So Rolling Stone has its own list of 100 Greatest Debut Albums, proving once again that there is less room for controversy in a shorter list. Here’s their top 10:
Beastie Boys – Licensed to Kill
Jimi Hendrix – Are You Experienced?
GNR – Appetite for Destruction
The Velvet Underground – and Nico
N.W.A. – Straight Outta Compton
Sex Pistols – Never Mind the Bolllocks
The Strokes – Is This It
The Band – Music From Big Pink
Patti Smith - Horses
A 40% overlap, but the gap is actually bigger than that. Led Zeppelin I, for example, comes in at #72 on the RS list, despite the fact that they turned the world upside down, and as RS itself admits “the template was here.”
Just a little confused by RS’s logic. They claim it’s about debuts “that gave you the thrill of an act arriving fully-formed, ready to reinvent the world in its own image.” But they also said they deducted points if an act went on to far greater achievements. OK. No argument that Zep had many great albums after, but Zep I is arguably their best. The impact was immediate, the excitement off the scale. They certainly were “fully-formed.”
Similar gap with The Doors, by the way.
Scanning the longer list, one thing that strikes me is the number of times you could say, “they could have stopped there.” This is acknowledged in a quote from Elliot Easton saying The Cars’ first album could have been called The Cars Greatest Hits. You could say the same for The Band, Boston, Oasis, or even Hendrix. They all went on to make some great music, but did they ever really match that first effort?
The impetus for both Gibson’s and Rolling Stone’s lists was the 50th anniversary of Please Please Me by The Beatles. In this case, you gotta wonder if the album is on the list because subsequent masterpieces dictate the debut had to be included. OK, forget I said that. But it could be true for Pink Floyd.