Weekend LISTening: 8 Great Debut Albums : World Cafe Many great artists take a while to reach their zenith, but how many artists' careers were defined by their first albums?
NPR logo Weekend LISTening: 8 Great Debut Albums

Weekend LISTening: 8 Great Debut Albums

MGMT, The Stone Roses, Guns N' Roses and Marshall Crenshaw all made career-defining debut albums. Courtesy of the artists hide caption

toggle caption
Courtesy of the artists

MGMT, The Stone Roses, Guns N' Roses and Marshall Crenshaw all made career-defining debut albums.

Courtesy of the artists

World Cafe's guests this week included Violent Femmes and Liz Phair, both of whose careers were defined by their critically acclaimed debut albums. These records have held up as fan favorites over the years, and many would say they ended up being the high-water mark of each artist's career.

Many great artists take a while to reach their zenith — Stevie Wonder, Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles and Bob Dylan among them — but how many artists' careers were defined by their first albums? Here are just a few examples.

8 Great Debut Albums

'Get The Knack'

  • by The Knack

Doug Fieger and The Knack's debut album, Get The Knack, came out in 1979, powered by the engine that was "My Sharona." It was a once-in-a-lifetime hit.

YouTube

'Is This It'

  • by The Strokes

The Strokes' debut was released in 2002 and was so influential that, at the end of the 2000s, NME named it the album of the decade.

YouTube

'The Stone Roses'

  • by The Stone Roses

The English band hasn't put out all that much music since its debut in 1989; the band's single "All For One," released earlier this year, was its first in more than 20 years. But The Stone Roses' self-titled debut was a simply gorgeous evocation of the "Madchester sound."

YouTube

'Appetite For Destruction'

  • by Guns N' Roses

What a debut. In 1987, Axl Rose and Guns N' Roses rode this album to major stardom.

YouTube

'Oracular Spectacular'

  • by MGMT

Two Wesleyan students, Benjamin Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden, got a call from Columbia Records that led to the release of MGMT's major-label debut, Oracular Spectacular, in 2007. Filled with delicious psychedelic rock, it was an immediate success.

YouTube

'Marshall Crenshaw'

  • by Marshall Crenshaw

Marshall Crenshaw's first album, released in 1982, delivers one thoroughly enjoyable pop gem after another — a remarkably solid debut.

YouTube

'Rickie Lee Jones'

  • by Rickie Lee Jones

Rickie Lee Jones' self-titled debut was released in 1978 and won her the Grammy award for Best New Artist. It's an extraordinary mix of jazz, R&B and rock, and it set her on an artistic path that continues today.

YouTube

'Introducing The Hardline According To Terence Trent D'Arby'

  • by Introducing The Hardline According To Terrence Trent D'Arby

When Introducing The Hardline came out in 1987, the artist himself pronounced it the greatest album since Sgt. Pepper. It's a brilliant record in terms of both performance and writing.

YouTube