IN CASE YOU MISSED THIS OR DID NOT GET TO SEE ALL THE LISTS, I'VE ADDED A LIST OF PARTICIPANTS BELOW.
THE BLOGGER NAMES ARE LINKS TO THEIR SITES SO YOU CAN CHECK OUT EVERYONE'S LISTS!
I'D STILL BE INTERESTED IN KNOWING YOUR CHOICES-LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW WITH YOUR LIST!
At long last, the moment has come to unveil my list of debut albums. The SUPER 8, as it were. When putting this list together, I really tried to evaluate the debut album as a piece of work, regardless of where the artist ranked among my favorites. Frequent visitors to my blogs may be stunned to see that Todd Rundgren is absent, but the truth is, his solo debut (as well as the Nazz and Utopia debuts) were not as solid as the eight here.
So without further rambling, let's get to the music!
PLEASE NOTE: The album covers and the quoted song lyrics link to a sound byte for one of the songs on each album.
In descending order, here are my picks for the best eight debut albums!
8) MEAT LOAF “BAT OUT OF HELL”
Is there anyone between the ages of 45 and 50 who has not done a duet to “Paradise By The Dashboard Light?” Heck, in my high school and college years, that was so ingrained in the courtship ritual, it was practically foreplay.
Normally, the production, guitars and background vocals by a certain Todd Rundgren would make this my number one debut, but between 1977 and 2011, a funny thing happened.
I got old.
And these song lyrics just do not hold up that well after all this time.
“It was a hot summer night and the beach was burning
There was fog crawling over the sand”
Don’t get me wrong-Steinman is a master at making a cliché a song, and paints some powerful images. As masterful as the music is on this debut, the lyrics simply do not hold a candle to some of my other choices, even those from the same era (compare to Rickie Lee Jones, for example).
7) BLACK 47-“FIRE OF FREEDOM”
Although Flogging Molly and the Dropkick Murphys get credit for inventing the “punk” Irish sound, people seem to forget that we owe this sound to the Pogues, and it was Black 47 who brought it to America.
Discovered by Ric Ocasek (once and soon-to-be-again of The Cars), the band is still a fixture in NYC after more than twenty years and a dozen albums (a new compilation is released next month).
“Her father said you’ve got two choices:
Castration-or a one-way ticket to New York”
This one is still their best, and I pull it out at least every St. Patrick’s Day. Black 47 and green Guiness-life cannot get much better than that!
6) JONATHAN EDWARDS “JONATHAN EDWARDS”
You all know Jonathan Edwards. All I’d have to do is play the first song on side two of this album, and you would all say, “Oh that’s who this guy is.”
“Sunshine go away today, don’t feel much like dancing”
As is often the case, the song that got the radio airplay is far from the best song on the album, and this is one folk-ified bluegrassy classic album!
In a perfect world, you’d all own a copy and I wouldn’t have had to say anything. All I can do is say, if you like folk music, go get this while it’s still in print and I promise you you’re going to like it!
5) TORI AMOS “LITTLE EARTHQUAKES”
The sign in the window of Cherry Hill, NJ’s Compact Disc World read “If Elton John Were A Woman, He Would Have Released “Little Earthquakes.”
Not a huge Elton fan (gay I could overlook, but those friggin sunglasses!), I still thought that was a rather bold statement and bought the album on spec.
“Why do we crucify ourselves, ever day”
Emotionally and musically intense, Little Earthquakes shows that the piano is as much a rock & roll instrument as the guitar. Tori Amos's debut (if one disregards Y Kant Tori Read, a band album well worth disregarding) is at once listenable and challenging.
A child prodigy and minister’s daughter, Tori takes on topics from sex to gender to religion in an uncompromising manner. By the time the album gets around to "Me and a Gun," sung hauntingly by Amos without accompaniment from her piano, the juxtaposition of Amos' sweet voice and the emotional complexity of her lyrics is both familiar and shocking.
4) POPA CHUBBY “BOOTY AND THE BEAST”
They were playing this album in Zia Records in Phoenix, Arizona on one of my last business trips out before accepting a transfer. I bought the CD on the spot, and most people I have played it for have purchased a copy, too.
Born Ted Horowitz, Popa Chubby is a true native son of the Big Apple. He grew up in the neighborhood immortalized in Robert DeNiro's film "A Bronx Tale."
“I was looking back to see
If she was looking back to see
If I was looking back at her”
Don't mistake the rapper looking Chubby on the cover and the word Booty in the title. This is the blues, and in my opinion it still remains the best blues rock album of the 90's. Combine tasty guitar licks, great songwriting, and witty and cutting lyrics, and you have a recipe for true blues rock delight.
3) TOM WAITS “CLOSING TIME”
Songs of such quality that they’d be covered by acts such as the Eagles and Hootie And The Blowfish and turned into hits. Even Meat Loaf did a cover of Martha on a late 90’s release.
Here is a line that illustrates why I think this man is pretty much neck and neck with Dylan and Todd Snider:
"Every time I hear that melody, something breaks inside."
Everybody should own this. I have spoken.
2) RICKIE LEE JONES “RICKIE LEE JONES”
The breezy melodies and jazz stylings of Rickie Lee Jones's debut album are usually found in the works of more mature pop artists.
Far more mature a debut than a 23-year-old would be expected to deliver, one must remind one’s self that Jones's perspective was shaped hanging out in mid-1970s Los Angeles with barroom troubadours Tom Waits and Chuck E. Weiss (the same Chuck E. that fueled her Top 10 hit), a pair of mentors that would make for some colorful storytelling, with ballads about automobiles and broken hearts, howling at the moon and the Sinatra-esque "After Hours" with a lonely Jones singing to a lamppost.
Listen to “Saturday Afternoons In 1963” and I dare ya not to get all misty-eyed thinking of that room in the house where you grew up that you felt safe in.
"So hold on to your special friend
Here, you'll need something to keep her in :
'Now you stay inside this foolish grin ... '
Though any day your secrets end
Years may go by"
1) TODD SNIDER “SONGS FOR THE DAILY PLANET”
As has been discussed elsewhere on this blog, this album gets my vote for the best release of the nineties.
The old cliché is that you have your whole life for your first album, and Snider certainly made use of the time. Similar to Rickie Lee Jones, these songs show a maturity far beyond the young man’s years, as well as giving a glimpse into a rare storytelling talent.
With this release, Todd Snider set a bar for songwriting excellence that has not yet been attained by his competition. If, as Stephen McCarthy and I agree, his peers are Dylan and Waits, even those two giants have not produced an album of this quality in the last two decades.
I won’t rehash my review-you can go read the post if you have your doubts, but you need to add this album to their collection if it’s not already there.
"Tell all these people at the end of the line
Tell all these people holding "I'll work for food" signs
Somebody's coming that don't need your vote
Gonna rattle your cage and rock your boat"
Thanks again to Stephen T. McCarthy of STUFFS and FFFF for the idea. Thanks also to Arlee Bird of TOSSING IT OUT and ALEX J. CAVANAUGH of his eponymous blog for promoting this exercise.
This was not as easy as I thought it was going to be. First of all, me leaving Rundgren off of a "top" anything list is kind of like breaking all ten commandments at once. Second, a whole slew of debut albums came into consideration.
These are some of the other albums that were considered. This was not as easy an exercise as I thought it was going to be. Here are just some of the other titles that were debated:
Blessid Union Of Souls “Home”
Elvis Costello “My Aim Is True”
Christopher Cross “Christopher Cross”
Sheryl Crow “Tuesday Night Music Club”
Counting Crows “August And Everything After”
Dire Straits “Dire Straits”
The Doors “The Doors”
Steve Forbert “Alive On Arrival”
Guns ‘N’ Roses “Appetite For Destruction”
The Knack “Get The Knack”
Nils Lofgren “Nils Lofgren”
Lynyrd Skynyrd “Pronounced”
Marillion “Script For A Jester’s Tear”
The Outfield “Play Deep”
Graham Parker “Heat Treatment”
Pearl Jam “Ten”
Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers “Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers”
Liz Phair “Exile In Guyville”
The Police “Outlandos d’Amour”
Bruce Springsteen “Greetings From Asbury Park”
Talking Heads “77”
Van Halen “Van Halen”
Weezer “Weezer” (blue)
Thanks to everyone who participated-I promise to visit your lists in the next day or two. Anyone who didn't participate, may I suggest you consider Arlee Bird's Blogging A To Z Challenge in April, co-hosted by many other fine blogs and sure to be a lot of fun.
2. Alex J. Cavanaugh
3. Stephen T. McCarthy STUFFS
4. Arlee Birds Tossing It Out
5. Nicole Ducleroir
6. PK HREZO
8. Kelly Polark
9. welcome to my world of poetry
10. Love In The Truth
11. Eeleen Lee
12. Sober, Chronic, FABULOUS!
14. Yellow Matter Custard
15. Dance on Fire
I'd also encourage you to look at some of my older posts to learn about some recent releases and older classic albums that you may be interested in checking out. And I'll have a new album in the spotlight tomorrow!