Instant Classics - Ageless Debut Albums
Every now and then, a debut album appears that sounds mature and transcends fad and trend. Such an album doesn't sound dated, even decades later.
These albums fascinate me in particular - how the artist gets the sound so right the first time (whether or not they ever do it again), as though they were born older.
Many debut albums are fantastic but date somewhat, which is not to discount their quality. But that first-time timelessness is, well, something else.
Here are some debut albums that struck me this way. What are some of yours?
- Dire Straits
- Sade, Diamond Life
- Elvis Costello, My Aim is True
- Everything but the Girl
Extreme's first album was really, really good, even for an 80s hair band, but they went downhill from there. The lyrics were more clever than most bands at the time, and the music was spot on. Their third album, "III Sides to Every Story," gets better with age but I think after the commercial success of Pornograffitti (remember "More than words"? Every 1991 couple's "song"?) I think they tried too hard to be deep and blew it. Gary Cherone's stint as lead singer of Van Halen was the bottom.
I still pull out Queen's first album, and Styx's debut "Styx I" is wonderfully dark (as are all four of their first albums on Wooden Nickel) and a far cry from "Babe I love you."
But keep your eye on Foster the People. There is not a bad tune on "Torches," and I'm hopeful we'll see a lot of good stuff out of them.
I'm listening to an album like that right now. I had a friend mail me with a breathless "you have to listen to this!". Usually I'm always disappointed by that kind of hype, but maybe for once the stars crossed correctly.
Jake Bugg is an 18 year old singer-songwriter from Nottingham in the UK, and he's already signed with Universal I believe. His debut album makes you think we're seeing the first emergence of a musical English lovechild of Paul Simon and Johnny Cash.
Here's a taste.
Supremacy Through Intransigence
The Red in the Sky is Ours by the long since artistically dead At The Gates was for its time perhaps the single most compositionally aware death metal album ever recorded. It did the idea of "melodic death metal" (and progressive to an extent) in a way that perfectly understood the best parts of NWOBHM and what it inspired while not even coming marginally close to sacrificing the labyrinthine, intricate songwriting that made death metal the subversive audio-terror force it was in the classic era. It's a great example of a band that was able to be genuinely neoclassical not just in the leads and melodies department (not that there's anything wrong with that, I love me some modern Euro-style power metal) but also the structures and very compositions itself.
The song "Within" to demonstrate: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWY0wJOCaxg
To this day, there have only really been two bands able to match this vision. The first of them, Sentenced, did so only on their second album, North From Here, but even then they focused moreso on the traditional heavy metal aspects albeit without sacrificing the death metal ones. Still great and amongst Finland's crowning metal achievements but not at A.T.G.'s level.
"Awaiting the Winter" frost - listen to that blistering opening solo to understand the differing approach: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vVbnmjIpxk
The second is the Mexican band The Chasm after 1998 when they took similar melodic sensibilities, combined it with their iconoclastic approach of reconciling the traditional-extreme metal divide, epic song-craft as daring as the best of progressive rock and arguably classical derived at times, and a sort of esoteric warrior mythos and mystical, distinctly Mexican atmosphere.
This is the last album before they changed their style to something more energetic and aggressive. Still incredibly good, just a different type of incredibly good: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KsPsRQU1iSA
Here's the entirety of their last album, which is more or less one of the biggest milestones for death metal in general: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsmlKk5CE3I
Basically, At The Gates set a standard so high it almost made most of what would come after it obsolete.
Oh and for the record, no offence, but Slaughter of the Soul is a terrible, terrible album.
Wouldn't you like to know?
Glee by Bran Van 3000. Every day and twice on Sunday. Nothing they've put out since can come close.
It's now 2013, but a couple of albums that have yet to budge from my "can't live without" music list are Hints Allegations and Things Left Unsaid by Collective Soul, August and Everything After by Counting Crows, Bringing Down the Horse by the Wallflowers
And what music collection is complete without Days of Future Past by the Moody Blues? (Ok, so technically-technically isn't not their debut, but they weren't exactly the same band before that.)
And the debut album of one of my all-time favorite bands, while not my favorite of their albums but still an excellent one, is Gish by the Smashing Pumpkins
figuring it all out
I'm not big on Skynyrd, but their first album is incredible. Simple Man, Freebird, Tuesdays Gone?! Great release.
Tom Petty's first album, also spectacular. Almost all the tracks all the way through are classics.
Can't forget Bob Dylan's first release, either. His first first album was mainly covers, but The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan is probably one of the best albums of all time.
Black Sabbath changed music forever when they released their debut. They created heavy metal. Nothin' wrong with that.