written by Michael Oshust

Music Speaks Louder looks at 20 debut albums that inspired others and helped define music. From grunge to classic rock or from pop to country or southern rock, all of these albums set the tone for future artists.




Madonna has called her debut album "the aerobics album." This album has made Madonna one of the most important female voices in the history of modern music. With hits like "Borderline" and "Holiday," it put downtown New York electro grooves all over the Top 40. 



Appetite For Destruction

In 1987 Guns N' Roses brought a piece of gritty LA realism and streetwise attitude to hard rock. The album was released to little mainstream attention, and it took a year before it became a massive commercial success after radio stations & MTV played Paradise City, Sweet Child O'Mine,  & Welcome to the Jungle.



Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston's debut studio album was released on February 14, 1985, & eventually topped the Top 100 because of MTV and radio airplay for "Saving All My Love," "How Will I Know" & "Greatest Love of All."




Ten is the debut studio album by Pearl Jam. Most of the songs began as instrumental jams, to which Eddie Vedder added lyrics about topics such as depression, homelessness, and abuse. Many consider "Ten" the bands most excellent album.



Led Zeppelin

On their first album, Led Zeppelin was still in the process of inventing their own sound & were known as the "New Yardbirds." The template for everything the band achieved in the 1970s is on their debut album: rock ("Good Times Bad Times & Communication Breakdown"), folk (How Many More Times) & blues (I Can't Quit You, Baby).



Blizzard of Ozz

What Ozzy Osbourne delivered on Blizzard Of Ozz was astonishing considering his abrupt dismissal from Black Sabbath. Ozzy Osbourne sounded reborn on Blizzard Of Ozz and fans loved it. The album was full of great songs such as "I Don’t Know," "Goodbye To Romance," "Crazy Train" and "Mr. Crowley." 



(Pronounced 'Lĕh-'nérd 'Skin-'nérd)

Lynyrd Skynyrd had produced a monstrous debut which featured the triple-guitar line-up of Gary Rossington, Allen Collins, and Ed King. No Southern group has ever matched what’s here in terms of musicianship, songs or sheer exuberance. Great songs such as Tuesday’s Gone, Gimme Three Steps, Free Bird and Simple Man. It’s undeniably one of the truly great pieces of rock music. A great record end to end.




Too ingenious for punk, not exactly new wave, U2 arrived on the scene with Boy in the fall of 1980. "Boy" generally received positive reviews and included U2's first single to receive airplay on US radio "I Will Follow."The Dublin foursome boasted Bono's flag-waving voice and Dave "the Edge" Evans' echoey, effects-laden guitar, as well as anthemic songs.



Wide Open Spaces

The Dixie Chicks released Wide Open Spaces, which both country and pop fans received with their arms wide open. Martie Maguire, Emily Robison, and Natalie Maines saw their first single, "I Can Love You Better," reach the Top 10, and the following singles, "There's Your Trouble," "Wide Open Spaces" and "You Were Mine," topped the country charts. 



Bat Out Of Hell

Bat Out of Hell is the debut album by Meatloaf and his first collaboration with composer Jim Steinman. The album was released on September 1, 1977, on Epic Records and is one of the best-selling albums of all time, having sold over 43 million copies worldwide. The top three singles from the album are "Paradise by the Dashboard Light," "Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad" & "You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)."



Van Halen

Van Halen is the debut studio album by Van Halen. Released on February 10, 1978, the album peaked at #19 on the Billboard 200. The album became widely recognized as the band's popularity grew. In the United States, Van Halen reached number 19 on the Billboard Top 200; their debut single, a cover of The Kinks' "You Really Got Me," spent three weeks on the chart, peaking at number 36. Like all great originals, Van Halen doesn't sound like anything else before the release.



In The Heat of the Night

Pat Benatar's debut album was released on August 27, 1979.


The collection included her hits "We Live for Love" & "Heartbreaker."


Pat Benatar has influenced many singers with her powerful singing. 



Hot Fuss

The Killers debut album is titled Hot Fuss, which was influenced by new wave music and post-punk. The album produced several commercially and critically successful singles: "Mr. Brightside", "Somebody Told Me", "All These Things That I've Done" and "Smile Like You Mean It."

Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Hot Fuss the 43rd of its "100 Best Albums of the Decade."



Licensed to Ill

Licensed to Ill is the debut studio album by American hip hop group Beastie Boys. It was released on November 15, 1986, by Def Jam and Columbia Records, and became the first rap LP to top the Billboard album chart. The single Fight for Your Right was the album's biggest single. It is one of Columbia Records' fastest-selling debut records to date and was certified Diamond in 2015 for shipping over ten million copies in the United States. It is the only album by a Jewish hip-hop act to receive 5 mics from The Source. 




Boston was released by Epic Records on August 25, 1976. Few industry insiders thought a guitar-heavy rock record could make much of a dent in the charts as disco ruled the airwaves at the time. The album broke out of Cleveland first, and the following week, it had been added at 392 stations. The album soared, with three singles becoming Top 40 hits. All eight of the songs on the album received regular airplay on classic rock radio decades later. The three singles are Classic Rock staples - More Than a Feeling, Long Time and Piece of Mind.

Traveller - Chris Stapleton.jpg



Stapleton released Traveller in May 2015, producing a throwback country-meets-Southern rock sound. Though it received very little radio airplay, Traveller was recognized as the 2015 CMA Album of the Year, won Best Country Album and Best Country Solo Performance at the Grammy Awards and earned Album of the Year and Song of the Year at the ACM Awards. Traveler has been certified three-times platinum.




The debut by the bad boys of Boston was released on January 5, 1973. The album has a blues-rock grit sound to it thanks to the guitar tandem of Brad Whitford & Joe Perry. The album opens with "Make It" with the line, "Good evening, people, welcome to the show, got something here I want you all to know. Listening to Steven Tyler is hypnotic due to his high screams and his wide vocal range. "Dream On" is the blueprint for rock power ballads with its crescendo and powerful vocals.



Yourself Or Someone Like You

Matchbox 20 released their debut in 1996. The album features themes of adolescence, loneliness, psychological abuse, humiliation, depression, anger, and alcoholism. The album went on to become the eighth best-selling debut of all time in the U.S. six singles were released from the album, including Push, 3 A.M., Real World and Back 2 Good which managed to sell over 12 million copies.



Garth Brooks

Garth Brooks is the debut studio album of Garth Brooks, released on April 12, 1989, through Capitol Nashville. It was both a critical and chart success, peaking at #13 on the Billboard 200 and at #2 on the Top Country Albums chart. The singles "If Tomorrow Never Comes" & "The Dance." Garth Brooks had his first #1, "If Tomorrow Never Comes" and the Academy of Country Music's 1990 Song of the Year and Video of the Year, "The Dance" (another #1). It also features the first hit he wrote entirely in "Not Counting You," another top 10 success.



Please Please Me

Please Please Me is the debut by The Beatles. The album was recorded in just over 12 hours on February 11, 

The singles "Please Please Me" and "Love Me Do" were in heavy radio rotation. The album also had the hits "P.S. I Love You," "I Saw Her Standing There" and "Twist and Shout." 

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