Many bands take albums, years and the ebbing patience of record labels to find that definitive sound which captures their musical raison d’être. For others, their debut album comes crashing onto the scene and generally tears shit up from the get go. This is a list of those such bands. Here’s my top ten opening tracks of debut albums. Disclaimer: This is a list of personal opinion and omits many of the “greats” so I don’t want to hear “Where’s Good Times, Bad Times?”, “What about Holidays in the Sun?”, “Hello? Janie Jones?!” If you want a generic list of the big hitters, go read Rolling Stone. Oh, and none of this “Well in actual fact they made a demo the year before this which got released in Borneo and The Cook Islands”. This is debut studio albums. I know what you music swots are like…
10. The Beta Band – Dry The Rain
A band very much overlooked by many, The Beta Band were doing stuff in their The Three EP’s release that was hugely ahead of its time, using samples, looping and even a little hip hop cross over. Their opening track Dry the Rain builds and builds to an almighty swagger, adding layer upon layer of melody, and I defy anyone to listen and not approvingly nod your head.
9. Wu-Tang Clan – Bring Da Ruckus
“Do you think your Wu-Tang sword can defeat me?” Of course it can. If it can make a gangly, middle class, white boy walk through a city centre like Richard Ashcroft ala Bittersweet Symphony video it can do pretty much anything. There is also mention of biscuits and Steven Segall, a much lacked rarity in contemporary music.
8. Weezer – My Name Is Jonas
Sometimes an opener for an album tells us exactly what a band is capable of and the sort of beast they are. Big riff, check. Anthemic chorus, check. Twiddly guitar, check. And there you go, welcome to big school. Although not the coolest of picks, I stand by it, slightly out of nostalgia and slightly because it reminds me that chunky power chords are just fine when used appropriately and in moderation.
Can’t find it on YouTube and too lazy to explore other avenues. You do some work for a change.
7. The Streets – Turn The Page
This album totally came out of left-field and made a huge impact on the British garage, hip hop, indie… Well it made a fucking huge impact on just about every scene. The opening track seems to be psyching itself up for the remainder of the album and emits a wonderfully ominous and prophetic vision of how that’s going to sound. “Stand by me my apprentice. Be brave. Clench fists.”
6. Arcade Fire – Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels)
It could be argued that there are stronger tunes on the album such as “Rebellion” or “Wake Up” to kick start these French Canadians assent to household namedom. But all it does is exhibit the delicacy and good taste of a band that are now one of the biggest stadium fillers on the planet.
5. The Velvet Underground – Sunday Morning
These are one of those bands that the Brits have every right to feel slightly superior and xenophobically condescending about. Peaking at an unfathomably dismal 171 in the USA billboards charts in 1969, The Velvet Underground and Nico gained most of their early momentum from British record sales and this album is still considered one of the most pioneering of any generation. And we saw it first. Ner ner.
No footage available. Soz.
4. The Libertines – Vertigo
At a time when Brit Pop had been flogged not only to death but through purgatory and into the afterlife, everything was a little stagnant in the UK until Up The Bracket reminded us that incredible songwriting and iconic lyricists were still out there, just in a very different form to the decade previous. Say what you like about Pete and Carl…In fact no, don’t say what you like . Just say they were fucking awesome alright?!
3. Joy Division – Disorder
Could it really be from 1979? Must be time travellers Joy Division were so tragically halted so desperately early that all we have is two exceptional albums for the rest of time. The fact that U2 started a year later and now have 13 studio albums proves conclusively that there is no god and that all human endeavour is of absolutely no consequence.
2. Jeff Buckley – Mojo Pin
So yeah, Jeff happened. Again far, far, far too little from such unbelievable talent but he still happened. So maybe there is a god after all. And maybe it’s Jeff. Yeah, that sounds about right.
1. Pixies – Bone Machine
The thing that always impresses me about Pixies is that no band is ever really compared to them. You often here “The new Nirvana, Smiths, Sonic Youth…” but never Pixies. Because that would be impossible. So unequivocally unique, odd, strange, weird, different and just plain rad. Nothing says “Hello, we are Pixies” like Bone Machine. Yelpy, grating, dissident majesty. The best. By a distance.
Thoughts, etc? @RichardBrabin