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I thought that it would be difficult to come up with eight debut albums, but the difficult part as usual was in narrowing it down to only eight. I didn't. So what I did was come up with four upon which there would be probably be wide agreement on. After that I have eight debut albums that are special to me. You'll probably notice that most of these are from the late 1960s and early 70s--that's just the way it is.
Steely Dan Can't Buy a Thrill (1972) This album first hit my radar when I saw Steely Dan performing "Reelin' in the Years" on The Midnight Special television show in 1972. They blew me away. And when I heard the album I was even more impressed. Since that album, Steely Dan has been consistent in the quality of their releases. But if this had been their only release, they would have still made musical history on the merits of this one alone.
The Band Music from Big Pink (1968) In my opinion one of the top ten best rock albums of all time. I am not the only one with this opinion.
Some of My Favorite Debuts:
Good Rats The Good Rats (1969) I recall that I was in the University of Tennessee at Knoxville Undergraduate Library perusing a classical music magazine in 1970 and I found a review of this album. I thought it odd that they would be reviewing a rock album in a magazine like that so I figured the album must be good. I found a copy in the University Bookstore and bought it. It was good and I enjoyed it. Years later I was looking through cassettes in the cut-out bin of a record store and found several tapes by the Good Rats. I had not realized that the band had continued recording after that debut album. The first album is not my favorite, but it is an excellent album. On hearing the later albums the Good Rats became one of my favorite groups. The Rats still play primarily in the New Jersey area and maintain a solid base of hardcore fans.
Crazy Horse Crazy Horse (1971) Primarily known as a back-up band for Neil Young, Crazy Horse has been around with various line-ups for many years. The original band members released a very fine album in 1968 when they were called The Rockets. This Crazy Horse album is the first released under this group name (without being Young's back-up band) and I'm going to call it a debut, though in a way it's not. It's a superb album that adds Nils Lofgren and Jack Nitzsche to the line-up and includes support from Neil Young and Ry Cooder. Danny Whitten's "I Don't Want to Talk About It" is included on this album and has since been covered by many artists including Rod Stewart and Rita Coolidge.
Grin (Nils Lofgren) Grin (1971) Grin was a band headed up by the very talented singer, songwriter, and musician Nils Logren. He has been a singer and guitarist in Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band for about 25 years in addition to his solo work. His debut with Grin displayed his diverse skills as a songwriter. This is an outstanding album.
Seals and Crofts Seals and Crofts (1969) This duo had a string of huge hits throughout the 1970s. Though they had been veterans of hit bands since 1958, they didn't make a real name for themselves until they embarked as a duo. Their many commercial hits were wonderful examples of some of the finest in pop music, but this debut album to me is their real masterpiece. Heavenly harmonies and mystical songs make this album an absolute joy to listen to.
Spirit Spirit (1968) This is hands down one of the best, most tasteful, most well-rounded, finest musicianship bands in the history of rock. I'll put them up against Steely Dan any day. Their debut is a musical masterpiece and I just don't think there is any reasonable argument otherwise. Spirit ranks as one of my favorite bands.
Rich Mountain Tower Rich Mountain Tower (1971) One of the earliest records released in quadraphonic stereo sound, this has the feel of the harmony bands like Crosby, Stills, and Nash. The band came out of Knoxville, Tennessee and has a sweet country soft rock sound. Of the three albums this group made, this is the only one I've heard. The album is a real gem..