More than any other form of art/entertainment, your first impression in music counts for a lot. If it’s at least half-decent, then you’ll more than likely get another shot. If it’s a dud, well, then it’s curtains for ya, sunshine.

There are myriad factors that determine just what makes a good debut album. Good songs are a perfect start but sometimes you need a little more.

The ten debut albums selected here not only have tunes that have maintained their energy and importance over decades, but also offer important historical context and in some cases, were the first of their kind.


10. Guns N’ Roses – Appetite For Destruction

After almost two years of initial chart inertia, the blissfully crazed Appetite For Destruction (AFD) went on to become the biggest selling debut LP of all time. It supplanted them firmly in the public eye, confirmed their place in rock’s pantheon of greats and unfortunately gave Axl Rose the go-ahead to do what he liked, when he liked.

As with any memorable album, AFD’s tracklist reads like a greatest hits set. The opening one-two punch of Welcome To The Jungle and It’s So Easy are enough to leave you reeling. The former’s maniacal tendency coupled with the latter’s sociopathic train of thought serve as a cautious warning to those joining in at home. “I see you standing there,” drawls Axl during the second song. “You think you’re so cool. Why don’t you just fuck off?” Why don’t you indeed. Contained within the record is a snapshot of the dark side of Los Angeles in the 80s. The sleaze-driven Nightrain takes its name from the bargain basement gut rot sold in their local liquor stores. Mr. Brownstone was an allusion to the dangers of heroin and My Michelle recounts the story of yet another lost soul.

Of course, great songs are crafted by great musicians and the original line-up of Guns N’ Roses was replete with them. Slash’s frenetic soloing was under-pinned by Izzy Stradlin’s reliable and inventive guitar style. Their rhythm section, the swing-laden Steven Adler on drums and Duff McKagan’s powerful and harmonious bass playing, remained tight at all times. On top of all this was Axl; pacing, cursing and flirting with the best of them.

Forget for a second what Guns N’ Roses are now. It’s strange to think, but there was a time when they hit the ground running and delivered at the first time of asking.


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This article was first posted on September 4, 2012