Sunday, July 15, 2007

Top 5 Debut Albums...

Tim's Top 5:
Sure, eventually your favorite band figured it out, but what about their first album? We'll count solo debuts, so Ryan can slot Rockin' The Suburbs in his list right at the outset. We're also talking about the first album, so R.E.M.'s debut is Murmur, not Chronic Town.

1) Big Star - #1 Record - It's almost disingenuous to call this a fantastic debut album, because it constitutes such a high percentage of their work and Alex Chilton was a grizzled veteran of The Box Tops before he joined up with Bell, Hummel, and Stephens for this, but it remains one of my all-time top five albums. The India Song is bad. Downright bad. Everything else on this album is an absolute essential. I couldn't possibly listen to this album enough.

2) The Sex Pistols - Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols - There's something about punk that makes the first album the best, whether it's the Ramones, the Dead Kennedys or here, The Sex Pistols only real album (I refuse to recognize the disastrous Great Rock n' Roll Swindle, which might be the most aptly titled album I own. Pretty Vacant is a top 100 track, Holidays in the Sun, God Save the Queen, Anarchy in the UK, No Feelings, all of the songs are so good as to almost rid them of their punk sensibility. The fact is, anger isn't supposed to sound this good.

3) The Black Crowes - Shake Your Moneymaker - A great album. Period.

4) Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand - Darts of Pleasure, Michael, and 40' are awesome. I didn't mention those before.

5) The Killers - Hot Fuss - It's easy to dismiss this as just an over-produced album that spawned a couple of hits, but its best stuff barely even got noticed until Sam's Town was on the horizon and Brandon Flowers had his bigger than Jesus moment. Mr. Brightside is the kind of endorphin releaser that this world needed to reintroduce synthesizers into the collective consciousness, Jenny Was a Friend of Mine is the best police interrogation set to music, and All These Things I've Done is a sprawling orchestra of what's left of the shambles of rock music. Change Your Mind and On Top beat almost anything that any other active band's ever done, and they're barely even worth mentioning. It needs time to age before I christen it a masterpiece, but it's getting there.

*I'm so tired of almost mentioning this album that I'm just mentioning it...6) Kanye West - The College Dropout - "If this is your first time hearing this, you are about to experience something so cold, man." Kanye is an egomaniac whose second album was disappointing, but the debut was top-notch when it took the time to break away from guest appearance after guest appearance. "We Don't Care" is one of my favorite songs period, regardless of genre, and the rest of the album is almost as good. Whether you think Bush cares about black people or not, this is a rap album that is literary, authentic, and identifiable. The fact is, college students can see where he's coming from a lot more than Dr. Dre on The Chronic. And what's more, his live performance was just as good.

Others that warrant mention: Dead Kennedys - Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, The Clash - The Clash, R.E.M. - Murmur, Foo Fighters - Foo Fighters

Dan's Top 5:

1. Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin: "Good Times Bad Times," "Dazed and Confused," "Your Time is Gonna Come," "How Many More Times"... Not only is every song good, but the album was not that of a one hit wonder, but rather that of a band with true staying power.

2. Weezer - Weezer (The Blue Album): Easily the best this band ever achieved, with trace remains of greatness on their follow-up, Pinkerton (see "El Scorcho," "The Good Life".) After hailing this as one of the best ever 90's albums, there's no way I can exclude it here.

3. The Killers - Hot Fuss: Singlehandedly made people remember what was cool about music before it sucked. Not really a bad song on here, and if you disagree, just look at how bad Sam's Town was. I fear this band is destined for the "One Hit Wonder" bin, but damn, this was a great album.

4. Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere: Pretty much hip hop that is so good it has to be classified as alternative. The downside is that it's much too short, and some songs are hit and miss. We need more "Boogie Monster" and "Transformer," less "Online."

5. The Go! Team - Thunder, Lightning, Strike: I only rank this so low because the band have yet to release a second album, making me a bit uncertain as to their future. Anyway, the most original band in the modern era, which is ironic, since half of their music is based on samples.

(Very Honorable mentions: Boston - Boston, Duran Duran - Duran Duran, Keane - Hopes and Fears, Pink Floyd - Piper at the Gates of Dawn.)

Ryan's Top 5:

Let me preface my list with, I hope I make sense, I've had 3 hours of sleep in the last two days and I've been up for 23 hours now.

1. Jimi Hendrix Experience - Are You Experienced? - I wouldn't put this at the top of my personal favorites, but it's impossible to top the level of rocking in this album: Foxy Lady, Manic Depression, Are You Experienced?, Hey Joe, Purple Haze, The Wind Cries Mary, Fire. It's like they started out with a Best Of.

2. John Lennon - John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band - Not his best solo album, but this one really set him apart from The Beatles--in very specific terms in the song "God": "I don't believe in Beatles, I just believe in me." This one really set the tone for his ensuing solo career which, I'll admit, I have a predilection for. John Lennon was pretty good at music. Notable songs (they're all good): God, Working Class Hero, Mother, Love, Look At Me.

3. Weezer - Weezer (blue) - For all the reasons listed in this entry by others, in previous entries by myself and others, etc. It's just a really fucking good album from start to finish.

4. Ben Folds Five - Ben Folds Five - After Whatever and Ever Amen, this is their best album--and it actually comes close to WAEA. Notable songs: Jackson Cannery, Alice Childress, Boxing, Philosophy, Underground (the live version not on this album is superior. It's also superior live).

5. Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere - As Jack Black would say, "Kind of a new one..." that I've slipped in with some old safe ones and Ben Folds. It was either this or The Clash for me--I like The Clash more, obviously, but I like their later stuff more than this specific album. So I have to go with GB, who I really think have done something special with this debut.

Honorable mentions: The Clash - The Clash, Coldplay - Parachutes, Simon and Garfunkel - Wednesday Morning, 3am, Ben Folds - Rockin' the Suburbs, Postal Service - Give Up, OKGo - OKGo, Beach Boys - Surfin' Safari (you know, kind of).

Tory's Top 5:

1) Damien Rice - O - Before this album he was in the band I believe called Juniper or Juniper Tree or something. A band in which he didn't sing. Once he left and began singing he threw everything he had at this little ten song album. Transcendent. There are no notable songs as I would consider every song brilliant.

2) Tenacious D - Tenacious D - Once again, everything I've said about this album before. All notable songs.

3) Bright Eyes - A Collection of Songs Written and Recorded 1995-97 - Not every song on here is a definite keeper, however it is definitely not a failure and it shows the roots of his ingenious writing and raspy/whiny singing. Notable songs: Saturday as Usual, A Celebration Upon Completion.

4) Johnny Cash - Johnny Cash - One of the greatest musicians of all time. He proves he never had a down note in his whole career beginning with this debut album that features such notable songs as Cry, Cry, Cry, Folsom Prison Blues and Walk the Line.

5) Belle and Sebastian - Tigermilk - Excellent. They are as good now as they ever were, and this album is proof. Notable Songs: State that I am in and Baby Girl.


Roughly Speaking... said...

I really needed to mention Weezer in the honorable mention. I'd made a list of these last week in anticipation of posting this and then left it at work. Way to go me.

That said, I really disagree with Dan about music, which has become self-evident by now. One strong point is his all-too-quick condemnation of Sam's Town, which I also found horrific at first listen, but it's really grown on me, and it's definitely impossible to call them a one-album wonder given the success some of its tracks have found. It might not be up to par, but it's not the disaster I'd once perceived.

The Monkey said...

I should control the impulsiveness of my writing. I mean, I don't vehemently hate the whole Sam's Town album. Some songs are good, such as "When You Were Young," the final part of the opening title track, and my personal favorite, "Read My Mind." But even though it's my favorite on the album, it's far from Flowers' claim that it's the best song the band has ever written. I think maybe the problem is they set the bar way too high with that first album, clouding my (and everyone else's) judgment when it comes to the second. For example, I imagine that if the albums came out in reverse order, I would likely be calling the Killers the best band in music today.

And regarding musical agreement between you and me, I give props for your #2 and #4, both excellent choices, as well as the Foo Fighters' eponymous debut (even if it was just Dave). I'd say the only musical differences I've been able to affirm is your occasional taste for good hip hop/rap (Jay Z, Kanye West, both of whom I respect as artists, though not enough to listen to them) and my fondness for Radiohead.

Vulpes Ryanis said...

At first I thought this would be a hard Top 5, but I'm actually more proud of this last than I am of many others (as each day passes I wonder if I did society a disservice by including the inconsistent Spicy Chicken Burrito...).

Vulpes Ryanis said...

Also, I omitted quite a few "honorables" because they were already mentioned in your guys' Top 5s (The Killers, The Sex Pistols, etc.). Whoops.