audience wasn't ready for dark and gritty songs from the first Nirvana album. However, they soon became a part of the world-famous music genre. 

Although they heavily disliked the term "grunge," the Seattle trio was one of its founding members. They enjoyed their cult status among the underground lovers for a few years before the world embraced the new, original sound of "Nevermind." Nirvana became a global phenomenon, and everyone was buying albums and checkered shirts. The success of "Nevermind" turned the public's eyes to "Bleach," and they soon realized what a gem of the album they missed. 

7. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, 'Are You Experienced' (1967)

Jimi went hard from the start and didn't stop since

Jimi Hendrix is remembered as one of the greatest guitar players of all time. His early death at only 27 only solidified his legendary status. When he arrived at the scene, no one had ever heard anything like his playing style. In just a couple of years, he became a worldwide star and one of the most lauded guitarists among colleagues and critics alike. 

You can say Jimi Hendrix went hard from the start. His first album, "Are You Experienced," hit the shelves in 1967, only four years after the Beatles' debut record. The song list of that album reads like Hendrix's greatest hits: "Purple Haze," "Hey Joe," "Fire," "The Wind Cries Mary," and "Are You Experienced?" Yet, that was just the beginning!

6. The Doors, 'The Doors' (1967)

The Doors' first album was also their best

The year 1967 has seen not one but two debut albums that exploded and made a great fuss. The aforementioned "Are You Experienced" was the first, followed by "The Doors." The first two singles on this record were the greatest hits by The Doors, "Break On Through (To the Other Side)" and "Light My Fire." The latter even earned them a spot on the Ed Sullivan show. 

The gig at Sullivan's show became a massive deal after Jim Morrison refused to censor the song's lyrics. That made him a hero among youngsters, but the band got a bad reputation they couldn't shake off. Like some other albums on this list, "The Doors" was made quickly, in just six days, ending with 12-minute psychedelic mayhem "The End." Sadly, newfound glory hit The Doors hard. They were never able to outdo their first album. Don't miss the biopic on them.

5. Van Halen, 'Van Halen' (1978)

A total blast and triumph of hard rock

It's rare to find a record where every song is nearly perfect. However, Van Halen did it on their first try. Both sides of the namesake project are filled with some of the most unforgettable rock classics. Driven by the masterful performances of Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth, "Van Halen" hit the charts harder than a ton of bricks. Imagine the album where the first four songs are "Runnin' With the Devil," "Eruption," "You Really Got Me," and "Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love." That might as well be Van Halen's greatest hits album. 

But wait, there's more. On the flip side, you can hear "Jamie's Cryin'," "Atomic Punk," and "Ice Cream Man." Both Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth were at the top of their game, and their combined talents made the album one for eternity. Unfortunately, this was also Van Halen's best. Even though they tried to catch the magic again, they could never do anything better.

4. Boston, 'Boston' (1976)

Unassuming guitarist made rock anthems

A few years before "Van Halen," the guitarist Tom Sholz introduced his band Boston and the namesake debut album. However, he probably couldn't imagine that he'd go from his Massachusetts basement to worldwide glory in just a year. Yet, that road wasn't clear from the start. At first, "Boston" didn't receive accolades from the critics. Instead, the album was described as the "American synthesis of Led Zeppelin and Yes." 

Regardless, the people adored "Boston" as it went platinum 17 times and made its author a rock legend almost overnight. Two of the most famous singles, "More Than a Feeling" and "Peace of Mind," are still some of the best rock songs ever. The pop-culture significance of "Boston" is immeasurable, and Boston is still very popular today. Like many bands on this list, they couldn't repeat the success.

3. Led Zeppelin, 'Led Zeppelin' (1969)

Page, Plant, and the company exceeded the expectations

Even before their first album in 1969, Led Zeppelin had great expectations to fulfill. Everybody already knew them as one of the best English session bands of all time. Therefore, their first album was relentlessly advertised in all the media. Nevertheless, many were skeptical and waited to see if Led Zeppelin were up to the hype. And they were, to say least. 

With some of the most remarkable rock anthems ever, such as "Dazed and Confused," "Good Times Bad Times," and "Communication Breakdown," the album presented an unprecedented level of musical mastery. Led Zeppelin rose above the competition and established themselves on a higher level. There were some controversies about this album, mainly about using traditional songs without due credit. Still, that didn't tarnish Led Zeppelin's reputation as one of the best rock bands ever.    

2. Pearl Jam, 'Ten' (1991)

The foundation of grunge and rock generally

It was hard to decide the best rock debut between this album and the next one. Pearl Jam is one of the most recognizable grunge bands of all time. In their 25-year long careers, they released ten albums and numerous live and bootleg editions. However, even if they stopped after the "Ten," that would be enough for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. 

The success of "Ten" also helped grunge's breakthrough into the mainstream. Furthermore, it also inspired a lot of copycats and imitators. The grunge became the next big thing, and Seattle turned into the musical Mecca of The States. The colossal success of grunge effectively blurred the line between alternative and mainstream music. That's why Pearl Jam was the target of many critics who called them corporate sellouts. Regardless, "Ten" stands at the pinnacle of rock as one of the most iconic albums.    

1. Guns N' Roses, 'Appetite for Destruction (1987)

The most successful debut album of all time

This album came just right in time, as people grew tired of rock. Glam and hair metal took over and turned the entire genre into a shiny, glossy but empty affair. Unfortunately, it was more important to make a nice video and be featured on MTV than write songs to remember. That changed when five guys from different Sunset Strip bands formed Guns N' Roses. 

Working their way through, they earned their reputation, and a few years later, they were granted the freedom they wanted to create their debut album. With blues-rock roots and punk influences, the new sound, gritty and raw, didn't find the audience at first. But once it did, it took the world by storm. With 30 million records sold worldwide, it's still the most successful debut album of all time

It's a rare occasion that the first albums are masterpieces. However, in music history, it happened more than a few times. Those first records usually paved the road for successful careers, despite often being the best ones. 

What's your favorite first rock album? Which album would you add to this list? 


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