33 Essential Debut Albums


Aidin Vaziri | What do the Beatles, Radiohead and David Bowie have in common? Their debut albums sucked. For many rock ‘n’ roll icons, it took more than one try to find their footing and deliver classic releases. But there are a handful of artists who managed to pull it off their first time out. When Billie Joe Armstrong inducted Guns N’ Roses into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year, the singer for Green Day (another band of late bloomers) declared, “Appetite for Destruction” is the best debut album in the history of rock ‘n’ roll.” We pick some other solid contenders.

The Doors, “The Doors” (1967): The first blast of Jim Morrison’s cosmic poetry and the band’s organ-driven dark soul, as manifested in the eternally spooky love song “Light My Fire.”

Sex Pistols, “Never Mind the Bollocks” (1977): The moment punk began to make sense, laugh at itself and actually change the world.

Ramones, “Ramones” (1976): The album that took history and strapped it to a jetpack.

Beastie Boys, “Licensed to Ill” (1986): The New York trio’s rap and rock crossover masterpiece, wonderfully unhinged and surprisingly smart.

Duran Duran, “Duran Duran” (1981): With sleek synth hits “Planet Earth” and “Girls on Film,” it created the template for every pirate-shirt-wearing pop star of the 1980s.

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