TOP 10 Classic Rock Debut Albums

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Debut albums – they can make or break your career. First impressions are always important and that is valid in pretty much every sphere of life, including in the tough and highly competitive music industry sector. During the “golden age of rock”, as I like to call the ‘70s and ‘80s, tons of outstanding bands made their first statement with strong and memorable albums, some of which are still relevant and widely-appreciated on a worldwide level.  Of course, it takes time to properly assemble a band, create a distinctive sound and style, and choose the perfect way to point your efforts and influences at the right direction, resulting in a powerful, slamming rock wave!

Just like any other classic rock fan out there, I also have my top 10 favorite rock debuts. For one reason or another, these ten albums left quite the impression on me and were the reason why I got into those bands in the first place. These “eye-opening” debuts are as a matter of fact among some of my most beloved albums of all time. From punk rock to progressive rock; from AOR treasures, to supergroup debuts, I am presenting you, [My Rock Mixtape]’s Top 10 Classic Rock Debuts!


1. Def Leppard – On Through the Night (1980)

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Hello Def Leppard! It’s absolutely impossible not to fall in love with the rawness, energy and straightforward hard rock spirit that surrounds “On Through the Night”. With that organic rock&roll sound and influences, drawn by bands like The Rolling Stones and Thin Lizzy, it was no surprise that this album became a leading force in the new wave of British heavy metal movement. Def Leppard were a couple of British guys with a big dream – to conquer the States and eventually the world. They did manage to fulfill their dream, despite receiving a lot of criticism from local fans and press, for “selling-out” to the American audience. Nevertheless, the dark, unprocessed and rather fresh approach to hard rock, Def Leppard presented in 1980, was exactly what the music scene needed.“Hello America”, “Rock Brigade”, “Wasted”, “Sorrow is a Woman” – all splendid heavy metal rockers that defined the early ’80s. Def Leppard drifted a little from their initial “hard solid” sound and musical direction; however, it was the right thing to do, believe me.


2. Boston – Boston (1976)

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The tremendous strength with which Boston’s self-titled debut album smashed into the music world in the mid-70s could easily be justified with the 25 million copies sold worldwide. Not only that, but “Boston” was actually the best-selling debut album of all time before Guns N’ Roses released “Appetite for Destruction” in 1987. There should be a reason for such enormous recognition, right? Well, the album is just that good! The record found the perfect balance between pop and rock by crafting a splendid mixture of gorgeous vocal harmonies, gentle, yet rough guitar riffs, spellbinding melodic hooks and dreamy lyrics, all wrapped up under the influence of the classical music, Tom Scholz – the man behind Boston, grew up listening to. “More Than a Feeling”, “Piece of Mind” and “Rock & Roll Band” are some of the classics appearing on the album, which I don’t see disappearing from the radio stations anytime soon.

Why is BOSTON’s Debut Album One Of The Greatest Albums Of All Time


3. ASIA – ASIA (1982)

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This monstrous debut record by the supergroup Asia was released back in 1982 and proved that there was indeed a reason why those immensely talented and versatile musicians from YES, ELP, King Crimson and The Buggles got together in the first place. “Asia” spawned one of the most distinctive rock tunes of the 80s – “Heat of the Moment” which became their ultimate signature song. That was not the end of it, though – the record is full of catchy hooks and fine melodies, perfectly designed to fit the demands of the commercial radio stations.“Sole Survivor”, “Time Again”, “Only Time Will Tell” – some of the finest moments on “ASIA”, showcasing a marvelous fusion between progressive rock, pop and hard rock.

[The Greatest Rock Albums of the 80s] ASIA – ASIA


4. Bad Company  – Bad Company (1974)

bad-company-debutBad Company’s glorious 1974 debut achieved much more than critical and commercial success; the self-titled album of the supergroup brought good old-fashioned rock&roll back into the music scene. Filled with catchy straightforward classics, “Bad Company” is the perfect example of album oriented blues rock, showcasing the band’s biggest selling point – their moody but quite soulful signature sound. Loaded with classic rock staples like “Can’t Get Enough”, “Rock Steady” and “Ready for Love”, the record was destined for success.  I have always found an immense attachment to “Ready for Love” (original by Mott the Hoople) – Paul Rodgersvocals absolutely did it for me. If you want to get into Bad Company, this is the record you should start with. Play it as loud as possible if you want to experience the ageless magic of pure hard solid rock&roll.

The Triumphant Debut of BAD COMPANY (1974)


5. Cinderella – Night Songs (1986)

cinderella-night-songs-2I don’t think Cinderella could’ve made a better debut album! Cinderella were everything BUT your ordinary glam rock band. Unfortunately, their image was what often confused people, though their talent goes above and beyond the big hair, tight leather pants and leopard shirts. We also have to consider their secret weapon – Tom Keifer who is one of the most unique voices of rock music and one of my favorite vocalists of all time. “Night Songs” offers an excellent selection of blues-oriented explosive metal riffs of guitarist Jeff LaBar, flavored by the scratchy fierce voice of Tom Keifer, all cloaked under dark, mysterious and quite intriguing character of the record. “Shake Me”, “Nobody’s Fool”, “Night Songs”, “Somebody Save Me” – there’s just no weak song on this debut album; all are among the greatest glam rock tunes ever released!

[The Greatest Rock Albums of the 80s] CINDERELLA – Night Songs


6. Van Halen – Van Halen (1978)

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One of the most essential rock acts of all time, Van Halen, debuted in 1978 with an enormous self-titled album that is often regarded as the greatest rock&roll debut albums of all time by fans. Despite being heavily criticized by critics back in the day, it didn’t take that long for the album to become an absolute worldwide sensation and set new standards for rock&roll. Eddie Van Halen’s God-like guitar skills erupted on this album and we are more than thankful for that. Revolutionary rockers like “Runnin’ With the Devil”, “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘bout Love” and the splendid cover of The Kink’s “You Really Got Me” (which with all due respect is better than the original, in my opinion) defined the rock scene in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s like no other tunes. Not to mention the electrifying solo “Eruption” which put all the guitarists to shame. There’s no surprise this brilliant rock debut found its way to my heart and became one of my favorite debuts of all time.


7. King Crimson – In the Court of the Crimson King (1969)

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I still remember the first time I heard King Crimson’s “Epitaph” it was one of the most sensual experiences of my life. I just knew a special relationship between me and the band is about to develop and wasn’t wrong. The fathers of progressive rock – King Crimson, debuted with “In the Court of the Crimson King” in 1969, which many fans and critics consider as the birthplace of progressive rock. Not only that, but the highly experimental, out-of-this-world sound of the album inspired generations of progressive rock acts. Greg Lake’s soul-touching vocals, accompanied by surreal music, mixing all genres, styles and forms you can imagine, conquered me right from the very beginning. In addition to “Epitaph”, “Moonchild” andThe Court of the Crimson King” are among my favorite progressive rock pieces. This, in my book, is probably the most influential debut albums of all time!


8. Ramones – Ramones (1976)

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Hey ho, let’s go! The fathers of punk rock, The Ramones debuted in 1976 with one of the most uplifting, enjoyable and spirited rock albums of all time. I always had a soft spot for punk rock and this album was the reason why; there’s just something so charming about The Ramones and their carefree, breezy and laid-back style and approach to music. Coming out of the CBGB stage, The Ramones were the main catalysts for the punk rock, underground movement of the late ‘70s in the USA. Moreover, Ramones went on to become the most important punk rock act, inspiring generations of musicians, such as the Sex Pistols and The Clash.
Classics like “Blitzkrieg Bop”, “Judy is a Punk” and “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” are synonymous with punk rock! “Ramones” is also one good example of how an album which couldn’t achieve big commercial success, achieved something that goes way beyond that.


9. Giant – Last of the Runaways (1989)

giant-last-of-the-runawaysGiant’s outstanding debut album, “Last of the Runaways” deserved so much more than it actually got. Unfortunately, the time wasn’t right for it – by 1989, the heydays of album-oriented rock were long gone. Despite its high production value, melodic quality and outstanding vocals and riffs by Dann Huff, “Last of the Runaways” somehow got lost in the transition period from the ‘80s to the ‘90s.“I’m a Believer”“Innocent Days”, “Can’t Get Close Enough” and “No Way Out” are just a few of the dangerously obsessive rock tornadoes that could be heard on this album. “Last of the Runaways” gives us three of the greatest power ballads ever written – “Love Welcome Home”, “It Takes Two” and of course their most commercially successful song, “I’ll See You in My Dreams”. How Dann and the rest of the guys wrote such powerful and emotionally-charged pieces of art is beyond my understanding. This is a gorgeous rock piece and I can’t recommend it enough!

[’80s Rock Album Focus] GIANT – Last Of The Runaways


10. Firehouse – Firehouse (1990)

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FireHouse was an absolute glam rock revolution, in the sense that they brought so much more than glitter and gold to the table. The critical and audience appreciation was on point – those four guys weren’t joking around – armed with great talent, for FireHouse the sky was the limit. Their 1989 debut album, “FireHouse” offers a selection of twelve, well-polished pop/metal jewels, which respectfully clogged he radio stations and mesmerized (and still do) the fans with gorgeous riffs and superb vocals. “All She Wrote” “Shake & Tumble”, Rock on the Radio“ and Don’t Treat Me Bad” are just a few of the catchy rockers that turned this debut album into one of my favorite albums of all time! Don’t even get me started on “Love of a Lifetime”, which in my book is one of the greatest power ballads ever written!

In 1990, FIREHOUSE Released a Debut Album of a Lifetime


+ Honorable Mentions

Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Emerson, Lake & Palmer

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The Beatles – Please Please Me (1963)

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Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin (1969)

Led Zeppelin - Babe I'm gonna Leave You

Rainbow – Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow (1975)

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Winger – Winger (1988)

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Foreigner – Foreigner (1977)

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Thunder – Backstreet Symphony

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Bad English – Bad English

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DIO – Holy Diver

Dio - Holy Diver


The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.

Cheers~

P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.

Want to Get Drunk on Progressive Rock? Listen to These 5 Albums:

One of my greatest musical passions is progressive rock. There is just something so magical and immensely captivating in mixing rock with elements of classical music, all wrapped up under layers of complex instrumentation, life-changing lyrics, intense experimentation and supreme technicality. Not to mention the groundbreaking album artworks those beautiful compositions come with. The origins of progressive rock are quite debatable – many people, including myself, believe that it all started in the late 60s as a logical advancement of psychedelic rock. It’s important to mention the significance of albums like “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” by The Beatles which is credited by many critics as the album where the idea of progressive rock began. It wasn’t until the ‘70s when prog rock found its way to the hearts of the general audience. Albums like “The Dark Side of the Moon” (1973) by Pink Floyd completely transformed the notion that this type of music is very difficult to enjoy. For the rest of the decade, prog rock was a predominant force on the worldwide music scene, especially among British audiences. Rock acts like YES, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Genesis, Jethro Tull, The Moody Blues, Frank Zappa and many more are notable names in the genre.

My gigantic adoration for progressive rock grew out of a couple of albums which till today remain my ultimate soul-feeding musical pieces. The following albums are definitely part of the list. Not only that, but each of them has its own unique place in the history of progressive rock and music in general. If you are not so familiar with the genre and are looking for the start, look no further – these five records are surely going to provide you with the ultimate progressive rock experience. Noticeably, I haven’t included the earth-shattering prog rock titles like “The Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd because I wanted to demonstrate a little bit of variety and give the green light to other equally essential records. Also, Pink Floyd are a completely different monster.
Please enjoy my selection and I hope those albums can bring you at least a little bit of the comfort they bring me.


King Crimson – In The Court of the Crimson King (1969)

king-crimson-in-the-court-of-the-crimson-king-1969This might be a bit heavy for some listeners who are not accustomed to the sound of progressive rock but bottom line is – every conversation about progressive rock should begin and end with this album! Historically relevant, highly experimental, critically acclaimed and seen by many as the birthplace of progressive rock – meet King Crimson’s 1969 debut album “In The Court of Crimson King”. Personally, I see is as one of the most impactful forces in the history of rock in general. Where do we even begin with this album? Jazz, blues, classical influences, psychedelic rock elements, mind-blowing lyrics, questioning your entire existence. “In The Court of Crimson King” is THE progressive rock album! The monumental artwork is another reason behind the album’s significance – just look at it! That is how you will react when you listen to King Crimson for the first time!


Yes – Fragile (1971)

Yes - Fragile - Roger DeanIf you want to experience progressive rock at its fines, YES’ “Fragile” (1971) is another album you should devote your time to. “Roundabout” is YES’ ultimate classic and one of the reasons behind the commercialization of progressive rock. People were, and still are, simply in love with the elegant guitars of Steve Howe, accompanied by mindblowing organs, stunning keyboards, mind-altering drums and of course Jon Anderson’s a-list vocals. This whole record is a fantasy coming alive. It became a rock staple and influenced generations of musicians.


Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Brain Salad Surgery (1973)

emerson-lake-palmer-brain-salad-surgery-1973And ladies and gentleman the album that changed my life – Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s “Brain Salad Surgery” (1973). This record is like a door to a new colorful world, a world in which there are no limitations to what your body and soul can experience. I can’t even begin describing why this album is such a huge masterpiece. “Still. . . You Turn Me On”,“Toccata”,“Karn Evil 9” – all sending you on a mind-altering journey after which you feel like a different person. The trio is simply phenomenal – Keith is running through the keyboard with unimaginable precision; Carl is the king of the drums and Greg’s impactful but gentle vocal delivery is releasing you from every little trace of stress and negativity. That’s just how it affects me…


Jethro Tull – Thick as a Brick (1972)

jethro-tull-thick-as-a-brick-1972Jethro Tull’s “Thick as a Brick” is just one 44-minute song which really does it for me. Concept, parodies and tricks aside, I do really enjoy diving into the atmosphere of this musical treasure from time to time. You click on “play” and for the next 40 minutes you have the perfect background to your work. I feel like this type of music synchronizes quite well with your work tempo and gives you that extra push! (Or maybe It’s just me). It’s a beautiful piece of progressive rock and musically speaking it is the whole package, not to mention the dozens of instruments we get to enjoy throughout this tune – trumpet, saxophone, timpani, violin and so much more.


Rush – Moving Pictures (1981)

rush-moving-pictures-1981Another album you have to listen to if you are into “progressive rock mood” would be Rush’s “Moving Pictures” (1981). Both critically and commercially acclaimed this is one of the albums that truly deserve a spot on your shelf and in your heart. I included it as a part of my selection because despite coming out relatively late, compared to other progressive rock jewels, it did manage to leave a lasting trail of classic prog rockers and radio staplers. It’s a perfect combination between hard rock, adopting a lot of experimental techniques and state of the art technologies to craft the perfect sound. It’s accessible progressive rock at its finest; a natural evolution of a genre!


 

P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

Playlist: 10 Of the Longest Classic Rock Songs

 

I was just listening to Pink Floyd’s “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” when suddenly I felt like I should browse through my music library and try to find some classic rock songs that go a little (sometimes a lot) over the average song duration. Those epic tunes have always been my favorites – there’s something so special and engaging…I mean sharing 10-20 minutes of your life with a song is indeed an engagement and this means that the song has to be more than extraordinary. I have always been fascinated by how those true rock artists manage to maintain a song for over 10 minutes – it’s quite the challenge, isn’t it?

When it comes to lengthy musical pieces, I think we can mostly find them in jazz or nowadays in electronic music. However, I argue that the rock music scene from the 60s, 70s, 80s and even 90s has a lot to offer when it comes to epic long tunes. In no particular order, here are 10 examples, chosen by me, of classic rock songs that go over the average song length. I do hope you have about 2 and half hours of your life to spend with them.

Cheers


 

Rush – “2112”

The title track from Rush’s fourth studio album was an absolute ground-breaking moment for the Canadian rockers. The story is set in the future – in the year of 2112 when there’s no music. A man, however, discovers the magic of music and everything changes.


Deep Purple – “Child in Time”

“Child in Time” comes from Deep Purple’s 1970 album – “Deep Purple in Rock”. It’s a very straightforward protest against the Vietnam War. Interesting fact, the song is actually based on It’s a Beautiful Day‘s psychedelic song “Bombay Calling”. Ian Gillan once said in an interview, “There are two sides to that song – the musical side and the lyrical side. On the musical side, there used to be this song ‘Bombay Calling’ by a band called It’s A Beautiful Day. It was fresh and original, when Jon was one day playing it on his keyboard. It sounded good, and we thought we’d play around with it, change it a bit and do something new keeping that as a base. But then, I had never heard the original ‘Bombay Calling’. So we created this song using the Cold War as the theme, and wrote the lines ‘Sweet child in time, you’ll see the line.’ That’s how the lyrical side came in. Then, Jon had the keyboard parts ready and Ritchie had the guitar parts ready. The song basically reflected the mood of the moment, and that’s why it became so popular.”


The Velvet Underground – “Sister Ray”

Some late ‘60s vibes with Velvet Underground! Nothing special to say about this song – it’s typical Lou Reed from the beginning till the end of it. It may be all about drugs, violence and all of these bad things in life; however the song has definitely something else to offer as well.


Pink Floyd – “Shine on You Crazy Diamond”

In my book, the kings of maintaining both lengthy and breathtaking rock tunes have to be Pink Floyd. Throughout their career, they have a great number of tracks that go over the average song duration. However, I chose those two songs specifically because I feel like they both perfectly illustrate how powerful a lengthy song can be and how well it can play with your emotions and moods. On top of that we get brilliant instrumentals, skillful improvisations and numerous important parts and details that go one after another like waves.

Pink Floyd – “Echoes”


The Doors – “The End”

Jim Morrison wrote this song about his girlfriend, however in time, it turned into something much deeper and meaningful. “The End” is one of their most emblematic tracks, coming from their self-titled debut album. He once said, Everytime I hear that song, it means something else to me. It started out as a simple good-bye song… Probably just to a girl, but I see how it could be a goodbye to a kind of childhood. I really don’t know. I think it’s sufficiently complex and universal in its imagery that it could be almost anything you want it to be.”


Guns N’ Roses – “November Rain”

And it all comes back to this song – one of Guns N’ Roses’ greatest accomplishments of their career. “November Rain” is a beautiful power-ballad that ruled the first half of the 90s. Read more about it here: The Story of Guns N’ Roses’ “November Rain”


King Crimson – “Starless”

“Starless” has pretty much everything I love about progressive rock  – smooth intro, saxophone accompaniments, jam sessions, long improvisations and memorable drums. The tune comes from King Crimson’s seventh studio album – “Red”, released in 1974.


Led Zeppelin – “Achilles Last Stand”

Achilles Last Stand” is a very essential song for the future development of British heavy metal music. Written by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant in Page’s home in California, the tune simply changed the course of rock history. On top of that, it impresses with John Bonham’s powerful drumming and John Paul Jones‘s bass line.

Jimmy Page has often referred to “Achilles Last Stand” as his favorite Led Zeppelin song.


Yes – “The Gates of Delirium”

YES are the other absolute masters of lengthy and epic rock tunes. “The Gates of Delirium” is a 22 minute progressive saga based on Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. It starts with a vocal section and it evolves into a mythical and rather long instrumental section. By the end of the song, you finally realize that for the past 20 minutes you have experienced the whole range of feelings – from tenseness and anxiety to calmness and hope.