People often talk about second album syndrome, and the pressures that follow a great first record. Often it can overshadow conversation around the debut itself: “Brilliant album… shame about the second one.”
But while it’s true that many an artist has struggled to meet expectations after a triumphant beginning, it shouldn’t take away from the achievements made on those first records. They serve as statements of intent and have the power to change or reshape the industry, inspire fellow musicians, and drive essential conversation about our understanding of music.
Whether it’s the rock on The Strokes’ much-hyped 2001 album Is This It or the rap prowess of Notorious BIG on Ready to Die, introducing a genre to the rest of the world via Daft Punk’s Homework or creating a new one entirely with Black Sabbath – debut albums can take a previously unknown artist and lift them up to global adulation.
Here are 35 of the greatest debut albums of all time:
You can find a ranking of the best album covers of all time here.