Uncut’s 100 best debut albums

From Elvis to Eminem, Arctic Monkeys to Zeppelin… we give you the greatest debuts

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97 VASHTI BUNYAN
Just Another Diamond Day (1970)
Briefly a Loog Oldham protégée, Bunyan fled for the Hebrides in a gypsy caravan, writing this dew-soaked marvel as she went. Produced by the legendary Joe Boyd, but initially ignored, it became the key text for Devendra Banhart’s acid-folk massive.
Best track: “Window Over The Bay”
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96 PJ HARVEY
Dry (1992)
Anthems to pagan statues (“Sheela-Na-Gig”),spectral ballads (“Plants And Rags”), lust-fuelled rockers (“Oh My Lover”), Dry sent male rock critics into a tailspin while charting a path for fem-rock beyond Riot Grrrl.
Best track: “Dress”
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95 THE WHITE STRIPES
The White Stripes (1999)
Deeply indebted to the blues, this was passionate and shambolic, while piano-assisted ballads and haunting covers evinced a range that would later pay dividends on Elephant. Meg White bashes gamely throughout, two months into her drumming career.
Best track: “Screwdriver”
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94 MERCURY REV
Yerself Is Steam (1991)
This flopped in the US following Rough Trade’s collapse and doesn’t hint at later commercial successes like Deserter’s Songs. Rather, it’s a folie de grandeur, epitomised by the sprawling “Very Sleepy Rivers”.
Best track: “Chasing A Bee”
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93 THE BIRTHDAY PARTY
Prayers On Fire (1981)
When Nick Cave and Co relocated to London from Melbourne, they were disgusted by the anti-rock New Pop, to which this was a chaotic corrective – its doomy squalls sounding like rock’s furthest, most testing extreme.
Best track: “King Ink”
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92 SPIRITUALIZED
Lazer Guided Melodies (1992)
Recorded for £3,000 with the intention of “creating Electric Ladyland”, Lazer Guided Melodies saw leader Jason Pierce surpass the dissipated space-rock of Spacemen 3 with a woozy overture to indolence.
Best track: “Angel Sigh/Sway/200 Bars”
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91 THROWING MUSES
Throwing Muses (1986)
Boston’s Throwing Muses introduced a feminine sensibility that made a mockery of banal notions of Women In Rock. Over abruptly shifting guitar-chord patterns, Kristin Hersh, later diagnosed as manic-depressive, sang as if undergoing an exorcism or speaking in tongues.
Best track: “Call Me”
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90 FRANZ FERDINAND
Franz Ferdinand (2004)
Like a Late Show discussion brought to life, the debut of these literate and funky Glaswegians combined the Red Krayola and Rodchenko with a knack for a rousing chorus, not least on electro-rock tour de force “Take Me Out”.
Best track: “Take Me Out”
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89 ELASTICA
Elastica (1995)
Smart, sexy, and clearly in thrall to Wire, Justine Frischmann delivered her disdainful verdict on the indie milieu, dispatching scenesters (“Riding on any wave”) with brutal post-punk riffs and trust-fund insouciance.
Best track: “Line Up”
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88 TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (1976)
Petty’s self-styled ‘big jangle’ – led by Mike Campbell’s Byrdsian guitar and driving, Stonesy rhythms – brought a dash of new wave into the heartland rock of the US. With his rough, Dylanesque delivery, Petty rocked hard on the Byrdsian “American Girl”, later covered by Roger McGuinn. A diverse writing style and assured vocals foretold a glittering future.
Best track: “American Girl”

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